Polanski and the cultural defense

Pál Nyiri wrote a short post on the Roman Polanski  affair on the Culture Matters’ weblog, examining the use of cultural relativist arguments in court cases:   I was intrigued to find out from today’s New York Times (Michael Cieply, “In Polanski case, a time warp”) that a report by two probation officers who, in 1977, made a recommendation against a longer gaol term (as compared to the 48 days  he got) in Polanski’s case of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old, they made the argument that while foreign filmmakers “enrich[ed] the community with their presence, they have brought with them the manners …

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Anthropological art: Abre La Puerta

An announcement from “Anthropologists in Art” Blaton & Rypson (from WM Gallery): This Sunday, October 4th,  we present “Abre La Puerta” (“Open The Door”), an Art-Walkthrough of artist Jimmy Rage’s impressive creative output. The Art-Walkthrough is unique in form and a one?off event. As one of the artists portrayed in Sacha de Boer’s highly acclaimed exhibition “Retour New York/Amsterdam”, it is Jimmy Rage who will now be in the spotlight. The Art-Walkthrough will take place at Huize Frankendael — Amsterdam’s last ‘buitenhuis’, which provided sanctuary and creative inspiration for such artists as Cees Nooteboom, Harry Mulisch and Herman Koch, among …

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Financial crisis worldwide

By Kim Knibbe What do a window washer at a cross-roads in a metropole who starts washing your window unasked, an old lady from a village in Africa who visits her son in the big city to ask for financial support, a beggar and a pickpocket have in common? According to the anthropologist James Ferguson, they are all involved in what he calls improvisational distributive labour. Ferguson said this during the seminar The Financial Crisis: views from anthropology, which was held at our department last week. 

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Hungarian nationalists claim Eastern origins

‘Hungarian Party campaigns for recognition of Scythian heritage’, Pál Nyiri recently wrote on the Culture Matters blog. Here we reproduce his post, which raises many interesting points about the politics of ethnic identity and the relationship between nationalism and academic writing.   According to Hungarian newspapers, the xenophobic, anti-Semitic party Jobbik (“The Righter”), which has three seats in the European Parliament, has launched a campaign to expunge from textbooks the accepted theory according to which Hungarians are a Finno-Ugric people, and replace it with one according to which they are related to the Huns, Avars and Scythians, Indo-Iranian nomads that inhabited large parts of …

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Bonus on the beach

Tijo Salverda explains what the financial sector can learn from a former colonial elite. Hedge fund managers, the City and Wall Street’s top bankers, regulators and politicians involved in reshaping the financial markets, should take a look at the tropics. They can learn a great deal from the former white colonial elite of Mauritius.

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Altruism or Egoism, an Elegy for Development Projects

A few days ago I was watching a late night Dutch talk show (Knevel & Van den Brink) in which politicians, scholars, writers, artists and other generally well known persons discuss current events in the world. In this particular broadcast two self-proclaimed development workers operating in Kenya were invited to join the table . A few days ago they had been violently assaulted and robbed of their money, phones and digital cameras by a bunch of, what they accuse to be, local people. Supposedly the same people who are benefitting from the hard efforts of the couple in improving the …

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Anthropology and Iraq

I would like to react briefly to Lahay Hussein’s talk as well as to the concerns expressed in her earlier post. These concerns are primarily about (re)building a healthy and democratic political and social order, and within it a healthy academic discipline and educational system, from a condition in which academic qualifications and infrastructure are sorely inadequate. She expects this process to be inspired and aided by colleagues and institutions in the West. These concerns are very different from the preoccupations of Western anthropologists when it comes to Iraq: imperialism; the complicity of anthropology in the occupation (a term Lahay herself …

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Iran elections(2): hitting the tweets

In her earlier post on this weblog, Donya pointed to remarkable transgressions on the eve of the national elections in Iran. In the public protests following the elections we see another major innovation: the unprecedented use of new digital media. The newest digital tools for social networking, especially Twitter and Facebook, turn out to be crucial means to mobilize people and report events to the outside world, as Newsy.com points out in this video: This raises important questions for anthropologists. What role can new media play in making political agitation effective?

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