Page 1

February 2011



gR Ju







Rh ym ge yo










it 1



Re v







olu 9 ti all o v on er s a ga


















Getting Revenge? BACKGROUND

Just watch your blood pressure...........10

Rhyming Revolutions Is it 1989 all over again?.....................06

The Hardest Kind of Justice



Restorative Justice isn’t warm and fuzzy.......33


Snuffed Animals The ethics of using animals in art ..................30

Hundred Years of Wrath............................18 Remarkable Research...............................37 Book Reviews......................................38

Credits Editor-in-Chief Anouk Vleugels Executive Editor Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Editorial Elke Weesjes Design Michelle Halcomb


Marketing Director Ryan McLay Acknowledgements: Rianne Groen Advertisement Send an e-mail to advertising Questions and suggestions Send an e-mail to redactie


Address Warmoesstraat 149, 1012 JC Amsterdam Website

30 3


Wrath Second theme in our seven-sin series: wrath. A hard one; wrath. Although it stars in pretty much every book ever written and every film ever made, nobody really knows what it means. It has something to do with anger, something to do with God, and something to do with vengeance. Since we thought anger is kind of vague and God just not that interesting, we decided to go with vengeance. Anyone who ever felt harmed in some way –someone cut in front of you, someone stole your wallet or someone broke your heart- will recognize the desire for vengeance. However, plotting revenge is one thing, acting upon it is something else. Is it really worth the trouble? According to evolutionary biologists, it is. Without revenge our species would never have evolved to its current form. By showing the world you’re not to be messed with, you will save yourself from any future harm. Good news for you, even better news for your future offspring. From a medical point of view however, revenge is not recommended. It will raise your heart rate, drive your blood pressure through the roof, and compromise your immune system. So, suppose, you are at the store. You are waiting in line, ready to pay for your groceries, when someone cuts in front of you. Do you have a medical history? Just suppress your anger and count to ten. Healthy as a horse? Don’t hesitate to take action. Your future children will be thankful. Anouk Vleugels Editor-in-Chief United Academics Magazine


urnal of Social Sciences CALL FOR ARTICLES BIOGRAPHIES AND BOOK REVIEWS March 2011: ‘Students in Revolt’ urnal of Social Sciences February 2011

UAJSS is a refereed online journal which publishes new research by post-graduate and post-doctoral academics. Deadline: 18th of March

Antony Hegarty: A transgender voice - Kathleen A. Stephenson

See our journal for submission guidelines

Biographical representations of Reagan's childhood - Roger Johnson Work in Progress: Explaining media personalization of politics - Lutz Hofer Biography: Anarchist theorist Gustav Landauer - Oscar Broughton Interview: Josje Damsma on Dutch National Socialism

Email: 5

can be called a revolutionary year already; characterized by the political awaking of North Africa and violent suppression of the masses who crave democracy. Revolutions which disposed the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt have shaken the Arab world and inspired protests across the Middle East and North Africa threatening the grip of long established leaders. Sounds like it is 1989 all over again, doesn’t it? Well, it is not.

In her recent Volkskrant article on the revolution in Egypt, journalist Nausicaa Marbe drew a parallel between the current situation in the Middle East and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. “The facts and emotions of the Egyptian revolution change at a staggering speed. That is how it was in 1989 in Eastern Europe and this is how it is now in the Arab world. No live reporting or tweets from the seething crowd can begin to describe how

thinks that the fall of communism in Eastern Europe provides important signs of what is likely to emerge from the protests in the Middle East. In his article ‘What Eastern Europe teaches us about Egypt: Short term Optimism and Medium Term Pessimism,’ he argues that the Middle East in 2011 is an even better example of snowballing (i.e. the process which happened in Eastern Europe where one success of democracy in one country causes oth-

the Egyptians feel right now. And I speak from experience; in 1989 I was among the crowd in Revolution Square in the Romanian city of Timisoara.” Marbe concludes that there are many similarities between 1989 and 2011. She’s not alone on that, in the international media, many have drawn the same parallel, especially since the exit of Egyptian president Mubarak on the 11th of February. The Pittsburg Tribune stated that ‘in the annals of modern history, the Egyptian revolution now shares standing with the fall of the Berlin Wall’ and over at the European Voice in Brussels reporters have been ‘pondering the lessons of 1989 for the protesters in Egypt.’ Many academics share this view; Professor Lucan Way, specialist on regime development in the post-Cold War era,

er countries to democratize), than Eastern Europe was in 1989’. The comparison seems an obvious one. Nevertheless, when taking a closer look, we find that significant differences suggest that we should not be too quick to compare today’s events in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries to the fall of the communist bloc. Mark Twain’s words “the past does not repeat itself but it rhymes,” definitely apply in this context. What we see here is not a repeat of history but a case of ‘rhyming revolutions’.


Tunisia’s Day of Wrath It all started in December 2010. The 26 year old Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi who grew up in Sidi Bouzid, a rural town burdened by

corruption and suffering from an unemployment rate estimated at 30%. Bouazizi couldn’t find a regular job and was reduced to selling fruit and vegetables on the street in Sidi Bouzid. It was the only way he could support his mother and siblings to make some money to support his mother and siblings. On the 17th of December police confiscated his wares because he didn’t have the funds to bribe police officials to allow his street vending to continue. Bouazizi went to the local governor to complain about the way he was beaten up and humiliated by the police officer in charge. The governor refused to see him. Subsequently Bouazizi doused himself in paint thinner in front of the governor’s office and set himself alight. He died 18 days later. Bouazizi’s protest sparked riots in Sidi Bouzid over unemployment and corruption. Protests became widespread and moved to the capital Tunis. The anger and pressure became so intense that President Ben Ali fled

effect followed and after Poland, revolutions followed in Hungary, East-Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The last-named was the only Eastern-Bloc country to overthrow its communist regime violently. Albania and Yugoslavia abandoned communism between 1990 and 1992, whilst the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991.

Tunisia on the 14th of January 2011, ending his 23 year dictatorship. With the sudden breakdown of authority in Tunisia last month, followed by a revolution in Egypt this month and uprisings in Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Syria and Lebanon, the snowball effect has well and truly started in the Arab world. These recent developments demonstrate how the collapse of authoritarianism in one country can have a huge impact on the stability of nearby regimes. For those who were around in the late eighties, this all seems familiar. In 1989, Poland was the first Eastern-Bloc country to get rid of its Sovietdominated government. The Polish Solidarity labour movement led by Lech Wałęsa achieved major political reforms, and free elections were held in 1989. The aforementioned snowball

dan and Saudi-Arabia. These monarchies have the financial means to keep people quiet. This doesn’t mean there isn’t any protest in these countries – in Jordan demonstrations and selfimmolations have taken place and people are protesting in Bahrain as we speak – but these protests will not accumulate into revolutions according to Aarts. “In the Gulf States governments seem to be able to anticipate unrest, more so than in Egypt and Tunisia. For example, in Jordan the government will respond by lowering prices of basic products and other measures will be taken to avoid revolutions.” He was not just the leader of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union, but also of the Warsaw Pact military bloc in Eastern-Europe. Socialist states like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary were both politically and

Snowball effect Will the snowball effect also continue throughout the Middle-East? No, says the Dutch political scientist and Middle-East expert Paul Aarts. “The revolution in Egypt and Tunisia will not spread to the Gulf states. Because of higher subsidies and a milder form of repression it is unlikely that these states’ regimes will fall.” Aarts explains that research has shown that repression in one-party systems (like in Yemen and Syria) is greater than in monarchies like Jor-


policies of glasnost and perestroika, meaning with foreign powers and others don’t. ”In Bahopenness, non-violence and reform. He urged rain for example, political leaders are backed financially by the US, which makes it more difficult for the protesters to achieve the same as the Tunisian people.” In spite of all these differences, countries in the Middle East have one main thing in common; whereas revolutions in Eastern Europe were almost instigated by the Soviet Communist party, Arab leaders refuse to give up without a fight. According to Wanrooij the widespread suppression of his Eastern European counterparts to follow protests has a unifying effect. “It is striking suit, whilst allowing these nations to deter- that, in spite of regional differences, people mine their own internal affairs. The fact that in the Arab world feel united in their struggle; Moscow would not use any force to suppress there is a real sense of solidarity, which to my protests in neigbouring countries - like it had knowledge was less visible in Eastern Europe.” done in 1956 and 1968 in Hungary and Czechoslovakia – allowed the rise of popular upheavDemocratize without foreign help als in these countries. The Eastern European History expert, Dr.Raymond Detrez, who works at the UniverArab solidarity sity of Ghent, notes that the European Union Journalist Dirk Wanrooij, who was in Cairo dur- served as a clear model for what the future ing the Egyptian revolution, explains that unlike could hold for Eastern Europe after they had Eastern-Europe the Arab world is not a homog- ridden themselves from their nondemocratenous region with one political ideology. “Some ic leaders. “The democratization, liberalizacountries are one party systems (military or tion and privatization of Eastern-Europe took clerical dictatorships), others are monarchies, place under direction of the European Union.” some are economically stable, others struggle Detrez argues that this is a significant differwith widespread poverty and unemployment. ence between the situation of 1989 and 2011. In wealthier monarchies the people’s protests “I don’t think that the European Union feels have a political nature whilst in Egypt and Tu- called upon to do the same in North-Africa or nisia the main incentive for people to dem- the Middle-East. The EU can’t offer any peronstrate is these countries’ dire economical spective in this context. Which leaves the Arab situation.” Wanrooij notes that an important countries without a model; countries like Egypt difference between countries in this region is will have to democratize on their own.” Detrez that some of these nations have strong ties explains that the introduction of a democratic 8

system in Eastern-Europe wasn’ complicated, although he does admit that initially these democracies didn’t function properly. The economical transition, on the other hand, was quite problematic. ”The privatization of these countries’ economies was difficult and the social consequences of this transition were severe.” In Eastern-Europe average standards of living registered a catastrophic fall in the early 1990s and only began to rise again towards the end of that decade. Today there are still certain areas where populations are poorer than they were in 1989. Now what? For North-African countries, according to Detrez, the implementation of a democratic system will be the biggest challenge, but on the bright side; they will not encounter the same problems on an economic level as Eastern-Europe, because they have a free market economy rather than a planned economy. Nevertheless these countries need to reform their current systems. Their economies need to benefit everyone and not just a small elite, royal family or foreign investor. The implementation of a fair economical system will take a considerable amount of time. In the meantime demands for higher wages and better conditions will continue. From his experiences in Egypt Wanrooij predicts a certain level of disintegration. “In Egypt people from different economical, religious and political backgrounds were united in a short term goal: the exit of Mubarak. This goal was achieved and now we see people who were previously united disintegrate into

small groups with different demands for the future. People return back to their own group so to speak. The protest has moved from Tahrir square into the factories where the working class continue their fight for higher wages. This is where the confrontation between different groups is now taking place. The contradictions still have to take shape, a process which could result in an eruption of violence.” History sheds light on where the future might be going, nevertheless we should

be cautious comparing a current situation to past events when there are more differences than similarities. Studying Eastern European revolutions and their aftermath does not provide us with any answers about the near future of countries like Egypt and Tunisia. Actually comparing 1989 to 2011 undermines the uniqueness of the revolutionary phenomenon in North Africa and the Middle East and is as such counterproductive. Once we recognize the truly remarkable and exceptional nature of the recent revolutions we can start to speculate about the future of these countries.

By Elke Weesjes 9

The desire for revenge is omnipresent. Ranging fro while you’re waiting in line- to unspeakable grief when you feel you’ve been wronged, you want to sett

Evolutionary Biology



om small nuisances -someone cuts in front of you -someone kills your spouse during a suicide attack: tle the score. Uplifting? Yes. Healthy? No.



Evolutionary biology For centuries, people have perceived the desire for revenge to be a disease. Resembling a nasty infection, it spreads through our veins and forces us on a path of destruction. From the perspective of natural selection however, revenge is what makes the world go ‘round. According to evolutionary psychologist Michael McCullough, author of Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Revenge Instinct, humans were designed by the simple forces of natural selection to have a taste for revenge, when harmed. Therefore we shouldn’t think of revenge as a disease, but as a survival mechanism which is cross-cultural and diachronic. “Basically, there are three reasons for revenge,” McCullough explains. “First, revenge deters people from harming you a second time. So it serves as a lesson: don’t repeat this in the future, or be ready for retaliation. Second, by getting even at someone who harmed us, we can establish a reputation for ourselves. Third parties will know you’re not to be messed with, which lessens the chance they will harm you a first time. Finally, revenge stimulates cooperation among humans. The institutions we use to enforce cooperation today, like prisons and courts, obviously weren’t available in our distant past. Back then, the use of punishment within a group was necessary to avoid ‘free rides’; people who benefit from joint efforts, without contributing themselves.” Mafia birds Evidence supporting the idea of revenge as a evolutionary mechanism can also be found in the animal kingdom . One of the most compelling examples of animal retaliation is shown by certain kinds of birds, known as avian brood parasites. These birds use a 12

host (another bird, either of the same or different species) to incubate their eggs and raise their young for them. The hosts get nothing in return. Why do they cooperate? Ecologists Jeffrey Hoover and Scott Robinson investigated the interaction between the brown-headed cowbird, a brood parasite, and its host, the warbler. Their conclusion: the brown-headed cowbird exhibits mafia-like behavior, threatening the warbler into submission. In their experiment, the researchers manipulated ‘ejection’ (by removing the cowbirds’ eggs from the hosts’ nests) and cowbird access (some nests were made

accessible to the cowbirds, others were not). The authors found that 56 % of the ‘ejection’ nests which were accessible, were raided by the cowbirds, in comparison to 6 % of ‘ acceptance’ nests. The number of young produced by the hosts that ejected eggs dropped 60% compared to those that accepted the cowbird eggs. “Losing all offspring during a breeding season,” McCullough explains, “is obviously a giant evolutionary problem for these host birds. The options for warblers aren’t good and bad; the options are bad and worse. Therefore they accept their parasites’ eggs and the system is perpetuated.’


Neurology In 2004, neuroscientist Dominique de Quervain of the University of Zurich and his colleagues set up an experiment to study how a group of male participants responded to acts of selfishness. Using a positron emission tomography (PET) camera, the researchers investigated brain activity during acts of revenge. With the help of this ‘brainscan’ technique, one can obtain rough measures of brain activity while people perform a task. Experimental economic laboratory games are particularly well-suited for the use of this method. In this particular experiment, the subjects were asked to engage in an economic game (the socalled Trust Game) with different partners. In each interaction, subjects were given a certain amount of money. They then had to decide how much of their money to pass on to the second player –the trustee, which was then quadrupled. In part two, the trustee decides how much of this to return to the first player. If trustees decided not to reciprocate, or defected, subjects could choose to administer punishment. At this point, their brains were scanned. The result showed that by punishing the defectors, a specific region of the brain called the striatum increased its consumption of oxygen (that is, was “activated”). According to the researchers, this indicates that punishing a defector activates brain regions related to feeling good about revenge rather than brain regions related to feeling bad about having been violated. Other research suggests that seeking revenge is connected to the release of dopamine. Dopamine is commonly associated with the ventral striatum, the ‘reward part’ of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person to take action. Dopamine is released while expecting certain rewards, such as food, drugs or sex. Plotting revenge however, also does the trick. Hence the expression ‘sweet revenge.’ 14

If revenge were a purview o from a dark, sick place in activates the ‘pleasure’ p shows similar brain activi

of the morally depraved, we would find the desire for revenge coming n our minds. Instead, brain evidence shows that plotting revenge part of the brain. In comparison: a junkie who’s about to get a fix ities. “This is an insight about human nature that is uncomfortable for most people,” McCullough notes. “ However, the fact that we’re being wired this way, doesn’t necessarily mean we always act upon it. “The desire for revenge is a normal human trait, which in most cases isn’t harmful to others. However, when this trait is combined with certain ‘defects’, for example drug use or a mental disorder, it can lead to abnormal behavior. Kids entering shopping malls with guns- that kind of thing.”


Medicine Vengeance can boost our dopamine level, activate the ‘pleasure’ spot in our brain, and leave us ecstatic for a moment. But like with any other drug, there’s always the comedown. According to the field of medicine, seeking revenge is not what the doctor ordered.

Medical research on vengeance has proliferated over the past decade, with researchers linking it to cardiovascular performance, nervous-system health, and immune-system function. Furthermore, the desire for revenge causes us to have poorer health habits, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, as well as with a lower level of hematocrit, meaning one has less red blood cells than usual. Kathleen Lawler-Row, who chairs the psychology department at East Carolina University, has studied the subject for years. Her advice: don’t hold a grudge. “People who have been able to forgive show clear health benefits. Whether we’re looking at heart rate and blood pressure or whether we’re looking at the number of medicines someone is on, their quality of sleep or the number of physical symptoms they report. Almost every way I’ve thought to measure it, people who have been able to think forgivingly are healthier.” Always the parents In one of her experiments, Lawler-Row measured blood pressure and heart rate while interviewing participants about their childhood resentments. The statements “try to recall a particular time when one (or both) of your parents upset you, made you angry or annoyed, or hurt you. In your own words, please describe the experience in as much 16

detail as you can,” set the stage for the interview. After the initial description, follow-up questions were asked to clarify when the event happened, how the participant responded, and to specify, “what exactly was it about this experience that hurt the most?” After the interview, the participant completed a packet of questionnaires regarding forgiveness, relationship closeness, and the parental intrusion scale. The results showed that subjects who stated being more forgiving, had a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Harboring grudges on the other hand, led to illness, loneliness, and stress. Lawler-Row is not the only one advocating forgiveness. According to Michael McCullough, our ability to forgive is, just as our desire for revenge is, part of our neural wiring.

“If you look at the same bodies of research that make revenge seem like the product of natural selection, you find that humans wouldn’t exit in their current form without the capacity to forgive. We need punishment to make cooperation happen. We also need the ability to tolerate defections.”

There’s nothing wrong with being a little vengeful. However, know when to let go. The initial feeling of euphoria after getting your revenge will fade, but a high blood pressure will not. So try to forgive every once and a while. If Jesus could do it, so can you. By Anouk Vleugels 17

Hundred Years of Wrath “Egypt’s Day of Wrath”, journalists called the 28th of January. It was Egypt’s first day of revolution, but certainly not the first Day of Wrath.


According to American journalist John Reed, they were “The Ten Days that Shook the World�: the October Revolution. After the fall of Tsar Nicholas earlier that year, the Bolsheviks rushed in to fill the power vacuum: a communist nation was born. The Soviet Union which was properly installed a few months later, would last for 80 years.



In 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk brought down the Ottoman Empire and became ‘father of the Republic of Turkey.’ Ataturk´s regime converted Ottoman Turks with 7 % literacy in 15 years to a secular democratic republic with much higher literacy, emancipated its women, and gave them the right to elect and be elected. The reforms didn’t stick: Atatürk’s successors didn’t understand his need for reform and therefore refused to carry on the Revolution.



The Spanish Revolution, a workers’ social revolution, began during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and socialist organizational principles. Although the socialists received help from workers all over the world, fascism led by General Franco proved to be stronger. In the aftermath of the Civil War, a conservative dictatorship was established.



Between July 22 and September 12, 1942, the German authorities deported or murdered around 300,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. In response to the deportations, several Jewish underground organizations decided to fight back. Although the Germans expected to end the uprising within a few days, many ghetto fighters held out for more than a month.



Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against insurmountable odds to fight the brutal Soviet-installed Hungarian communist government. Anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 Hungarian rebels and 7,000 Soviet troops were killed, thousands more were wounded, and nearly a quarter of a million left the country as refugees. Although the movement was crushed, the Hungarian Revolution was the first tear in the Iron Curtain.



In Paris in May 1968, massive confrontations between police and students brought workers out on a general strike and brought the De Gaulle administration close to the point of collapse. Although it resulted in a political failure for the protesters, ‘Mai 68’ had an enormous social impact. In France, it is considered to be the watershed moment that saw the replacement of conservative morality with the liberal morality that dominates French society today.



Iranian people were fed up with their leader, the Shah. 1979 The Despite the bloody repression, protests exploded in the work-

places, mosques, and universities. The monarchy fell on 11 February 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini (who lived in exile) returned to Iran and became head of the state. Sadly, what began as a seemingly authentic and anti-dictatorial popular revolution soon transformed into an Islamic-fundamentalist power-grab, which led to yet another authoritarian regime. 25

On May 1989, nearly a million Chinese, mostly young students, crowded into central Beijing to protest for greater democracy and call for the resignations of Chinese Communist Party leaders. On June 4, however, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Approximately 300 of the protesters have been killed (although this figure is probably much higher) and as many as 10,000 were arrested.



The May 1998 riots in Indonesia were a principal factor in the fall of President Suharto. Triggered by economic problems like food shortages and mass unemployment, riots started by students occurred all over the peninsula. Tragically, the -in general more wealthyChinese-Indonesian people soon were made into scapegoats, resulting in massive violence against them. After Suharto’s resignation, the military appeared to remained the power for many years to come.




Economic desperation was the trigger for the peaceful uprising that would come to be known as, “the Saffron Revolution,� a series of anti-government demonstrations led by Buddhist monks. On September 27th, the uprising was beaten down by the junta. Still, The Saffron Revolution inspired a new generation of activists, both inside and country and around the world, to speak out against the Burmese military regime. 28

materials semiconductors catalyst


environmental sciences

physics geoscience



earth science




imaging receptors

neuro science


computer economics science


SNUFFED ANIMALS The ethical implications of working with living animals in contemporary art. In 2008 the San Francisco Art Institute closed an exhibition earlier than planned. On display was a video piece by Adel Abdessemed, that showed six animals being brutally killed with a large h a m m e r .


Protests against the work were so vast that the exhibition was stopped after a week. Even staff members of the San Francisco Art Institute were threatened by animal rights organizations. Although the artist had just filmed the atrocities at a Mexican farm, viewers of the video questioned what his role was in the violence against animals. Artists working with living animals often arouse great outrage from organizations that defend animal rights. Despite protests and media attention, it seems that artists are still allowed to go a little bit further than other people in society. This is comes from the idea that art has some autonomy; we assume the artist has an artistic intention. This gives art a special place within society. However, artists who use living animals in their artistic practice are often regarded as immoral. Is this immoral aspect used by the artist with an ethical goal or is it just provocation?

the exhibit. The moral dilemma Evaristti questioned here is clear. We, the audience, have power over the lives of a few goldfish. Do we let them live, or reduce them to goldfish puree? Do we need to make use of all the possibilities we have? Usually, when being in a museum, we

are not even allowed to touch the artwork. Evaristti did not aim to encourage the useless killing of goldfish. He aimed to pose a moral dilemma; an experiment involving human nature. Evaristti and the museum director were Goldfish puree summoned to pay a fine, but were eventually That works of art making use of living animals acquitted. are provocative has been proven again and again. Hermann Nitsch risked prison with his Save the Pets bloody rituals; Eduardo Kac bred a green glow- However, complaints about immoral artwork ing rabbit and Damien Hirst ordered a rare can get more serious. Recently Dutch artist shark for his widely known work The Physical Tinkebell, known around the world for once Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone having had her cat made into a handbag, had to Living. One of the most infamous examples appear in court to defend one of her works of is the piece entitled: Helena, made by Marco art. In her work Save the Pets (2008), hundreds Evaristti. For his exposition, Evarissti put sever- of hamsters were put in transparent plastic al goldfish in food processors, which were then balls, which are produced by the pet industry. plugged in. Just one push on the yellow button In a living room setting, she let the hamsters would create goldfish soup. Within the next roll around in the gallery for three weeks. She few days, about sixteen goldfish were crushed. based her work on short films she had seen on The protests by animal rights organizations YouTube of pet owners using the plastic balls were large, they included a few surviving gold- to watch their hamsters rolling around in their fish being stolen from the blenders. After two house. Formally accused of animal abuse, she days the museum decided to pull the plug on was called to appear in court. 31

was called to appear in court. Tinkebell, using her provocative work to raise attention for animal welfare, won the case. However, the same animal rights organizations she aimed to support are the ones that sued her. This is one of the difficulties of trying to raise attention for a case through provocative art. Many people have problems with the viewing of art as something else than just real life; artists such as Tinkebell are therefore often dismissed as sensational and attention seeking people. Tattooed pigs Most people tend to care about animal welfare. However, throughout Western history animals have always been regarded as subordinate to humans. Only in the last century, philosophers like Levinas and Derrida started thinking about the relations between humans and animals in different ways. Today our ethics have changed in favor of animals, but deciding where to draw the line when it comes to animal cruelty remains difficult. One such reason could be because we do not value each animal equally. Belgian artist Jan Fabre didn’t encounter much resistance while using millions of shiny beetles for his art, whereas Wim Delvoye’s tattooing of pigs was met with disdain. Most of us simply do not grant a spider and a cow the same amount of respect. Despite this complicated relationship between humans and animals, we tend to feel aversion to artwork that shows us cruelty towards animals, whether this is implicit or explicit. Should we accept an work of art that contradicts our moral? Art is made from an

artistic intention and therefore also requires an artistic attitude from the spectator. Because of the autonomy of art, moral borders are stretched; when we as spectators see an art performance, we know we do not have to intervene, because it is art we are seeing, and not a scene in the street. But it is only natural that provocative art generates an inner resistance. A good immoral work is not one that is just shocking; the shock effect rarely lasts. A good immoral work provides ongoing food for thought. By confronting us with topics we would rather avoid or ignore, artists encourage us to think about these uncomfortable subjects. Through our own morality we can recognize the artwork as immoral and gather knowledge from it. But despite the autonomy of art, moral borders do not cease to exist. It is the responsibility of the artist to decide how far he or she can go in using animals. At the same time, the spectator also has a responsibility; when we watch a goldfish swim around in a food processor, it does not mean we have to push the button.

Rianne Groen is an art historian and independent curator. After receiving her BA in Art History, she finished her MA in Modern and Contemporary Art at Utrecht University in April 2010. Currently she lives and works in London, where she is studying as part of the professional MA course Curating the Contemporary at London Metropolitan University in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery. Read Rianne’s thesis 32

The Hardest Kind of Justice

> We are all traumatized.

If you live in this world, you have suffered some kind of trauma along the way. There are different kind’s of trauma, different degrees, and different ways of dealing with them, but the most important thing to acknowledge is that we all have some kind of trauma. That is one of the basic and still not widely accepted tenants of Restorative Justice (RJ), the method of dealing with conflicts and crime, that takes into account the needs of both the victim as well as the offender. A method that instead of isolating the victim from the justice process, makes them a central part of it.

“Wait a minute,” I can hear you interjecting in disbelief, “We are all traumatized? A criminal has needs?” The moment you start speaking this way about crime in this world, you run the risk of being labeled weak or making excuses for criminals. Alternative justice programs are seen by many as idealist experiments that couldn’t work in a world so full of evil criminals who couldn’t possibly be reformed. Yet over the past few decades restorative justice experiments around the world have shown there is indeed another way to approach those involved in and affected by a criminal act. In the UK for example research projects incorporating restorative justice practices in dealing with criminal offenders have been very successful. One of these projects,

the Justice Research Consortium, was carried out in London, Northumbria and Thames Valley area. A group of adult offenders participated in a so called face to face “conferencing” with their victims. The crimes committed varied from robbery and fraud to rape and assault. The outcome was revealing; 98% of ‘conferences’ ended with victims and offenders reaching an agreement about how the harm could be repaired and how offenders could address their problems and move towards a future that does not involve committing crime. The results of this project showed a 27% drop in the frequency of re-offending. Because of their success rates these projects, Restorative Justice have gained attention and respect at institutional and governmental level. 33

Bottleneck In countries throughout the world prisons are about to reach capacity, or more commonly, are completely overcrowded. Of those that do manage to get out of prison, in the case of the UK and the US for example, the rate of recidivism hovers around 50 and 60% every year since the mid-nineties. Meaning more than half of all former prisoners never get rehabilitated, never deal with issues of responsibility, trauma and emotion. Furthermore, legal systems are flooded with cases creating a bottleneck that causes even the smallest of cases to last far longer than they should. When you add to this situation the astronomical costs of the average criminal justice system, it is easy to see that increasingly, governments have reached a breaking point. On the other side of the coin are the victims. Between the judges and the lawyers the average victim has a limited role in the very trial that is supposed to provide them with some sense of resolution and justice. The trauma that comes with the pain and suffering can last a lifetime.

In the US, one major problem is the breakdown between the victim and the American criminal justice system. Dr. Howard Zehr, known as the grandfather of restorative justice, has worked within the traditional US justice system as well as on restorative justice projects throughout the world. In 1997 he was appointed by the US 34

Federal Court to work with victims of the Oklahoma City bombing case. It was there he experienced how victims are left out of the American criminal justice system. “The McVeigh Oklahoma City Bombing case,” Zehr recalls, “was against the government of the US. Victims had to go to congress just to get the right to sit in on their own trial. That is part of the problem, how we define the wrong doing, we define it as basically against rules or laws or some central authority, and the individual harm gets left out of the process.”

Break the cycle

It becomes clear that both victims’ and offenders’ needs are neglected and trauma on both sides is overlooked “Vengeance by current systems causing further problems. It may cycle of ve seem obvious that trauma know that, has an influence on an in- to help peo dividual or community of victims, what is not widely stand what understood is that trauma needs are an impacts patterns of conflict most healthy and wrongdoing. That is address thos to say, trauma can lead to someone harming someone else; trauma can cause someone to cause more trauma. Take the World Trade Center Attack of 2001, which killed more than 3,000 people, but also caused anger, depression, and a range of trauma for families, loved ones, and complete strangers/fellow citizens throughout the US. But did all these people try to understand and face their trauma in a productive or effective manner? And did the method of seeking justice the government pursued, take into account the needs of these traumatized victims? Zehr, who worked on a project to help community leaders address these issues following Sept. 11th, explains the challenge their project faced. “After September 11th our organization was funded to start something called STAR, which was to train community leaders (and

now a wider group) about how trauma works not only in the individual but in society and then develop strategies to address those kinds of trauma.

Hard kind of justice

It seems understandable to address a victim’s trauma, but what about the offender’s needs? According to Les Davey, CEO of the Institute for Restorative Practice UK, RJ enables the offender to rehabilitate. “Labeling someone as ‘criminal’ is in no one’s best interest. No evidence shows that our traditional criminal justice system –locking people up and expecting them change their behavior upon release without some kind of intervention- is successful. Therefore we need to deal with leads to a wrongdoing in an intelliengeance, we gent manner.” but we need Does this mean that the offender gets off lightople under- ly? No, because RJ doesn’t their real aim to replace traditional nd what the criminal punishment. The y ways are to meetings between victims and offenders is an addise needs.” tion, but shouldn’t be taken lightly. Contrary to the pessimistic rhetoric that still dominates the public sphere, this method is not soft but in fact, some of the most difficult for an offender to have to face. Dr. Heather Strang agrees with this. As Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Australian University, she knows what she’s talking about. “I can tell you as a veteran observer of hundreds of these events, that almost all offenders would tell you they would much rather face the anonymity of the courtroom than the experience of being shut in a small room with the person they have harmed in a criminal event. It is a very difficult confronting experience to have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no lawyer, no social worker, no one to protect you from the kind of

anger victims can express in that setting.” While the dominant political and media discourse still tells us that considering alternatives to the current criminal justice system is a stupid and weak thing to do, the results of restorative justice practices around the world tell a different story. They show that in fact, when used alongside and within the current criminal justice system, they can make a tremendous impact in improving the future for victims and offenders. They’ve also indicated important strides in reducing incarceration levels, recidivism, and long term trauma for victims (and offenders). The politician aiming to gain the popular vote might still tout the importance of being tough on crime, building more prisons, and putting more police on the streets, as the answer to fixing crime statistics or the justice system. But the practice restorative justice is proving there is another way beyond just locking them up and throwing away the key. A way that not only looks good in terms of numbers, but that reaches out to victims who have been systematically left out of the process and left with a lifetime of trauma. There’s nothing soft about a victim and an offender coming face to face with each other, and there’s nothing weak about trying to heal a community wounded by crime. By Mark Rendeiro 35

Remarkable Research ENVIRONMENT


Heavy rainfall is man’s own fault

A berry a day keeps Parkinson’s away

Feb. 16- An increase in heavy rainfall is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists report in a new study. Using a newly designed computer program, scientists investigated whether the recent worldwide increase of precipitation could be explained by a natural variability in the atmosphere. The answer is no. According to the computer, the increase made sense only when the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activities were factored in. As became apparent in previous studies, the likelihood of extreme rain- or snowfall on any given day on the Northern hemisphere has increased by seven percent over the last 60 years. “What is most important about this study, is that this seven percent is well outside the bounds of natural variability,” notes researcher Francis Zwiers, who took part in the study. Although global warming and heavy precipitation seem to be correlated, we need still need to be careful when drawing conclusions, says climate scientist Myles Allen. “Because of the financial aspect, it’s suddenly going to be in everybody’s interest to be a victim of climate change. We urgently need to develop the science base that can distinguish genuine impacts of climate change from unfortunate consequences of bad weather.”

Feb. 13 — New research shows that people who regularly eat berries have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.


During the two-year study, 50 thousand women and 80 thousand men were asked to write up their fruit intake. Using this information, scientists calculated the intake amount of flavonoids, an important dietary component which can be found in berries, chocolate, citrus fruits and tea. The results were remarkable. Of all the male subjects who developed Parkinson’s disease during the two years of research, the top 20 percent who consumed the most flavonoids were about 40 percent less likely to develop the condition than the bottom 20 percent o f participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. Among female participants, the consumption of flavonaids was not correlated with Parkinson’s disease. However, when sub-classes of flavonoids were examined, regular consumption of anthocyanins, which are mainly obtained from berries, were found to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.


Ecuadorian dwarfs might hold secret to longevity Feb. 16- People living in remote villages in Ecuador have a mutation that some biologists say may shed light on human longevity and ways to increase it. Many of the villagers suffer from Laron-syndrom, a rare type of dwarfism. Since 1987, Dr. Jaime Guevare-Aguirre has studied a group of 99 Laron patients from this area. While compiling their health data, he noticed a remarkable pattern: though cancer and diabetes were frequent among people who did not have the Laron mutation, those who did almost never contracted these diseases.

Stunned by these results, Dr. Valter Longo, researcher on aging, decided to examine the Laron patients’ genomes. He found that the patients have a mutation in the gene that makes the receptor for growth hormones. Normally, the growth hormone makes the cells of the liver churn out another hormone, called or IGF-

1, this hormone is responsible for children’s growth. The Laron patients however, produce very little IFG-1. Other research done on laboratory roundworms, in which IGF-1 is also produced to facilitate growth, proved that worms which lacked the gene that makes the receptor of IFG1, lived twice as long as normal. If these results also apply to humans, which seems very plausible, the Laron patients might be expected to live much longer than usual.


BOOK REVIEWS The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. Brian Greene

Sid Mukherjee

According to recent discoveries done by physicists and astronomers, our universe might not be the only one out there. Certain evidence gives rise to the idea that it is part of something bigger: the multiverse.

Think of cancer as person. A hostile, complex and very persistent individual. According to oncologist Sid Mukherjee, this is the best approach to understand the history of cancer. Recently, Mukerjee wrote cancer’s biography.

In The Hidden Reality, theoretical physicist Brian Greene discusses all of the current hot topics in cosmology: from the quantum mechanical to the brain, to us living in a Matrixstyle computer simulation, Greene illustrates a number of possibilities for parallel universes of various kinds. These possibilities even include places where duplicates of Earth exist, to places where the very laws of reality are stunningly different. String Theory, the contentious, complicated and convoluted mathematics that describe one dimensional strings as the fundamental building block of everything, are our tools and guideposts for exploring these possible multiverses. There are many of us thinking of one version of a parallel universe theory or another, Greene notes: “If it’s all a lot of nonsense, then it’s a lot of wasted effort going into this far-out idea. But if this idea is correct, it is a fantastic upheaval in our understanding.”


The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

From the first chemotherapy developed from textile dyes to the possibilities emerging from our understanding of cancer cells, Mukherjee leaves no stone unturned while explaining cancer’s life cycle and history. He touches upon some sticky misconceptions –cancer is by no means a lifestyle disease, as many people think, nor is there one cure for every kind of cancer- and he also includes the patient’s perspective in his story. The idea that cancer cells are copies of who we are is, Mukherjee emphasises, not a metaphor. “We can rid ourselves of cancer,” he concludes, “only as much as we can rid ourselves of the processes in our physiology that depend on growth; – aging, regeneration, healing, reproduction.”

The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life Jesse Bering

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Mary Roach

Ever yelled at your computer? In The Belief Instinct, cognitive psychologist Jesse Bering argues that because of a little evolutionary mistake called empathy, we humans have a tendency to attribute a conscience to nonliving things. As a result, we created God.

Suppose you are living in a space shuttle for six months. Gravity doesn’t exist. And then… the shuttle’s toilet malfunctions. What can you do? In Packing for Mars, Mary Roach investigates the most banal aspects of life in space.

There is a scientific term for this way of thinking—”theory of mind.” As a direct consequence of the evolution of the human social brain, we sometimes can’t help but see intentions, desires, and beliefs in things that lack consciousness: animals, plants, and even our furniture. After his introduction of the theory of mind, Bering then applies it to religion. “What if I were to tell you that God’s mental states, too, were all in your mind?” Bering argues that although it definitely had its benefits in the past, currently this persistent illusion has outlasted its evolutionary purpose. Therefore we should turn over a new leaf and start thinking of ways to escape it.

As interesting as spaceflight might be, many people are just as fascinated by the side-effects of it. How do you endure living in a tiny space for months, where there’s no privacy, and more importantly, no gravity? Packing for Mars answers these questions. However, the book is not just about the gory details. Roach also studies the cultural differences which exist in spaceflight, for example: in Japan, psychologists evaluate astronaut candidates by their ability to fold origami cranes swiftly under stress. There are also the extraordinary tests done by NASA, where a bone-loss-study participant was forced to lie in bed for three months to simulate the effect of weightlessness on his skeleton. Packing for Mars is funny, sometimes even slapstick, but also genuinely interesting.



United Academics Magazine - Feb. 2011  

United Academics Magazine - Feb. 2011