What’s Up In The World? - Weekly Digest 25/03/2016 Written by Harriet Lane-Tobin

Inequality, representation, suspicion, and the celebrity, issues that have been circulating my mind, and the media in the past week. In the below responses I will provide you with a snapshot of these from the local to the global, and the questions for me that they raise.

Whats in a name? Creativity gone a miss? Or an ever present class divide staring us right in the face? In this think piece published on The Spinoff by Madeleine Holden she contends with how these issues circulate in the context of New Zealand. Can a name simply be taken at face value? Or does it stand in for something much more revealing about our culture and who is marginalised within it? 


Within this article by Leigh Alexander, we are faced with the issue of ‘appropriateness’, and what viewpoint, and platforms tell us if the way a body being presented is or is not.  Here this is shown through the example of the popularised body (Kim Kardashian) v.s. the cultural body (native, topless, aboriginal women) both depicted in a desert setting, covered in white paint.  At the forefront of this we must consider who is it that gets to decide which is acceptable, and the issues this raises. In the realm of social media that strives for “openness” these depictions are fuelled by culture, but only from the western perspective. Alexander argues how this must change, and how women cross culturally should be able to decide how they are shown not only to fit the ‘standard’ of social media sites.


In the wake of another, terror attack, Simon Jenkins highlights, what it is we should ‘truly’ fear. Is it the attack itself or the aftermaths state of fear, paranoia, and sensationalism that follows. “The menace of Brussels lies not in the terror, but in the reaction to the terror. It is the reaction we should fear” (Jenkins, 2016).


In this article, Iklim Goksel, provides us with an insight into what social and historical structures construct what it means to be a man in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa region). What I would like to propose is by using Goksels reflection on the teachings of the Hodja, and how it shapes masculine identities, we are provided with a start point to see how these are manufactured and manipulable in ones own society. 


In Sam Kriss’s, Vice piece, one can observe a few key points. Firstly that in order to understand how one can have a skewed approach to the world at large, one, must also have an implicated body also. That is to say ones physical configuration can stand in for and represent how they conduct themselves socially. (Think the recent, graphic depiction of Donald Trumps physical form). That if one is ‘damaged’ on the outside then logically must be on the inside. However, Kriss, highlights that whilst this may be a way to understand how persons can be perceived as evil it is highly problematic and he laments it here.


Social media has often been problematised for fostering a generation of oversharing, however, Eleanor Goldberg in her Huffington Post article shows how this can prove beneficial to those in abusive relationships. For the anthropologist at large what can be looked at is how these mediums change the face of social, counselling interactions, and does this change the quality of help available to those who need it? Even if it is easily accessed does the speed outweigh the need for face to face support?