2014, the year of the quenelle? An analysis of the Dieudonné Affair

The Quenelle gesture [source: MoTH4FoK]

Last January one could not switch on a French TV station, read a French newspaper, or have a conversation with a French person without the name of French comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, coming up. Even amongst Cambridge’s French student community, all our gatherings that month ended in heated discussions of what had become known as… Continue Reading ➤

Factory Bound: Gender Inequality in China

Foxlink factory in China [source: flickr]

China under Mao is remembered as a time of ideological chauvinism and societal paranoia, but also of radical commitment to gender egalitarianism: according to the Communist leadership, true socialism would come only if women participated in society on a par with men. This egalitarian ethos was certainly enlightened, but it was by no means perfect…. Continue Reading ➤

The Italian Spring

Renzi

The demolisher The Italians love nicknames, and their politicians are not exempted. After il Divo Andreotti, il Cavaliere Berlusconi, il Professore Monti, now comes il Rottamatore—‘the demolisher’—Matteo Renzi. And how he has lived up to his name. Renzi has demolished the typical path of an Italian political career. By the time Matteo Renzi’s image finally flashed across major global news outlets, driving… Continue Reading ➤

Dangerous, Dirty and Demanding: China’s Migrant Workers Under the Hukou System

A Chinese migrant worker in her dormitory [source: World Bank Photo Collection]

China’s portentous and sustained economic growth has impressed commentators all over the world, and is widely considered to be a history of success. Lured by double-digit GDP growth, enthusiasts and apologists failed for decades to see the human cost of China’s economic miracle, a cost brought mostly by the millions of rural migrant workers who… Continue Reading ➤

Indie

Lana Del Rey [source: petercruise]

“Indie” is a cultural punching bag. Everyone loves to hate indie people and almost nobody would self-identify as one, though they might admit to being a fan of the genre. The steady drumbeat of magazine articles and blog posts dismissing the indie outlook as content-lessand paradoxically conformist is proof enough of this,  although relatively few… Continue Reading ➤

David Shrigley: Artist of the Absurd

I'm Dead

In his landmark book The Theatre of the Absurd, Martin Esslin argues that a cluster of playwrights from the 1960s dramatized the theories of Camus and Sartre more coherently than they had expounded them themselves. Beckett, Ionesco and Genet didn’t just describe the absurdities of the human condition, they made them palpable, evacuating characters of… Continue Reading ➤