Week 10 — in the ruins of progress

Did you know that universities across the country have been striking? As a student who missed lectures, I fully support it. Fortunately, the symposium I have been looking forward to for months went ahead, not on campus and as a teachout. It was the final installment of After Progress, featuring Isabelle Stengers. I wrote my first essay last year on her work so you can imagine my excitement.

My notes are too disparate and the talks too rich to summarise here, but this quote from the event blurb does a pretty good job.

…we seek to collectively hold out a trusting hand to a whole series of interstices and undercurrents, to a plurality of minor stories, earthly experiments, speculative propositions, and insistent possibilities, that intensify the political potentials of cultivating pluralistic value-ecologies otherwise – in the ruins of progress.

Strikes notwithstanding, it really was a banger week on the uni front. On Tuesday, I went for a lunch meeting about decolonising data. Specifically, what concrete, technological actions can contribute to that goal. I just sat there and soaked it up, then came out feeling energised for the rest of the day. Being the dumbest person in the room is really my bag.

Against Economics
by David Graeber

I read this a few short hours after sending last week’s missive. It was so good that I couldn’t hold it until this week, so I got all swear-y on twitter. Graeber has that way of being so cleverly demeaning that it’s not just informative, but also a joy to read.

Mainstream economists nowadays might not be particularly good at predicting financial crashes, facilitating general prosperity, or coming up with models for preventing climate change, but when it comes to establishing themselves in positions of intellectual authority, unaffected by such failings, their success is unparalleled. One would have to look at the history of religions to find anything like it.

It’s a banger for quotes so I’ll avoid copy/pasting the whole thing. But will leave you with Mia’s response

Emoji summary: 💸 💥 🚫

Humanitarian Volunteer Scott Warren Reflects on the Borderlands and Two Years of Government Persecution
by Ryan Devereaux

This article almost made me cry. Partly because of the horror of the situation but mostly because of the hope threaded throughout. Individual people just trying, you know? I’ll admit I cry v easily (any sad film scene, that car ad) but it is a beautiful story. And significant because he successfully reclaimed a religious freedom defense used almost exclusively by the religious right.

I like to imagine a world with no borders.

simplistic, one-dimensional pictures fail to capture the complexity of the borderlands.

an intricate ecosystem of human and non-human inhabitants with a complex history stretching back thousands of years

Emoji summary: ⚖️ 😢 ✊

Both university readings this week sounded much more interesting before I read them. The module descriptor says

Here we will look at the theoretical frameworks which have been suggested to characterize the kinds of attachments we might have to our feminist pasts. Should we use the language of inheritance and generations?

No lecture because of the strikes, which might have improved the readings. But anyway.

‘Deep Lez: Temporal Drag and the Specters of Feminism’ in Time Binds by Elizabeth Freeman

Close application of Judith Butler to some artists’ work. I have an instinctive distrust in any over-reliance on Butler. This twitter thread includes some of the reasons. Like, there are just better people out there doing that work.

One piece she discusses is Sharon Hayes’ work holding protest signs, including “I am a man”. The article compares it to dealing with trans issues, but completely ignores race. Considering how much trans violence is inflicted on black trans women, its a glaring omission. I don’t know what Hayes intended, but the article made me uncomfortable in its erasure of blackness.

I can’t say I was overly wowed by this reading, but it has made me want to find work that actually deals with the questions the module poses.

Emoji summary: 🕰 👯‍♀️ 🏳️‍🌈

Fans of Feminism
by Catherine Grant

Again with Butler. This one redeemed itself by introducing me to art collective LTTR.

LTTR is a feminist genderqueer artist collective with a flexible project oriented practice.

Sadly no longer practicing, but I enjoyed a foray into their work.

Grant tries to use fandom as a lens for these different moments in feminism, even though sometimes the subjects of her analysis don’t see themselves that way.

I don’t necessarily consider myself a fan. I see a lot of the work that people were doing in the 70s, not only feminists, but mostly feminists, as more existing on a continuum, and not necessarily trying to see it as history, as something in the past, and more as a spirit that lives through time and the work that a lot of people are doing now is really interrelated with that and carries that same kind of energy

A comment from LTTR member Ginger Brooks Takahashi. I think I’m more on her line of reasoning.

If art is your thing, the article does describe and show several pieces. Including Oriana Fox Our Bodies, Ourselves featuring a giant vulva blanket and a lesbian reappropriation of the famous guerilla girls piece.

Image from MoMA

While I don’t know that fandom really works for what Grant is trying to do, I appreciate the objective.

feminism is something that is still in process, a place of negotiation, from the re-writing of classic texts and images to the creation of new communities, to the expression of art practices that take feminism seriously enough to re-write its stories. This approach allows for an interaction with feminist histories that does not simply revere or reject, combining the past and the present in an active dialogue, one that does not seek to simply reinstate the past, but to rework it differently, passionately, and perhaps even politically in the present.

Emoji summary: 🙌 🖼 🌷


For your amusement: How male octopuses avoid being eaten by hungry females
by Katherine Harmon Courage
. Got this one from Alex Mitchell’s Feminist Friday newsletter.

Finding Resilience: Confronting Limitations On An Expedition Through Afghanistan’s Big Pamir by Charley Zheng. Makes you want to go on a trek. Or, makes me want to go on a trek. Reminds me of this article I read earlier this year about how wonderful walking is.

Interview with Margaret Atwood. I wish I could have heard her tone when she said this.

Molly: I think many women —
Atwood: Women are people.

Why is so much of design school a waste of time? by Juliette Cezzar
Learning to take critique, aimed at designers but like… designers are people.


Emoji summary is 100% nicked off my favourite art critics The White Pube. They said they don’t mind.

Week 9 — give me your knowledge

My very last opportunity to remind you…


If you aren’t sure if you can, check here.

This week was the deadline to submit my dissertation working title. I’d narrowed down to 2 ideas

  1. Participatory design methodology in agile and tech environments. Like, is that even possible?
    Considerations: continuation of some themes and theories I did last academic year, relevant to my career, ‘safer’ academically, might get boring to do work work for uni work

  2. Something about datasets. Literally, that is how “I dunno” it was
    Considerations: completely new field both practically and theoretically, I don’t yet have the technical skill, it’s not directly relevant to my work but… hella interesting!

I spent a couple weeks reading around the edges of both, while also continuing to audit the feminist module. Unexpectedly, a lot of material from that module informed my choice. Data + feminism + queer.

I’ve put my working title online. Mostly so I can farm all of your smart brains. Give me your knowledge 🙏

“The Social Organization of Masculinity” in Masculinities
by R. W. Connell

Looking at how hegemonic masculinity interlinks with particular forms of class and race. It’s very historically situated, looking particularly at European/American culture.

To recognize more than one kind of masculinity is only a first step. We have to examine the relations between them. Further, we have to unpack the milieux of class and race and scrutinize the gender relations operating within them.

I especially liked the section on complicity. She argues that even though there are men who respect women and do housework, etc…they still draw “patriarchal dividend”

Masculinities constructed in ways that realise the patriarchal dividend, without the tensions or risks of being frontline troops of patriarchy, are complicit in this sense.

A gender order where men dominate women cannot avoid constituting men as an interest group concerned with defense, and women as an interest group concerned with change. This is a structural fact, independent of whether men as individuals love or hate women, or believe in equality or abjection, and independent of whether women are currently pursuing change.

It is, apparently, a seminal text – though not without critique.

Emoji summary: 👨🏻 🚹 🔝

“Rethinking manhood through race and civilization” in Manliness & Civilization
by G. Bederman

Looking at how masculinity was formed at the turn of the century, especially against intersections of race and class. It starts with the story of a heavyweight boxing match between Jack Johnson, the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion, and Jim Jeffries, white, former champion. It is MAD how crazy white men got over it! Talk about fragile.

During these years, a variety of social and cultural factors encouraged white middle-class men to develop new explanations of why they, as men, ought to wield power and authority.

The chapter examines how white men used the discourse of “civilisation” to maintain power. Sidenote, in a politics discussion yesterday, someone said “do you want us to go back to the dark ages!” as if higher taxes for the rich would lead to that directly *heavy eye-rolling*. So the discourse of “civilisation” is still alive and well.

…the interesting thing about “civilisation” is not what was meant by the term, but the multiple ways it was used to legitimize different claims to power

So the article goes on to talk about masculinity and manhood as a process, a practice. Not a fixed character trait.

I don’t see manhood as either an intrinsic essence or a collection of traits, attributes, or sex roles. Manhood – or “masculinity,” as it is commonly termed today – is a continual, dynamic process.

The ideological process of gender … works through a complex political technology, composed of a variety of institutions, ideas, and daily practices. Combined, these processes produce a set of truths about who an individual is and what he or she can do, based upon his or her body.

And a little, oof this didn’t age well. It was published in ‘95 so going to chalk this up to the time. Not that rare m8.

Although some individuals may reject certain aspects of their positioning, rare indeed is the person who considers “itself” neither a man nor a woman.

Despite suspect quote, it is an interesting chapter about how “manhood” developed into “masculinity” at the turn of the (last) century and how intentional it was. Once again, not just in opposition to women, but also in the subordination of other kinds of men. White dudes really are at the top of the list of shit people.

Emoji summary: 🥊 💩 🔗

The Darkness That Threatens India
by Arundhati Roy

Damn. Damn! This is your ‘if you only read one link’ link.

Emoji summary: 🔥 🇮🇳 ☄️


Review of artist Alina Szapocznikow by Ania Szremski

To foreground her trauma above all else is to risk a similar infantilizing, as if to suggest she were a helpless prisoner of her own personal experience. Sometimes it seems that in the hurry to bring more women into the “canon,” there’s an over-articulation of their collected harms, as if women are easier slid into history when they’re slicked up with the sheen of victimhood.

And to close, a cute tweet

Week 8 — comrades of the fighting variety

Good morning friends and welcome new people!

I’ve been planning a menu. A vegan menu for a party right after the elections. Brainstorming appropriate party food like… the people’s [vegan] sausage rolls, tarts and sex workers rights, pulled jackfruit sliders ‘The Rich’, beetroot hummus.

hmu with your ideas. Here’s a video to get you in the right mood.

Food is the first thing, morals follow on

It reminded me of another excellent Brecht poem. My flatmate has the entire thing memorised and once recited it to me very dramatically. Good to know what kind of company I’ll have in the revolution.

Step forward: we hear
That you are a good man.
You cannot be bought, but the lightning
Which strikes the house, also
Cannot be bought.
You hold to what you said.
But what did you say?
You are honest, you say your opinion.
Which opinion?
You are brave.
Against whom?
You are wise.
For whom?
You do not consider your personal advantages.
Whose advantages do you consider then?
You are a good friend.
Are you also a good friend of the good people?

Hear us then: we know
You are our enemy.
This is why we shall
Now put you in front of a wall.
But in consideration of your merits and good qualities
We shall put you in front of a good wall and shoot you
With a good bullet from a good gun and bury you
With a good shovel in the good earth.

Don’t forget to register to vote before November 26th!

‘Bodily Natures’ in Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self
by Stacy Alaimo

Theme this week was feminist ‘new materialism’. I didn’t love it. Partly because it was difficult to understand and my focus was still on dissertation decisions so I didn’t really give it enough attention. But also, I think, because it’s doing a thing that I believe is done better elsewhere, especially indigenous knowledges and radical pluralism.

Alaimo starts of setting the scene for her work

Working within rather than against predominant dualisms, many important feminist arguments and concepts necessitate a rigid opposition between nature and culture. For example, feminist theory’s most revolutionary concept—the concept of gender, as distinct from biological sex—is predicated upon a sharp opposition between nature and culture.

and setting out what she things would be more productive

… it would be more productive for feminist theory to undertake the transformation of gendered dualisms—nature/culture, body/mind, object/subject, resource/agency, and others—that have been cultivated to denigrate and silence certain groups of human as well as nonhuman life

Ultimately, I agree with many of her arguments. I just don’t find them the most compelling versions of these arguments. And I think it misrepresents a lot of feminist work and does a disservice to many who have been doing this work for ages.

Emoji summary: 🌿 🧠 🦵

Inventive Feminist Theory: Representation, Materiality and Intensive Time
by Rebecca Coleman

More new materialisms, but with a focus on representation. Maybe I’m a little ‘meh’ by all this because it’s a bit too deep in the postmodern tradition.

Still, some good material. I’m interested in this particularly, the way the social has real, material effects on the body.

Of central concern in these accounts, then, is the ways in which the objectification of female bodies in representations has effects on ‘real’ female bodies. Representations are the ways in which images come to matter—that is, to shape bodies.

Reciprocal agentive effects indeed

…it is to see bodies and images as in intra-active relations; culture and materiality ‘have reciprocal agentive effects upon one another’.

Emoji summary: 🔄 🖼 👯‍♀️

The New Vulgarian
McKenzie Wark in intervew with Guy Mannes-Abbott

I read this interview with Mackinzie Wark because of Verso instagram stories. Perhaps I have some kind of unhealthy dependence (addiction) on social media, but I found feminism on tumblr ok.

Aside: Tank has the worst page design ever! I literally copy/pasted the whole thing into a text editor. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Anna about whether “all websites should look the same” (Anna) and “what if we just got rid of CSS” (me, a digital designer trololol).

Anyway, the article. It’s an interview about Wark’s new book Capitalism is Dead.

It will probably not be popular with the self-appointed sheriffs of Marxism, who think like cops. The provocation is to propose that we don’t actually know very much about the controlling layer of ruling-class power at the moment, and to start the analysis and critique over again, rather than assume some quotations from uncle Karl will do the job.

Reading this interview is an exercise in self-control. The self-control not to immediately buy the book because (1) I am paying a lot of money for access to a library (2) I have a surplus unread books. But then, interviews like this don’t make it easy

One of the questions, then, is whether we can have a critique of political economy that has its own means of knowledge production with its own standards of error correction that don’t collapse back into scholastic habits, conventional disciplines, and so on.

Or maybe I can justify buying it because it might be relevant to my dissertation? Capitalism what?

…information becomes a very fine-grained and also very totalising means of control over all other classes. It constricts the tactical space for class struggle from below. It’s worse also in that the abstraction of information enables a kind of absolute surveillance and commodification of the entire earth. All of it becomes available for extraction. That just accelerates the destruction of the conditions of possibility for all life.

Marxism is the conceptual and creative practice of the subordinate classes, which have to imagine and try to create an entire world outside of exploitation. Collective activity outside of exploitation is comrade­ship. It has to be practiced not only with all other subordinated people, but with all subordinated agents, living and non-living. Otherwise, the world ends.

Finally, the very last question/answer bit about their transition is just lovely lovely lovely.

Emoji summary: 🛠 📓👩🏻‍🎓

The Terrible
by Yrsa Daley-Ward

This memoir is a kind of mix between poetry and prose. Yrsa’s work is beautiful and painful in that ‘god how do we go on and on and on in this horrid world?’ kind of way.

in love with how it happened so far, even the terrible things
and God, there were terrible things

I read her poetry collection Bone earlier this year.

bone, page 67. ✨
November 5, 2019

Both are good books if you like to feel sad. I think I like my poetry to be the fighting variety.

Emoji summary: 😰 ✍🏿 💔


What I’ve learnt from being a brown critic on the Internet (and what i need now from our readers) by The White Pube. Zarina’s writing is :chefs-kiss: I like the way she says smart things using the language of the internet. I like that it isn’t pretentious. I also like her voice, so it’s one of the few times I’ll listen to an article rather than read it. Some excellent quotes, in case you need convincing to clickity click.

We need a whole ass fucking reset of the balance of power, and we need it NOW.

Individually, we need to get better at identifying when ~inclusive moments~ are performative, be more wary of where we engage ourselves, where we pour our labour into. If we do it anyway, we must be creative about strategies to disrupt the attempted co-option of our words & identities for these institutions’ motives; there are ways that we can secure the bag & not let them hail their interactions with us as ~good inclusive moments~. We can be critical when we go in, but we must also be cognisant of our own privileges. I am not precarious, as a person, as a cultural worker, and I cannot excuse myself from failing to withdraw my labour from damaging systems by citing a precarity.

I am disappointed by this review of the new MoMA by Hal Foster, maybe because I was expecting some type of critique on the institution, or the art world, or big money, or whatever. It was not that. At the end, it makes a kind of weak critique of neoliberalism and asks “What would it be to truly decolonise MoMA?” I’m not convinced Foster would know if it smacked him in the face. Read The White Pube instead.

Bleak House by Josephine Livingstone which is a review of Carmen Maria Machado’s new book In the Dream House. (Carmen is also the author of The Husband Stitch. Makes me want to puke but I think everyone should read it.)

I sort of wish I hadn’t read this because there are too many spoilers but I really want to read the book and they DON’T HAVE IT at Goldsmiths’ library. Domestic abuse, toxic relationships and gaslighting are not exclusive to the heteros, unfortunately.

But the fear of queer life being misrepresented by straights has not disappeared along with the prohibition on marriage. Admitting to queer-on-queer abuse can feel tantamount to endorsing the “specter of the lunatic lesbian,” as Machado puts it. Homophobia always casts queer women as mentally deviant, and it has been in lesbians’ interest to show the world otherwise. If she could say anything to her ex-girlfriend now, she writes, it would be, “For fuck’s sake, stop making us look bad.”

A friend called my recent-ish experience “a very sophisticated form of bullying, using the language of progressive feminism”. Difficult to recognise, harder to articulate. Sounds like Machado has done it. If anyone has this book, please loan it to me. In fact, I could be a book swap person if you’re up for that.


Emoji summary is 100% nicked off my favourite art critics The White Pube. I support them on Patreon, so I hope they don’t mind.

Week 7 — figuring things out as I go along

It’s reading week so this one is thematically all over the place. I’ve mostly been researching to try and define what I want to do for my dissertation. Down to 2 ideas, more on that later. I’ve also been trying to catch up on my LRB backlog. Do people actually read the entire issue AND read books AND have jobs? I certainly cannot.

I’ve also been thinking about how vulnerable this space is for me. I’m continually learning new things and unlearning old things. Sometimes when I think back to opinions I used to have or things I used to say, I’m embarrassed by myself.

So I’m kind of figuring things out as I go along, only now in public. In a year, will I look back on this and be mortified? Are you reading this and thinking “how tf does she think THAT”?

Maybe. But one day I’ll get there 🤞

The politics of large numbers
by Alain Desrosières

Reading bits of this, because (spoilers) one of my dissertation ideas is along these lines.

Statistical tools allow the discovery or creation of entities that support our descriptions of the world and the way we act on it.

I’m especially interested in that line “creation of entities” if entities were people (see also Making up people in Week 4).

But also, love a little trashing on objectivity.

Basing its originality on its autonomy in relation to other languages … scientific language has a contradictory relationship with them. On the one hand it preaches an objectivity, and thereby, a universality which, if this claim is successful, provides points of support and common reference for debates occurring elsewhere; this is the “incontrovertible” aspect of science. On the other hand this authority, which finds its justification in the actual process of objectification and in its strict demands for universality, can only be exercised to the extent that it is partly to the world of action, decision making, and change.

Emoji summary: 🔢 📊 🌏

(Re)framing Big Data: Activating situated knowledges and a feminist ethics of care in social media research
by Naomi Barnes

More dissertation research for option 2. Data + feminism (+ queer).

Data can be both a means to contribute to a more ethical society, but it can just as easily be violent on the subjects who produced the data, as well as those who analyse it...

The article is responding to a paper that I haven’t read yet. But its now on the list, partly because I like this paragraph

Luka and Millette … propose speculation as an ethical methodology that considers how the data and the resulting analysis will translate into diverse and power-differentiated communities. Speculation asks the researcher to consider their own values and biases and unpack their own conceptual frameworks and acknowledge how that positioning shapes the data representations they produce. The authors argue that if researchers situate their knowledge in their own power dynamics, it opens opportunities for gaps to be filled.

And partly because I like Haraway a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot. A LOT! Staying with the Trouble changed my life.

Emoji summary: 📈 ♾ 👩🏼‍⚕

Why I won’t “try on” disability to build empathy in the design process (and you should think twice about it.)
by Amelia Abreu

On Wednesday, I helped organise and run an accessibility empathy workshop for our away morning. The emphasis was definitely on testing the website, not pretending to be disabled, which I think landed on the right side of the point. Still, important for me to consider when and how to do this kind of thing.

Better than any empathy-building exercise, would be to

build equitable human relationships with folks with differing abilities and disabilities.

Equitable, yes. Also, respectful.

We all have people in our lives whose bodies are remarkably different from ours. And it’s through living and critically engaging with diverse groups of people that we’re best able to cultivate empathy generally and constantly, not just selectively and discretely, and to design inclusive solutions that will work better for us all.

And not just for design.

This is a great thread on the topic

Emoji summary: 👓 💻 ♿

Creating visions of futures must involve thinking through the complexities

with Cameron Tonkinwise

If there is one link you read in this week’s missive, make it this one. The article is reason 1-50 on why I’m doing a masters in sociology.

Get ready for spicy

I was however, surprised by how apolitical, if not politically naïve, design as a practice, but also a discourse, was, once I got into it. The idea that design is the mechanism by which political values are materialized into everyday practices (a variant of Latour’s “technology is society made durable” or “morality delegated”) seems still insufficiently understood by design practitioners and educators.

He’s not wrong

Designers are for the most part intolerably arrogant…

I love to be dragged

It still surprises me that most designers have read very few books about design, though there are not many that are both sophisticated and up-to-date.

Yes Cameron, I think this is true. Abolition ftw

Much as I’d like, I can’t just quote the whole thing so maybe just read it yourself.

Emoji summary: 🌶 🔥 🖍


Psychoanalysing Trump, if you are into that kind of thing. Genius or Suicide: Trump’s Death Drive by Judith Butler.

My wager/dream is that he would rather die than pause to feel the shame that passes through him and is externalised as destruction and rage. If he ever registers shame, it may be only in that briefest moment just as it turns outwards, to be expelled into the world around him.

Have you been following the US primaries? I have to be impartial in this country but I’m a Bernie stan. Kind of mad that it goes on for so long, no? Esp when we have just a few short weeks until voting day. Don’t forget to register!

The Greer Method by Mary Beard reviewing Greer’s new book ‘On Rape’. I haven’t read that much Beard, but I like what I’ve read so far. I think because of her nuance. Can’t stand a “universal” statement. My favourite saying is “it depends”. She also does a good drag.

When she writes in the book, ‘the mere suggestion will cause an outcry which is one good reason for making it,’ it is an honest summary of the Greer method.

Madder Men by Hal Foster on Richard Hamilton’s biography, which is actually an autobiography because the author is a pseudonym for Hamilton. I saw Hamilton at the Tate years ago and loved it. This link is mostly an excuse to share one of my favourites, the People series.

Consider the Hedgehog by Katherine Rundell. Delightful!

But, as ever, we are their greatest enemy. Their numbers are falling catastrophically, and have been for decades. The loss of hedgerows, the increase in vast open fields without cover, and death by cars are to blame, alongside the mass use of pesticides and the reduction, thanks to global warming, of their insect prey. … Around this time of year, there is the added risk of hedgehogs taking up residence in bonfires, and, come the fifth of November, being burned alive. If we were not used to hedgehogs – if they existed only in Yosemite or the Okavango Delta – we would surely travel thousands of miles to see them. The least we can do is refrain from setting alight some of the world’s sharpest and gentlest creatures.

All That Gab by James Wolcott on Susan Sontag. I have a confession. I’ve never read a Sontag book. I tried once and didn’t make it past the first essay. Should I try again?

I didn’t know (or forgot) that she was “not-straight”. She also seems insufferable but hilarious.

…the presidential speechwriter Richard Goodwin, who, deploying tricks of the trade learned from a French prostitute, activated Sontag’s first orgasm with a man: ‘“Oh, shit,” she remembered thinking. “Now I’m just like everybody else.”’

A celebration for all those women who love other women. And sadness for those who didn’t feel able to live that openly. Thinking of you, Whitney <3


I had read some critiques when preparing the empathy workshop, but Nick Colley shared the article and the twitter thread with me after. Thanks for your thoughtfulness Nick.

Week 6 — what pushes people to act?

On Thursday, after my normal uni lecture, I attended a lecture organised by the Centre for Feminist Research. The speaker was a Sri Lankan activist named Karththiha Suvendranathan, sharing her activism and research in Eastern Sri Lanka, particularly after the Easter bombings. Their work is multifaceted and amazing in the face of ethnically polarised and militarised contexts. It really puts our own troubles into perspective.

Karththiha spoke a lot about the importance of naming and respecting the feelings that both sides have (Tamil Hindu/Sinhala vs Muslim women).

Activism and training in the NGOs (post-conflict and tsunami) did not work for their personal pain. New collectives give the space to heal their own pain, which makes them more able to help others.

One of the attendees from the Sri Lankan diaspora responded saying ‘Talking about emotions and feelings is often pushed aside, particularly in the academy. But it is what pushes people to act.’ I would venture that it’s true beyond the academy. Speaking of…

Don’t forget to register to vote!

“Of Men and Empire” in Space invaders: race, gender and bodies out of place
by Nirmal Puwar

This chapter looks at the constitution of the body politic as gendered and racialised. Whose bodies are “politic” and whose are not

Just as discourses constituted the female body as an unsuitable occupant of the body politic, certain racialised bodies were also deemed unsuitable participants of the politic.

Women are the symbolic bearers of the nation

while women represent justice – for example, the Old Bailey and the Statue of Liberty – they are not seen as being capable of actually administering justice. While women serve a metaphoric function, it is men who are metonymically linked to the nation.

but it is not enough to just ascribe to patriarchy, because it doesn’t take into account the different types of competing masculinity and feminity. Nirmal says it’s better to think of them as ‘gender regimes’

The production of women’s bodies as national symbols was inflected by the distinction between the imperial and the colonial. Imperial fraternities were conceptualised in linkage with national categories of ‘woman’ as nature. The culture/nature, dignified/exotic divide that differentiates imperial women from ‘other’ women who are still in a state of nature is a significant feature of the construction of hegemonic femininities.

Emoji summary: 🗽 🌄 👩🏾‍⚖️

Ch.1 “The Lay of the Land” in Imperial leather: race, gender, and sexuality in the colonial contest
by Anne McClintock

This chapter is pretty much what it says on the tin, “race, gender, and sexuality in the colonial conquest”. It discusses the gendering of the land and of nations, and how that was used in different ways for different purposes. From cartography

Map-making became the servant of colonial plunder, for the knowledge constituted by the map both preceded and legitimized the conquest of territory. The map is a technology of knowledge that professes to capture the truth about a place in pure, scientific form, operating under the guise of scientific exactitude and promising to retrieve and reproduce nature exactly as it is. As such, it is also a technology of possession, promising that those with the capacity to make such perfect representations must also have the right of territorial control.

to the different forms this gendering operated and its effects

…the gendering of imperialism took very different forms in different parts of the world. India, for one was seldom imagined as a virgin land, while the iconography of the harem was not part of Southern African colonial erotics. North African, Middle Eastern and Asian women were, all too often, trammeled by the iconography of the veil, while African women were subjected to the civilizing mission of cotton and soap. In other words, Arab women were to be "civilized" by being undressed (unveiled), while sub-Saharan women were to be civilized by being dressed (in clean, white, British cotton). These sumptuary distinctions were symptomatic of the critical differences in the legislative, economic and political ways in which imperial commodity racism was imposed on different parts of the word.

One thing that really struck me in that last paragraph was how many of those distinctions still operate in harmful stereotypes even now.

Emoi summary: 🏴 🗺 🧕

Rethinking Homonationalism
by Jasbir Puar

Really short, 3pg article which is an (apparently excellent) summary of her book “Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times”. Homonationalism is a

conceptual frame of “homonationalism” for understanding the complexities of how "acceptance" and “tolerance” for gay and lesbian subjects have become a barometer by which the right to and capacity for national sovereignty is evaluated.

Israel appears as a pioneer of homonationalism, being perfectly situated to encourage the normalization of some homosexual bodies in relation to an increasingly violent occupation of Palestine.

Then there is the function of capitalism.

The neoliberal accommodationist economic structure engenders niche marketing of various ethnic and minoritized groups, normalizing the production of, for example, a gay and lesbian tourism industry built on the discursive distinction between gay-friendly and not-gay-friendly destinations. Not unlinked to this is what I call the “human rights industrial complex.” The gay and lesbian human rights industry continues to proliferate Euro- American constructs of identity (not to mention the notion of a sexual identity itself) that privilege identity politics, "coming out," public visibility, and legislative measures as the dominant barometers of social progress.

Emoji summary: 🏳️‍🌈 ✈️ 👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨


Agents of Their Own Abuse by Jacqueline Rose about the treatment of migrant women.

…violence at the border serves a purpose, and so does the shock it provokes. It obscures the violence of the internal social arrangements of modern nations, which fight to preserve the privilege of the few over the many.

Two things that should not exist: borders and prisons.

Can we break our addiction to plastic? The future of packaging by Leila Abboud shared by Anna, who already pulled out the best quote

“There is no such thing as a sustainable material. There are only sustainable systems,” he says. “People don’t think in terms of systems but that’s the only way.”

Holly’s weeknotes covering a variety of research stuff. This week is about doing a paper diary study. On the surface, not relevant to my current work but the way Holly talks about research and her respect for users is really nice to read. See also…

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