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Inside the Overseas Chinese Museum of China

Can the Chinese Diaspora Speak?

This article will be released in full online August 16, 2021.

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…

Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music by Gerald Horne

Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

The music we call “jazz” arose in late nineteenth century North America—most likely in New Orleans—based on the musical traditions of Africans, newly freed from slavery. Grounded in the music known as the “blues,” which expressed the pain, sufferings, and hopes of Black folk then pulverized by Jim Crow, this new music entered the world via the instruments that had been abandoned by departing military bands after the Civil War. Gerald Horne’s Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music examines the economic, social, and political forces that shaped this music into a phenomenal U.S.—and Black American—contribution to global arts and culture. | more…

Women songwriters' workshop participants

Singing for Women’s Lives in Chile

In an idyllic canyon near Santiago, a group of twelve women were electric with emotion from sharing personal stories and experiences, and, of course, from singing. Deep bonds were forged among participants, few of whom knew each other prior to the workshop. They were there to compose women-identified songs in a setting that alternated between individual and group composition. | more…

Beyond Pedagogies of Repression

At a time when the public good is under attack and there seems to be a growing apathy toward the social contract or any other civic-minded investment in public values and the larger common good, education has to be seen as more than a credential or a pathway to a job, and pedagogy as more than teaching to the test. Against pedagogies of repression such as high-stakes testing, which largely serve as neoliberal forms of discipline to promote conformity and limit the imagination, critical pedagogy must be viewed as crucial to understanding and overcoming the current crises of agency, politics, and historical memory faced by many young people today. One of the challenges facing the current generation of educators and students is the need to reclaim the role that education has historically played in developing critical literacies and civic capacities. Education must mobilize students to be critically engaged agents, attentive to important social issues and alert to the responsibility of deepening and expanding the meaning and practices of a vibrant democracy.… At the heart of such a challenge is the question of what education should accomplish in a democracy.… In a world that has largely abandoned egalitarian and democratic impulses, what will it take to educate young people to challenge authority, resist the notion that education is only training, and redefine public and higher education as democratic public spheres? | more…

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