Ecuador doesn’t often grab international headlines, but questions about its current course have relevance for the Western Hemisphere and beyond. What kind of leader is Rafael Correa? Is he a popular anti-imperial economist who champions 21st century socialism and rejects the “Washington Consensus” while protecting ecosystems by limiting oil production in vital wetlands? Or is he a neoliberal dictator who has rewritten his country’s laws to both initiate mega-mining and declare a state of emergency to intimidate and imprison his critics? Will mega-mining for copper, gold and silver in Ecuador’s Amazon decimate one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet? How many indigenous tribesmen will be imprisoned or die fighting the Ecuadorian police, army and private security forces protecting the large-scale mining operations? Will making comparisons to Avatar, of which there are many, help to get the message out to the world or dilute the seriousness of that message? Investigative reporter Alexander Zaitchik recently spent a month going between Quito and the Cordillera del Condor, a land that indigenous peoples such as the Shuar, an ancient head-shrinking tribe famous for its savagery toward invaders, swear to protect. He explores these questions and more in a piece published [...]
Category Archive: The New Context
Following the announcement on March 4, 2013, that an 18-month old child in Mississippi had been cured of HIV with an early and rigorous regimen of anti-retroviral drugs, HIV/AIDS is briefly back in headlines in the U.S. Amid the flurry of excitement about this breakthrough in early-onset treatment, articles have abounded highlighting the important strides being made by the medical community, inspiring renewed hope that a cure for the virus is possible. While news about medical advancements is welcome, the overly technical language shaping this most recent conversation about HIV/AIDS is worrisome. The emphasis on a single cure, a magic bullet as it were, belies the social and economic causes and consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. On March 9, 2013, the New School along with VisualAIDS and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY Graduate Center, hosted a 3-day symposium to address the ongoing AIDS crisis. Under the slogan “Not Over,” students, educators, activists and filmmakers came together to discuss the continued impact of the disease on communities in the U.S. and around the world. One of the featured films during the symposium was The Other City, a documentary about the HIV/AIDS crisis in Washington, D.C. The film, directed by Susan Koch, explores [...]
No Church on the Neoliberal Reservation: Critical Perspectives on Labor Organizing in the 21st Century
Human beings in a mob What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer? – Frank Ocean On November 29, 2012, fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job. The strike, which affected more than two dozen locations, was the largest action involving fast-food franchises in U.S. history. Workers and supporters rallied outside branches of major chains and demanded a living wage. The fast-food strike arrived just days after Walmart employees throughout the U.S. walked off the job on “Black Friday” to protest unfair pay. On January 16, 2013, school bus drivers in New York City went on strike for the first time in more than thirty years. These are emblematic of what has been called a “global strike wave.” [i] While Marxists and neo-Marxists have been quick to champion this as the re-emergence of a historically preordained working class struggle, scholars and activists should be wary of dogmatic revolutionary rhetoric. Tracing the development of neoliberalism as a discursive political and economic project reveals how contemporary worker strikes are both enabled and constrained by the very neoliberal logic against which they often protest. Consequently, labor and progressive social movements [...]
“One Billion Rising,” a campaign addressing violence against women, started in 160 countries by Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler, asked participants to dance in solidarity with the one billion women who are estimated to be abuse survivors. Millions of women from Afghanistan and Turkey to Indonesia and India gathered and danced through the streets to make an impact on one of the world’s most shameful realities.
Argo, a suspenseful tale portraying America’s favorite bad guys, Iranians, as angry gun-toting religio-fascists, just won the Best Picture Academy Award for 2012. Ben Affleck’s directing is better than his acting, but this was not a character driven movie—it was made because it was based on true events. During the Iranian student takeover of the US Embassy in 1979, six embassy workers escape to the Canadian ambassador’s home and eventually make it onto a commercial plane with the help of the CIA and the Canadian government. The remarkable story is pumped full of cinematic and narrative steroids to create a marketable movie. This is not a critique of Argo per se—as everyone seems to agree, it was well-made. This is a swipe at the lack of vision from its left-leaning, politically active celebrity actor-director (Affleck, who also produced along with George Clooney, could have gotten a more relevant and risky movie made) and the Academy’s rewarding of Americana, disguised in the beginning but glorified by the end. It is also an admission that studying international relations and the sins of the United States can cause one to see unchecked pro-US propaganda everywhere. But at a time when our government continues [...]