What’s Up in the World? - Weekly Digest 22/04/2016 Written by Harriet Lane-Tobin

This week's digest contends with issues over narratives, and the ideologies that shape them.  When they become manipulated by figures or discourses that wish to shape them in such a way, it problematises the idea of ‘truth’. Moreover, who gets to say what kinds of ‘truths’ exist, and how ‘we’ experience them and have them presented to us. 

Past, Present, and Future, ‘we’ have been told as humanity at large that knowledge is power. Moreover that the more knowledge we possess, the more empowered we will be. However, in Hadley Freeman’s, Guardian, article, she details the shift in this perception, and the implications it can have. Empowerment, here, moving from a viable socio-political tool to a buzzword, further repressing those who need it the most.

In Joseph Reagles, Guardian, article, he contends with the importance of turning a comment forum into a community. However I would argue that this approach can be seen as problematic in relation to issues of freedom of speech. Does placing restrictions on the kind of feedback people can place, raise issues of ‘acceptability’ over who can say what, and remove from the potential of conversations that can be had? 

But where else can these restrictions be seen? Niraj Choksi’s, Washington Post, article details this in relation to the global press. Choksi details this in relation to the imposition of personal ideology on to the nature of what journalists can say. Which not only raises issues of linguistic freedom, but the freedom of non altered stories about what is happening within ‘our’ world.  How can we formulate a viewpoint on the world, if the one we have is structured, and arguably untrue? When the free press is no longer free?

  A Turkish protester holds a placard and a press card on April 1 before the trial of two journalists. Turkey ranks 151 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. (Sedat Suna/European Pressphoto Agency)

A Turkish protester holds a placard and a press card on April 1 before the trial of two journalists. Turkey ranks 151 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. (Sedat Suna/European Pressphoto Agency)

In Belen Fernandez, Aljazeera, piece she problematises the valuing of cultural artefacts over human lives. Fernandez details this as being a historically specific kind of vandalism in its altering of truth, and poses questions around this issue. Fernandez also does so in relation to other theorists, which I would argue act as telling think points that must be considered by those reading her article. “Why are they not writing front-page articles about millions of starving and dying people in Afghanistan? They want to give money for the statues and take them to their museums, but what about human beings?” (Mishra cited in Fernandez 2016).

Within this Huffington Post, article, Jim Wallis, a Christian leader for social change highlights the importance of female leadership, in religious sects that are often dominated by men. Wallis highlights the importance, and strength of gender diversity in how narratives can be opened up and made more powerful.