Saturday, 1 February 2014

Weekly Round Up

These are the articles and issues that have caught my attention this past week.

OXFAM, Scarlett Johansson and BDS

On Scarlett Johansson and 'Blood Bubbles': "The Scarlett Johansson scandal has taught us this much. One cannot stick to her inane ideological liberal guns in the fight for a single issue (ecological responsibility, or clean air, in this case), while mystifying the same system that makes ecological racism a big part of the Israeli apartheid policies and Zionist settler-colonialist project in Palestine.

Johansson's progressive politics, including her charity work for Oxfam, cannot harmoniously co-exist with her endorsement of an oppressive system that promotes capitalist enterprises built on ethnically-cleansed land. These two issues are not disconnected; rather, the struggle for ecological responsibility and conscious consumerism in the region won't be over until the Palestinians are free."

"Johansson was chastised by some and praised by others. Barghouti said in a statement that she "reminds us of the few unprincipled artists who during the struggle against South African apartheid sold their souls and stood on the wrong side of history."

The World Jewish Congress praised her as "a role model for others confronted with insidious anti-Israeli pressure."
Lonely dinners in South Korea

"Western media and bloggers have dubbed it ‘food porn’ or ‘gastronomic voyeurism’, but in its home country of South Korea it’s known simply as meok-bang: ‘broadcast eating’.

This trend from the world’s most connected nation sees solo diners live-streaming their evening meals to audiences of thousands. In a country where a quarter of households are occupied by just one individual, a sit-down dinner with a familiar face can be a godsend, even if it is virtual." 

Signing Off E-mails

Calling Miss Manners: "Moving up the ladder of formality, I guess the new “Cheers” comes next, though I always feel that the writer was at a loss for something better. Also, “Cheers” already has a very specific meaning as a toast, and I don’t believe in laying new cargo on old words. Sometimes you can use a valediction that signifies something in addition to “goodbye.” I’m thinking of sign-offs like “Hopefully” (when you’ve asked for a favor but want to ask some more), or “Apologetically” (when you’ve said you’re sorry but you think you should say it again), or “Yours in Christ,” or “Till soon.”

Pope Francis made the cover of Rolling Stones! 

Mama CAR

Central African Republic's 'Mother Courage' fights to bring peace where the men have failed: I don't completely understand what is going on in CAR but I found the suggestion amusing that a woman President will do the trick in terms of bringing peace to the land. 

Scandinavia is not the political and social utopia we think it is!

Dark lands: the grim truth behind the 'Scandinavian miracle': "Whether it is Denmark's happiness, its restaurants, or TV dramas; Sweden's gender equality, crime novels and retail giants; Finland's schools; Norway's oil wealth and weird songs about foxes; or Iceland's bounce-back from the financial abyss, we have an insatiable appetite for positive Nordic news stories. After decades dreaming of life among olive trees and vineyards, these days for some reason, we Brits are now projecting our need for the existence of an earthly paradise northwards."

Servant Culture

Masters and Servants in South Asia: 9 Questions for Jannatul Mawa: "The photo series is about class and gender relations in family life. It’s because of class differences that we can hire girls and women from other families to come and work for us, and although the space, which we inhabit, is very close and intimate, the class distances are huge.

Housemaids don’t cross class boundaries because house owners won’t welcome it if they do, and this behavior is part of the system of inequalities. Naturally, when I asked them to sit side by side, it was awkward, to say the least. In most cases, the house owner had to ask her domestic maid to sit beside her. The household helps were reserved. Many of them sat only after they had been repeatedly told to do so."

Great commentary on Urdu in Bollywood

Dedh Ishqiya and Urdu in India Today: "As Mukul Kesavan has pointed out, Bollywood with its fantasy, musicals and location (Bombay) was an almost direct successor to Parsi theatre. And like the theatre, the new film industry adopted Urdu, given that it was the only language at the time which had any sort of pan-national appeal. To churn out words for this new industry, were recruited large numbers of Urdu writers and poets from North India. Bollywood’s Golden Age from the 40s to the 60s was studded with Urdudāns such as Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Saadat Hasan Manto, Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni and, most relevant to this movie, Ismat Chughtai. 

In a mark of the intelligence of the film though, one of the themes of Dedh Ishqiya is this very hollowness of Urdu in India today. 

In 1947 though, the sharp politicisation of the Hindi-Urdu issue meant that this “School Hindi” was adopted as India’s official language. Suddenly, in places like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, the birthplace of Urdu, Urdu stopped being taught and used in government. This lack of patronage had little effect on the everyday Urdu (or Hindustani) of spoken speech, a large portion of the language which was shared in common with Shudh Hindi. It did however have the effect of severelycurtailing the sphere of influence of High Urdu. A high or literary register without patronage is, by definition, not going to get very far and that is what happened. Post-1947, Urdu atrophied dramatically."

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