Ohio

As Africa's Cities Change, so Does Youth Slang

10/29/14
Image
Africa's urban vernaculars are changing from one generation to the next. (Flickr/Eduardo Gavina)

In the mid-1990s, residents of Nairobi were cautious when traveling through the city's "Rwanda" neighborhoods. Although physically far removed from the genocidal violence in central Africa, this was the area of the Kenyan capital where you were most likely to be mugged or carjacked. A few years later, these areas became known as the "Kosovo" section of the city. By the early 2000s, wandering into one of the "Baghdad" neighborhoods could be iffy.

The frequent shifts in names for areas of town are a product of Sheng, the city's increasingly popular street vernacular that combines both English and Swahili—Kenya's two official languages. A debate has been brewing about it for years: Is Sheng a language or "just" slang? Regardless, tourist translation dictionaries have essentially become useless on the streets of Nairobi because of it.

The vocabulary and meaning of words not only differ in each neighborhood, but some of their definitions change almost daily. Much like with English or any other language, certain slang words change from one generation to the next. But Sheng has completely revamped the vocabulary of an entire city. TV advertisements freely borrow phrases that ignore formal grammatical structure, and radio DJs regularly pepper broadcasts with the latest forms of words. A popular comic book called Shujaaz is written entirely in Sheng. This linguistic phenomenon isn't exclusive to East Africa, of course. Most countries have some version of code-switching, where people select or mix formal and informal languages as the environment or situation calls for—and to fit in with the many different groups they belong to.

Along the streets of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire emerged a hybrid language dubbed Nouchi, which is now challenging French as the city's most popular form of speech. Young urbanites from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, are finding favor with a pidgin language called Town Bemba. Neither of these languages can be translated on Google and are nearly impossible to teach in a traditional setting. Yet slang-influenced languages like these can be heard in nearly every market, bus terminal, and university in Africa.

According to Mokaya Bosire, a University of Oregon professor and expert on Sheng, the origin of these languages can be traced back to the early 20th century, shortly after the arrival of imperial Europeans.

"One of the things that happened with colonialism is urbanization, which wasn't there before," Bosire told CityLab. "And with urbanization you had different people who spoke different languages come together in these towns, which provided [Nairobi] with the perfect condition for Sheng to arise," he explains.

More than half of Africans will live in cities by 2040.
(United Nations)

Yet linguistic creativity—or maybe rebellion—in African cities didn't cease when the continent began to receive its independence starting in the 1950s. Modern technology has recently provided young Africans with greater access to hip-hop, African-American culture, and global fashions. Africa's cities are also disproportionately young; as of 2012, the median age of the continent is 20 years old (the median age in North America is nearly 40 years old). This combination of youthfulness and global exposure has left Africa's urban youth with a lot to work with in terms of creating their own terms of communication.

"[Urban Africans] have the knowledge of different languages and they're also exposed to what's going on in the world and how cultures are moving," says Mokaya Bosire. "And the languages that are standard languages—say, English or Swahili—they don't move as fast as these guys want," he adds.

By adopting a fluid, homegrown language, some argue that young Africans are better able to express ideas and experiences specific to their own emerging urban culture. Writing in the Journal of African Studies in 2008, scholar Mungi Mutonya highlighted this claim when analyzing the advent of slang-based advertisements.

Language serves the triple role ... of carrier of culture, as an image forming agent that provides the group with a whole conception of themselves, individually and collectively, and as a transmitter of the images of the world and reality. Thus the circumstances of the language contact environment in African cities present a variety of mixed codes that emerge to satisfy local needs.

The fusion languages springing up now in Africa's cities, however, are likely just the beginning. Africa's urbanization rate will be among the world's fastest from now until 2050. Unless some kind of national language policies are enacted, says Peter Githinji, a linguist specialist at Ohio University, slang-based languages will ultimately become the norm in Africa's burgeoning urban centers.

"[T]he more we're participating in these global cultures and the more we're having rural-to-urban migration," Githinji says, "they're actually going to transform themselves to the point where we're no longer calling them 'urban languages.'"

Top image courtesy of Flickr user Eduardo Gaviña.








As Africa's Cities Change, so Does Youth Slang

10/29/14
Image
Africa's urban vernaculars are changing from one generation to the next. (Flickr/Eduardo Gavina)

In the mid-1990s, residents of Nairobi were cautious when traveling through the city's "Rwanda" neighborhoods. Although physically far removed from the genocidal violence in central Africa, this was the area of the Kenyan capital where you were most likely to be mugged or carjacked. A few years later, these areas became known as the "Kosovo" section of the city. By the early 2000s, wandering into one of the "Baghdad" neighborhoods could be iffy.

The frequent shifts in names for areas of town are a product of Sheng, the city's increasingly popular street vernacular that combines both English and Swahili—Kenya's two official languages. A debate has been brewing about it for years: Is Sheng a language or "just" slang? Regardless, tourist translation dictionaries have essentially become useless on the streets of Nairobi because of it.

The vocabulary and meaning of words not only differ in each neighborhood, but some of their definitions change almost daily. Much like with English or any other language, certain slang words change from one generation to the next. But Sheng has completely revamped the vocabulary of an entire city. TV advertisements freely borrow phrases that ignore formal grammatical structure, and radio DJs regularly pepper broadcasts with the latest forms of words. A popular comic book called Shujaaz is written entirely in Sheng. This linguistic phenomenon isn't exclusive to East Africa, of course. Most countries have some version of code-switching, where people select or mix formal and informal languages as the environment or situation calls for—and to fit in with the many different groups they belong to.

Along the streets of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire emerged a hybrid language dubbed Nouchi, which is now challenging French as the city's most popular form of speech. Young urbanites from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, are finding favor with a pidgin language called Town Bemba. Neither of these languages can be translated on Google and are nearly impossible to teach in a traditional setting. Yet slang-influenced languages like these can be heard in nearly every market, bus terminal, and university in Africa.

According to Mokaya Bosire, a University of Oregon professor and expert on Sheng, the origin of these languages can be traced back to the early 20th century, shortly after the arrival of imperial Europeans.

"One of the things that happened with colonialism is urbanization, which wasn't there before," Bosire told CityLab. "And with urbanization you had different people who spoke different languages come together in these towns, which provided [Nairobi] with the perfect condition for Sheng to arise," he explains.

More than half of Africans will live in cities by 2040.
(United Nations)

Yet linguistic creativity—or maybe rebellion—in African cities didn't cease when the continent began to receive its independence starting in the 1950s. Modern technology has recently provided young Africans with greater access to hip-hop, African-American culture, and global fashions. Africa's cities are also disproportionately young; as of 2012, the median age of the continent is 20 years old (the median age in North America is nearly 40 years old). This combination of youthfulness and global exposure has left Africa's urban youth with a lot to work with in terms of creating their own terms of communication.

"[Urban Africans] have the knowledge of different languages and they're also exposed to what's going on in the world and how cultures are moving," says Mokaya Bosire. "And the languages that are standard languages—say, English or Swahili—they don't move as fast as these guys want," he adds.

By adopting a fluid, homegrown language, some argue that young Africans are better able to express ideas and experiences specific to their own emerging urban culture. Writing in the Journal of African Studies in 2008, scholar Mungi Mutonya highlighted this claim when analyzing the advent of slang-based advertisements.

Language serves the triple role ... of carrier of culture, as an image forming agent that provides the group with a whole conception of themselves, individually and collectively, and as a transmitter of the images of the world and reality. Thus the circumstances of the language contact environment in African cities present a variety of mixed codes that emerge to satisfy local needs.

The fusion languages springing up now in Africa's cities, however, are likely just the beginning. Africa's urbanization rate will be among the world's fastest from now until 2050. Unless some kind of national language policies are enacted, says Peter Githinji, a linguist specialist at Ohio University, slang-based languages will ultimately become the norm in Africa's burgeoning urban centers.

"[T]he more we're participating in these global cultures and the more we're having rural-to-urban migration," Githinji says, "they're actually going to transform themselves to the point where we're no longer calling them 'urban languages.'"

Top image courtesy of Flickr user Eduardo Gaviña.








Ebola, Americans, and the Psychology of Overreaction

10/24/14
Image
A nurse wears protective clothing as he demonstrates the facilities in place at the Royal Free Hospital in north London on Aug. 6, 2014, in preparation for a patient testing positive for Ebola. (Leon Neal/Getty)

It was 2009, and the United States was in the midst of a full H1N1 pandemic. Public concern about the disease, commonly referred to as swine flu, was rightfully swelling. Though nowhere near as deadly as the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, H1N1 infected 60.8 million people in the United States, resulting in 12,469 fatalities. By August 2009, the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans were worried that they or a family member would contract the disease.

University of Michigan researchers wanted to see if they could stoke that fear. Their experiment, conducted in May 2009, was both mischievous and simple. Undercover researchers stationed around Michigan's campus approached people and asked them to complete a questionnaire on public health. Half of the time, the experimenter sneezed in front of the unsuspecting participants.

Remember, this was during a time when college campuses were ground zero for H1N1 infections. Sneezing close to others was not cool. The experiment was also repeated at an off-campus shopping mall, another potential petri dish of flu transmittal.

That sneeze proved to be a powerful manipulation, provoking fear about all things health-related. "Those who had just passed a sneezing confederate [i.e., undercover researcher]," the authors write, "perceived the average American as more likely to contract a serious disease, to have a heart attack before 50, and to die from a crime or accident." People who saw the sneeze were also more negative about the country's health care system, and more in favor of spending federal dollars on flu prevention. When the unsuspecting study participants were debriefed, they reported that they weren't aware they had been manipulated.

The experiment's takeaway was this: When the perception of risk increases, the feeling of risk increases. This lesson is instructive in thinking about why some pockets of America are overreacting to the threat of Ebola.

The chances that Ebola will infect any given American is incredibly, incredibly small. There have been four infections in the United States since the first case was diagnosed here last month. Online, bad jokes abound about how low the chance of contracting Ebola is—jokes like "Americans are more likely to marry Rush Limbaugh than die of Ebola."

To our collective credit, the American people are thinking pretty calmly about the disease's threat. Just 24 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said they were worried about contracting Ebola. But for some communities who see themselves as being just a few degrees of separation away from Ebola, the threat has provoked panic. To extend the metaphor from the Michigan experiment, these communities are being sneezed on or are acting out of fear of being sneezed on.

Parents in Mississippi (a state that has not seen a case of Ebola) have pulled their children out of a middle school because the principal was recently in Africa. A school in Ohio closed for disinfection after Amber Vinson, a nurse who contracted the disease in Dallas, flew through Cleveland and made contact with a parent of a student. A Texas college has denied admission to students who come from Ebola-infected countries fearing they might bring the epidemic with them. Some conservative politicians are petitioning to close the southern border lest an Ebola-infected migrant stroll across it.

For these people, Ebola hits a psychological nerve, a base evolutionary reaction to recoil from the things that can cause us or our communities harm. And that reaction becomes stronger when the disease creeps closer. These psychological reactions happen on a gut level, and we aren't always aware they occur. It's important to recognize that even when the threat of Ebola seems to be growing closer to a community, it's probably further away than it appears.

This post originally appeared on National Journal, an Atlantic partner site.

MORE FROM NATIONAL JOURNAL:

Mad About Low Turnout? Get Even

Inside Chris LaCivita's Plan to Save Pat Roberts

The GOP’s Weird Science on Ebola








Ebola, Americans, and the Psychology of Overreaction

10/24/14
Image
A nurse wears protective clothing as he demonstrates the facilities in place at the Royal Free Hospital in north London on Aug. 6, 2014, in preparation for a patient testing positive for Ebola. (Leon Neal/Getty)

It was 2009, and the United States was in the midst of a full H1N1 pandemic. Public concern about the disease, commonly referred to as swine flu, was rightfully swelling. Though nowhere near as deadly as the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, H1N1 infected 60.8 million people in the United States, resulting in 12,469 fatalities. By August 2009, the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Americans were worried that they or a family member would contract the disease.

University of Michigan researchers wanted to see if they could stoke that fear. Their experiment, conducted in May 2009, was both mischievous and simple. Undercover researchers stationed around Michigan's campus approached people and asked them to complete a questionnaire on public health. Half of the time, the experimenter sneezed in front of the unsuspecting participants.

Remember, this was during a time when college campuses were ground zero for H1N1 infections. Sneezing close to others was not cool. The experiment was also repeated at an off-campus shopping mall, another potential petri dish of flu transmittal.

That sneeze proved to be a powerful manipulation, provoking fear about all things health-related. "Those who had just passed a sneezing confederate [i.e., undercover researcher]," the authors write, "perceived the average American as more likely to contract a serious disease, to have a heart attack before 50, and to die from a crime or accident." People who saw the sneeze were also more negative about the country's health care system, and more in favor of spending federal dollars on flu prevention. When the unsuspecting study participants were debriefed, they reported that they weren't aware they had been manipulated.

The experiment's takeaway was this: When the perception of risk increases, the feeling of risk increases. This lesson is instructive in thinking about why some pockets of America are overreacting to the threat of Ebola.

The chances that Ebola will infect any given American is incredibly, incredibly small. There have been four infections in the United States since the first case was diagnosed here last month. Online, bad jokes abound about how low the chance of contracting Ebola is—jokes like "Americans are more likely to marry Rush Limbaugh than die of Ebola."

To our collective credit, the American people are thinking pretty calmly about the disease's threat. Just 24 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said they were worried about contracting Ebola. But for some communities who see themselves as being just a few degrees of separation away from Ebola, the threat has provoked panic. To extend the metaphor from the Michigan experiment, these communities are being sneezed on or are acting out of fear of being sneezed on.

Parents in Mississippi (a state that has not seen a case of Ebola) have pulled their children out of a middle school because the principal was recently in Africa. A school in Ohio closed for disinfection after Amber Vinson, a nurse who contracted the disease in Dallas, flew through Cleveland and made contact with a parent of a student. A Texas college has denied admission to students who come from Ebola-infected countries fearing they might bring the epidemic with them. Some conservative politicians are petitioning to close the southern border lest an Ebola-infected migrant stroll across it.

For these people, Ebola hits a psychological nerve, a base evolutionary reaction to recoil from the things that can cause us or our communities harm. And that reaction becomes stronger when the disease creeps closer. These psychological reactions happen on a gut level, and we aren't always aware they occur. It's important to recognize that even when the threat of Ebola seems to be growing closer to a community, it's probably further away than it appears.

This post originally appeared on National Journal, an Atlantic partner site.

MORE FROM NATIONAL JOURNAL:

Mad About Low Turnout? Get Even

Inside Chris LaCivita's Plan to Save Pat Roberts

The GOP’s Weird Science on Ebola








Feminist scholars call on Obama to drop the torture-based charges against Rasmea Odeh

10/23/14

An Open Letter to President Obama and the United States Department of Justice

In 2004 award-winning filmmaker Buthina Canaan Khoury made the documentary Women in Struggle about 4 Palestinian women who were former detainees. In her research and through interviews with the women, she documents the physical, mental and sexual torture women experienced during interrogations that led to forced confessions. Rasmea Odeh was one of those women. According to her testimony, she was brutally coerced into confession and served 10 years in an Israeli prison before her release. She was exiled from her Palestinian homeland and eventually immigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1994 as a legal resident where she tried to put her memories of torture behind her. She later became a naturalized citizen.

Rasmea Odeh

Rasmea Odeh

In the US, Rasmea settled in Chicago where she became the associate director of the Arab American Action Network, a social service and community organization in Chicago. There, she established the Arab Women’s Committee, a grassroots collective that promotes leadership among Arab immigrant women, challenges systems of oppression that impact Arab women’s lives, and secures a positive and safe political, economic, social, and cultural environment for Arab women and their communities. In 2013, the Chicago Cultural Alliance granted Rasmea its Outstanding Community Leader Award in recognition of her devotion of “over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women.”

Now, Rasmea is being persecuted again for not giving account of her time in jail after her torture 45 years ago on her naturalization application in 2004.

On October 22, 2013, the US Department of Justice arrested Rasmea Odeh at her home in the Chicago Suburbs. The Department of Justice alleges that Odeh failed to disclose on her naturalization application that she had served time in Israeli jail — even though her sentence was based on a confession she made in the midst of 45 days of physical torture while in detention. Rasmea faces up to ten years in US prison, fines up to $250,000, and potential deportation and denaturalization.

The Israeli state avoids any blame for the politically motivated abuse and imprisonment of Rasmea. The criminal charges she faces for alleged immigration fraud in the US are also politically motivated. They are based upon naturalization papers she filed ten years ago in 2004 and sprang from an illegal federal investigation of 23 Palestinian and anti- war activists that violates First Amendment rights. They are also connected to a long history of federal authorities using fear and repression to silence Palestinian American activists and intimidate immigrant women from participating in social justice movements.

Rasmea Odeh has suffered enough already. When the Israeli military arrested her, they also arrested her family members shortly after her arrest and destroyed her family’s home. Odeh’s 1969 conviction in Israel was determined by a court system that systematically abuses Palestinians’ due process rights, has a record of torture and sexual abuse of Palestinian women, men, and children, and convicts Palestinians at a rate of 99.74 percent.

As feminist scholars, we call on the Department of Justice to drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh. We extend our deepest support to Rasmea in the face of injustice. We recognize her as a leader in the international struggle to empower women and end violence against women. We recognize the pain and suffering she endured in Israeli prisons and we honor her for testifying before a United Nations Committee in Geneva as a survivor of sexual torture. We honor her decades of feminist activism on behalf of Arab and Muslim immigrant women living in poverty in Chicago. Rasmea built the Arab Women’s Committee and its base of nearly six hundred Arab immigrant women from scratch when she went door to door as a recent immigrant herself and made phone calls to house-holds with Arabic-speaking names from the white-pages. She developed an infrastructure for disenfranchised Arab immigrant and refugee women to obtain social services and support and she established English as a Second Language courses through which immigrant women perform plays, write their immigration stories, and form deep friendships, sisterhood, and solidarity. Because of Rasmea’s work, immigrant and refugee women who came to the US from countries facing war and political crises–like Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, and beyond—now have a place to seek support, gain empowerment and community, and call their home.

Rasmea’s story encompasses some of the most urgent feminist struggles of our times– violence against women and the use of sexual violence as a tool of colonization and war; the impact of racism and anti-immigrant policies upon women; the criminalization of women of color; and the use of intimidation to thwart feminist activism.

Rasmea’s trial is set to begin November 4, 2014, in Detroit, Michigan.

We call upon all feminist movements to stand with gender justice and centralize Rasmea Odeh’s struggle within all of our movements.

We call upon President Obama and the United States Department of Justice to drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh.

Sincerely,

  1. Sarah Abboud, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
  2. Stéphanie Latte Abdallah, Researcher, CNRS (IFPO)
  3. Diya Abdo, Associate Professor, Guilford College
  4. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
  5. Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor, Columbia University
  6. Fida J. Adely, Associate Professor, Georgetown University
  7. Jocelyn Ajami
  8. Nadje Al-Ali, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
  9. Dina Al-Kassim, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  10. Deborah Al-Najjar, University of Southern California
  11. Lori Allen, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
  12. Paul Amar, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  13. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  14. Barbara Aswad, Professor Emerita, Wayne State University
  15. Sa’ed Atshan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University
  16. Elsa Auerbach, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts Boston
  17. Kathryn Babayan, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  18. Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  19. Joanne Barker, Professor, San Francisco State University
  20. Janet Bauer, Associate Professor, Trinity College
  21. Leila Ben-Nasr, Ohio State University
  22. Sherna Berger-Gluck, California State University, Long Beach
  23. Amahl Bishara, Assistant Professor, Tufts University
  24. Elizabeth Bishop, Associate Professor, Texas State University
  25. Jennifer Brier, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  26. Victoria Brittain, Journalist and Author
  27. M. San Pablo Burns, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  28. Louise Cainkar, Associate Professor, Marquette University
  29. Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College
  30. Julia Chinyere Oparah, Professor, Mills College
  31. Andreana Clay, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
  32. Maria Cotera, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  33. Ephrosine Daniggelis
  34. Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emirita, University of California, Santa Cruz
  35. Lara Deeb, Professor, Scripps College
  36. Christine Taitano DeLisle, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign
  37. Gina Dent, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  38. Lisa Duggan, Professor, New York University
  39. Zillah Eisenstein, Distinguished Feminist Scholar, Ithaca College
  40. Omnia El Shakry, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
  41. Nada Elia, Independent Scholar
  42. Hoda Elsadda, Professor, Cairo University
  43. Anita Fábos, Associate Professor, Clark University
  44. Roderick Ferguson, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  45. Ellen Fleischmann, Professor, University of Dayton
  46. Cynthia Franklin, Professor, University of Hawai’i
  47. Rosa Linda Fregoso, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  48. Nancy Gallagher, Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  49. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  50. Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Faculty, California State University, Long Beach
  51. Layla Azmi Goushey, Assistant Professor, St. Louis Community College
  52. Marame Gueye, Associate Professor, East Carolina University
  53. Elena Gutiérrez, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  54. Elaine C. Hagopian, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College
  55. Sondra Hale, Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  56. Hala Halim, Associate Professor, New York University
  57. Najla Hamadeh, Independent Researcher
  58. Michelle Hartman, Associate Professor, McGill University
  59. Nadia Hijab, Author and Human Rights Advocate
  60. Grace Kyungwon Hong, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  61. LeAnne Howe, Professor, University of Georgia
  62. Constantine Inglessis
  63. Jacqueline Khayat Inglessis
  64. Joyce Inglessis
  65. Bushra Jabre, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  66. Lynette Jackson, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  67. Amira Jarmakani, Associate Professor, Georgia State University
  68. Suad Joseph, Distinguish Research Professor University of California, Davis
  69. Mohja Kahf, Professor, University of Arkansas
  70. Ronak Kapadia, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  71. Kehaulani Kauanui, Associate Professor, Wesleyan University
  72. Laleh Khalili, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies
  73. Sharon Heijin Lee, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, New York University
  74. Pardis Mahdavi, Associate Professor, Pomona College
  75. Lisa Suhair Majaj, Writer and Editor
  76. Jean Said Makdisi, Writer
  77. Harriet Malinowitz, Lecturer, Ithaca College
  78. Rania Masri, Associate Director, American University of Beirut
  79. Victor Mendoza, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  80. Hasna Mikdashi, Arab Women’s Studies and Research, NOUR, Cairo
  81. Maya Mikdashi, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University
  82. Minoo Moallem, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  83. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University
  84. Scott L. Morgensen, Associate Professor, Queen’s University
  85. Norma Claire Moruzzi, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  86. Susan Muaddi Darraj
  87. Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  88. Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
  89. Jennifer Olmsted, Professor, Economics, Drew University
  90. Geeta Patel, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
  91. Suvendrini Perera, Professor, Curtin University
  92. Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
  93. Michelle Raheja, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  94. Aneil Rallin, Associate Professor, Soka University of America
  95. Barbara Ransby, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  96. Robin L. Riley, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University
  97. Eleanor Roffman, Professor Emerita, Lesley University
  98. Judy Rohrer, Assistant Professor, Western Kentucky University
  99. Rachel Rubin, Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  100. Rosemary Sayigh, Researcher and Visiting Professor, Center for Arab and Middle East Studies, American University of Beirut.
  101. Susan Schaefer Davis, Independent Scholar
  102. Laurie Schaffner, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  103. Malini Johar Schueller, Professor, University of Florida
  104. Sarita See, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  105. May Seikaly, Associate Professor, Wayne State University
  106. Sima Shakhsari, Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
  107. Simona Sharoni, Professor, State University of New York, Plattsburgh
  108. Setsu Shigematsu, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  109. Irene Siegel, Assistant Professor, Hofstra University
  110. Andrea Smith, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  111. Samera Sood
  112. Ahdaf Soueif, writer
  113. Rajini Srikanth, Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  114. Maria Francesca Stamuli, National Library of Naples
  115. Neferti X. M. Tadiar, Professor, Barnard College
  116. Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin
  117. Sunera Thobani, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
  118. Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor, The New School for Social Research
  119. Judith E. Tucker, Professor, History, Georgetown University
  120. Karyn Valerius, Associate Professor, Hofstra University
  121. Sherry Vatter, California State University, Long Beach
  122. Maurice L. Wade, Professor, Trinity College
  123. Lee Ann Wang, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii
  124. Jessica Winegar, Associate Professor, Northwestern University

For more information, visit: Facebook page, Drop the charges against Rasmea now.

 

 

The rabbi’s fridge

10/22/14

Danielle Leshaw, the Hillel rabbi at Ohio University, has an active and entertaining twitter feed. She just tweeted the photo above of her refrigerator, stating:

It’s on the fridge. Next to the other sacred ideas. Tel Aviv. J STREET. Queerness. Art. My daughter. Coffee shops.

The sacred object in question is the “Free Palestine” accessory — yarmulke? — that a friend gave her. Leshaw commented:

Thank you, Keelan (sp?) I knew I’d get one eventually. Now, how do we do it?

Free Palestine accessory, maybe a yarmulke

Free Palestine accessory, maybe a yarmulke

I welcome Leshaw into the movement to free Palestine and suggest the avenue that so many Palestinians urge on us: boycott divestment and sanctions, or BDS. But Leshaw is determined to oppose BDS hammer and tongs. During the Open Hillel conference, she tweeted:

C’mon TELL US WHY BDS DOESN’T WORK ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. you can do it.

It’s a measure of the rabbi’s largeness of spirit that she tweeted out the Open Hillel conference even as she works for the procrustean atherosclerotic neanderthal Hillel organization that sets limits on free speech. Though I do think it’s a joke to call J Street a “sacred idea.” It’s a Beltway political organization run by a guy in his 50s who has done his utmost not to represent the views of his rank-and-file, to the extent that he has one.

By the way, as for the controversy that catapulted Leshaw into the spotlight, made her the rabbi at the “shitshow,” to use her deathless phrase: that was school senate president Megan Marzec’s “blood bucket” challenge for Gaza that the rabbi found so un-sacred. There are signs of healing on the Athens, Ohio, campus. Marzec was embraced over the weekend by the head of a Jewish fraternity on campus who affirmed that she is not anti-Semitic. As if she required that hecksher. Others continue to push for Marzec’s resignation. And in a piece today in the student paper, there was this disturbing statement.

“What I’m more interested in is the objective reality of ‘are people safe?’ ” [Tyler] Barton [of the Athens Committee for Palestine] said. “For example, what Megan Marzec experienced after the video was published. How many students have ever been called in to Cutler Hall to talk to the police and the Department of Homeland Security? … How many people are concerned about doing this panel or coming to this event because they’re afraid?”

Cutler Hall houses the senior administrative offices, including president and provost. UPDATE: Marzec informs me that she spoke to the police because of the many threats she had gotten.

Megan Marzec

Megan Marzec

 

 

Who Is Jeffrey Fowle? American Tourist Released By North Korea

10/21/14

Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans detained by the North Korean government, was released on Tuesday and is on his way home to Ohio, according to the U.S. State Department. Fowle, a 56-year-old city service worker from Miamisburg, Ohio, was arrested and held by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for five months after he left a Bible behind in the country that has little to no toleration for missionary activity.

A Coal Worker's Life—With a Lot Less Coal

10/16/14
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The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca, West Virginia, on May 18, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

King Coal Highway is the portion of U.S. Route 52 that gets drivers from Williamson to Bluefield, West Virginia. It's also a reminder of a mining industry that has supported the state's middle class for generations—an era of prosperity that is quickly winding down.

As Chico Harlan reported for the Washington Post's Storyline blog earlier this year, over 10,000 miners in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky have been laid off since 2012. Many of the coal reserves are harder to mine after years of easy extraction. And Environmental Protection Agency regulations, both existing and proposed, make an industry comeback unlikely.

The state sued the EPA in August, claiming that the federal agency can't put limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants under the Clean Air Act. In June, the EPA proposed new emissions guidelines that would create state-specific goals to lower rates of CO2 emissions.

With many small towns along the West Virginia portion of U.S. 52 struggling, local politicians are trying to come up with answers. Early Thursday, West Virginia Senate President, Jeff Kessler (D), announced the creation of a new task force that will look into creating new kinds of employment in the region while preserving what's left of the mining industry that so many still depend on.

Photographer Robert Galbraith recently shared his trip along King Coal highway over at Reuters' Wider Image blog. Through his shots, we see a typical day in the life of a coal worker.

Coal miners Rodney Blankenship (L), Roger Vanatter (C), and an unidentified colleague prepare for the start of their afternoon shift in the locker room of a coal mine near Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 22, 2014. Blankenship, 53, a coal miner for 30 years, said, "You go in there, hope to have good productivity on your shift, and get out safely." (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Coal miners enter a coal mine for the start of an afternoon shift near Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Coal miner Mike Hawks, 53, stands in an underground tunnel at a coal processing facility near Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Coal is stacked at the base of loaders along the Ohio River in Ceredo, West Virginia, on May 18, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A view of the Tug river running through downtown Iaeger, West Virginia, on May 20, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A vacant building is shown covered in vegetation along U.S. Route 52 near Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 21, 2014. The highway, known locally as "The King Coal Highway," runs through West Virginia's traditional coal mining belt. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A car is parked outside of the "Hard Times Tavern" in Fort Gay, West Virginia, on May 19, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A statue of Marilyn Monroe is shown outside the now-closed Happy Days Diner in Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 20, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Coal trains sit idle in front of a home in Iaeger, West Virginia, on May 20, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A man rides a bicycle past vacant storefronts in Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
Unemployed coal miners Todd Hatfield (L) and Dave Houck talk at Hatfield's bar and restaurant in Gilbert, West Virginia, on May 22, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
A replica of the Statue of Liberty is shown in downtown Matewan, West Virginia, on May 19, 2014. (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)