World Literature: Theories in the Context of Globalization

Photo by Greg Gershman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Image credit: Greg Gershman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When we think of globalization and forms of entertainment, we immediately think of the Internet, social media, movies, or television shows.  But, contrary to popular belief, literature also holds an important place in the flow of entertainment media that is coursing through the veins of public consumption in our globalized world.  The technological advances that are connecting people worldwide through shared information are also serving as a medium to disseminate books across national and cultural boundaries.

The term “world literature” was first used by the German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, referring to the dissemination of literature from and to countries across the globe.  Goethe famously stated in letters to Johann Eckermann in 1827, “National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach.”  World Literature, in the modern sense, refers to literary works that are translated into multiple languages and circulated to an audience outside their country of origin.

World literature is not a new concept, but as new media technologies explode, so do new ways of disseminating books across national boundaries.  And as new ways emerge of delivering world literature to readers worldwide, many scholars are examining the implications of translations on literature, the impact that literature has on culture, and the ways that cultures can transform books.  World literature can be an amazing tool for analyzing globalization because it provides a wonderful example of the ways that information is shared across languages and cultures.

Valerie Henitiuk, a professor of Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia, in a compelling 2012 essay, explored the process of translation and the meanings that it holds.  She posits that “texts become successfully worlded only through interpretive acts of mediation profoundly bound up in aspects of culture.”  In other words, a text can never truly be independent of its translation.  As literature moves across boundaries of culture and language, it is, in a way, transformed into a unique cultural artifact.

While some believe that world literature gains value in translation, some scholars, such as Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, hold the alternate view that the study of world literature often ignores the power of a work in its own language.  Spivak believes that scholars must take care to avoid homogenizing cultures and languages when undertaking the study of translated texts, and that consideration must be given to protecting the diversity of languages and cultures present in literary works.

Image credit: John Blyberg via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Image credit: John Blyberg via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Venkat Mani, in an essay published in 2014, submits that world literature is best understood in the larger context of global media dissemination.  Mani points out that in the globalized world that exists today, the place of origin of a literary work does not necessarily define the cultural or national context of the work.  He believes that modern world literature is being created and disseminated in a public sphere, aided by new media technologies and the interconnected nature of the Internet and social media. Mani’s viewpoint mirrors Goethe’s statement that “national literature is now a rather unmeaning term,” but takes on new meaning as, almost 200 years later, the world is more connected than ever before through modern technology.

The study of world literature is a powerful tool for global studies because it encompasses so many themes that are important to understanding globalization.  World literature can show us how information is shared between cultures and nations. It provides insight into how cultural artifacts are transformed as they traverse languages and boundaries. It also can help us to understand the ways that new media technologies could be facilitating globalization by creating a public space for the transmission of literature and other information across the globe.

Want to delve deeper into this topic? Check out the sources below!

Web Resources

Top 100 Works in World Literature – InfoPlease

Into to World Literature – Penn State

Words Without Borders

Books Set In… – This service lets you search geographically for books set in particular regions, countries, and cities.  It even has a Google Maps feature that lets you browse the map for books from a particular area.

Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Hamilton, Grant. (2014). On world literature: when Goethe met Boltzmann. Textual Practice, 28:6, 1015-1033

Henitiuk, Valerie. (2012). The Single, Shared Text? Translation and World Literature. World Literature Today, (86)1, 30-34.

Mani, Venkat. (2014). A Pact With Books: The Public Life of World Literature.  Global E-Journal. 8(1). 

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)

Apter, Emily. (2011). The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature. Princeton : Princeton University Press.

Damrosch, David. (2003). What is world literature? Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Soret, Frédéric Jacob, Oxenford, John,Eckermann, Johann Peter. (1901). Conversations with Eckermann: being appreciations and criticisms on many subjects. Washington, M.W. Dunne.

Haen, Theo d’. (2012). The Routledge concise history of world literature. London : Routledge.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (2003) Death of a discipline. New York : Columbia University Press.

Comments { 0 }

World War I Remembrance – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

2014-08-01-tower-of-london-world-war-i-poppies-paul-cummins-01

The First World War began on July 28, 1914 and did not officially end until the signing of a ceasefire that went into effect on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.  Over the course of this time, 888,246 soldiers from Britain and its Commonwealth were killed in conflict.  To commemorate this loss, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper were commissioned to create this impressive installation of ceramic poppies flowing out of the Tower of London and into the surrounding moat.  To put this into perspective, 116,378 American military personnel were lost in this conflict. (Leland, 2010)

In the United States, Armistice Day was first officially commemorated in 1918 through a Presidential Proclamation by Woodrow Wilson.  In 1938 an Act was passed to create a legal holiday, Armistice Day.  In 1954 in the United States, the word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” in order to recognize the sacrifice of American soldiers involved in all conflicts.  After being designated as a federal holiday on the fourth Monday in November in 1961 as part of the Uniform Holiday Bill, the official celebration was changed back to the original date effective in 1978 .  For more on the history of this holiday in the United States, the Veterans Administration provides a brief History of Veterans Day.

This fall, the University of Illinois remembers “The Great War: Experience, Representations, Effects” with a calendar of events.  Come learn more about the War to End All Wars.

 

Comments { 0 }

Ending Gender-Based Violence: Global Efforts

Stop Violence Against Women 2

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 days between November 25th and and December 10th are designated by Rutger’s University Center for Women’s Global Leadership as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. These events put the problem of gender-based violence in the international spotlight and provide an opportunity to discuss the issue and how it is being addressed globally.

Violence against women and girls is a problem that reaches across national boundaries. It affects women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions.  Because gender-based violence is often a result of deeper, ingrained  societal discrimination, it is difficult to address and more difficult to eliminate. No matter what form the violence takes, it is harmful not just to individuals but to communities and societies at large. It is a human rights issue with wide-reaching implications that garners attention from the highest levels of international governance but will require fundamental change at the individual and community levels to stop.

Statistics

Here are some jarring global statistics about gender-based violence:

  • Up to 70 percent of women encounter some form of violence during their lifetime. (UN)
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. The abuser is usually a member of the woman’s family. (WHO)
  • Of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, women and girls make up 80%.  A majority of these women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation. (WHO)
  • The number of women alive today who have undergone female genital mutilation is an estimated 100 and 140 million. (WHO)
  • In some parts of the world it is more likely that a girl will be raped than learn how to read. (WHO)
  • Women aged 15-44 are statistically more likely to be harmed by rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. (UN)

What can be done?

The UN campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women outlines 16 steps that they believe are necessary to work towards ending violence against women.  These include adopting and enforcing laws, engaging the mass media, mobilizing men and boys, ending impunity towards conflict-related sexual violence, making justice available to women and girls, along with several more.  International and regional treaties are also an effective tool in mobilizing large-scale action to eliminate violence against women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” This widely-arching convention is a powerful tool for gender equality that calls upon UN member states to enact laws and create institutions to eliminate discrimination.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) has been proposed as a piece of legislation in the United States, supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other advocacy groups, that would address violence against women through United States foreign policy, implementing a set of best practices for preventing the violence and prosecuting perpetrators of such acts.  The act was introduced in 2011 to the United States Congress, but was not passed into law.  Critics, such as Wendy McElroy from The Independent Institute,  claim that the act would unfairly ignore male victims of gendered and sexual violence.  Some international agreements, such as the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, address this concern, pointing out that the principles and framework of such rulings can be applied to “men, children and the elderly who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit.” It will remain to be seen whether formal legislation such as I-VAWA will be passed in the United States, but advocacy organizations hope that awareness events such as International Violence Against Women Day and the 16 Days Campaign will spur the creation of new legal measures and activism throughout the world to address this problem.

Check out the resources below to learn more or get involved!

Web Resources

International Violence Against Women Survey

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2014

Unite to End Violence Against Women

No1Nowhere Campaign

Women Thrive Worldwide

Violence Against Women FactSheet – UN

Books from the UIUC Libraries

Nakray, Keerty. (Eds.) (2013). Gender-based violence and public health: international perspectives on budgets and policiesAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Nichols, Andrea J. (2014). Feminist advocacy: gendered organizations in community-based responses to domestic violenceLanham : Lexington Books.

Renzetti, Claire M., Edleson, Jeffrey L.Bergen, Raquel Kennedy. (2010). Sourcebook on Violence Against Women. Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence :the Global Clothesline Project. New York : Palgrave Pivot.

Stewart, Mary White. (2014). Ordinary violence: everyday assaults against women worldwideSanta Barbara, California : Praeger, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Casey, E. A., Carlson, J., Fraguela-Rios, C., Kimball, E., Neugut, T. B., Tolman, R. M., & Edleson, J. L. (2013). Context, Challenges, and Tensions in Global Efforts to Engage Men in the Prevention of Violence against Women: An Ecological Analysis. Men & Masculinities, 16(2), 228-251.

Devries, K. M., Mak, J. T., García-Moreno, C., Petzold, M., Child, J. C., Falder, G., & … Watts, C. H. (2013). The Global Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women. Science, 340(6140), 1527-1528.

Mason, C. L. (2013). Global Violence Against Women as National Security “Emergency”. Feminist Formations, 25(2), 55-80.

McFarlane, J., Nava, A., Gilroy, H., Paulson, R., & Maddoux, J. (2012). Testing Two Global Models to Prevent Violence against Women and Children: Methods and Baseline Data Analysis of a Seven-Year Prospective Study. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 33(12), 871-881.

Šimonović, D. (2014). Global and Regional Standards on Violence Against Women: The Evolution and Synergy of the CEDAW and Istanbul Conventions. Human Rights Quarterly, 36(3), 590-606.

Comments { 0 }

Happy Birthday, United Nations!

un_day1

October 24th marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945.  The United Nations uses this day as an opportunity to not only celebrate the collaborative efforts of member nations, but also to reaffirm pressing endeavors of the organization and to lay out goals for the year to come. In his UN Day message for 2014, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated, “At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable.  On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good.”

One such common effort of United Nations member states will be the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a plan currently under construction to succeed the Millennium Development Goals as a framework for global development that will stretch to 2030. While the push to achieve the MDGs continues through the plan’s target date of December 2015, United Nations organs and agencies will immediately undertake the new development agenda after 2015.  As described in a previous post on Global Currents, the process of developing a post-2015 agenda for development has been underway since 2010, when the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda was created, as well as a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on the post-2015 developmental framework.

In early October, the High-Level Panel released an interactive online report on the agenda, entitled  “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development.”  Through their research, which involved consultations on the individual, company, and national level through The World We Want, the panel developed 12 Illustrative Goals for global development based on Five Transformative Shifts. These goals build on the Millenium Development Goals and extend and transform them to satisfy the opinions of the public and the shifting needs of the world.  The Five Transformative Shifts are as follows:

  1. Leave no one behind.
  2. Put sustainable development at the core.
  3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.
  4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all.
  5. Forge a new global partnership.

While the transformative shifts represent ambiguous, widely arching objectives, the 12 illustrative goals delineate just how the transformative shifts can be implemented in more specific, measurable terms. The Panel believes that if the 12 Illustrative Goals are reached, then these shifts will be accomplished. The UN hopes to use the momentum that was started by the Millennium Development Goals to keep member states and UN agencies moving towards worldwide improvement in areas such as poverty, hunger, water, sanitation, education and healthcare.

Consult the sources below for more information on Global Development and the United Nations’ Development Agenda:

Websites

Report on Post-2015 Agenda by High-level Panel of Imminent Persons

The World We Want 2015

List of UN Partners on MDGs

U.S. Agency for International Development

Human Rights Watch

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Brolan, C. E., Lee, S., Kim, D., & Hill, P. S. (2014). Back to the future: what would the post-2015 global development goals look like if we replicated methods used to construct the millennium development goals?. Globalization & Health, 10(1), 1-15.

Cook, Sarah, Dugarova, Esuna (2014). Rethinking Social Development for a Post-2015 World. Development, 57(1), 30–35.

Slack, L. (2014). The post-2015 Global Agenda – a role for local government. Commonwealth Journal Of Local Governance, (15), 173-177.

Books

Black, Robert E.,, Singhal, Atul,Uauy, Ricardo. (Eds.) (2014). International nutrition :achieving millennium goals and beyond. Basel, Switzerland : Karger ; Vevey, Switzerland : Nestlé Nutrition Institut.

Dodds, Felix., Laguna Celis, Jorge.Thompson, Elizabeth. (2014). From Rio+20 to a new development agenda: building a bridge to a sustainable future. London ; New York : Routledge.

Haslam, Paul Alexander,, Schafer, Jessica,, Beaudet, Pierre,Haslam, Paul Alexander. (Eds.) (2012). Introduction to international development :approaches, actors, and issues. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada : Oxford University Press.

 

Comments { 0 }

The Lyon Declaration and the Role of Libraries in Development

banner_lyon-declaration

On August 18th, at the 80th IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) General Conference and Assembly, IFLA released the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development.

The UN post-2015 Development Agenda is the plan currently under construction to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a framework for global development. The MDGs consist of eight specific goals, from eradicating poverty to promoting gender equality to reducing child mortality, and have been the impetus for a wide range of programs since their implementation in 2000. The 2010 High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs called upon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to begin the process of constructing a post-2015 development plan.  As a result, the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda was created, as well as a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on the post-2015 developmental framework.

Part of the post-2015 development planning process is the call for an “inclusive dialogue” in the creation of the goals.  In order to open up the dialogue and utilize the input of people and organizations worldwide, the UN launched “The World We Want 2015,” an interactive survey that allows people to voice their opinions on what should be included in the post-2015 developmental agenda.  This website also provides visualizations of the data that has been collected so far.

In this spirit of “inclusive dialogue,” The Lyon Declaration is an advocacy document that aims to influence the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda.  It outlines the importance of access to information and knowledge in development and individual empowerment.

Freedom of information has long been considered a human rights issue.  In the first session of the United Nations in 1946, Resolution 59(I), adopted by the General Assembly, stated, “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and … the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.”

The rise of the Internet has transformed the ways in which people access information and has opened up possibilities for information dissemination that the delegates of that first UN session in 1946 could never have imagined.  The Internet provides the unprecedented opportunity to support development by empowering individuals with information that facilitates education, increases job opportunities, provides connections to cultural heritage, and allows for civil participation in governmental processes.  The Lyon Declaration asserts that the equitable access to this information should be part of a human-rights based framework for development.

Another important aspect of the Lyon Declaration is its emphasis on the role of libraries, archives, and civil service organizations as facilitators of information dissemination.  By outlining the role that these organizations can play in providing information access to individuals and communities, the declaration urges the UN and the world to recognize them as human rights institutions.  While it is important to have the Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to disseminate information to people, it is just as important to have institutions present that can bridge the gap between the technology and the people that it serves.  As Kay Mathiesen states in a recent article on information access and human rights, “libraries provide a centralized access point so that people know where to get information and they organize information so that people can find what they need and explore further.” The Lyon Declaration points out to the world the importance of libraries in development and places libraries at the cornerstone of the effort to empower individuals through knowledge and information fluency.

As of October 2nd, 2014, the Lyon Declaration had over 350 signatories, made up of libraries, institutions, and organizations all over the world.  IFLA plans to continue to the campaign to include information access in the final Post-2015 Development Agenda.  On October 6th, IFLA released a toolkit to assist library professionals who are interacting with government policymakers in successfully arguing for the role of libraries in development.  The UN expects to release the final Post-2015 Development Agenda by December of 2015, and undoubtedly IFLA will continue to push for the recognition of the Lyon Declaration until this final release.

Check out the resources below to learn more!

Web Resources

The Lyon Declaration – One Month On – IFLA

The Lyon Declaration Tackles Information Access and Sustainable Development – Information Today

Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Agenda – UN

Africa: Fight Poverty – With Data –All Africa

The World We Want 2015

How Libraries can Support Development – The Guardian

IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto – 1994

Beyond Access – Library Partnerships

U.N. report: Internet access is a human right

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Rad, S. T., Kurt, Ş. Ş., & Polatöz, S. S. (2013). Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Rural Mersın (Turkey); Prospects For Rural Development. Journal Of Tekirdag Agricultural Faculty10(3), 97-106.

Gelb, E., A. Maru, J. Brodgen, E. Dodsworth, R. Samii, V. Pesee, 2008. Adoption of ICT Enabled Information Systems for Agricultural Development and Rural Viability

Ceeehini, S. and C. Scott, 2003. Can Information and Communications Technology Applications Contributeto Poverty Reduction? Lessons From Rural India. Information Technology for Development 10(2003)73-84.

Mendel, Tony. Freedom of Information as an Internationally Protected Human Right.

Mathiesen, Kay. 2009 Access to Information as a Human Right. Conference Paper.

 

Books Available at UIUC Libraries

Al-Suqri, Mohammed Nasser, Lillard, Linda L., Al-Saleem, Naifa Eid. (Eds.) (2014). Information access and library user needs in developing countries. Hershey, PA : Information Science Reference.

Browne, Stephen, Weiss, Thomas George. (Eds.) (2014). Post-2015 UN development: making change happen. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY.

Gready, Paul, Vandenhole, Wouter. (Eds.) (2014). Human rights and development in the new millennium: towards a theory of change. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Njobvu, Benson, Koopman, Sjoerd M. J.. (Eds.) (2008). Libraries and information services towards the attainment of the UN millennium development goals. München : K. G. Saur.

Steyn, Jacques., Van Belle, Jean-Paul, Villanueva, Mansilla, Eduardo. (Eds.) (2011). ICTs for global development and sustainability practice and applications. Hershey, Pa. : IGI Global.

Comments { 0 }

Upcoming Teach In – The Islamic State and the Implosion of Syria and Iraq: Whither the Middle East?

Teach-In — The Islamic State and the Implosion of Syria and Iraq: Whither the Middle East?

Thursday, October 2

4:00 – 5:15 PM

Bevier 180

UPDATE: The video for the Teach-In is now available!

Sponsored by: Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS), Center for Global Studies, and Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Panelists will include:

  • Jamsheed Choksy, Indiana University
  • Carol Choksy, Indiana University
  • Paul Diehl, University of Illinois
  • Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Syrian American Medical Society

Moderator:

  • Edward Kolodziej, University of Illinois

In preparation for this event, this blog post will summarize some important information about the terrorist group known as the Islamic State.

Origins of ISIS

The terrorist group known as ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) traces its origins from the early 2000s, when Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant, founded the Sunni Muslim extremist group Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad).  This group later became a splinter group of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and became well-known for its ruthlessness.  After Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, a new leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, took control of the terrorist group and changed its name to ISI (Islamic State in Iraq).  At this point ISI was still affiliated with al-Qaeda.  During the period of U.S. troop surges in Iraq in 2006-2007, ISIS was considerably weakened but not completely wiped out.  In 2010 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took control of the group.

Expansion

The anti-government uprising in Syria during 2011-2013 presented itself as an opportunity for ISI to expand, and the group moved into Syria by taking over the Syrian group al-Nusra, renaming itself ISIS.  Al-Qaeda leadership opposed this expansion, which led to ISIS’s break from al-Qaeda in 2013.  As U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in 2013, ISIS increased its violent endeavors in the country.  In January of 2014, ISIS fighters overtook the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.  In June the group made further advances in Iraq, capturing the second-largest city of Iraq, Mosul, as well as Tikrit.  At this point ISIS declared itself “the Caliphate.”  During the summer of 2014, ISIS shocked the world with graphic videos of mass executions of captured soldiers.  ISIS has continued to use social media outlets as mediums for displaying their brutality, releasing execution videos of two American journalists and one British humanitarian worker in August and September.

Crisis of the Yazidi People

In the late summer of 2014, ISIS fighters began targeting Iraqi Yazidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious community in Northern Iraq, in efforts to rid the country of non-Islamic peoples.  In early August, ISIS advanced on the town of Sinjar which held tens of thousands of Yazidi people, some of which had already fled from other towns.  The Yazidis, along with some Shiite Muslims, were forced to flee the city into the neighboring mountains.  As many as 40,000 people became stranded in the mountains, besieged by ISIS forces and faced with extremely high temperatures and dehydration in the rough mountain terrain.  At this point President Obama authorized airstrikes against ISIS to help these stranded people flee to safety in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The airstrikes as well as aid from Syrian Kurdish fighters have allowed for the escape of 20,000 to 30,000 people from the mountains surrounding Sinjar. While a majority of those stranded have escaped, thousands more remain in peril and face imprisonment, slavery, or death at the hands of ISIS forces.  On September 24, the BBC reported that more than 3,000 Yazidi women and children have been captured and are  being trafficked for sex.  Iraqi Yazidi politician, Vian Dakheel, stated, “We’re a minority here and there’s no strong lobby to support us.” She explained that support from foreign governments was essential to rescuing the thousands of individuals still in the hands of the extremist group.

What the Islamic State Wants

The goal of the Islamic State is to establish a caliphate, which according to Islamic Law is a religious state ruled by a single leader who holds absolute political and religious rule.  The current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claims to be this leader, or “caliph,” declaring himself, “leader of Muslims everywhere.” But ISIS subscribes to a brutal extremist version of Sunni Islam, and the group is intolerant of any religious groups which contradict its beliefs.  ISIS seized the profitable oil fields of central Iraq in 2014, and subsequently has an estimated $2 billion in assets, which makes it currently the world’s wealthiest militant group.  ISIS’s sizeable assets, as well as the seizure of weapons and supplies from Iraqi and Syrian forces, make the group extremely well-armed as well.

Foreign Intervention

In August of 2014, President Obama sent a small number of American troops into Iraq to assist Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS.  The U.S. has also undertaken an airstrike campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.  Part of the U.S. campaign against ISIS includes a humanitarian effort to assist the ethnic and religious communities in Iraq and Syria that are in threat of persecution.  The U.S. is joined by France, Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Jordan in airstrike operations against ISIS.  The United Kingdom has also been involved, primarily in Northern Iraq, in humanitarian efforts.  Germany and Italy have also committed to providing humanitarian support to the region.  Albania, Croatia, and the Czech Republic have assisted by supplying weapons to Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq.  In a speech on September 24th before the United Nations, President Obama called for the world to assist in the military efforts against ISIS. Meanwhile, the UN has declared the crisis in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency,” calling upon the nations of the world to assist with the growing humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria.

Learn more about ISIS by attending the Teach-In, and with the sources below:

News Resources from Around the World

Hindustan Times – The Rise of ISIS terror – a timeline

CNN – ISIS Fast Facts

BBC News –  Iraq crisis: Desperate plight of refugees near Dohuk

The Independent –  Where does Isis get its money from? US steps up the battle to find out

BBC News – Islamic State crisis: Yazidi anger at Iraq’s forgotten people

Al Jazeera – ISIL’s war just went global – Group calls for attacks on US and allies wherever they are – a declaration of war and a defining moment of this conflict

Web Resources

Institute for the Study of War – Timely updates on the situation in Iraq and Syria.

Vox – Things about Isis you need to know

Tracking Terrorism – Islamic State of Iraq and ash Sham / Islamic State (Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS or ISIL, IS)

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Cragin, R. Kim. (2014). A RECENT HISTORY OF AL-QA’IDA. The Historical
Journal, 57, pp 803-824.

Hogger, Henry. (2014). SYRIA: HOPE OR DESPAIR? Asian Affairs,
45:1, 1-8.

Phillips, Andrew. (2014). The Islamic State’s challenge to international order.
Australian Journal of International Affairs, 68:5, 495-498.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Celso, Anthony. (2014). Al-Qaeda’s Post-9/11 Devolution: The Failed Jihadist Struggle Against the Near and Far EnemyLondon : Bloomsbury Publishing.

Feldman, Noah. (2010). The Fall and Rise of the Islamic StatePrinceton : Princeton University Press.

Gottlieb, Stuart. (Eds.) (2014). Debating terrorism and counterterrorism: conflicting perspectives on causes, contexts, and responsesLos Angeles : Sage.

Lappin, Yaakov. (2011). Virtual caliphate: exposing the Islamist state on the internetDulles, Va. : Potomac Books.

Comments { 0 }

Upcoming Teach In: Ebola and Global Health

There will be a Teach-In on Ebola and Global Health, Thursday, September 18th, from 4 – 5:30 pm in Lincoln Hall room 1092.  

UPDATE: The video for the Teach-In is now available!

Sponsored by the Center for African Studies, the Center for Global Studies, the UIUC Global Health Initiative, and the University YMCA, the teach-in will include expert panelists and will focus on Ebola and its impact on global health.

Panelists will include:

  • Dr. Gay Miller – Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology
  • Dr. Barry Pittenrigh – Professor in the Department of Entomology and Director of Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO)
  • Christian Martyn Kamara – National General Secretary and Chief Executive Office of the YMCA in Sierra Leone
  • Mabinty Tarawallie, MSW – Sierra Leone National and recent graduate from the University of Illinois School of Social Work

In preparation for this event, this blog post will break down some important information about the Ebola virus.

The worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in history is taking place in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, with a current total of 3,967 suspected and current cases.  The CDC reports the current number of deaths (as of September 5th, 2014) at 2,105.  Ebola is described by Doctors Without Borders as “one of the world’s most deadly diseases,”  and the mortality rate for the current outbreak of 53% makes it all the more terrifying for the communities who find themselves at risk of infection.

The History

The first discovery of the Ebola virus occurred with an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Zaire (which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Sudan in 1976.  These first outbreaks had approximately 300 cases in each country, with 88% of cases leading to death.  The virus is named after the Ebola River, which is close to the first site of infection in Zaire.  There are five different strains of the Ebola virus. These include Bundibugyo, Ivory Coast, Reston, Sudan and Zaire, and are named after their places of origin. All but the Reston Ebola virus are dangerous to humans.  According to the CDC, there have been 31 outbreaks of Ebola, including all five strains, since the original 1976 outbreak.  The average number of reported human cases for each of these outbreaks is 56.

The Virus

Ebola is spread through the direct contact of bodily fluids.  It can be carried and transmitted by animals and humans.  Transmission of the virus is only possible after the infected person begins to show symptoms. It is believed that fruit bats may be a natural host for the virus, and other animals such as primates can also carry the virus and could be the cause of human contraction.

Since the beginning symptoms of Ebola are the same as many other diseases, it is difficult to initially diagnose the disease without a laboratory test.

While several vaccines are being tested for Ebola virus, there are currently no clinically available medications for the disease.  Current treatment for the disease includes administering fluids through IV and treating the symptoms, such as balancing electrolytes and maintaining blood pressure.

The Fear Factor

The fear surrounding the Ebola outbreak is having negative impacts on the health systems in affected countries, making a very bad situation even worse.  One of these impacts is that people are avoiding health care centers because of the concern of contracting Ebola.  This means that individuals suffering from non-Ebola-related health problems are going untreated because they are afraid of contracting the Ebola virus.  This is a huge problem since Ebola is far from the biggest health concern affecting people in West Africa.  This graph from Humanosphere shows that the deaths from neglected tropical diseases and Malaria far outstretch the deaths from Ebola in 2014. But the panic surrounding the Ebola outbreak is overshadowing the urgent health concerns posed by other diseases, causing individuals who need medical care to avoid treatment.

Due to the high levels of publicity that Ebola has garnered in the international media, the irrational alarm surrounding the Ebola outbreak has become a worldwide issue.  According to a recent poll by the Harvard School of Public Health, 39 percent of Americans are concerned that there could be a large Ebola outbreak in the United States.  The mode of transmission for Ebola (only through the direct contact of bodily fluids) makes it extremely unlikely to pose a threat to countries as far away from the affected areas as the United States. In fact, Jay M. Bernhardt, Professor & Founding Director of the Center for Health Communication  at the University of Texas at Austin has stated that the odds of someone living in the U.S. contracting Ebola are “about the same as being struck and killed by a meteor: essentially zero.”

Some experts believe that the international anxiety that has arisen in response to the Ebola outbreak is doing more harm than good for those in the affected regions.  Despite the fact that the World Health Organization has recommended that flights to affected regions remain operational, many international airlines have cancelled flights to these areas.  Not only does the quarantine of borders and cancellation of flights keep health workers and aid from those in need, it has the additional consequence of creating food shortages in the affected countries.

The Current Situation

Although the concern of the virus spreading to the world population may be inflated, the Ebola outbreak is an urgent medical concern for the world community to address. Health workers who are treating the virus are at the most serious risk of infection.  In fact, more than 120 medical workers have contracted the disease, according to WHO. The reason that health workers are at such risk of infection is the lack of protective equipment and adequate facilities to support infection control.  The countries being most heavily affected by the virus (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) do not have adequate facilities or staff to deal with existing cases and prevent the spread of the disease.

This is why UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued an “international rescue call,” requesting a surge in worldwide assistance to deal with the Ebola outbreak.  Part of the international response, in addition to supplies and aid, must include an effort to disseminate information about the disease.  But most importantly, the international response must be grounded in scientific evidence and must strive to combat the fear and stigma that is so widespread surrounding the Ebola outbreak.

Interested in learning more about the Ebola outbreak? Check out the following sources:

Web Resources

CDC – 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa

WHO – Ebola Virus Disease

Doctors without Borders – Ebola Emergency

CDC – Outbreaks Chronology: Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

Microbe Wiki – Ebola Virus

Infographic from the CDC

Africa Focus – Updates on Ebola

News Articles

WHO: Ebola ‘an international emergency’ – BBC News

Ebola virus: Nine things to know about the killer disease – CNN.com

Ebola Outbreak Precautions – In Pictures

How the Ebola Outbreak Compares to Other Killers – Humanosphere

Ban issues ‘international rescue call’ to halt Ebola epidemic – UN News Centre

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals & Databases)

Bausch, D. G., & Schwarz, L. (2014, July). Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Where Ecology Meets Economy. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. pp. 1-5.

Check Hayden, E. (2014). World struggles to stop Ebola. Nature512(7515), 355-356.

Ying, CHENG, Yu, LI and Hong Jie, YU. (2014) Ebola Virus Disease: General Characteristics, Thoughts, and Perspectives. Biomedical and Environmental Sciences. 27(8): 651-3.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Hewlett, Barry S.,Hewlett, Bonnie L. (2008). Ebola, culture, and politics :the anthropology of an emerging disease. Belmont, CA : Thomson Higher Education.

Preston, Richard. (2008). Panic in level 4: cannibals, killer viruses, and other journeys to the edge of scienceNew York : Random House.

Webber, R. (2004). Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Control: A Global Perspective. Wallingford : CABI.

Comments { 0 }

Graduate Minor in Global Studies Information Sessions!

Interested in expanding your disciplinary and professional vision as well as your job prospects? The Graduate Minor in Global Studies enables MA, PhD and professional school students to gain a deeper understanding of the processes of globalization. The Minor builds on students’ disciplinary and professional knowledge base to integrate their specialized skills within the broader intellectual, and public policy demands of the challenges confronting the world’s populations today.

Upcoming Student Information Sessions

For more information on the Graduate Minor and associated course
requirements, please attend one of the following informational meetings:

Thursday, September 11, 4-5 pm
Monday, September 15, 4-5 pm
Friday, September 19, 12-1 pm

All sessions will be held in Room 101 of the International Studies Building.

Refreshments will be served!

For more information contact:
Center for Global Studies
global-studies@illinois.edu * 217-265-5186

Visit our web site:

http://cgs.illinois.edu/global-studies-graduate-minor

Comments { 0 }

Transcending Nationalities: The “Global Imaginary” Seen Through Visual Culture

eye-92898_1280

Images are active players in the game of establishing and changing values. They are capable of introducing new values into the world and thus of threatening old ones.  J.T. Mitchell, 2005.

The concept of “global imaginary,” as coined by Manfred Steger, refers to the consciousness of belonging to a global community – a consciousness that has emerged in recent decades with the rapid rise of communication technologies and the decline of nation-based political ideologies. The concept builds on Benedict Anderson’s theories of “imagined communities,” but while Anderson used the term to refer to shared ideologies within nations, Steger posits that globalization is breaking down the imagined walls of nationhood and bringing about “a shared sense of a thickening world community.”  Steger insists that in order to understand and solve the great global problems of our time, we must first understand the “global imaginary” and all that it represents.

One artist and scholar has focused on visual culture as a way to understand the concept of “global imaginary.”  Tommaso Durante’s project, the Visual Archive Project of the Global Imaginary, explores the visual evidence, through photographs, of the cultural changes happening worldwide as a result of globalization.  Images are powerful conveyors of information. They carry a wealth of embedded knowledge about culture, values, and ideology. And Durante explains how, “due to the global spread of new media technologies, the massive uses of personal electronic devices and the development of intelligent architectural interfaces, visuality is increasingly eclipsing textuality and images, with their ‘surplus of value’, dominate the world.”  Indeed, if we look at how social media, with its image-heavy and text-sparse format, has become a unifying and polarizing force in the world, we can see how important visual culture is to the social forces that shape global society.

The photographs in Durante’s archive cover the cultural, political, and ideological dimensions of the “global imaginary.”  The photographs encompassing the cultural dimension are full of people, advertisements, storefronts, public spaces, and symbols that represent merging nationalities and ideologies.  The Apple logo is seen prominently displayed in a modern glass shopping center in East Shanghai, and then on a sign in from of an “iShop” housed in a beautiful historic building in Rome.  Through the images, we see how symbols and cultural icons stretch across the boundaries of nations and create a shared global visual landscape.  The images also venture into the political dimension, showing protest movements in the U.S. and Chile.  The ideological dimension shows advertisements and promotional imagery that deliberately make use of the the globe or words like “global” and “international” to produce a sense of shared meaning and influence cultural identities.

The archive may just be one artist’s perspective of the visual culture of globalization, but it is nonetheless a compelling portrait of the ways in which globalization is inciting a shared sense of meaning and belonging among global citizens.  The collection is a powerful illustration of the concept of the “global imaginary,” adding a visual dimension to Steger’s theory and, if Durante’s intentions come to fruition, serving as a historical archive of the process of globalization.

Learn more about globalization and the “global imaginary” with the resources below!

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals & Databases)

Benedikter, Roland;  Ziveri, Davide.  (2014). The global imaginary, new media and sociopolitical innovation in the periphery: the practical case of an Internet-based empowerment project in Palestine and Israel. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 28:4.

Crang M. (2010). The death of great ships: photography, politics, and waste in the global imaginary. Environment and Planning A, 42:5, 1084 – 1102.

Durante, Tommasso. (2014). Visual Culture and Globalization: The Visual Archive Project of the Global Imaginary. Global-E Journal, 8.

Ojala, M. (2011). MEDIATING GLOBAL IMAGINARY. Journalism Studies, 12:5.

Steger, Manfred B.  (2009). The Rise of the Global Imaginary and the Persistence of Ideology. Global-E Journal, 3. 

Books

Anderson, Benedict O’G. (1991). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London : Verso.

Baldacchino, John,Vella, Raphael. (Eds.) (2013). Mediterranean art and education: navigating local, regional and global imaginaries through the lens of the arts and learning.  Rotterdam, The Netherlands : Sense Publishers.

Djelic, Marie-Laure.Quack, Sigrid. (Eds.) (2010). Transnational communities: shaping global economic governance. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Krätke, Stefan, Wildner, Kathrin,  Lanz, Stephan. (Eds.) (2012). Transnationalism and urbanism. New York, NY : Routledge.

Shavit, Uriya. (2009). The new imagined community: global media and the construction of national and Muslim identities of migrants. Brighton [England] : Sussex Academic Press.

Steger, Manfred B.. (2008). The rise of the global imaginary: political ideologies from the French Revolution to the global war on terror. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Vertovec, Steven. (2009). Transnationalism. London : Routledge.

Comments { 0 }

Public Procurement of Food: Should Governments Buy Local?

By U.S. Department of Agriculture (CRYP Produce) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In all areas of the world, governments spend a lot of money on food.  Governments need food for schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, and many other types of public institutions.  According to a recent UN briefing, for example, the UK spends approximately $3 billion on public food procurement per year.  Governments also spend money on food for various types of food aid programs.  For instance, in 2010-2011, almost 3% of India’s federal expenditures went to food subsidies or direct food aid.  Almost all high-income countries have school lunch programs, and 70 out of the 108 low- and middle-income countries of the world have some sort of school food program.  Since governments purchase such large amounts of food, they have the ability to control not only the quality of the food purchased, but the source of the food.  This presents a great opportunity for governments to support local food producers, fight hunger, and ensure that the food provided in public venues is high-quality and nutritious.

Several nations are already taking advantage of this opportunity.  Brazil’s Food Acquisition Programme (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos, PAA) is one example of how government procurement can benefit local farmers and provide food to those in need.  The program’s goal is to provide food to members of the population who are facing “food and nutritional insecurity.”   Between 2003 and 2008, Brazil spent $1 billion on locally-grown food for the program, and the food was donated to 16.8 million people.  This program, while not without challenges, provides local farmers with a sales venue for their crops, spurs production and consumption of local foods, and provides nutritious foods for those who might otherwise go without.

Another example of a successful local food procurement program is Rome, Italy’s school meal program.  Introduced in 2001, the ALL FOR QUALITY principles provide a guideline for food procurement that focuses on “best value” of the food companies contracted, rather than lowest price as is usual for U.S. public food contracts.  The Rome school system, unlike U.S. schools which generally contract to one large food company, contracts with several smaller local food companies, maintaining a competitive bidding system that ensures higher quality.  The contracts given to local food producers are based on a 100-point system.  51 points are allotted for price of food, whereas the other 49 are for infrastructural considerations that support food quality.  The quality of the food is based on place of origin, organic products, and fair trade.  This system not only supports local food companies, but has raised the quality of school food in Rome considerably by creating a competitive market for local food based on important aspects of food quality.  While Italy seems to be leading the way in locally-sourced school food programs, Scotland, Japan, the United States, France, and Canada all have deployed recent programs which utilize local producers and attempt to increase nutritional value in school food.

Local food procurement empowers local food producers, benefits programs that feed the hungry, and increases the nutritional quality of food served in public institutions.  But that’s not all.  Governments can use their food procurement powers to buy only from local suppliers who use sustainable food production methods.  Sustainable production methods are those that use low-carbon or low-external-input modes of production.  Also, buying seasonally and locally reduces the “ecological footprint” of food being produced.  So, local public food procurement can have a really positive impact on the environment in addition to its multitude of societal benefits.

Check out the sources below for more information on public food procurement!

News and Opinions

Third World Network – Public Procurement and the Right to Food

UK National Audit Office – Smarter food procurement in the public sector

The World Bank – A Decade of Learning: Building a Public Procurement Community of Practice

All Africa – Tunisia: Reform of Public Procurement System Under Focus

The Washington Post – Guess how many memos USDA sent to schools about healthy school lunches?

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Davies, I., & Riley, J. (2005). Drive to give farmers a slice of public sector food budget. Farmers Weekly, 142(10), 12.

He, C., Perez-Cueto, F., Mikkelsen, B. (2014). Do attitudes, intentions and actions of school food coordinators regarding public organic food procurement policy improve the eating environment at school? Results from the iPOPY study. Public Health Nutrition, 17(6), 1299-1307.

Morgan, Kevin. (2008). Greening the Realm: Sustainable Food Chains and the Public Plate, Regional Studies, 42(9), p. 1246.

Sonnino, R. (2009). Quality food, public procurement, and sustainable development: the school meal revolution in Rome. Environment & Planning A, 41(2), 425-440.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Biénabe, Estelle, Peppelenbos, Lucian Peter Christoph. (Eds.) (2011). Reconnecting markets: innovative global practices in connecting small-scale producers with dynamic food markets. Farnham : Gower.

Marsden, Terry. (Eds.) (2014). Sustainable food systems: building a new paradigmLondon, New York : Routledge.

McCullough, Ellen B., Pingali, Prabhu L., Stamoulis, Kostas G. (Eds.) (2008). The transformation of agri-food systems :globalization, supply chains and smallholder farmers. Rome : Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Morgan, Kevin, Sonnino, Roberta. (2008). The school food revolution: public food and the challenge of sustainable development. London : Earthscan.

Comments { 0 }