Author Archives: DP

Language In Tune

This week, we tune our ears to a second voice from the Harvard Divinity School’s Religion & Public Life program: Cynthia Wilson, the RPL Fellow for Native and Indigenous Rights. Below, she illuminates the “burning question” that brought her to HDS.

 

 

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Listen To the Margins

Now comes Deborah Jian Lee, a journalism Fellow at Harvard Divinity School’s timely and compelling Religion & Public Life program (RPL). Lee is an author and journalist working at The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which covers economic inequality in America.                                                   

During a recent online “Voices” forum at RPL, Lee was asked for the one “burning question” that frames her time within the program; below, a transcript of her illuminating response, together with a video link. 

 

 

 

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Imperial Imperatives

This week, for reasons that we are sure need not be scribed here, we bend an ear to the distinguished historian Caroline Elkins, author of Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire. Excerpts from a recent interview below.

The image documents the detention of alleged participants in the so-called Mau Mau Rebellion, with a caption added by DP.

 

 

THE CIVILIZING PROCESS

 

 

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Wounded By Time

We are grateful to a DP correspondent for steering us to a beautifully conceived essay, hidden within the vast archives of the Public Domain Journal. and written by distinguished professor Kenneth Gross, whose most recent book, Dangerous Children: On Seven Novels and a Story, will be published this autumn.

Excerpts below, with images from the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern.

 

 

THE OLD MAN, THE DEVIL WITH RINGED GLOVE AND THE MONK

 

 

THE PHILISTINE, MATCHBOX SPIRT AND THE CROWNED POET

 

 

BIG-EARED CLOWN, SELF-PORTRAIT AND THE WHITE-HAIRED ESKIMO

 

GHOST OF A SCARECROW, ELECTRICAL SPOOK AND MR. DEATH

 

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Shadow Play

We are grateful to the editors of the ever-excellent Orion magazine for alerting us to the publication of Crane Maiden, a collaboration between author Brenda Peterson and artist Ed Young. Published by Chin Music Press, the book is also on display as an animated exhibit in the Eric Carle Museum.

A brief excerpt below:

 

 

 

And a note from the artist:

Taoism is an ancient philosophy of nature, simplicity, and humor. The dualism of Chinese Taoism calls us to attend to opposites, like two faces of the same coin—light and dark, parting and reunion, gravity and flight. Yin and yang complete each other, cannot exist separately, enrich and fulfill the other. Their “interplay of energy makes harmony,” writes Lao Tzu in his classic Tao Te Ching. Just as in physics, the positive and negative magnetic fields synthesize and work as a whole. 

In China, cranes are symbolic creatures of nature. They bring good fortune and rain to crops and wetlands, as well as flood and destruction. Good and evil coexist in this Taoist balancing act. The West perceives truth as static perfection, but Chinese philosophy embraces polarities, always in a state of change, always alive. So red-crowned cranes embody both extremes, like the cosmos, or a vessel that can be perceived as half empty or half full.

How will we choose to live, to dance?

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Fortress Conservation

At the end of a week that included wildly premature celebrations over the passage of a profoundly flawed climate bill, we relay a letter from Extinction Rebellion Global Support, reporting on an often overlooked aspect of conservation in the global south:

Since early 2022, the Maasai in northern Tanzania have intensified their fight against eviction from their ancestral lands in the Ngorongoro conservation area and Loliondo.

The government wants to use the lands to make a safari park and expand trophy hunting opportunities, and have subjected the Maasai communities to waves of violence, exclusion, and evictions. Over the past months, XR Youth Solidarity and other rebel groups have organised joint international solidarity actions with the Maasai.

In February, the Maasai organised a blockade at the entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. At the same time, rebels in London and Edinburgh protested outside the Tanzanian High Commission and several travel agencies who fuel the tourism that is driving the Maasai evictions.

Conservation projects often involve the violent theft of land from indigenous and other local communities, most of whom have lived in harmony with that land for millennia. It is known as Fortress Conservation, or colonial conservation, and the Environmental Justice Atlas currently records 141 cases worldwide.

Fortress Conservation is accepted or even practiced by many well-known organizations, for example WWF, and is used by corporations to greenwash their extractivism. The Maasai and rebel groups have launched a boycott of companies that benefit from the practice and the tourism it fosters.

80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is on indigenous lands, and communities like the Massai want to lead our efforts to protect the planet and stop ecocide, not be displaced by them.

In July, a delegation of indigenous East African people travelled to a major conservation conference in Rwanda and demanded an end to Fortress Conservation, and the beginning of indigenous led conservation without Western intervention.

 

MAASAI BLOCKADE IN NGORONGORO

 

 

 

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The Golden Strand

Now comes the richly layered voice of Terry Tempest Williams, with a few paragraphs from a recent essay.

The image is from the extraordinary exhibition In Memory, by Shiota Chiharu, as relayed from the website of the Gana Art Center.

 

 

 

A statement from Shiota Chiharu, offered during a press conference following the opening of her exhibition:

“I wanted to put emphasis on the boat, because I believe that boats hold memories and their role is to move and carry them places. I call dresses, or clothes, a second skin because I believe they connect people together and are a means to express themselves. The paper represents the thoughts that people have. I am also fond of boats because while riding in them, they always have people think about where they are headed toward, and where their destination is. The color white may typically be used as a symbol for death, but I think otherwise. To me, it means both life and death, because when there’s an end, there is always another beginning.” 

 

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Love & Rage

At the end of a week during which evidence of a deepening climate emergency continues to accumulate and accelerate, we relay a letter from the front lines of the Extinction Rebellion:

My name is Miriam and I live in Campeche, a coastal state in the south of Mexico. This is where the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs landed. Now we’re living through another extinction event, and this time humanity is the cause.

I knew about climate change and environmental pollution. Droughts and plastic bottles are everywhere in Mexico. But when the pandemic hit and we were all trapped inside our homes, I really started to research it all. I read about capitalism, about colonialism, about climate science. I realized system change was the only solution.

I thought I was alone, until I read a fabulous article that introduced me to Extinction Rebellion. I had found my people! But there was no XR group in Campeche. So I contacted rebels in Mexico city, and through them met the Latin America team of XR Global Support.

 

 

Today, you can say I am a full time rebel. XR Campeche, which I founded earlier this year, is 15 rebels strong and has brought non-violent direct action, and the beautiful Blue Brigade, to the streets of Mexico.

We recently connected with local groups all over the world to take part in the Debt For Climate campaign, handing out fake ‘XR money’ to spread awareness of the climate crisis.

None of this would have happened without the training, the funding, and the friendship of XR Global Support.

Here in Mexico, you have to be brave if you want to be an activist. Anyone who is not part of a mainstream political party is considered crazy, and the drug cartels have made it one of the most dangerous places to protest in the world.

But the politicians are not doing their job, and the media blinds people from the truth. We need a post-capitalist economy, and XR Campeche will keep campaigning to bring it about.

Donate to XR Global Support so groups like ours can keep telling people the truth in every region of the world.

Love & rage,

Miriam, XR Campeche

DONATE WHAT YOU CAN

 

 

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The Absent Referent

We are grateful to a DP correspondent for steering towards an excellent essay by distinguished philosophers and animal rights ethicists Alice Crary and Lori Gruen, adapted from their recently published book, Animal Crisis: A New Critical Theory. A few paragraphs below, with the cover image linked to the book’s webpage. 

 

 

 

 

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All Hands On Deck

Now comes Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the novel Ministry for the Future, which has been making the rounds here at DP while the climate emergency becomes ever more acute, with increasingly dangerous consequences, not just for human communities, but for the whole of life on mother earth.

Below, a brief excerpt from a recent interview on the Bioneers website; the image, also relayed from Bioneers, links to Robinson’s excellent 2015 keynote address, even more relevant today.

 

 

 

 

 

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