ISIS. Do we really know what we are doing?


All of this brings us back to the USA’s strategy of how to deal with the extremists. Air-strikes are proving to be ineffective. Even if the decision were made to send in ground forces, it would be unlikely to have success, ISIS are very good at disappearing into the population, when I was in Menbij in Syria last year, it was already in the city but nobody knew it — they were simply waiting for the right time to take over. Added to this, if the USA and allies put boots on the ground, support for ISIS would explode, memories of the last war in Iraq are still very raw for many in the region. ISIS is trying to draw the USA further into conflict as it knows doing so will make it stronger.

So what is the solution? This is not an easy question to answer, at base this is an Arab problem which requires an Arab solution. First, the political reasons for why there is so much support for ISIS need to be addressed, being more inclusive for large parts of the population across the region and reducing government corruption.

Originally posted on Russell Chapman:

Much is being made of attempts to destroy ISIS but the question needs to be asked, will the current strategy work or will it lead to increased chaos in the Middle East?



 ISIS, or Daesh as they are called in the Middle East,appear not to be too worried about the USA-led coalition air-strikes. In fact they seem to have had very little impact so far.

The question being asked by governments in the region and around the world is what can be done to stop ISIS. They are effectively re-drawing the map of the Middle East, the Sykes-Picot Agreement has finally come undone. One of the things I find interesting is how little direct effort the governments of the Middle East as well as Egypt are putting into the fight considering the existential crisis which confronts them. Part of this comes down to culture, diverse Arab cultures do not have…

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About Those Good Intentions


Frustrated with what they perceive as their inability to change the politics of their own nation, some feel that they might make more of an impact in a different nation (Mathers, 2010, p. 169). Yet this assumes that other societies are less complex, easier to change and even receptive to outsiders bringing about change for them. If one feels that Africa is oppressed, then why assume that is to Africa that one must go, rather than work at home to change the policies of one’s country, for example, supporting debt forgiveness, challenging unjust trade and aid policies, reining in your corporations, or pushing for the demilitarization of the foreign relations of one’s own country? It is important not to assume that others are simply waiting for a stranger to come and lead them, like a Hollywood tale of the usual white messiah who is always the hero of other people’s stories.
What other agendas are facilitated by military intervention, such that the “cure” can end up being worse than the “illness”? How is war consistent with the defense of human rights? How do you avoid the risk of prolonging, widening and further militarizing a local political conflict by intervening militarily?

Originally posted on ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY:

The following, the final in our series of extracts, comes from my chapter, “Imperial Abduction Lore and Humanitarian Seduction,” which serves as the introduction to Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 1-34.

This section was primarily addressed to students as readers, and any constructive feedback would be appreciated.

There are many valid and unimpeachable reasons why students might be considering humanitarian work and/or working for a NGO. There is no gainsaying that many students have genuine, sincere, and heartfelt reasons for coming to the aid of others: those who come from privileged backgrounds might feel the need to “give back”; those who come from backgrounds of struggle might be determined to lessen the burden of disadvantage on others like them. Having read chapters such as the ones in this volume, or several others, and having been asked to question their…

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The “New” Cinema of Palestine

Originally posted on Arab Arts Blog:


Scene from Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma

Recent Palestinian films such as Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma and Najwa Najjar’s Eyes of A Thief have been described as “new,” offering “unique” perspectives on Palestinian life. Daoud Kuttab for example, writing in Al Monitor, places Najjar’s film within a cadre of filmmakers, some new, others well-established, who are “trying to show the complexity of Palestinian life”:

Now, however, a new cadre of Palestinian filmmakers is trying to show the complexity of Palestinian life, and therefore Palestinians’ humanity. Filmmakers such as Michel Khleifi, Elia Suleiman, Hany Abu Assad, Azza el Hassan, Suha Arraf, Raed(Andoni), Saed Andoni and others have portrayed much more nuanced and complex visions of Palestinian life under occupation.

Some of the film-makers themselves have pointed out that, even though their work may develop new themes, they are building on previous work and locate their films very much within…

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Smug and Arrogant Atheism — liberals should be better than Bill Maher.

Just would you please read some works of anthropologists who have done decades of research, qualitative and quantitative, and who have lived with Muslims?

Thanks for Ben Affleck.

Harris, who had complained about criticism of the Muslim religion being dismissed as Islamophobic, countered that liberals should be allowed to criticize bad ideas.

“Islam is the motherload of bad ideas,” Harris argued.

“Jesus,” Affleck said in frustration.

“That’s just a fact,” Maher said, backing Harris up.

“Or how about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?” Affleck said.

Maher did not address criticism directed toward him by religious scholar Reza Aslan, who said on CNN that his views on the religion were “not very sophisticated.”

“But, you know, frankly, when it comes to the topic of religion, he’s not very sophisticated in the way that he thinks,” he continued. “I mean, the argument about the female genital mutilation being an Islamic problem is a perfect example of that. It’s not an Islamic problem. It’s an African problem.”

Aslan noted that predominately Christian nations, like Eritrea and Ethiopia, practiced female genital mutilation.

“But, again, this is the problem, is that you make these facile arguments that women are somehow mistreated in the Muslim world — well, that’s certainly true in many Muslim-majority countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Do you know that Muslims have elected seven women as their heads of state in those Muslim-majority countries? How many women do we have as states in the United States?”

Aslan also said countries like Turkey and Indonesia respected the rights of women.

“I mean, again, this is the problem is that you’re talking about a religion of 1.5 billion people,” he said, “and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, well, in Saudi Arabia, they can’t drive and so therefore that is somehow representative of Islam. It’s representative of Saudi Arabia.”

Notches Back to School Special: Introducing Students to the History of Sexuality


the tasks necessary to get students to think historically about sexuality: defining sexuality and advancing the idea that sexuality is socially constructed; reading primary and archival sources critically; cultivating a personal investment in the subject matter while moving beyond autobiographical analysis of sexuality; and emphasizing that sexuality is intersectional (that it cannot be examined separately from other categories of identity, social structures, and systems of meaning).

Originally posted on NOTCHES:

By Gillian Frank

Learning new names, establishing expectations, reviewing the syllabus, and exciting students about course materials are among the many challenges professors face on the first day of class. Those who teach history of sexuality classes face additional hurdles. Many students carry with them fundamental assumptions about sexuality. Often, they think of sexuality as natural and unchanging, comprising behaviors that have no history. At the same time, they have been enculturated to have a curiosity about sex and sexuality and to talk about them, often in personal ways.

vassar students

A few weeks ago, Notches asked its readers who teach history of sexuality courses what strategies they use to introduce students to the field. The responses, posted below, detail some of the tasks necessary to get students to think historically about sexuality: defining sexuality and advancing the idea that sexuality is socially constructed; reading primary and archival sources critically; cultivating a personal investment in the subject matter while moving beyond autobiographical analysis of sexuality; and…

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Migraine Fears


HA! 1870年「偏頭痛」才第一次在英語世界裡誕生,而且接下來二三十年,醫生們在當時的醫療期刊上,只在乎自己的偏頭痛與男人的偏頭痛,完全不在乎女性的!

Originally posted on REMEDIA:

By Katherine Foxhall

All the fascinating discussions of emotion on REMEDIA – particularly Danielle Ofri’s recent reflection ‘On the Raw Fear of Being a Patient’ – made me think about the role of fear in the history of illness. It occurred to me that I’ve come across fear in a number of contexts while researching the history of migraine – fear as a cause, as a symptom and as a consequence of this condition.

In 1870, Hubert Airy wrote about seeing a person afflicted by attacks of ‘hemiopsy’ – zigzag patterns affecting eyesight, now commonly known as migraine aura – ‘turn away in horror from a drawing of the ugly sight, quite content to bear serious illness “if only the ‘half-blindness’ would keep away”.’[i]


Hubert Airy, Plate XXV ‘Stages of Teichopsia’ from ‘On a distinct form of transient hemiopsia’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 160 (1870).


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Jenny Marx, who gave up aristocracy to spread Marx’s revolutionary thoughts

5 Fascinating Facts About Karl Marx’s Wife

The woman behind the man who made a huge impact.
Love and Capital

If Karl Marx hadn’t died in 1883, we can suppose he’d be used to being misunderstood and demonized by now. His story and his ideas are certainly more complex than many of us realize.Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution reads like a novel. Mary Gabriel, a journalist, editor, and biographer, took eight years to research it. The focus is on relationships. Karl had a very loyal wife, and a devoted family. It was, after all, Marx’s family’s urgent needs that motivated him to complete his books, including the most famous, Das Kapital. Often, though, the same boisterous needy family contributed to the philosopher’s lengthy writing blocks.

Economics, politics, revolution, and the pros and cons of capitalism don’t overwhelm the human side of Gabriel’s narrative, even though the Marx family, as Gabriel writes, “ate, slept, and breathed political, social, and economic revolution.” Much of the material comes from letters by the principal players, which makes for a humanized group portrait.


1. Jenny was born into an aristocratic family that didn’t approve of Marx. They were engaged for seven years, much of the time maintaining a long-distance relationship while Marx traveled and studied, before they married when she was 29 (he was 25). Karl brought 45 books on their lengthy honeymoon.

2. Jenny bore seven children. Of those, only three daughters survived, and two of them later committed suicide.

3. She stayed with Marx even after he fathered a child with the woman who helped care for their children and lived with them for many years.

4. Jenny and Karl, who were often poverty-stricken political refugees, moved frequently from city to city and country to country, starting over repeatedly with almost nothing.

5. She copied out all his articles and book manuscripts by hand, even when she was ill and despairing, until her eldest daughter took over.

These few facts barely begin to scratch the surface of Gabriel’s findings. Marx’s alter ego, Friedrich Engels, too, comes to the fore in the book. He was Marx’s lifelong writing and thinking partner, as well as a crucial part of his financial support. Engels, who had the same anti-capitalist ideals as Marx, worked for his father’s company in order to have a steady income so he could help “the cause.”

Love and Capital contains a comprehensive list of characters, not that you need to fix each secondary character in mind to find the story compelling. There’s also a “political timeline” so you can place the Marx family in a historical context.

Copyright (2012) by Susan K. Perry