Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.
“How to Make an Accused Rapist Look Good,” by Erin Gloria Ryan. Jezebel, February 6, 2015.
A piece published by Cathy Young in The Daily Beast earlier this month proved, yet again, that mainstream media perpetuates rape culture by questioning survivors’ accounts of sexual assault. Jezebel does a great job of tearing down these journalistic practices, and shutting down Young’s persistent rape skepticism in favor of the voices of the brave young people who have come forward on the issue of sexual assault and rape culture in their universities.
Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.
“Jose Mujica Was Every Liberal’s Dream President. He was Too Good to be True,” by Eve Fairbanks. The New Republic, February 5, 2015.
This rare deep dive into the personality and politics of Uruguay’s Jose Mujica is engaging and rich with anecdotes, but ultimately falls short. Eve Fairbanks parachuted into Montevideo, spoke with a few opposition journalists, and wrote a familiar tale of overambitious radicals who fail to deliver. By brushing aside the legacy of military dictatorship, the impact of the far right National Party—and for that matter the internal dynamics of Mujica’s own Popular Front—Fairbanks missed a rare opportunity to dig into an under-covered corner of Latin America.
Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia, and representational issues in film and television.
“Guardians, Gatekeepers, and the Gay White Media,” by Rohin Guha, Tom Bardwell and Zach Wilcha. Medium, February 8, 2014.
How do you solve a problem like Azealia? Ever since she splashed onto the rap scene in 2011 with the infectious “212,” Azealia Banks has thrown the music industry for a loop, indicting many for what she calls “cultural smudging” and feuding with the likes of Iggy Azalea and Kendrick Lamar. Her frequent use of the word “faggot” on Twitter, which she claims to be using in a “feminist way,” has recently sparked an important discussion in gay media circles about the power and policing of language in this cultural moment.
Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.
“Lama Younis: Rethinking psychoilogy and personal empowerment in the Middle East,” by Hyacinth Mascarenhas. Elan, June 24, 2014.The Washington Post, January 20, 2015.
While this mini-interview of the first (Saudi) female forensic psychologist and criminologist in the Middle East is a fluff piece, it serves as a good reminder of why, when it comes to “spearheading change and empowerment in the Arab world,” the first step should be supporting internal efforts towards change rather than trying to externally impose it (otherwise known as the savior complex trap).
Benjamin Hattem focuses on Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East, as well as economic inequality, homelessness, and the prison system.
“It Wasn’t About Oil, and It Wasn’t About the Free Market: Why We Invaded Iraq,” by Danny Postel. In These Times, February 11, 2015.
This is a thoughtful review of Muhammad Idrees Ahmad's The Road to Iraq, a book that unpacks the neoconservative agenda that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The review caught my attention early with its compelling criticism of three powerful narratives of the rationale for war: that it was fought for oil, to spread free market doctrine, or to expand US global political dominance. It only gets better from there.
Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.
“NGOs – do they help?” by Dinyar Godrej. New Internationalist, December 2014.
With the rise of neoliberal policies in the 1980s, NGOs were increasingly given the task of addressing social issues in society—poverty, environmental issues, gender equality, etc. In this article, Godrej critiques the “corporatization” of NGOs and analyzes how the non-profit model stifles initiatives for radical structural change. Due to enormous government and corporate funding of NGOs, Godrej examines whether NGOs are indeed forces for betterment in society or merely instruments of state policy.
James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.
“Peer-Pressure Philanthropy,” by Vauhini Vara. The New Yorker, February 8, 2015
Vara argues that the emerging billionaire class has ushered in a new era of giving, one in which philanthropists are more willing to donate greater shares of their wealth at a younger age. She fails to mention that the wealth of the new elite is generated by a system of exploitation that is the source of the very ills in society that they purport to alleviate. It would be misguided not to want the money to be put to good use, but there is no doubt that “corporate responsibility” is a giant PR campaign that softens the image of the powerful and keeps the public further from dissent.
Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.
“The CIA's Secret Psychological Profiles of Dictators and World Leaders Are Amazing,” by Dave Gilson. Mother Jones, February 11, 2015.
Following reports of a secret Pentagon study diagnosing Putin with autism, Mother Jones’ listicle spotlights leaders targeted by the CIA's “long history of crafting psychological and political profiles of international figures, with varying degrees of depth and accuracy.” At their best, the excerpted profiles, which occasionally conflate a leader's ideological perspective with his psychological and moral failings, read like passages from The Brothers Karamazov. Nikita Khrushchev, for instance, is described as “An uninhibited ham actor, who sometimes illustrates his points with the crudest sort of barnyard humor…Capable of extraordinary frankness, and in his own eyes no doubt unusually honest, Khrushchev can also on occasion be a gambler and a dissembler expert in calculated bluffing.”
Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor, and race.
“Injustice at the Intersection,” by Benjamin Ross. Dissent, December 18, 2014
With urban poverty pushed to the city’s edge, suburban poverty is growing. Carless and forced to walk streets that are unfriendly to pedestrians, many low-income people are at risk of becoming traffic fatalities—or police fatalities (Michael Brown was jaywalking in his suburb when he was stopped by Officer Darren Wilson). Benjamin Ross’s article proves that segregation and oppressive land-use planning have not disappeared in the age of urbanization; we've merely shunted the poor into new—now suburban—uninhabitable spaces.
Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.
“Labor Pains,” by Rebecca Traister. The New Republic, February 3, 2015.
Traister’s narrative about the restrictions for new and working mothers in the United States provided great insight into the challenges women still face within the professional sphere. Although companies like Google and Facebook are meeting the obvious need for parental leave benefits, there is still only a small percentage of working parents who are receiving this coverage. And, as Traister can attest, pregnant women and new mothers have limited options for professional mobility — regardless of their benefits package.