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Inside the Overseas Chinese Museum of China

Can the Chinese Diaspora Speak?

The Chinese diaspora is compelled either to prostrate to an edifying project of assimilation to U.S. liberal democracy, or be branded as illiberal “Red Guards” unfit for serious political discourse. This discursive context has long mobilized overseas Chinese to affirm the universalism of Western liberalism in opposition to a Chinese despotism defined either by dynastic backwardness or communist depravity. Can overseas Chinese speak for themselves in the face of the West’s “hegemonic right to knowledge?” Or will all such speech that challenges U.S. presuppositions of liberal selfhood and Chinese despotism simply be tuned out as illiberal noise? | more…

Pete Seeger at the opening of a canteen for the United Federal Workers of America, a trade union representing federal employees, in then-segregated Washington, DC

Was Folk Music a Commie Plot?

The revival of folk music—music derived from rural southern sources, unamplified, and, to a large extent, comprised of old songs of anonymous origin—was more than just another fad. Folk music encapsulated longings for an idyllic past, for a time before crass commercialism turned music into a commodity, and for relationships between musicians and audiences that were egalitarian and holistic. | more…

Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading "Capital" in Precarious Times

Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading “Capital” in Precarious Times

Karl Marx saw the ruling class as a sorcerer, no longer able to control the ominous powers it has summoned from the netherworld. Today, in an age spawning the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, our society has never before been governed by so many conjuring tricks, with collusions and conspiracies, fake news and endless sleights of the economic and political hand. And yet, contends Andy Merrifield, as our modern lives become ever more mist-enveloped, the works of Marx can help us penetrate the fog. In Marx, Dead and Alive—a book that begins and ends beside Marx’s recently violated London graveside—Merrifield makes a spirited case for a critical thinker who can still offer people a route toward personal and social authenticity. | more…

A Map of Palestine at Arab American National Museum (AANM) Lower Level Gallery, 2016-2017

Messianic Zionism

The Ass and the Red Heifer

The relation between Zionism and Judaism (the Jewish religion) is paradoxical and complex. In its early days, Zionism was apparently a thoroughly secular political movement. In reality, while its ego was secular, its id has always been religious. And in recent times, the latter has emerged from its hidden recess and is parading in full view. | more…

Creating Pátzcuaro, Creating Mexico: Art, Tourism, and Nation Building under Lázaro Cárdenas

Interrogating the Cultural Production of Mexico

As part of a deconstruction of national identity, Jennifer Jolly, in her Creating Pátzcuaro, Creating Mexico: Art, Tourism, and Nation Building under Lázaro Cárdenas, analyzes the tourist town of Pátzcuaro in the west-central Mexican state of Michoacán as a microcosm of cultural power in which tourism, art, history, and ethnicity were woven together under the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (1934–40). | more…

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