Sheryl Sandberg isn't the only one who's "leaning in" at others' expense—as blogger tressiemc characterizes her this week. The French won't stop colonizing Africa; the Brazilian government won't stop plowing over the environment (and indigenous rights); and debt collectors are putting employee data up for sale. Meanwhile, in this week's article roundup from Nation interns, Marx's ghost lives on.
— Alleen Brown focuses on education.
“Opening Up, Students Transform a Vicious Circle,” by Patricia Leigh Brown. The New York Times, April 4, 2013.
Patricia Leigh Brown profiles a restorative justice program in Oakland, which, like similar programs in Chicago, Denver, Portland and Minneapolis, gives struggling students an alternative to violence and their schools an alternative to punitive discipline. In the Oakland program, students work through issues in talking circles, discussing what led to problematic behavior and how they can make amends. In the wake of post-Newtown demands to install more police in schools, several publications have printed stories about such programs.
— James Cersonsky focuses on labor and education.
“Lean In Litmus Test: Is This For Women Who Can Cry At Work?” by Tressie McMillan Cottom. tressiemc.com, April 1, 2013.
“‘Lean In’ sounds like it was written for women who can cry at work…. Crying at work is a euphemism for the myriad ways in which black women are sanctioned for demonstrating behavior from which white women benefit…. Sandberg doesn’t have to attend to things I care about like race, class, inequality and capitalism…. Privilege is about never having to critically engage the realities of others…. In effect, respecting Sandberg’s agency requires I stifle my own.” For people who think about labor, especially people who can cry at work (and the myriad male equivalents of crying at work), this is a must-read. It’s also a must-read for those who, like Sheryl Sandberg (and tressiemc), assert agency through writing.
— Catherine Defontaine focuses on war, security and peace-related issues, African and French politics, peacekeeping and the link between conflicts and natural resources.
“Old Wine in New Bottles? Justifying France’s Military Intervention in Mali,” by Benedikt Erforth and George Deffner. Think Africa Press, March 18, 2013.
In less than two years, France has intervened three times in Africa: in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi, in the Ivory Coast to help arrest former president Laurent Gbagbo and now in Mali to fight terrorists and Islamists and guarantee the security of West Africa and Europe. However, despite its official rhetoric, the French government has failed to avoid accusations of neocolonialism and to relinquish its outmoded Françafrique system. Indeed, critics suggest that France’s intervention is motivated by its economic and strategic interests in the region and its ambitions to keep its status as an important player on the international level.
— Luis Feliz focuses on ideas and debates within the left, social movements and culture.
“The Revolutionary: Is Marx still relevant?” by Terry Eagleton. Harper’s, April 2013.
Wit and clarity make Terry Eagleton one of the most readable of literary theorists-cum-Marxists around—qualities in full display in his review of Jonathan Sperber’s biography of Karl Marx. Rest assured this is not another of those pat moralist tales of the purity of the idea of Marxism contra the horror of the reality. Eagleton breathes gusts of fresh air into Marxism for neophytes and committed radicals alike.
— Elana Leopold focuses on the Middle East, its relations with the US and Islam.
“Remembering A Baghdad Elsewhere: An Emotional Cartography,” by Ella Habiba Shohat. Jadaliyya, April 1, 2013.
Ella Habiba Shohat offers a poignant memoir about the power of language while growing up an Iraqi Jew in Israel. Reflecting on her experiences with Hebrew, Arabic and English, she describes ridding herself of the Arabic-accented Hebrew of her parents, shame at her grandparents' complete illiteracy in the language and being inculcated with Israeli pride at school. Sadly (though unmentioned here), this intra-Jewish othering continues with contemporary discrimination against Ethopian Jews, among other groups.
— Alec Luhn focuses on East European and Eurasian affairs, especially issues of good governance, human rights and activism.
“All dissidents now: Russia's protests and the mirror of history,” by Tom Rowley. openDemocracy, March 29, 2013.
Movements seek validation and strength from the past, as we can see when activists in the United States, for example, constantly invoke groups like SNCC and SDS. Russia's history of revolutionaries and dissidents is incredibly rich, almost depressingly so. In this article, Tom Rowley attempts to find the Soviet- and tsarist-era martyrs, tactics and discourses that Russia's current grassroots opposition draws upon. Rowley views the past with decidedly rose-tinted glasses, but at the very least his comparison of the Pussy Riot proceedings with the Sinyavsky-Daniel show trial is apt.
— Leticia Miranda focuses on race, gender, telecommunications and media reform.
“Retailers Track Employee Thefts in Vast Databases,” by Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. The New York Times, April 3, 2013.
The business of debt collectors selling employee data proliferates as companies track employees who have been charged with theft.
— Brendan O’Connor focuses on media criticism and pop culture.
“The Meme Hustler,” by Evgeny Morozov. The Baffler, April 1, 2013.
Evgeny Morozov, in a consummate display of the "rhetoric of disdain," illuminates the history of how we talk about the Internet, revealing the hidden values embedded in Silicon Valley's digital discourse.
— Anna Simonton focuses on issues of systemic oppression perpetuated by the military and prison industrial complexes.
“Prying Eyes,” by Jonah Weiner. The New Yorker, October 22, 2012.
I hate when fliers advertise both the beginning and end times for an event, because I always wind up thinking that the thing starts when it ends. That's why I missed Trevor Paglen's presentation at George Washington University this week. To make up for my disappointing incompetence I read, and loved, Weiner's article about Paglen's work, which blurs the boundaries between art, journalism, science and geography. Weiner's account beautifully articulates how Paglen's art—from mapping and photographing CIA black sites, to launching a silicon disc etched with photographs into space—reveals through blurry glimpses of the world of classified defense activity what cannot be expressed in a straightforward journalistic exposé.
— Cos Tollerson focuses on Latin American politics and society, and United States imperialism.
“Amazon tribe threatens to declare war amid row over Brazilian dam project,” by Jonathan Watts. The Guardian, April 3, 2013.
Since the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT) entered the presidency in 2003, Lula and Dilma's pursuit of development by any means necessary has resulted in a serial disregard for environmental protections and indigenous rights. It has also created deep fissures within the coalition of progressive social movements that worked tirelessly to achieve the PT's growth throughout the 80s and 90s. The government's determination to build a network of dams throughout the Amazon in violation of indigenous tribes' claims to the territory is the most striking example of destructive environmental policies that have gradually alienated the Brazilian Green Party, the Landless Workers Movement and others in recent years.
— Sarah Woolf focuses on what’s happening north of the US border.
“Ralph Klein, 70: The man who ruled Alberta,” by Sandra Martin. The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2013.
One of the most influential Canadian politicians of the last 50 years, former Premier Ralph Klein—who died March 29 at age 70—was synonymous with the province of Alberta, for better or worse. This profile paints a nuanced picture of the high school dropout who would become "King Ralph," and simultaneously serves as a primer on Alberta's peculiar political landscape. Having spent many of my formative years in Alberta, I can't overemphasize his importance as a political figure; I was no great fan, but no one can deny that King Ralph lived a fascinating life.