Sunday 31 December 2023

Party like there's no tomorrow ...

... but hopefully there will be many tomorrows and a future everybody can look forward to: old and young, no matter what class or financial status, no matter how able-bodied, what skin tone, gender, religion, no matter who they love... Wishing you all the best for 2024!

photograph via

Saturday 30 December 2023

Autoportraits. By Joy Gregory.

Joy Gregory is a British artist whose series "Autoportraits 1989-1990" consists of nine multiple selves. The series is a response to the lack of visibility of Black women in  the British fashion industry, a lack she noticed when she was a teenager (Sealy 2005:203f).

Aged 13, she started consuming so-called women's magazines which showed how life was to be lived. Gregory dreamt of seeing someone like herself in these magazines and became more and more disappointed since there were hardly Black women shown (Impressions Gallery, n.d.).

As a subject, Gregory occupies different locations within the actual photographic frame; it is as if she is physically and temporally moving through the laboured positionality of the camera’s long, historical, racist resting place. It is an act stating that she refuses to be fixed as a subject. Gregory slides across the frame, entering it and presenting to it however she so chooses. The making of the self-portrait here is a mark of control across the actual exposure and focal length of the photographic moment. It is also a moment that marks for Gregory the end of absence and pacificity. This is done in what appears to be a double act of playfulness and challenge. Nothing in this work is stable. The reading is uncertain because it is Gregory who caresses and controls the camera and the moments of release and capture. She is simultaneously in your face while covering hers. Her eyes, lips, ears, hair and hands, which in one of the frames cover her face, all play a central role in the abstracted notion of the multiple framed selves that she presents to the camera. Within this sequence of images it is as much the object of the camera as a mechanism for recording that comes under scrutiny as the subject that is positioned in front of its lens. The subtle interchange between the subject as photographer and camera as recorder becomes confused for the reader because the work performed by these images leads ultimately to subvert the traditional role that the black woman plays within photography. As representations these images become markers of the individual survival strategies employed by the photographer to disrupt the indexicality of the photographic medium. The subject in this ‘Autoportrait’ series wilfully refuses in an unruly but playful manner to behave in front of the cameras lens. What is ruptured formally here is the unspoken conservative code that demands the visual comfort of centrality of the subject when presented in front of the camera. At work within this photography is the breaking of the orthodoxies of anthropology and fashion photography. In the making of a single portrait through a series of nine fragmented works, all the traditional rules of photography portraiture are subverted. Therefore, as photographs they are a politically and culturally defiant act; they place the questions of gender and race centre stage in the contested field of representational politics in the 1990s. They break with tradition as nothing of what is presented within the sequence of images offers the reader the chance to settle on the idea of a definitive black woman. Within the process of unsettling the viewer, it is the viewer’s subject position that is ‘under threat’ (Burgin 1982, p.150). This photographic work invites the viewer to consider and deconstruct the actual act of seeing the black woman. (Sealy 2005:203f)


- Impressions Gallery (n.d.). Joy Gregory. Lost languages and other voices. Exhibition Guide, online.
- Sealy, M. A. (2005). Decolonizing the Camera: Photography in Racial Time. Thesis, Durham University.
- photographs by Joy Gregory via and via and via

Wednesday 27 December 2023

"The freedom is being able to produce whatever you like."

"I remember when I was a student I was invited to participate in an exhibition which was about ‘Black art’. I sent my pictures in and they sent them back because they weren’t ‘Black enough’. They were interiors, because at that time that’s what I did – made pictures of interiors and still lifes. I was confused. I think, because of having grown up outside the metropolis, I wasn’t aware that my work needed to look or be a certain way. For me, it was really interesting because by building those walls around what you should and shouldn’t be, you’re doing exactly what people have decided you should be. The freedom is being able to produce whatever you like."

photograph by Joy Gregory from her series "Autoportraits" via

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Trends in Loneliness Among Older Adults from 2018-2023

In January 2023, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging carried out a survey asking US-Americans aged fifty to eighty questions about loneliness. One in three adults (34%) reported feeling isolated from others, a greater proportion than the 27% in 2018. Among older adults the percentage was higher (37% compared to 34% in 2018). 

One in three older adults (33%) reported infrequent contact with people from outside their home (14% once a week, 10% every two to three weeks, 9% once a month or less). The feeling of isolation was much more common for those who reported fair or poor mental health (77% vs. 29% of those reporting good mental health). They were also more likely to report feeling a lack of companionship (73% of those with poor mental health vs 33% of those with better mental health). Lack of companionship was also more of an issue among people who were unemployed, lived alone or had an annual household income less than 60,000 dollars. Chronic loneliness can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, and on life expectancy (via).

- Malani P, Singer D, Kirch M, Solway E, Roberts S, Smith E, Hutchens L, Kullgren J. Trends in Loneliness Among Older Adults from 2018-2023. University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. March 2023. Available at:
- photographs by Garry Winogrand via and via

Monday 25 December 2023

Empathy trumps prejudice: The longitudinal relation between empathy and anti-immigrant attitudes in adolescence

Abstract: Although research has shown the effects of empathy manipulations on prejudice, little is known about the long-term relation between empathy and prejudice development, the direction of effects, and the relative effects of cognitive and affective aspects of empathy. Moreover, research has not examined within-person processes; hence, its practical implications are unclear. In addition, longitudinal research on development of prejudice and empathy in adolescence is still scarce. 

This 3-wave study of adolescents (N = 574) examined a longitudinal, within-person relation between empathy and anti-immigrant attitudes. The "standard" cross-lagged model showed bidirectional effects between empathic concern, perspective taking, and anti-immigrant attitudes. In contrast, the Random-Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Model showed that only perspective taking directly predicted within-person changes in anti-immigrant attitudes. Empathic concern predicted within-person changes in anti-immigrant attitudes indirectly, via its effects on perspective taking. No effects of anti-immigrant attitudes on within-person changes in empathy were found. The relations between empathic concern, perspective taking, and anti-immigrant attitudes were significant at the between-person level. In addition, the results showed changes in anti-immigrant attitudes and perspective taking and a change in empathic concern in mid- but not late adolescence. The results provide strong evidence for the effects of perspective taking on development of anti-immigrant attitudes in adolescence. They also suggest that the link between empathic concern and adolescents' anti-immigrant attitudes can be explained by indirect, within-person effects and by between-person differences. The findings suggest that programs aimed at reducing anti-immigrant attitudes in adolescence should work more closely with youth perspective taking and empathic concern. (Miklikowska, 2018)

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- Miklikowska, M. (2018). Empathy trumps prejudice: The longitudinal relation between empathy and anti-immigrant attitudes in adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 54(4), 703-717.
- photograph by Joseph Szabo via

Sunday 24 December 2023

The Hardest Day of the Year

2.3 million older people in the United Kingdom wish they had someone to spend time with at Christmas. For 1.6 million people, Christmas is the hardest day of the year. According to Age UK, 1.3 million people will feel lonely this Christmas (via).

photograph via

Saturday 23 December 2023

Quoting Samuel L. Jackson

“When I grew up in segregation, I knew which white people didn’t want to be bothered with me, and I knew how they felt about me. When I see Trump, I see the same rednecks I saw when I was growing up … [who] tried to keep me in my place.” 
Samuel L. Jackson

The world seems to be in as hard a place as it’s always been. As a child of the ’60s, watching what happened at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and seeing the police beating those demonstrators — and those were young white kids — I learned there’s a certain kind of thing that the powers that be don’t want us doing. One of them is protesting what they think they want us to do. So when George Floyd happened, it was great to see all the different faces of kids out there fighting the injustice and what the power was doing once again to keep you from having an open mind or keep you from creating change that is not the change they want made. That part has not changed. In my opinion, it’s kind of worse. They used to hide it. Now, they don’t hide it anymore!”
Samuel L. Jackson

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photograph via

Thursday 21 December 2023

Age and Financial Abuse

While, in general, people of any age group can become victims of scamers, those over sixty are more vulnerable and people over 80 are extremely vulnerable. According to a study carried out in the United States in 2019, people aged 20 to 59 had lower median losses, people aged 70 to 79 suffered a median loss of 600 dollars and for people over 80, the median loss was 1,600 dollars. 

The scams most likely to be carried out are: online shopping scams (at least 14 million dollars lost), tech support scams (which stole 24 million dollars from victims over 60), imposter scams, romance scams (which hit a high of 304 million dollars in 2020; people ages 70plus have a median loss at 9,475 dollars), sweepstakes- and lottery-based scams (social media now accounts for one third of lottery scams) but also timeshare sale and resale scams (which conned over 30 million dollars total from people 60plus in 2019 alone), investments scams (25 million dollars) and health insurance scams (via).

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photograph by Fred Herzog via

Saturday 16 December 2023

Ageism in Marriage and Family Therapy

Abstract: The paucity of literature addressing mental health issues concerning geriatric populations represents the perpetuation of ageist practices and beliefs in the field of marriage and family therapy. The purpose of this study was to assess whether client age and clinical training relate to the evaluation of couples who present for conjoint therapy. Written vignettes describing two couples, one older and one younger, who report issues involving the absence of sexual intimacy, increased frequency of arguments, and increased use of alcohol were evaluated by practicing marriage and family therapists, therapists-in-training, and individuals with no clinical background. 

It was hypothesized that respondents' views would vary in connection with the age of the couple and with the three levels of participant training. Results indicate that client age and participant training are associated with perceptions of individual and couple functioning. Our findings suggest that the relational and mental health concerns experienced by elder couples are not perceived as seriously as are identical concerns experienced by younger couples. Contrary to our expectations the observed differences between views of the two age conditions did not significantly differ between levels of participant training. Training and experience in marriage and family therapy may not significantly mitigate vulnerability to age-discrepant views. (Ivey, Wieling & Harris, 2000)

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- Ivey, D. C., Wieling, E. & Harris, S. M. (2000). Save the Young - the Elderly Have Lived Their Lives: Ageism in Marriage and Family Therapy. Family Process, 39(2), 163-175.
- photograph by Gabriele and Helmuth Nothelfer via

Friday 15 December 2023

The Battle of Lewisham

The National Front (NF), a far-right British party, reached the height of electoral support in the mid-1970s. In 1977, they announced the organisation of a so-called "Anti-Mugging March" from New Cross to Catford, passing through multicultural Lewisham. The march was announced after the arrest of Black people in Lewisham whose homes had been raided by the police in connection with a series of muggings over the months before. 

As a reaction, the All Lewisham Campaign Against Racsm and Fascism organised counter-demonstrations for the same day since all attempts to have the march banned had failed. 

On 13 August 1977, hundreds of NF members assembled, so did thousands of local people and community leaders to hold a peaceful counter-march. The police tried to reroute the NF but faced forceful opposition. Counter-demonstrators clashed with police and it was the first time that the Metropolitan Police employed riot shields in mainland Britain (via and via and via).

Photographer Syd Shelton documented the events. He is also happens to be the photographer who documented the Rock Against Racism movement

It was about intimidating and frightening people just as the Nazis had done in the streets of Germany in the 1930s.
Syd Shelton


"Police motorbikes were set on fire and the police responded with truncheons. There’s one photograph where the horses are coming towards me – I was knocked over to the ground but still had the camera in my hand so I kept going."
Syd Shelton

"It was a violent day, but there was also a degree of triumph because the people were not going to take it anymore. More than 200 people were arrested but nobody really cared because they felt like they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s the most incredibly empowering feeling to come together in huge numbers and feel you can actually change the world — because if you don’t things can do in the opposite direction."
Syd Shelton

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photographs by Syd Shelton  (of Darcus Howe) via and via and by Chris Schwartz via and by John Hodder via and by Syd Shelton again via

Thursday 14 December 2023

Empathy Museum: A Mile in My Shoes

In 2015, a series of art installations began aiming to help increase empathy through storytelling and dialogue: the Empathy Museum. The offices are in London while the museum does not have a permanent location; the temporary installations travel internationally (via). One of the projects is "A Mile in My Shoes", a giant shoebox with shoes and audio stories inviting visitors to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and to "expore our shared humanity" (via).

From a Syrian refugee to a sex worker, a war veteran to a neurosurgeon, visitors are invited to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger while listening to their story. The stories cover different aspects of life, from loss and grief to hope and love and take the visitor on an empathetic as well as a physical journey.

The other projects of the Empathy Museum are "A Thousand and One Books", "Human Library" and "From Where I'm Standing".

"empathy is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions"
Roman Krznaric, founder of Empathy Museum

"What all stereotyping has in common, whether it is a product of politics, religion, nationalism, or other forces, is an effort to dehumanize, to erase individuality, to prevent us from looking someone in the eye and learning their name. The consequence is to create a culture of indifference that empathy finds difficult to penetrate."
Roman Krznaric, founder of Empathy Museum

"Highly empathic people are engaged in a constant search for what they share with other people, even when those people appear alien to them."
Roman Krznaric, founder of Empathy Museum

"Empathy is a constant awareness of the fact that your concerns are not everyone’s concerns and that your needs are not everyone’s needs, and"
Roman Krznaric, founder of Empathy Museum

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photograph of Ringo and his boots (1971) via

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

Friday 10 November 2023

Stereotypes about Black Bodies in French Medical Literature (1780-1950)

In parallel with the colonisation of African countries, colonial doctors and scientists started describing "African bodies" developing a hierarchy between Black peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa, i.e., from The Cape of Good Hope to Senegambia.  Interestingly, there were conflicts between some doctors and differing attitudes between home country practitioner medicine and colonial medicine on the field.

This research focuses on the descriptions of African people’s body according to French Doctors writings from the end of the 18th century to mid-20th century. Thoughthe black race is seen as monolithic group in the medical writings at the beginning of the period, the African multiplicity slightly came up under the colonial doctors’ pens. Their action and their work started developing in the last third of the 19th century in parallel with the colonization. Beyond the principal human races classification, the French doctors and scientists established a hierarchy between the black peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa, from The Cape of Good Hope to Senegambia. The view onAfrican bodies varied and became more refined all along the studied period, despite the permanency of numerous racial stereotypes. A sexual description of the peoples is added to the racial and ethnic taxonomy. Based on medical dictionaries, research monographs about human races or even on colonial medicine work, our work displays, within the descriptions of the black bodies, the overlapping of the theories about race, gender and kind, and also explains the similarity of the rhetorical methods used to define and describe the Other, should they be female or black. Moreover, this research highlights the way these representations thrived on scientific controversies, political concerns and interactions between home country practitioner medicine and colonial medicine on the field. Though the medical speeches stigmatize racial inferiorities or even the inversion of gender of the African people, this work also underlines the antithetical opinions and the conflicts between some doctors about these consensual.

To the ethnic taxonomy, a sexual description was added since hypersexuality was one of the most common prejudices about Africans, not only in medical literature. These supposedly overdeveloped sexes were associated with uncontrollable sexuality. The association, again, was established to justify female circumcision and polygamy. With sexology emerging, doctors and scientists intended to learn about the sexuality of the othered "in order to define sexuality in their own society by race (sic), gender or class". Understanding the so-called sexual practices of Africans was a means to help colonists to control and preserve their own sexuality. 

In effect, white expatriates who passed several months in the colonies underwent all sorts of temptations owing to the visible bodies of women, the so-called “free” sexuality and the climate — temptations to avoid for the sake of preserving the colonial power’s integrity and authority. Out of these fears arose discourses and warnings about racial mixing and its dangers for the white race.

Myths, random observations and racist theories about a "black sexuality" as the antithesis of a "white sexuality" (moderate, hygienic and connected with moral values) were introduced to maintain boundaries and support colonialism, the latter being marketed as a "civilising mission". Hypersexuality was seen as a main characteristic of Black people. Pseudo-scientific approaches, such as establishing a correlation between skull shape, brain weight and the size of genitals with carnal instincts and pleasures and intellectual weakness - were supposed to explain "Black hypersexuality".

It is still the same way that, with the N*gro, the intellectual organs being less developed, the genitals acquire more preponderance and extension. (Gazette Medicine of Paris, 1841)

In the first half of the twentieth century, women were portrayed as virile since they did hard work, had muscular bodies, short hair and were courageous while men were portrayed as effeminate because of their alleged laziness and intellectual inferiority, and hairless body. Colonial doctors regarded their mission as a civilising one as their work was also about redefining the social roles specific to each gender (Peiretti Courtis, 2018).

Discourse surviving black men for their physical strength and robustness also existed in medical books throughout the period studied and particularly at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s when the degeneration of the white race worries the medical and political sphere. The black body then becomes an example of virtue and resistance to offer to white men weakened by civilization and urbanization. African femininity is also valued during the nineteenth and first twentieth century when it comes to presenting a model of maternity to white women forsaking their mission. If Africans are erected, according to the political or social context in France, as an example for the French, everything seems nevertheless to bring them back to their body, presented as their main strength and wealth. These discourses have political consequences. Feminization but also the infantilization of black peoples led to a more general devaluation of Africans, which had political repercussions such as to justify the colonization of men considered inferior, intellectually or even physically close to women and children. And subject to their passions. Thus, the famous speech of Ferry in 1885 draws its roots in the breeding ground of the radiological medicine and in the tests brought by the scientists of an inferiority of the black race. Similarly, while the writings of colonial doctors have highlighted African diversity, they have generated, by aiming to rationalize the colonial work, a strengthening of ethnic groups but also differentiations and hierarchies still existing today in Africa.

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- Peiretti Courtis, D. (2018). Stereotypes about black bodies in French medical literature: race, gender and sexuality (1780-1950), Journal of Historical Archaeology & Anthropological Sciences, 3(3), link
- photograph by Sory Sanle via

Thursday 9 November 2023

Welsh Language, Its Survival and the Role of Broadcasting

The first BBC broadcast from Cardiff took place in 1923. Since - more or less - then, the broadcasting industry has included Welsh elements. A national broadcasting sector in Wales emerged, with Welsh channels and BBC Cymro Wales (two televistion channels, three radio stations) being the main public service broadcaster there. There is also S4C, the only Welsh-language TV channel.

The public service broadcasting (PSB) model is built on channels with "a distinctive and strong Welsh flavour" and is "an important asset for the Welsh population". Welsh broadcasting is vulnerable to the changing patterns of media consumption taking place on a global level. The PSB's decline (due to the changes in broadcasting and the tougher environment) threatens the foundations of Welsh broadcasting. Digital platforms, video-on-demand, more choice and competition but also developments in audience patterns have changed the media landscape. Some criticise streaming services for hardly offering local content and point out the lack of cultural references and regional accents in Netflix programmes that are produced in the United Kingdom. As a consequence, Welsh lives and experiences are not represented. And the more the global perspective of streamers dominates, the more Welsh-language broadcasting will be marginalised (via). 

Quoting The Guardian:

One of Europe’s oldest languages will only thrive if its place on radio and TV is retained and its online presence greatly expanded. (...) Welsh has largely been a success story over the past 40 years, greatly helped by the launch in 1982 of S4C – a free-to-air television channel aimed at Welsh speakers. S4C was crucial in revitalising the language and making it relevant to a rapidly changing Wales. But how much longer will that be the case? (via)

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photographs of Richard Burton (The Villain, 1971) via

Wednesday 8 November 2023

The Martial Race Ideology

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote a discourse celebrating what he called the most natural state of man. He believed that in this state of nature, man was ultimately good and not inherently evil. As the stages of nature progress, Rousseau continued, the decadent society corrupts man by making him weak and unable to defend himself. He praised the primitive man's "military virtue", the "noble savage" rather untouched by civilisation, not polluted and weakened by modern society, hence perfect soldiering material (Spivey, 2017). 

One logical extension of his argument is that the “civilized” and “sophisticated” English would be forced to rely upon so-called “lesser” people for protection. (Spivey, 2017:16)

These ideas had an impact on the British Army and played a factor after the Indian Mutiny or First War of Independence, an unsuccessful rebellion against British rule in India from 1857 to 1859. After this war, the British Army introduced the classification of "martial" and "non-martial" groups in their armed forces. According to the Peel Commission Report (1859), the revolt began with Bengal Army filled with Brahmins (via). The British reacted to the report and the Martial Races Theory became part of their reorganisation strategy. They preferably recruited Sikhs and Gurkhas from the northwest frontier, but also Marathas and Rajputs and avoided Bengali who they thought had become weak and effeminate through the growing urbanisation. High-caste Brahmins were regarded as dishonest, disloyal and scheming. Later, the notion of martial and non-martial culures or ethnicities was transferred to other contexts, such as the British Isles. There, the Highland Scots became the most desired soldiers while the Irish - Celt, Catholic, peasant - were seen differently. Scientific racism helped to keep this view unchallenged (Spivey, 2017). Quoting Darwin:

The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts-and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of the Saxons that remained. (cited in Spivey, 2017:14)

Gurkha also played a role in the Falkland War when the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles Regiment - part of the British task force- was sent to fight Argentina on the Falkland Islands.

The Brigade of Gurkhas, composed of more than 3,000 soldiers of Nepalese descent, who traditionally served in the British Indian Army before India became independent in 1947. (via)

The image of the Gurkha - a born soldier turned into a killing machine - survived the British departure from India in the 1940s (Barua 1995).

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- Barua, P. (1995). Inventing Race: The British and India's Martial Races. The Historian, 58(1), link
- Spivey, A. (2017). Friend or Foe? Martial Race Ideology and the Experience of Highland Scottish and Irish Regiments in Mid-Victorian Conflichts, 1853-1870, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, Paper 3216, East Tennessee State University
- photograph (by Masterji of Kelly, a bus conductor, 1950s) via

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Severely Impaired, Self-Centred, Elitist, John Wayne Conservative or Golden Ager? Negative and "Positive" Age Stereotypes

Hummert et al. (cited in Miller Leyell & Mazachek, 2002), using e.g. cluster analysis, found eight negative and six (rather) positive stereotypes of older people. Negative stereotypes are associated more with older old people, positive ones more with younger old people. The older the age, the more the associations become: mildly impaired, severely impaired, shrew/curmudgeon, despondent, recluse, vulnerable. The positive older person is not a burden but the supportive grandparent or volunteer. Older persons are more or less seen positively as long as they are productive and wealthy "golden agers". 

The eight negative stereotypes: 

1) despondent (afraid, bored, depressed, fragile, frustrated, hopeless, hypochondriac, lonely, neglected, sad, sick, tired, victimise, wary)
2) vulnerable (afraid, bored, emotionless, hypochondriac, miserly, sedentary, victimised, wary, worried)
3) severely impaired (dependent, feeble, forgetful, fragile, hopeless, inarticulate, incoherent, neglected, poor, rambling, sedentary, senile, sexless, sick, slowly thinking, tired, victimised)
4) shrew/curmudgeon (bitter, bored, complaining, demanding, frugal, greey, humourless, hypochondriac, ill-tempered, inflexible, jealous, nosy, prejudiced, selfish, snobbish, stubborn)
5) recluse (dependent, forgetful, frustrated, naive, poor, quiet, sedentary, timid, worried)
6) mildly impaired (dependent, forgetful, fragile, frustrated, poor, rambling, sedentary, sick, slowly moving, tired, victimised, worried)
7) self-centred (emotionless, greedy, humourless, inflexible, jealous, miserly, nosy, selfish, sexless, snobish, stubborn)
8) elitist (demanding, naive, prejudiced, snobbish, wary)

The six "positive" stereotypes: 

1) perfect grandparent (family-oriented, family-loving, generous, grateful, happy, healthy, intelligent, kind, knowledgeable, loving, self-accepting, supportive, trustworthy, understanding, wise)
2) golden ager (active, adventurous, alert, capable, courageous, curious, determined, fun-loving, future-oriented, happy, health conscious, healthy, independent, intelligent, interesting, knowledgeable, liberal, lively, political, productive, proud, sef-accepting, sexual, skilled, sociable, successful, volunteer, wealthy, well-informed, well-travelled, wise, witty)
3) John Wayne conservative (conservative, curious, determined, emotional, mellow, nostalgic, old-fashioned, patriotic, political, proud, religious, reminiscent, retired, tough, wealthy)
4) liberal matriarch/patriarch (frugal, liberal, mellow, old-fashioned, wealthy)
5) activist (frugal, liberal, mellow, old-fashioned, wealthy)
6) small-town neighbour (conservative, emotional, frugal, old-fashioned, quiet, tough)

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- Miller, D. W., Leyell, T. S. & Mazachek, J. (2002). Stereotypes of the Elderly in US Television Commercials From the 1950s to the 1990s. Journal of Advertising History, link
-  photograph by Leon Levinstein via

Monday 6 November 2023

The Black Woman in Zurich

"(...) at the time I grew up there were no black people in Switzerland. There was one black woman living in Zurich. It was a very isolated life. I don’t complain about it but it was cut off, especially when there was war all around the country because of the Germans."
Robert Frank

photographs of Robert Frank by Danny Lyon via

Sunday 5 November 2023

Feeling One's Underrepresentation in the Beauty Industry

"Mirror/Mirror: Survey of Women's Reflections of Beauty, Image and Media" is a survey conducted in 2019. It found that 64% of women aged 39 to 54 and 74% of women aged 55 to 73 feel that the beauty industry creates products not having people their age in mind and that they are underrepresented in beauty advertising. More than 70% of the women across both age groups state that they would be more likely to purchase from brands that are more inclusive in terms of age. 76% of women aged 22 to 38 agree with this statement (via).

photographs of Joan Crawford by Eve Arnold (1959) via