CONAIE Headquarters to be Shut Down: Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador Request International Support

Protestors gather outside the headquarters of CONAIE (The Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador) in Quito, Ecuador.

Protestors gather outside the CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador) in Quito, Ecuador.

Yesterday, in Quito, Ecuador, hundreds of Indigenous people from around the country, including those from the Amazon, the Sierra and the Coast, gathered outside the offices of CONAIE (the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), in the north of the city, to continue the fight against a government plan to close the organisation’s headquarters. CONAIE is among the largest and longest standing Indigenous organisations in Ecuador, and its work focuses on defending the rights, territories, culture and lives of millions of Indigenous people who make up approximately 25% of the country’s population.

I am writing this blog post to encourage academics and activists from around the world to sign the open letter, drafted by CONAIE, in support of the organization and the indigenous peoples that it represents in their struggle to maintain control of the building, which is a key strategic part of the indigenous political community. (more…)

Most “Insert List Here” of 2014: Ratings and hierarchies


Happy new year! I hope that this year finds you with accepted publications, good grades, and time for sleep.

Each year, starting mid-December, begins the season for “ratings” and lists of the “best” and the”worst” moments, outfits, songs, movies, actors, or whatever you can put in a list of the previous year. As my Facebook feed quickly turns from photos and status updates to comical BuzzFeed lists, I came across one interesting list this year that I had not seen before:’s “The 39 Most Iconic Feminist Moments of 2014.” Of course I quickly shared the article, primarily so I can refer to it later for this post, but it received no “likes” or “comments” on my Facebook (a page with relatively frequent activity). That may come as no surprise, as the word “Feminist” was voted by Time Magazine readers as the word to be banned in 2015, and other significant backlash against feminist ideals (see also Rachel Rademacher’s piece here about how we still need feminism). Rereading the list today, however, I am unsure how I feel about this list: mixed feelings about the rise in publicity of feminist ideals but also what qualifies as feminist and how we must rank them.


The Ghost of Christmas Pressed for Time

Christmas Shopping, Regent Street

Christmas Shopping, Regent Street


In Payback, her reaction to the debt-fuelled financial crisis of 2007-08, Margaret Atwood rewrites Dickens’ Christmas Carol for the present day. She invites us to join ‘Scrooge Nouveau’ in his Tuscan villa, as he is visited by the Spirit of Earth Day Future. Scrooge Nouveau is confronted by two possible futures – one of ecological harmony and regular debt jubilees, the other unfolding in a lifeless desert where he sees himself fighting with other hungry survivors over the corpse of a house cat. Our modern-day miser finds himself doing desperate back-of-the-envelope calculations: should he invest in alternative energy and desalination plants, and so make a killing if the good future materializes, or corner the tinned food market and build himself a bunker in preparation for the bad? Atwood’s re-telling works as a neat parable of what Michael Hudson and Max Haiven take the contemporary financial services sector to be: a ‘pathologically self-obsessed form of economic planning.’ The financialization and securitization of our very life-cycle is reflected, as Jane Guyer observes, in the sector’s core products – its ‘student loans, 30-year mortgages, health insurance, and so on.’ The Christmas and New Year mediascape is likewise shot through with a pre-emptive financial futuricity. Flipping through British broadsheets this week will reveal festive ‘share tips for 2015‘ from the ‘best stock-pickers’ around. Monocle – essential reading for the transnational flâneur on the fly – has the ‘Forecast’ edition out too. In its pages we are introduced to the future of defense innovation, wearable medical technology, and even the science fiction scene – alongside the ‘politicians and entrepreneurs worth inviting out for a drink.’

Monocle’s anticipatory look at fashion and technology reflects an eminently financial temporality. It was, after all, the Wall Street fortune tellers of the early twentieth century who made the figure of the forecaster a recognizable and respectable one. There is, though, another way of experiencing time that may be foregrounded at this time of year. (more…)

What’s the true meaning of the 1914 Christmas Truce?



Since August in the UK we’ve been commemorating the outbreak of WW1. The various reasons for this memorialising overlap, but they can reflect an individual’s political Weltanschauung and attitudes to the Great War. For some, the 800,000+ Tommies who died sacrificed themselves in a heroic struggle against the forces of militaristic totalitarianism represented by Germany. While for others, the WW1 represents plutocrats sending young men to their deaths while many industrialists and manufacturers profited from Britain’s war economy only to then lead us, via economic ruin, to another war 21 years later.

There’s less cynicism about the Christmas Truce. This means it’s been hijacked by everyone from supermarkets to UEFA and restaged as a football match to market their values (incidentally there is little evidence any football match took place let alone one between German and British and Commonwealth troops). Although for many combatants the truce was primarily a magnanimous gesture to bury the dead, it was a reality and, indeed, in some sectors of The Western Front, it lasted for longer than Christmas. Troops in these instances were threatened with execution if they didn’t reengage in killing the enemy (for more listen to eyewitness accounts in the Imperial War Museum’s Archives). (more…)

Festivus for the rest of us

Satanic Temple holiday display, Florida Capitol Rotunda

Satanic Temple holiday display, Florida Capitol Rotunda

For the second year, Florida hosts a variety of religious displays in the rotunda of the state capitol.  This year, for the first time, the Satanic Temple erected their seasonal exhibition of an angel falling from Heaven into a fiery pit.  The Sataic Temple presentation complements a Christian nativity scene as well as other anti-religion and atheist displays with seasonal depictions including a “Festivus” pole constructed from Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans and a Flying Spaghetti Monster with the sign that says, “A closed mouth catches no noodly appendages”. (more…)

‘Is There Anything Else I Can Help You With?’ Call Centres, and Christmas on Minimum Wage


*This is a guest post, written by Jo Byrne

*This is a guest post, written by Jo Byrne

Casual work and debt

According to a recent report by TUC, one in twelve people in Britain are in precarious employment with figures rising by 61.8% for men and 35.6% for women since 2008. That means that 1 in 12 people are living a life of economic insecurity, and, at this time of year, it also means that thousands of parents or grandparents will be uncertain if they can afford to buy gifts for their families at Christmas. Yet the pressure to consume (to eat, drink and be merry!) is so great that many will begin the new year in unmanageable debt, often as the result of short term payday loans: typically the only form of credit available to the most economically vulnerable in society.

I am lucky. In my adult life I have never been out of work for a significant period of time. But a few years ago, just before Christmas, I found myself jobless and desperate. I had returned from living abroad stone broke and up to my eyeballs in debt. I signed on for Job Seeker’s Allowance, which at the time (2010) was around £65 per week, and despite the fact that I was living a very modest life in a shared house, I was not able to make ends meet. Though I am grateful for the help I received from the government at that time,  the amount of money provided is simply not sufficient to live with any real quality of life. In fact, according to a report by The European Council, it is not even enough to survive.  While I was looking for work, I went further and further into my overdraft and using my ‘emergency’ credit card became a regular occurrence.

Fortunately, before things got too desperate, I received a call from a friend who had a senior position in a local call centre offering me a temp job over the Christmas period. (more…)

Eating the World

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…[Source By Mercy for Animals [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

Christmas comes every year, and every year, much like a snowball rolling down a mountain in er…Lapland, it accumulates new ‘traditions’. New additions in recent years include Christmas jumpers, Black Friday, and songs from X Factor going to Number One. Great. Go back further and see that Christmas trees, Santa Claus, crackers, Saint Nicholas, Christmas carols and even the nativity story have all been tacked onto what was originally the pagan festival of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Everything else is just hundreds of years of elaborate window-dressing: an ever-evolving Christian, Capitalist, Western cultural snowball.

One key Christmas tradition that seems to have become fundamental in the last half-century is the need to eat meat, lots and lots of it: Turkey, goose, rabbit, pigs-in-blankets, cold cuts of pork, beef, antipasti, KFC (if you’re in Japan) and even cat and dog meat (if you’re in Switzerland). The TV adverts are full of it, the supermarket warehouses are full of it, and come Christmas day evening, so will the bellies of the western world. (more…)

Putting the “Homo” in the Organization: Making the Case for Expanding Concepts of Normativity (Part 1)

The_Rainbow_Flag,_GLBT_PrideIt is that time of year when theses, dissertations, and proposals are being prepared for defense. My thesis intends to examine the scripting of a normative student identity with special attention to sexuality in study abroad orientation programs. Only, when it came to prepare my literature review, it came as a shock to me that there is little discussion of homonormativity in education, let alone a conceptualization of homonormativity and organizations more generally. In a world where non-heterosexual identified individuals are increasingly visible, included, and accepted, we need to consider how this is happening and what are the implications, consequences, and stipulations.

But wait, first, what homonormativity? Why hasn’t anyone talked about this?



Doge KeynesYup. It’s ‘Doge Keynes’.

 Paul Stoller – perhaps best known for his pioneering work on the ‘anthropology of the senses‘ – suggested last month in a blog for the Huffington Post that the ‘unprecedented prosperity that human activity has generated has ironically resulted in widespread misery in the world.’ Stoller calls upon anthropologists to shift ‘from passive to active voice,’ claiming that they are uniquely positioned to challenge what I like to refer to as the two-pronged politics of idiocy, recalling that ‘idiocy’ comes to us from the Greek idios kosmos, or ‘private realm’. Stoller first rails against an apparently widespread refusal to acknowledge mounting evidence from the natural and social sciences, that reveals the principal means by which we pursue prosperity to be engines of inequality and ecological destruction (a politics of idiocy where idiocy refers to intellectual refusal). This intellectual refusal is tethered to what Stoller calls the ‘politics of so-called personal responsibility,’ an orientation that shares much with what fellow anthropologist Sarah Kendzior recently termed ‘hipster economics,’ and could equally be understood as the other half of the politics of idiocy – where idiocy refers to a retreat from collective politics. Stoller ends his blog with the question ‘Will we do our part to make the world a bit sweeter for our children and grandchildren?’ It is hard to miss the echoes of  J. M. Keynes’ short essay from 1930: Economic possibilities for our grandchildren.


Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon (part 1)


As a belated nod to ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ (October, in the USA), and the plethora of pink, breast-cancer-sponsored items now on sale,  I want to talk about the rise of the pink ribbon campaign and the concept of ‘pinkwashing’.

Breast cancer and the pink ribbon campaign is probably one of the biggest success stories, in terms of its ability to raise awareness and ultimately, save lives. Breast cancer activism started in the 1980’s, in part as a reaction to the patriarchal medicalisation of women’s bodies. Up until then, breast cancer was being silenced: the field was dominated by male surgeons with little information available for individual sufferers, and incidence rates were fast increasing. A huge, grass roots movement began, focusing on empowering and giving voice to suffers and their families. By the 1990’s the focus had been shifted away from the medical profession and onto the empowerment of patients, and this increased attention and exposure increased its status and cultural currency. This was furthered by the launch of the now now iconic pink ribbon in 1992.

This increased focus was incredible in its uptake. It allowed the breast cancer movement to become a prominent focus for the general public, ‘awareness’ was raised, huge amounts of funds were raised, and it was being run by women: by cancer survivors, sufferers and family members. Treatment improved, mortality rates declined.  It was a success. But, as Gayle Sulik notes: “By this time, there were already controversies over the benefits of mammograms, concerns over conflicts of interest, rising competition in pharmacology, and infighting among thought leaders and scientists. Yet cause promotion and the desire to do something for breast cancer held the public’s attention”. (more…)