After a Year of Being Locked Down

Nobody (as far as I know) has commented on how hard this year of lockdowns has been on university professors. That’s good: nobody should. Many millions of workers at home and abroad, and those who have lost employment, or their health, have had a far worse time. In part because of COVID-19, and in even larger part because of the disproportional political responses that were rooted in neither science nor logic, but rather an effort to criminalize and distract populations, the world has experienced an infernal year. It is not yet over, even as a couple of countries in the Centre/the First World/the Global North begin to reopen. In most other countries, the situation remains dire, and in quite a few it is even worsening. New states of emergency, new curfews, and some particularly virulent strains of the virus (particularly the Brazilian and Indian mutations), combined with porous borders and inept state management, result in Year Two of misery. If one has faith in the efficacy and safety of mRNA treatments called vaccines, then one should note how uneven and unequal the global distribution of these products has been, a fact that brings back to life what never really went away: a worldwide division between Centre and Periphery. “The coming year could be a story of two worlds undermining each other,” as explained in an article in The Atlantic. It will be 2022 already when vaccines will become available to more than just 20% of the world’s population, and in the meantime populations in most of the world are dealing with sometimes monstrous mutations.

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American Exceptionalism, American Innocence

Review of American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. By Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong. Foreword by Ajamu Baraka. Afterword by Glen Ford. 256 pages. Published: April 2, 2019. New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN: 9781510742369. Hardcover, $24.99 US; e-Book, $16.99 US. We […]

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Half-Heads: A Dominant Force in US Politics

Half-head: this signifies a way of approaching problems that involves efficient thinking, where efficiency comes from an intensely selective focus. A half-headed approach could be a combination of unspoken or unconscious interests, the accumulation of taboos around certain subjects, the desire to appeal to select audiences, the product of an ideology—some or all of these, […]

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Bagram Santa

Easily lending themselves to multiple forms of misunderstanding, the Pentagon nevertheless regularly produces images of military personnel dressed as Santa Claus. This too is a pattern, minor in terms of the number of such photographs, but still a recurring feature. The images in this third and final photo essay of this series, come out of […]

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The Babysitter

Big Chief, Big Daddy, Big Babysitter to the World If “winning hearts and minds” is at the top of your global campaign agenda for strategic communication, then you need to insert yourself into some of the most intimate, domestic, and familial places of restive, hungry, and increasingly angry populations. Getting all domestic is what the […]

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The Dismal “Physics” of Blowback and Overstretch

Countering Scientism with Scientism Another sort of “physics” has emerged, right from within the same establishment of military and political institutions that produced “force multipliers”. If this other physics has attained the prominence that it has, such that it now has a foothold in academia and is a firm part of popular discourse in the […]

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Realism or Iconography? The Pentagon’s Implicit Theory of Visual Representation

The following is an extract from my chapter, “A Flickr of Militarization: Photographic Regulation, Symbolic Consecration, and the Strategic Communication of ‘Good Intentions’,” published in Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial Humanitarianism (Montreal: Alert Press, 2014), pp. 185-279: US military documents make it quite clear that, for the military, a photograph is a straightforward, […]

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Militarization: It’s All the Same, Everywhere. Or Is It?

By what logic, if any, does Zero Anthropology function? If in light of the controversy that erupted with the publication of Sophia Tesfamariam’s outline and condemnation of western anthropologists working to support regime change in her native Eritrea, Zero Anthropology for its part fails to criticize the Eritrean government for its alleged militarization, then what […]

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Landscapes of Emergency

Landscapes of Emergency is the title of a new short documentary film by Ross Domoney, produced by a Sussex Anthropology project on Public Order in Athens that has just been released. It provides a look at securitization, the imposition of a state of emergency on Greece in the wake of various efforts to control dissent and impose […]

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General Carter Ham’s Case for Dismantling AFRICOM

There is enough evidence that the US Africa Command has increased resource exploitation and imperial expansion, instigated more violence, intensified regional conflicts and undermined the authority of regional organizations and the African Union. First published as: “Dismantle AFRICOM! General Carter Ham makes the case?” By Horace G. Campbell Pambazuka, 2012-12-13, Issue 610 INTRODUCTION On Saturday […]

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Militarizing Africa and African Studies and the U.S. Africanist Response

By David Wiley [First published as: Wiley, David. (2012). “Militarizing Africa and African Studies and the U.S. Africanist Response.” African Studies Review, 24(2) September, pp. 147-161.] There was an ironic and troubling confluence in the 1958-64 years when simultaneously the majority of African nations won their independence, the Soviet Sputnik went up and shocked Americans […]

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