Photo: Anton Christian (Photo used with permission by the author).
EssaysFeature

Borders and the Politics of Mourning

In early 2014, the artist Anton Christian placed a shattered wooden boat in front of the impressive baroque Cathedral of St. Jakob in the heart of the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Christian had found the boat on the shores of the Adriatic Sea and brought it to Innsbruck to evoke images of Lampedusa, the Italian island that has become the symbol of the refugee crisis. After the boat was partially destroyed by vandals, the artist decided to keep the damaged object in front of the cathedral, supplemented by a marker that explained the attack. …

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Poster honoring Bernard Maris plastered on a wall in Paris during the Solidarity March in Paris, Jan. 11, 2015.
CapitalismEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

A Tribute to Economist Bernard Maris (Sept. 23, 1946 – Jan. 7, 2015)

I was shocked to learn that Bernard Maris had been murdered at a meeting of the editors of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015. He died at his desk, killed by the fanaticism that he regularly denounced.

Bernard Maris was an economist and a member of the governing board of the Bank of France, professor at the Institute of European studies of the University of Paris-VIII, a former University of Iowa professor, and journalist for the publication Charlie Hebdo, where he wrote a weekly column, under the pseudonym of “Uncle Bernard” — a column in which he explained the mysteries of finance. In a profile of victims published Wednesday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported Bernard Maris was a “noted Keynesian…

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"Baggage," Kenya © Brett Jordan | Flickr
EssaysSex & GenderThe Psyche

Human Trafficking

A psychoanalytic and socio-historical view

I am going to think and write about human trafficking through a perspective both psychoanalytic and socio-historical. In fact, part of my quest and my thinking about this matter is to find the right disciplinary mix to speak from and to. This essay is situated in a problem. It may be an intractable problem. At the very least it is a very difficult one. How is it that there is not the social or political will to fight a social problem of great magnitude, great trauma, and great criminality: slavery in the 21st century? There was an abolitionist movement in the 19th century. Why not now? …

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A Black Pete © 12Danny12 | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysRaceRace/isms

Black Faces, Red Skins and White Celebrations

In the country where I grew up, the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas’ yearly visit is a hugely popular celebration, rich in rituals and designed to make children happy. Three years ago, the celebration came to New York, where I now live. It seemed only logical to expose my half-Dutch children to this cherished tradition.

A large group of Dutch parents and children gathered at New York’s The Netherland Club. While awaiting the arrival of “the holy man,” they all happily sang the traditional songs about “the bishop,” who, as it is told, hails from Spain and makes his yearly trek to the Netherlands on his white horse with his servants. The lyrics: “His servant stood laughing and told us,” “Those who are sweet will get candy, the others will get spanked.” And: “Even though I am black as soot, I mean pretty well.”

All had been peaceful at the Netherland Club until a number of black-faced minstrels came out of nowhere, ramming on doors and throwing candy into the room. My three year old ran out of the room in utter fear, settling in a hiding spot, somewhere under a table in a closet with the doors closed. The show of well-intentioned fun by a bunch of guys in funny suits, donning afro-wigs and red painted lips was completely lost on my son, forcing me to reconsider the meaning and symbols of the tradition.

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