A conversation with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer about his work and the role of empathy in confronting the spectres of our past.
Let’s talk about ethnic conflict and national politics. Take the example of one country, where an ethnic group makes up 80% of the population, yet the remaining four ethnic groups exert considerable political influence. These minority ethnic groups together have access to strategic locations and their historically entrenched claims to political power make them powerful. The second largest ethnic group—a tribe mostly living in the Northern part of the country’s […]
“The ideal of social cooperation has come to be treated as high-sounding flabbiness,” Pat Bateson writes, “while individual selfishness is regarded as the natural and sole basis for a realistic approach to life. Competition is now widely seen as the mainspring of human activity. The process can be reversed if we work actively against a style of thought that places all the emphasis on confrontation. If we don’t, the building up of enormous arsenals of weapons will lead inexorably to the use of those arms in some moment of blind irrationality.”
Eric Lybeck sympathizes with the thousands of students who are going to be on the streets of London today protesting for ‘Free Education’. While declining public funding for universities and student debt are serious problems, Lybeck argues that the root of the injustice is not that wealth defines who can go to university or that working class students suffer over proportionately from paying back the debt. For him, the problem is that future generations will have to pay for what we think is a collective good.
While some might celebrate the decline of hard physical labour across “post-industrial” service-based economies, one of the prices we have paid has been greater uncertainty and anxiety about the ultimate worth of the work we do. Tom Barker questions the assumptions underlying talk of “non-jobs” and “bullshit jobs”, and in doing so asks us to interrogate our own definitions of what constitutes “real” work.
The bulk of most nutritional science is methodologically flawed and yet continues to cause many unnecessary anxieties about our food consumption. Tobias Haeusermann argues that it is time that we shift our attention to the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to different food habits, and the privilege required to “eat well”.
Clément Mouhot and Lorna Finlayson reflect on the enduring crisis in Palestine and respond to critics who say that singling out Israel is “misguided”, “myopic”, or “immoral”.
We find the sight of female body hair to be shocking, as it seems to fly in the face of the ‘acceptable’ norm. Drawing on her own research into self-defining feminist women and body hair, Melisa Trujillo argues that, when we attempt to police women’s bodies, we are overstepping a line, involving ourselves in a false, and sometimes violent form of intimacy.
The hope for a cure, a renewed absence of disease, is still one of the central legitimizing forces in the project of medicine. The promise of a cure inspires hope in patients and motivates doctors and researchers. But is it really a useful concept for guiding medical research and assessing the success of medical treatment? Konrad Laker argues that with the emergence of modern medical practice, the term may do a great deal more harm than good, unless fundamentally rethought.
Norman Finkelstein gives an unconventional critique of really-existing ‘academic freedom’, recounts the bizarre story of Bertrand Russell’s 1940 dismissal from the College of the City of New York, and examines authors from Marx to Chomsky in his defense of the academic’s right to “break free of the shackles imposed by polite discourse… to speak the impolite and impolitic truth.”
Halliki Voolma argues that, if we want to take seriously the issue of violence against women, this means also taking seriously the importance of specialist support services in the case of immigration.
Ten years after Helmut Newton’s death, a double exhibition celebrates his work in Berlin’s Museum of Photography. Exciting juxtapositions and breaks characterise both ‘Us and Them’ and ‘Sex and Landscapes’, inviting viewers to reflect on understandings of intimacy, the body, power, and desire. Works by Alice Springs complement his depictions of strong femmes fatales with more refined characters. Their works, as well as their portraits of each other, reveal important issues of representation and authenticity, perhaps particularly relevant for an age marked by proliferating images of naked (female) bodies, argues Jan Bock.
Is porn making us dumber? More aggressive? More gender-conservative? Or does it liberate the erotic imagination? Porn inhabits an uncanny space between real and pretend, shaping preferences and behaviours beyond the screen. While high-speed internet transforms the production, distribution and regulation of porn, the public discussion about its merits, and its potential for harm, is mired in a decades-old impasse over the value of different forms of evidence. Katrina Zaat asks who sets the terms of the porn debate, and whether it is possible to reframe it.
Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery has received a lot of attention, much of it problematic. It is Walker’s ironic enlistment of racist stereotypes that gives her work its power, but this can also lead to inappropriate laughter and racist reactions. Kyle Stoneman explores how we tackle race and female bodies in a museum setting, looking at the installation and its impact.
Certain species devote time to maintaining a relationship with their mate, often at great expense and in ways that seem to transcend basic reproduction. In exploring the wondrous world of animal mating systems, Alison Greggor explains the many parallels, as well as striking discrepancies, that emerge between humans and other species. These comparisons lead to a tantalizing question: are we alone in our capacity for intimacy and love?