Savage Minds Around the Web

New School Occupation Declares Success: A student occupation of university buildings that came after two weeks of protest and a faculty vote of no-confidence against the university President at the New School ended with the president agreeing to begin moving to Socially Responsible Investing of the endowment, more student representation in administration decisions, and a general amnesty for protesters. Check out the New School in Exile website for updates and NYT coverage as well.

Raiders of the Found Arc: archaeologyknits at Archaeoporn commented on a recent published proposal to allow (and encourage) archaeologists to traffic in (what would otherwise be) looted objects. In the latest edition of Biblical Archaeology Review 34 (6), Hershl Shanks, the proposer of archaeo-looting, suggests that the selling of archaeological objects to museums may fund further research. In addition to questioning these ethics, archaeologykints rightly points out that such a system will force archaeologists to choose sites that may contain objects with greater museum draw.

Memory of Hunger: Paul Mason at Culture Matters published an interview with Alice Corbet, a recent PhD from the Sorbonne, where Mason asked Corbet about her fieldwork in a refugee camp in Morroco, how to live on the U.N. rations, and finding office space to write up in a graveyard.

Home is Where the Horror is: Jessica Crispin at the Smart Set reviewsThe Gentle Art of Domesticity (2008) and Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) to find out just what is different about the nineteenth-century housewife manifesto and third-wave feminism‘s valorization of the creative arts of the home.

Avedon, Evans and the Photographic Encounter: Over at (Notes On) Politics, Theory and Photography, there have a been a couple posts on the struggle over representation between the photographer and subject in the portrait photography of Walker Evans and Richard Avedon.

Colonial Legacies of Homophobia: As the New York Times reported this week, the first resolution brought to the floor of the United Nations to include sexual orientation and gender identity rights into the UN Declaration of Human Rights was supported by an unprecedented 66 countries, mostly in Europe and Latin America. Other states, like the Vatican, objected that inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity ‘challenges existing human rights norms.’ (File that under, ‘duh.’) While a counter statement read by a delegation led by the Organization of the Islamic Conference highlighted the religious objections to LGBTQ human rights, Human Rights Watch pointed out the legacy of (primarily British) colonialism in instituting a large number of the anti-sodomy laws still in place around the world.

Denim Beneath the Equator: Material World posted a description of Szilvia Simai-Mesquita’s work on Brazilian jeans and the commodification of Rio, Samba, and Brazilian women’s bodies.

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3 thoughts on “Savage Minds Around the Web

  1. I thought it was worth flagging up that the Vatican City isn’t a member state of the UN; rather, the Holy See has permanent observer status. This may sound like nitpicking, but it is not meant as such, for two reasons: a) they are able to remark on matters such as this, but cannot vote on them, and b) diplomatic relations by and from the Holy See are not with the state itself (the Vatican City), but with the jurisdiction of the pope (ultimately the government of the whole Church), which is treated as a sovereign entity for these purposes.

  2. Don’t worry, Richard. Not picky at all. I didn’t mean to imply that the Vatican had voting rights, just that their objection seemed ironic. Of course an LGBT amendment to the UN Declaration would ‘challenge existing human rights norms.’ That is, after all, the point of the resolution.

    But your point on the Holy See is well taken. I wrote the Vatican so as to leave no one scratching their heads about who the the Holy See is. But the NYTimes article does, correctly, refer to the Holy See and not the Vatican.

  3. Indeed, and I think this is a good story to bring to our attention for that reason. Personally, I think what is interesting about this debate is that it shows us the limits of essentialising something called “human rights”.

    The idea of lumping sexual/ religious/ racial/ dietary/ sporting preferences together, and declaring them all to be part of the same body of human diversity that should be respected under universal human rights provisions seems to fail to realise that many sexual/ religious/ racial/ dietary/ sporting preferences are contradictory both in expression and in the forms of social behaviour and organisation which they lead to. As we know, compartmentalising and privitising religion is something that has happened under particular historical circumstances. More usually, religion is not just something that goes on in your head and that you keep to yourself, it is something which guides expression and behaviour in the world. As a result, you cannot simultaneously protect the rights of people to live according to their religion (as religion is, de facto, a form of social organisation which directs social expression and behaviour according to social norms), AND also force people who wish to live in this way to accept that it is unlawful to express themselves, or organise themselves in such a way, that they believe they are guided to by revelation. Yet this seems to be the conceit of certain relativistic modes of pluralism.

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