SAWBO: Scientific Animations Without Borders

This week’s Glocal Notes post is an introduction to SAWBO: Scientific Animations Without Borders, a global education initiative based at the University of Illinois. This project aims to connect existing knowledge with people around the world who would benefit from this information, but to whom it is inaccessible. Additionally, the project aims to preserve and disseminate local knowledge. At the heart of the project is a growing library of animations about issues relevant to global development. The videos are divided into three main categories: agriculture, health, and women’s empowerment. Some examples include introductions to drip irrigation, cholera prevention, and microfinance.

Videos are available in fifty different languages, so as to be accessible to people around the world. (Note: not every video is available in every language. Most videos are available in at least two languages.) Additionally, all of the videos are free to use for educational purposes. The videos can be downloaded directly through SAWBO’s Video Library and will soon be available for streaming through a mobile app. To make the videos accessible in places with limited bandwidth, the videos are also distributed in the form of a pre-loaded USB, called the Extension System In Your Wallet (ESIYW).

SAWBO dates back to 2010 and is the brainchild of two University of Illinois professors: Dr. Barry Pittendrigh (Department of Entomology) and Dr. Julia Bello-Bravo (International Programs and Studies), who now co-direct the project. (You can read a short article about the project written by Dr. Pittendrigh in 2012 in the Illinois International Review.) According to the SAWBO website, 60% of the world’s mobile phone users live in developing countries. The project’s founders saw an opportunity to use technology to overcome some of the educational challenges to development. Fittingly, the project is partially funded by USAID, the development arm of the United States Government. Other major supporters include the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab at Michigan State University, the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss, and several endowed funds at at the University of Illinois. The initiative partners with organizations throughout the world to provide access to the videos and the information contained within them.

Interested in learning more? Watch a short video about the project below. If you would like to get involved, SAWBO is seeking volunteers with foreign language abilities to help make videos available in additional languages. As the videos are free to use, you are encouraged to incorporate them into your educational materials.

Chai Wai Series: Gender-Based Violence in the Global South—South Asia and Beyond

Katrina Spencer

November 12, 2014


The Chai Wai Series Tackles Gender-Based Violence

  • Had Jyoti Singh Pandey, victim of a fatal attack in 2012, been a poor woman, would the media have given the same attention to her case?

These were some of the questions addressed Wednesday of last week at the second meeting of the Chai Wai Series. Envisioned by South Asian Librarian Mara Thacker and doctoral candidate in history and instructor Julie Laut, this discussion was a direct offshoot of the History 365 course, “Gendering War, Migration and Memory: Fact and Fiction in Modern South Asia”. The research collected around the theme “Gender-based violence in the Global South: South Asia and Beyond” formed part of Laut’s students’ culminating project for class. Largely structured around South Asian literature, the course allowed students to create a lib guide, a rich compilation of relevant resources organized in one space that is informative, collaborative, public and enduring.


The diverse group of panelists was moderated by Laut who has specialized in gender, women’s and South Asian studies. Together, they expanded the discussion to wide regions of the world. Speakers included UIUC’s law professor Margareth Etienne, doctoral student of human resource development Anne Namatsi Lutomia and comparative literature professor Dr. Rini Mehta. Etienne’s voice was unique and valuable as she explored how laws are constructed to criminalize gender-based violence; Lutomia’s contributions educated attendees with regard to African attitudes surrounding gender-based violence; and Mehta revealed how sociocultural systems like castes can impact the degree of targeting and the protection victims of gender-based violence experience in India.

Mindfully nuancing the discussion, Etienne, author of “Addressing Gender Based Violence in an International Context,” commented that gender-based violence has a broad definition as it does not strictly identify women as victims; it also encompasses crimes carried out against people who do not exhibit gender in the ways their societies expect them to, as seen, for example, in the 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry.” Many hate crimes are committed not around the idea that a man is a man or a woman is a woman, but rather that a man isn’t masculine enough or a woman isn’t feminine enough to satisfy his/her society’s and peers’ expectations.

Lutomia, recipient of the Maria Pia Gratton Award, a fellowship meant to honor the memory of a victim of gender-based violence, shared that the practice of polygamy in Africa can make wives especially susceptible to gender-based violence. “We don’t have a law that is categorically against domestic violence,” she said, speaking of her native Kenya. Corrective rape, too, she intoned, carried out frequently within severely homophobic societies, is a damaging practice meant to punish, intimidate and terrorize people exhibiting sexual identity that falls outside of societal norms. Much of this violence, she highlighted, must be viewed through a post-colonial lens.

Mehta, whose academic work includes the 2011 documentary Post 498: Shades of Domestic Violence, introduced a variety of aggressions lesser known to the Western world, including the concept of “Love Jihad,” allegedly a deceptive practice of emotional manipulation designed to win converts to Islam. She also stated that “rape is more than a crime in South Asia. It is more of a phenomenon.” Calling this tendency a “pogrom,” Mehta pointed out that it is commonplace for one ethnic or religious group to target another and systematically murder its men or rape its women in an effort to humiliate, intimidate and demoralize. She, too, iterated that the legacy of colonialism colors the gender-based violence discourse.

Amid the brave, terrifying and undeniably contemporary comments, it was perhaps an audience member’s question that was the most compelling of all: “What is the origin of the need to control women that seems to cross borders, cultures and even time?” While gender-based violence is, again, not restricted to women, there is obvious, cross-cultural investment in a certain degree of conformity when it comes to the performance of one’s sexual identity. When people across the globe step outside of these norms, they frequently enter violently charged and threatening spaces. What is it, indeed, that makes us hurt each other in such deeply violent ways and what can we do about it? Please join our discussion by leaving a reply to this post. Visit the Chai Wai event lib guide and look for the International and Area Studies Library’s next event in the Chai Wai Series on conflicts in the Ukraine in February 2015.


Holiday recipes around the world and other tidbits

The leaves have fallen, the weather is changing, and we are all counting down the days not only until fall break, but to the holidays in December. We are lucky to be at such a diverse institution, with people from all walks of life, speaking different languages, and sharing different cultures. With the holidays coming, although everyone has different traditions, we all share the universal language of food. The look that we get when we see a table of our favorite treats during the holidays is most likely the same in all cultures. My favorite treats around the holidays tend to be tamales, stuffing, and tostadas. What foods do other cultures cook or bake around the holidays? Lucky for you, you can sit back and drool over all the great dishes I am about to show.


First, we have tamales (my all time favorite). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, tamales are part of Mexican cuisine. They are a small and steamed piece of dough with a filling of meat, salsa and/or cheese.  My favorites are the ones with chicken and “mole.” My mother and grandmother make these for Christmas Eve. Although we have not all been together for the holidays for the past couple of years, it’s still a fond memory.

Tamales. Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian via Flickr Commons

Tamales. Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian via Flickr Commons

Greek Dolmades are a delicious hot dish to eat around the table on the holidays. This dish consists of young leaves from the grapevine, that are stuffed with lemon-flavored rice, onion, and ground lamb. Complimenting these is avgolémono; sauce of egg yolks and lemon juice. Does this sound like something you might want to cook during the holidays? Be sure to checkout this great book we have available at the library, “Cooking the Greek Way: Revised and expanded to include new low-fat and vegetarian recipes”

Greek Dolmades. Photo courtesy of Geoff Peters via Flickr Commons

Greek Dolmades. Photo courtesy of Geoff Peters via Flickr Commons

Get ready for a French dessert to top off your great holiday meal. Bûche de Noël is a Yule Log cake with coffee buttercream and ganache. This is a traditional cake that is served in France and also Quebec. It’s basically a sponge cake filled with cream. We all need a little French in our lives, so how about checking out some French cookbooks.

Bûche de Noël. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Childs via Flickr Commons.

Bûche de Noël. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Childs via Flickr Commons.

Let’s travel all the way to Sweden and have a little herring and beet salad. The holidays are a time when we eat everything in front of us. It’s always good to have something healthy. The herring and beet salad consists of beets, berries, peppercorns, apples, and other yummy treats. For something healthy to go with all the holiday food, be sure to check out the great salad recipe books available at the library.

Herring and Beet salad. Photo courtesy of Miia Ranta via Flickr Commons

Herring and Beet salad. Photo courtesy of Miia Ranta via Flickr Commons

We all have great holiday traditions and recipes. For new food, be sure to check out some titles that will be sure to brighten your holidays. We’re going to need all the recipes to get us through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. Maybe Paula Deen has some recipes with a Southern twist. If you would like to browse on your own, be sure to go to the UIUC catalog and check out all the great holiday cookbooks we have. What’s your favorite holiday recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!


“tamale.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.

 “dolma.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.








Rugby: A Growing Worldwide Phenomenon



As shown in the above photos, the USA Eagles national rugby union team played the New Zealand All Blacks this past Saturday, November 1st, 2014 for an exhibition game at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The historic match was sold out, filling the 61,500-seat stadium, drawing fans from around the area and the globe to see the upstart Americans take on the mighty All Blacks, widely considered not only the best rugby team in the world, but the best sports team in the world, considering their winning record. Here’s a piece from the TV news program 60 Minutes that breaks down the All Blacks’ legacy and significance for an uninitiated North American audience. Saturday’s event marked the All Blacks’ first-ever appearance in a match in the United States.

There’s something elemental – dare I say, “pure” – about a sport like rugby (aka “Rugby football”). In this sport, which, along with soccer, “descended from the winter ‘folk-games’ which were a deeply-rooted tradition in pre-industrial Britain” (Dunning and Sheard 2005: 1), there are two teams of players, a ball on a field, time on the clock, and a few referees. No sticks, no pads, and none of the start-and-stop minutiae of more ancient games like cricket, or more recent ones such as baseball or American football. Of course there are finer points that add to the complexity of the game. But within rugby’s more elemental aspects of strength, stamina, and teamwork lies its great potential for both individual expression and synergy. As well as its worldwide appeal.

In a nutshell, the sport of rugby is played in two 40-minute halves, separated by a very brief halftime, wherein two teams (or “sides”) of fifteen players each battle to advance an egg-shaped ball into the opponent’s end-zone. A “try” in rugby is the equivalent of a touchdown in American football, but in the case of the former is worth five points as opposed to six. Another difference between scoring in rugby and American football is that, in rugby, the ball must be literally touched down onto the turf in the end-zone to count. A successful conversion after a try – a kicked ball through the goalposts – is worth two points, as opposed to the 1-point extra point in American football. Otherwise points in rugby are scored – in this regard identical to American football – by kicking the ball through the opponent’s goalposts for three points. Differing from American football, however, is the rule in which a felled ball carrier in rugby does not signify a stop of the clock or a “down” but rather that the tackled player must pass the ball onto a teammate on his or her feet to continue the advancement down the field. And, oddly enough to we Americans, while said advancement is achieved by running the ball forward, a pass to a teammate may only be executed by tossing the ball either backwards or to the side. Mistakenly passing the ball forwards would result in a penalty. Make sense? Here’s a quick recap of Saturday’s USA-New Zealand match for an example of what this all looks like at the highest level of play.

In the nations where rugby has been historically popular and remains so to this day – namely, New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, France, and Western Samoa  (Dunning and Sheard: 256) – oftentimes the role of the sport takes on great geopolitical significance. In no case was this more true than the Rugby World Cup of 1995, when the New Zealand All Blacks faced the Springboks of South Africa in the final. Set against the backdrop of the recent end of South African apartheid, the introduction of universal suffrage in that nation, and the election of formerly jailed political dissident Nelson Mandela to its office of President of the Republic, the Springbok’s dream season is expertly captured in the book Invictus by John Carlin, as well as the feature film adaptation of the same (directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). Quoting the Cape Town newspaper the Argus, Carlin sums up the national significance of the event: “‘The Rugby World Cup has led to a spectacular upsurge of national reconciliation among all races in South Africa, researchers and social scientists reported this week'” (2009: 203). With the backing and encouragement of their new, charismatic, and peace-loving leader, millions of South Africans cheered the hitherto divisive Afrikaner-majority “Boks” on to a 15 to 12 victory over the seemingly unbeatable All Blacks. Previously a symbol of the Boer-ruled apartheid regime, Mandela paid considerable attention to rugby as it related to the Afrikaner psyche as well as its potential, exemplified in the slogan “One Team, One Country.” As Carlin details, through his support Mandela convinced his constituents to do the same and come together as a nation, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, language, or politics.

While the USA Eagles were certainly also underdogs in their match against the New Zealanders, rugby perhaps has a ways to go before it attracts the most well-suited athletes of the American populace away from other sports. Even though the Eagles only scored six points on their home turf against New Zealand’s stunningly coordinated 74, the sold-out match, however, is perhaps a foreshadowing of a growing popularity of the sport on American soil. As the game grows here, as will fans’ expectations of the Eagles’ performance on the international stage. And, in that case, they had better figure out a way to first get past the All Blacks’ haka, the formidable, awesomely intense traditional Maori war dance performed before each match they play begins. As the chant goes, “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora!: ’Tis death! ‘Tis death! ’Tis life!” (Armstrong 1964: 139). IMG_0276


Armstrong, Alan (1964). Maori Games and Hakas: Instructions, Words and ActionsWellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed.

Carlin, John (2009). Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a NationLondon: Atlantic Books.

Dunning, Eric and Kenneth Sheard (2005). Barbarians, Gentlemen, and Players: A Sociological Study of the Development of Rugby FootballOxford: Routledge.