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Medium 9780253003089

12. Migration as a Factor of Cultural Change Abroad and at Home: Senegalese Female Hair Braiders in the United States

Edited by Abdoulaye Kane and Todd H Lee Indiana University Press ePub


Hair braiding has become the leading profession of Senegalese female immigrants in North America.1 It is also embraced by male immigrants working as managers of hair salons. This scorned profession that was traditionally reserved for women belonging to endogamic craft corporations (castes in Senegal) has become in the diaspora a highly sought after and valued career, attracting Senegalese of all genders, ethnic groups, and social statuses. Through an examination of the experience of Senegalese female hair braiders in Anderson (S.C.), Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia, and their roles in their communities of origin in Senegal, this paper explores the issues of caste, gender, class, and money, and investigates how life in the United States has affected “traditional” views of these concepts.2 I argue that economic power and changing societal values among immigrants are gradually undermining traditional bases of gender roles and social hierarchies abroad and at home. In Senegal, notions of gender and social status are shaped historically by local Islamic culture, professional occupation, and genealogy, which assign women and men from different families and ethnicities specific positions in society. But these categories of caste, gender, and class are increasingly contested at home and more so abroad, especially among the young and highly educated. In addition, several factors linked to legal status, the family, and the sociopolitical and cultural context in the host country affect the life of immigrants. Changes in these variables are echoed by the immigrant’s behavior. In the diaspora, economic success is becoming the defining element of social status, and the gendered conception of work is giving way to pragmatism, where the prospect of earning a comfortable living tends to trump all other considerations.

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Medium 9780253015846

5 Capitalist Ethics?

Samuli Schielke Indiana University Press ePub


Although People Understand grand schemes as being located outside the ordinary world, they do have material form and shape. And most often in the early twenty-first century, that form is of a commodity.

Commodity and consumption have become a ubiquitous part of life in Egypt. Being a respectable person largely depends on one’s capacity to buy consumer goods. Love is transformed through the consumerist principle of gratification. Religious proselytization is a lucrative trade. This shared sense of existence is in the focus of this chapter. Capitalism is not only a configuration of relations of production and consumption but also a sensibility of existence inherently accompanied by an ideology, promises, and ends of its own. And while Islam may appear to be the moral counterpart to capitalist economy, the Islamic revival has brought key anxieties to the forefront of people’s religious consciousness that resonate with capitalist modes of production and rationality in peculiar ways. Capitalism and religious revival share a sense of temporality that connects the two in complex and unpredictable ways. It is the temporality of a life in the future tense.

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Medium 9780253018557

Docking Time

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

ON DECEMBER 10, 1967, en route to a show in Madison, Otis Redding’s small Beechcraft—and with it Redding, his pilot, and five members of The Bar-Keys—crashed into Wisconsin’s Lake Monona. Only twenty-year-old trumpeter Ben Cauley survived. The performance was to be one of Redding’s first after over two months of recovery from throat surgery. According to friends and fellow musicians at Stax Records, he was singing better than ever and eager to get back to work—with good reason: in October, following his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, British music magazine Melody Maker had named Redding the world’s number one male vocalist, knocking Elvis Presley out of the spot he’d held for a decade. The White House had just contacted him with an invitation to entertain the troops in Vietnam early the next year. In biographer Scott Freeman’s words, “Otis was on the brink. He was poised for a breakthrough to the white audience, on the verge of superstardom.”

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Medium 9781576753040


Graham, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.


If you’re already working on a project as a member of an organized group or team, then much of what’s in this chapter has already been done for you. I suggest you skip to the section “Create a Vision for Your Project’s Success.”

ASSUMING YOU’VE identified the problem you’d like to take on, start with these first two steps:

At this stage, you don’t need to become an expert. But you do need to learn enough about your problem to know what you might be getting into.

They could be advocacy organizations, government agencies, professional associations, service clubs, or political groups. Use your favorite Web search engine. Ask friends. Check newspapers and magazines. Maybe a piece of your junk mail is from a like-minded group. If and when you find such a group, download or send for its information. If it’s local, attend a meeting and ask questions.

There may be no organized groups with information you can readily tap. And even if there are, they’re very likely to describe the problem from just their point of view. So do some independent research. Along the way, be skeptical (especially of people who tell you that nothing can be done), and be relentless in pursuing the information you need.

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Medium 9781609948054

Chapter 7. Enough Inequality

Dietz, Rob Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Distributing Income and Wealth

Among the new objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck me with greater force than the equality of conditions. I easily perceived the enormous influence that this primary fact exercises on the workings of the society.


In 1897 two tremendously influential artists were born in the American South. One lived a life of poverty, died in his forties among the ashes of his burned-down house, and remained anonymous until years after his death. The other lived into his mid-sixties, garnered international fame, and accumulated plenty of money and prestigious awards.

If you have a name like Blind Willie Johnson, then you just might be a blues musician. In the life stories of blues artists, it’s hard to separate myth from fact, but according to a mishmash of sources, Johnson was raised by his father and stepmother, both of whom had a mean streak. When Johnson was seven years old, his father beat his stepmother when he caught her with another man. In a ghastly moment of revenge, she picked up a handful of lye and threw it into the face of her attacker’s son.2 Blind as a result of this violent act, Johnson turned to religion and gospel music. He went on to preach and perform on street corners. He played a soulful slide guitar while singing with a gravelly bass voice “that could grind glass.”3 He caught the attention of Columbia Records and recorded a set of songs between 1927 and 1930. Despite his musical talents, he lived his whole life in poverty. When his home burned down in 1945, he had nowhere else to go, so he remained among the ruins. In the open air, he fell ill and died.4

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Medium 9780253018687

8 Geopolitics and the Cold War

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

THE TOTAL VANQUISHING OF THE THIRD REICH AND IMPERIAL Japan set the stage for the next phase of geopolitical thought and discourse—this time to account for, and to game-plan, the new US role internationally. This phase was grafted onto the older challenge of the “heartland” power, in the shape of a Soviet Union of unprecedented power and geographical range, the situation predicted by Mackinder in 1943. There were also the practical and theoretical questions of how far newer technology, in the form of long-range bombers, missiles and nuclear weapons vitiated the older heartland and oceanic geopolitical theses. Indeed, during the Cold War, newer types of core-periphery geopolitical formulations surfaced in the form of containment, the “Domino Theory,” and multipolarity. George Kennan and Henry Kissinger were the most prominent examples of geopoliticians in action. However, aside from the significance of traditional mental maps, US geopolitical propositions were not left unchallenged, most conspicuously by Soviet commentators, and by Western radicals, such as the French thinker Yves Lacoste, who claimed that post-1945 geopolitical theory was in practice a justification for military aggression. A different challenge to geopolitical accounts came from the rise of environmentalism and an appreciation of the constraints that human interaction with the physical environment could place upon geopolitical theorizing and action. Less conspicuously, official and popular views within the West frequently did not match those of the United States.1

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Medium 9780253356833

17. Campaign on the High Seas

David M. Jordan Indiana University Press ePub

The nation's media had a fine old time with the Democrats' convention. The New Yorker, for instance, had this to say:

Radio listeners found the latest Chicago convention louder and funnier than the GOP one. The brash Democrats have an engaging way of broadcasting their family squabbles so that the whole nation can listen in.1

Life magazine commented that the Democrats, even with one eye on the war, still put on “one of their rousing, old-fashioned political jamborees, complete with parades, mobs, wirepulling and loud, irritable bickerings.” It was, the writer continued, “unlike the Republican convention where harmony and dullness prevailed.” Everybody was heard: “labor leaders, southerners, political bosses, visionaries, and reactionaries followed each other to the platform. Delegates cheered first one, then the other. Sometimes they cheered just to hear themselves cheer.”2

Jonathan Daniels, a White House staffer, was “appalled by the ruthlessness with which Hannegan carried out” the elimination of Henry Wallace. “So were many other New Dealers,” Daniels wrote. “And Wallace was not the only personage who felt he had a right to feel that he had been done in in the dark. Jimmy Byrnes, believing he had a go sign from the President, definitely felt that way.”3

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Medium 9780253015143

4 The Naturalization of Intimate Partner Violence

Robert Lorway Indiana University Press ePub

I am loving those straight guys—the rough ones, you know. [But] if you ask them to put on the condom, they will give you a smack, [they’ll] beat you. But I just love them, I don’t know why. It’s just, it’s how I feel inside.


This chapter continues the story of what happens when the everyday practices of freedom inspired by the Rainbow Project are confronted with local forms of masculine domination. TRP’s empowerment strategies, which celebrate male femininities, compel youths to liberate themselves by embracing their sexual desires and resisting the gendered terms of ideal citizenship.1 Yet Tuli’s words of uncontrollable and unexplainable desire, above, expose an irony at play in LGBT rights discourses that strive to free the desires of feminine males: they inadvertently reinforce the naturalization of oppression they encounter in sexual relationships with masculine “straight men.” TRP’s self-discovery programs obscure the violent ways that SWAPO’s antihomosexual nationalist rhetoric configures male-male sexual intimacies in gender-oppositional terms. At the same time, the physical violence wrought by these nationalisms as they live out in the erotic relationships between masculine and feminine males is most evident.

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Medium 9780253009685

19. Behind the Resilience of the Syrian Regime

Edited by David McMurray and Amanda Ufhe Indiana University Press ePub


Seasoned observers were long accustomed to making light of apparent political changes in Syria. Following the death of Hafiz al-Asad, who ruled Syria for thirty years, and the accession of his son Bashar to the presidency, a series of “springs” came and went without substantially opening up the system. The country’s political institutions were stable, but stagnant, including the Baath Party, which continued to rule by periodically reshuffling elites. Syria’s economic growth continued to lag, its small oil reserves to dwindle and its work force to fall behind in acquiring the skills needed in the global economy. Perhaps the most troubling part of Syria’s predicament was an invisible but rising wave of poverty.

For Syria’s elite, this precarious state of affairs was not unusual. For years, its primary strategy for getting by was to accentuate Syria’s importance on the international stage. Between 1970 and 1990, the Syrian regime benefited from the superpower competition of the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Damascus relied more heavily on its regional role, beginning with its participation in the US-led coalition to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1991. Washington also quietly appreciated the Syrian army’s presence in Lebanon. At the same time, Damascus posed before Syrian and Arab public opinion as the keeper of the Arab nationalist flame, rejecting Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian deals with Israel, backing Hizballah in Lebanon, and loosing a stream of anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist rhetoric. At the time of Hafiz al-Asad’s death, the challenge before the regime was to bring Syria fully into the regional and international fold without alienating its domestic base of support.

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Medium 9780253016249

14 Kilbinger House

Jane Blaffer Owen Indiana University Press ePub

For it is a heart silence to which we must attain. . . . But, like those places fathoms deep in the sea which no storms reach, no turmoil disturbs, so the inner chamber of one’s being may be still whatever the outward conditions.

—Lida A. Churchill, The Magic Seven: 7 Steps to Perfect Spiritual Power


The first reborn of my adopted family of Harmonist houses was No. V on Steammill Street. Kilbinger House, on the southeast corner of Main and Granary, became my second child and, like its sister, a hungry orphan (25 on town map). An arm could reach through a wide crack in the brick of its west wall. If these bricks could be carefully reknit, the state might be shamed into doing necessary repairs to its building next door, Harmonist Community House No. 2, an approach I called “whitemail,” as it encourages positive action by example rather than coercing by extortion. Missing roof shingles from the Kilbinger house invited rainwater. The house, built in the 1820s, tottered on the brink of the same steep cliff that New Harmony has hovered upon since its inception and from which it has been, so far, consistently and mercifully rescued.

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Medium 9780253011787

4 Nigeria: Indigeneity and Citizenship

Edmond J. Keller Indiana University Press ePub

“Bitterness due to political differences will carry Nigeria nowhere and I appeal to all political leaders throughout the country to try to control their party extremists. Nigeria is large enough to accommodate us all in spite of our political differences.”

—Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, “First Speech as Prime Minister” (1957)

“Ethnicity as a crucial determinant merged earlier and more forcefully in Nigeria than anywhere else in tropical Africa.”

—Crawford Young, “Comparative Claims to Political Sovereignty”

Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent, with more than 150 million people. It is an extremely diverse country, with between 250 and 400 distinct ethnic groups. The largest ethnic groups are the Hausa of the northwest (making up around 28 percent), the Yoruba of the southwest (around 18 percent), and the Ibo of the southeast (around 14 percent). The remaining ethnic groups number from a few thousand to several million in population. In addition to its ethnic diversity, Nigeria is religiously diverse. About half the population practices some form of Islam; Christians make up another 40 percent; and the remainder of the population practices various traditional religions. Notably, only about 35–40 percent of the Muslim population is concentrated in the northwest of the country, whereas 55–60 percent of Nigeria’s Muslims is clustered in enclaves throughout the rest of the country.

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Medium 9781609945879

15. The Occupation of Hope: Letter to a Dead Man

van Gelder, Sarah Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


Dear young man who died on the fourth day of this turbulent 2011, dear Mohammed Bouazizi,

I want to write you about an astonishing year—with three months yet to run. I want to tell you about the power of despair and the margins of hope and the bonds of civil society.

I wish you could see the way that your small life and large death became a catalyst for the fall of so many dictators in what is known as the Arab Spring.

We are now in some sort of an American Fall. Civil society here has suddenly hit the ground running, and we are all headed toward a future no one imagined when you, a young Tunisian vegetable seller capable of giving so much, who instead had so much taken from you, burned yourself to death to protest your impoverished and humiliated state.

You lit yourself on fire on December 17, 2010, exactly nine months before Occupy Wall Street began. Your death two weeks later would be the beginning of so much. You lit yourself on fire because you were voiceless, powerless, and evidently without hope. And yet you must have had one small hope left: that your death would have an impact; that you, who had so few powers, even the power to make a decent living or protect your modest possessions or be treated fairly and decently by the police, had the power to protest. As it turned out, you had that power beyond your wildest dreams, and you had it because your hope, however diminished, was the dream of the many, the dream of what we now have started calling the 99%.

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Medium 9780253010964

Epilogue: So What Does it All Mean?

David H. Ikard Indiana University Press ePub

Come out of the fog, young man. And remember you don’t have to be a complete fool in order to succeed. Play the game, but don’t believe in it – that much you owe yourself. Even if it lands you in a strait jacket or a padded cell. Play the game, but play it your way – part of the time at least. Play the game, but raise the ante, my boy. Learn how it operates, learn how you operate – I wish I had time to tell you only a fragment. We’re an ass-backward people, though. You might even beat the game. It’s really a very crude affair. Really pre-Renaissance – and that game has been analyzed, put down in books. But down here they’ve forgotten to take care of the books and that’s your opportunity. You’re hidden right out in the open – that is, you would be if you only realized it. They wouldn’t see you because they don’t expect you to know anything, since they believe they’ve taken care of that …

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man


The epigraph from ralph ellison’s invisible man is the advice that the “crazy” vet from the Golden Day – a bar/juke joint where a bunch of “shell-shocked” black war veterans hang out – gives invisible man as he heads north to find an internship after being expelled from his university for mishandling Mr. Norton, a millionaire white philanthropist. As the reader will recall, invisible man first encounters the crazy vet at the Golden Day. After Mr. Norton passes out during the melee at the bar, sparked in large part by his white presence, the vet and former surgeon revives him and rightly diagnoses the medical cause of his unconsciousness. When Mr. Norton inquires about his medical knowledge, the vet tells him about his experiences in the military as a brain surgeon; how acts of dehumanization and violence led to ulcers and his becoming sour on the notion that black accommodationism is the most viable path to success and prosperity in America: “These hands so lovingly trained to master a scalpel yearn to caress a trigger. I returned to save life and I was refused…. Ten [white] men in masks drove me out from the city at midnight and beat me with whips for saving a human life. And I was forced to the utmost degradation because I possessed skilled hands and the belief that my knowledge could bring me dignity – and other men health!”1 While the vet does not provide Mr. Norton or the reader with details about the particulars of his racial beat down, we can deduce that he was brutally beaten because he operated on a white person, and most likely a white woman, in a life-or-death scenario and was rewarded for his heroics with violence and humiliation. Though the virulently paternalistic and blind Mr. Norton labels him bitter, the reality is that the vet is justifiably indignant – he tried to use his surgical skills to save white lives even though, as a group, whites were chiefly responsible for his socioeconomic subjugation as a black man. In effect, he played by the white supremacist rules of black accommodationism and still couldn’t avoid racial violence and dehumanization.

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Medium 9781609941246

2 Confucian Philosophy

Lee, Ann Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Riches and power are but gifts of blind fate, whereas
goodness is the result of ones own merits. HELOISE

DESPITE BEING KNOWN as the melting pot of the world, the modern U.S. culture has largely been shaped by Judeo-Christian religions and Western ideas passed down through the Enlightenment and dominated by the influences of Modernity. The democratic political system, the official holidays like Christmas, and the assumed importance of the notions of Freedom and Reason largely define modern Western civilization. Comparatively speaking, modern Americans know relatively little about Eastern religions and philosophies. While many factors define a nations identity, few would dispute that underlying cultural and religious beliefs shape and influence a nations character. One of the most visual examples of how cultural differences manifest themselves is the disparity between the way Americans and the Japanese conducted themselves in the aftermath of two devastating storms. The widespread looting after Hurricane Katrina stands in stark contrast to the stoic temperaments of the Japanese who stood in line for emergency help soon after the 2011 tsunami that destroyed Fukushima.

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Medium 9780253009685

5. The Making of North Africa’s Intifada

Edited by David McMurray and Amanda Ufhe Indiana University Press ePub


As the waves of protest inspired by Tunisia rolled across the Middle East and North Africa, analysts were puzzled by the mysterious timing, incredible speed, and cross-national snowballing of these uprisings or intifadas. In the six months following the electrifying scenes of thousands occupying Avenue Habib Bourguiba in downtown Tunis, directing the imperative Dégage! (Get out!) at President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian “virus” spread across the region, unleashing apparently similar moments of resistance and revolution.

The back-door story is one focused on those who made the revolution, not those dealing with its consequences. In Tunisia, the nature of autocratic rule and its relationship to citizens created the environment in which challenges to regime incumbency would lead to protest, resistance or revolution. The deeper and more robust the authoritarian structure, and the fewer the opportunities for legal political opposition and participation, the more likely citizens are to rebel. The virtual absence of viable opposition social movements in Tunisia in the two and half decades of Ben Ali’s rule smothered participatory politics to near extinction. When the autocratic state collapsed, it left a void in which demands for systemic reform were quickly transformed into revolution.

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