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Clare Market Review The Journal of the London School of Economics Studentsâ€™ Union www.claremarketreview.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Clare is curious. She aspires not to tell but to share, not to declare but to explore. Too often we students have the pennings of lofty academics thrust under our highlighters. Not only does Clare not know it all, but on the horizon of a new decade, she hopes to gaze into muddied waters and reflect – to explore who we are, as shaped by where we have been and what we hope to become. Our theme is explored by a glistening array of essays and etchings, stories and sketchings, poems and paintings. We begin with all you have: yourself. Focusing on the tension between ‘I’ and an imposing world, in ‘Identity’, we examine how our perceptions of self are challenged by moving to a new city, a new country. Consider how identity can be manifested in the least suspected constructions: our choice of relationships, currencies or what we read. Ponder how a hit to the foundations of these constructions forces us to turn to alternative manifestations of identity. Never forget of course, ‘I am what I am’. In times of crisis and reason-searching, we often turn to that which we know best, our ’memory’. In reflecting on how, why and from whence we came, we are constantly refurbishing our here and now. The past is not a fact; it can be bent and used at will, with present whims taking precedence over the truths of the past. ‘Imagination’ broaches our dreams and hopes and our frequent inability to fulfill them. It considers how ‘dreams deferred’ haunt and compel, drive and deter. We investigate how policy affects which and whose dreams are fulfilled and how sometimes as you lose grip of your youth, you find yourself living a dream you never knew you had. As you flip through the clusters, note also the artists who’ve so lovingly considered these themes. More so than ever the pages that lie ahead present a cacophonous cabaret of creativity, presenting the finest of LSE’s artistic minds can-can-ing alongside illustrious professionals. All this set to the soundtrack of your rapturous applause (fingers crossed!). We hope you enjoy the show! Clare
Midwestern War Stories
By Mary de Boer
I still remember my high school drawing teacher, Mrs Blake, and the bite of her diagnosis. Apparently I possess a) very precise notions of what I want and b) very little interest in compromising about them. Presuming she was right (and she very often was), these personality traits don’t integrate too handily with real life, which in my experience requires compromise (viz. any and all birthday cake decisions involving my twin sister and me) and punishes inflexibility (viz. my mother refusing to take me shopping anymore). More pertinently, however, this particular notion of what I want seems to be battling my ability to settle in to the UK. I hadn’t thought of it much until one of my Canadian flatmates declared that
she loved London; my only reaction was shock - I looked at her (rather stupidly, I suppose) and demanded, ‘You what?’. I suppose, though, that I’m the one who ought to have my head examined. Here I am living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, surrounded by stacks of more (purportedly fascinating) reading material than I’ll ever be able to look at in a lifetime (but am expected to finish by tomorrow), crammed into a closet-sized room that smells of basil (I’m trying to learn to be less forgetful by disciplining myself into routinely tending a small, defenceless green thing), and I feel both let down and on edge. It doesn’t measure up, somehow, to my ideal; indeed, much of it grates on me. This geographic dissatisfaction is noth-
ing new. I was mad at Berlin the entire time I lived there. I remember clomping angrily to and from the S-Bahn station in a state of disgust (I gave up a perfectly good year of education in Southern California to live amidst piles of ice and snow in a city full of rude men on bicycles!). I had, likewise, little use for Vienna; both the architecture and the attitudes seemed frozen somewhere in the middle of the Baroque period. Perhaps I loved much of my life in Tanzania – if one takes into consideration the nights I cried over the noise, the pollution, the overcrowding and my desperate desire for a spurt of electricity to power the fan and supply a breath of air. I even bitched about my two month sojourn in Kentucky this summer (where is your public transportation? What kind of town has no public transportation? And sidewalks! Even the Philistines recently installed sidewalks!), despite being otherwise quite happy. I think the problem is that – much as I like to think of myself as someone who has adventures and sees the world – I am still very much the person Mrs Blake 12 diagnosed me to be. I have inside this very particular and inflexible core, a core that works like a microscope’s 100x objective, mercilessly magnifying and identifying discrepancies between my surroundings and my romanticised memories of where I grew up. There have never been running paths to challenge those around the Shaker Lakes, never the same cheerful troops of Boy Scouts helping old ladies cross quiet streets, never people saying ‘good morning’ or ‘pardon me’ as they pass each other by – or if they do they never say it in the right cadence, or with the right accent. Whether I am conscious of it or not the rhythms of the Midwest are my benchmark, the yardstick by which I measure everywhere else: how compatible is a new environment with the one I had at home? And, if these two environments don’t align, what about me will I have to alter – or what about the environment can I affect – to bring
us both into closer agreement? And can I accept – despite Mrs Blake’s forebodings – that compromise? Here, then, lies what has been bothering me about London: I feel that it is both demanding and – without my consent - producing changes in me that I don’t always recognise or, in recognising, condone. I find myself pushing along the sidewalk in a semi-panicked hurry – a rush induced by the flurry and anxiety of the other people on the street. I don’t say ‘pardon me’ to the people I dodge past; I haven’t said ‘Good morning!’ to a soul in months; indeed, I’m afraid I may have forgotten how to walk while disconnected from my iPod. I find myself constantly operating under a mentality of scarcity – a scarcity that is imposed rather than natural. Because, in all truth, this attitude - this mentality - is not my own - it has nothing to do with the Midwest; it has no roots in any part of the identity I shaped growing up. It feels imposed; it feels unnatural; it feels like a war, like London is pushing down on me with its great grey weight and I’m mulishly sitting there, trying to push back. And I’m not sure the odds are in my favour for this fight – the city has, after all, two millennia to leverage against my two decades. What I do have, though, is the inflexibility Mrs Blake identified – that certain hereditary stubbornness that we Midwesterners imbibe with the water and cling to till the grave. So while I may lose a skirmish (or two, or three), it’s staying power – good old dogmatic stickto-it-ive-ness – that will win this war. And stick-to-it-ive-ness is an attribute that I have, or so I’ve been told, in spades.
Artwork by Elli Graham
By Christopher Wilford
Artwork by Alice Fyfe
ritain’s attachment to its currency is, arguably, unparalleled across the globe. The pound sterling is an integral part of the national psyche, a hark back to an imperial past when Britannia ruled the markets. The United Kingdom may well be a part of the European Union but the emotional attachment to the pound is as strong as ever. An ICM poll conducted in May 2009 found that 75 per cent of respondents would vote against adopting the euro in favour of keeping the national currency. Despite this intention, however, as the country enters the second decade of the 21st century the pound sterling is threatened by questions regarding its credibility. The historian Niall Ferguson states that money ‘is trust inscribed’. British bank notes are a promise to pay the bearer a sum of pounds on demand. Yet, with their depictions of the Queen, figures from British history and silver holograms of Britannia, they are also a promise of something else: the promise of a community facing a crisis. The recent global credit crunch has hit Britain hard; its public deficit has soared to an unprecedented level of nearly £180 billion. Despite assurances
penny for your thoughts
that this amount will be halved within four years and opposition parties proposing their solutions to this burden, fears abound that there will come a time when the government cannot afford to pay. The deficit casts doubt on Britain’s credibility on the international stage, doubt that the government can be trusted. Liabilities in sterling are no longer gilt-edged in their security: Britain itself becomes a liability as its prized AAA credit rating faces disaster. Such a scenario would precipitate a sterling crisis as promises become worthless; the currency in which trust is invested as an emblem of a community unable to deliver. The pound is a barrier rather than an aid to the nation’s development. In the aftermath of the Suez crisis of 1956, the American statesman Dean Acheson famously said: ‘Great Britain has lost an Empire, but has not yet found a role’. Debates about the pound conjure outdated images of Britain blinding the country to its own future. Currency, like identity, is the product of 14 a confident imagination. Hard questions must be asked in the United Kingdom about whether having an independent currency allows the nation a place in
the world it would not otherwise have. Sterling has weathered many storms, and in doing so consistently changed the political landscape. The European Exchange Rate Mechanism fiasco of the early 1990s shattered trust in the Conservatives’ economic competency as the pound could not hope to keep pace with a rampant Deutschmark. Britain withdrew from the system. However, this latest threat comes at a time when the nation is more uncertain than ever of what Britain is. Immigration worries, a strident far right, fears about the power of the European Union and the possible replacement of the pound by the euro are all symptoms of a crisis of confidence. Mired in international conflict, Britain is unsure whether its relationship with the United States is special, is hesitant to develop closer ties with Europe and remains uncertain of its international role. With this latest crisis, Britain will have to decide if the pound sterling is a relic of an imperial past or the beating heart of its hopes to play a part in the 21st century. The United Kingdom will have to decide if the pound is truly a symbol of British strength or not worth the paper it’s promised on.
Alternative By Liz McCarthy oney is a social construct. The currency that we use in our dayto-day transactions, the turnover that determines our development and the bank balances that separate the social classes all derive from this historically generated and socially affirmed phenomenon. In providing a space in which financially excluded and ideologically dissatisfied individuals can interact and attain their own goals, alternative currencies – those used to replace or supplement the dominant currency system – allow us to deconstruct the layers of meaning associated with money, reassess our personal relation to it and reaffirm its role in the relations we maintain with members of our community. By returning to classical sociological analysis of currency, we can see how the contemporary resurgence of local, community-based, currencies, such as the Brixton pound, can thus be seen as a reassertion of local identity.
The story of money The story of the evolution of money - from salt through to the institutionalisation of fiat money under the state - is perhaps
so familiar that its role and impact on society begs a re-examination. In so doing we can reconsider how creating a local medium of exchange determines the ways in which the simple economics of demand–supply equilibrium can define a community. This reassessment of currency exposes the fact that culture is the lens through which we interpret currency’s symbolic value. The infusion of culture in monetary analysis opens the door for sociological critiques of the utility of money. Ultimately, money facilitates exchange by providing a ‘universal yardstick’ that we can use to measure and compare objects and services by bringing them under a ‘common rubric’. It is proclaimed by Carruthers & Espeland that money ‘commensurates incommensurabilities’ while Marx, acknowledging its positive ability to compare dissimilar goods in trade, wrote that it ‘makes impossibilities fraternise.’ In the same vein, Simmel (1907) controversially stressed the liberating potential of money and explained how its abstraction and anonymity liberated humans from age-old distinctions of
status. The creation of money was a condition for the ‘extension of individual personality’, and he believed that it was the principal catalyst for the transformation of social life, allowing previously restricted individuals a vehicle for expression. In contrast to others, Simmel recognized the way in which money can be seen as a constructive ‘instrument of freedom’ and outlined its intrinsic power to revolutionise society and culture; because an abstract good, such as money, is demanded in exchange for goods that one needs, the people are then free to earn that good in which ever way they see fit. This liberation allegedly promotes a wider, more diffuse type of social integration. Simmel’s view of money seems particularly ironic today, when money is widely seen to be controlled by governments in the interest of reckless bankers and footloose multinational companies. While Simmel valued the freedom gained in the loosening of ties from production to payment, Marx saw the 16 use of money as the severing of the relationship between producer and his product; he felt that the arbitrary application of price to a good through the process of quantification meant that the labour involved in the production was now lost from sight. Marxist theory purports that money encourages fetishism, and money of itself is seen as an ‘acid’ that attacks the very fabric of kinship-based moral society, operating through the impersonal relationships it introduces. In fact, both Simmel and Marx may be correct, depending on the specific culture to which they refer. Our perception of money and its materialistic tendencies on society are endogenously determined by the society in which we live, and in which that money has developed (Toren, 1989: 145). Money can thus only challenge social relations to the extent that our culture allows it to do so.
Community currencies the reassertion of the local against the global Globalisation of the financial sphere has generated conflict between the value domains of the local versus the global with globally accumulated finance vying with locally generated capital. As a consequence, local capital is dwarfed by its global contemporary - making it subservient to remotely determined decisions to an even greater extent than before. Conventional money thus no longer holds the symbolic value that it once did. In response to the theoretical flaws underlying the contemporary monetary system, and as a reaction to the economic instability generated by the issue of credit displacing production, local complementary currencies are being created. Formalised, complementary currencies are not new - they have manifested themselves in various forms over the course of human history (see Douthwaite, 2006) - but it is their contemporary resurgence in response to modern pressures that makes the study of them more pertinent. Peter North describes complementary currencies as ‘trading networks’ that are created when a community faces a lack of liquidity, when the community is unhappy with the ideological basis of the existing monetary system or as a means to support local independent businesses. These complementary currencies develop and co-exist with the national currency, allowing the conventional economy to function more smoothly. Complementary currencies of this sort come in many forms that develop according to the needs of the community that creates them. The most prevalent community currency system is the Local Exchange and Trading System (LETS), which operates as a pure accounting system of exchange without an initial stock of cash, and is a ‘self-regulating economic
Com lementary currencies in London: the Brixton Pound
The strength of community spirit in Brixton recently took shape in the form of the Brixton pound (B£), as part of a Transition Town Initiative. The B£ was designed to support Brixton businesses and encourage local trade and production, to be used by independent local shops and traders. Over sixty independent businesses now accept the currency, with all firms enthusiastic in supporting an initiative which will keep money in the local economy, while improving the sense of community in the borough. The B£ story is a great example of local traders getting together to support each other and maintain the diversity of the high street. Complementary currencies such as the B£ transform trade into a series of actions carried out within a community, with the actions of one directly relating to the actions of another. In the case of another locally managed currency – the Timebank currency – one organiser of the system noted, ‘Money is actually a physical representation of energy and energy is only useful when it moves. The Timebank makes sure that the energy stays within the community and maintains its flow.’ Actualising changed cultural codes through the use of a locally based, consensually approved medium
come in many forms that develop according to the needs of the ’ community that creates them..
network which allows its members to issue and manage their own money supply within a bounded system’. LETS allows members to pay for services and goods provided by other members using ‘credits’. By this system, a housewife may iron her neighbour’s shirts in return for ten credits, which in turn may pay for the time of another member of LETS to fix her sink - all avoiding the use of the conventional currency. The check and balance on the system is its absolute transparency – there is no secrecy over accounts – which facilitates mutual monitoring and ensures trust in the system. Although the effect of LETS on the entire economy in GDP terms is negligible, an important aspect to such a trading system is its creation and consolidation of social ties. The success of a complementary currency is reciprocally dependent on the strength of the community in which it operates. It flourishes when it combines resources from many sources, making previously non-economic networks that are embedded in the social fabric visible as a ‘tool for mutual aid, community building, sharing and reciprocity’ (North, 2005). Indeed the social normative value associated with alternative local currencies is that they can help place users of the currency into firmer local relations.
of exchange and store of value, allows users of the currency to reassert money as Simmel envisaged it in 1907 - ‘a mere transition, a link in a series that leads to a definitive purpose’.
Conclusion The beauty of a locally managed complementary currency is that it takes back this authority over the legitimization of money and returns it to the communities that first ceded it. A complementary currency is simultaneously an economic, social and political reassertion of the power and capabilities of the subjects of the state. At a time when money’s value is increasingly uncertain, its social construction is no longer hidden; its ‘naturalness’ can no longer be taken for granted, and the ‘potential for a radical reconstruction becomes greater’ (Dominguez 1998). Alternative currencies are thus a manifestation of dissatisfaction with the conventional financial system. It
is a powerful tool of local trade that can be used both by those who are discontent with the ideological basis of today’s system of commerce and those who seek an alternative for economic reasons alone; it’s a step towards reclaiming the power of community that the process of globalization has hitherto eroded.
More on Alternative Currencies: ∑ See www.brixtonpound.org to learn more about the Brixton Pound. ∑ The Time Banks system, which is based on the principle that balancing the absence of liquidity in economies is a surplus of time. The system thus allows people swap time for time, bypassing the very medium of exchange so crucial in mainstream trade. (Scott Cato, 2004). See www.timebanks.co.uk for further details on how Time Banks operates. ∑ See Schraven (2001) for fuller analysis on the many forms of alternative currencies.
clare References Douthwaite, R (2006) ‘The Ecology of Money’ available online http://www.feasta.org/documents/ moneyecology/contents.htm. North, P (2005) ‘Scaling alternative economic practices? Some lessons from alternative currencies’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Vol. 30 (2), pp221–233. Schraven, J (2001) ‘The economics of alternative currencies: a theoretical perspective’ (unpublished) pp. 1-55. Scott Cato, M (2004) Argentina in the Red: What can the UK’s regional economies learn from the Argentinian Banking Crisis? International Journal of Community Currency Research. Vol. 10 pp. 43-45.
Artwork by Elli Graham
A Work in Progress By Jin Li, Lim
Opposite Page: Artwork by Sasha Salmon
once in a while i think to ask you, all the questions i really shouldn’t – but if i did (and you never know) i wonder what you’d answer. what’s the distance between affection and desire, and where is the line that makes us friends? is it the inch and a half from lip to cheek, or the shoe-length between our feet? but would that explain the odd sensation that comes when you walk away? the subtle sting of aching resentment at this bond that keeps us apart. what about those moments when you pull on my wrist to lead me in some (right) direction? am i wrong to let your touch lead my mind to imagine my hands in the small of your back? do you think that it means something more, when i gaze instead of glancing? i can’t help it; the life in your eyes, is not something i can release. and when we talk, do you ever realise that i always pause when you speak? just so i can listen to you a little more; and in the silence, hope you notice. perhaps if you did, and if you do, you’d tell me what it all means. and (just) maybe i’ll find the heart to tell you that i seem to have lost it (to you)
a Ansari Artwork by Da niella Lock
I have spent my life in mortal dread of full stops. Before a sentence ends, there is always an underlying sense of things just about to happen; a promise of possibilities threatened only by an innocuous-looking punctuation mark. The full stop. Pointed. Dramatic. Final. Practical. Prosaic. Pounding gavel of 22 certainty. Coming down with dismissive judgement on whims, and wayward tendencies to wander down paths with too many adjectives. There is no room for doubt, no vacillation. Hither Thither Now Then. I think I am afraid of judgement; of taking the definitive step that will set my course and force my eyes to look straight ahead. Oh, I know what they will see. An inevitable, infinitesimal speck that could hardly be significant in the grand scheme of things. There it will stand, squinting but never winking, a cold realisation that dreamy detours cannot last. No. If I could choose, I would take a hyphen – any number of them, strung
together. What a happy alternative to doom and expressionless finality – a little pebble in a river of words – a little before, a little after. A continuous link between bird-bird-bird-sky. A quirk, to be picked up and placed as one pleases, when reinventing the world so that it is more like it should be. Never mind about judgement. On weekdays I feel like I can just keep-goingkeep-hurtling-don’t-catch-my-breathdon’t-look-behind. On weekends, I feel like walking backwards into the future, taking the time to touch-taste-feel the textures along the way. Running my hand along the withered bark, counting each groove of the grey stone building. Where necessary repeating important things for rhythm, emphasis and meaning. Comecome, yes-yes, miss you much-much. Most of all, finding out where to place a useful interjection – no, Sir, I don’t think this is me. Therefore, in a destiny punctuated by hyphens, there would be no wrong turns. Only more. More planning, more building, and more writing, because no story ends with –
By Sandra Smiley other’s bildungsroman based upon our reading material. And we can proceed, guiltless of judging a ‘book by its cover’, 23 because there is so much to be gleaned about a person from what they’re paging through. Don’t confuse this with the unmetered praise of the printed word so frequently put forth. Dubious reports are quick to link reading with all aspects of moral uprightness, from exercising and excelling at work to church-going and giving blood, meanwhile pathologizing a cohort of twitterers and texters as impassive dunces with ADHD. I don’t suggest that reading for disinterested pleasure puts us more in touch with our Stakhanovite selves. I do believe, however, that our choice of belles lettres betrays our absorptions, moods, and biases. I took the Tube to the terra incognita of zone eight to read the literary tea leaves of my fellow travellers. At the peril of breaching the etiquette of public
In the byzantine weave beneath London’s boroughs, trajectories stretch on for hours; we commuters are captive, with nary a bar on our mobiles or communicative blip on our laptops. What do we do to while away the time, to stave off boredom and to elude the inelegance of eye contact? As rite and ritual, I read. And I am one with my bookish brethren, who similarly eschew iPods and Sudoku puzzles for decidedly more belletristic pursuits – from the newly minted immigrant anatomizing the day’s issue of Metro to the cubicle jockeys seeking enlightenment in the wisdom of Bridget Jones. Some allow the day’s labours to encroach on commute time – you’ll see the odd straphanger leafing through uninspired PowerPoint slides or drafts in the calligraphy of rests, quarters and wholes. For many of we factotum, though, this is a rare interlude in our inveterate workaholic lives – we read, of all things, for pleasure. And we read each other, mentally scribing each
transport, I asked people what they were reading and why. On my commutecum-book club I met Elke, whose waifish, pale mien and salmagundi drape had something of the elfin in it. In flawless English with a Teutonic lilt, she introduced her tome as Eucalyptus by Murray Bail. A creaky melodrama cloaked in the Arcadian charm of the Welsh countryside, it sounded to me like another wilted postmodern lyric with its anthropoid head up its own Woollybutt. Elke swore on it, though, a self-professed fantasy freak. Despite having been in England for years, she told me, she knows little of the Kingdom’s rich history and lore. With Bail’s phantasmagoria, she was hoping to fill in a few of those blanks. Also an émigré, my efforts at becoming acquainted with British culture have consisted solely of sampling different draughts. I couldn’t help but wonder, then, what so compelled Elke to learn about our adoptive country. Was it an imperative to assimilate in an ostensibly ‘multicultural’ society? Or maybe just a taste for the mysticism of which Anglo24 Saxon history has no shortage? As being
nose-to-armpit in a cramped tube car isn’t apt for asking the existential, I let Elke disembark with the answers. I next approached Peter, who was wrapped around a standing pole despite no scarcity of seats. Turns out he wasn’t going far: a colt City lawyer, his orbit extends as far west as Kensington to Canary Wharf in the east (to Brick Lane, occasionally, but just to be ironic). An obvious master of time management, Peter is reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success piecemeal, punctuating the busy work week with a bit of pop cognition. Gladwell puts forth a formula for fortune in Outliers, noting that certain successful people share some seemingly inconsequential traits. Peter picked it up wondering if he is destined for greatness by Gladwell’s analysis. Apparently, he’s not – he is not Jewish, nor Bronxite, nor seventy-odd years old. When I asked him if he was disappointed, he gave me the kind of wry, self-satisfied smile befitting the much-aspersed City typique. ‘I’m a miserable failure’, he said glibly, ‘I’m not learning anything new.’ I naturally became self-reflective
Certeau’s, we loot the literary preserve, making off with what is meaningful in our daily lives. ‘Readers are travellers,’ says de Certeau, ‘They move across lands belonging to someone else, like nomads poaching their way across fields they did not write, despoiling the wealth… to enjoy it themselves’. Implicit in such a socialist interpretive system are the multiple, if not infinite, meanings of a text: there are at least as many readings as there are readers. On the surface, then, it would appear that reading is an intensely personal experience. And it is, I don’t deny that. But it also gives us a sense of participation in some larger whole; the feeling, even if chimerical, of some common human experience. The more ambitious among us actively assemble said whole in the form of fan communities, where the creation of offshoot fiction and art engage other adepts. By relating and responding to what we read, we get the idea of ourselves in something else as we move abidingly among strangers – as day by day, we lower our eyes, bow our 25 heads and self-actualise.
Artwork by Ann Marie Eu
on my people-reading tour. What could readers interpret of yours truly, peering at them over the pages of a Penguin Classic? I’m hardly much of a mystery: bookbagged, bespectacled and americanoed, I might well have been Christian Lander’s muse for ‘Stuff White People Like’. My unremarkableness could have been the source of some insecurity had it not been for the signal fact that nobody was looking. In a tube car packed with busy schedules, big problems, and diverse pursuits, I was really just part of the pastiche. During its three-hour morning peak, Waterloo station pumps 51,000 bodies into the Underground’s stony arteries. Those bodies go to great pains, it would seem, to avoid acknowledging one another. Reading is one such riffraffdeterrent – save for when I’m your seat-mate. Funny, as reading very much engages the social self. Though many of us do so to learn something new, we also read for self-assertion. We look for the familiar and the relevant – as Peter elicited, what we already know. As per ‘textual poaching’ theories like Michel de
By Steve Bagley Many of us can probably put our lives, the essentials, in the back of a car and disappear to somewhere else without a problem. We’re students, transients, jobseekers. We’ve all moved more times than we’d care to remember. Arguably, those of us in our mid-20s and early 30s move more often than we’d care to admit. We’re nomads; we go where the jobs are, where our boyfriends or girlfriends or fiancées are going. We don’t stay in one place for long. Strip all that away, all that stuff in boxes in your car, or truck, or the backpack you carry. You’ve got two things. You’ve got you, and you’ve got language. I just moved back to a city I haven’t lived in for almost 20 years. I was ready
for this; I moved all over the country when I was a child. My dad packed my mom and brothers and me - and our lives - into a truck, as the Navy shunted him from California to South Carolina (and back again), and then to Baltimore and down to DC until we finally settled in Boston. I’m done with New England now and am back where I remember the best parts of my youth: Washington, DC. Say the name and try not to feel a little something. I used to think I would have no home other than Boston. The way the city fell together, patchworked over centuries. The way it smelled, part ocean, part sweat, part street food, part grime. The way people spoke. More than anything, the sound of
to be someone I wasn’t, not really. Frequently my sources would ask me where I was from, and I had to mutter something, amounting to ‘somewhere else’, pronouncing, of course, the ‘R’. I packed up and moved to DC a couple of months after I got laid off. Going south. I had no idea what I was getting into at an internship at a news Website covering the Justice Department and House and Senate Judiciary Committees. I thought it might lead me somewhere. Before I left, while unemployed, Lindsay Garces and I would get drunk and watch The West Wing in my Boston apartment, filling our heads with boozy plans and milky-eyed aspirations. DC. My old home had become a place of mythic popculture relevance, where my television friends would save the television world every week. It was also a gauzy place boiled down to four distinct aspects: a Smithsonian dinosaur (deceased), my granddad (deceased), Neil Armstrong (deceased) and the carousel on the national mall (still there). I moved with the bare minimum and 29 knew nobody in the city. It was nostalgia, in part, that pulled me back. Moving to DC, a city without its own accent, I picked up on something more elemental: not sound, but scent, the breath of the clay the city is built on.
Boston can’t be duplicated anywhere. Thinking about it now as I write, I wish there were a way to transcribe the fullmouthed, round vowels, big, even when spoken at the typically overrapid clip. The sound of my part of Boston was full of this patois. I covered politics for a local paper, and city officials presiding over my beat dropped their ‘R’s and extended their vowels, growling full-throatedly in what the uninitiated might only associate with the Kennedy clan. I remember Tom Taylor, six-feet-tall if an inch, hunched over with shocks of leonine hair, legislating bombastic. Doesn’t even matter what he was saying, at least not anymore. Point is, Taylor and the mayor, Joe Curtatone, had the most perfect Boston accents. When I think of Boston, I think of those two and how their cadences filled the mouths of cotton candy-haired old grandmothers and big-assed housewives with limp blond hair and downturned eyelids, lips pursed like all they wanted was a cigarette and what they got was children. But you’ll never find a dropped ‘R’ in DC, never hear the strange, swelling vowels. I never had a Boston accent and people knew I wasn’t from there. It made it hard for me, as a journalist trying to cover the city, to blend in. I was trying
I felt at home as soon as I smelled the dust on the national mall and the humidity in the air. I was home, but almost everyone else in the city isn’t. Stop someone on the street, and they’ve got a southern twang, a southern California likeyaknowwhatever, or they speak French, or they’re from England. They’re in town on business; they’re on an internship; they just got back from New York; they’ve got to get on a train. People in DC are here with a purpose but are always remembering someone back home. One foggy September day, when I was still getting used to tucking my shirt in to go to work, I was on assignment on Capitol Hill to cover a committee meeting, or something. Someone working in the press gallery recognized my last name and asked if Elizabeth Bagley was a relative of mine. She was the Ambassador to Portugal under Bill Clinton. She’s one of mine, I told her, and my grandfather used to be Chief of Naval Operations in Europe; and the woman who asked me 30 if I knew Bagley stopped and nodded, and I had to too, even though I hadn’t seen her since my granddad died. It was something. Deep down, at that second, I thought if I were going to have a future anywhere, it was here. Everything I remember about my childhood, the happy parts, I remember in DC. I was never a lifer in Boston, like Taylor and Curtatone, never had the accent, never fit in. But here in DC, nobody has the same accent, but everyone’s here for a reason. Me – I was just here for the city.
Artwork by Alice Fyfe
Losing iT MEMORIES OF YOUR FIRST TIME By Bethan Mai Haycock
My first time, like the memories of many, is still vivid and vibrant. I was 17 years old and was in the blush of first love; our first kiss was a perfect moment down by the river in the quaint little town in windy Wales where I grew up (I know, it reads like a bad Welsh teen series). My 6ft, dark haired, browned eyed, beautiful boyfriend wrapped his coat around me and kissed me softly, sending tingles down my spine and waking butterflies in my tummy. The first time I said I love you, looking back though silly and cringe worthy, was just as sweet (or maybe just cringe worthy?!).
We’d been going out for about three months, and even though we hadn’t had sex, we had explored each others’ bodies. We would go back to his and lie in bed naked in the afternoon sun watching children’s after school programmes. I remember a ‘thrilling’ instalment of the S Club 7 series on CBBC – the episode where Hannah tells Paul she loves him. Tentatively talking to my boyfriend about the moment she says I love you on the TV series, I blurted out afterwards that I felt that way about him then quickly hid my head in the pillow in embarrassment (is this commercialisation of love affecting adolescence perception?). He took my head in his hands, looked directly into my eyes and told me he loved me. As he stared deeply into my eyes, I felt like he could see my soul, and I his. I knew at that moment I wanted everything with him (this is nauseating I know but believe me there is a point!). Thus, the next step was inevitable though it seemed to take him an age to make a move. Eventually I broached the subject asking why he hadn’t attempted it; he said he didn’t want to
I have recently been faced with this concept of virginity through conversations and watching American Teen Series for sheer escapism, and then while surfing the web stumbling across a blog called The Virginity Project. The blog is a collection of romanticised musings recalling people’s first experiences of sex to be compiled in a book exploring sexuality. I thought I’d add to the discussion and expose the memory of my first sexual experience:
pressure me. I told him that I was more than ready and that if he didn’t make a move soon I’d jump him! My actual first time was awkward and terrifying. There was nervousness and tension in my body but eventually the adrenaline and excitement took over. The touch of his warm body on mine… the safety I felt while he was holding me in his arms – these are the feelings I’ll never forget. We were on an adventure, a discovery into the unknown together. The moment youth is left behind, innocence is lost forever, and you are on the verge of adulthood. The sheer beauty in the loss of virginity is the fearlessness of it all. Fear is a learned experience; you can never take back what you already know. The boy I first truly loved and gave my virginity to will always carry a piece of my heart with him.
This sickening, self-indulgent collection of false memories constitutes my own experience of losing my virginity. It was probably a rather frightening ordeal, but tricks of memory along with society’s obsession with the virginal have led to the above splurge of teenage idealism. Society places the loss of virginity on a voyeuristic pedestal, allowing the myth to exist that this particular memory should be a perfect moment in time; portraying virginity as being a sacred and pure attribute of an innocence vessel, which was a popular way of thinking in Victorian times. The traditional puritanical view that the woman is ruined and made impure still prevails in a society whose expectations distort our view of virginity and memory. You might think this is a bit melodramatic, but there are emotional
and psychological consequences to society’s manufacturing of virginity. In sex education, we are always being taught the physical consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. According to a survey in the The Observer, Britain has the world’s highest number of unmarried teenage pregnancies even though the average age a woman loses her virginity is 17/18. This is higher than one would assume for such a high teenage pregnancy rate. Average British life includes sex 2,580 times with five partners. British men have more stamina than most countries lasting 21 minutes, and more women under 20 who have extra marital sex than the rest of Europe. Americans are the most into cyber sex in the West, and the biggest users of online pornography. Americans ask for dates via email as much as face to face and are the only people among whom the average age for virginity is rising (due to the increase in sex education in schools). These ageing virgins have the longest and most frequent sex sessions in the developed world – each session averaging 28 minutes and occurring 130 times a year. Ireland has one of the lowest average ages for losing virginity (aged 16), despite being so deeply embedded in tradition. Popular framing of losing one’s virginity as a sacred rite of passage is contributing to the increasing dilemmas of teenage sexuality, perpetuating the distortion of the memory of virginity. I agree that this moment in our lives defines us and relationships to come. It defines the way we see and respect ourselves and our relationship 33 with sex. Good or bad, all of our experiences have their part to play. This is not to say that we can’t have a bit of sexual romance and mystery in our films and TV shows. There just needs to be more open and honest discussions not only about the physical consequences of sex but also the emotional ones. Biologically, sex is the most natural act on Earth; ostensibly, we, as human beings are here to procreate. Why can’t we just face the reality of it all? The memory of losing one’s virginity is or should be a bittersweet combination of comedy and drama, as it is the willingness to throw oneself entirely and fearlessly into the unfamiliar. This moment is the loss of innocence, the reality of adulthood and the responsibility of decision. It is one of the single most important memories of your life maybe not for the reasons perpetuated in society but for reasons that are personal to the individual.
Photography by Kate Busby
ON TH E COV ER Amelia Johnst one
Born in Derbyshire, England on May 7th 1977 at 12 oâ€™clock, Amelia Johnstone has forever embraced illustration and imagination. In 2004, she co-created Le Gun magazine. She has exhibited in London and around the world in both solo and group exhibitions. Amelia is currently a Lecturer in BA (Hons) Illustration at Cardiff University.
When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist?
I believe I always was, but now and even then I was an illustrator really, that is my discipline. One of the earliest memories I have is about a day when I was sent home from school because I was ill. No one knew what was the matter, I was just not myself. When I got home I made a picture, it was a sort of decoupage 3D picture drawn in purple felt tip of a girl standing in a garden surrounded by butterflies. When I had made the picture I felt better. This feeling remains; sadly the picture doesnâ€™t... What happens even now is I feel strange - like my mind is fit to burst - until the picture finally emerges.
Part of your work includes illustrating childrenâ€™s books. When considering your audience, do you ever think about what you would have wanted to see as a child?
...What I am interested in is the retrospective child, that which is each of us, remembering and feeling and hoping and wishing, and my work hopes to evoke that redolence which is concerned with memory and imagination of sensation and feeling.
How much is your work inspired by memories?
I have a very rich dreaming language where I revisit places many times, which can inspire work and can be considered memory. I sometimes work with the memory of feelings and sometimes with the memory of actual events. [...] I think these formative early years of trying to understand and growing are incredibly important to me.
I hope to inspire, delight, horrify and make better a little bit. I canâ€™t cure with illustration, but hopefully I can charm and suspend belief and wonder. Hopefully I can enchant.
Artwork by Nick Cocozza
H I S T O R Y
M E M O R I E S
By Andrew Watling Why should memory be important to history? Surely historians ought to have no need for what a person remembers in the present, preferring to use the more accurate method of analysing documents written in the past. In fact, since the 1960s, there has been a growing tendency to see memories themselves as an important part of history. As suggested above, historyâ€™s relationship with memory manifests itself in diverse ways. The richness and variety that the field of memory brings to history is due, in part, to the desire in the present to gain different perspectives on the past through the eyes of those who experienced it. Establishing the course of events in history was once a challenge - one that was seen by some to have been overcome in the 20th century. Modern (or perhaps more accurately, postmodern) history was challenged less with establishing the mere order of events, but rather was faced with how these events should be represented and contextualised. In light of this, it would have been impossible to leave the realm of memory unexplored, and to deny participants, however partisan, a say in the writing of their own lives.
â€˜Used with various degrees of sophistication, the notion of memory, more practised than theorized, has been used to denote very different things, which nonetheless share a topical common denominator: the 1 ways in which people construct a sense of the pastâ€™.
Crucial to this engagement with memory was the idea that what an interviewee might tell you, true or untrue, biased or unbiased, was important in its own right. Oral histories of first-hand experience provided the historian with an entirely new type of source, one that told not of a banal sequence of events, viewed sterilely from above through the lens of the historian’s eye, but of real, involved experiences. Of course, this novel form of history was not without its problems. Perhaps the most obvious limitation to this kind of oral history is the simple fact that, by its very nature, it cannot usually investigate history more than a century into the past – it is living memory. Many also question the validity of oral testimonies as historical truth. This is perhaps missing the point. What is important to many oral historians is not what is true, but what a persons thinks, or wants us to believe is true. Indeed, for many oral historians the search for real historical truth is a job for someone else. The oral historian Ronald Fraser tells us of his experience in gathering oral history 38 on the Spanish Civil War: “it is not always possible to check each assertion, every experience, unless documentary evidence existed… Sometimes, however, an assertion of fact that is demonstrably untrue constitutes part of the atmosphere… The aim of the book, as I have said, was not to write another history of the civil war but a book about how people lived that war. It was their truth I wished to record. And what people thought – or what they thought they thought – also constitutes an historical fact”2 So, rather than denying the link between memory and subjectivity, Fraser has embraced it. There are innumerable reasons for lying in an oral history interview, all of which must be accepted as a natural inevitability. Nostalgia can play a large part in reflective remembering. An individual pining for a
lost time or place is an entirely natural phenomenon in recounting memory; a mere human impulse. Political sympathies may often play a part too. The desire to tell one’s own side of the story, to redress the balance so to speak, is too great a temptation for some. Despite its claims to having offered new and exciting perspectives on established history, has oral history really been taken seriously? The answer is largely yes. In some areas, oral history has actually catered to the things left out of traditional narratives. Not only has it concentrated on groups more neglected and understudied by established history, it has also probed their private memories and attended to the more domestic details of daily life, often shunning the opportunity to concentrate on ‘great events’3. Oral history challenged the grandiosity and sterility of traditional grand narratives and established a counter-balance to the “patronising assumptions of the traditional makers of history”4. Moving away even more from the traditional ways of conducting historical study, oral history has moved into the realm of trauma. The term ‘trauma’, originally borrowed from medical
may understand superficially that the Third Reich instituted a policy of mass slaughter based on race prejudice, but such an event is surely mind-boggling on an experiential level. Both oral history and trauma studies show us how the relationship between history and memory has been opened up. But for all of the progress between the two fields, history has been largely unwilling to engage with memory to any great extent. Some propose the perceived gulf between them as subjects as well as the general conservatism of history as a discipline as the major reasons for this 39 aversion.6 However, they also forward the suggestion that perhaps this gulf has been maintained for good reason: “The difference between them as modes of engaging with the past seems in certain respects an important one to maintain…there are questions to be asked about what happens when discourses of memory so to speak infiltrate the ‘historical’, which do not always suggest memory’s impact will be beneficial….To appeal to memory over history can imply the displacing of analysis by empathy, of politics by sentiment…memory, because of its powerful pull towards to present, and because of its affective instruments, allows more readily for a certain evasion of critical distance.”7 Unlike history, memory implies a continuity not associated so much with the past, but with the resonance of
science and applied as an individual psychological term, has in the last few decades become used in a more collective sense. The idea of collective trauma fits in well with the study of history and memory. It can tell us about the collective memory of a past event in the present. It also helps us to understand fundamental questions of memory – how do we remember? How important is the influence of subjectivity in remembering? How much is the history of a terrible event distorted by the participants own perceptions of it? Here, the limits of the historian become apparent. Realistically, an understanding of psychology, cultural studies and sociology is more or less essential in order to gain an investigative insight into these kinds of questions. This is partly because the experience of traumatic memory lies outside the realms of normal memory. The modes of remembrance associated with trauma are strikingly different to those of non-traumatic memorialisation. More precisely, “while the images of traumatic re-enactment remain absolutely accurate and precise, they are largely inaccessible to conscious recall and control”.5 The 20th century had no shortage of traumatic historical events, and so the fact that history and the study of traumatic experience have combined should be no surprise. How, for example, does one go about investigating rationally an event that defies all rational historical investigation such as the Holocaust? We
the past in the present. While history is something left behind and analysed only with subsequence, memory lives on in the minds of individuals, groups and society as a whole. Still a relatively new area of study, history and memory has a long way to go in the pursuit of shared objectives. Until the aims and validity of both separate notions can be brought together, surely the relationship between history and memory will continue to be detrimentally one-sided. That, of course, is assuming that it is possible to reconcile the two in the first place. But In terms of gaining a true depth of understanding about the past, memory studies and oral history represent major milestones in the study of history. Where we were once often presented with a drab, lifeless, cut and dried portrait of the recent past, we now frequently find it enlivened by the personal memories of participants. They might serve to distort the past, but this distortion itself can often help us to understand an event or period in greater detail. There is a timely realisation that 40 straightforward history can only take our understanding so far.
Artwork by Elli Graham
Footnotes 1. Confino, Alon. ‘Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method’. American Historical Review. (December 1997): 1386-1403, p.1386 2. Fraser, R. (1979), Blood of Spain, London: Penguin, pp.31-322 3. Hodgkin, K and S. Radstone, eds. (2003), Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory, London: Routledge, p.4 4. Ibid. 5. Caruth, C (1995) (ed.), Trauma: Explorations in Memory, John Hopkins University Press 6. Hodgkin, K and S. Radstone, eds. (2003), Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory, London: Routledge, p. 7 7. Ibid., pp. 7-8 References Bal, M., J Crewe and L. Spitzer (eds., 1999), Acts of Memory, Cultural Recall in the Present, Hanover, NH and London: University Press of New England Boym, S (2002), The Future of Nostalgia, New York: Basic Books Caruth, C (1995) (ed.), Trauma: Explorations in Memory, John Hopkins University Press Confino, Alon. ‘Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method’. American Historical Review. (December 1997): 1386-1403 Fraser, R. (1979), Blood of Spain, London: Penguin Hodgkin, K and S. Radstone, eds. (2003), Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory, London: Routledge Samuel, Raphael (1998), Theatres of Memory, vols. 1 and 2, London: Routledge Wertsch, J (2002), Voices of Collective Remembering, Cambridge: CUP
HISTORIC German Media Coverage of MEMORY: Kosovo
By Margit Viola Wunsch
‘Everybody knows our historical burden, the never ending shame, not a day on which the shame is not presented to us’.1 using Third Reich and Holocaust terminology – omnipresent in media and political rhetoric. The message was unmistakable: the Holocaust created a moral compulsion to launch a war in Kosovo on behalf of international human rights. Henceforth the paradigm shifted from ‘never again war’ to ‘never again genocide’. The German print media during the 1998 to1999 Kosovo Conflict became the primary outlet to promote this message – reflecting a shift in the historic memory of the Holocaust. The German media focused on the fundamental assumption that Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević was the sole aggressor and often likened him to Hitler. The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, perpetuated this perception, stating ‘Milošević is a throwback to the Europe of the 1930s. His Europe is not ours.’2 By comparing Milošević to Hitler, Fischer underlined
The paradigm ‘never again’ has shaped German politics, mentality and search for identity since the Second World War. However, this maxim which initially epitomised pacifism and nonintervention eventually transformed into a moral obligation to intervene and prevent genocidal crimes, even if this entailed a military intervention. After a long and bloody decade of ethnic wars in the Balkans, German soldiers participated in their first military deployment without a UN mandate in the 1999 Kosovo War. With images of Serbian war crimes – including massacres and mass graves – flooding the German media, the negative repercussions of Europe’s 1938 appeasement policies towards Hitler resurfaced. Consequently Germany – along with other NATO-partners – felt a sense of moral entitlement to intervene. This moral authority was communicated to the German public
that appeasing Milošević would allow history to repeat itself. The Kosovo-Albanians on the other hand were portrayed in the German media as the innocent victims of Serbian aggression. The atrocities perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were thus barely reported. Inevitably, anti-Serbian biases infiltrated the coverage and manipulated the German understanding of the conflict. The German media’s perception of the conflict was restricted by the habitual moulding of the Kosovo Conflict to the structures of the Nazi crimes. In the latter there was indeed one group of aggressors perpetrating crimes against humanity against another entity, identified as the enemy. However, the Kosovo Conflict was a civil war between the KLA and the Serbian army (JNA), commanding combat and civilian fatalities on both sides. The 42 KLA – representing and defending the Kosovo-Albanian population – had been supplied with weapons by Albania and even Germany.3 The well-equipped military organization boasted an increasingly well-structured formation which cost numerous Serbian lives,4 making the comparison between the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the KLA is fundamentally insolent. In this context it is particularly interesting to examine the German print media’s coverage of a specific incident, the Račak massacre (January 1999). This massacre caused a significant media spectacle and directly led to the NATO military intervention of March to June 1999.5 The militaristic reaction triggered by the Račak massacre exemplifies the shift in the historic memory of the Holocaust, which was reflected by the media coverage. The violence in Kosovo had been
increasing steadily since 1998, with Serbian forces dominating most of the territory. In spite of the negotiated cease-fire, from October 1998, both sides continued their military endeavours on a small yet persistent scale; using the cease-fire to consolidate their strength.6 This eventually led to conflict escalations ‘around the country, with Račak being one of the ‘hot spots’.7 One week before the Račak massacre two Serbian
The German media’s perception of the conflict was restricted by the habitual moulding of the Kosovo Conflict to the structures of the Nazi crimes’.
soldiers had been ambushed and killed by KLA-fighters who could be traced back to Račak, a KLA stronghold.8 Fighting broke out that morning during which Serbian forces pushed back the KLA. ‘Twenty-three men were [...] taken away. Shooting was heard at 3:00 p.m. [...] The villagers thought that the 23 had been taken to Štimlje police station, but [...] at 4:00 a.m., according to the testimonies given to Human Rights Watch, the villagers discovered the bodies.’9 When the Račak massacre was discovered on 16 January 1999, the incident, which had cost 45 lives, was immediately labelled a grave crime against humanity by William Walker, head of the OSCE-mission in Kosovo. He blamed the Serbian forces for the atrocities based on personal, on-site evaluations and lacked concrete proof such as forensic reports. Nonetheless the German media readily published these speculative claims without verifying them. This deliberate
sheepish followers who looked away or were even perpetrators themselves. Listing a number of concentration camps, the article proceeded to question whether Germany could justify looking away again as tragedies such as the Račak massacre unfolded.13 This juxtaposition of German concentration camps in which millions of people were systematically murdered with the Račak massacre was an extreme exaggeration of Serbian atrocities. However, such media manipulation effectively urged Germans to act upon historic national guilt to stop further massacres. Considering this outcome, taz’s coverage exemplifies the media’s application of the Holocaust to legitimise military action. Germany’s most widely-read tabloid, Bild, used comparable populist rhetoric to appeal explicitly to Germany’s historic responsibility deriving from the Holocaust. Interestingly, while these allusions were not directly juxtaposed with the massacre, the incident fuelled the public reemergence of Holocaust memory. On 25 March, Udo Röbel 43 published an editorial, entitled ‘The burden of history’, in which he opened with the fact that the leading German politicians Fischer, Schröder and Scharping all belonged to the ‘never again’ generation, simply because they were approximately 50 years old.14 Having established that these politicians would never voluntarily promote war, Röbel continued, ‘Tragic? Crazy? Ludicrous? History doesn’t care,’ reiterating Germany’s responsibility to
oversight can be explained by the media’s reflection of the politicians’ stances to the conflict. While German politicians initially preferred unbinding political discussions and negotiations, by early 1999 their rhetoric emphasised the humanitarian necessity of an intervention to end Milošević’s genocidal rampages. Consequently the German media used every incident to support the demands for intervention which had been voiced by politicians and policy makers. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the German media failed to cover a forensic report, later published by the EU Forensic Team, which distinctly refuted some of Walker’s initial claims.10 The massacre of helpless civilians allowed headlines and articles to ensue that echoed the Holocaust. In particular the left-wing die tageszeitung (taz)11 grappled with the heavy weight of Germany’s historic responsibility, citing the most references to the Holocaust while reporting on Račak. This overproportionate emphasis on collective historic responsibility stemmed from its uniquely difficult situation of having to reconcile its traditional left wing, pacifist, ideals, while also maintaining its habitual position of ‘never again’. taz reconciled this dichotomy by explaining the extraordinary circumstances that occurred due to Milošević’s regime. ‘Never again war – never again Auschwitz. Both maxims become a contradiction for Europe with a genocidal Milošević. Our generation cannot avoid this contradiction.’12 By appealing to the readers’ moral conscience, taz justified the abandonment of its initial pacifist ideals in the face of this re-emerging genocidal conflict. Moreover, taz reminded its readers that previous generations were often
The massacre of helpless civilians allowed headlines and articles to ensue that echoed the Holocaust’.
intervene, even if the country’s innate attitude would be to shy away from war.15 Bild explored this more explicitly on 1 April, when it published a large picture that took up most of the page showing refugee treks in Kosovo with the headline, ‘They are herding them into concentration camps.’16 With this emotive caption the readers inevitably sensed historic responsibility stemming from the Holocaust. The weekly news magazine Der Spiegel followed a similar line of argumentation, though with less populist mechanisms and more thoughtful analyses. On 25 January an article deliberated the pros and cons of a Berlin-based genocide memorial, intended to be supplemented by
a ‘Genocide-Watch-Institute’. The author questioned the purpose of this institute considering that the German government had failed to prohibit Ra_ ak. The article proceeded to question rather ironically whether ‘the West’ would have intervened more effectively if the Genocide-Watch-Institute had formally defined Račak as genocide.17 This interesting debate initiated by Spiegel offered more depth than the daily newspapers. Firstly it compared the inactivity of the OSCE with the previous inertia during the Holocaust and the Bosnian War. Furthermore, Spiegel invited its readers to question why these atrocities continue to happen and how Germany, for example, could help alter the course of such events.
clare Endnotes 1. The prominent German author, Martin Walser, October 1998. 2. Reiner Grundmann, et al, p. 313. 3. Michel Collon, p. 38. 4. Tim Judah, pp. 120-137. 5. J. Raino et al, pp. 171-185. 6. Mark A Wolfgram, p. 156. 7. Chris Bird, p. 159. 9. Tim Judah, p. 193. 10. J Raino, “Independent forensic autopsies” and Anonymous, “Report of the EU Forensic Expert Team on the Račak Incident”, 17 March 1999, Online Source: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/kosovo/Kosovo-Massacres2.htm. 11. The newspaper title discards upper case letters to distinguish itself from the ‘main-stream’ press. 12. Beck, “Suche nach Alternativen”, taz, 12.04.1999, p.22. 13. Ibid.14 Udo Röbel, “Die Last der Geschichte”, Bild, 25.03.1999, p.2. 15. Ibid. 16. “Sie treiben sie ins KZ”, Bild, 01.04.1999, p.1. 17. Henryk Broder, “Endsieg des Absurden”, Spiegel, 25.01.1999, p.188.
Considering the portrayal of the Račak massacre in selected German media, the weight of historic memory and the shame of the Holocaust proves to be omnipresent in the German conscience and political decisionmaking process. While it is impossible to gage to what extent the media perpetuated a shift in historic memory, there is significant evidence that the media played a considerable role in reflecting this shift; which in turn influenced the public opinion of its readership. The Račak massacre is a key example that illuminates the limited coverage of German print media, and how its accentuation of Germany’s past influenced the German public perception of the present.
The publications failed to cover professional reports and concrete evidence that may have shed light on intricate events. Instead the German media utilized historic links to the Holocaust to portray Germany as a country that overcame genocide, making it a force for good; a normative power that has the historic knowhow and responsibility to transfer and even impose its own norms and insights on lesser nations. This progression of Germany’s self-perception allowed the country to expand its formative paradigm ‘never again’ to ‘never again genocide’, legitimizing military interventions as long as a humanitarian dimension could be detected.
References Anonymous, “Report of the EU Forensic Expert Team on the Racak Incident”, 17 March 1999, Online Source: www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/kosovo/Kosovo-Massacres2.htm. Bild, selected articles between 17.07.1998-01.04.1999. Bird, Chris. “Kosovo slides back into war”, The Guardian, 17.01.2001, Online Source: http://www.guardian. co.uk/world/2001/jan/17/warcrimes.balkans. Collon, Michel. Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo: NATO’s prototype for the next wars of globalization (New York: Unwritten History, Inc., 2007). die tageszeitung, selected articles between 20.07.1998-28.07 1999. Der Spiegel, selected articles between 10.08.1998-10.01.2000 Grundmann, Reiner, Dennis Smith and Sue Wright. “National Elites and Transnational Discourses in the Balkan War: A Comparison between the French, German and British Establishment Press”, European Journal of Communication. Vol. 15, No. 3, (2000), pp. 299-320. Judah, Tim. Kosovo: War and Revenge (New Haven: Yale Nota Bene, 2002). Raino, J. et al. “Independent forensic autopsies in an armed conflict: investigation of the victims from Racak, Kosovo”, Forensic Science International, Vol. 116, No.3, (2001) pp. 171-185. Wolfgram, Mark A. “Democracy and Propaganda: NATO’s War in Kosovo”, European Journal of Communication, Vol. 23, No.2, (2008), pp. 153-171.
SePia By Nadia Jalil
Yesterday I drowned myself in sepia Wallowed in the gazes of wistful young ladies with hourglass figures and men with pomade in their hair.
So this is time a vessel from which blood spills, one body to another, sifted by memories. Today I forced myself to come up for air.
Oppposite page: Angel by Alice Fyfe, painting (acrylic on canvas)
l a i r o em By David Randall
The cold grows deeper. Fine flakes of snow whip up and swirl around as I patiently 48 wait in line. The wind tumbles through the night, never sticking to one direction long, as if confused by the remnants of brick and steel that border the streets on either side of me. Occasionally it holds long enough for the snow to find a gap in the defences of my hooded cloak, so I pull my sodden rag of a scarf further over my face, trying to fend off the cold sting of the flakes. The line moves up slowly and I watch the last of the day traders packing up their wares in the marketplace. A few stand around chatting over a barrel fire, it’s not too far from me and when the wind dies down slightly I can just about feel its inviting warmth on my bare hands. Or maybe I’m imagining it. An old man ahead is kicking around a stone, a piece of one of the slabs that used to line this street. Eventually he kicks it down
into the snowy mud and it’s lost, forever. As I move further from the delusional fire my hands begin to tremble. I try to grip the cold metal in my palm tightly as I lift my hands to my face, pull the rag down, and blow on them. But the strength of the wind steals away what little heat my breath can provide, so instead I just cross my arms. As we move further up I can see my gloves, a gift from my sister, now they cover the hands of one of the men standing guard; the price of my last visit here. I’ve never caught his name, and his face is always covered, but I know him as one to stay away from. The bat he holds as he paces the crest of the hill is well worn. I’m almost at the front of the line now, but we’ve stopped moving; there’s something going on up ahead. I can see the old man who was kicking the stone talking to the head of the gang. His gestures are frantic and the gang leader
He quickly scoops it up and examines the tin. ‘No label?’ he demandingly inquires, ‘Peaches,’ I hurriedly reply, my voice trembling and horse from the cold and lack of use, ‘it’s stamped on the bottom’. He turns the tin can up and pretends to read the words, it’s an old trick, I have no idea what’s in it. He nods and places the can back on the makeshift table before responding, ‘Fine, up you come’. I move past him and head up the steps to the top of the hill.
is just shaking his head. Suddenly the old man bolts forward, lunging out, making it about half a meter or so before the crack of bat on bone pierces the air and he falls to the ground, lifeless. The line is silent, a few people bow their heads away, behind me I hear someone draw a shocked breath - must be a first timer. The Guardians, as they call themselves, run this part of the city and they run it well, but they’re not forgiving. The air retains an eerie stillness for a minute or so, then the gang leader signals at a man standing in the shelter of a crumbling archway, he quickly runs over to the body and drags it away, leaving a deep mahogany trail in the muddy snow. It takes a few minutes for things to return to normal, and the line starts to slowly move again. The gang leader skulks away into the haze of snow. Finally, I’m at the front of the line and facing a scruffy looking redheaded man who beckons me forward with a quick move of his hand. I uncross my arms, walk forward, and place the cold metal item on the upturned box they use as a table.
The weather is starting to retreat, and by the time I reach the top of the slope I can see much farther than before. I stop for a moment and look around, surveying the desolate wreck of my world. Ahead of me there is an eight-sided pedestal about seven feet tall, made of a dark stone topped with the statue of a woman looking up into the cloudy night. Below her the words Spes Audaces Adjuvat are written. Someone once told me it was Latin, but they didn’t know what it said, or what Latin was. Behind the statue is a huge building, on one side there is a courtyard with steps leading up to a collapsed entrance; some people have taken to use the remains of the giant columns there as shelter. At the centre there is a vast dome, collapsed inwards and leaning steadily towards the far side of the structure, which is dominated by a tremendous crater and the remnants of a few walls. I’d seen this building many times; the only thing that made it different from the other buildings in this part of the city was that you felt its destruction was somehow… grander. 50 I join another, smaller, line crossing my arms again to try and warm up. A few minutes go by and then a group of people move past us, away from the pedestal. They’re smiling, but I can see the faint hint of dejection on their faces. Somewhere up ahead a gang member
grunts and I move forward. I stand there looking up at the statue, taking in a cool deep breath. There are 8 of us here, one for each side of the stone base. Another grunt and we move into position, each standing on to one of the black marble squares at the foot of the pedestal. I take another breath and close my eyes. Steadily, I raise my right arm and move forward, for a second I feel the rough chill of the stone on my palm and then it’s gone, replaced with a radiant heat. I quickly open my eyes and look up; the sun is high, breathing down its heat on to my exposed skin. My cloak is gone, replaced by a clean shirt and jeans. I take a big gulp of air and then cough; it’s dirty, but at least it’s warm. I’m standing at the top of the hill; here and there people are walking, laughing, and further down there is a couple holding hands. Slowly I become aware of the noise, it’s loud here and there are machines everywhere, speeding up the streets making a tremendous row. The pedestal is gone; instead there is an open stretch of grass that runs up to the huge domed building. It stands once again, restored to an ancient wonder that dominates the skyline. On the steps leading up to the entrance are several men wearing dark, bulky uniforms; they look haggard, like the gang members that guarded the pedestal. They’re looking down on a noisy
them. I stand and walk over to the edge of the street, still rather more interested in the heat of the day on my body. I look over at the empty courtyard, all that remains there are the strewn belongings of the crowd and eight bodies. On the steps of the domed building stand several men, rifles drawn. A few of them slowly descend the steps into the courtyard. One of the bodies, a young woman, is moving; crawling away. A guard approaches as she struggles to pull herself further up the courtyard towards me. I see the look of terror in her features as she claws at the marble paving. The guard stops a few feet behind her, shoulders his rifle, tilts his head slightly and then looks around. Swiftly he pulls out his sidearm and aims at her head. I fill my lungs with the warm humid air. He fires. My hand is touching the cold stone pedestal again; I pull my arm away and make a fist, trying to hold on to the image of that warmth in my lungs for one more second. I breathe and take a step backwards. Then I look up at the statue on top of the pedestal and into the eyes of the woman from the courtyard. The terror is gone from her face, replaced with a look of stalwart determination. Her sacrifice, for reasons lost to time, created the memorial and so, in a revered whisper, I thank her.
crowd standing in the marble courtyard. They seem agitated. I turn away from the crowd and begin to walk down the street that runs adjacent to the domed building; I reach a familiar bench and take a seat. In front of me lies another stretch of grass, here a few people are reading books or talking into strange metal boxes. A young girl sits next to me on the bench, her pale yellow skirt floats down onto my hand and she quickly pulls it away, apologising. I smile, ignore her, and close my eyes again. Leaning back, I feel the warmth of the day flow over me as I take in the sounds of the living city. I sit for a while until I hear the quick flutter of a bird floating by my ear and landing on the ground in front of me. The girl in the yellow dress is still here and she kicks at the bird; it doesnâ€™t respond. She gives up and goes back to her book. Despite the noise around me the day is peaceful. Until it happens. A pop and then another and then a roar coming from the domed building. Suddenly the crowd in the courtyard erupts, and people begin to run. The girl in the yellow dress jumps up, dropping her book, and stumbles in her rush to get away. I sit and take in the more of the sun and the clear sky. Eventually parts of the crowd begin to stream past me, some of them are limping and a few are covered in blood; I can sense the aura of fear surrounding
By Dhiraj Nainani
I stand patiently on grey islands of granite whilst rivers of humanity flow and ebb around me. Beneath me Delhi’s cobblestones complain like old men. I don’t mind. They have supported my weight patiently for so long – their groaning is like my own. At times, though, they complain about things long gone; I have heard them speak of Ashoka and Akbar with whispers soaked with fear. Sometimes I hear other voices; they speak of things that no man has managed to achieve yet. I lose track because the voices keep changing. My experience has its limits.
Perhaps they are echoes of a distant past. Perhaps they are rumblings of a coming future. This land has its own perception of echoes. It pays no heed to trivialities like reality. But Meena Bazaar’s choked alleys are too full of mankind’s loud ebullitions to hear the language of the stones. Packed parades of tourists gawk and haggle with a fervent zealousness not seen since the Mughals (an invasion is an invasion after all). Around them swarmed swaying carriages of families, swollen multiple times in this summer heat. Brightlydressed children peer and pry and jump and scream to a Bollywood soundtrack audible only to their ears. A few feet from where I stand a pack of teenage boys jeer at a television screen sitting on a shop counter. They are experts at
browsing, lingering in the store for three hours without paying for anything. The owner doesn’t mind. Cricket is a modern religion and demands sacrifice. The Bazaar is scattered with stores of every shape and size. Pavement collections of odds and ends compete with dignified family stalls that border brooding concrete dwellings. Despite the chaos of choice, each knows its place. I am at the lowest of the pecking order: a one-man store. Everything I have comes with me, stands with me, leaves with me. I’m hardly a rarity though. The fakirs, calendar-sellers, gewgaw-walleh and palm-readers are just some of the hundreds who keep me company. A veritable private battalion of monozygotic entrepreneurs are we. Is it fitting, then, that we stand at the shadow of the city of forts? Or is it just one of those many jokes that the gods like to play on us? Forgive me for my digression. One may ask: What do I do? I reply. I peddle 56 dreams. In the entirety of Meena Bazaar I am the only shaper of balloons. If there are any other words to describe my profession, I will not hear them. I came to this city a long time ago. Back then my eyes were stars and naivety was my bedfellow. For many months and many years I gave my all to make my own dream come true. It had been carefully raised and nurtured. Its heartbeat had been stoked and cajoled with fiery passion until it had taken on a regular rhythm of its own. I felt very possessive about it. So I tried. And I tried. And I tried. This city is full of unfulfilled dreams. Most old cities are; it’s why their skies
are so murky, their streets so dirty. And after striving and cursing and ruing and losing, something within me broke and drifted away. The hungry city swallowed up my dream in a maelstrom of abyssal hunger. Part of me went with it. I wish I could say that I was different. That when I saw the piece of my soul flying away I latched on to it. But I didn’t. I had never been strong enough. So Delhi claimed me as one of its own. I wish I could tell someone what my dream was, but I fear I have forgotten it. In fact, I have forgotten most things before the balloons. Perhaps the stones know. So I did what any rational human being (were such a thing to exist) would do: I decided to sell dreams to other people. Back then Meena Bazaar had its own resident shaper. As I bundled around the market in a dazed state I encountered him, a small man in a white kurta, with a necklace of wrinkles resting on a scrawny neck. Yet something within his commonplace appearance stood out to me. Amidst the clatter and screaming, the remaining fragments of my soul shone for a split second. To this day I do not know why that happened. What I do know that in his hand was a small rustcoloured balloon dog. That dog came alive in his hands. It sat up and looked at me, scrunching its neck in a loud squeal as it surveyed its new owner. As I stared at the outstretched hand, the dog stood up and took tentative steps towards me. I instinctively raised a parallel hand, forming a bridge for it to cross. In the span of seconds it had crossed the darker plains of its creator’s palm to the lighter valleys of my own. It stretched before collapsing with a contented whine. My heart, racing
There are days when life seems to catch up with me. I have moments (less now, but that’s a sign of things to come) when I sit and wonder what happened to me the day I met the shaper. Maybe a rational man would have just gone back to the village and realised that city dreams are best left to city folk. Maybe a rational man would have jumped off a bridge. But that’s when I tell myself: Whether or not the dog came alive, I won either way. Because when I met the shaper I began to dream of something I had lost. I began to dream of hope. It was not enough to replace hope itself, but a dream of hope is still better than no hope at all. Sometimes it’s all that one needs. This morning I saw a distraught young man wandering around the market streets. He is still around here somewhere. But when I saw him the balloon in my hand twitched momentarily. And for one small second the stones and the market and the skies and the city hushed in a revered whisper. Perhaps the years that I’ve spent selling dreams have allowed me to slowly come to terms with myself. Perhaps the city has released me. Whatever the case 57 may be, the young man might need my assistance very soon. And I think I’ll finally be ready.
furiously, felt a joy it had not felt since my life at the village. I wheedled and pleaded with the shaper to take me in, but I didn’t have to. A profession chooses its own apprentices. He had seen me coming and had known. Whether this is true or not, I do not know. Perhaps my appearance had been so sordid that pity had taken over his common sense. Or perhaps the dog had told him. But he taught me and I learnt. When he died quietly three years later, I took over. This was a long time ago. I have been here for a while now. Over time I have seen the rise and fall of many great emperors and kings, of many great disciples and followers. Sometimes I have seen things before they have happened. There are days when the palm readers make accurate predictions and when the living statues become grimy with centuries of age. There are no explanations for this. Delhi is old. It has its secrets. As for me, my life is simple. I twist and I pull and I taper and I stretch. When children come to me with expectant eyes I take a blank slate and turn it in to a fanciful dragon or a heroic swordsman. The hands move by themselves. The children never ask what they want. They never have to. Dekho, when someone sells someone a dream, they don’t have to know what they’re buying. He’s merely selling them something they haven’t had time to discover for themselves.
Oppposite page: Ruby Road by Jonathan Atter
My bubbles used to come out in squares (my imagination was that good) but nowadays I can stare into the clouds for hours, the grass nibbling at my back, and not find a single shape — no elephant hiding behind a tree no star kissing after a robin not even your lips which — my hands bury themselves in the moss — I imagine I have forgotten.
By Katie Rowland
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Novelist and scientist Barbara Kingsolver writes: ‘All stories, they say, begin in one of two ways: “A stranger came to 60 town,’ or else, ‘I set out upon a journey’ (Kingsolver 2007: 335). This conclusion is surprisingly persuasive, for European and North American literature at least – think of Pride and Prejudice and Twelfth Night, The Odyssey and The Catcher in the Rye – and the reoccurrence of this narrative double helix suggests a shared fascination with discovery. The idea of the unexplored is manifested in many guises, including the religious, the colonial and the sexual, among others. Take Dante’s ‘selva oscura’, John Donne’s, ‘America, my new found land’ (Donne: 1996: 125) or even the planet of Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar. The Divine Comedy, Donne’s most famous elegy and a certain 3D blockbuster are all part of a long literary tradition of voyages of discovery characterised by an awareness that the
geographical venture concerned is fused with internal illumination – Kingsolver’s twin narrative cores of travel and of meeting an unknown person are one and the same. For instance, in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Lemuel Gulliver’s accounts of bewilderingly foreign lands simultaneously reveal aspects of his own character and the society to which he belongs. As Avatar shows, the idea of space travel is a significant metaphor in this genre; a desire to discover the self becomes embodied in the figure of the alien. Cameron’s film is a somewhat crude example of this type of tale – the familiar looking humanoids and other extra-terrestrial elements rather obviously represent an instruction to the film’s viewers to reconsider and remake themselves and their environment. Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris however, which recounts the experiences of the explorers of a perplexing and possibly conscious planet, more subtly employs
an encounter with an alien intelligence tion can often expose the personal asas social and psychological allegory. pects of ethnography. However, Renato Whereas Avatar’s undeniably spectacular Rosaldo’s Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage good guy/bad guy standoff gives us an explicitly recognises that a mapping of artificially polarised view of human the internal world takes places at the nature, the agonising experiences of same time as the external during fieldLem’s cosmonauts are a much better work. In it, Rosaldo explores the relation representation of the complex of desire between his sorrow and anger after the and horror involved in self-revelation. accidental death of his wife, fellow anPhysical exploration representing per- thropologist Michelle Rosaldo, and his sonal discovery is found in real science as study of the society in which they lived much as in science fiction, and particu- together. larly in anthropology, whose texts in this Fictionalised and actual ethnographies sense bear a close relation to the fiction- can therefore speak to each other as alised ethnographies described above. narratives in the voyage of discovery After all, ethnography, as classically con- tradition. Rosaldo’s account resonates ducted at least, is an acting out of both with Solaris, which, with the story of a the narrative beginnings that Kingsolver bereaved psychologist at its centre, also sees as deeply embedded in storytelling. traces a journey on which the difficulty of Just as with literary voyages of discovery, scientific research is described alongside the accounts produced by anthropolo- a process of mourning. In both texts, gists of their fieldwork often describe a death forces a realisation that desires for foreign environment and meditate on both academic and personal fulfillment the anthropologist’s sense of their own are destined to remain in some ways humanity. A classic example is the case always unsatisfied; the truth will be ‘out 61 of Bronislaw Malinowski’s excursion there’ in perpetuity. In the final chapter to the Trobriand Islands. Malinowski of Solaris, the protagonist says of his produced a published monograph and extra-terrestrial location: ‘The a diary – initially private but eventually entire human race had tried -published – and the parallel lives of these in vain to establish even - --- two documents symbolise the existence the most tenuous - --- --- -of both the ostensible public and hid- link with it, and -- --- --- --den private dimensions to ethnography. it bore my - - - -- --- --- --- -- Anthropological historian James Clifford weight . -- y.. th- --- -- --even went so far as to suggest that Malh o inowski’s monograph and diary could be -- ap f b --- -- g’.r read together as one text (Malinowski -- og t o ngs -- ellin 1989: Second Introduction xxx). --- thn ou inni -- ryt g Borrowed from psychoanaly-- --’E tin beg s as sto -- --- -sis and familiar to literary - c e -- --- n a ive se d in --- --- -critics, this technique t - -a e r - a of forcing the re-- --- -is arr lve edd --- --- - o pressed into -- --- --- e n gs mb --- -- --articu-- --- --- -th Kin ly e - -- --la-- -- -- -- at ep -- -- --- - -- -- -th de -- -- --
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without noticing me any more than it would a speck of dust. I did not believe that it could respond to the tragedy of two human beings’ (Lem 1970: 213-214). Rosaldo’s representations of both personal loss and the limitations of his academic enterprise also recall the emptiness of a vast, unknowable universe; he speaks of ‘the cadaverous cold of realizing the finality of death’ (Rosaldo 1993: 9) and its parallel in the recognition that ‘even when knowledgeable, sensitive, fluent in the language, and able to move easily in an alien cultural world, good ethnographers still have their limits, and their analyses are always incomplete’ (Rosaldo 1993: 8). According to Kingsolver’s genetic theory of literature, the way in which we imagine life is as the journey of a stranger – a trip to a foreign location is just a way of working out who we are. Astronaut Dick Gordon of Apollo 12 once said, ‘People are always asking what we 62 discovered when we went to the Moon. What we discovered was the Earth’. A similar acknowledgement is found in Solaris: ‘We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death’, but ‘we are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors.’ (Lem 1970: 75). However, as acknowledged by Rosaldo and Lem and implicit elsewhere, these journeys will not lead to a destination we can truly know.
Opposite page: Artwork by Ben Cain
References: Donne, John. 1996. The Complete English Poems. London: Penguin. Kingsolver, Barbara. 2007. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. London: Faber and Faber Lem, Stanislaw. 1970. Solaris. London: Faber and Faber. Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1989. A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Rosaldo, Renato. 1989. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon Press.
Artwork by Nick Cocozza
From the desk of... Sir Howard Davies Directing LSE’s Future The future for many British universities looks clouded at present. Whichever party wins the forthcoming general election will be obliged to cut public spending sharply. We do not yet know precisely how they will do so, but we have some clues. The politicians’ rhetoric suggests that they will try to spare hospitals, schools and, of course, the army while we are fighting in Afghanistan. But there will be no such ‘favourite son’ treatment for higher education, and we have already seen signs in the form of cuts in our research budget of gloomy news to come. I am determined that the LSE will survive what is bound to be a difficult period, and it will do so without affecting the quality of our teaching and research. We start from a relatively strong financial position, and there are steps we can take to cut costs and increase income from external sources and new types of student. For example, we are launching a new series of ‘Executive MSc’ courses, which are attracting students already in a job and where the course is largely funded by their employers. That seems to be potentially a strong market for us. At the same time, universities must avoid getting into a defensive mindset. Survival is not good enough. So we are simultaneously determined that the LSE should be at the forefront of innovation in teaching and the curriculum. The new LSE 100 course is a vivid example of what I mean. In the future, all of our students will take that course in their first and second years to expose them to some of the biggest global issues of the day, such as how to combat poverty and how to minimize the impact of financial crises. If we can convey to prospective students, and to potential financial supporters, that we are offering a truly distinctive education here – one which equips students for the new and complex world they will find outside – then I believe the school is bound to prosper, whatever financial challenges we face. It will not be easy. We have lived through some quite ‘fat years’, but I detect a determination among the faculty and staff to survive the lean years as well.
How Dambisa Refashioned the Debate over Aid By Philip Rushworth, in conversation with Richard Dowden
Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid is a book with a simple message which has provoked a unique reaction. Her conviction is relentless, that foreign aid causes more harm than good, and her motivation is to see her continent flourish. Since her publication was released in 2009 she has refashioned the debate over aid. However, the reaction to Dambisa reflects another chapter in a subject which for so long has been dominated by image. She has helped to expose the problems of 66 aid, but she doesn’t offer anything new; her evidence is questionable and her arguments are superficial. The media and experts have clamoured around her African voice. The symbology of the debate is palpable. Dambisa’s intentions are constructive and her book could just be an impetus for reform – but it could also provide a potent instrument for increasing neglect. With the help of Richard Dowden – celebrated journalist specialising in African affairs and director of the Royal African Society – this article assesses the ‘Dambisa effect’ one year on, and the conversation on aid that still needs to take place.
Since 1960 Africa has received one trillion USD in aid. Dambisa argues that the effects have not only had a negligible impact on improving Africa, they have in fact been negative. Aid has undermined the role and reliability of government. It has been responsible for vicious conflicts for power and corruption scandals. Aid has made leaders accountable to donors and not to their people. According to Dambisa, aid has trapped economies into a cyclical, downward process of dependency and decline. Sustainable growth is not feasible, and reliance upon foreign aid commitments has fostered a culture of economic laziness. The solution, outlined consistently in Dead Aid, lies in the capital markets. The markets are unforgiving and this, Dambisa insists, forces a discipline into government. She advocates a prescription of foreign direct investment and borrowing on the bond markets, alongside more modest procurements from remittances and microfinance. The result is that governance and the country improve; they cannot afford to do otherwise. For Richard, ‘theoretically she’s right, but at the moment it simply doesn’t work in practice’, Dambisa’s arguments
Theoretically, [Dambisa] is right, but it simply doesn\t work in practice.
have fallen foul to the financial crisis. ‘There was a lot of money sloshing around and Africa was the new frontier. The money was beginning to move there. Now it’s all dried up’. Even under ordinary circumstances such blind faith in markets would draw critics, but postcrash, Dambisa’s faith seems little more than wishful thinking. Critics have also attacked Dambisa’s apparent enthusiasm for Africa’s ‘new colonialist’: China. Chinese investment and aid is certainly lucrative, channelled to places where Western companies won’t go and devoid of Western states’ conditionality – which is based on human rights and development targets. However, Richard fears that ‘she is being deliberately provocative. What typifies China’s relationship with Africa is a complete lack of transparency. Chinese ‘non-interference’ policies have given the presidents what they want, which is often not what the people need.’ There appears a striking contradiction to Dambisa’s arguments. She criticises, as she should, the failure of Western states in the past to attach conditions to aid and its use as a tool for geo-political interests. But at the same time, she expresses gratitude to China’s ‘no questions asked’ approach and denounces the ‘paper filing’
represents one side of a much greater struggle, a struggle for who controls Africa\s development.
modern practice of aid conditionality, typified by ‘the Paris club’ – a group of nations who pledged to secure greater aid effectiveness in 2005. Critics of aid have previously advocated a more nuanced perspective, emphasising reform. Paul Collier, Oxford economist and author of The Bottom Billion, stated the ‘battle is for more effective aid and not to quit it altogether’. Dambisa disregards this balanced approach. In Dead Aid she denounces the culture of the aid industry and insists that current practice simply will not change. Aid organisations view their role as transformative which, while generous in intent, ultimately undermines their work. DFID, the UK Department for International Development, provides a good example. ‘They follow their own vision without taking into account African voices. Ingrained in their mindset is the notion of the ‘sick child’ and the belief that Britain can still transform Africa’. This is best represented in Gordon Brown’s pledge in 2005 for a ‘Marshall Plan’. The Western donor’s spurious association of 21st century Africa with postwar Europe is simply wrong. ‘There is no link at all, none whatsoever. This notion just suits the West’s charity attitude’. This has created organisations who take responsibility away from Africa and their capacity to direct development. The celebrities, with Geldof and Bono leading the troupe, are a public product of this attitude. Hence, they have become the victims of cynicism and resentment as aid loses favour. It is within this context that Dambisa has entered the debate, and why her African voice and anti-aid absolutism draw so much attention. She represents one side of a much greater struggle, a struggle for
strapped with a moral imperative and grand promise, illustrate the importance of popular opinion in forcing government decisions. However, public opinion is a notoriously fickle instrument. The disillusionment with these targets makes Dambisa a useful instrument for the new aid-cynic lobby. Richard warns, ‘With the growing disillusionment with aid, all the aidcynic lobby need is an aid scandal, of which there are many waiting to be discovered. A few headlines in the Daily Mail and public opinion will shift and rhetoric will change. Africa will drop off the politicians’ agenda’. This would be a harmfully blunt response to a complex subject. The result would be donor states cancelling public aid commitments with impunity, and the closure of a number of projects which have transformed communities within Africa. Alternatively, the fervent debate that has accompanied Dambisa may just provide the impetus for reform. 69 Aid must change, but this can only come from cooperation with the recipients as equals. Dambisa’s African voice is a powerful instrument to give ‘African civil servants and aid campaigners more confidence to take control of aid’. Donors can contribute to Africa’s development but this has to come from long-term objectives, partnership and a change of attitude. If nothing else, Dambisa has embarrassed the lingering notion of the ‘White Man’s Burden’, and in the years ahead she could just set the agenda for reform. A reform that recognises change can only come from within.
who controls – and who should control – Africa’s development. Outside donors cannot solve African problems. Dambisa, a highly successful Zambian economist, provides the perfect figurehead for this campaign. Her image is a crucial facet of her success. ‘You cannot separate Dambisa from the book. If it was written by another ageing, white British male I am sure it wouldn’t have received the same attention’. It is Dambisa’s role as a figurehead in a much larger battle over aid that helps, in part, to explain the attention she has received. She has helped to move the debate over aid from the usual obscurity of development theorists and Whitehall lobby groups into the public sphere. However, she actively shuns the notion of image having a place in the debate, particularly in her harsh remarks regarding celebrity aid. Ironically, the perceptions towards Dambisa show more than a little similarity to the cult of the celebrity. Richard considered this for a moment saying, ‘I suppose you could think of it as a battle of the celebrities’, before adding a disclaimer that ‘she is more attached than the aid agencies, and she is certainly more representative of the African professional class.’ Dead Aid has fostered a new level of debate and exposure for the aid industry. Dambisa wants to see her continent prosper. However, her contribution could either improve the conditions for aid in Africa, or promote a harmful withdrawal. In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals created ambitious 15-year targets for poverty reduction. In 2005, the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign, concluding with ‘Live 8’, strove to utilise public opinion to force aid pledges at the Gleneagles Summit. These campaigns,
With many thanks to Richard Dowden.
when I have
nothing to say
By Erinn Bineham
I have no words for the soft glow of lamplight, for the buttons on my coat, for the rice, still in its maker, or for the wooden salad bowl, in darkness on the counter downstairs.
And in my high-school green I believed I could connect the buttons to the bowl, to the rice to the lamp, to the light, and show Oneness, like Siddhartha under his tree. But now, I’m not sure I’d like to sit there for so long. My knees cramp too easily in that bent-legged pose.
Oppposite page: Artwork by Stephanie Kwak and Zomawia Sailo
She advised about metaphor, ‘Put one thing next to another’, and to demonstrate she held up her cupped hands, hip-width apart and palms facing in, waving them slightly around each other.
the journal of the London School of Economics Studentsâ€™ Union