miércoles, marzo 25, 2009

Gordillo (2004). Landscapes of Devils.

Gordillo, Gaston. 2004. 2004 Landscapes of Devils: Tensions of Place and Memory in the Argentinean Chaco. Durham: Duke University Press.

Some insights from reading this really impressive and well written ethnography centered in the Argentinean Chaco and in the Toba but ultimately focusing on the multiplicities of contradictions, negotiations and denials that Argentina’s history present in relation to indigenous people, marginalized populations, uses and appropriation of resources, and the power of memory to struggle and the struggle for memory.

I recall an image which is my partner organizing the index of this book in one coffee shop we used to go, and how at the end, when the deadline was almost there, I also helped her to finished it. So, in a way I have an indirect marginal contribution to this book…

But going to the main things that attract my attention within it is the different forms of actions and one could say agency not only in relation to the Toba, the Anglican and other churches, the owners and workers of the Sugar plantations, the Argentinean State, the Army but also the non-humans actors: what Gordillo, Tobas and others call the devils. Here I would like to comment that in many ways these “devils” are no more than spirits, with powers to heal or do harm, to wisdom or un-memory, and Toba people navigate the relation with them in many different ways between selfishness and solidarity, scarcity and abundance. I do think that calling these spirits as devils produce different effects in different audiences. It is clear that the association spirits-devils comes from the Christianization of the Americas and the ideologies of the Catholic Church treating everything that was not their own religious ideology as source of the devil and evil. But my point here is that these devils can also be seen as the "weapons of the weak" using Scott's famous phrase. This is not only a landscape of devils, it is also a devilization of the social/natural landscapes. And the Toba, among many other socieites, used and keep using all the resources they have at hand to empower or challenge the extremely hursh conditions in which they were living.

I am going slightly out of the context of the book, but I think that types of discussion Gordillo opens in this book are somehow connected with the forms of appropriation of the past and the local knowledge of the physical and human environment. We can call these spirits whatever we want, Toba people call them as devils but ultimately we are defining their material symbolism and their efficacy in a realm of the western world that is very suspicious about these types of beings…I guess my point here is a discussion we have with some friends (included Gaston) between the tensions of historicizing or ahistoricizing the relationships between the “Toba” people and the “Argentinean State” and the diverse roles we give to the “Toba” people and the “Argentinean State” as the ultimate source of explanation/interpretation of the “real”… (We have this discussion in the class, and I still think that Gaston's book is very powerful but these entangled spaces could have been developed more in their "verticality" ("culture" or whatever we may call it) beside their "horizontality" (the spatial and historical relation between the Ingenios, the bush, the town and the missions), of course, there is no easy solution with this...)

The second point I would like to make is this. In Argentina, there is always a tension between the two major indigenous groups, the Toba in the north and the Mapuche in the south. Mapuche people have a totally different history in relation to confronting the State. The Argentinean State attacked them, dispersed them, gave children and women to the national elites as house workers and sent the men to the Army. The Argentinean Army even came 70 years before the Nazi Germany and put the Mapuche people in concentration camps and made them walk for hundred of kilometers, killing thousands in those actions. But although the Toba people were always considered as a people of indomitable warriors, after the missionarization, and even today, they are considered as more submissive than the Mapuche. If one looks at the more than 50 pictures that Gordillo’s book have, one would fine that more than 50% of them show a Toba (usually) men with a rifle or a machete in their hands. It is true they are hunters, and they use these weapons to kill animals, but one could also argue that some of the mixed feelings and contradictions criollo and white people have with the Toba is their fear that they may possible use their weapons and their skills and local knowledge against them. I do not know if this portray of Toba people with weapons has been deliberated or not. But this is something that struck me most. And I think it says a lot about the constant relationship Toba men have to have with their neighbors, the State and the non-human beings.

martes, marzo 24, 2009

Israelíes y palestinos contra la guerra. Foro de familias: cómo inventar la paz.

Nota muy buena de lavaca.org sobre familias palestinas e israelies que mas alla del dolor de la muerte de un ser querido buscan formas no-violentas de dialogo y compromiso...
El unico detalle es que cuando dice que "el mismo grupo fue a visitar una de las aldeas palestinas abandonadas en el 48, en lo que los palestinos llaman la Nakba, es decir el desastre que supuso para ellos la instauración del Estado de Israel que generó el problema de los refugiados", en realidad deberiamos preguntarnos por que es que se fueron? Si es que como me contaron de chiquito que se fueron porque los "convencieron" de que iban a volver "victoriosos" con las otros paises vecinos entrando a Israel y echando a todos los judios al mar... o si se escaparon por miedo a ser asesinados, como muchos fueron asesinados por alguna de las tres fuerzas militares pre-Ejercito de Israel, y en realidad fueron obligados a huir para cuidar sus vidas. Hay una excelente nota de Rodolfo Walsh de 1974 que se llama "La Revolucion Palestina" donde describe todo el proceso que llevo a la huida de los palestinos por miedo a ser masacrados y el proceso de meses que preparo el despojo de pueblos y ciudades enteras. Yo desde siempre recibi un lado de la historia y nunca la des-naturalice. Creo profundamente que deberiamos repensar las versiones, mistificaciones y formas de narrar el pasado desde el lado del estado de Israel y desde el lado Palestino...nada nunca fue ni sera blanco o negro...nada se gana con culpar al otro sin ver que fue lo que uno hizo para generar tanta violencia, sufrimiento y muerte. Sin repensar el pasado no se puede hacer una historia del presente.

----

Aaron Barnea es un integrante del Foro de Familias, una organización que reúne a familias israelíes y palestinas que transforman el dolor por la pérdida de un ser querido en acciones por la reconciliación. Que desafía a la fatalidad sin reproducirla. Esta es la entrevista que el español Amador Fernández Savater le hizo para el diario El Público, de Madrid.

Una mirada superficial parece indicarnos que no hay nada entre israelíes y palestinos que escape a la espiral de terror y desesperación. Pero siempre hay destellos de algo distinto. Se trata de darles valor y espacio. Impregnarse de la profunda fuerza que late en ellos por ínfimos y frágiles que parezcan al lado de los proyectiles. Aaron Barnea perdió a su hijo Noam en el Líbano en 1999. Cuando murió, le faltaban sólo 5 días para acabar el servicio militar. En su uniforme encontraron la insignia del Movimiento de las Cuatro Madres que reclamaba la retirada del ejército israelí del Líbano. Desde entonces Aaron participa en el Foro de Familias, una organización que reúne a familias israelíes y palestinas que transforman el dolor por la pérdida de un ser querido en acciones por la reconciliación. Que desafía a la fatalidad sin reproducirla.

-Háblanos sobre el Foro de Familias(1)

-Los orígenes del Foro están en el año 94. Entonces, un joven, un soldado de 19 años que se llamaba Arik Frankenthal, fue capturado por un grupo de Hamas mientras hacía auto-stop. Su familia era muy religiosa, cumplían el perfil de lo que llamamos aquí “el religioso nacional”: los que van con los sombrerillos tejidos (kippa), se suelen identificar como gente cercana a los que viven en los asentamientos y mantienen posiciones muy radicales sobre la solución al conflicto. Durante los siete días de duelo tradicionales judíos, su padre, Yitzhak Frankenthal, recibe la visita de un pequeño grupo llamado “Víctimas del Terrorismo”. Son familiares de asesinados en acciones terroristas palestinas y cada vez que sucede algo se manifiestan exigiendo mano dura, venganza, nada de tregua, etc. Pero Yitzhak les dijo: “señores, ustedes no me representan. Nada me va a devolver a mi hijo. No me voy a consolar sabiendo que más familias palestinas lloran a sus hijos, la violencia sólo engendra violencia y lo que tenemos que hacer es apoyar el Acuerdo de Paz”. En el año 94 estábamos en el ápice de lo que se llamó el Acuerdo de Paz, el acuerdo firmado por Rabin y Arafat en Oslo. La voz de Yitzhak era nueva porque lo que predominaba entonces era el rechazo al Acuerdo, al que se oponía la derecha israelí y también Hamás. Isaac Rabin se dio cuenta inmediatamente de que ahí tenía un apoyo de mucha envergadura a su política y le abrió la posibilidad a Yitzhak de dirigirse a un público más amplio, especialmente familias israelíes que habían sufrido la muerte de un ser querido a raíz de acciones palestinas. En poco tiempo hubo unas 25 familias que se agregaron a ese llamamiento por la paz de Yitzhak. Al año siguiente asesinan a Rabin y el Acuerdo de Oslo comienza a desvanecerse.

-Un punto de inflexión

-Sí, también para nosotros. Hacia fines del 98, lo que era una iniciativa exclusivamente israelí decide dar un paso importante: ver si al otro lado de la frontera hay grupos palestinos, familias palestinas determinadas a adoptar la misma posición. Una posición que hable de reconciliación, de la necesidad de llegar a un acuerdo y de abandonar la violencia y el terror. Esa decisión desafiaba una opinión muy extendida en Israel que dice: “al otro lado no hay ningún interlocutor”. El grupo va a Gaza y descubre a muchas familias dispuestas a adoptar la misma actitud. Comienza un periodo de “dinámica de grupos” entre la gente de ambos lados y el grupo descubre que tiene en sus manos una fuerza enorme que va mucho más allá del mero apoyo al Acuerdo de Paz que ya entonces estaba esfumándose.

-¿Qué fuerza es esa?

-Es la fuerza de hablar al público y decir: “si personas que han perdido a sus seres queridos, personas que han pagado el precio más alto al conflicto, son capaces de hablar entre sí y llegar a un diálogo de reconciliación, entonces cualquiera puede hacerlo”. Desde ese momento la organización, que pasa a llamarse “Foro de familias-Círculo de Padres” porque se abre también a personas que han perdido a seres queridos “de primer grado”, se transforma en una organización apolítica que se dirige directamente al pueblo, a la sociedad civil, para mostrar que la reconciliación es posible.

-¿Cómo es el trabajo concreto del Foro?

-Nuestro mayor enemigo es la polarización. Pero aquí la polarización no es ideológica. La polarización viene de una falta de conocimiento del otro, de encuentro humano con el otro. Los medios de comunicación han jugado un papel muy importante en todo esto, porque tienen una tendencia a la simplificación, a la reducción del otro a una sola dimensión. Mientras que el encuentro personal complica la visión. ¿Y qué es lo humano si no esta complicación? Ese efecto es el que buscamos en los encuentros.

-¿Encuentros de qué tipo?

-Habitualmente vamos muchísimo a los colegios. Cada año visitamos más de mil clases. No va un solo conferenciante, sino dos. Un israelí y un palestino, juntos. El conferenciante abre la clase relatando su historia en primera persona y cómo se encontró con el otro en la organización. Por ejemplo, el palestino relatará qué obstáculos ha tenido que pasar ese mismo día para dar la charla, a qué hora ha tenido que levantarse para cruzar el check-point y cómo es su vida cotidiana. Es un relato individual pero que tiene una perspectiva muy amplia, porque habla de una realidad que es común a todo un pueblo. Por eso genera empatía. El efecto es increíble. Después de estar hora y media un israelí y un palestino hablando juntos, los chicos nos dicen: “por primera vez vemos el otro lado de las cosas”.

También organizamos encuentros a nivel personal en los que por ejemplo un israelí trata de recuperar su pasado y contárselo a la otra parte y al revés. O encuentros entre las familias. Se hacen generalmente cerca de Jerusalén, allí donde israelíes y palestinos podemos llegar sin problemas. Ahí se trata sobre todo de conocerse a nivel humano. Pero también realizamos entonces otro tipo de actividades: por ejemplo visitamos juntos Yad Vashem, el centro más importante en Jerusalén dedicado a la historia del holocausto. Lo hicimos juntos. Y el mismo grupo fue a visitar una de las aldeas palestinas abandonadas en el 48, en lo que los palestinos llaman la Nakba, es decir el desastre que supuso para ellos la instauración del Estado de Israel que generó el problema de los refugiados. Fuimos también juntos. Dos personas que vivieron en esa aldea y que hoy en día son miembros de nuestra organización hablaron al grupo. En esos encuentros pudimos compartir las dos narrativas, israelí y palestina.


A finales del 2002 lanzamos un programa llamado “¡Hola, Shalom! ¡Hola Salaam!” (2). Era una línea telefónica que permitía a israelíes comunicarse con palestinos y viceversa. Entrábamos en el segundo año de la Intifada y percibimos que los dos pueblos necesitaban volver a dialogar. Recibimos dinero de la UE para difundir el proyecto y resultó ser un éxito de grandes dimensiones. Más de un millón de llamadas fueron registradas por el ordenador. La experiencia fue publicada y tuvo mucha resonancia mundial. Hoy la línea existe aún pero está prácticamente silenciada, por carencia de fondos. A raíz de la guerra reciente en Gaza decidimos ofrecer al grupo de ONGs de la Paz el derecho de continuar con la línea. En caso de que eso no progrese, trataremos nuevamente de conseguir los fondos para seguir llevándola nosotros porque creemos que vuelve a cobrar importancia.

-¿Qué significa ‘reconciliación’?

-Reconciliación significa aceptar la existencia del otro. Aceptar la humanidad del otro. Los derechos del otro a existir. Pensar en un lugar común donde convivir que seguramente exigirá que cada una de las partes renuncie a los “grandes sueños nacionales”. Mediante la empatía personal que se genera en los encuentros vislumbramos eso, prefiguramos eso. En el caso de estos dos pueblos hay muchas posibilidades de llegar a una reconciliación porque hay muchas cosas que nos unen. Israel puede ofrecer a Palestina una perspectiva moderna y occidental al lado de casa. Por su lado, los israelíes están atados emocionalmente a la tierra palestina. No hace falta ser el propietario de esa tierra para sentirlo. Los palestinos serán los custodios de esas lugares afectivamente tan importantes para los israelíes. Hay muchas posibilidades para generar puentes.

-A diferencia de otros conflictos, como en Sudáfrica, vosotros habláis de reconciliación ya, sin postergarla para después del acuerdo político.

-Nosotros confiamos en la sociedad civil. Presuponemos que la sociedad civil puede incluso desarrollar fuerzas que empujen a los políticos a llegar a acuerdos. Esa es nuestra función. Hoy sabemos que además de un acuerdo de paz, elaborado y firmado por los políticos, va a ser necesario un proceso de reconciliación. No una acción puntual, sólo por arriba, sino un proceso social. Nuestra misión es catalizar ese proceso, tratar de desencadenarlo con nuestro ejemplo, producir una ruptura emocional.

-¿Qué significa eso?

-Amos Oz nos explicó lo que quería decir con un ejemplo: cuando el presidente egipcio Anwar Shadat llegó a Israel un día memorable de 1977, para la población israelí era completamente impensable cualquier perspectiva de paz con Egipto. Pero Shadat llegó con un mensaje tan claro de paz y una disposición de tanta apertura que desarmó totalmente a la población. Fue increíble porque en cuestión de horas se generó en Israel una ola multitudinaria e imprevista de apoyo al movimiento de paz. Amos Oz nos dijo que cuando nosotros generábamos ese efecto en la gente, porque descubre de golpe que existe un palestino que es un ser humano, no una imagen estereotipada y unidimensional, inhumana, sino algo mucho más amplio. Lo que nosotros hacemos en los encuentros que generamos es humanizar al otro. Y el otro es en el caso de Israel es el palestino y en el caso de Palestina, es Israel. Esa es nuestra función.

-¿Vuestra organización tiene algún color político?

-Nuestra actitud es apolítica. ¿En qué sentido? Nosotros no entramos a dar soluciones sobre los diferentes temas que están sobre el tapete político: ¿cuál tiene que ser el futuro de Jerusalén? ¿Cómo debe resolverse el tema de los refugiados? Por el contrario, nosotros decimos que aceptaremos cualquier acuerdo político al que los políticos lleguen siempre y cuando sea de manera abierta, democrática, mediante el diálogo y la negociación. A nivel individual pensamos diferente sobre los diferentes temas: dentro de la organización la mayoría abrumadora se considera sionista, pero nadie pone en tela de juicio ni por un momento el derecho de los palestinos a tener su estado. Y creemos que ambas realidades son perfectamente compatibles. En todo caso, a nivel de organización no entramos a un análisis de las diferentes soluciones posibles. Nuestra función es hablar al pueblo con nuestro ejemplo. Y es precisamente porque no tenemos una actitud política por lo que podemos hablar en los colegios, que de otra manera serían mucho más cautos con nosotros. Una actitud apolítica nos permite una apertura mucho más amplia. A nivel más general, se nos ubica en el movimiento por la paz, que aquí está muy vinculado a la izquierda israelí.

-Vuestra respuesta personal a la terrible violencia que habéis sufrido tan directamente no parece normal, ¿acaso sois gente excepcional?

-Cada uno de nosotros pasó el trauma más grande que se puede pasar: la muerte violenta de un ser querido. En mi caso, mi hijo Noam. Su muerte me sacudió hasta la médula. Pensé que era el final de mi vida. Al principio lo que me sacó de la desesperación fue un sentido de responsabilidad hacia mis otros hijos. Y después la certeza de que mi experiencia me daba una voz y una fuerza que me permitía hablar en favor de la paz. Ninguno de nosotros se considera un santo, Ghandi ni nada de eso. Uno siempre puede preguntarse: “¿reaccionando con odio qué es lo que obtengo?” Mucha gente considera que la pérdida de un hijo impide hacerse esas preguntas. Pero no es nuestro caso. Yo he perdido a un hijo, pero no he perdido la cabeza.

-Una última palabra tras las elecciones recientes

-Busco la palabra más expresiva para describir lo que siento después de las elecciones: me siento aplastado. Pero no vencido. ¿De dónde sacar energías para continuar? Tengo la certeza de que para Israel la paz es una necesidad existencial. Seguiremos buscando aperturas, enfrentando a ambas partes con la humanidad del otro, dándole nombre y apellido, biografía y anhelos. Ahora será más difícil y por ello seguramente más importante.

1. http://www.theparentscircle.org/

2. http://www.theparentscircle.org/Activities.asp?sivug_id=2

publicada 17/02/2009

anticopyrightéstas notas pueden ser reproducidas libremente, total o parcialmente (siempre que sea con fines no comerciales), aunque agradeceríamos que citaran la fuente.

lunes, marzo 23, 2009

Foucault (1990), (2007) and Biehl (2008)

Michel Foucault. (1990). The History of Sexuality. Part V. Right to Die and Power over Life.
The right of the sovereign was centered in taking the life, the right to let die or let live, but the west has seen a profound change in this right and now the right lies on the social body and its capacity to maintain and develop its life. There is a dual power over death and over life. Is not the sovereign who needs to be protected but the whole population needs to be defended. The work of the state, according to Foucault has an underlying principle “the tactics of battle –that one has to be capable of killing in order to go on living- has become the principle that defines the strategy of the states” (137). Power is exercised at the level of the biological existence of the population: a biopolitics of the population. And it has two aims: subjugation of bodies and control of populations. Foucault defines bio-power as “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of the explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life” (143). There is a relation between the law, which operates through the norm, which are incorporated within power apparatuses with the aim to regulate population and, ultimately, to normalize society.

Michel Foucault. (2007). Security, Territory, Population. Some quick ideas taken from Chapters 1, 2, 5 and 9.
The main question that circulates through all Foucault’s work is how specific forms of power had been produced, contested, reproduced, applied and resisted in the history of the western world. Politics of stuggles and truth are at stake, especially mechanisms of power (disciplinary mechanisms, mechanisms of security, and juridico-legal mechanisms). Foucualt wants to show the correlation between juridico-legal, disciplinary and security mechanisms of power. More over, he focuses on the slow development of techniques of security and its relation with the control of populations conceive as multiplicities. There is a central relationship according to Foucault among security, territory and population. The sovereign power in the last 200 years changed in quality and it was needed to produce a different form of power not tied to controlling populations fixed in a state but in terms of probabilities and risks, in terms of the uncertainties of the event, in relation of the circulation of good and people. Security mechanisms came precisely to reduce the insecurity of the event (and of controlling the populations). And here Foucault clearly differentiates the distinction between disciplinary mechanisms with their centripetal forces that concentrate and enclose, and the security mechanisms with their centrifugal forces that “lets things happen” (freedom of circulation it’s a technology of power in itself). Finally, the discussion Foucault starts in relation to governmentality is so pioneering that after more than 30 years it is a “hot topic” nowadays. He is trying to think on the “art of government” and how it emerged in the western world and consolidated in the totalizaing institution of the state. The modern state has to control multiplicites that are constantly moving, this pastoral power is what charactaerize the modern forms of governmentality.

Joao Biehl. (2008) Will to Live. AIDS Thereapies and the Political of Survival. Princenton/Oxford: Princenton University Press.
AIDS in Brazil is a particular case of state formation, civil activism, political rights and access to health. In many cases NGO activism came together with state policy making, and with the emphasis on treatment access instead of prevention “political rights have moved toward biologically based rights” (2008). Many activists groups in order to change the political economy of AIDS became visible through lobbying and pushing for lawmaking. Brazilian State central role in reaching a wider population of people experiencing AIDS (33% of its total population have free public treatment provided by the state) was performed thanks to what Biehl calls as the “pharmaceuticalization of public health”. Which means the creation of state responses that some times contradicts the global political economy of pharmaceutics and their drug monopoly, a pharmaceutizalization of governance and citizentship. Brazil broke the patent of an AIDS drug and started to import a generic one from India. Still marginalized underclass people, even in Brazil, are not taken care and they have to make big efforts to receive treatment.

The book is centered in both macro (state and pharmaceuticals) and micro-levels (an NGO in Salvador) of analysis and a two-phase fieldwork on 1997 and 2001 which helped Biehl to re-consider the trajectories and struggles people experiencing AIDS had, especially people that left the NGO and were not considered for treatment because they were seen as homeless that could not assure their willingness to follow the treatment. But as Biehl shows, these people also had the will to live and their personal stories show that. The interconnections among AIDS, pharmaceuticals, global health initiatives, the state, social inequalities, social experience, and subjectivity were central to understand what’s going on in the crossroads between medicine, political activism, public health, state policy, science, charity and homelessness. But this is an open-ending story, big pharma companies are constantly lobbying in order to not lose their monopolist rights, and the Brazilian state under Lula’s government has move in a slightly different direction jeopardizing some of the state sovereignty in terms of biological and pharmaceuticals governance. Although in 2007 the state made the movement to stat buying to India generic forms of AIDS drugs. But still the state has a different standard for black or non-black population not only in regards to AIDS but also in relation to public allocation of resources.

What I take from these quick readings (I have to come back and read them more carefully)?
From Foucault: the historization of power mechanisms and the State, and, at the same time, the de-naturalization of power and the State and de-centralization of the State. Also the political intervention over populations as an object of study and political manipulation. The different types of illnesses that Foucault considers, and the forms of political intervention (lepra/isolation, quarantaine/encloser, free circulation/security), are all important to think the sorts of illnesses that are useful to develop the system in terms of security and biopolitics (infectious diseases and environmentals) but don't know how this would play if I use this analysis in the children's hospital I will work in relation to cancer and hereditary diseases... I should ask why these children are sick? In terms of population and probabilities, these children are a small population of rare types of diseases in comparison with the average because the hospital treat children from all over the country and even bordering countries such as Paraguay. I would probably find different interpretation of why these children are sick by the children, their families on the one hand, and the more scientific view from the different class of professionals on the other hand. The case of children with AIDS would also be interesting to analyze using a Foucaultian frame in relation to discplines and management of populations. Indeed, within the hospital the two mechanisms of power, disciplinar mechanisms and security mechanisms should be very present (in the way children and families can or cannot do certain things, but in the way families trangess certain order but professionals and nurses let them do it i.e. letting eat more than the children when the family lack resources).

From Biehl what I take is his approach: he goes from micro to macro leveles of analysis, from the experience of localized and situated real people, with their unique faces and trajectories, to the political economy of pharmaceutical multinationals with their lobbying powers of seduction and corruption, from the politics of public health in Brazil, especially in Salvador do Bahia, to the global debates in relation to AIDS and poverty, from the wide access to AIDS drugs from a free and public state to the activists and NGOs that pushed and lobbied to produce that form of state, and ultimately from the marginalized people outside any type of assistance or access to anything but who still have the will to live to the extreme social inequalities of Brazil today. And Biehl adds, when all this approach lacks of words, he puts images, so there are pictures taken by a friend and fotographer (Eskerod) in black and white that gives you a different close view to the lives of these people (which, in Foucault's terms, the people are the ones that are against the security mechanisms of the population because they refuse to be treated as population).

I think what is important from these readings in both Foucault and Biehl is the need to re-think the state. For instance, we talked with Jon about the different approach to the state in Negri (antagonism), Holloway, Zizek (in relation with the statist such as Lenin) in which the state is the exercise of the collective will. For Jon this is a sign of a post-hegemonical state where the state is immanent, for him neither power nor the state is at stake... I guess what is at stake is the affective "power" of the multitude, a power that is completely unexpected in its effects and consequences...

Another thing worth checking is the multiplicities of power that traverse and experiment the hospital, and how they contribute to the tensions within the abstract and general logic of biopower. My focus, in the same line with Biehl, would be the tensions between populations, statistics and the real people... putting always people first.

jueves, marzo 19, 2009

Los otros Por Eduardo “Tato” Pavlovsky

Siguiendo en la linea de un post mio anterior, Tato Pavlovsky piensa la pena de muerte que ya existe en nuestra sociedad, los millones que apenas pueden sobrevivir...



Contratapa|Miércoles, 18 de Marzo de 2009

El otro día salí de mi casa y me encontré con seis niños que me esperaban con las manos abiertas rogándome si les podía ofrecer un poco de comida (no de dinero). Los niños tendrían entre 3 y 8 años. Yo conocía a la madre, a la que había ayudado varias veces, y ella me dijo: “Doctor, por favor, tienen hambre, quieren comer algo”. Un tanto impresionado por la visión kafkiana de la cara famélica de los niños saqué 20 pesos y se los di, señalándoles una rotisería donde podrían conseguir el almuerzo del día. La verdad es que la alegría de los chicos fue enorme y partieron corriendo hacia el almacén. Salí de mi casa caminando hacia Libertador cuando vi otro chico que se acercaba para pedirme comida. Le conté que hacía unos minutos unos niños me habían pedido comida y que estarían comprando en la fiambrería de la esquina –con un pequeño dinero que les había dado– y que tal vez podía pedirles algo. Salió corriendo y casi un coche se lo lleva por delante, tal era la velocidad y distracción que imprimió a su carrera. Seguí caminando hacia Libertador, donde tomé un taxi hasta Rodríguez Peña y Santa Fe.

Otros aires dije yo, otra ropa, otras mujeres. Me sentía en París. Cuando una señora con una beba en los brazos me agarró de un hombro y me dijo: “Don, me puede ayudar, hace un día que la nena no come. Vaya si quiere Ud. a la farmacia y cómpreme leche en polvo. Yo lo espero aquí. Para la nena es importante...”. No tuve cuerpo ni bolas para ir a la farmacia, le di 15 pesos, que era el vuelto que me quedaba. La señora, muy agradecida, me dijo –con sus ojos verdes humedecidos por un llanto que no parecía fingido– “que Dios lo ayude” y se fue caminando hacia la farmacia.

La indigencia, la pobreza, pensé, es una fábrica de construcción de delincuencia. Hacía un rato había escuchado a un psiquiatra por TV decir que la delincuencia es congénita y que no hay tratamiento posible para ella. Sólo encerrarlos para toda la vida por su peligro, ante la mirada aprobatoria de los demás ignorantes que lo rodeaban.

Me acordaba de que en las favelas de San Pablo los niños luchaban a favor de los narcotraficantes en contra de la policía, porque los narcos les daban comida. ¿Por qué iban a luchar en contra de quien los alimentaba?

Pensaba –como lo he observado– que la delincuencia profesional toma a estos niños de la calle y los forma como especialistas del robo. Pensaba en los niños de las verjas que me pedían comida, en el niño que se me acercó después, en la joven señora que me pedía leche en polvo de la farmacia. Con qué valores se formarán –cuando no existe el continente afectivo que los proteja–, cuando no tienen ropa, cuando no comen bien, cuando no tienen estudios ni recursos sanitarios, cuando sacan la comida de las bolsas de la calle, cuando ven hoy más que nunca la desigualdad social llegando a límites insospechados.

El 30 por ciento de los niños en nuestro país son pobres o indigentes. No querer ver que existe pobreza e indigencia es responsabilidad del Estado, es aceptar que las crisis las podemos sufrir la clase media y la clase alta –2/3 del país–. Pero ese sector del subdesarrollo de los recursos humanos más elementales no sufre las crisis ni las entiende. Sólo percibirá el menor suministro del limosneo o la menor calidad de la comida que arrojan en las bolsas los privilegiados de siempre.

Pero siendo así –lo vemos así– no podemos dejar de percibir la desigualdad social cada vez más escalofriante. Me pregunto por qué el Estado no lo nombra y actúa en consecuencia. Tres generaciones de niños con daños neurológicos por falta de una educación adecuada y mal atendidos en los hospitales porque muchos no tienen dinero para viajar.

Si no se ataca la pobreza como prioridad absoluta estamos matando literalmente a estas vidas sin futuro, sin alegría, sin esperanza, 1/3 del país. Vidas desahuciadas. Vidas desperdiciadas. Las corporaciones políticas parecen esquivar el gran problema. Pero esta gente –sólo ayudada por algunos movimientos sociales– queda de espaldas a la vida. Sin pertenencia de país. Sin arraigo. Todo esto nos pasa a nosotros y lo más terrible es que aún hoy hay recursos para sacarlos del infierno, del lugar de la promiscuidad, del hacinamiento, de la desnutrición y de la delincuencia. No debemos ser ahora indiferentes a la muerte de ocho niños por día en nuestro país de hambre. Es un crimen. En serio. Crimen que tiene responsables.

lunes, marzo 16, 2009

Farmer and Kim (1991), Castro and Farmer (2005), and Farmer (1999)

Farmer, Paul and Jim Jim Yong Kim. “Anthropology, Accountability and the Prevention of AIDS” The Journal of Sex Research 28.2 (May 1991): 203-221

Castro A and Paul Farmer. “Understanding and addressing AIDS- related stigma: from anthropological theory to clinical practice in Haiti” American Journal of Public Health. 95.1 (Jan 2005):53-59

Farmer, Paul. “Invisible Women: Class, Gender and HIV” Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues Berkeley: University of California Press.

On this week we have texts that focus on HIV/AIDS and the different ways it has been associated with for instance Haitian people or with poor women across the world. In the fist article Farmer and Kim highlight the racist and inaccurate beliefs in the physical and social sciences in relation to the origin of AIDS. For many years the common assumption was that AIDS was introduced as a foreign invasion from Haiti to USA. The specific targets of those assumptions were Haitians because many researchers and specialists had put their explanatory believes in the conviction that Haiti was the cradle of AIDS. This belief, based on racist and discriminatory notions, was then proven wrong, but the consequences of it have lasting effects in how Haitian were (mis)treated in the USA. For a real prevention of AIDS, Farmer and Kim suggest, issues of AIDS-related discrimination to Haitian had to be unpacked and re-considered. The authors conclude with five projects regarding the “ethical considerations in anthropological research on AIDS”: 1) to explain why AIDS is becoming an illness of the disadvantaged? Why so many Afro American and Hispanics have AIDS in comparison with other groups? (Which political economy is producing this type of outcome?); 2) a cultural critique to different socio-cultural responses to AIDS and how stigma works differently in Haiti or in USA; 3) to witness and to honor the memory of individuals who have died from AIDS, and of communities affected by AIDS and stigma; 4) to counteract false and irresponsible misinformation, fear and racism; and 5) to show the effects of this misinformation and work as “cultural-activist” not only “to the AIDS pandemic, but to the epidemic of discrimination that has risen in the wake of HIV” (1991: 219).

In the second article, Castro and Farmer move one step further and focus on AIDS-related stigma in Haiti from both anthropological and clinical approaches. For the authors stigma and discrimination is a form of Human Rights violation. Stigma/discrimination is built under relations of power, dominance, hegemony and oppression but is too constantly resisted. AIDS-related stigma is produced by the social formation of structural violence, forces that include racism, sexism, political violence, poverty and other inequalities rooted in historical-economical processes that shape the circulation and results of HIV/AIDS. The authors show that although still within processes of medicalization, there are two completely different forms of approaching people’s experiences with AIDS: one that I would call as “re-medicalization but with good faith”, what Castro and Farmer propose in this article (to support people with AIDS with HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), which creates a “virtuous social circle”; and, what I would call as “re-medicalization with bad faith” (expropriation of people’s own experience), which creates a “vicious social circle.” For Castro and Farmer, “only a biosocial framework drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods can hope to assess the epidemiological, social and economic impact of both the epidemic and responses to it” (2005: 57).

In the third article, Paul Farmer highlights the fatal connection between women, poverty and AIDS around the world, a connection that is almost invisible in the public and scientific perception. First, AIDS was considered a disease of men, but since the beginning they were affected and especially poor, young, women. From the 1990s in the so-called developing world more women than men became infected with HIV. For Farmer, the experience these women have “is a result of structural violence: neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency” (79). Poor women were, and are, silenced from public discussion; indeed, they have been unheard. These women suffer the “triple curse” of objectification, institutionalized powerlessness, and blame for their condition. For Farmer, some of the myths and mystification that are part of poor women with AIDS’s lives is what he calls as the “exaggeration of personal agency”, and he adds, “There is nothing wrong with underlining personal agency, but there is something unfair about using personal responsibility as a basis for assigning blame while simultaneously denying those who are being blamed the opportunity to exert agency in their lives” (84). Efforts to change this situation should be oriented to empower poor women, and this means to find ways to let them gain control over their own lives.

fumar es de derecha


revisando fotos viejas encontre esta que tome en uruguay...

sábado, marzo 14, 2009

(Extract from) The Capitalist System by Michael Bakunin

Is it necessary to repeat here the irrefutable arguments of Socialism which no bourgeois economist has yet succeeded in disproving? What is property, what is capital in their present form? For the capitalist and the property owner they mean the power and the right, guaranteed by the State, to live without working. And since neither property nor capital produces anything when not fertilized by labor − that means the power and the right to live by exploiting the work of someone else, the right to exploit the work of those who possess neither property nor capital and who thus are forced to sell their productive power to the lucky owners of both. Note that I have left out of account altogether the following question: In what way did property and capital ever fall into the hands of their present owners? This is a question which, when envisaged from the points of view of history, logic, and justice, cannot be answered in any other way but one which would serve as an indictment against the present owners. I shall therefore confine myself here to the statement that property owners and capitalists, inasmuch as they live not by their own productive labor but by getting land rent, house rent, interest upon their capital, or by speculation on land, buildings, and capital, or by the commercial and industrial exploitation of the manual labor of the proletariat, all live at the expense of the proletariat. (Speculation and exploitation no doubt also constitute a sort of labor, but altogether non−productive labor.)

I know only too well that this mode of life is highly esteemed in all civilized countries, that it is expressly and tenderly protected by all the States, and that the States, religions, and all the juridical laws, both criminal and civil, and all the political governments, monarchies and republicanwith their immense judicial and police apparatuses and their standing armieshave no other mission but to consecrate and protect such practices. In the presence of these powerful and respectable authorities I cannot even permit myself to ask whether this mode of life is legitimate from the point of view of human justice, liberty, human equality, and fraternity. I simply ask myself: Under such conditions, are fraternity and equality possible between the exploiter and the exploited, are justice and freedom possible for the exploited?

Let us even suppose, as it is being maintained by the bourgeois economists and with them all the lawyers, all the worshippers and believers in the juridical right, all the priests of the civil and criminal code − let us suppose that this economic relationship between the exploiter and the exploited is altogether legitimate, that it is the inevitable consequence, the product of an eternal, indestructible social law, yet still it will always be true that exploitation precludes brotherhood and equality. It goes without saying that it precludes economic equality. Suppose I am your worker and you are my employer. If I offer my labor at the lowest price, if I consent to have you live off my labor, it is certainly not because of devotion or brotherly love for you. And no bourgeois economist would dare to say that it was, however idyllic and naive their reasoning becomes when they begin to speak about reciprocal affections and mutual relations which should exist between employers and employees. No, I do it because my family and I would starve to death if I did not work for an employer. Thus I am forced to sell you my labor at the lowest possible price, and I am forced to do it by the threat of hunger.

But the economists tell us the property owners, the capitalists, the employers, are likewise forced to seek out and purchase the labor of the proletariat. Yes, it is true, they are forced to do it, but not in the same measure. Had there been equality between those who offer their labor and those who purchase it, between the necessity of selling one's labor and the necessity of buying it, the slavery and misery of the proletariat would not exist. But then there would be neither capitalists, nor property owners, nor the proletariat, nor rich, nor poor: there would only be workers. It is precisely because such equality does not exist that we have and are bound to have exploiters.

(...)

M. Karl Marx, the illustrious leader of German Communism, justly observed in his magnificent work Das Kapital that if the contract freely entered into by the vendors of money −in the form of wages and the vendors of their own labor −that is, between the employer and the workers were concluded not for a definite and limited term only, but for one's whole life, it would constitute real slavery. Concluded for a term only and reserving to the worker the right to quit his employer, this contract constitutes a sort of voluntary and transitory serfdom. Yes, transitory and voluntary from the juridical point of view, but nowise from the point of view of economic possibility. The worker always has the right to leave his employer, but has he the means to do so? And if he does quit him, is it in order to lead a free existence, in which he will have no master but himself? No, he does it in order to sell himself to another employer. He is driven to it by the same hunger which forced him to sell himself to the first employer. Thus the worker's liberty, so much exalted by the economists, jurists, and bourgeois republicans, is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means for its possible realization, and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty, an utter falsehood. The truth is that the whole life of the worker is simply a continuous and dismaying succession of terms of serfdom −voluntary from the juridical point of view but compulsory in the economic sense broken up by momentarily brief interludes of freedom accompanied by starvation; in other words, it is real slavery.

This slavery manifests itself daily in all kinds of ways. Apart from the vexations and oppressive conditions of the contract which turn the worker into a subordinate, a passive and obedient servant, and the employer into a nearly absolute masterapart from all that, it is well known that there is hardly an industrial enterprise wherein the owner, impelled on the one hand by the two−fold instinct of an unappeasable lust for profits and absolute power, and on the other hand, profiting by the economic dependence of the worker, does not set aside the terms stipulated in the contract and wring some additional concessions in his own favor. Now he will demand more hours of work, that is, over and above those stipulated in the contract; now he will cut down wages on some pretext; now he will impose arbitrary fines, or he will treat the workers harshly, rudely, and insolently.

But, one may say, in that case the worker can quit. Easier said than done. At times the worker receives part of his wages in advance, or his wife or children may be sick, or perhaps his work is poorly paid throughout this particular industry. Other employers may be paying even less than his own employer, and after quitting this job he may not even be able to find another one. And to remain without a job spells death for him and his family. In addition, there is an understanding among all employers, and all of them resemble one another. All are almost equally irritating, unjust, and harsh. Is this calumny? No, it is in the nature of things, and in the logical necessity of the relationship existing between the employers and their workers.

viernes, marzo 13, 2009

parece la "guerra de la tv" pero ahora el espectaculo son las elecciones legislativas...

que el gobierno nacional quiera adelantar las elecciones aludiendo que "sería suicida obligar a la sociedad a discutir cuestiones electorales hasta octubre mientras el mundo se cae a pedazos" me hace pensar que es muy parecido a lo que hacian canal 13 y telefe de cambiar los horarios de los programas mas vistos previendo lo que el otro iba a hacer, o siguiendo los puntos de rating que le daban a uno y a otro, o simplemente para mostrar quien tenia mas poder.

obviamente que esto tiene que ver con lo que Agamben llama el "estado de excepcion", que en los ultimos dos siglos, pero sobre todo desp de la segunda guerra mundial acerco hasta la casi indistincion regimenes totalitarios/cuasi-totalitarios con regimenes democraticos/cuasi-democraticos en la figura del soberano con poderes para suspender las leyes y gobernar en estado de constante emergencia. no es solo argentolandia, es francia desp de la segunda guerra, es usa, es donde uno lo mire. el poder ejecutivo se adjudica el poder para gobernar relegando al poder legislativo y judicial a papeles secundarios subordinados al ejecutivo. repito: esto no es nada nuevo ni original de argentina. para Agamben todas las sociedades en menor o mayor medida estan siendo atravesadas por las fuerzas del estado de excepcion.

en este contexto, entonces, el movimiento de adelantar las elecciones puede ser visto en manera similar al juego de canal 13 y telefe de ver quien tiene mas poder y a su vez puede ser signo de estas formas de democracia gobernadas por el estado de excpecion (recordar que todavia hoy rige la ley de emergencia post-crisis de 2001...), los decretos, y la plastica capacidad de modificar las leyes como se quiera. Agamben (1998: 57) dice en Homo Sacer: "One of the paradoxes of the state of exception lies in the fact that in the state of exception, it is impossible to distinguish transgression of the law from execution of the law, such that what violates a rule and what conforms to it coincide without any reminder".

Coutinho (2003) y Azogue (1993). Chagas. Brazil y Bolivia.

Comments on
Coutinho, Marilia. 2003. “Tropical Medicine in Brazil: The Case of Chagas Disease,” in Diego Armus (ed.), Disease in the History of Modern Latin America. Durham: Duke University Press.

Azogue, E. “Women and congenital Chagas; disease in Santa Cruz, Bolivia: epidemiological and sociocultural aspects” Social Science and Medicine. 37 (1993): 503-511.

Coutinho.
Chagas, as a condition that affects humans “only when their living conditions become so degraded that they are similar to those of the natural reservoirs” (76) is the focus of this work. Here, Coutinho wants to understand the social determinants of transmission of this “disease of poverty”, which is carried by an estimated of 18 million people in Latin America, with 25% of the total population at “risk”. Perhaps the specific form in which Chagas is transmitted via an insect that defecate feces infected with a parasite which penetrate the human host through the wound and get into the bloodstream makes this disease more “repulsive”. By 1909 “neither parasite nor bug nor disease was known before Carlos Chagas” (77) discovered it. The beginning of the 20th century saw the emergence of a particular branch of medicine: “tropical medicine” not only in the colonies of the imperial powers but also in countries such as Brazil. (There was a distinction between the “insect vector theory” in the tropical diseases from the metropolitan infectious diseases.) The Tropicalista School in Brazil was involved with development and social justice, they “opposed slavery and openly rejected the tropical degeneration thesis that was popular in Europe in those days” (79). They have a political agenda of national development and self-reliance in relation to health care. Chagas had a lot of opposition within and outside Brazil. After his death the disease was forgotten and research stopped, although the disease was spreading throughout the continent. In Jujuy, Argentina with some overlap Salvador Mazza also conducted many research and found the etiology and with the help of Cecilio Romaña discovered the specific diagnostic marker of the acute phase, a conspicuous eye infection. They promoted a radical change in the conditions of living for people at risk and the fumigation (burning if was possible and feasible) of rural houses. In Brazil with the military coup the d’état in 1964 almost all the parasitological research was ruined and researchers dismissed and fired. The main reason of the disease, poverty and poor housing and life conditions, was never attacked by any government neither in Brazil nor in Argentina.

Azogue.
The main points of this article is how regions where Chagas disease is endemic (tropical and sub-tropical regions and in the valleys) develop into “risk areas” for women migrating from non-endemic regions, and the need to produce proper strategies for the control of this non-vectorial type of transmission of Chagas disease. This congenital transmission in the second generation is the focus of this article.

jueves, marzo 12, 2009

Evo Morales mascó coca en la ONU y pidió su despenalización


de Perfil.com



El presidente boliviano, Evo Morales, defendió de una manera particular la eliminación de la hoja de coca de la lista internacional de sustancias prohibidas, mascando unas cuantas ante ministros de los 53 países miembros de la comisión de estupefacientes de la ONU en Viena.

"La hoja de coca no es cocaína, no es nociva para la salud, no provoca males físicos ni dependencia", resaltó Morales durante la sesión plenaria de la 52º reunión de esta comisión, reunida miércoles y jueves.

El presidente boliviano agregó que estas hojas son cultivadas desde hace "3.000 años y son el símbolo de la identidad y la cultura" de los pueblos andinos. Morales pidió oficialmente su retirada de la lista de sustancias prohibidas y que se incluya en cambio la pasta de cocaína.

Desafiando a los ministros de Justicia e Interior de los países miembros de la comisión de estupefacientes, Morales, que cultiva personalmente y "consume desde hace 10 años" hojas de coca, advirtió: "Si esto es una droga, entonces deberían encarcelarme".

La sesión de la ONU en Viena fue el lugar elegido el año pasado por el ministro de Justicia argentino Aníbal Fernández para pedir que "se termine con un sistema que atrapa al consumidor y lo criminaliza sin darle siquiera el derecho a la salud”.

Morales, primer presidente boliviano de origen indio elegido en 2005, lucha contra la estigmatización de este cultivo, a partir del cual se fabrica la cocaína, pero que también es una planta "sagrada" en Bolivia, de cultura y consumo tradicional y terapéutico.

"En tanto que productor y presidente, tengo responsabilidades, debo defender una identidad, la hoja de coca es algo sagrado", insistió, precisando que unos 10 millones de personas mascan este producto en los países andinos.

El Organo Internacional de Control de Estupefacientes (OICS) reclama desde hace años prohibir la masticación de estas hojas, de las que más de 28.000 hectáreas son cultivadas en Bolivia, tercer productor mundial después de Colombia y Perú. Estados Unidos condena este cultivo, en expansión, lo que llevó al presidente Morales a expulsar en septiembre pasado a la agencia norteamericana de lucha anti-droga (DEA) de Bolivia.

Fuente: AFP

© Perfil

miércoles, marzo 11, 2009

50th Anniversary of Tibetan uprising against Chinese invasion and destruction of Tibet... (BBC News)

[Note: at the bottom of this post you can find the speech made by HH the Dalai Lama...]

BBC NEWS
Dalai Lama at critical crossroads

By Zoe Murphy
BBC News

Five decades in exile and years of denigration by Beijing have failed to weaken the Dalai Lama's influence over Tibetans in his homeland and beyond.

The Tibetan spiritual leader's unwavering commitment to non-violence has also earned the world's respect. But the long conflict over the status of Tibet has hit a critical juncture.

The Dalai Lama has, so far, met with failure in his negotiations with the Chinese, and he is facing growing criticism from supporters, frustrated by this political impotence.

Many Tibetans have long felt unease over the "Middle Way Approach" - offering to accept Chinese sovereignty in Tibet in return for genuine autonomy - which he has advocated since 1988.

At the latest round of stop-start talks with Beijing last November, China seemed to harden its position, and condemned the Tibetans' proposals as a bid for "disguised independence".

THE TIBET DIVIDE
# China says Tibet was always part of its territory
# Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th century
# In 1950, China launched a military assault
# Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
# Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India
# Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

China says its troops freed Tibetans from effective slavery in a feudal society. It says it has developed Tibet's economy and improved both human rights and living conditions.

It accuses the Dalai Lama of plotting to separate Tibet from the motherland, and of fomenting unrest.

Beijing's intransigence has led the Dalai Lama to declare his conciliation efforts a failure.

Although most Tibetans approve of his leadership, this public acknowledgement seems to have galvanised some exiles - of whom there are an estimated 150,000 - to call for a tougher line.

"There are no options left for the Dalai Lama - he should revert to what the Tibetans were originally calling for which was the struggle for independence," says veteran Tibetan activist and blogger Jamyang Norbu.

He blames the Dalai Lama's "political naivety" for his failure to extract a single concession from China.

"All these overtures made by the Chinese for Tibetans to come and sit at the negotiating table were essentially a Chinese trap - they were playing the Dalai Lama the whole way.

"If His Holiness sticks to the idea that he can resurrect some kind of discussion with China, I think his legacy is going to be considered a failure by Tibetans."

Many of the younger generation - who have never known a free Tibet - believe the Dalai Lama's policy of low-key diplomacy has failed.

The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), an independence-seeking group of some 30,000 members, says there is growing frustration among its ranks.

Vice-President Dhondup Dorjee points to last year's deadly anti-Chinese protests in Tibet and other ethnic Tibetan regions of China - the worst unrest there for 20 years.

He says the uprising was proof that Tibetan youths are willing to sacrifice their lives for the "Tibetan cause".

The TYC does not state violence as an option for achieving its aims, rather young Tibetans at home and abroad are continuing a campaign of civil disobedience, says Mr Dorjee.

But despite their different political goals, the Dalai Lama still commands huge respect as their spiritual leader, he says.

"In a democratic set-up he encourages people and organisations to have a difference of opinion.

"He's never questioned the right of the Tibetan people to fight for independence," says the youth leader, adding that the Dalai Lama is simply trying to find the best solution given the circumstances.

'Cultural genocide'

Fifty years on, the exiled spiritual leader finds himself on the sidelines unable to halt the changes in his homeland which are making the situation in Tibet dangerously volatile.

The Dalai Lama has accused China of "cultural genocide", by seeking to change the ethnic mix of Tibet and erode Tibetan culture, language and religion with a massive influx of ethnic Han Chinese and a system of "patriotic re-education".

Tibet-born historian Tsering Shakya says the problem of Tibet in China concerns the identity and dignity of a people, and the issue will persist until the Tibetans have some satisfaction.

Chinese policy is alienating Tibetans and storing up trouble for the future, he says, but Beijing feels no need to reconsider its stance.

Even if every Tibetan were to take to the streets, China knows it has the military might to crush any uprising, says Mr Shakya, of the University of British Columbia.

The Communist Party also fears any compromise could lead to a domino effect inside China - with disturbances in other ethnic minority areas such as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Gansu.

Meanwhile, Tibet is slipping down the international agenda because leaders do not want to jeopardise economic ties with China, Mr Shakya adds.

Suitable successor?

Tibetans impatient for change face another difficulty: there is no alternative in place to succeed the 73-year-old Dalai Lama, who has been troubled by ill health.

In a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the failed revolt against Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama said it was the responsibility of every Tibetan to "work for the just cause".

"As long as I live I will uphold this responsibility," he said from his seat in exile in India's Dharamsala.

The Dalai Lama says he has entered semi-retirement. He has speculated on whether a successor may be re-incarnated outside Tibet, chosen by referendum or whether, as the 14th Dalai Lama, he will be the last.

China has refused to recognise the boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama - Tibetan Buddhism's second-highest figure - keeping him hidden and appointing its own candidate.

Beijing says it reserves the right to approve incarnations.

What seems certain is that the Tibetan "problem" will not go away - in fact, it is likely to become more acute.

For all China's accusations against "the monk in wolf's clothing", the Dalai Lama has always maintained that his followers pursue their goals peacefully.

Analysts say China may come to rue the day it declined to co-operate with the Dalai Lama.

"The Dalai Lama has the authority to sell any deal to the Tibetans as the best possible solution. He would also lend international legitimacy to the agreement," says Tsering Shakya.

"Without the Dalai Lama's guidance, Tibetans may take matters into their own hands."

The Dalai Lama has provided the Tibetans with strength and unity, and international exposure of their cause, and many fear his absence.

But veteran activist Jamyang Norbu says: "The Tibetans have far more vitality than given credit for. They will still come out to defy the authorities and pay the price.

"Times are changing, now it's the young people's struggle. We may well see a symbol emerge from a new generation - as long as they are there we're not finished yet."
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/7921862.stm

==========

The full speech made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan Government in the Exile in Dharamsala can be read here

domingo, marzo 08, 2009

La pena de muerte ya existe

En las ultimas semanas en la Argentina, debido a la cantidad de asesinatos que han sido reportados por los medios de des-informacion, los cuales generan sensaciones termicas que nada tienen que ver con la temperatura real (si es que existe algo "real"), se ha machacado con la idea de que "habria que hacer algo mas radical", "habria que imponer la pena de muerte a estos asesinos". Asesinar a los asesinos es la idea que "personajes" como la sra Gimenez y otros ilustres elementos de la cultura de la di-version han escupido ante todos los medios que se relamian cada vez que oian estas declaraciones. Pero me pregunto, esta gente no sabe que la pena de muerte ya esta vigente hace mucho tiempo en Argentina? No saben que 13.000 ninios menores de 1 anio mueren por anio en la Argentina? Y que estas muertes son causadas por "accidentes, las enfermedades contra las que se tienen vacunas, las infecciones y muchos males relacionados con el maltrato en la infancia [que] son, en su mayoría, evitables"? No saben de los miles de chicos y familias enteras que viven en la calle, excluidos de cualquier inclusion, que mueren por exceso de drogas, enfermedades, y hambre? No saben que el "gatillo facil" de las fuerzas policiales y la "impunidad facil" aliada de los jueces y politicos que protejen a las victimarios y culpabilizan a las victimas mata todos los dias en todas partes? No saben que las rutas matan y que dificilmente se pueda re-estructurar el sistema de transporte para que haya un carnet unico nacional y se vuelva a usar el tren porque eso no podria dejar que suceda el sr Moyano? No saben que hay generaciones que nacieron bajo el gobierno del innombrable, en el que sus padres perdieron todo y ellos nacieron sin nada, muertos en vida, con nada que perder y todo que ganar? No saben que cientos de mujeres mueren por abortos clandestinos? No saben que la mayor concentracion de riqueza de la historia de la humanidad, y la historia de la Argentina, esa riqueza que les permite a estos "personajes" como la Sra Gimenez tener todo lo que su deseo le pida, esa concentracion/exclusion es la principal causa de muerte? Siempre el truco del poder y del establishment es mostrar los efectos por las causas, y por eso les digo a todos esos hijoemilputa que piensan que poniendo pena de muerte se acabaron los problemas, ni siquiera en EEUU la violencia ni el crimen mermo porque existiera la pena de muerte. EEUU es una gran carcel, donde el 1% de la poblacion vive en carceles privatizadas (de los cuales el 70% son afro-americanos o latinos). Lo que vemos son dos clases de violencia, una violencia desde abajo del que no tiene nada y otra desde arriba del que tiene todo (y quiere mas, y tiene al estado protegiendolo y amparandolo). Obviamente toda violencia es injustificable, y no toda violencia desde abajo es del que no tiene nada, la cosa es mas complicada, la "gente" (si uno pudiera hablar de esta manera) esta cagada, tiene muchos quilombos en el corazon y la mente. Pero estoy seguro, que todo esto es causado por algo que no veo a ningun politico, sea profesional o no, que lo traiga a la mesa: la inequidad social, la exclusion que vivimos, el estado de excepcion en el que vivimos como diria Agamben, en el que cualquiera puede ser matado pero no sacrificado, esta "mera vida" o bare life que en la actual politica le permite al poder soberano asesinar sin cometer homicidio (los ninios muertos, los pibes en las villas asesinados por el "gatillo facil", quien los mato? nadie es punible) y muestra como las personas tienen la capacidad de ser asesinadas porque ya estaban fuera de toda jurisdiccion humana o divina, son homo sacer.

lunes, marzo 02, 2009

Disipan dudas sobre las muertes en el Aconcagua por Nicolás Carvalho Ochoa (criticadigital.com)

En esta nota se puede ver con mayor precision todo (o al menos algo, pero en muchos sentidos, bastante) lo que pasaba y paso en la montania cuando los rescatistas fueron a buscar al guia que fallecio (y a tres montanistas mas que fueron rescatados con vida). Lo interesante de todo esto es como la relacion texto/contexto, en realidad lo que dice Bruno Latour que solo hay un texto, que podriamos indefinidamente seguir describiendo un texto, que el contexto es cuando nos cansamos de describir un fenomeno y le ponemos poder explicativo al contexto. En este caso especifico rapidamente todos salieron a opinar, sin saber, (bien argento) desde un contexto sesgado... en fin, como siemopre hacemos. Pero aca se culpabilizaba a los rescatistas, que obviamente se jugaron la vida, lo esperaron al guia mas de lo que se recomienda, y ahora parecen unos asesinos. Pero los unicos que tuvieron la voluntad de ir a buscarlo fueron ellos, otros se quedaron, y lo que dice el guia de la nota es qye ahora la gente lo va a pensar dos veces antes de ir a buscar a alguien...En fin, como todo en la vida, los que saben saben y los que no opinan...
aca se va como la situacion limite en que se encuentran los montanistas en la montania, en donde la tension entre individuo y el grupo, entre individuo y lo colectivo se ponen de manifiesto, uno no sabe que haria en esos momento. Ademas es un deporte (exclusivo) por un lado super competitivo e individualista y por otro lado super solidario y colectivo... Es raro todo esto. Me quede pensando si podria haber paralelos ahi en la relacion indiv-grupo con lo q pasa con los ninios con enfermedades terminales y las familias, y los ninios-familias y los medicos....
Aca la nota entera para que lean con sus propios ojos.

---

El guía argentino Diego Magaldi es presidente de la fundación Ecomed, la cual dicta entrenamientos para emergencias en zonas agrestes y urbanas desde 1998. Formado en la Unión Internacional de Asociaciones de Guías de Montaña, fue reconocido por los gobiernos de EE.UU. y la Argentina por salvar decenas de vidas.

Después de reunirse con uno de los voluntarios que arriesgó su vida para rescatar al grupo perdido en el “Glaciar de los Polacos”, accedió a una entrevista con Críticadigital.

¿Cuál es su visión respecto del rescate?

He estado en muchos rescates en el Aconcagua, y varias veces llegamos y todas las personas ya estaban muertas. En este caso el rescate fue un éxito, porque se salvaron a tres andinistas italianos (una montañista había muerto antes, tras resbalar en el “Glaciar de los Polacos”). Si hubiesen tardado un poco más, hubieran muerto todos. A 7.000 metros hay cerca de 30 grados bajo cero y un tercio del oxígeno que hay al nivel del mar. Con atarte los cordones del zapato, ya te agitás. La mayoría de los recursos disponibles fueron usados para salvar a los italianos porque ellos sí podían caminar en parte por su propia cuenta, que era la única forma de salvarse.

¿Cuál fue el grado de ayuda de los voluntarios?

Fue tal la ayuda de los voluntarios que algunos guías se ocuparon de contratar a un segundo guía para que se haga cargo de sus clientes para así poder socorrer a los andinistas. Todos los que llegaron a la cumbre eran personas que ya estaban aclimatadas a la altura, porque hace pocos días habían hecho cumbre o hace varias semanas estaban en la altura. Había más personas que les hubiese gustado alcanzar la altura de los 7.000 metros, pero no lo hicieron porque no se animaron o no pudieron por la posibilidad de que sufrieran un edema cerebral. En la jerga del socorrismo existe un límite cuando la situación a uno lo sobrepasa.

¿Qué opinión te merece la acusación de “abandono de persona” que se le adjudica a los rescatistas?

En la montaña en el momento del accidente, por lo menos había 500 personas. Ellos fueron los únicos que tuvieron los agallas de ir en rescate y encima son los acusados. Es muy triste que ahora gente muy poco informada los acuse de abandono de persona, cuando en verdad fueron los únicos que hicieron algo. Es una dolorosa paradoja. Decir que hubo intención de abandonar a una persona es un disparate, porque los voluntarios arriesgaron sus vidas para estar ahí. De ahora en adelante, mucha menos gente se va a animar a hacer algo para evitar involucrarse en un caso.

¿Qué apreciación se puede hacer del polémico video?

En ningún momento se visualiza a los tres italianos que salvaron. En verdad fue una acción heroica porque los voluntarios (además de la patrulla de rescate mendocina) salvaron tres vidas de manera totalmente voluntaria, sin que nadie les pagara un peso. Considero que habrá que retribuirlos en algún momento. Lo que se ve en el video pasa siempre en el Aconcagua. Todos los años hay que ir a rescatar a alguien y cada dos años pasa esto de tener que rescatar a un grupo 3 ó 4 personas juntas.

Los rescatistas intentaron trasladar a Campanini durante al menos 5 horas, ¿es válido hablar de abandono?

Nunca podría hablarse de abandono. Los rescatistas llegaron a eso de las 14 horas y 30 minutos y se fueron a las 19 horas y 30, muy tarde para estar ahí. Y en ese momento tenés que pensar que estás a ocho horas de una carpa, que es tu salvación en un clima de casi 30 grados bajo cero. Mucho tiempo no podés esperar o especular. Aun así, no lo abandonaron y se quedaron. Para mí, que tengo 40 cumbres encima, se arriesgaron demasiado quedándose tanto tiempo. Recién llegaron a las dos de la madrugada al “campamento Berlín”, ubicado a 6.000 metros de altura.

¿Cuál fue el lugar de la entonces jueza de este caso?

Esto de consultar a un juez no existe. Un juez no tiene la menor idea de lo que se le está hablando o consultando. La última decisión no la tiene un juez, sino los rescatistas. Pero tampoco se les puede recriminar abandonar a Campanini para no arriesgar su propia vida, porque nadie puede donar su propia vida a la causa. Haya existido o no la autorización, por más que un juez te diga “no te dejo abandonar”, la última palabra la tienen los rescatistas y va más a allá de lo legal, sino que pasa a los planos de la ética y la moral.

¿Cuál es la responsabilidad de la patrulla de rescate de Mendoza?

A la patrulla, perteneciente a la policía, le pagan un suelo mayor que a un policía común y trabajan junto a los guardaparques del Parque Provincial Aconcagua. Ellos fueron los únicos en términos profesionales que tenían la responsabilidad de acudir en rescate, eran los que debían dar un paso más, siempre arriesgando su vida hasta un cierto límite.

¿Qué tipos de evacuaciones es posible realizar en un rescate?

Existen tres tipos de evacuaciones. Una es autoasistida, cuando la víctima puede caminar por sí misma. La segunda es la asistida, cuando la víctima requiere la ayuda para caminar, como sucedió con los andinistas italianos. Y el otro tipo de evacuación es cuando la víctima ni siquiera se puede mover, que fue el caso de Campanini. A él lo debieron arrastrar porque seis hombres no tenían forma de trasladarlo en una camilla.

Se habla mucho de la camilla, ¿usaron o no una camilla?

Claro que hubo una camilla de cuerdas que se arma en forma de red. Pero era imposible trasladarlo con la fuerza de tan solo seis hombres. A esa altura y con ese temporal al menos se necesitan casi 30 personas para hacerlo. Se forman tres grupos de ocho y cada grupo se va turnando para mover a la víctima cada 20 metros. A él lo debieron arrastrar porque seis hombres no tenían forma de trasladarlo en una camilla.

¿Cómo deben interpretarse las imágenes cuando a Campanini lo tiran con una cuerda?

Atarlo con una cuerda era el único modo posible que había para intentar moverlo. En estas situaciones, si para el rescate había que descender a la víctima (que hubiese sucedido si alcanzaban la cima), a esta se la ata con una cuerda y se le da empujones para que se deslice por la nieve mientras se tira la cuerda para atrás para que no caiga rodando. Así se va desplazando a la víctima pendiente abajo. No existe otro método.

¿Qué le pudo haber sucedido al guía argentino?

Probablemente, haya sufrido un edema cerebral que no le permitió actuar como debía. Un edema te afecta el estado de conciencia y la calidad de tus decisiones. Porque es muy raro que Campanini se haya equivocado de camino, porque la ruta normal y el “Glaciar de los Polacos” están en un sentido exactamente opuesto, no fue un pequeño desvío. Pudo haber “viento blanco”, que es cuando la visibilidad sólo es de un metro, pero a la larga, si estás en un camino errado, te tenés que dar cuenta, no podés avanzar tanto y no percibirlo.

el titulo de LN dice: "Aelita, la niña de dos años que cotiza en las galerías de arte"



el video la muestra a la "joven artista" en accion, pintando un cuadro. se puede ver como usa las dos manos al mismo tiempo y esta totalmente metida en la accion de pintar ese lienzo. pero que es lo que atrae tanto de una ninia de 2 anios que pinta un cuadro? LN dice ""Eagle", una de sus obras, ya se exhibe en una galería de Melbourne; aquí, imágenes de cómo la joven artista realizó esta pintura". Entonces es que su obra "cotiza", que es reconocida como "joven artista"? Puede ser una ninia de 2 anios como cualquier otra jugando a pintar, o puede ser que los adultos que la rodean tienen el capital simbolico para hacer que ella "cotice" y que se transforme en una "joven artista"? en fin, me llamo la atencion esto.

domingo, marzo 01, 2009

Foucault and Harvey.... The Spatiality of Domination

Michel Foucault. 1980. Questions on Geography. In Colin Gordon, ed. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. New York: Pantheon.
------- 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books.
David Harvey. 2005. The Political Economy of Public Space. In Setha Low and Neil Smith, eds. The Politics of Public Space. New York: Routledge.

The self.

Foucault’s conception of critique can be traced in relation to his writings on Kant. Kant saw Enlightenment as a process of release from the status of immaturity in which we accept someone else’s authority to lead us in areas where the use of reason is called for. Enlightenment is self-enlightenment through reason and rational thinking. “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage” and “Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another” (2007: 29). Whereas Kant sees maturity as the rule of self by the self through reason, Foucault sees it as an attitude towards ourselves and the present through an historical analysis of the limits, and the possibility of transgression, of going beyond. Critique is thus a permanent interrogation of one’s limits, it is a self-creation, it is an escape from normalization, and a facing-up to the challenges of self-creation while seeking to effect changes in social structures that are also shaping the self. Foucualt defines the individual as “the product of relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces.”

Central to Foucault is the interaction between self and self, and self to social reality, because these relations represent performative processes, powerful forces in which ‘truth’ is negotiated and legitimated through discursive and practical fields at various scales. Foucault was interested in how subjects came to stand for and act for the ‘truth’ of their own thoughts and practices and how this ‘truth’ was constructed in relation to governmental, institutional, and social administrative structures of power and knowledge. Another key element in his analysis was the different processes of internalization of power and hierarchical forces and the resistance to this internalization as well.

Foucault argued that technologies of the self must be understood as inextricably linked to his notion of governmentality: the guiding rationalities whereby individuals and social structures regulate and police norms of thought and behavior. According to Foucault, there is “contact point” where “technologies of domination of individuals over one another have recourse to processes by which the individual acts upon himself and, conversely, where techniques of the self are integrated into structures of coercion.” For Foucault, the main point was “the possibility of a discourse which could be both true and strategically effective, the possibility of a historical truth which could have a political effect”

Question: In Foucault there is a clear political effect, the individual becomes the principle of their own subjection, but do you think that these are descriptions of how the mechanisms of power function or do you think they are a mystification of these mechanisms that cannot understand the everyday forms of struggle that not only constrain but also expand individual and social possibilities of the self?

Bentham, the Panopticom, the super-ego, and our modern world

Panopticom: Efficient in terms of cost-benefits because it needed fewer staff, but ultimately the instrumentality and utilitarianism led to a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind. This technology is associated with a series of concepts such as mass surveillance, omniscience, total institution, governmentality and biopower. And it presupposes a hierarchical space, one that using Lefebvre’s words create a representations of space in order to produce specific forms of spatial practice and representational space.
In Freud, Bentham: Panopticism and the Super-Ego, Philip Tonner puts together Freud’s super-ego with Bentham’s panoptic. According to Tonner, for Bentham two main principles guide human action, and here I quote Benthams, he says
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters,
pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as
well as to determine what we shall do. (Bentham, The Principles of Morals
and Legislation, p. 1)
So for Bentham the human goal was to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. And this process was a conscious one, for him individuals can be conscious of their drives. Thus the disciplinary structure of the panopticom was a sort of super-ego in Freudian’s terms, for Freud the super-ego is a mental agency specifically concerned with the internalization of external coercion. The super-ego is a voyeuristic mental agency. It keeps watch over the ego and keeps it in check. So in a way this panopticom-super-ego in it double-role of process and result is a coercive force, external to the agent, but which is gradually internalized. Thefore, the panopticom is dual, is both a process of discipline and the result of that discipline internalized.
And talking about coercion internalized, there is an article from the NYT on Feb 17, by John Markoff called “The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives”. In one part it says,
Increasingly, phones will allow users to look at an image of what is around them. You could be surrounded by skyscrapers but have an immediate reference map showing your destination and features of the landscape, along with your progress in real time. Part of what drives the emergence of map-based services is the vast marketing potential of analyzing consumers’ travel patterns. For example, it is now possible for marketers to identify users who are shopping for cars because they have traveled to multiple car dealerships.
“When I go from point A to point B with my feet, there is something of real value there,” said Tony Jebara, a Columbia University computer scientist who is a co-founder of Sense Networks.
Recently, for example, Sam Altman, a 23-year-old Stanford University computer science graduate and the founder of Loopt, a pioneering friend-finding service, was having dinner in Palo Alto, Calif., when he noticed from the screen on his phone that his freshman college roommate was having dinner just two restaurants away. The two met after dinner at a bar, where they were joined by another former Stanford student who noticed on his display that they were socializing together.


Besides this friendly uses of map-bases services the flip side is that people are constantly being scrutinized via multiple technologies of surveillance. In a sense, we are not so close of Orwell’s 1984, actually we’re in a 1984 world. The panopticom effect in the prisoner’s mind and his or her use of public space could easily be described using these Orwell’s words: "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face...; was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..."

Perhaps this thoughtpolice that Orwell refers in 1984 is now what produce our current spatialized and technologized experience, a sort of neurotic panoptic world in which our lives are constantly being disciplined. Going back to Tonner’s article, one could think that what is behind the idea of panopticom, what sustains this effort to changing behaviors through spatialized practices is what Freud considered as the super-ego. Tonner says, “The super-ego is omniscient. With its pervasive eye the distinction between acts and intentions is blurred. With the super-ego in place an individual will feel guilty for ill acts merely intended but never carried out.” And this is precisely what Foucault describes in discipline and punish. Indeed, the normalization process that is being carrying on in the last 2 centuries in our modern world is one that transformed these technologies of the self so efficiently that one can say that what we see now is self-discipline and self-punish already internalized, and thus, naturalized.

Question: Do you think that these local forms of power concentrated in changing the individual behavior of prisoners, schoolmates, and patients now has overflowed beyond the total institutions and is flooding our current modern world? Or do you think that it was always-already all over only that was even more intensified in the total institutions? In other words, do you agree to see the change from the society of discipline to the society of control exemplified with the Panopticom?

The will to truth

For Foucault discourse is not “merely” words or concepts or ideas, is materiality and power-effects. This has to be highlighted. The dialectic relation between power and knowledge is that one produces the other, there is a history behind the production of certain knowledge that produces certain forms of power, and vice versa. But this knowledge-power is certainly spatialized in the space of the body and the political body of society.
What are the effects of this will to truth? How all this is interwoven with relations of power? For Foucault there is not geography of power but fragmented and always-resisted forms of power that were historically constituted through certain forms of knowledge. Thus, the archeology of knowledge traces the path, the “hazardous career that Truth has followed”, for instance with the changes in how prisoners were punished and how others were seeing this punishment. This led to different forms of self-correction, which was also a form of self-creation. The key was the self-correction, how inmates were self-transforming themselves through a technology that was working almost without human agency (although there was a human action that created this technology). Foucault in the interview we read suggests that his obsession with spatial concepts and metaphors were connected with his understanding of power and knowledge, for him power and knowledge can only be understood when we see them in space, how power is spatialized in certain knowledge and how knowledge is spatialized in certain power. They are inseparable connected. Faucault says, “Once knowledge can be analyzed in terms of region, domain, implantation, displacement, transposition, one is able to capture the process by which knowledge functions as a form of power and disseminates the effect of power”.

So one question I need to pose is: how useful and effective is to see how knowledge and power are spatialized? And how different is Foucault’s approach if we compare it with Lefebvre’s?

Splitting the see/being seen dyad
According to Foucault the central feature of the panopticom is the capacity to automatize and disindividualize power. It is the most efficient mechanism in which one group cannot see and is only being seen, and another group cannot be seen and is only seeing. This “marvelous machine” as Foucault calls it does not need coercion because the subject within him or herself is doing the work. This “laboratory of power” is a privileged place for the experiments of men. And for Foucault the more important corrolary of Bentham’s panopticom is that it multiplied and extended to the whole society. He says in page 207 “The panopticom schema, without disappearing as such or losing any of its properties, was destined to spread throughout the social body; its vocation was to become a generalized function.” Two types of discipline are doing this work, the discipline-blockade, the enclosed institution directed indoors towards negative functions; and the discipline-mechanism, which produce power-effects in the most effective and imperceptible ways. Foucault defines discipline in page 215 in this way, “Discipline may be identified neither with an institution nor with an apparatus,; it is a type of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of application, targets; it is a ‘physics’ or an ‘anatomy’ of power, a technology”.

So thinking in the anatomy of power as a technology, and going back to the dyad see/being seen does not sound it familiar to you this subtle power game of see and being seen? Have you checked your facebook today? What subtles techniques of power do you think now are being applied and working within ourselves?

Sociogeographical perceptions, expectations and material conditions of the public spaces
For Harvey, the public sphere is the place where “ambiguities of proprietorship, of aesthetics, of social relations (class and gender in particular), and the political economy of everyday life collide.” And he clearly points out to the political economy of space with an aim: to show the struggles over space, how public space is appropriated and ripped off, how is militarized and strategically constructed for excluding and controlling certain groups. For Harvey, the Boulevards in Paris were specifically built to “facilitate the state’s protection of bourgeois private property.” Reminiscent of Foucaultian ideas, the Second Empire public space for Harvey was also a spectacular space of seeing and being seen (and, of course, of not seeing and not being seen) in the wide Boulevards, departmental store and café shops. Wealth, power, commodity, fashion and consumption were produced at public spaces and at “interior states of mind.” Policing public space was as important as policing interior state of mind. The multitude was always there to jump and destroy the progress brought by the bourgeoisie, they needed to be under constant check to overcome bourgeoisie’s feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. These were disciplinary mechanisms used to resist using Foucault words “the fear of the plague.” But the public space can only be understood when considering the relational connectivity among public space, quasi-public space and private spaces.

Question: Why Harvey does not pay more attention to a political economy of public space from the perspective of the poor?

Diego Armus (2003) Tango, Gender, and Tuberculosis in Buenos Aires, 1900-1940.

Diego Armus. 2003. Tango, Gender, and Tuberculosis in Buenos Aires, 1900-1940. In Diego Armus (ed.), Disease in the History of Modern Latin America. Durham: Duke University Press.

In Argentina, between 1870 and 1950 tuberculosis was one of the main causes of death (though still prevalent in marginal populations such as indigenous people). In this article, Armus focuses in three lines that collide in the first half of 20-century Buenos Aires. He follows the development of Tango, of gender relations and the growth of Tuberculosis in order to show how they not only were entangled but how one was used to think the other. For instance, when waves of immigrants came to Buenos Aires, a city that in 1930 had almost 2.5M people, the relationship between the elites and the newcomers was in many aspects very tense and, thus, it was portrayed in the media and in Tango lyrics. Tensions between the center and the neighborhoods (one of the key spaces of social integration and argentinization according to Armus) of the city (still important today) started to arise when the elites felt threatened by the mass of immigrants slowly but steadily enclosing the center. In this context, metaphorical associations connected TB as a romantic disease of refined and sensible people with gender anxieties. Although most men died of TB than women, women were more visible in the media and literature as having TB than men (men were associated with syphilis). Anxieties that were showing signs of a society with a relatively high social mobility, in which the barrio “becomes the emotional geography of the poor” (106), but in which women were sanctioned for their movement from the barrio to the center. TB was imagined as a disease of excess (of passions, consumption) in a context in which people were over-exploited and worked in very poor working conditions. In these circumstances the figure of la costurerita appeared in the Tango lyrics. She represented the consumptives who contracted TB because of excess of work and difficulties but who did not leave behind the barrio, “the costureritas are protagonists of a journey fed by the desires and dreams of rapid social ascent, which can also end up in tuberculosis” (111).
The other figure Armus brings is the milonguita, a character that kicked off with the explosion of Tango with the help of the mass media through radio, movies and newspapers. Women were the subject (and object?) of Tangos such as “Don’t leave your neighborhood”, which started to portray how women became artists, coperas or queridas. Armus says, “Whatever their status, all these women had bet on a life away from the domestic barrio ideal. Their choice for a more autonomous life led many men to see them as a threat to the ruling gender order” (114).
Ultimately, comparing the milonguita (or milonguerita) with costurerita provides Armus a powerful approach to gender and power issues in the formation of the Argentina “multicultural” nation because it helps to show male fears and the struggles that men and women had when they tried to achieve social mobility within the Argentinean society.

Green (2004) An Ethnography of Nonadherence: Culture, Poverty and Tuberculosis in Urban Bolivia

Green. 2004. An Ethnography of Nonadherence: Culture, Poverty and Tuberculosis in Urban Bolivia. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 28: 401-425.
Working with five patients on a clinic in a suburb neighborhood in La Paz, Bolivia Green tries to understand how Aymara people (before the very radical changes brought by Evo Morales) although confident of biomedical diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis could not keep up with the long treatment due to structural poverty and lack of government aid. Normally a TB treatment would take up to 6-8 months with the first 2 having to go everyday to the hospital for the medicines. In the last decades a specific form of treatment arise, a short-course directly observed therapy (DOTS) in which patients must be present every day for as long as 4 to 6 weeks (then would be once every week) in order to take their pills. TB is the first cause of death in adults in Latin America, but in Bolivia within indigenous people the rate is 5 to 8 times higher than the national average. Nonadherence is considered when a patient doesn’t or can’t finish his or her treatment. At least four causes explain the widespread of TB, the correlation with HIV/AIDS, the relation between TB and adverse social conditions, the rise of drug resistant and multi-drug resistant traits due to nonadherence to treatment, and the incessant risk of contagion of inadequately treated patients. These four causes are enhanced by four more common factors: the blaming on the patient; the patient’s psychological structure; demographic factors such as gender, sex or income; and cultural and linguistic differences produced by the lack of knowledge about the local culture. Citing Farmer, Green considers that the “structural violence” is what can explicate how “poor adherence within an ethnically marginal group is often better explained by economic or political constraints than by folk-cultural constraints” (403). Some of this socio-economic-political constrains are “structural variables such as geographic and temporal availability of health care, hidden costs of treatment, and quality of available care” (404). The informants have to make a big effort to go everyday to the clinic to receive the medication, sometimes they could not afford to pay the bus so they would walk for 1 or 2 hours each way to the clinic and back home. They also have difficulties to keep up their job if they have one, or to look for one if they were unemployed, because going to the clinic would take a big chunk of time (they would be waiting and waiting for a whole morning). So when they could not carry on with the treatment for any reason (always very logical) then they were afraid of the reprimands by the doctors and social workers who would treat them, sometimes, discriminatorily. If social workers would complain that patient are putting their life in risk, patients would say that they need to support their families and can’t afford not to work. Although patients do feel sometimes that guilty for having “abandoned” treatment and this further complicate the decision to go back to the TB control program. All the patients were using both traditional and biomedical medicine, and they all agree that for TB biomedicine was better suited to cure it instead of the palliative treatment provided by traditional healers. I think this article is interesting to see how patients were using multiple forms of care and cure, and although they wanted to be treated by biomedicine for curing TB, they could not keep up with the treatment due to structural constrains such as hidden costs of the treatment (transport and additional costs such as X-Rays) and professional discrimination against Aymara population.

Rubel and Moore (2001) The contribution of Medical Anthropology to a Comparative Study of Culture: Susto and Tuberculosis

Rubel and Moore. 2001. The contribution of Medical Anthropology to a Comparative Study of Culture: Susto and Tuberculosis. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 15(4):440-454.

In this article the authors want to re-think different approach to the study of both susto and tuberculosis via cross-cultural comparisons. They’ve found three types of cross-cultural comparisons, one that compares different groups sharing the same region, another that compares within a society, and a third one that find worldwide comparisons. In relation to susto, or the state of being asustado, they’ve found that “among Latin America’s indigenous peoples” (a little bit too over-encompassing) susto appears when an essence is “thought to be captive because the patient, wittingly or not, has offended the spirit guardians of earth, a river, a pond, the forest, or collectivities of animals, birds, or fish” (442). I think that this explanation excludes other forms of susto according to indigenous peoples in which certain forms of witchcraft or even torture can trigger it. For the authors, in the case of non-indigenous peoples the cause of susto is a fright. In both cases the therapeutic effort is concentrated in returning the spirit essence to the body. In any case, the authors concluded that susto should be considered more as a syndrome caused by profound stress and with a high rate of mortality.
In relation to Tuberculosis the authors (with the help of more researchers) developed a study in which they could compare variations among gender, gender roles, and health knowledge in a single society (Mexico). They’ve found that, in comparison with the widespread symptoms of susto, tuberculosis is a very confined condition. The common symptoms are constant cough, bloody sputum, night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue. The research they’ve conducted was designed to understand how working-class Mexicans understand and react to respiratory disease. They wanted to understand people’s knowledge of the disease, they defined knowledge as “understanding of the causes, implications, and treatments of respiratory conditions that result from everyday experience with them, regardless of their biomedical acceptability” (446). They used “humoral” characteristics because they’ve found that in Mexico “hot and cold humoral dichotomy” is still very important to explain ill conditions. What I do not understand of this study is that at the beginning they’ve found that humoral characteristics were important and they used them in the surveys, and then in their conclusions they say that “these working-class Mexicans do, indeed, share a humoral model of respiratory health conditions” (447), but wasn’t this what they exactly went to look for!? Another conclusion they’ve made is that women have a stronger understanding of respiratory conditions through humoral qualities than men. I don’t quite understand the need to made so many surveys to come up with conclusions that were already included in the hypothesis. Perhaps they could have done more qualitative studies and come up with new information and not information they already pre-filtered.