News, sport and opinion from the Guardian’s global edition

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  • The curse of ’white oil’: electric vehicles’ dirty secret
    Brine pools and processing areas of the Rockwood lithium plant on the Atacama salt flat, Chile.
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/dec/08/the-curse-of-white-oil-electric-vehicles-dirty-secret-lithium

    The race is on to find a steady source of lithium, a key component in rechargeable electric car batteries. But while the EU focuses on emissions, the lithium gold rush threatens environmental damage on an industrial scale

  • How the Covid-19 pandemic has increased Amazon’s dominance
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2020/nov/26/how-the-covid-19-pandemic-has-increased-amazons-dominance

    As high street rivals were forced to close this year, Amazon has gone from strength to strength. But reports of conditions in some of its huge warehouses have brought a new level of scrutiny, as John Harris explains Before the pandemic struck, high street retailers were already struggling to stay competitive with online companies that offered low prices and rapid deliveries. When Covid-19 forced shops to close and consumers to stay at home, online retailers, particularly Amazon, were (...)

    #Amazon #consommation #domination #bénéfices #COVID-19 #GigEconomy #santé #travail

    ##santé
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/dbd79ed88c82d7b6682797ee4140b2ac861439ce/0_39_5326_3198/master/5326.jpg

  • Inside Australia’s asylum system – a possible model for the UK

    Guardian Australia reporter Ben Doherty looks at the history behind Australia’s asylum seeker policies, including the controversial practice of offshore processing and resettlement. It’s one of the options the British government is allegedly considering to deter asylum seekers from attempting to cross the Channel to the UK. Journalist Behrouz Boochani, who spent seven years in detention in Papua New Guinea, discusses the impact the policy has had

    Amid a fourfold rise in small boats attempting to cross the Channel and reach the UK this year, Downing Street and ministers have asked Foreign Office officials to consider a wide range of options to deter asylum seekers, according to leaked documents last month. Proposals include offshore asylum processing centres, with one document suggesting Boris Johnson is personally involved in the plan, stating: ‘In addition to the work on OT [British overseas territory] options, the PM has asked for FCDO advice on potential third-country locations. We are asked to suggest options for a UK scheme similar to the Australian agreement with Papua New Guinea.’

    Guardian Australia reporter Ben Doherty tells Rachel Humphreys about the history of Australia’s immigration policies, beginning in 2001, after the Tampa crisis, when a Norwegian freighter that had rescued more than 400 mainly Afghan Hazara refugees from their sinking vessel in international waters 140km north of Christmas Island was refused entry into Australian waters. The MV Tampa provided the conservative Coalition government with a catalyst for action. That was the establishment of “offshore detention” camps on Nauru and on Papua New Guinea, the so-called Pacific solution. The detention facilities have been the subject of serious criticism by international observers and human rights groups. Journalist Behrouz Boochani, who fled Iran for Australia in 2013, was sent to Manus Island. He describes the detention centre as worse than a prison and warns the UK to think hard before they look to replicate the Australian system. “If you do this, you lose your humanity” he tells Rachel.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2020/oct/21/inside-australias-asylum-system-a-possible-model-for-the-uk
    #modèle_australien #asile #migrations #réfugiés #UK #Angleterre #audio #podcast #Ben_Doherty

  • How the long fight for slavery reparations is slowly being won | News | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/oct/06/long-fight-for-slavery-reparations-evanston-chicago

    It began with an email. On an especially cold day in Evanston, Illinois, in February 2019, Robin Rue Simmons, 43 years old and two years into her first term as alderman for the city’s historically Black 5th ward, sent an email whose effects would eventually make US history. The message to the nine-member equity and empowerment commission of the Evanston city council started with a disarmingly matter-of-fact heading: “Because ‘reparations’ makes people uncomfortable.”

    She continued:

    Hello Equity Commission,

    thank you for the work you are doing. You have the most difficult work of all the commissions because the goal seems impossible … I realize that no 1 policy or proclamation can repair the damage done to Black families in this 400th year of African American resilience. I’d like to pursue policy and actions as radical as the radical policies that got us to this point.

    #esclavage #états-unis #réparation #lutte #résistance #résister

    • #Naomi_Klein: How #big_tech plans to profit from the pandemic

      Public schools, universities, hospitals and transit are facing existential questions about their futures. If tech companies win their ferocious lobbying campaign for remote learning, telehealth, 5G and driverless vehicles – their Screen New Deal – there simply won’t be any money left over for urgent public priorities, never mind the Green New Deal that our planet urgently needs. On the contrary: the price tag for all the shiny gadgets will be mass teacher layoffs and hospital closures.

      https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/may/13/naomi-klein-how-big-tech-plans-to-profit-from-coronavirus-pandemic

      #stratégie_du_choc #technologie #surveillance

    • Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time

      During COVID-19 times, the ‘social distancing’ catchphrase has invaded every aspect of our lives. Public space has been fragmented into individualized, quarantined units, transforming social relations into aggregates of their interactions. Unlike other pandemics of yesteryears, COVID-19 has given a tremendous push to technology to secure social distancing. In the field of education, the phenomenon of online education was already slowly gaining space especially as complementary to traditional classroom education and as a mechanism of distance learning.

      Today, the ideology of social distancing has brought online education in the centre of educational systems. It has acquired legitimacy and the capacity to take over the whole system of education. In countries such as India, where COVID-19 has been used by the state as an opportunity to revamp various sectors, including health and medicine, a reconception of education is underway. Online education serves as the organizing force in this regard.
      Education as Commodity and the Question of its Production

      Popular debates on technology and online education generally revolve around the idea of education as a commodity to be put to consumption in the classical sense of the word. It is, of course, a commodity with a use-value, much in parlance with material commodities like food items, daily wear etc. Such commodified education naturally must meet the parameters of consumer satisfaction. Therefore, much discussion on the recent COVID 19-triggered tech-intensive online teaching harps on students’ differential access to internet connectivity and bandwidth, the problems of long-distance assessments without the characteristic ‘fairness’ metrics associated with offline exams etc. In short, anything connected to the students’ overall satisfaction with their purchase of this immaterial commodity.

      What these debates however miss are the fundamental processes that go into the production of education, and the complex dynamics of the teacher-student relationship underpinning such production. By neglecting its sphere of production, we miss out on a very important aspect of this commodity – one that would help us understand online education, and the role of technology better, and also identify spaces of critique of education, as understood in the current socio-economic system.

      Notwithstanding the similarities, education is unlike any other commodity, not just in the material or physical sense, but mainly in the organization of its consumption and production. Material objects such as pens, cars etc. have an immediate use-value for buyers, consumed beyond the sphere of production. Education on the other hand, produces students as workers for their future entry into the labour market; its consumption or use-value lies in generating new, educated and skilled labour power for further use in the processes of production. Through a network of local and international educational institutions placed at different orders of hierarchy and status, education reinforces and reproduces the existing and (unequal) social relations by producing a heterogeneous group of future workers with differential skills, and by extension, differential wages. Hence, from the students’ perspective, education is consumptive production.

      Education as knowledge production is unique in placing this consumer – the student – in the production sphere itself. In other words, education as a commodity is a co-production of teachers and students, and is generated through continuous dialogue and interaction between them. It is not a fixed commodity, but one that is processual, and evolves within the dialectic of the educated-educator relationship. This dialectic constitutes a predicament for education in the current system. On one hand, there is the tendency to establish standardized syllabi and programs in response to the needs of a globalized labour market, making the practice of teaching and learning very mechanical; on the other, there is an equally strong opposition from the co-producers against attempts to kill their cooperative agency and creativity.

      Classroom settings and face to face instruction allow the dialectic of education to be productive in their dialogicity, with teachers innovating ideas and methods in dynamic and synchronous concord with students. With both instructors and learners present in the same physical space, learning – despite constraints of fixed syllabi and evaluation metrics – evolves through collective thinking and with a view to the intellectual needs and abilities of the participants. There are challenges thrown in with big class sizes and formal disciplinary settings leading to alienation typical of a hierarchized industrial scenario – an intensified lack of interest and commitment from both learners and teachers. However, since education in such settings is still based on direct relationships between students and teachers, there is always a possibility to overcome the alienating institutional mediation. There is a relative autonomy operating in this dialogic relationship, which allows innovation in ideas and knowledge production.
      Technology and the Informatization of Education

      Online education, on the other hand, despite and because of deploying the best of technologies, fails to simulate the same environment. Educational production is now distributed over multiple zones, with producers confined to their virtual cubicles. Without a shared space, education is reduced to instruction and information, discretized and reintegrated by the mediating pre-programmed machines. The dialogical relationship is now between the machine and the producers, not between the co-producers. The teacher is deprived of her role of the facilitator in this dialogue. She is just an instructor in this new environment. Her instructions are received by the machine, which mediatizes them and delivers them to students in a manner that it is programmed to deliver. This overhauls the whole dialectic of education, which is now hierarchized. Alienation in this process is quite stark, since the relations of production of education are completely transformed, which cannot be overcome by the deployment of any kind of technology.

      Technology, in fact, plays a big role in this alienation of labour that happens through the informatization of education. In the effort to replicate the classroom experience sans the direct relationship of affectivity between teachers and students, there is an overaccumulation of technologies and educational products, bringing in the surveillance techniques for remote disciplining of students and teachers.

      One only needs to look at the number of new gadgets and software for online education to understand the extent to which technology tries to overcome its artificiality. The market is flooded with AI-driven ‘smart content’ materials, customized lessons, digitized textbooks, easy to navigate chapter summaries, flashcards, automatically-graded exams, cameras for remote surveillance etc. The process of alienation is evermore intensified, since human living labour of both teachers and students are objectified in the development of these technologies. Their vivacity is reduced to an appendage to the artificiality of the machine.

      What is interesting is that while technology deskills the producers by taking over their powers of imagination and judgement, it also forces them to reskill themselves. With evermore new technologies hitting the online teaching platforms every day, both students and teachers are forced to continuously update themselves in their technical knowhow to assist these machines. This has led to generational and occupational redundancies in education too by promoting lean production methods and Taylorising techniques in education.
      The Struggle over Disposable Time

      What happens to education as a commodity in this alienated and Taylorized production process? Education internalizes the segmented social relations that characterize capitalism. This introduces dualism in its institutionalization, which gets further systematized and globalized in the wake of the ongoing technicization of education. On the one hand, we have mass production of education as a set of discrete information and instruction to train the majority of the working population in the drudgery of assisting the machines. This is facilitated by online education technologies. On the other hand, we have elite institutions monopolizing the rights to innovate and research (secured by various legal and institutional mechanisms like patenting, funding etc.), for which the more intensive conventional teaching methods must continue. This duality of education enhanced by online educational technologies has been developing for the last few decades to keep pace with the human resource requirements of other industrial and service sectors. Hence, online education itself has emerged as a fast-growing industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has given its production and dissemination a new intensity, urgency and definite possibility.

      With the growing dominance of online education, and discretized learning/teaching methods, there is also a proportionate increase in disposable time for both teachers and students. In the absence of direct and personalized contact during lectures, instruction intensifies; knowledge in the form of discretized information is produced in less time than in traditional classroom set-ups due to the absence of students’ queries and interventions. But what will be the utility of this disposable time? The system controls this disposable time by retrenchment, and by increasing workload and diversifying work profiles for the existing educational or knowledge workers.

      However, from the workers’ perspective, the disposable time has a different meaning, one that allows the co-producers to overcome drudgery and alienation by reclaiming the time-space for innovation and creativity. It is in this time-space that workers recognize knowledge as a result of their co-production, and re-appropriate it, going beyond being passive feeders-receivers of information assisting the machine. Dialogues between the students and the teachers are reestablished through more interpersonal interactions. This leads to a process of conscientization, in which the co-producers move beyond the classroom norms and fixed syllabi, and collectively build an understanding of phenomena and concepts, drawing on their own realities and experience.

      The disposable time enables workers to reclaim their common space and self-organize knowledge production, while reducing technology to mere means in this process, not as a mediator, organizer and controller of production and producers. It is only through such collaborative activities in these fractured times, that teachers and students together can assert their autonomy as knowledge producers and consumers.

      https://socialistproject.ca/2020/08/online-education-and-the-struggle-over-disposable-time

  • The WHO v #coronavirus: why it can’t handle the pandemic | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/apr/10/world-health-organization-who-v-coronavirus-why-it-cant-handle-pandemic

    The WHO “has been drained of power and resources”, said Richard Horton, editor of the influential medical journal the Lancet. “Its coordinating authority and capacity are weak. Its ability to direct an international response to a life-threatening epidemic is non-existent.”

    At the same time, the international order on which the WHO relies is fraying, as aggressive nationalism becomes normalised around the world. “All the previous rules about global norms, public health and understanding of what’s expected in terms of an outbreak has crumbled,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global.

    [...]

    “As it’s gone on, you see the WHO becoming less important,” said Wenham. “No one is thinking about reducing the global numbers, only their own. The WHO is a global force, but people aren’t thinking globally.”

    #OMS #nationalisme

  • Open Water: Greenlanders on the climate crisis – documentary | News | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/ng-interactive/2019/dec/02/open-water-lives-of-three-greenlanders-climate-crisis
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/91433bb344a4c36d86c23c0e1f7224137914b812/293_0_1338_803/master/1338.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-ali

    A glimpse into the lives of three Greenlanders: a hunter, a ship’s captain and a fisherman, individuals whose very existence and heritage is intertwined with the Arctic Ocean. Like many who live in the polar north, their fortunes straddle the extremes of summer and winter. Faced with a drastically changing environment, these seafarers reflect on their past, their present and uncertain future with a complex mix of emotions

    #climat #arctique #eau #environnement

  • We spent 10 years talking to people. Here’s what it taught us about Britain | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/03/anywhere-but-westminster-vox-pops-understanding-uk-political-landscape
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/7c33fe0ae3499763f577f862ea71bc66e6cf14f7/112_153_2525_1515/master/2525.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-ali

    If you do the kind of political journalism that involves talking to the general public, something faintly magical can sometimes happen. As events swirl around and you try to make sense of huge, complicated themes, a single conversation will bring everything into focus. And not via words alone: facial expressions, gestures, and the way individual words are emphasised can give you a vivid sense of how people think, and the way their feelings could create political change. The encounter might be fleeting, but a connection can be made; as one side understands, the other feels heard.
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    Since 2010, we have been responsible for the Guardian video series Anywhere But Westminster, in which we try to explore the gap between high politics and life as it is lived. With so much political coverage now based on opinion polling, we are interested not just in how people might vote, but what is behind their political choices. Vox pops have long been a crucial part of what we do.

    #Royaume_Uni

  • #Edward_Snowden on 9/11 and why he joined the army: ‘Now, finally, there was a fight’ | US news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/15/edward-snowden-on-911-and-why-he-joined-the-army-now-finally-there-was-

    Whenever I try to understand how the past two decades happened, I return to that September – to that ground-zero day and its immediate aftermath. To return means coming up against a truth darker than the lies that tied the Taliban to al-Qaeda and conjured up Saddam Hussein’s illusory stockpile of WMDs. It means, ultimately, confronting the fact that the carnage and abuses that marked my young adulthood were born not only in the executive branch and the intelligence agencies, but also in the hearts and minds of all Americans, myself included.

    I started working as a web designer for a woman I met in community college class. She, or I guess her business, hired me under the table at the then lavish rate of $30 an hour in cash. The trick was how many hours I would actually get paid for.

  • How the media contributed to the migrant crisis

    Disaster reporting plays to set ideas about people from ‘over there’.

    When did you notice the word “migrant” start to take precedence over the many other terms applied to people on the move? For me it was in 2015, as the refugee crisis in Europe reached its peak. While debate raged over whether people crossing the Mediterranean via unofficial routes should be regarded as deserving candidates for European sympathy and protection, it seemed as if that word came to crowd out all others. Unlike the other terms, well-meaning or malicious, that might be applied to people in similar situations, this one word appears shorn of context; without even an im- or an em- attached to it to indicate that the people it describes have histories or futures. Instead, it implies an endless present: they are migrants, they move, it’s what they do. It’s a form of description that, until 2015, I might have expected to see more often in nature documentaries, applied to animals rather than human beings.
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    But only certain kinds of human beings. The professional who moves to a neighbouring city for work is not usually described as a migrant, and neither is the wealthy businessman who acquires new passports as easily as he moves his money around the world. It is most often applied to those people who fall foul of border control at the frontiers of the rich world, whether that’s in Europe, the US, Australia, South Africa or elsewhere. That’s because the terms that surround migration are inextricably bound up with power, as is the way in which our media organisations choose to disseminate them.

    The people I met during the years I spent reporting on the experiences of refugees at Europe’s borders, for my book Lights in the Distance, were as keenly aware of this as any of us. There was the fixer I was introduced to in Bulgaria, a refugee himself, who was offering TV news crews a “menu” of stories of suffering, with a price range that corresponded with the value the media placed on them. Caesar, a young man from Mali I met in Sicily, told me he was shocked to find that Italian television would usually only show images of Africa in reports about war or poverty. Some refugees’ stories, he felt, were treated with more urgency than others because of what country they came from. Or there was Hakima, an Afghan woman who lived with her family in Athens, who confronted me directly: “We keep having journalists visit, and they want to hear our stories, but, tell me, what can you do?” Often, people I met were surprised at the lack of understanding, even indifference, they felt was being shown to them. Didn’t Europe know why people like them were forced to make these journeys? Hadn’t Europe played an intimate role in the histories and conflicts of their own countries?

    Europe’s refugee crisis, or more properly, a disaster partly caused by European border policies, rather than simply the movement of refugees towards Europe, was one of the most heavily mediated world events of the past decade. It unfolded around the edges of a wealthy and technologically developed region, home to several major centres of the global media industry. Scenes of desperation, suffering and rescue that might normally be gathered by foreign correspondents in harder-to-access parts of the world were now readily available to reporters, news crews, filmmakers and artists at relatively low cost.

    The people at the centre of the crisis were, at least for a time, relatively free to move around once they had reached safety and to speak to whoever they pleased. This gave certain advantages to the kind of media coverage that was produced. Most of all, it allowed quick and clear reporting on emergency situations as they developed. Throughout 2015, the crisis narrative was developed via a series of flashpoints at different locations within and around the European Union. In April, for example, attention focused on the smuggler boat route from Libya, after the deadliest shipwreck ever recorded in the Mediterranean. A month or so later focus shifted to Calais, where French and British policies of discouraging irregular migrants from attempting to cross the Channel had led to a growing spectacle of mass destitution. By the summer, the number of boat crossings from Turkey to Greece had dramatically increased, and images and stories of people stepping on to Aegean shores, or of piles of orange lifejackets, came to dominate. Then came the scenes of people moving through the Balkans, and so on, and so on.

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/2fe295c2e8dc7ea934d7091beaee84d9c5c3c804/42_649_3645_2186/master/3645.jpg?width=880&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=4029d3e00eba3245a92c5c

    In all of these situations the news media were able to do their basic job in emergency situations, which is to communicate what’s happening, who’s affected, what’s needed the most. But this is usually more than a matter of relaying dry facts and figures. “Human stories” have the greatest currency among journalists, although it’s an odd term if you think about it.

    What stories aren’t human? In fact, it’s most commonly used to denote a particular kind of human story; one that gives individual experience the greatest prominence, that tells you what an event felt like, both physically and emotionally. It rests on the assumption that this is what connects most strongly with audiences: either because it hooks them in and keeps them watching or reading, or because it helps them identify with the protagonist, perhaps in a way that encourages empathy, or a particular course of action in response. As a result, the public was able to easily and quickly access vivid accounts and images of people’s experiences as they attempted to cross the EU’s external borders, or to find shelter and welcome within Europe.

    The trade-off was that this often fit into predetermined ideas about what disasters look like, who needs protection, who is innocent and who is deserving of blame. Think, for example, about the most recognisable image of the refugee crisis in 2015: the picture of a Turkish police officer carrying the lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi away from the water’s edge on a beach near Bodrum.

    As the Dutch documentary Een zee van beelden – A Sea of Images – (Medialogica, 2016) asked: why did this image in particular strike such a chord? After all, many news editors see images of death on a daily basis, yet for the most part decide to exclude them. The documentary showed how the apparently viral spread of the Alan Kurdi photograph on social media was in large part the result of a series of decisions taken by senior journalists and NGO workers.

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/dae2df82cc5f6e0366d71f29daacfa5fdbc32e71/0_285_4500_2700/master/4500.jpg?width=880&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=08662beb01cdef62f0e718

    First, a local photo agency in Turkey decided to release the image to the wires because they were so fed up with the lack of political response to the crisis on their shores. The image was shared by an official at a global human rights NGO with a large Twitter following, and retweeted by several prominent correspondents for large news organisations. Picture editors at several newspapers then decided, independently of one another, to place the photo on the front pages of their next editions; only after that point did it reach its widest circulation online. The image gained the status it did for a mix of reasons – political, commercial, but also aesthetic. One of the picture editors interviewed in the documentary commented on how the position of the figures in the photo resembled that of Michelangelo’s Pietà, an iconography of suffering and sacrifice that runs deep in European culture.

    But if this way of working has its advantages, it also has its dark side. News media that rush from one crisis point to another are not so good at filling in the gaps, at explaining the obscured systems and long-term failures that might be behind a series of seemingly unconnected events. To return to the idea of a “refugee crisis”, for example, this is an accurate description in one sense, as it involved a sharp increase in the number of people claiming asylum in the European Union; from around 430,000 in 2013, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat, to well over a million in 2015 and 2016 each. In global terms this was a relatively small number of refugees: the EU has a population of over 500 million, while most of the world’s 68.5 million forcibly displaced people are hosted in poorer parts of the world. But the manner of people’s arrival was chaotic and often deadly, while there was a widespread institutional failure to ensure that their needs – for basic necessities, for legal and political rights – were met. To stop there, however, risks giving the false impression that the crisis was a problem from elsewhere that landed unexpectedly on European shores.

    This impression is false on two counts. First, Europe has played a key role, historically, in the shaping of a world where power and wealth are unequally distributed, and European powers continue to pursue military and arms trading policies that have caused or contributed to the conflicts and instability from which many people flee. Second, the crisis of 2015 was a direct effect of the complex and often violent system of policing immigration from outside the EU that has been constructed in the last few decades.

    In short, this has involved the EU and its members signing treaties with countries outside its borders to control immigration on its behalf; an increasingly militarised frontier at the geographical edges of the EU; and an internal system for regulating the movement of asylum seekers that aims to force them to stay in the first EU country they enter. This, cumulatively, had the effect of forcing desperate people to take narrower and more dangerous routes by land and sea, while the prioritising of border control over safe and dignified reception conditions compounded the disaster. How well, really, did media organisations explain all this to their audiences?

    The effect, all too often, was to frame these newly arrived people as others; people from “over there”, who had little to do with Europe itself and were strangers, antagonistic even, to its traditions and culture. This was true at times, of both well-meaning and hostile media coverage. A sympathetic portrayal of the displaced might focus on some of those images and stories that matched stereotypes of innocence and vulnerability: children, women, families; the vulnerable, the sick, the elderly.

    Negative coverage, meanwhile, might focus more on the men, the able-bodied, nameless and sometimes faceless people massed at fences or gates. Or people from particular countries would be focused on to suit a political agenda. The Sun, one of Britain’s most widely read newspapers, for example, led with a picture of Alan Kurdi on its front page in September 2015, telling its readers that the refugee crisis was a matter of life and death, and that the immediate action required was further British military intervention in Syria. A few weeks later it gave another refugee boat story the front page, but in contrast to the earlier one the language was about “illegals” who were seeking a “back door”. This time, the refugees were from Iraq, and they had landed on the territory of a British air force base in Cyprus, which legally made them the responsibility of the UK.

    The fragmented and contradictory media coverage of the crisis left room for questions to go unanswered and myths to circulate: who are these people and what do they want from us? Why don’t they stop in the first safe country they reach? Why don’t the men stay behind and fight? How can we make room for everyone? Are they bringing their problems to our shores? Do they threaten our culture and values? The problem is made worse by those media outlets that have an active desire to stoke hostility and misunderstanding.

    One of the first people I met in the course of my reporting was Azad, a young Kurdish man from northern Syria, in a hastily constructed refugee camp in Bulgaria at the end of 2013. At the time, the inability of Bulgarian and EU authorities to adequately prepare for the arrival of a few thousand people – the camp, at Harmanli in southern Bulgaria, marked the first time Médecins sans Frontières had ever set up emergency medical facilities within Europe – seemed like an unusual development. Everyone was new to this situation, and the camp’s inhabitants, largely Syrians who had fled the war there but decided that Syria’s neighbouring countries could not offer them the security they needed, were shocked at what they found. Several of them told me this couldn’t possibly be the real Europe, and that they would continue moving until they found it. Azad was friendly and wanted to know lots about where I came from, London, and to find out what he could about the other countries in Europe, and where people like him might find a place to settle.

    I went back to meet Azad several times over the next two years, as he and his family made their way across Bulgaria, and then central Europe, to Germany. During that time, the backlash against refugees grew stronger, a fact Azad was keenly aware of. In Sofia, in the spring of 2014, he pointed out places in the city centre where homeless Syrians had been attacked by street gangs. Later that year, in eastern Germany, we walked through a town where lampposts were festooned with posters for a far-right political party.

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/fa2e141ab6724115920ad9c8da0a9a8f5062613a/178_3160_7900_4740/master/7900.jpg?width=880&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=f94d910248f1757de42634

    By the autumn of 2015, Azad and his family were settled in Germany’s Ruhr area, and he was much warier of me than he had been in our early meetings. He could see that hostility ran alongside the curiosity and welcome that had greeted the new arrivals to Europe; and he knew how giving too many details away to journalists could threaten what stability people in his situation had managed to find. Within a few months, a series of events – the Islamic State attack in Paris in November 2015, the robberies and sexual assaults in Cologne that New Year’s Eve – had provided the excuse for some media outlets to tie well-worn stereotypes about savage, dark foreigners and their alleged threat to white European purity to the refugees of today.

    The most brazen of these claims – such as the Polish magazine wSieci, which featured a white woman draped in the EU flag being groped at by the arms of dark-skinned men, under the headline The Islamic Rape of Europe – directly echoed the Nazi and fascist propaganda of Europe’s 20th century. But racist stereotyping was present in more liberal outlets too. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, in its coverage of the Cologne attacks, prominently featured an illustration of a woman’s legs silhouetted in white, with the space in between taken up by a black arm and hand. Racism is buried so deep in European history that at times like these it can remain unspoken yet still make its presence clear.

    Now, several years on from the peak of the refugee crisis, we are faced with a series of uncomfortable facts. The EU has tried to restore and strengthen the border system that existed before 2015 by extending migration control deep into Africa and Asia. The human rights of the people this affects, not least the many migrants trapped in horrendous conditions in Libya, are taking a back seat. Far right and nationalist movements have made electoral gains in many countries within the EU, and they have done this partly by promising to crack down on migration, to punish refugees for daring to ask for shelter from disasters that Europe was all too often the midwife to. Politicians of the centre are being pulled to the right by these developments, and a dangerous narrative threatens to push out all others: that European culture and identity are threatened by intrusions from outside. If we come to view culture in this way – as something fixed and tightly bounded by the ideologies of race and religion, or as a means for wealthy parts of the world to defend their privilege – then we are headed for further, greater disasters.

    The irony is that you can only believe in this vision if you ignore not only Europe’s history, but its present too. Movement, exchange, new connections, the making and remaking of tradition – these things are happening all around us, and already involve people who have been drawn here from other parts of the world by ties not just of conflict but of economics, history, language and technology. By the same token, displacement is not just a feature of the lives of people from elsewhere in the world; it’s been a major and recent part of Europe’s history too. And what has kept people alive, what has preserved traditions and allowed people to build identities and realise their potential, is solidarity: the desire to defend one another and work towards common goals.

    If there is a failure to recognise this, then the way people are represented by our media and cultural institutions has to be at fault, and setting this right is an urgent challenge. This isn’t only in terms of how people are represented and when, but who gets to participate in the decision-making; who gets to speak with authority, or with political intent, or with a collective voice rather than simply as an individual.

    All too often, the voices of refugees and other marginalised people are reduced to pure testimony, which is then interpreted and contextualised on their behalf. One thing that constantly surprised me about the reporting on refugees in Europe, for instance, was how little we heard from journalists who had connections to already settled diaspora communities. Immigration from Africa, Asia or the Middle East is hardly new to Europe, and this seems like a missed opportunity to strengthen bridges we have already built. Though it’s never too late.

    Any meaningful response to this has to address the question of who gets to tell stories, as well as what kinds of stories are told. The Refugee Journalism Project, a mentoring scheme for displaced journalists, based at London College of Communication – disclosure: I’m on the steering committee, and it is supported by the Guardian Foundation – focuses not only on providing people with a media platform, but helping them develop the skills and contacts necessary for getting jobs.

    All too often the second part is forgotten about. But although initiatives like these are encouraging, we also need to rethink the way our media organisations are run: who owns them, who makes the decisions, who does the work. This reminds me of what I heard Fatima, a women’s rights activist originally from Nigeria, tell an audience of NGO workers in Italy in 2016: “Don’t just come and ask me questions and sell my story or sell my voice; we need a change.”

    The more those of us who work in media can help develop the connections that already exist between us, the more I think we can break down the idea of irreconcilable conflict over migration. Because, really, there is no “over there” – just where we are.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/aug/01/media-framed-migrant-crisis-disaster-reporting
    #médias #journalisme #presse #crise #terminologie #mots #vocabulaire #asile #migrations #réfugiés #crise_migratoire

  • The invention of Essex: how a county became a caricature | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/27/the-invention-of-essex-how-a-county-became-a-caricature

    As a child growing up in the 80s and 90s in Southend, a sprawling seaside town in south-east Essex, I noticed that people on TV often laughed at the very word Essex. Some years later, in 2016, my wife, Hayley, crossed the border into Albania from Montenegro while travelling with an old friend who, like us, grew up in the county. The border guard asked where they were from – and when they told him, his response was quickfire: “I’ve heard a lot about Essex girls,” he said. “But I’m sure you are not like that.”

    #pierre_sansot #gens_de_peu #essex #royaume-uni

  • In recent years, there has been enormous concern about the time we spend on our web-connected devices and what that might be doing to our brains. But a related psychological shift has gone largely unremarked: the way that, for a certain segment of the population, the news has come to fill up more and more time – and, more subtly, to occupy centre stage in our subjective sense of reality, so that the world of national politics and international crises can feel more important, even more truly real, than the concrete immediacy of our families, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/may/03/how-the-news-took-over-reality

    #surveillancecapitalism #massmedia #theguardian

  • How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/10/how-colonial-violence-came-home-the-ugly-truth-of-the-first-world-war

    How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war

    The Harlem Hellfighters

    View of African American troops of the 369th Infantry, formerly the 15th Regiment New York Guard, and organized by Colonel Haywood, who were among the most highly decorated upon its return home, 1918. They were also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images) Photograph: Interim Archives/Getty

    The Great War is often depicted as an unexpected catastrophe. But for millions who had been living under imperialist rule, terror and degradation were nothing new. By Pankaj Mishra

    Fri 10 Nov 2017 06.00 GMT
    Last modified on Thu 30 Nov 2017 19.44 GMT

    ‘Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.

    Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.

    #congo #belgique #pgm #première_guerre_mondiale 1914-1918