african seed control

Seed and the control of seed lies at the heart of agriculture.     In Africa around 80% of seed comes from local and community saved seed resources. This seed is adapted to local conditions. It forms an integral part of community food security and agricultural integrity. This entire traditional system is now under threat.     A broad front of commercial interests, aided and abetted by the World Bank, the American Seed Association and government agencies, along with front groups, academics and so-called philanthropists, are endeavouring to alienate this crucial resource. […]     What is at play here … Continue reading

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african telecom reach

From ↑ITU statistics intac made some interesting infomap posters. The above one shows the ↑Internet usage around the globe (click the picture for full-size). The lighter a nation state is rendered, the lesser percentage of its population are using the Internet. As you can see a lot of Africa completely drops out, rendering the continent as a skeleton. The poster below takes ↑a closer look on Africa and gives both percentages and total figures of Internet users and mobile subscribers.  … Continue reading

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democracy’s fourth wave?

In 2011, the international community watched as a shockingly unlikely community of citizens toppled three of the world’s most entrenched dictators: Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, and Qaddafi in Libya. This movement of cascading democratization, commonly known as the Arab Spring, was planned and executed not by political parties, but by students, young entrepreneurs, and the rising urban middle class. International experts and the popular press have pointed to the near-identical reliance on digital media in all three movements, arguing that these authoritarian regimes were in essence defeated by the Internet. Is that true? Should Mubarak blame Twitter … Continue reading

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frankenrifle in mali

The above screencap from a BBC report on the conflict in Mali was made by @ByronDoerfer and sent to ↑C. J. Chivers, who gave a ↑first diagnosis: This gentleman, reportedly a Chadian soldier in Mali, is holding what appears to be a well-worn ↑AKM variant with a host of after-market add-ons, creating a cosmetic hybrid between the globally established Kalashnikov operating system and the modern Western military obsession with rails, sights, tactical grips and collapsing stocks. [italics emphasis mine]     […] I haven’t had time to review the kit of Chadian soldiers generally. So I can’t say whether this … Continue reading

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damascus it is

On 26 February 2013 TV2 of Denmark needed a backdrop for a report on the current conflict in Syria. As it seems someone at the station searched the web for a suitable picture and hit upon a beautiful vista of the old city of Damascus. But the picture shows Damascus as it most probably has looked during the time of the ↑third crusade (1189-1192). Above that the picture doesn’t depict anything from the empirical world, but is a still from the computer game ‘↵Assassin’s Creed‘ (Ubisoft Montreal 2007). Quite tell-tale is the wooden beam attached to the minarett at the … Continue reading

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space by movement

My physical inbox today was graced by the presence of the newest issue (60/2012) of the ‘Berliner Blätter: Ethnographische und ethnologische Beiträge’ [Berlin leafs: Ethnographic and Anthropological Contributions], a German language anthropology journal. It bears the title: ‘Räume durch Bewegung: Ethnographische Perspektiven auf eine vernetzte Welt’ [Space by Movement: Ethnographic Perspectives upon a Networked World]. The editors of said issue, ↑Beatrix Hoffmann and ↑Hansjörg Dilger—who did a truly fine job—sent me the specimen, because it contains a short contribution by yours truly. Here’s the abstract, taken from the issue’s introduction: Alexander Knorr erläutert in seinem Beitrag Möglichkiten ethnografischer Forschung unter … Continue reading

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heretics house tripoli

Much has been said and written about the role of social media and the Internet during the Arab Spring. Especially the liberating potentials of these technologies are discussed, even anthropologists are belabouring the topic. But, and that’s the ↵core theme of cyberpunk, technologies are fundamentally ambivalent. Just yesterday ↑Jamming Tripoli: Inside Moammar Gadhafi’s secret surveillance network by Matthieu Aikins was published by Wired: [The] activists would suffer greatly at the hands of Gadhafi’s spy service, whose own capabilities had been heightened by 21st-century technology. By now, it’s well known that the Arab Spring showed the promise of the Internet as … Continue reading

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colonial crimes records

again a glimpse into the heart of darkness Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.     Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.     … Continue reading

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dislocation

The Tamil-movie ↵Endhiran (Shankar 2010) is testimony of the cyberpunk discourse having reached Indian cinema. Nigeria’s Yoruba-language ‘Kajola’ (Akinmolayan 2010) shows the ↵same for Africa‘s largest movie industry.     ‘Science-fiction film, like the science-fiction story, is an underdeveloped genre in China,’ writes Yingjin Zhang (1998: 297) in the ‘Encyclopedia of Chinese Film’ (Zhang & Xiao 1998). Nevertheless, already during the heyday of canonical [US-] cyberpunk there was a chinese cyberpunk movie—‘Dislocation’ directed by Huang Jianxin (1986). As with Huang’s first film, Black Cannon Incident [1985], Dislocation uses the science-fiction genre to satirize the workings of bureaucracy. The protagonist, Zhao … Continue reading

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