Monday 31 December 2018

Happy New Year! Cheers!

I wish you a most wonderful, exciting-relaxing, peaceful, sunny 2019, a year with less populism, less ageism, less sexism, less ableism, less homophobia, less islamophobia, less hate, ..., more love, more awareness, more tolerance, more empathy, more courage, more vision, more wisdom. Thank you so much for having dropped by in 2018. Happy New Year! Cheers!

photograph via

Sunday 30 December 2018

Desmond Tutu's Letter to Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1991) and State Counsellor became a "democracy icon who fell from grace". Not only did she not speak out against the genocide taking place in Myanmar. She described the generals in her cabinet as "rather sweet" (via), denied the ethnic cleansing taking place, said the military would operate according to the rule of law (via) and that she had no idea why Muslims were fleeing the country (via).

"I don't think there is ethnic cleansing going on. I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening. I think there is a lot of hostility there - it is Muslims killing Muslims as well, if they think they are co-operating with the authorities." Aung San Suu Kyi
Meanwhile, about 400 villages have been wiped off the map (80% of them in the first three weeks of the military campaign), women are tied to trees and gang-raped, children are assaulted and forced back inside burning houses, people tortured (via), over 725.000 people have been forced to flee to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017 (via and via). In the month after the violence broke out, at least 6.700 Rohingya were killed, at least 730 of them were children under the age of five (via).

There was a discussion whether Aung San Suu Kyi would be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize and it was decided that she could keep it as the rules did not allow for it to be withdrawn (via). However, Canadian MPs voted to strip her of her honourary citizenship (via), she was stripped of her Freedom of Edinburgh reward, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle revoked all honourary awards, Sir Bob Geldof called Aung San Suu Kyi a murderer (via), she lost the Freedom of Paris award, Amnesty International's "Ambassador of Conscience Award" (via), Unison's honourary membership, Sheffield's award, Dublin's award, the honourary presidency of the London School of Economics student union, her name was deleted from an exhibition at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the City of London and the University of Bristol expressed their concerns (via)

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar's people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called 'ethnic cleansing' and others 'a slow genocide' has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn't come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

God bless you.


Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa
September 2017

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photograph by Sumaya Hisham via

Friday 28 December 2018


“Ian” is a short, animated film inspired by the real-life Ian, a boy with a disability determined to get to the playground despite his playmates bullying him. This film sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included.


“Ian” started as a mother’s mission to educate her son’s bullies on the playground—one to one. When she realized that the need for inclusion was bigger than one playground, she wrote a book and founded Fundación ian to change thousands of minds and attitudes about people with disabilities. She approached MundoLoco, a top digital animation studio in Latin America, about creating “Ian,” an animated film to deliver the message of inclusion to audiences all over the world. The real Ian is a fourth grader who, like most fourth graders, wants to play with his friends. But because some kids are not used to someone like Ian—someone who has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and a computer that works with his eye movements to communicate—they bully him and don’t include him when they play. “The film is an opportunity for all society…to break down barriers, walls, and free us from prejudices,” Graschinsky said. The film was crafted to “guide [all children] to acquire concrete tools to be people of solidarity.”
respect ability

image via

Monday 24 December 2018

Just Another Day

Buone feste ... I sincerely wished that those who celebrate Christmas today were not alone, particularly the aged.

"Nearly half of the older people surveyed for Age UK – equating to almost 5.7 million people aged-65 and over – feel their days can be repetitive, almost a quarter of whom (around 1.4 million older people) admitted that Christmas isn't a special day for them and just passes them by.

Based on the survey, the charity estimates that getting on towards a million (873,000) people aged 65 and over don't see or hear from someone for days on end over the festive period. And at Christmas time, on days when older people do not see or hear from anyone, over half (55%) rely on the TV for companionship."
Age UK

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photograph by Bruce Gilden via

Thursday 20 December 2018

Sergio Leone, Italian Western, and Women

"Even in the greatest Westerns, the woman is imposed on the action, as a star, and is generally destined to be “had” by the male lead. But she does not exist as a woman. If you cut her out of the film, in a version which you can imagine, the film becomes much better. In the desert, the essential problem was to survive. Women were an obstacle to survival! Usually, the woman not only holds up the story, but she has no real character, no reality. She is a symbol. She is there without having any reason to be there, simply because one must have a woman, and because the hero must prove, in some way or another, that he has "sex-appeal.""
Sergio Leone (1929-1989)

"My films are often characterized by the lack of women present in them, except for this last one [Once Upon a Time in America]. Would you like to know why I create the women as I do? Well, because I think women have always been considered objects, especially in the genre of westerns. And especially in gangster films, with the gangster’s moll—she would always be more or less of an object. And I’m not convinced of this theory. Because I think even gangsters’ women have brains. They think and even, as we say, have balls.
Virginia Woolf was one example. She was called the “Lover of 100 Gangsters.” Which is why, in the context of westerns, when I used a woman in my films or wrote a woman into my film, I wanted her to be a central point and a motivating point or a catalyst to function in the film. I didn’t want her just to be a woman standing at the window, waving hello and goodbye to men as they came and went in the world that they were struggling through. I wanted her to have a true function.

When I used Claudia [Cardinale] for example, in Once Upon a Time in the West, she represented the birth of American matriarchy. Because women had enormous weight in America. And they still have. Because they are truly the padrone [owners, masters] of America. Therefore, when they are put into a film, I think they have to be put in for a distinct purpose and have a reason to exist. Not as some superficial or gratuitous presence. You see in Once Upon a Time in the West the whole film moves around her [Cardinale]. If you take her out, there’s no more film. She’s the central motor of the entire happening. It’s the same for Deborah [Elizabeth McGovern] and for Carol [Tuesday Weld] [in Once Upon a Time in America]."
Sergio Leone

photographs via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Tuesday 18 December 2018

International Migrants Day

"Migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding. It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike.

But when poorly regulated, migration can intensify divisions within and between societies, expose people to exploitation and abuse, and undermine faith in government.
This month, the world took a landmark step forward with the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
Backed with overwhelming support by the membership of the United Nations, the Compact will help us to address the real challenges of migration while reaping its many benefits.
The Compact is people-centered and rooted in human rights.
It points the way toward more legal opportunities for migration and stronger action to crack down on human trafficking.
On International Migrants Day, let us take the path provided by the Global Compact: to make migration work for all."
António Guterres

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photograph by Dorothea Lange via

Saturday 15 December 2018

International Tea Day

"If you think this holiday was about drinking tea, well think again! International Tea Day is all about the tea workers and bringing civil rights into action." (via)

Many of the people employed by the tea industry are women. In Malawi, for instance, 75% of the 15.000 smallholder tea farmers are women (via). In Assam, which accounts for more than 51% of India's tea production, it is primarily women who pick tea leaves (via). The same is true for China and Taiwan (via). The feminisation of tea plantations started in the early twentieth century through "the large-scale deployment of cheap female and child labour in the labour-intensive task of plucking leaves". This was the only Indian industry that employed more women than men (Sen, 2002).
Picking the tea leaves is backbreaking work, involving long hours, and it is done primarily by women. Children, adolescent girls and women in these communities are at risk of poor overall growth and development, especially due to high levels of anaemia and malnutrition. They suffer a high disease burden and high mortality; their levels of education are low; and children are likely to marry early. Their total dependence on the tea industry makes them vulnerable to exploitation and limits their participation in mainstream development.

In Japan, tea culture is said to have encouraged social stratification as it had been mainly practiced by elite classes. However, it has also been extended to middle-class non-working women who learn "feminine gracefulnesss" and etiquette. This goes back to the times Japan "opened its doors to westernization, when Japanese girls' education became one of the systems through which the government attempted to preserve its sense of nationalism" (Nakagawa, 2015)
Featuring different sado etiquettes in public school textbooks, the Japanese government specifically focused on girls because Minister Kabayama Sukenori believed that as future house makers, women were responsible for building the foundations of the nation, and therefore it was their duty to “nourish a warm and chaste character and the most beautiful and elevated temperament” (Surak 2013:74). On the other hand, the tea ceremony only appeared briefly in boys’ textbooks as a recreational hobby. This was because with the rise of industrial society, all men were expected to work. They no longer had time for aesthetic pursuits. Thus began the nationalization of sado as a feminine culture and its rise as an integrated part of Japanese identity. Nakagawa, 2015
In the eighteenth century, tea became part of British culture by transforming it "from an exotic luxury consumed primarily by men in public coffeehouses to a necessity of everyday life enjoyed by both men and women in the private, domestic space of the home" (Fromer, 2008). Not unlike Japan, tea drinking was marked by social categories, a middle-class position with a certain income level, the social knowledge and manners to set the table and (female) hands to perform the necessary labour. "The tea table thus mediated between men and women in Victorian culture and reaffirmed the ideological division of labor within the middle-classe household." (via)
From the time the British discovered tea, they have had a somewhat unnatural affiliation with the drink. They started wars over it, pause during battles to enjoy it... Lo, 2008
Tea is often cultivated by ethnic minorities as it is grown in mountainous parts of countries that are mainly inhabited by ethnic groups (Eto, 2015)
Particularly in Assam the process of ethnicity and identity has been becoming a burning problem with political development and raising aspiration of the communities after independence.
Large section of these elites believes that the people of this social group must develop or form a single common identity for themselves. In their consideration „Tea Tribe‟ is the most suitable identity which can prestigiously cover every section of this social group. Over the years different organizations and people belonging to this group have been increasingly advocating this identity by various means. They are promoting a common Tea labor feeling, developing a common language namely Sadri, seeking political safe-guards and also by preserving common culture that is tea culture within Assamese society. Eto, 2015
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- Eto, H. (2015). Comprehensive Study of Tea Culture and Its Possible Contribution to Creativity Education in Locals. International Journal of Research in Sociology and Anthropology, 1(1), 53-63.
- Fromer, J. E. (2008). "Deeply Indebted to the Tea-Plant": Representations of English National Identity in Victorian Histories of Tea. Victorian Literature and Culture, 36, 531-547.
- Nakagawa, E. (2015). Exporting a National Identity: Green Tea's Entrance into the Global Food Network. Senior Capstone Project, Paper 457, link
- Sen, S. (2002). Questions of Consent: Women's Recruitment for Assam Tea Gardens, 1859-1900. Studies in History, 18(2), 231-260.
- photographs by Martin Parr via and via

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley, 1968)

I want to tell you all a story 'bout a Harper Valley widowed wife Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn't even stop to play She said, "Mom, I got a note here from the Harper Valley P.T.A."

::: Harper Valley PTA (Parent Teacher Association): LISTEN/WATCH

The note said, "Mrs. Johnson, you're wearing your dresses way too high It's reported you've been drinking and a-runnin' 'round with men and going wild And we don't believe you ought to be bringing up your little girl this way" It was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley P.T.A.

Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet that very afternoon They were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say She said, "I'd like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley P.T.A."

Well, there's Bobby Taylor sittin' there and seven times he's asked me for a date Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lot of ice whenever he's away And Mr. Baker, can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town? And shouldn't widow Jones be told to keep her window shades all pulled completely down?

Well, Mr. Harper couldn't be here 'cause he stayed too long at Kelly's Bar again And if you smell Shirley Thompson's breath, you'll find she's had a little nip of gin Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I'm not fit Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites

No I wouldn't put you on because it really did, it happened just this way The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A. The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.

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photograph of Jeannie C. Riley via, lyrics via

Friday 7 December 2018

"... to be courageously different." Liza Minnelli's Love Letter to the LGBT community

Where would I be without the LGBTQ community of dazzling souls who have always supported and understood me on a level that is unique and extraordinary? From my earliest memories I understood that some people were different, especially when I met so many of the creative people who were working on films made by my mother and father. In the 'golden' age of Hollywood, many could not be themselves in the workplace and live their true nature, yet it was their creativity that fashioned the dreams of Hollywood and the world. And they were my friends. I learned that 'different' meant many things: freedom, oppression, celebration, sadness, responsibility, hiding, protesting, sharing, but most of all being true to one’s self no matter the price.

Today I celebrate all the special people, past and present, who made it possible for me to be here and to be courageously different. Their examples have shaped me, and without them, my life would be empty. Happy and joyous Pride!
Liza Minnelli (2017)

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photograph by Henry Grossman (1970) via

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Quoting Charles Bronson

"Maybe I'm too masculine. Casting directors cast in their own, or an idealized image. Maybe I don't look like anybody's ideal."
Charles Bronson

photograph of Charles Bronson (1921-2003) and Jill Ireland (1936-1990), taken in 1975 via

Monday 3 December 2018

Shop Mannequins, Weight, and Body Image

"We became interested in this topic after seeing some news report about members of the general public noticing that some mannequins in fashion stores were disturbingly thin. Around the same time we had also read news coverage that fashion retailers had responded to this concern and adopted more appropriate sized mannequins, so it felt like an interesting research question to examine. Our survey of these two high streets in the UK produced consistent results; the body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women."
Eric Robinson

"Mannequins communicate more than we might think about attitudes to body image in any given era." Lucy Wallis
In the early 20th century, there was a more diverse range of body types which was also reflected by shop mannequins; larger ones were a "hangover from the Victorian era". Pierre Iman's mannequins were flat-chested with a pear shape and wide hips, three were size 46 (UK 18) and looked middle-aged. In the 1930s, mannequins became more uniform in size and embodying the then beauty ideals. In the 1950s, their waistlines were small, hips rounded, busts were high and shoulder were sloping. And in the noughties, a decade defined by cosmetic surgery, slim mannequins got sort of breast implants, too (via). Mannequins have been used for a relatively long time. The notion that their size can impact women's (and growingly men's) attitude to their body image and have a negative effect on their satisfaction due to social comparison, however, is largely unexplored (Cohen, 2014).
"We of course are not saying that altering the size of high street fashion mannequins will on its own 'solve' body image problems. What we are instead saying is that presentation of ultra-thin female bodies is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals, so as a society we should be taking measures to stop this type of reinforcement. Given that the prevalence of body image problems and disordered eating in young people is worryingly high, positive action that challenges communication of ultra-thin ideal may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents and young adult females."
Eric Robinson
Findings of an online survey carried out among 325 women aged between 18 and 75 indicate that it is primarily women with a higher, "non-ideal" Body Mass Index who compare themselves with mannequins displayed in shop windows. And the greater the discrepancy between their and the mannequin's body, the more thin bodies are idealised and the more their body dissatisfaction grows (Cohen, 2014).

"One of the big – and I’ve been talking about this forever – is it all becomes invisible in a way because we're so used to it, and if its brought to people's attention, that sort of breaks through the clutter. I think it's pretty freakish for ribs to be showing."
Jean Kilbourne, former model and body image advocate

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- Cohen, A. (2014). Mannequin Size on Consumers' Perception of Self and Satisfaction with Fit. University of South Carolina, link
- Robinson, E. & Aveyard, P. (2017). Emaciated mannequins: a study of mannequin body size in high street fashion stores. Journal of Eating Disorders, 5(1), ScienceDaily
- More: What an unusual Swedish mannequin reveals about body image, Washington Post, read
- More: Life imitates art: How shop mannequins have influenced body image, read
- photograph by Ernst Haas via

Sunday 2 December 2018

I Am Woman (Helen Reddy, 1971)

"I couldn't find any songs that said what I thought being woman was about. I thought about all these strong women in my family who had gotten through the Depression and world wars and drunken, abusive husbands. But there was nothing in music that reflected that.
The only songs were 'I Feel Pretty' or that dreadful song 'Born A Woman'. (The 1966 hit by Sandy Posey had observed that if you're born a woman "you're born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt. I'm glad it happened that way".) These are not exactly empowering lyrics. I certainly never thought of myself as a songwriter, but it came down to having to do it."
Helen Reddy

"Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I'd be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he'd say, 'Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I'll be right there'. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly."
Helen Reddy

"I remember lying in bed one night and the words, 'I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman', kept going over and over in my head. That part I consider to be divinely inspired. I had been chosen to get a message across."
Helen Reddy

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever going to keep me down again

Whoa, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained

If I have to I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I'll come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

Whoa, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained

If I have to I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

I am woman, watch me grow
See me standing toe-to-toe
As I spread my loving arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Whoa, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained

If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

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photograph of Helen Reddy via, lyrics via

Saturday 1 December 2018

Federico Fellini, Projections, and City of Women

"Man has always been unsure of women. A woman for a man is the part that he doesn’t know about himself, so he’s always afraid of her. He feels weak and vulnerable with her, because she may cause him to lose his identity. Just by projecting the part of himself that he doesn’t know on a woman, he loses a lot of himself. (...)

And then, for centuries, man took advantage of women to avenge himself for what he had suffered for thousands of years. Now women want to be considered as persons, not as mere projections, and their attempt to escape the image to which man has confined them frightens man. But finally he understands that he won’t be free until women are free as well. I tried to show all that in City of Women."
Federico Fellini, 1986

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photograph of Federico Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Shrimpton taken for Vogue by David Bailey in 1963 via

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Police, Geriatrics Training and the Ageing Population

"Although there is no shortage of literature focusing on strategies for policing different genders, races (sic), and other groups, older populations have not attracted the same attention."
Sever & Youdin (n.d.:2)

“I learned how the elderly feel after going through the simulations. Before I hadn't put myself in their shoes.” a police officer cited in Brown et al., 2017
Police officers in San Francisco were given a lecture on ageing-related health conditions followed by experiantial trainings on how it can feel to be old through simulations (e.g. walking with a cane that was too short). The brief training "increased police officers' self-reported knowledge and skills", gave them empathy, increased patience, awareness and understanding of ageing-related challenges, which is of enormous importance as our population is lucky enough to be ageing. Police are often first responders to incidents with ageing-related problems and need to be able to deal with older adults who "represent an extremely medically vulnerable group" - no matter if older arrestees or older crime victims.
When police lack knowledge about aging‐related health, they risk causing unintended harms to older adults, such as using excessive force to respond to disruptive behavior related to dementia. Yet previous research shows that police receive little training in aging‐related health and have knowledge gaps that may limit their ability to assess and triage older adults. For example, officers engage with older adults who have sensory, cognitive, and functional impairments, but many report challenges in identifying and responding to these conditions. Similarly, officers perform welfare checks for at‐risk isolated older adults but report lacking knowledge about which community resources are available to help.
The training developed for police officers in San Francisco was incorporated into the police department's Crisis Intervention Training, a training that includes lectures about "special populations" (Brown et al, 2017).
One officer stated that the training will help him treat all individuals “as if they were my parents,” highlighting an important outcome of the training: to build empathy. (via)
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- Brown, R., Ahalt, C., Rivera, J., Stijacic Cenzer, I., Wilhelm, A. & Williams, B. A. (2017). Good Cop, Better Cop: Evaluation of a Geriatrics Training Program for Poice. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(8), online
- Sever, B. & Youdin, R. (n.d.). Police Knowledge of Older Populations: The Impact of Training, Experience, and Education, download
- photograph by the great Vivian Maier via

Tuesday 27 November 2018

The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man, by Clifford Geertz (1973)

Attempts to locate man amid the body of his customs have taken several directions, adopted diverse tactics ; but they have all, or virtually all, proceeded in terms of a single overall intellectual strategy: what I will call, so as to have a stick to beat it with, the "stratigraphic" conception of the relations between biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors in human l ife.

In this conception, man is a composite of "levels," each superimposed upon those beneath it and underpinning those above it. As one analyzes man, one peels off layer after layer, each such layer being complete and irreducible in itself, revealing another, quite different sort of layer underneath. Strip off the motley forms of culture and one finds the structural and functional regularities of social organization. Peel off these in turn and one finds the underlying psychological factors-"basic needs" or what-have-you-that support and make them possible. Peel off psychological factors and one is left with the biological foundations-anatomical, physiological, neurological -- of the whole edifice of human life.
The attraction of this sort of conceptualization, aside from the fact that it guaranteed the established academic disciplines their independence and sovereignty, was that it seemed to make it possible to have one's cake and eat it. One did not have to assert that man's culture was all there was to him in order to claim that it was, nonetheless, an essential and irreducible, even a paramount ingredient in his nature. Cultural facts could be interpreted against the background of noncultural facts without dissolving them into that background or dissolving that background into them. Man was a hierarchically stratified animal, a sort of evolutionary deposit, in whose definition each level-organic, psychological, social, and cultural-had an assigned and incontestable place. To see what he really was, we had to superimpose findings from the various relevant sciences - anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology - upon one another like so many patterns in a moire; and when that was done, the cardinal importance of the cultural level, the only one distinctive to man, would naturally appear, as would what it had to tell us, in its own right, about what he really was. For the eighteenth century image of man as the naked reasoner that appeared when he took his cultural costumes off, the anthropology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries substituted the image of man as the transfigured animal that appeared when he put them on.
Geertz (1973:38)

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- Excerpts taken from Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. Selected Essays. NY: Basic Books, download
- photograph of Clifford James Geertz (1926-2006) via

Monday 26 November 2018

Women, Public Transport and Barriers

In Europe, more women than men use public transportation and fewer women than men own cars. In Sweden, for instance, 70% of cars are owned by men and 82% of men have a driving license versus 69% of women. In the Netherlands, men are 1.5 times more likely to own a car then women. In France, two-thirds of people using public transport are women.

It is not only the quantity that differs, there also seem to be "typical" travel patterns for women no matter if they live in developed or developing countries. Usually, women's activities are more complex due to their so-called double duties. Hence, they travel more often, at shorter distances, more often at off-peak hours, less after dark, with a greater variety of destinations, and show trip chaining behaviour ("a series of travel segments that follow one another and are anchored by the home and place of work").
According to research, there are various barriers women have to face creating two main categories: a) physical barriers (e.g. mobility while carrying small children, strollers or packages) and b) concerns about personal security (e.g. bus stops outside residential areas or in remote neighbourhoods).
Since the 1980s, transport planners in some countries have taken into consideration the importance of the personal security of passengers, especially women. In Toronto, a “Request Stop” service was launched in 1980 for the hours after dark, allowing a woman to ask the bus driver to stop along the route where it is more convenient for her to get off, not necessarily at the bus stop. This was done to shorten her walk between bus and destination. This service was also adopted in Montreal in 1996 and later in British cities.

- Hasson, Y. & Polevoy, M. (2011). Gender Equality Initiatives in Transportation Policy, download
- photographs by Vivian Maier via and via

Saturday 24 November 2018

Our Collective Responsibility

"Elder abuse remains a taboo in many societies. It often happens inconspicuously and in many cases goes unnoticed, but we know that it occurs frequently and in all types of settings. No community or country in the world is immune.

I condemn elder abuse wherever and whenever it happens, but I am particularly appalled that older persons are often at risk from members of their own family.
We must not close our eyes to the fate of older persons, even though it is difficult to accept that our families are not always a safe haven. (...)
Elder abuse takes many different forms. Some people suffer discrimination in the public sphere, linguistic discrimination, isolation, neglect and financial exploitation. Others face psychological violence, the withholding of basic needs, physical violence or sexual abuse. (...)
This all adds to the weight of our collective responsibility to act, and to speak up for older persons when they are unable or unwilling to speak for themselves. All of us can and must be prepared to be advocates for older people, if this abuse is ever to be halted.
We also need to be aware that collective prejudice against older persons and public awareness influences the way in which abuse and violence is perceived, recognized and reported. (...)
Elder abuse is a specific, distinct and deeply disturbing form of abuse. We must all play our part in tackling it and restoring full human rights and human dignity to all those affected, or who face being at risk in the future."
Rosa Kornfel-Matte

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photograph by Vivian Maier via

Thursday 22 November 2018

Every Child Should Have the Right to Rise

It all began with a boy in a long sleeve t-shirt...
It was only a few months before the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, when Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss led a humanitarian trip to the newly formed African country of Eritrea. There, he came face-to-face with the realities of life in a country emerging from decades of war.

As children played amidst burned out tanks, surrounded by the images of war martyrs, one boy stood out and crystallized an idea for Johann that would write the future of Right To Play
He met the President of Eritrea and said, 'You need food and I have brought sports equipment. I made a mistake. I'm sorry.' The President looked at Johann and said, 'This is the greatest gift we have ever received. For the first time, we are being treated like human beings–not just something to be kept alive. For the first time, my children can play like any child.'
For Johann it felt like the starting point for something bigger. Since then, the power of play has helped millions of children to rise and recapture hope.

Literally via/More: LINK

Tuesday 20 November 2018

The Freedom Rally Reception at Burt Lancaster's Home

"The summer of 1963 saw an upsurge of Hollywood engagement in the movement, as more A-list stars, such as Paul Newman and Marlon Brando, proved their willingness to organize on their own risk controversy while doing so. The examples set by the Leading Six, as well as King's first visit to Los Angeles in June 1963, motivated them. Newman agreed to speak at a Rally for Freedom celebrating King's leadership at Birmingham, and a reception at Burt Lancaster's home with about 250 guests followed. Newman and Brando proved the top donors and soon went to Gadsden, Alabama, in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate between city officials and civil rights activists."
Raymond (2017)

Above: Fundraiser at Burt Lancaster’s home. Left to right: Tony Franciosa (face cut off), Ralph Abernathy, Paul Newman, Polly Bergan, Joanne Woodward, King, Celes King III (behind Davis), Sammy Davis, Marlon Brando, Lloyd Bridges (partial photo.) 1963


Above: Rev. Ralph Abernathy (co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) speaking at the reception after the Freedom Rally at the home of Burt Lancaster. Present are Dr. King, Marlon Brando, Atty. Jack Tenner, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, and Gilbert Lindsay. Los Angeles. 1963.

Above: Speaking at the reception after Freedom Rally is the famed actor Marlon Brando. The reception was held in the home of Burt Lancaster, with 250 people in attendance. During the reception Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You can help us in Birmingham by getting rid of segregation in Los Angeles.” Overall Freedom Rally generated $75,000: $35,000 at rally, $20,000 at Burt Lancaster’s home and $20,000 pledged by Sammy Davis Jr. 1963

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- Raymond, E. (2017). No on 14. In: B. J. Schulman & J. E. Zelizer (eds.) Media Nation: The Political History of News in Modern America
- photographs and their descriptions via and via and via

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Keep up with the house while you keep down your weight.

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image via

Monday 12 November 2018

If Your Mate's Acting Differently, Ask Twice

Time to change is "a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems." Most of the people with mental health issues say that they are misunderstood by family members, ignored by friends, colleagues and health professionals, and treated badly by neighbours. As both stigma and discrimination prevent those affected from seeking help (which again has a negative impact on their lives as isolation and unemployment may result) (via), the campaign "Ask Twice" encourages people to be there when a friend needs support and to listen to them as "sometimes humans say they are fine when they are not".

Saturday 10 November 2018

European Balcony Project

"Today, at 4pm on the 10th of November 2018, 100 years after the end of WWI, which laid waste European civilization for decades, we are not only recalling history; we are taking our future into our own hands.

It is time to turn the promise inherent in Europe into a reality and to remind ourselves of the founding ideas behind the project of European integration.
We declare that everyone present at this moment in Europe is a citizen of the European Republic. We acknowledge and accept our responsibility for the common heritage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we pledge finally to make it into a reality.
(...) Because Europe means unifying people (...)
The European Republic is founded upon the principle of universal political equality irrespective of nationality and social or ethnic background. The constituent elements of the European Republic are the European cities and regions. The time has come for Europe’s cultural diversity to express itself within a framework of political unity."

(Manifesto for the theatre event "Proclamation of a European Republic via)
For the first time in European history, citizens all over the continent will gather at a single moment in time – 10th of November at 4 p.m. – to spark a broad debate about European democracy and what it means to be European citizens. From theatres, balconies and public spaces all over Europe, artists and citizens will proclaim a European Republic, discuss, and pave the way for the emancipatory claim of citizens’ equality beyond the nation-state. The European Balcony Project was initiated by the European Democracy Lab and realized with the support of numerous citizens across Europe. (literally via)
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photograph of Sophia Loren on a balcony via

Friday 9 November 2018

Born this day ... Dorothy Dandridge

"Dorothy Dandridge was a fighter. Growing up in The Depression and making her way through Hollywood in the ’40s, she encountered resistance — to her skin color, to her refusal to play demeaning roles — at every turn. She was assailed in the press for dating white men, and blamed herself for her husband’s philandering and her daughter’s brain damage. Nearly every societal convention was against her."
the hairpin

Dorothy Jean Dandridge (1922-1965) was a US-American actress, singer, and dancer, the first black woman featured on the cover of Life, and the first black American nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress (for a leading role) (via). While her mother, Ruby Dandridge, played stereotypical "Mammy" roles, Dorothy was told to be too pretty to play a servant. At the beginning, the fact that "she didn't look like the traditionally cast African American actors" was a barrier to her career (Murgia, 2018). Dorothy Dandridge became the ultimate metaphor of the "tragic mulatto" (Hall, 2008).
Later, the civil rights movement helped her become more and more accepted and popular (Murgia, 2018)
African American visibility as more than just an uneducated, undesirable entity in the eyes of white America was being challenged by an actor who wanted to step out of an archaic stereotype and system. She was a bridge that transitioned pigeon-holed views about African Americans, however, her role was complex, and her self-awareness made that a difficult connection to maintain. Her features and lighter skin tone would bring colorism or a caste system to the forefront in both negative and positive ways, or as she called it, her 'fortune or misfortune.' She was a beauty icon, opening doors for people of color to be more desirable, actually moving within white society circles with ease, but would create a limbo for less-exotic-looking blacks who weren't seen as attractive by white society. (Murgia, 2018)

Dandridge had relationships with white men - actors and her director Otto Preminger - at a time, the Motion Picture Production Code banned romantic relationships between black and white actors on screen (Murgia, 2018).
She wanted strong leading roles, but found her opportunities limited because of her race. According to The New York Times, Dandridge once said, "If I were Betty Grable, I could capture the world." Belafonte also addressed this issue, noting that his former co-star "was the right person in the right place at the wrong time."
With Hollywood filmmakers unable to create a suitable role for the light-skinned Dandridge, they soon reverted to subtly prejudiced visions of interracial romance. She appeared in several poorly received racially and sexually charged dramas, including Island in the Sun (1957), also starring Belafonte and Joan Fontaine, and Tamango (1958), in which she plays the mistress of the captain of a slave ship.
Among the missed opportunities from this period, Dandridge turned down the supporting role of Tuptim in The King and I (1956), because she refused to play a slave. It was rumored that she would play Billie Holliday in a film version of the jazz singer's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, but it never panned out. (...)
While making Carmen Jones, Dandridge became involved in an affair with the film's director, Otto Preminger, who also directed Porgy and Bess. Their interracial romance, as well as Dandridge's relationships with other white lovers, was frowned upon, particularly by other African-American members of the Hollywood filmmaking community. (via)
It's a story of a life wasted as we see her determination swayed by society and the social norms of the time, as well as a mismanaged career. Her place in cinematic history is still relevant as the struggle for visible minority representation continues in the boardrooms of high-powered film executives today. Murgia (2018)
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- Hall, R. E. (2008). Racism in the 21st Century. An Empirical Analysis of Skin Color. New York: Springer Science + Business Media
- Murgia, S. J. (2018). The Encyclopedia of Racism in American Films. Lanham, Boulder, New York & London: Rowman & Littlefield.
photographs via and via and via

Monday 5 November 2018

Dance! Skin Tone and the Balanchine Body

Black dancers are often labelled and typecast "in pieces that require extreme athleticism as opposed to classical lines". As they are viewed as muscular and athletic, they do not fit in to the Balanchine model that was used for ballet dancers: small head, long legs, very slender body (Keenan, 2017). George Balanchine (1904-1983) liked to see bones and ribs. His obsession with slender bodies, in fact, is blamed for eating disorders of dancers today (via).


"Dictating such rigid roles for centuries has made it difficult for audiences, choreographers, and dancers to accept change." A homogeneous corps of ballet is still preferred which again promotes Eurocentric beauty ideals. The American Ballet Theatre, for instance, had its first black female principal after 77 years (Keenan, 2017).
George Balanchine's presence was so dominant in NYCB that the dancers, the scenic presentation, the musical investiture, all seem to operate with the same value system, even in ballets not choreographed by Balanchine.
Siegel (1983)

- Keenan, S. M. (2017). A Choreographic Exploration of Race and Gender Representation in Film and Dance. Scripps Senior Theses, online
- Siegel, M. B. (1983). George Balanchine 1904-1983. The Hudson Review, 36(3), 519+521-526.
- images (Sweet Charity, 1969, based on Federico Fellini's screenplay) via and via and via

Sunday 4 November 2018

"Why don't you ask Mick Jagger?"

"A man came up to me & said... 'Don’t You Think You’re TOO OLD To Be Running Around The Stage Like That,..Singing Rock n Roll⁉️`'
I Said: 'I Don’t Know,.. Why Don’t you Ask Mick Jagger'"
Cher, 2nd November 2018

Cher on YouTube:

::: All I Really Want to Do: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Satisfaction: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Shame, Shame, Shame (with Tina Turner): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Young Americans Medley (with David Bowie): LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph of Cher via

Friday 2 November 2018

In Elvis Presley's Trailer

"I adored Elvis. (...) We became very good friends. He was warm and kind and full of love. He had this tremendous desire to please people. We watched the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. together over lunch in his trailer. He cried. He really cared deeply."
Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall played Ellen in "Live a Little, Love a Little"; she was the girl Elvis courted by singing "A Little Less Conversation".

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Katherine Hamnett's Licence to Kill

"Getting old is a licence to kill. You become more sure of yourself, more confident in your views. There are some dodgy bits: you still feel 25 inside as you get older, and sometimes I look at myself and think: “What the f**** happened?” I loathe exercise – but now it’s do it or die."
Katherine Hamnett

photograph taken by Chris Floyd (2015) via

Tuesday 30 October 2018

(Un-)Quoting Jair Bolsonaro

"I've got five kids but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and it came out a woman."
Congresswoman Rosario is "not worth raping; she is very ugly."
"I wouldn't rape you because you don't deserve it." (watch from minute 1.05 how he continues insulting her)
Jair Bolsonaro

"Because women get more labor rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men. I would not employ (a woman) with the same salary (of a man). But there are many women who are competent."
Jair Bolsonaro

"I visited a quilombo and the least heavy afro-descendant weighed seven arrobas. They don't do anything! They are not even good for procreation."
Jair Bolsonaro

Interviewer: "If your son was in love with a black woman, what would you do?"
"I will not discuss promiscuity with anyone. There's no risk of that because my sons are well raised."
Jair Bolsonaro

"The scum of the earth is showing up in Brazil, as if we didn't have enough problems of our own to sort out."
Jair Bolsonaro

"I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son."
I'd rather my son "died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache."
Jair Bolsonaro

"We, the Brazilian people, don't like the homosexuals. Your culture is different from ours. In Brazil, we are not ready yet because no father is proud of having a gay son. Pride? Organising a party because there's a gay son in the family?"
"When your son starts getting a bit gay you slap him, and he changes his behaviour, OK?"
Jair Bolsonaro

"I am in favour of torture, you know that. And the people are in favour as well."
"Elections won't change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn't do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that's fine. In every war, innocent people die."
Jair Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro won Brazil's presidency. Trump, Salvini, and Le Pen congratulated him (via) while human rights groups put out statements and chief justice of the Supreme Court read out the part of the constitution reminding Brazil that the "future president must respect institutions, must respect democracy, the rule of law, the judiciary branch, the national Congress and the legislative branch" (via).

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- photograph via
- Remembering Brazil's decades of military repression, BBC
- In Brazil, nostalgia grows for the dictatorship - not the brutality, Washington Post
- Brazil president weeps as he unveils report on military dictatorship's abuse, The Guardian
- The Brazilian Military Regime, 1964-1985, Oxford Research Encyclopedias

Monday 29 October 2018

Female Fashion Photographers - Where are They?

"If you look at the most successful photographers in the world, the top ten are all male, except for maybe [husband-wife team] Inez and Vinoodh. Photography has been a male-dominated business since it began."
Amanda de Cadenet

In 2017, 153 magazine covers from ten of the leading US-American fashion magazines were mainly shot by men, with only 13.7% being shot by women. Some magazines, like e.g. Marie Claire, did not hire a female photographer for the cover shot the whole year. The advertising industry is even more extreme. According to data from major photography publications and awards organisations, male photographers made up between 89 and 96% of those in the advertising categories between 2013 and 2017 (via).
"Over 50 percent of grads coming out of photo school are female, and yet when you look around at the assistants out there, the vast majority are male. Assisting is a physically demanding job, where strength and height are very helpful. I've spoken to countless women who tried to enter the field, but could not get assisting work. Two told me that some agencies outright stated they don't use female assistants. As assisting is the most common path to becoming a photographer, if you shut this door, that can be the end for some."
Cybele Malinowski

"We need to have a say in how we're represented. What I see with women photographing other women is that we find the nuance. We often find different things interesting and beautiful and sexy and charismatic than when men photograph women. I think a lot of it, unfortunately, comes down to sexualizing."
Amanda de Cadenet

photographs of Marilyn Monroe with Milton Hawthorne Greene's (1922-1985) son Joshua via and via and via and via, (c) Joshua Greene, Archive Images

Sunday 28 October 2018

Black Man (1976)

"Black Man" was written by Stevie Wonder and Gary Byrd and published in 1976. The song is about ethnic harmony and criticises racism using colour-based terminology (via).


First man to die
For the flag we now hold high [Crispus Attucks]
Was a black man
The ground were we stand
With the flag held in our hand
Was first the red man's
Guide of a ship
On the first Columbus trip [Pedro Alonzo Nino]
Was a brown man
The railroads for trains
Came on tracking that was laid
By the yellow man

We pledge allegiance
All our lives
To the magic colors
Red, blue and white
But we all must be given
The liberty that we defend
For with justice not for all men
History will repeat again
It's time we learned
This World Was Made For All Men


This world was made for all men
God saved His world for all men
All people
All babies
All children
All colors
All races
This world's for you
And me
This world
My world
Your world
Everybody's world
This world
Their world
Our world
This world was made for all men
Hear me out...

Who was the first man to set foot on the North Pole?
Matthew Henson - a black man
Who was the first american to show the Pilgrims at Plymouth the secrets of survival in the new world?
Squanto - a red man
Who was the soldier of Company G who won high honors for his courage and heroism in World War 1?
Sing Kee - a yellow man
Who was the leader of united farm workers and helped farm workers maintain dignity and respect?
Caesar Chavez - a brown man
Who was the founder of blood plasma and the director of the Red Cross blood bank?
Dr. Charles Drew - a black man
Who was the first American heroine who aided the Lewis and Clark expedition?
Sacajewa - a red woman
Who was the famous educator and semanticist who made outstanding contributions to education in America?
Hayakawa - a yellow man
Who invented the world's first stop light and the gas mask?
Garrett Morgan - a black man
Who was the American surgeon who was one of the founders of neurosurgery?
Harvey Williams Cushing - a white man
Who was the man who helped design the nation's capitol, made the first clock to give time in America and wrote the first almanac?
Benjamin Banneker - a black man
Who was the legendary hero who helped establish the League of Iroquois?
Hiawatha - a red man
Who was the leader of the first microbiotic center in America?
Micho Kushi - a yellow man
Who was the founder of the city of Chicago in 1772?
Jean Baptiste - a black man
Who was one of the organizers of the American Indian Movement?
Denis Banks - a red man
Who was the Jewish financier who raised founds to sponsor Cristopher Columbus' voyage to America?
Lewis D. Santangel - a white man
Who was the woman who led countless slaves to freedom on the underground rairoad?
Harriet Tubman - a black woman

lyrics via

photographs of Stevie Wonder rehearsing on his piano in Los Angeles for an upcoming concert, taken by Al Satterwhite in 1974 via and via

Saturday 27 October 2018

Heart Attack, the Patient's and the Doctor's Gender

"We find that gender concordance increases a patient’s probability of surviving a [heart attack] and that the effect is driven by increased mortality when male physicians treat female patients."
Brad Greenwood

Greenwood et al. looked at records from emergency admissions for heart attacks in Florida from 1991 to 2010, at patients' age, gender, and the emergency room doctors' gender. Results from more than 580.000 patients reveal that "when patients shared the same gender as their doctor, they were more likely to survive". Survival chances also increased when the emergency department had a higher proportion of female doctors and when the male doctor had treated many female patients for heart attacks before (via).
Further analysis showed that men and women had similar chances of survival when they saw female doctors. But male doctors were linked to worse outcomes, particularly for women.
Female patients treated by male doctors were about 1.5 percentage points less likely to survive a heart attack than male patients in the care of female doctors. (...)
These results suggest a reason why gender inequality in heart attack mortality persists: most physicians are male, and male physicians appear to have trouble treating female patients. (via)

images of Star Trek's Dr McCoy via and via

Friday 26 October 2018

Father's Daughter, Husband's Wife, Son's Mother. Women in India and their Suicide Rate

"Our social norms are very regressive. In the village, a girl is called her father’s daughter, then she is her husband’s wife, and when she has a son, she is her son’s mother."

From 1990 to 2016, India's share of global suicide deaths among women increased from 25.3% to 36.6%. About two in five women who commit suicide worldwide are Indian turning suicide into the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 39 years. The suicide rate is three times higher than a country with the given socio-economic indicators would have. The main reasons are believed to be early marriage, youth motherhood, low status in society, lack of (financial) independence, and male violence (via and via)

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- Gender differentials and state variations in suicide deaths in India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2016, download
- photograph of a contortionist with her puppy Sweety at the Great Raj Kamal Circus in Upleta, India, 1989, taken by Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015), via