Wednesday 6 December 2023

Cutting All of Society's Traditional Classifications

"Ageism is distinct from all other forms of discrimination because it cuts all of society's traditional classifications: gender, race, religion and national origin."
Nuessel, 1982 (quoted in Kramer, 2003)

- Kramer, U. (2003). AGEISMUS - Zur sprachlichen Diskriminierung des Alters.
- photograph by Joel Meyerowitz via

Saturday 2 December 2023

Quoting Lauren Hutton

“I don’t believe your looks go. I intend to be one of the best-looking old ladies that anybody’s ever seen and if that happens to me, then that means I had a good life.”
Lauren Hutton, 1974

photograph via

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Voyages: Hélène Amouzou's Self-Portraits and the Stages of Invisibility

When I arrived in Brussels from Togo, I had to go through the bureaucracy that migrants face but had no citizenship papers and no right to stay, which meant I couldn’t look for work. So I had to stay at home without any kind of assistance. I began going to church and met a woman there with a background in video editing who offered to train me in video and film production. I lost contact with her after she left church but I wanted to learn more. Eventually, I found a college, the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek Academy of Drawing and Visual Arts in Brussels, where I could study film and photography. (...) I soon discovered my creative path and maximised the technical and creative potential of analogue photography.

I clearly recall the first photograph I ever took. From that first photo, my focus was always on producing work for myself and not for public show. In fact, one of the requirements for this three-year course was to produce a self-portrait to be judged before course assessors. Even then, I didn’t want my face to be seen so just took a photo of my body and kept myself anonymous. But the assessors encouraged me to have a more candid approach and share my story. As I progressed with the course, a teacher remarked on the quality of my work and encouraged me to approach a Brussels gallery to exhibit my pictures. But I felt uncomfortable – I was quite shy at the time. Even after the exhibition, I didn’t pursue other exhibitions because I wasn’t ready to share my personal story with the world. But I guess the transition had already occurred.

(...) I didn’t have the official papers that gave me the right to stay in Belgium so I felt I was always on a journey. I had a child with me yet couldn’t give her safety, security, a home or an identity. Indeed, I do have an identity but in Europe and Belgium I just feel like a nobody. I feel I am on this constant journey to find acceptance and in search of somewhere to settle down and find peace. So the pictures I create are documenting this journey to a place where you can just be yourself and don’t need ID cards and papers and can just exist as a human being.

(...) I feel invisible. I feel like I don’t exist. Yes, I have family connections – I have left family behind in Togo but here in Europe I am alone. On the streets of Belgium, no one really sees me and this is a very personal pain. It’s difficult to share and describe so I document it creatively through my photographs.

Self-portraiture is a way of writing without words. My aim is to reveal the deepest parts of myself.
Hélène Amouzou

photographs via and via and via and via and via 

Monday 20 November 2023

Which Statements Are Antisemitic And Islamophobic? On Differences in Sensitivity.

Hargreaves and Staetsky (2019) analysed differences between British Jewish and Muslim respondents in terms of sensitivity towards antisemitism and Islamophobia. Statements designed to reflect antisemitic attitudes were shown to ca. 1,500 Jewish people living in the U.K., and statements designed to be Islamophobic were shown to 1,000 Muslims (via and via).

a) Attitudes towards Jews

Israelis behave "like Nazis" towards the Palestinians
Does not consider Jews living in the UK to be British
Jews are not capable of integrating into British society
The interests of Jews in the UK are very different from the interests of the rest of the population
Jews have too much power in British economy, politics, media
The Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated

b) Attitudes towards Muslims

Most Muslims sympathise with terrorists
British Muslims do not share western values
British Muslims have no interest in integrating into British society
The interests of Muslims in Britain are very different from the interests of the rest of the population
Muslims have too much influence in Britain
Muslims often overreact to criticism of their religion

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Within the Jewish group, there was more certainty about what constituted antisemitism. Only 1% to 3% of Jewish respondents chose "don't know" for the antisemitic statements while 15% to 22% of Muslim respondents answered "don't know" when the Islamophobic statements were presented.

The groups also differed in their sensitivity. The most offensive anti-Jewish statement was the one about the Holocaust being a myth or exaggerated (96% of Jews agreed it was antisemitic). Large absolute majorities (82% to 94% of the Jewish respondents) perceived other statements as antisemitic, The smallest absolute majority (73%) was observed when presenting the description of Isrealis being Nazi-like towards Palestinians. "In stark contrast, none of the statements about attitudes towards Muslims were seen as Islamophobic by a majority of Muslim respondents."

In addition, age was a factor in the Jewish group whereas it was of no significance in the Muslim group. Jewish respondents aged over 40 were 80% to 90% more likely to be sensitive to antisemitism than those aged between 18 and 39. The authors explain the findings with the role of memory around the Holocaust and events in the 1940s and 1960s, and pivotal events shaping Islamophobia taking place in the 1990s and more recently. "When it comes to British Muslims and Islamophobia, perhaps the present matters more than the past."

Being born in the U.K. had an impact in both groups. Jewish respondents born in the U.K. were 40% less likely to be sensitive to the linking of Israelis and Nazis than those born in other European countries. UK-born Muslims respondents, however, were more or less twice as likely as those born in Asia to be sensitive to all Islamophobic statements. The authors speculate that the present conditions in the U.K. might be more likely to shape sensitivity towards Islamophobia than antisemitism. The study was carried out before the Hamas attack on Israel on 7th of  October, findings might differ now.

Education played an important role for both groups, but seemed to push sensitivity in opposite directions. Muslim respondents with degrees were 63% more likely to find all statements offensive. They were 70% more likely to be sensitive about Muslims not sharing western values. By contrast, Jewish respondents with degrees were 35% less likely than those without to be sensitive towards the linking of Israelis and Nazis. Jewish respondents in education were 66% less likely than those in employment to be sensitive to all the statements. They were 56% less likely to be sensitive to the linking of Israelis and Nazis.

The main conclusion of the study:

The study shows that assuming all Jews and all Muslims react to antisemitism and Islamophobia in the same way is likely to be inaccurate.

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- Hargreaves, J. & Staetsky, L. D. (2019). Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Measuring everyday sensitivity in the UK. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43(12).
- photograph (UK, 1970s) via

Saturday 18 November 2023

Minari (2020)

Minari is a film by - hyphenated - Korean-American filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung. The film is partly autobiographical and fully beautiful.  

Watching films in which white families speaking English represented the American experience and growing up with a father who "came to America believing in the romantic dream of what he saw in films like 'Big Country' and 'Giant' - this fertile land able to yield so much promise" (via), Lee Isaac Chung wanted to create something that transcends borders and feelings of national identity. And he certainly succeeded. Minari is "about taming the soil, like so many westerns", a drama "in an eminently American tradition".  At the same time, the language mainly spoken is Korean. This intersection led to some controversy when the movie's Golden Globes category was not best film, but best foreign film (via).
While Minari is about immigrants arriving in an unfamiliar world, the film shows a light touch in its treatment of racial and cultural difference. The Yi children face what we would now call microaggressions from local kids, but these are presented as essentially benign in their cluelessness. This is true to his experience, Chung says. “I grew up feeling like the main obstacles that we were trying to overcome had more to do with how we survive together as a family, and less to do with external relationships that we had with the community. Racism did exist and I’ve experienced some horrific incidents, but when I think about those days, it’s more about farming and the difficulties of trying to love each other.” (via)
"A lot of people have had good discussions about what it means to be American, and we need to broaden our definition."

"We grew up in rural Arkansas without any Koreans close by, and when I go to Korea feel out of place."

"Because growing up as an Asian-American and growing up as someone who is not white, oftentimes in this country you can feel as though you're a foreigner, or you're reminded of being a foreigner, even though you're not. Even though inside, internally, you feel completely American."
Lee Isaac Chung

"Growing up where I was, there were no Asians, no minorities, and there was always something to remind me of what I'm not. And when I go to Korea it's the same thing. I'm constantly reminded that I'm not Korean."

"I like the idea of all of us looking at the world with less of an emphasis on national borders and with more of an emphasis on shared humanity."

"A lot of times we have these categories that maybe don't fit the reality of human experience and human identity. I'm completely sympathetic to what a lot of people in my community are saying - that often as Asian Americans we're made to feel more foreign than we internally feel ourselves."

"I always tend to gravitate toward the idea of things being human: that this isolation I feel as an Asian American, even though it's real, other people have it too in their own way."

"I wanted to make something that transcends borders and gets beyond this feeling of national identity."

"Part of the fabric of America is that we have people from different countries who've come here and they are American, and yet they embrace their home ancestral culture. And this is their new home. And that's part of what makes this country unique in the history of human beings on this earth."

"I hope that anyone facing or experiencing discrimination will, first of all, take to heart that this is not their fault, and they are not alone in this. Secondly, I hope they find ways to plug into communities to help prevent negative feelings of discrimination from festering."

"Any time there is a film in a 'foreign language,' in Spanish or Korean or whatever language, it's usually not an American film. It's usually from another country."

"I grew up watching films of predominantly white families speaking in English, and that this represented the American experience."

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images via and via and via

Thursday 16 November 2023

Excerpt II: The Politics of Staring. By Rosemarie Garland-Thomson.

The rapid flourishing of photography after 1839 provided a new way to stare at disability. In our ocularcentric era, images mediate our desires and the ways we imagine ourselves.' Among the myriad, often conflicting, and never indifferent images modernity offers us, the picture of ourselves as disabled is an image fraught with a tangle of anxiety, distance, and identification. As a culture,we are at once obsessed with and intensely conflicted about the disabled body. We fear, deify, disavow, avoid, abstract, revere, conceal, and reconstruct disability - perhaps ...

... because it is one of the most universal, fundamental of human experiences. After all,we will all become disabled if we live long enough. Nonetheless, in representing disability inmodernity, we have made the familiar seem strange, the human seem inhuman, the pervasive seem exceptional. By the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, public displays of disabled people became inappropriate in the same way that public executions and torture came to beconsidered offensive. Disabled people were sequestered from public view ininstitutions and the private sphere as middle-class decorum pronounced it impolite to stare. Photography, however, has enabled the social ritual of staring at disability to persist in an alternate form. (Garland-thomson, 2002)

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- Garland-Thomson, T. (2002). The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography. In: Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities.
- photograph (Radical Beauty Project) via

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Excerpt I: The Politics of Staring. By Rosemarie Garland-Thomson.

The history of disabled people in the Western world is in part the history of being on display, of being visually conspicuous while politically and socially erased. The earliest record of disabled people is of their exhibition as prodigies, monsters, omens from the gods, and indexes of the natural or divine world. From the New Testament to the miracles of Lourdes, the lame, the halt and the blind provide the spectacle for the story of bodily rehabilitation as spiritual redemption that is so essential to Christianity. From antiquity through modernity, the bodies of disabled people considered to be freaks and monsters have been displayed ...

... by the likes of medieval kings and P. T. Barnum for entertainment and profit in courts, street fairs, dime museums and sideshows. Moreover, medicine has from its beginnings exhibit the disabled body as what Michel Foucault calls "the case", in medical theatres and other clinical settings, in order to pathologize the exceptional and to normalize the ordinary (Birth of the Clinic 29). Disabled people have variously been objecs of awe, scorn, terror, delight, inspiration, pity, laughter, or fascination - but they have always been stared at. (Garland-Thomson, 2002)

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- Garland-Thomson, T. (2002). The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography. In: Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities.
- photograph (Radical Beauty Project) via 

Monday 13 November 2023

Dear people who feel sorry for people with disabilities,

I have heard people say “Aww, I’m sorry.” But here is my question: why are you sorry? Do you assume because we are disabled we do not have a life that is as full as yours? Or because you think our lives are tough because we need help with things? Don’t get me wrong, as a disabled community we do have our struggles, whether that is accessibility, having the right things we need, etc. But at the end of the day, we are people. We have friends, jobs, we go to school and do so much more.

Let’s get real here. A parent hearing the word “disabled” changes all their hopes and dreams for a “perfect” child. Instead they may wonder: Will they have friends? Will they be picked on? Will they live a full, happy life? Let me answer this question. Yes, they can live happy lives. How do I know this? I am disabled. I have cerebral palsy and I am an amputee. I run and founded a small group in my area called Youth Changing the World with my friends. Last year I became a independent self-published author.

I think many people in society have a problem with the word disability. They are scared because they have a picture in their heads of someone who can’t do anything for him or herself. So they don’t even try to see what we are capable of, and limit us because they don’t know what to do or how to help us. For those of you who feel bad for us, or don’t quite get how we do the awesome things we are able to when given the chance, spend time with someone who is disabled. Help us — not necessarily with basic or everyday tasks, but with more accessibility. Give us jobs and support our right to be heard. We have just as much to say as everyone else if not more. So listen — you may learn something.

As a community we have to stand up and stand out and create and define our own lives, not let others do it for us. When we do, the world will see what the word “disabled” really means. 


A disabled woman who is limitless (by Larissa Martin)

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photograph of Sarah Gordy by Jonny Bosworth for The Radical Beauty Project via

Sunday 12 November 2023

Everyone is our neighbour...

"Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race (sic), creed or colour."

"In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognise how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945."

"I am reminded of a lady of about my age who was asked by an earnest, little granddaughter the other day 'Granny, can you remember the Stone Age?' Whilst that may be going a bit far, the older generation are able to give a sense of context as well as the wisdom of experience which can be invaluable."

"Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves–from our recklessness or our greed."

photographs (all Magnum) by Eve Arnold (first and second) and Martin Parr (third) via 

Saturday 11 November 2023

Dear Child, Draw A Scientist!

When, from 1966 to 1977, about 5,000 elementary school students from the United States and Canada were asked to draw a scientist, only 0.6% (28 children) of the sample drew a female scientist. All the others drew the then stereotypical male scientist with lab coat, eyeglasses and facial hair. Fast forward  2018: A meta-analysis (based on 78 studies, n=20,860) spanning five decades examined gender-science stereotypes prevailing in the United States. 

Results show that children's depictions of scientists has become more gender diverse over time. The tendency to draw male scientists decreased over historical time but increased with children's age.  

One concern about cross-sectional age comparisons is the confound with birth cohort (e.g., 8-year-olds in 2010 were born later in time than 14-year-olds in 2010). For instance, younger children might have drawn fewer male scientists than older children in the same data collection year because younger children were born and grew up later in historical time. In other words, the estimated effect of age might not represent developmental change but instead a confound with birth cohort. However, this alternative explanation was unlikely because the magnitude of the age effect was much greater than the historical time effect (...). In other words, change over age happened more rapidly than what historical change would alone predict. These results were therefore consistent with rapid change over children's development in addition to slower change over historical time.

In the study carried out from 1966 to 1977, 99,4% of children drew scientists as male. The percentage dropped to 72% in later studies (1985 to 2016). Both girls and boys drew male scientists less often in later decades compared to earlier ones (e.g. girls drew 98,8% of scientists as male in earlier vs 55% in later studies) (Miller et al., 2018).

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- Miller, D. I., Nolla, K. M., Eagly, A. H. & Uttal, D. H. (2018). The Development of Children's Gender-Science Stereotypes: A Meta-analysis of 5 Decades of U.S. Draw-A-Scientist Studies. Child Development, 89(6), 1943-1955.
- photograph by Tish Murtha (UK, 1970s) via