"We were poor before, but we had rivers, we went fishing, we grew some food and we lived well. Now our children can only see that on TV. The course of the river has been changed, the forest has been cut, and we are prisoners in our own village", explains Hilario Vega, resident of the village of Boqueron in the northeast of Colombia. The whole village has been waiting to be relocated for seven years. The air pollution coming from the coal mines surrounding the village is so severe that it is endangering their lives.
"2016 was the deadliest year on record for environmental defenders, and 2017 is on its way to be even worse", said Katharina Rall, High Commissioner from Human Rights Watch (HRW) at UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn this November. Rall was the advocate for human and indigenous rights during negotiations on COP23. The rate of killing of environmental defenders has risen to four per week. Of the 200 defenders that were killed in 2016, 40 percent were indigenous, even though the total population of indigenous people represents approximately five percent of the global population.
Zola Jesus: "I struggle with making music that doesn't directly change the environment in a way. To endure the pain of performing these songs night after night, but knowing there is a possibility that some sort of paradigm shift will happen to someone in the audience, is really rewarding. I try to be more mindful and critical about my capitalist upbringing, of this feeling installed in me – the feeling of never being satisfied with what I have or who I am. This quest for more and what's next, doesn't allow space and time to just be."
Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right: "I was interested in how the new right wing movements emerging from forums like 4chan had the aesthetic sensibilities of the countercultural left and how the new online cultural left had the sensibilities of something more puritanical and humourless. Some people tried to claim that I was 'attacking the left' but in fact the book is attacking those who constantly try to destroy the left from within."
The abundance of flying insects has fallen by three quarters in only three decades. The situation is alarming and the whole food chain could collapse, the authors of the new research warned, stating that industrial agricultural is the prime suspects for insect decline. "Actions should be taken now to minimize negative impacts of agriculture on our natural world, and this includes minimizing effects of pesticides", the lead author of the research Caspar A. Hallmann said for H-Alter.
The end of September marks fourteen years without Edward Said, literary theorist and an intellectual of a wide range. Many of the things Said wrote about – from the way West perceives and represents The East to the question of Palestine – remain a hot topic today. To commemorate Said and recall the magnitude of his works, we are in conversation with Judith Butler, Laleh Khalili, Avi Shlaim and Illan Pappé.
Jehan Bseiso, Palestinian poet and aid worker (Médecins sans Frontières): "The media is reporting about refugee fatigue and compassion fatigue. I find the notion that compassion can be finite truly terrifying. I’m haunted by the refugee crisis, and it’s a global one. I’m haunted at my work, by the images of bodies clinging to orange life vests, and I’m haunted at night when I think of how random it is, that it’s not me, not my family. My poetry is now a site of intersection that displays the explosive choices I’ve been making as an aid worker and a writer."
Adrienne Roberts, author of Gendered States of Punishment and Welfare: The idea of corporate business and neoliberal government institutions is that it makes good economic sense to empower women. The problem here is how the empowering is understood, which is empowering women as workers and as consumers. What gets left out of those types of arguments is any attention to all the work that women already do. There are inherent limits to forms of gender equality we can attain in a capitalist system, because it is historically founded on gender inequality. Feminism needs to be anti-capitalist.
Laleh Khalili, professor of Middle East politics at SOAS, London: The structures of ports today, particularly the big container ports in the Arabian peninsula, still reflect colonial labour structures. Aden ended up taking DP World, one of the biggest terminal management companies, to court and got to cancel the 35-year container terminal concession with them. Now, when Aden is destroyed in a war waged by Saudi Arabia and UAE, one of the first things UAE announced once they got the control of it, is that they will help rebuild the port. There's such comfortable traffic between war and commerce.
More than a century has passed since the famous strikes of female workers in American textile industry. For more than a century, all around the world, International Women's Day is celebrated on the 8th of March. A century later, inequality isn't gone. To discuss the issues of inequality and representation in the Middle East, a region often in the spotlight for violation of women's rights, we talk with female lawyers, poets, aid workers, directors and activists from the region - Jehan Bseiso, Hind Shoufani, Roula Baghdadi, Fatima Idriss and Nagwan El-Ashwal.