This photograph is from an album created by Lt Thomas Gerald George Fahey who served in the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East during World War 1.
The Bedouin are comprised of various Arabic tribes who were forced into a precarious nomadic lifestyle in the late 19th Century under Ottoman rule. Some Bedouin tribes fought alongside the Turks during the First World War. During the early 1960s, severe drought forced many Bedouin away from a herding lifestyle, and most now live in large cities such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
In Hawaii, the Occupy Maui movement seeks to drive out Monsanto which uses local land to grow genetically modified (GM) crops as well as carrying out open air chemicals testing. Hawaii activists are protesting the health risks and political influence of Monsanto over Hawaii’s government.
Monsanto is the largest corporation in Hawaii but other biotech companies also have strong influence in Hawaii. Protesters say that the biotech industry is another form of colonialism, as it evokes parallels with the USA sugar industry in 1893 which deposed the Hawaii Kingdom, effectively removing the local custom of land as a communal resource.
Al Jazeera cites that in 2012 alone 170 million hectares of land around the world was used to grow GM crops, and around 69.5 million hectares of this was in the USA. While some researchers say that GM crops are perfectly safe and necessary to feed the world’s rapidly growing population, the problem is that the law does not require GM foods to be labelled. Effectively, this disempowers consumers from making informed choices about their own nutrition.
Good article on the historical and social influences on technology adoption. Science Professor Bernard Carlson, (University of Virginia, USA) tells engineering students: “they are going to produce sociotechnical systems,” meaning they need to understand how people “interact with technology.” MAGGIE KOERTH-BAKER writes:
Society shapes the development and use of technology (this is a function of social determinism; for example, cars didn’t really become ubiquitous until they became easy to operate and cheap to buy), but technology also shapes society (technological determinism; think of the way cars then essentially created the suburbs). Over time, the two interact with and change each other, an idea known as technological momentum, which was introduced in 1969 by Thomas P. Hughes, a historian of technology. According to Hughes’s theory, the technologies we end up using aren’t determined by any objective measure of quality. In fact, the tools we choose are often deeply flawed. They just happened to meet our particular social needs at a particular time and then became embedded in our culture.
Irena Sendler was a Polish Roman-Catholic nurse and social worker who headed the children’s section of Żegota, an underground resistance group working against the German occupation in Warsaw. Sendler was a wartime humanitarian who smuggled around 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. While Sendler was nominated, but was not awarded, a Nobel Peace Price, Israel and Poland have both bestowed Sendler with humanitarian awards and UNICEF acknowledged her efforts by posthumously granting Sendler the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award in 2009. Read more about her life on the Irena Sendler website, which was started by a group of high school students in Kansas USA, who produced a play honouring her courage. Check out the PBS documentary on her life, featuring interviews with Sendler.
In this video, Raewyn Connell touches on her research on academia in the Southern hemisphere and on education, but most of her discussion is on her considerable research on masculinities. This is a very accessible overview of Connell’s work. She says her research is motivated by a desire to make the world safer for herself as a transgender woman, for her daughter, and for her community. I like this representation of sociology - producing research and activism to create a safer world. It’s poignant to remember that as another International Women’s Day passes, sociology and the feminist movement have a responsibility to all women, including transgender women.
- Audre Lorde, who described herself as: “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”
Every day, for centuries, women all over the globe continue to fight to be heard and to have their human rights respected. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you had/are having an amazing International Women’s Day.
The Pew Research Centre reports that the proportion young people who own homes went down to 34% in 2011 compared to 40% in 2001. Also in 2011, only 66% of people aged 25 years or younger owned or leased a car compared to 73% of young people in 2001.
Good news is that credit card debt is down to 39% in 2010, in comparison to 50% of youth who had credit debt in 2001. Bad news is that student loan debt rose from 34% in 2007 to 40% in 2010. Then again, debt trends are mixed, as the median debt for young people is now $14,102, which is around $1,000 less than in 2007. These patterns reflect a shift in economic priorities after the recession as well as broader changes in society that include delayed marriage, which impacts on household formation and spending.
Two anthropologists, Rachel Caspari and Karen Rosenberg, talk about the Scars of Human Evolution. This excellent Google+ Hangout for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (below) addresses great questions such as, “what are the downsides of evolution?” The chat covers the costs on our bodies, health, reproduction and on our aging populations. Caspari and Rosenberg pose an argument that runs counter to the way in which many people think about human evolution. That is: evolution is not always geared towards perfection. Humans have made excellent strides towards improving our quality of life, to make evolution “workable,” but we don’t often stop to think about the trade offs of evolution. All species have these evolutionary imperfections, but “It may be because humans are cultural animals, we’re able to ameliorate the effects of some of those [issues].”
It’s lovely to hear these researchers answer a viewer question on why we’re one of the only species to only have one race when other species have many sub-divisions. As sociologists and anthropologists know, race is a social construction. That is, it’s a cultural idea that varies from one society to another, and ideas about race also change over time. Neanderthals and modern humans were different species, but modern humans have long been a single species.
Caspari and Rosenberg argue that there are two characteristics that distinguish modern humans genetically from our ancestors: 1) We have no races. 2) We live longer. These anthropologists note that other fields of evolutionary science continue to see ongoing diversification, including the development of new diseases and the discovery of new insects. Yet there’s no evidence that there has been increased complexity in human evolution. Looking at our history, modern humans are not the “inevitable outcome of the evolutionary process.” There is, however, increased cultural complexity amongst modern humans, which impacts on the challenges we face in the evolution process, particularly regarding our health and our procreation experiences.
The researchers answer a viewer question about whether keeping people alive who are genetically imperfect weakens our gene pool. Their answer - incorporating the cultural idea of stigma and our relationship to our environment - is a fantastic example of social science. Enjoy!
Credits: Video link via Chris Robinson on Google+.
Hispanic women are fully aware that our culture is entrenched in misogyny, but not necessarily any less than American culture. Women in the United States are often expected to take their husbands’ last name. Many men still go to their bride’s father to ask for her hand in marriage; just because we see it as a sweet gesture it does not mean that it isn’t patriarchal in nature… Loving tradition and having pride in your culture does not mean these women cannot vocalize the gender issues of their communities. My mother’s feminism was the truest form of feminism for me; a belief in the potential upward mobility of all women.
Patricia Valoy, Civil Engineer, feminist blogger, and radio host reflects on gender politics and the sacrifices her stay-at-home mother made for her children after they migrated from the Dominican Republic to the USA. Valoy writes that Western feminism encouraged her to see her mother as being trapped in patriarchy, but she argues that we need to find a way to move past narrow conceptions of feminism:
Feminism cannot continue to exist as a monolithic block, or we will never be able to include women from all walks of life.
In the Western port city of Houdieda, Yemen’s class system is evident in a slum area where the Akhdam community live. The term Akhdam translates to “servant” in Arabic and they are also known as “the marginalised ones,” as they are only given the poorest paid jobs and they are looked down upon. Reuters writes:
Yemeni Akhdam, or servants, are similar to hereditary castes, but are distinguished by their African features and the menial jobs they perform. Widespread prejudice places the Akhdam at the bottom of Yemen’s social ladder. Asked about the origins of the Akhdam, Yemenis say they are descendants of Ethiopians who crossed the Red Sea to conquer Yemen before the arrival of Islam some 1,400 years ago - making them outsiders in their own country. Most live in slum areas in the outskirts of the capital Sanaa and other main cities. They reside in small huts haphazardly built of wood and cloth, without basic services such as running water, electricity and sewage networks.