March 2009 in Review: Academic Freedom, Militarization, Economic Crisis, and Jokes

March was one of this blog’s busiest months, with the second highest number of overall views since the blog started, averaging at 729 per day. Two of the main themes concerned academic freedom, especially with coverage of Ward Churchill’s wrongful termination suit against the University of Colorado, and more discussion of global militarization. The links below are only for the top 10 of the total of 30 posts for March.

Concerning academic freedom of speech and punishments imposed on academics who are active in a public capacity, the overall top post in terms of the number of views was actually not about Ward Churchill, but rather about Chris Knight, anthropologist at the University of East London, who was suspended for statements he made to the BBC around the time of the G20 summit. The most viewed post about Ward Churchill was my essay, Ward Churchill v. “The Good Americans”: How Churchill’s critics made his case, and was the sixth most viewed post for the month.

On the topic of global militarization, and specifically the spread of U.S. military bases, the post about Hugh Gusterson’s “Empire of Bases” was the second most viewed post for the month — Islands of Shame and the World as a U.S. Military Base, was closely related. The Teacher is Not Your Friend: An American Teaches Iraqi Police About Loyalty to Iraq, was the month’s fourth most viewed post that ushered in a large number of comments, ultimately degenerating into the only apparent threat I have approved for viewing on this blog (normally I delete or do not approve some of the nastier threats that I have received). In this same subject area, the Human Terrain System: Undermining the Military, Antagonizing Academics was the fifth most viewed post and closely related to it was Anthropology and the Military: Current Reports. Arguably still within the field of militarization, some news, quotes, and videos for a Montreal riot in March to confront police brutality, as featured in Our Job is Repression…the Police is a Paramilitary Organization, was the month’s eighth most viewed item.

Standing on its own, and directly concerning the modern colonial situation and the role of violent resistance, was Frantz Fanon’s chapter, Concerning Violence. That was the tenth most viewed of the month’s posts, with Nation-Building, Democracy, and Free Markets: A Note to the Occupiers, being a closely related post.

Economics Blogs in a Time of Crisis, the seventh most viewed of the month’s posts, was a useful way for putting me in touch with a series of excellent blogs of great relevance of the current economic crisis, and helping me to establish communication with one of the Caribbean’s New World Group’s most prominent and still active scholars, Dr. Norman Girvan.

In a more humorous vein, Sugar Sammy’s Art: Making Jokes of Ethnicity, Sex, and Conflict was the third most viewed item. The ninth most viewed of the month’s posts was another humorous item: A Minor Bun Engine Made Benny Lava, May He Poop on My Knee: Cross-cultural translation under conditions of contemporary globalization.

The best way to end this review is with my favourite, Stimulator.TV‘s review for March 2009, titled “Goose Liver Revolution“:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

9 thoughts on “March 2009 in Review: Academic Freedom, Militarization, Economic Crisis, and Jokes

  1. Bob Bateman


    No posts about the Somalia/Pirates situation? Interested in your take on that. How should the piracy be approached? I strongly suspect we have differing opinions, so I’m curious about the solution you would advocate.

    Bob Bateman

  2. Maximilian Forte

    I am still reading and digesting all of the varied news pieces and commentaries on the pirates. What I found interesting, and from a different perspective, are the accounts of toxic waste being dumped illegally on Somali shores by ships from developed nations, taking advantage of the lack of any central authority in Somalia. In addition, some fishermen who turned to piracy did so after losing their livelihoods to foreign ships that illegally trawl in Somali waters. So it seems there may be piracy in two different directions here.

    Obama approving the order to fire on and kill the hostage takers a few days ago will definitely exacerbate matters, and I wonder how well prepared he is for another war front. On the other hand, this kind of escalation will be used to reinforce the promotion of AFRICOM, I imagine.

    1. ryan anderson

      you have had a super busy month. i like the new site design changes.

      the pirates issue is one what i was wondering if you were going to cover as well. check out this article by a professor at the US Naval War College. The toxic waste dumping and uncontrolled fishing in Somali waters are certainly HUGE factors, but many people just want to pretend that shooting pirates is the end all solution.

      why are so many people unwilling to look at issues within larger socio-political contexts? it drives me crazy…i have had some recent debates (more like arguments) with people about the whole pirate thing, and whenever i bring up the OTHER factors involved they just don’t want to hear it. certain people only want to believe that somalia is filled to the brim with evil pirates, and that sending in a few destroyers will solve everything. where have we heard that logic before? hmmm…

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Excellent, thanks very much Lorenz — I only happened to see the title in passing in Twitter. There are some articles from the European press as well, but finding them again is a bit of a problem. In the meantime I will read that K’naan piece, many thanks again.

      1. ryan anderson

        that’s because the mainstream media is too busy taking the “african pirates attack american vessel for the first time since the days of jefferson” angle.

  3. Maximilian Forte

    Thanks very much to you both Ryan and Lorenz.

    Lorenz, it was the Al Jazeera article that I was thinking about…note that I said it came from the “European” press. There is something a little troubling about that slip.

    Ryan, I think “pirate” is becoming “the new terrorist” — the story line is similar: evil doing, AK47-toting barbarians without legitimate grievances, versus small-town, white American hero dads (and the proud Navy SEAL snipers backing them up). I am speaking here of course about the mainstream North American media, where everything becomes a cartoon. The deliberate misunderstandings they generate will lead to very costly and completely preventable conflict and loss of life.

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