• Rural Italy Had a Pandemic Renaissance. Can It Last ?

    After thousands of young workers fled urban lockdowns to the countryside, village leaders are trying to make sure they stay. It’s easier said than done.

    A Medieval hamlet perched in the Madonie mountains of Sicily, Castelbuono looks straight out of a fairy tale, with narrow, winding streets and a stone-walled castle from the 14th century.

    Yet despite years of local efforts to turn it into a cultural hub through tourism and the establishment of an international music festival, Castelbuono has been shrinking for decades. Since the late 1960s, entire families across southern and central Italy have fled to the wealthier north in search of employment, as agriculture, textile mills and other industries declined. As a result, some 2,500 villages across the country are disappearing, with more than 2 million empty houses.

    But Covid-19 brought an unlikely reversal in that trend. Even as the virus tore through Italy’s rural interior and south, it also drew a wave of young adults and expatriates into its declining towns. Once relegated to weekend escapes from urban fatigue, centuries-old villages like Castelbuono — called “borghi” in Italian, or “borgo” in the singular — became more attractive refuges from the claustrophobia of pandemic lockdowns, promising more space to inhabit and improved quality of life at cheaper prices.

    Now, to translate this phenomenon into a lasting post-pandemic legacy, elected leaders and grassroots organizations are taking action to improve infrastructure, rebuild community ties and push these aging villages into the 21st century as remote work becomes the new normal.

    “The pandemic created one of the biggest opportunities ever for small towns in Italy,” said Carla Cucco, a 30-year old lawyer who grew up in Castelbuono and moved back from Palermo amid the first lockdown in spring 2020. She is now living with her parents.

    Exactly how many people returned to villages last year is hard to say, especially since many Italians who previously left never gave up nominal residency. But a report by SVIMEZ, an Italian think tank focused on the economic development in the south, estimates that between 80,000 to 100,000 people moved back to these long-fading regions since the start of Covid-19, based on employer surveys. Meanwhile, demand for properties in rural areas increased by 20% last spring, according to real estate agencies.

    Some new arrivals are remaking villages so that they are more viable places to live long-term. Cucco is part of South Working, a loose network of young Italian professionals that started during the pandemic to stay connected while in isolation. Over the past six months, in cooperation with the local officials in Castelbuono, Cucco and a group of fellow returnees turned parts of historical buildings into coworking spaces. Now, when Cucco has to speak with a client in the city, she steps into what was once the cloister of an 18th-century Catholic church, now converted into an open-air conference room.

    The baroque village of Palazzolo Acreide in southern Sicily, which has lost about 7% residents in the last decade, is similarly trying to capitalize on the pandemic’s positive population effect.

    “We are not yet to the point of extinction, because despite the inevitable decrease in population, Palazzolo is still lively and can offer a lot,” said Mayor Salvatore Gallo. He estimates that hundreds of newcomers have arrived since last year to the town of 8,000, a UNESCO world heritage site rated the second most beautiful borgo in Italy in 2019.

    Before Covid hit, Gallo looked into bringing in the popular 1-euro houses program — where owners sell uninhabited homes in need of renovation for a nominal fee — that has been tried in dozens of emptied villages. But when he found that such incentives mostly function as holiday house give-aways, he decided that a better strategy for Palazzolo would be supporting projects and businesses that newcomers initiated.

    The first of those will be a FabLab, a workshop equipped with tools such as 3-D printers as well as soldering irons and textile looms. Directed by Marie-Marthe Joly, a Swiss entrepreneur, it will open this summer inside an old monastery, which Gallo made available for free.

    Enticed by the slower pace of life, Joly decided to make her move permanent after getting stuck at her holiday home in Palazzolo during the first lockdown. Through academic partnerships with the University of Geneva and the University of Catania in Sicily, she plans to use the FabLab to bring in experts to teach business, crafts and digital skills to locals.

    “Moving to a borgo shouldn’t just be a selfish decision to enjoy better food and cheaper rent, but a chance to enrich and give back to the host community,” she said.

    Yet the ability to work remotely at her university is what made the move possible. And that’s what she and Gallo — who has signed a contract for high-speed internet coverage for the entire town — hope will enable more arrivals to stay.

    As part of South Working, Carmelo Ignaccolo, a PhD student in urban studies and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been tracking coworking hubs and places with access to high-speed internet that can cater to the needs of remote-working professionals across rural Italy; so far, the group has counted 192 locations. To better understand the level of repopulation that has taken place in some of these towns during the pandemic, he hopes to analyze mobile phone and internet use data. That could also help indicate where governments should aim for future investments, he said.

    In a kind of domino effect, several areas struggling with depopulation have already begun experimenting with ways to encourage newcomers to stay for the whole year rather than just during the holidays.

    Last July, Sicily’s regional government launched a program offering a grant of as much as 50,000 euros ($61,000) for people under the age of 30 to build social enterprises in culture and tourism in one of 23 designated villages, including Palazzolo Acreide. In September, the southern region of Molise announced it would offer 700 euros a month to those taking residency in a borgo with fewer than 2,000 residents. Another program launched in February in the mountainous northern region of Emilia-Romagna gives applicants up to 30,000 euros for the purchase or restoration of a house.

    “We are witnessing unparalleled times for the rebirth of these disappearing, yet invaluable, spaces of our national heritage. And that gives us hope for the future,” said Anna Laura Orrico, a member of Italy’s Parliament who has previously tried to make rural revitalization a national priority. For years, the government has tried to repopulate borghis through initiatives such as the 2014 “National Strategy for Inner Areas,” which aimed to develop rural areas through targeted investments in infrastructure and urban planning. But the plan’s impact has been difficult to assess, Orrico said, due to lack of monitoring.

    Now the topic has momentum. Last year, during her mandate as undersecretary of cultural affairs, Orrico’s office selected 12 villages across the country to become experimental hubs for innovative technology in the fields of environment, sustainable transportation and culture, funded through a project called “Smarter Italy.” Beginning in summer, 90 euros million will be allocated across these towns to fund diverse projects, including virtual museums and seismic monitoring.

    Some of the Recovery Plan funds that Italy is set to receive later this year from the European Union to counter the negative economic impact of coronavirus are also expected to be invested in borghi, although exact amounts are yet to be determined.

    Such investments are badly needed, as rural areas lack critical services such as secondary education, high-speed transportation, and health care. In ultra-remote parts of southern Italy, it takes an average of nearly 45 minutes to reach a hospital.

    Modernizing infrastructure and social services is key to keeping new residents for the long-term, said Fausto Carmelo Nigrelli, a professor of urban planning at the University of Catania, who has spent decades studying the economic challenges of Italy’s small villages. He believes that at least 1 billion euros is required to make rural areas more habitable. A historic lack of follow-through by the national government — as well as the pandemic’s devastating effect on the Italian economy — makes him skeptical that this time will be different.

    “This return is very encouraging,” Nigrelli said. “But if it’s not supported by concrete, effective policy planning that focuses on improving the welfare system, the risk is that, in a few years time, the emigration trend might retake its course.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-21/how-covid-repopulated-rural-italian-villages?cmpid=BBD052121_CITYLAB

    #renaissance #Italie #covid-19 #coronavirus #rural #campagnes #jeunes #jeunesse #travail_à_distance #Sicile #Madonie #Castelbuono #lockdown #confinement #post-pandémie #géographie #infrastructure #south_working #travail #Palazzolo #FabLab #co-working

    –—

    ajouté à la métaliste « #géographie (et notamment #géographie_politique) et #coronavirus » :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/852722

  • Poison Idea – Southern Lord Recordings
    https://southernlord.com/band/poison-idea

    Formed in 1980, POISON IDEA became a household name in the hardcore/punk scenes early in their career, and are known as one of the most notoriously in-your-face acts in the American musical underworld, with an enraged, high-energy live set even more rambunctious than the massive roster of singles, EPs, full-length studio and live releases and more, across a realm of labels including Pusmort, Tim/Kerr, Epitaph, Farewell, TKO, Southern Lord, and their own Fatal Erection. They’ve been an incredibly influential act to major performers including Nirvana, Pantera, Napalm Death, Machine Head, Eyehategod, Emperor, Turbonegro and an endless list of others.

    It is with massive enthusiasm that Southern Lord Recordings announces the brand NEW #Poison_Idea studio LP: Confuse & Conquer featuring eleven raging new anthems. Recorded by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) and mastered by Brad Boatright (From Ashes Rise), the record booms with thirty-five minutes of fully ignited hardcore punk in the monolithic style the band has provided for three-and-a-half decades now.

    #southern_lord

  • Decolonisation and humanitarian response

    As part of our annual Careers in Humanitarianism Day, we were joined by:

    #Juliano_Fiori (Save the Children, and PhD Candidate at HCRI)
    – Professor #Patricia_Daley (Oxford University)
    – Professor #Elena_Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL)

    in discussion (and sometimes disagreement!) on the notions of humanitarianism and decolonisation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLcf7O1Y_SOZQ24s6vCT8rtR9ANGs0nzEi&v=BSTjc3YCH9I&feature=youtu.b


    #décolonialité #décolonialisme #humanitaire #conférence

    ping @cede @isskein @karine4

    • Migration, Humanitarianism, and the Politics of Knowledge —> An Interview with #Juliano_Fiori.

      Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh: In this issue of Migration and Society we are interested in the overarching theme of “Recentering the South in Studies of Migration.” Indeed, it is increasingly acknowledged that studies of and policy responses to migration and displacement often have a strong Northern bias. For instance, in spite of the importance of different forms of migration within, across, and between countries of the “global South” (i.e., “South-South migration”), there is a significant tendency to focus on migration from “the South” to countries of “the North” (i.e., South-North migration), prioritizing the perspectives and interests of stakeholders associated with the North. Against this backdrop, what is your position with regard to claims of Eurocentrism in studies of and responses to migration?

      Juliano Fiori: To the extent that they emerge from immanent critiques of colonialism and liberal capitalism, I am sympathetic toward them.1 Decentering (or provincializing) Europe is necessarily an epistemological project of deconstruction. But to contribute to a counterhegemonic politics, this project must move beyond the diagnosis of epistemicide to challenge the particular substance of European thought that has produced systems of oppression.

      The idea of “decolonizing the curriculum” is, of course, à la mode (Sabaratnam 2017; Vanyoro 2019). It is difficult to dispute the pedagogical necessity to question epistemic hierarchies and create portals into multiple worlds of knowledge. These endeavors are arguably compatible with the exigencies of Enlightenment reason itself. But, though I recognize Eurocentrism as an expression of white identity politics, I am wary of the notion that individual self-identification with a particular body of knowledge is a worthy or sufficient end for epistemic decolonization—a notion I associate with a prevalent strain of woke post-politics, which, revering the cultural symbols of late capitalism but seeking to resignify them, surely produces a solipsistic malaise. Decolonization of the curriculum must at least aim at the reconstruction of truths.

      Eurocentrism in the study of human migration is perhaps particularly problematic—and brazen—on account of the transnational and transcultural histories that migrants produce. Migrants defy the neat categorization of territories and peoples according to civilizational hierarchies. They redefine the social meaning of physical frontiers, and they blur the cultural frontier between Self and Other. They contribute to an intellectual miscegenation that undermines essentialist explanations of cultural and philosophical heritage. Migration itself is decentering (Achiume 2019).

      And it is largely because of this that it is perceived as a threat. Let’s consider Europe’s contemporary backlash against immigration. The economic argument about the strain immigration places on the welfare state—often framed in neo-Malthusian terms—can be readily rebutted with evidence of immigrants’ net economic contribution. But concerns about the dethroning of “European values” are rarely met head-on; progressive political elites have rather responded by doubling down on calls for multiculturalism from below, while promoting universalism from above, intensifying the contradictions of Eurocentricity.

      It is unsurprising that, in the Anglophone world, migration studies developed the trappings of an academic discipline—dedicated university programs, journals, scholarly societies—in the late 1970s, amid Western anxieties about governing increased emigration from postcolonial states. It quickly attracted critical anthropologists and postcolonial theorists. But the study of the itinerant Other has tended to reinforce Eurocentric assumptions. Migration studies has risen from European foundations. Its social scientific references, its lexicon, its institutional frameworks and policy priorities, its social psychological conceptions of identity—all position Europe at the zero point. It has assembled an intellectual apparatus that privileges the Western gaze upon the hordes invading from the barrens. That this gaze might be cast empathetically does nothing to challenge epistemic reproduction: Eurocentrism directs attention toward the non-Western Other, whose passage toward Europe confirms the centrality of Europe and evokes a response in the name of Eurocentrism. To the extent that Western scholars focus on South-South migration, the policy relevance of their research is typically defined by its implications for flows from South to North.

      The Eurocentrism of responses to forced migration by multinational charities, UN agencies, and the World Bank is not only a product of the ideological and cultural origins of these organizations. It also reflects the political interests of their principal donors: Western governments. Aid to refugees in countries neighboring Syria has been amply funded, particularly as the European Union has prioritized the containment of Syrians who might otherwise travel to Europe. Meanwhile, countries like India, South Africa, and Ivory Coast, which host significant numbers of regional migrants and refugees, receive proportionally little attention and support.

      It is an irony of European containment policies that, while adopted as a measure against supposed threats to Europeanness, they undermine the moral superiority that Eurocentrism presupposes. The notion of a humanitarian Europe is unsustainable when European efforts to deter immigration are considered alongside the conditions accepted for other regions of the world. A continent of more than half a billion people, Europe hosts just under 2.3 million refugees; Lebanon, with a population of six million, hosts more than 1.5 million refugees from Syria alone. It should be noted that, in recent years, European citizens’ movements have mobilized resources to prevent the death of people crossing the Mediterranean. Initiatives like Alarm Phone, Open Arms, Sea Watch, and SOS MEDITERRANEE seem to represent a politicized humanitarianism for the network age. But in their overt opposition to an emboldened ethnonationalist politics, they seek to rescue not only migrants and refugees, but also an idea of Europe.

      EFQ: How, if at all, do you engage with constructs such as “the global North,” “the global South,” and “the West” in your own work?

      JF: I inevitably use some of these terms more than others, but they are all problematic in a way, so I just choose the one that I think best conveys my intended meaning in each given context. West, North, and core are not interchangeable; they are associated with distinct, if overlapping, ontologies and temporalities. As are Third World, South, and developing world.

      I try to stick to three principles when using these terms. The first is to avoid the sort of negative framing to which your work on South-South encounters has helpfully drawn attention (i.e., Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2015, 2018; Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Daley 2018). When we come across one of these terms being deployed negatively, it invariably describes that which is not of the West or of the North. As such, it centers Europe and North America, and it opens up an analytical terrain on which those residing beyond the imagined cultural bounds of these regions tend to be exoticized. When I need to frame something negatively, I try to do so directly, using the appropriate prefix.

      Second, I try to avoid setting up dichotomies and continuities. Placing East and West or North and South in opposition implies entirely dissimilar bodies, separated by a definite, undeviating frontier. But these terms are mutually constitutive, and it is rarely clear where, or even if, a frontier can be drawn. Such dichotomies also imply a conceptual equilibrium: that what lies on one side of the opposition is ontologically equivalent to what lies on the other. But the concept of the West is not equivalent to what the East represents today; indeed, it is questionable whether a concept of the East is now of much analytical value. South, West, North, and East might be constructed dialectically, but their imagined opposites are not necessarily their antitheses. Each arguably has more than one counterpoint.

      Similarly, I generally don’t use terms that associate countries or regions with stages of development—most obviously, least developed, developing, and developed. They point toward a progressivist and teleological theory of history to which I don’t subscribe. (The world-systems concepts of core, semiperiphery, and periphery offer a corrective to national developmental mythologies, but they are nonetheless inscribed in a systemic teleology.) The idea of an inexorable march toward capitalist modernity—either as the summit of civilization or as the point of maximum contradiction—fails to account for the angles, forks, and dead ends that historical subjects encounter. It also tends to be founded on a Eurocentric and theological economism that narrows human experience and, I would argue, mistakenly subordinates the political.

      Third, I try to use these terms conceptually, without presenting them as fixed unities. They must be sufficiently tight as concepts to transmit meaning. But they inevitably obscure the heterogeneity they encompass, which is always in flux. Moreover, as concepts, they are continuously resignified by discursive struggles and the reordering of the interstate system. Attempts to define them too tightly, according to particular geographies or a particular politics, can give the impression that they are ahistorical. Take Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s definition of the South, for example. For Santos, the South is not a geographical concept: he contends that it also exists in the geographical North (2014, 2016). Rather, it is a metaphor for the human suffering caused by capitalism and colonialism. It is anticapitalist, anticolonialist, antipatriarchal, and anti-imperialist. According to this definition, the South becomes representative of a particular left-wing politics (and it is negative). It thus loses its utility as a category of macrosociological analysis.

      Ultimately, all these terms are problematic because they are sweeping. But it is also for this reason that they can be useful for certain kinds of systemic analysis.

      EFQ: You have written on the history of “Western humanitarianism” (i.e., Fiori 2013; Baughan and Fiori 2015). Why do you focus on the “Western” character of humanitarianism?

      JF: I refer to “Western humanitarianism” as a rejoinder to the fashionable notion that there is a universal humanitarian ethic. Within both the Anglophone academy and the aid sector, it has become a commonplace that humanitarianism needs to be decolonized, and that the way to do this is to recognize and nurture “local” humanitarianisms around the world. In the last decade and a half, enthusiasm for global history has contributed to broader and more sophisticated understandings of how humanitarian institutions and discourses have been constructed. But it has also arguably contributed to the “humanitarianization” of different altruistic impulses, expressions of solidarity, and charitable endeavors across cultures.

      The term “humanitarian” was popularized in English and French in the first half of the nineteenth century, and it soon became associated with humanistic religion. It thus connoted the existence of an ideal humanity within every individual and, as Didier Fassin (2012) has argued, it has come to represent the secularization of the Christian impulse to life. It was used to describe a wide range of campaigns, from abolition and temperance to labor reform. But all promoted a rationalist conception of humanity derived from European philosophy. That is, an abstract humanity, founded upon a universal logos and characterized by the mind-body duality. What is referred to today as the “humanitarian system”—of financial flows and liberal institutions—has been shaped predominantly by Western power and political interests. But the justification for its existence also depends upon the European division between the reasoned human and the unreasoned savage. The avowed purpose of modern humanitarianism is to save, convert, and civilize the latter. To cast modern humanitarian reason as a universal is to deny the specificity of ethical dispositions born of other conceptions of humanity. Indeed, the French philosopher François Jullien (2014) has argued that the concept of “the universal” itself is of the West.

      Of course, there are practices that are comparable to those of Western humanitarian agencies across different cultures. However, claiming these for humanitarianism sets them on European foundations, regardless of their author’s inspiration; and it takes for granted that they reproduce the minimalist politics of survival with which the Western humanitarian project has come to be associated.

      So why not refer to “European humanitarianism”? First, because it must be recognized that, as a set of evolving ethical practices, humanitarianism does not have a linear intellectual genealogy. European philosophy itself has of course been influenced by other traditions of thought (see Amin 1989; Bevilacqua 2018; Hobson 2004; Patel 2018): pre-Socratic Greek thinkers borrowed from the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Egyptians; Enlightenment philosophes had exchanges with Arab intellectuals. Second, reference to the West usefully points to the application of humanitarian ideas through systems of power.

      Since classical antiquity, wars and ruptures have produced various narratives of the West. In the mid-twentieth century, essentialist histories of Western civilization emphasized culture. For Cold War political scientists, West and East often represented distinct ideological projects. I refer to the West as something approaching a sociopolitical entity—a power bloc—that starts to take form in the early nineteenth century as Western European intellectuals and military planners conceive of Russia as a strategic threat in the East. This bloc is consolidated in the aftermath of World War I, under the leadership of the United States, which, as net creditor to Europe, shapes a new liberal international order. The West, then, becomes a loose grouping of those governments and institutional interests (primarily in Europe and North America) that, despite divergences, have been at the forefront of efforts to maintain and renew this order. During the twentieth century, humanitarians were sometimes at odds with the ordering imperatives of raison d’état, but contemporary humanitarianism is a product of this West—and a pillar of liberal order.2

      EFQ: With this very rich historically and theoretically grounded discussion in mind, it is notable that policy makers and practitioners are implementing diverse ways of “engaging” with “the global South” through discourses and practices of “partnership” and supporting more “horizontal,” rather than “vertical,” modes of cooperation. In turn, one critique of such institutionalized policy engagement is that it risks instrumentalizing and co-opting modes of so-called South-South cooperation and “hence depoliticising potential sources of resistance to the North’s neoliberal hegemony” (Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Daley 2018: 2). Indeed, as you suggested earlier, it has been argued that policy makers are strategically embracing “South-South migration,” “South-South cooperation,” and the “localisation of aid agenda” as efficient ways both “to enhance development outcomes” and to “keep ‘Southerners’ in the South,” as “part and parcel of Northern states’ inhumane, racist and racialised systems of border and immigration control” (Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Daley 2018: 19). What, if any, are the dangers of enhancing “policy engagement” with “the South”? To what extent do you think that such instrumentalization and co-option can be avoided?

      JF: The term “instrumentalization” gives the impression that there are circumstances under which policy engagement can be objectively just and disinterested. Even when framed as humanitarian, the engagement of Western actors in the South is inspired by a particular politics. Policy engagement involves an encounter of interests and a renegotiation of power relations; for each agent, all others are instruments in its political strategy. Co-option is just a symptom of negotiation between unequal agents with conflicting interests—which don’t need to be stated, conscious, or rationally pursued. It is the means through which the powerful disarm and transform agendas they cannot suppress.

      The “localization agenda” is a good example. Measures to enable effective local responses to disaster are now discussed as a priority at international humanitarian congresses. These discussions can be traced at least as far back as Robert Chambers’s work (1983) on participatory rural development, in the 1980s. And they gathered momentum in the mid-2000s, as a number of initiatives promoted greater local participation in humanitarian operations. But, of course, there are different ideas about what localization should entail.

      As localization has climbed the humanitarian policy agenda, the overseas development divisions of Western governments have come to see it as an opportunity to increase “value for money” and, ultimately, reduce aid expenditure. They promote cash transfer programming as the most “empowering” aid technology. Localization then becomes complementary to the integration of emergency response into development agendas, and to the expansion of markets.

      Western humanitarian agencies that call for localization—and there are those, notably some branches of Médecins Sans Frontières, that do not—have generally fallen in line with this developmental interpretation, on account of their own ideological preferences as much as coercion by donor governments. But they have also presented localization as a moral imperative: a means of “shifting power” to the South to decolonize humanitarianism. While localization might be morally intuitive, Western humanitarians betray their hubris in supposing that their own concessions can reorder the aid industry and the geostrategic matrix from which it takes form. Their proposed solutions, then, including donor budgetary reallocations, are inevitably technocratic. Without structural changes to the political economy of aid, localization becomes a pretext for Western governments and humanitarian agencies to outsource risk. Moreover, it sustains a humanitarian imaginary that associates Westerners with “the international”—the space of politics, from which authority is born—and those in disaster-affected countries with “the local”—the space of the romanticized Other, vulnerable but unsullied by the machinations of power. (It is worth stating that the term “localization” itself implies the transformation of something “global” into something local, even though “locals”—some more than others—are constitutive of the global.)

      There are Southern charities and civil society networks—like NEAR,3 for example—that develop similar narratives on localization, albeit in more indignant tones. They vindicate a larger piece of the pie. But, associating themselves with a neomanagerial humanitarianism, they too embrace a politics incapable of producing a systemic critique of the coloniality of aid.

      Yet demands for local ownership of disaster responses should also be situated within histories of the subaltern. Some Western humanitarian agencies that today advocate for localization, including Save the Children, once faced opposition from anticolonial movements to their late imperial aid projects. More recently, so-called aid recipient perception surveys have repeatedly demonstrated the discontent of disaster-affected communities regarding impositions of foreign aid, but they have also demonstrated anguish over histories of injustice in which the Western humanitarian is little more than an occasional peregrine. It is the structural critique implicit in such responses that the localization agenda sterilizes. In the place of real discussion about power and inequalities, then, we get a set of policy prescriptions aimed at the production of self-sufficient neoliberal subjects, empowered to save themselves through access to markets.

      While some such co-option is always likely in policy engagement, it can be reduced through the formation of counterhegemonic coalitions. Indeed, one dimension of what is now called South-South cooperation involves a relatively old practice among Southern governments of forming blocs to improve their negotiating position in multilateral forums. And, in the twenty-first century, they have achieved moderate successes on trade, global finance, and the environment. But it is important to recognize that co-option occurs in South-South encounters too. And, of course, that political affinities and solidarity can and do exist across frontiers.

      EFQ: You edited the first issue of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, which focused on “humanitarianism and the end of liberal order” (see Fiori 2019), and you are also one of the editors of a forthcoming book on this theme, Amidst the Debris: Humanitarianism and the End of Liberal Order. New populisms of the right now challenge the liberal norms and institutions that have shaped the existing refugee regime and have promoted freer movement of people across borders. Can decolonial and anticolonial thinking provide a basis for responses to displacement and migration that do more than resist?

      JF: Any cosmopolitan response to migration is an act of resistance to the political organization of the interstate system.4 As blood-and-soil politicians now threaten to erect walls around the nation-state, the political meaning and relevance of cosmopolitan resistance changes. But if this resistance limits itself to protecting the order that appears to be under threat, it is likely to be ineffective. Moreover, an opportunity to articulate internationalisms in pursuit of a more just order will be lost.

      In recent years, liberal commentators have given a great deal of attention to Trump, Salvini, Duterte, Orbán, Bolsonaro, and other leading figures of the so-called populist Right. And these figures surely merit attention on account of their contributions to a significant conjunctural phenomenon. But the fetishization of their idiosyncrasies and the frenzied investigation of their criminality serves a revanchist project premised on the notion that, once they are removed from office (through the ballot box or otherwise), the old order of things will be restored. To be sure, the wave that brought them to power will eventually subside; but the structures (normative, institutional, epistemological) that have stood in its way are unlikely to be left intact. Whether the intention is to rebuild these structures or to build new ones, it is necessary to consider the winds that produced the wave. In other words, if a cosmopolitan disposition is to play a role in defining the new during the current interregnum, resistance must be inscribed into strategies that take account of the organic processes that have produced Trumpism and Salvinism.

      French geographer Christophe Guilluy offers an analysis of one aspect of organic change that I find compelling, despite my discomfort with the nativism that occasionally flavors his work. Guilluy describes a hollowing out of the Western middle class (2016, 2018). This middle class was a product of the postwar welfarist pact. But, since the crisis of capitalist democracy in the 1970s, the internationalization of capital and the financialization of economies have had a polarizing effect on society. According to Guilluy, there are now two social groupings: the upper classes, who have profited from neoliberal globalization or have at least been able to protect themselves from its fallout; and the lower classes, who have been forced into precarious labor and priced out of the city. It is these lower classes who have had to manage the multicultural integration promoted by progressive neoliberals of the center-left and center-right. Meanwhile, the upper classes have come to live in almost homogenous citadels, from which they cast moral aspersions on the reactionary lower classes who rage against the “open society.” An assertion of cultural sovereignty, this rage has been appropriated by conservatives-turned-revolutionaries, who, I would argue, represent one side of a new political dichotomy. On the other side are the progressives-turned-conservatives, who cling to the institutions that once seemed to promise the end of politics.

      This social polarization would appear to be of significant consequence for humanitarian and human rights endeavors, since their social base has traditionally been the Western middle class. Epitomizing the open society, humanitarian campaigns to protect migrants deepen resentment among an aging precariat, which had imagined that social mobility implied an upward slope, only to fall into the lower classes. Meanwhile, the bourgeois bohemians who join the upper classes accommodate themselves to their postmodern condition, hunkering down in their privileged enclaves, where moral responses to distant injustices are limited to an ironic and banalizing clicktivism. The social institutions that once mobilized multiclass coalitions in the name of progressive causes have long since been dismantled. And, despite the revival of democratic socialism, the institutional Left still appears intellectually exhausted after decades in which it resigned itself to the efficient management of neoliberal strategies.

      And yet, challenges to liberal order articulated through a Far Right politics create a moment of repoliticization; and they expose the contradictions of globalization in an interstate system, without undermining the reality of, or the demand for, connectivity. As such, they seem to open space for the formulation of radical internationalisms with a basis in the reconstruction of migrant rights. In this space, citizens’ movements responding to migration have forged a politics of transnational solidarity through anarchistic practices of mutual aid and horizontalism more than through the philosophizing of associated organic intellectuals. Fueled by disaffection with politics, as much as feelings of injustice, they have attracted young people facing a precarious future, and migrants themselves; indeed, there are movements led by migrants in Turkey, in Germany, in Greece, and elsewhere. They construct social commons with a basis in difference, forming “chains of equivalence.” Decolonial and anticolonial thinking is thus more likely to influence their responses to migration and displacement than those of Western governments and conventional humanitarian agencies. Indeed, beyond the political inspiration that horizontalism often draws from anticolonial struggles, decolonial and postcolonial theories offer a method of deconstructing hierarchy from the inside that can transform resistance into the basis for a pluralist politics built from the bottom up. But for this sort of internationalism to reshape democratic politics, the movements promoting it would need to build bridges into political institutions and incorporate it into political strategies that redress social polarization. To the extent that this might be possible, it will surely dilute their more radical propositions.

      I rather suspect that the most likely scenario, in the short term at least, involves a political reordering through the reassertion of neoliberal strategies. We could see the development of the sort of political economy imagined by the early neoliberal thinker Gottfried Haberler (1985): that is, one in which goods, wages, and capital move freely, but labor doesn’t. This will depend on the consolidation of authoritarian states that nonetheless claim a democratic mandate to impose permanent states of emergency.

      https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/migration-and-society/3/1/arms030114.xml

      #migrations

    • Conceptualising the global South and South–South encounters

      Long before the institutional interest in ‘engaging with’, and ostensibly mobilising and co-opting actors from across the global South, rich, critical literatures have been published in diverse languages around the world, demonstrating the urgency of developing and applying theoretical and methodological frameworks that can be posited as Southern, anti-colonial, postcolonial and/or decolonial in nature.[1] These and other approaches have traced and advocated for diverse ways of knowing and being in a pluriversal world characterised (and constituted) by complex relationalities and unequal power relations, and equally diverse ways of resisting these inequalities – including through historical and contemporary forms of transnational solidarities.

      Of course, the very term ‘South’ which is included not once but twice in the title of the Handbook of South-South Relations, is itself a debated and diversely mobilised term, as exemplified in the different usages and definitions proposed (and critiqued) across the Handbook’s constituent chapters.

      For instance, a number of official, institutional taxonomies exist, including those which classify (and in turn interpellate) different political entities as ‘being’ from and of ‘the South’ or ‘the North’. Such classifications have variously been developed on the basis of particular readings of a state’s geographical location, of its relative position as a (formerly) colonised territory or colonising power, and/or of a state’s current economic capacity on national and global scales.[2]

      In turn, Medie and Kang (2018) define ‘countries of the global South’ as ‘countries that have been marginalised in the international political and economic system’. Indeed, Connell (2007) builds upon a long tradition of critical thinking to conceptualise the South and the North, respectively, through the lens of the periphery and the metropole, as categories that transcend fixed physical geographies. And of course, as stressed by Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Kenneth Tafira in their contribution to the Handbook, such geographies have never been either static or defined purely through reference to physical territories and demarcations:

      ‘imperial reason and scientific racism were actively deployed in the invention of the geographical imaginaries of the global South and the global North.’

      Through conceptualising the South and North through the lenses of the periphery and metropole, Connell argues that there are multiple souths in the world, including ‘souths’ (and southern voices) within powerful metropoles, as well as multiple souths within multiple peripheries. As Sujata Patel notes in her chapter in the Handbook, it is through this conceptualisation that Connell subsequently posits that

      ‘the category of the south allows us to evaluate the processes that permeate the non-recognition of its theories and practices in the constitution of knowledge systems and disciplines’.

      It enables, and requires us, to examine how, why and with what effect certain forms of knowledge and being in the world come to be interpellated and protected as ‘universal’ while others are excluded, derided and suppressed ‘as’ knowledge or recognisable modes of being.[3] Indeed, in her chapter, Patel follows both Connell (2007) and de Sousa Santos (2014) in conceptualising ‘the South’ as ‘a metaphor’ that ‘represents the embeddedness of knowledge in relations of power’.

      In turn, in their contribution to the Handbook, Dominic Davies and Elleke Boehmer centralise the constitutive relationality of the South by drawing on Grovogu (2011), who defines ‘the term “Global South” not as an exact geographical designation, but as “an idea and a set of practices, attitudes, and relations” that are mobilised precisely as “a disavowal of institutional and cultural practices associated with colonialism and imperialism”’ (cited in Davies and Boehmer). Viewing the South, or souths, as being constituted by and mobilising purposeful resistance to diverse exploitative systems, demonstrates the necessity of a contrapuntal reading of, and through, the South.

      As such, as Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Tafira powerfully argue in their chapter,

      ‘the global South was not only invented from outside by European imperial forces but it also invented itself through resistance and solidarity-building.’

      In this mode of analysis, the South has been constituted through a long history of unequal encounters with, and diverse forms of resistance to, different structures and entities across what can be variously designated the North, West or specific imperial and colonial powers. An analysis of the South therefore necessitates a simultaneous interrogation of the contours and nature of ‘the North’ or ‘West’, with Mignolo arguing (2000) that ‘what constitutes the West more than geography is a linguistic family, a belief system and an epistemology’.

      Indeed, the acknowledgement of the importance of relationality and such mutually constitutive dynamics provides a useful bridge between these rich theoretical and conceptual engagements of, with and from ‘the South’ on the one hand, and empirically founded studies of the institutional interest in ‘South–South cooperation’ as a mode of technical and political exchange for ‘international development’ on the other. In effect, as noted by Urvashi Aneja in her chapter, diverse policies, modes of political interaction and ‘responses’ led by political entities across the South and the North alike ‘can thus be said to exist and evolve in a mutually constitutive relationship’, rather than in isolation from one another.

      An important point to make at this stage is that it is not our aim to propose a definitive definition of the South or to propose how the South should be analysed or mobilised for diverse purposes – indeed, we would argue that such an exercise would be antithetical to the very foundations of the debates we and our contributors build upon in our respective modes of research and action.

      Nonetheless, a common starting point for most, if not all, of the contributions in the Handbook is a rejection of conceptualisations of the South as that which is ‘non-Western’ or ‘non-Northern’. As noted by Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (here and in the Handbook), it is essential to continue actively resisting negative framings of the South as that which is not of or from ‘the West’ or ‘the North’ – indeed, this is partly why the (still problematic) South/North binary is often preferred over typologies such as Western and non-Western, First and Third World, or developed and un(der)developed countries, all of which ‘suggest both a hierarchy and a value judgment’ (Mawdsley, 2012).

      In effect, as Fiddian-Qasmiyeh argues in the Handbook (drawing on Brigg), such modes of negative framing risk ‘maintaining rather than disrupting the notion that power originates from and operates through a unidirectional and intentional historical entity’. She – like other contributors to the Handbook addressing the relationships between theoretical, conceptual and empirical dynamics and modes of analysis, response and action – advocates for us to ‘resist the tendency to reconstitute the power of “the North” in determining the contours of the analysis’, while simultaneously acknowledging the extent to which ‘many Southern-led responses are purposefully positioned as alternatives and challenges to hegemonic, Northern-led systems’.

      This is, in many ways, a ‘double bind’ that persists in many of our studies of the world, including those of and from the South: our aim not to re-inscribe the epistemic power of the North, while simultaneously acknowledging that diverse forms of knowledge and action are precisely developed as counterpoints to the North.

      As noted above, in tracing this brief reflection on conceptualisations of the South it is not our intention to offer a comprehensive definition of ‘the South’ or to posit a definitive account of Southern approaches and theories. Rather, the Handbook aims to trace the debates that have emerged about, around, through and from the South, in all its heterogeneity (and not infrequent internal contradictions), in such a way that acknowledges the ways that the South has been constructed in relation to, with, through but also against other spaces, places, times, peoples, modes of knowledge and action.

      Such processes are, precisely, modes of construction that resist dependence upon hegemonic frames of reference; indeed, the Handbook in many ways exemplifies the collective power that emerges when people come together to cooperate and trace diverse ‘roots and routes’ (following Gilroy) to knowing, being and responding to the world – all with a view to better understanding and finding more nuanced ways of responding to diverse encounters within and across the South and the North.

      At the same time as we recognise internal heterogeneity within and across the South/souths, and advocate for more nuanced ways of understanding the South and the North that challenge hegemonic epistemologies and methodologies, Ama Biney’s chapter in the Handbook reminds us of another important dynamic that underpins the work of most, perhaps all, of the contributors to the Handbook. While Biney is writing specifically about pan-Africanism, we would argue that the approach she delineates is essential to the critical theoretical perspectives and analyses presented throughout the Handbook:

      ’Pan-Africanism does not aim at the external domination of other people, and, although it is a movement operating around the notion of being a race conscious movement, it is not a racialist one … In short, pan-Africanism is not anti-white but is profoundly against all forms of oppression and the domination of African people.’

      While it is not our aim to unequivocally idealise or romanticise decolonial, postcolonial, anti-colonial, or Southern theories, or diverse historical or contemporary modes of South South Cooperation and transnational solidarity – such processes are complex, contradictory, and at times are replete of their own forms of discrimination and violence – we would nonetheless posit that this commitment to challenging and resisting all forms of oppression and domination, of all peoples, is at the core of our collective endeavours.

      With such diverse approaches to conceptualising ‘the South’ (and its counterpoint, ‘the North’ or ‘the West’), precisely how we can explore ‘South–South relations’ thus becomes, first, a matter of how and with what effect we ‘know’, ‘speak of/for/about’, and (re)act in relation to different spaces, peoples and objects around the world; subsequently, it is a process of tracing material and immaterial connections across time and space, such as through the development of political solidarity and modes of resistance, and the movement of aid, trade, people and ideas. It is with these overlapping sets of debates and imperatives in mind, that the Handbook aims to explore a broad range of questions regarding the nature and implications of conducting research in and about the global South, and of applying a ‘Southern lens’ to such a wide range of encounters, processes and dynamics around the world.[4]

      […]

      From a foundational acknowledgement of the dangers of essentialist binaries such as South–North and East–West and their concomitant hierarchies and modes of exploitation, the Handbook aims to explore and set out pathways to continue redressing the longstanding exclusion of polycentric forms of knowledge, politics and practice. It is our hope that the Handbook unsettles thinking about the South and about South–South relations, and prompts new and original research agendas that serve to transform and further complicate the geographic framing of the peoples of the world for emancipatory futures in the 21st century.

      This extract from Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Patricia Daley’s Introduction to The Handbook of South-South Relations has been slightly edited for the purposes of this blog post. For other pieces published as part of the Southern Responses blog series on Thinking through the Global South, click here.

      References cited

      Anzaldúa, G., 1987. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

      Brigg, M., 2002. ‘Post-development, Foucault and the Colonisation Metaphor.’ Third World Quarterly 23(3), 421–436.

      Chakrabarty, D., 2007. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

      Connell, R., 2007. Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. London: Polity.

      Dabashi, H., 2015. Can Non-Europeans Think? London: Zed Books.

      de Sousa Santos, B., 2014. Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

      Dussel, E., 1977. Filosofía de Liberación. Mexico City: Edicol.

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., 2015. South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East. Oxford: Routledge.

      Gilroy, P., 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London: Verso.

      Grosfoguel, R., 2011. Decolonizing Post-Colonial Studies and Paradigms of Political-Economy: Transmodernity, Decolonial Thinking, and Global Coloniality. Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 1(1). Available from: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/21k6t3fq [Accessed 7 September 2018].

      Grovogu, S., 2011. A Revolution Nonetheless: The Global South in International Relations. The Global South 5(1), Special Issue: The Global South and World Dis/Order, 175–190.

      Kwoba, B, Nylander, O., Chantiluke, R., and Nangamso Nkopo, A. (eds), 2018. Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire. London: Zed Books.

      Mawdsley, E., 2012. From Recipients to Donors: The Emerging Powers and the Changing Development Landscape. London: Zed Books.

      Medie, P. and Kang, A.J., 2018. Power, Knowledge and the Politics of Gender in the Global South. European Journal of Politics and Gender 1(1–2), 37–54.

      Mignolo, W.D., 2000. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

      Mignolo, W.D., 2015. ‘Foreword: Yes, We Can.’ In: H. Dabashi, Can Non-Europeans Think? London and New York: Zed Books, pp. viii–xlii.

      Minh-ha, Trinh T., 1989. Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

      Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S.J., 2013. Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

      Quijano, A., 1991. Colonialidad y Modernidad/Racionalidad. Perú Indígena 29, 11–21.

      Said, E., 1978. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. New York: Vintage Books.

      Spivak, G.C., 1988. In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. New York: Routledge.

      Sundberg, J., 2007. Reconfiguring North–South Solidarity: Critical Reflections on Experiences of Transnational Resistance. Antipode 39(1), 144–166.

      Tuhiwai Smith, L., 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.

      wa Thiong’o, N., 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: Heinemann Educational.

      Wynter, S., 2003. Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument. The New Centennial Review 3(3), 257–337.

      * Notes

      [1] For instance, see Anzaldúa 1987; Chakrabarty 2007; Connell 2007; de Sousa Santos 2014; Dussell 1977; Grosfoguel 2011; Kwoba et al. 2018; Mignolo 2000; Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013; Quijano 1991, 2007; Said 1978; Spivak 1988; Sundberg 2007; Trinh T. Minh-ha 1989; Tuhiwai Smith 1999; wa Thiong’o 1986; Wynter 2003.

      [2] Over 130 states have defined themselves as belonging to the Group of 77 – a quintessential South–South platform – in spite of the diversity of their ideological and geopolitical positions in the contemporary world order, their vastly divergent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income, and their rankings in the Human Development Index – for a longer discussion of the challenges and limitations of diverse modes of definition and typologies, see Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2015.

      [3] Also see Mignolo 2000; Dabashi 2015.

      [4] Indeed, Connell notes that ‘#Southern_theory’ is a term I use for social thought from the societies of the global South. It’s not necessarily about the global South, though it often is. Intellectuals from colonial and postcolonial societies have also produced important analyses of global-North societies, and of worldwide structures (e.g. Raúl Prebisch and Samir Amin).

      https://southernresponses.org/2018/12/05/conceptualising-the-global-south-and-south-south-encounters
      #développement

    • Exploring refugees’ conceptualisations of Southern-led humanitarianism

      By Prof Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Principal Investigator, Southern Responses to Displacement Project

      With displacement primarily being a Southern phenomena – circa 85-90% of all refugees remain within the ‘global South – it is also the case that responses to displacement have long been developed and implemented by states from the South (a construct we are critically examining throughout the Southern Responses to Displacement project – see here). Some of these state-led responses to displacement have been developed and implemented within the framework of what is known as ‘South-South Cooperation’. This framework provides a platform from which states from the global South work together to complement one another’s abilities and resources and break down barriers and structural inequalities created by colonial powers. It can also be presented as providing an alternative mode of response to that implemented by powerful Northern states and Northern-led organisations (see here).

      An example of this type of South-South Cooperation, often driven by principles of ‘internationalism,’ can be found in the international scholarship programmes and schools established by a number of Southern states to provide primary, secondary and university-level education for refugees from across the Middle East and North Africa. In particular, since the 1960s, Cuba has provided free education through a scholarship system for Palestinian refugees based in camps and cities across the Middle East following the Nakba (the catastrophe) and for Sahrawi refugees who have lived in desert-based refugee camps in Algeria since the mid-1970s.

      In line with the Southern Responses to Displacement project, which aims to purposefully centralise refugees’ own experiences of and perspectives on Southern-led initiatives to support refugees from Syria, throughout my previous work I have examined how Palestinian and Sahrawi refugees have conceptualised, negotiated or, indeed, resisted, diverse programmes that have been developed and implemented ‘on their behalf.’ While long-standing academic and policy debates have addressed the relationship between humanitarianism, politics and ideology, few studies to date have examined the ways in which refugee beneficiaries – as opposed to academics, policymakers and practitioners – conceptualise the programmes which are designed and implemented ‘for refugees’. The following discussion addresses this gap precisely by centralising Palestinian and Sahrawi graduates’ reflections on the Cuban scholarship programme and the extent to which they conceptualise political and ideological connections as being compatible with humanitarian motivations and outcomes.

      This blog, and my previous work (here and here) examines how Palestinian and Sahrawi refugees have understood the motivations, nature and impacts of Cuba’s scholarship system through reference to identity, ideology, politics and humanitarianism. Based on my interviews with Palestinians and Sahrawis while they were still studying in Cuba, and with Palestinian and Sahrawi graduates whom I interviewed after they had returned to their home-camps in Lebanon and Algeria respectively, this short piece examines the complex dynamics which underpin access to, as well as the multifaceted experiences and outcomes of, the scholarship programme on both individual and collective levels.
      Balancing ‘the humanitarian’

      Although both Palestinian and Sahrawi interviewees in Cuba and Sahrawi graduates in their Algeria-based home-camps repeatedly asserted the humanitarian nature of the Cuban scholarship programme, precisely what this denomination of ‘humanitarianism’ might mean, and how compatible it could be given the ideological and political links highlighted by Palestinian graduates whom I interviewed in a range of refugee camps in Lebanon, requires further discussion.

      The contemporary international humanitarianism regime is habitually equated with the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence (Ferris 2011: 11), and a strict separation is firmly upheld by Western humanitarian institutions between morality and politics (as explored in more detail by Pacitto and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2013). However, many critics reject the assertion that humanitarianism can ever be separated from politics, since ‘“humanitarianism” is the ideology of hegemonic states in the era of globalisation’ (Chimni 2000:3). Recognising the extent to which the Northern-led and Northern-dominated humanitarian regime is deeply implicated in, and reproduces, ‘the ideology of hegemonic [Northern] states’ is particularly significant since many (Northern) academics, policymakers and practitioners reject the right of Southern-led initiatives to be denominated ‘humanitarian’ in nature on the basis that such projects and programmes are motivated by ideological and/or faith-based principles, rather than ‘universal’ humanitarian principles.

      Palestinians who at the time of our interviews were still studying in Cuba, in addition to those who had more recently graduated from Cuban universities, medical and dentistry schools and had ‘returned’ to their home-camps in Lebanon, repeatedly referred to ‘ideology’, ‘politics’, ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘human values’ when describing the Cuban scholarship programme. Yet, while they maintained that Cuba’s programme for Palestinian refugees is ‘humanitarian’ in nature, Palestinian graduates offered different perspectives regarding the balance between these different dimensions, implicitly and at times explicitly noting the ways in which these overlap or are in tension.

      Importantly, these recurrent concepts are to be contrasted with the prevalent terminology and frames of reference arising in Sahrawi refugees’ accounts of the Cuban educational programme. Having also had access to the Cuban educational migration programme, Sahrawi graduates’ accounts can perhaps be traced to the continued significance of Spanish – the language learned and lived (following Bhabha 2006:x) in Cuba – amongst graduates following their return to the Sahrawi refugee camps, where Spanish is the official language used in the major camp-based Sahrawi medical institutions.

      As such, in interviews and in informal conversations in the Sahrawi camps, Cuban-educated Sahrawis (commonly known as Cubarauis) consistently used the Spanish-language term solidaridad (solidarity) to define both the nature of the connection between the Sahrawi people and Cuba, and the nature of the scholarship programme; they also regularly cited Cuban revolutionary figures such as José Martí and Fidel Castro. In contrast, no such quotes were offered by the Palestinian graduates I interviewed in Lebanon, even if the significance of Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara was noted by many during our interviews in Cuba.

      Explaining his understanding of the basis of the scholarship programme for Palestinians, Abdullah elaborated that this was:

      ‘mainly prompted because Cuban politics is based upon human values and mutual respect, and in particular upon socialism, which used to be very prominent in the Arab world during that time.’

      In turn, referring to the common visions uniting both parties and facilitating Cuba’s scholarship programme for Palestinian refugees, Hamdi posited that:

      ‘Certain ideological and political commonalities contributed to this collaboration between the Cuban government and the PLO. However, the humanitarian factor was present in these negotiations.’ (Emphasis added)

      These accounts reflect the extent to which ideology and humanitarianism are both recognised as playing a key role in the scholarship programme, and yet Hamdi’s usage of the term ‘however’, and his reference to ‘the humanitarian factor’, demonstrate an awareness that a tension may be perceived to exist between ideology/politics and humanitarian motivations.

      Indeed, rather than describing the programme as a humanitarian programme per se, eight of my interviewees offered remarkably similar humanitarian ‘qualifiers’: the Cuban education programme is described as having ‘a humanitarian component’ (Marwan), ‘a humanitarian dimension’ (Younis), a ‘humanitarian aspect’ (Saadi), and ‘humanitarian ingredients’ (Abdel-Wahid); while other interviewees argued that it is ‘a mainly humanitarian system’ (Nimr) which ‘carr[ies] humanitarian elements’ (Hamdi) and ‘shares its humanitarian message in spite of the embargo [against Cuba]’ (Ibrahim).

      As exemplified by these qualifiers, Palestinians who participated in this programme themselves recognise that humanitarianism was not the sole determining justification for the initiative, but rather that it formed part of the broader Cuban revolution and a particular mode of expressing support for other liberation movements, including the Palestinian cause.

      In terms of weighting these different motivating and experiential elements, Mohammed argued that the ‘humanitarian aspect outweighs the ideological one’, emphasising the ‘programme’s strong humanitarian aspect’. In turn, Ahmed and Nimr declared that the Cuban scholarships were offered ‘without conditions or conditionalities’ and without ‘blackmailing Palestinians to educate them’.

      These references are particularly relevant when viewed alongside critiques of neoliberal development programmes and strategies which have often been characterised by ‘tied aid’ or diverse economic, socio-political and gendered conditionalities which require beneficiaries to comply with Northern-dominated priorities vis-à-vis ‘good governance’ – all of which are, in effect, politically and/or ideologically driven.

      Concurrently, Khalil argued that the programme is ‘humanitarian if used correctly’, thereby drawing attention to the extent to which the nature of the programme transcends either Cuba’s or the PLO’s underlying motivating factors per se, and is, rather, characterised both by the way in which the programme has been implemented since the 1970s, and its longer-term impacts.

      With reference to the former, claims regarding the absence of conditionalities on Cuba’s behalf must be viewed alongside the extent to which Palestinians could only access the scholarships if they were affiliated with specific Palestinian factions (as I explore in the book): can the programme be ‘truly’ humanitarian if individual participation has historically been contingent upon an official declaration of ideological commonality with a leftist faction and/or the Cuban internationalist project?

      With universality, neutrality and impartiality being three of the core ‘international’ humanitarian principles, a tension is apparent from the perspective of ‘the Northern relief elite’ who arguably monopolise the epithet humanitarian (Haysom, cited in Pacitto and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2013: 6). Indeed, although José Martí’s humanitarian principle to ‘compartir lo que tienes, no dar lo que te sobra’ (‘to share what you have, not what is left over’) has historically guided many of the Cuban state’s revolutionary programmes on national(ist) and international(ist) levels, precisely who Cuba should share with (on a collective) has often been geopolitically framed. Whilst designed to overcome the historical legacy of diverse exclusionary processes in Cuba, the programme could itself be conceptualised as being guided by an ideological commitment to inclusion with exclusionary underpinnings.

      The imposition of a hegemonic discourse leaves people out, primarily on ideological grounds. Ideological repression means that everybody who questions the regime in a fundamental way is basically left out in the dark. There is a creation of boundaries between Self and Other that leaves very little room for fundamental critique. However, the existence of a hegemonic discourse, and demands for students to publicly assert their affiliation to an official ideological stance, whether this refers to Cuban or Palestinian discourses, should not necessarily be equated with the exclusion of individuals and groups who do not share particular opinions and beliefs.

      In the case explored in this blog and in the book it is based on, a distinction can therefore perhaps be usefully made between the collective basis of scholarships primarily being offered to groups and nations with political and ideological bonds to Cuba’s revolutionary project, and the extent to which individual Palestinian students have arguably negotiated the Cuban system and the factional system alike to maximise their personal, professional and political development. To achieve the latter, individuals have developed official performances of ideological loyalty to access and complete their university studies in Cuba, whilst ultimately maintaining or developing political and ideological opinions, and critiques, of their own.

      With reference to the broader outcomes of the programme, is it sufficient to announce, as seven Palestinian graduates did, that the project was ‘humanitarian’ in nature precisely because the beneficiaries of the scheme were refugees, and the overarching aim was to achieve professional self-sufficiency in refugee camps?

      In effect, and as explored in my other research (here) Cuba’s programme might appear to fall under the remit of a developmental approach, rather than being ‘purely’ humanitarian in nature, precisely due to the official aim of maximising self-sufficiency as opposed to addressing immediate basic needs in an emergency phase (with the latter more readily falling under the remit of ‘humanitarian’ assistance).

      Nonetheless, Cuba’s aim to enhance refugees’ self-sufficiency corresponds to the UNHCR’s well-established Development Assistance to Refugees approach, and programmes supporting medium- and long-term capacity building are particularly common in protracted refugee situations. At the same time, it could be argued that the distinction between humanitarianism and development is immaterial given that the rhetoric of solidarity underpins all of Cuba’s internationalist projects, whether in contexts of war or peace, and, furthermore, since Cuba has offered scholarships not only to refugees but also to citizens from across the Global South.

      Related to the programme’s reach to citizens and refugees alike, and simultaneously to the nature of the connection between humanitarianism and politics, Younis drew attention to another pivotal dimension: ‘although the educational system had a humanitarian dimension, I don’t think it is possible to separate the human being from politics’. Cuba’s political (in essence, socialist) commitment to the ‘human being’ was reasserted throughout the interviews, with Saadi, for instance, referring to Cuba’s prioritisation of the ‘relationship between a human being and a fellow human being’, and Khalil explaining that Cuba had adopted ‘the cause of the human being, and that’s why it supported Palestinians in their struggle’.

      While critiques of Northern-led human rights discourses have been widespread, and such critiques have often paralleled or influenced critical analyses of humanitarianism (as I explore elsewhere), in their responses Palestinian graduates invoked an alternative approach to supporting the rights of human beings.

      By conceptualising Cuba’s commitment to human beings as being inherently connected to politics, graduates, by extension, also highlighted that politics cannot be separated from approaches geared towards supporting humanity, whether external analysts consider that such approaches should be labelled ‘development’ or ‘humanitarianism’. Whilst absent from the terminology used by Palestinian graduates, it can be argued that the notion of solidarity centralised in Cubaraui (and Cuban) accounts captures precisely these dimensions of Cuba’s internationalist approach.
      Moving Forward

      These dynamics – including conceptualisations of the relationship between politics, ideology, and humanitarianism; of short-, medium- and long-term responses to displacement; and how refugees themselves negotiate and conceptualise responses developed by external actors ‘on their behalf’ – will continue to be explored throughout the Southern Responses to Development from Syria project. This ongoing research project aims, amongst other things, to examine how people displaced from Syria – Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Kurds … -, experience and perceive the different forms of support that ‘Southern’ states, civil society groups, and refugees themselves have developed in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011. This will include reflections on how refugees conceptualise (and resist) both the construct of ‘the South’ itself and diverse responses developed by states such as Malaysia and Indonesia, but also by different groups of refugees themselves. The latter include Palestinian refugees whose home-camps in Lebanon have been hosting refugees from Syria, but also whose educational experiences in Cuba mean that they are amongst the medical practitioners who are treating refugees from Syria, demonstrating the complex legacies of the Cuban scholarship programme for refugees from the Middle East.

      *

      For more information on Southern-led responses to displacement, including vis-à-vis South-South Cooperation, read our introductory mini blog series here, and the following pieces:

      Carpi, E. (2018) ‘Empires of Inclusion‘

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2019) ‘Looking Forward. Disasters at 40′

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Histories and spaces of Southern-led responses to displacement

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Internationalism and solidarity

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Refugee-refugee humanitarianism

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2014) The Ideal Refugees: Islam, Gender, and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival

      Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. and Daley, P. (2018) Conceptualising the global South and South–South encounters

      Featured Image: A mural outside a school in Baddawi camp, N. Lebanon. Baddawi has been home to Palestinian refugees from the 1950s, and to refugees from Syria since 2011 (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, 2017

      https://southernresponses.org/2019/04/08/exploring-refugees-conceptualisations-of-southern-led-humanitaria

      #réfugiés #post-colonialisme #ressources_pédagogiques

  • Giant iceberg on course to collide with south Atlantic penguin colony island | Reuters
    (150 km de long, portfolio de 5 images, par avion et satellite)

    https://www.reuters.com/article/climate-change-iceberg-idUSKBN28J1UE


    °A satellite image of the A-68A iceberg (L) as it approaches South Georgia island (R) in the South Atlantic, December 4, 2020.
    Copernicus Sentinel-Pierre Markuse/Handout via REUTERS °

    An enormous iceberg is heading toward South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic, where scientists say a collision could devastate wildlife by threatening the food chain.

    Scientists have long been watching this climate-related event unfold, as the iceberg - about the same size as the island itself – has meandered and advanced over two years since breaking off from the Antarctic peninsula in July 2017.

    The peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, registering a record high temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius (69.35 degrees Fahrenheit) on Feb. 9. The warming has scientists concerned about ice melt and collapse leading to higher sea levels worldwide.

    The gigantic iceberg - dubbed A68a - is on a path to collide with South Georgia Island, a remote British overseas territory off the southern tip of South America. Whether that collision is days or weeks away is unclear, as the iceberg has sped up and slowed down with the ocean currents along the way, said Geraint Tarling, a biological oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey who has been tracking the icy mass.

    A collision, while looking increasingly likely, could still be avoided if the currents carry the iceberg past the island, Tarling said.

    The currents “still have the power to take this iceberg in one direction or another away from South Georgia,” Tarling said in an interview on Wednesday. “But it is really, really close, less than 50 kilometers away from the south shelf edge. That’s getting so close that it’s almost inevitable.

    Images captured by a British Royal Air Force aircraft and released on Tuesday show the magnitude of the monstrous, 4,200-square-km (1,620-square-mile) iceberg, its surface carved with tunnels, cracks and fissures. A number of smaller ice chunks can be seen floating nearby.

    The sheer size of the A68a iceberg means it is impossible to capture its entirety in one single shot,” British officials said in a statement.

    Still, the berg is diminished from its original size of 5,800 square km (2,240 square miles), measured when the mass broke off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf 2-1/2 years ago.

  • The Coming Shift in #Internet Governance
    https://www.cetri.be/The-Coming-Shift-in-Internet

    The internet could not exist without the common protocols and procedures for its constituent networks to link and transfer data between each other. How these protocols are decided upon is key to shaping a service that is currently used by nearly half of humanity. Yet, the ‘governance of the internet’ is not only about connecting devices, but also about what people are allowed, expected, or solicited to use these devices for. At the point when these protocols were first created, the internet (...) #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, Internet, #Gouvernance, #itforchange

  • How South Africa’s Blue Notes Helped Invent European Free Jazz | Bandcamp Daily
    https://daily.bandcamp.com/lists/blue-notes-south-african-jazz-guide

    In July of 1964, the members of the Cape Town-based band Blue Notes boarded a plane, headed for a gig at the world famous Antibes Jazz Festival in Juan-les-Pins, France. They were all leaving South Africa for the first time; most of them would never return. At the time, critics and audiences considered them the best jazz band in the country, but because the sextet was multi-racial they were hounded by the Apartheid state which made it illegal for its members to gather—much less perform—as a group. With passports secured, the escape to Antibes wasn’t just a career opportunity, it was an asylum from the institutionalized, racist nightmare of their homeland. For the history of improvised music, and for free jazz which came to embody the sound of global Black liberation, it also became much more. The legend that the Blue Notes would forge in Europe over the next quarter century—both as an ensemble and as individual players—constitutes one of the most under-appreciated legacies in jazz.

    https://daily.bandcamp.com/scene-report/south-african-jazz-list
    https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/soweto-blues-9780826416629
    #south_african_jazz #musique_et_politique

  • Les installations fixes en #Mer_de_Chine_méridionale
    (base de données)

    Island Tracker Archive | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
    https://amti.csis.org/island-tracker

    Five claimants occupy nearly 70 disputed reefs and islets spread across the #South_China_Sea. They have built more than 90 outposts on these contested features, many of which have seen expansion in recent years. AMTI has gathered satellite imagery of each outpost, along with other relevant information, to document their current status and any changes they have undergone in recent years. Explore the database below.

    Chine : 27
    Malaisie : 5
    Philippines : 9
    Taiwan : 1
    Vietnam : 21 (+ 6 plateformes)

  • High-seas energy fight off Malaysia draws US, Chinese warships, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times
    https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/high-seas-energy-fight-off-malaysia-draws-us-chinese-warships

    Malaysia’s push to explore energy blocks off its coast has turned into a five-nation face off involving US and Chinese warships, raising the risk of a direct confrontation as broader tensions grow between the world’s biggest economies.

    The episode began in December, when Malaysia’s state-run energy giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd contracted a vessel to explore two areas in the South China Sea in its extended continental shelf.

    Those waters are also claimed by Vietnam and China, which immediately sent ships to shadow the boat.

    The situation took a turn for the worse on April 16 with the arrival of a Chinese surveyor known as the Haiyang Dizhi 8, which last year was engaged in a standoff with Vietnam over offshore energy blocks.

    The US this week sent at least two warships within some 50 nautical miles of the Malaysian ship, according to defence analysts privy to the information who asked not to be identified.

    US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday (April 24) accused China of “exploiting” the world’s focus on the Covid-19 pandemic with provocations in the South China Sea.

    In a statement issued on the same day he held a video call with 10 South-east Asian foreign ministers, he said China “dispatched a flotilla that included an energy survey vessel for the sole purpose of intimidating other claimants from engaging in offshore hydrocarbon development”.

    The US strongly opposes China’s bullying and we hope other nations will hold them to account too,” Mr Pompeo said.

    TERRITORIAL DISPUTES
    The US doesn’t take a position on territorial disputes in the region even while staking a national interest in freedom of navigation, which involves challenging any claims that aren’t consistent with international laws.

    As China gets more assertive in enforcing its claims, it’s increased the risk of a potential confrontation with the US that could quickly escalate.

    The US Indo-Pacific Command confirmed on Wednesday that three ships - the USS America, an amphibious assault ship; the USS Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser; and the USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer - were operating in the South China Sea, without giving a precise location.

    They were joined by an Australian Anzac-class frigate on April 18, according to the US 7th Fleet.

    The risk of a new incident is rising, as tension elsewhere in the relationship could inflame the situation on the ground, or rather, in the water,” New York-based risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in an analysis on Wednesday.

    • un peu de localisation précise (à fin février), pas forcément facile à trouver au milieu des gesticulations (le West Capella est hors de portée des stations AIS terrestres, sa localisation - par satellite - n’est donc pas accessible via l’accès gratuit à MarineTraffic).

      Malaysia Picks a Three-Way Fight in the South China Sea | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
      https://amti.csis.org/malaysia-picks-a-three-way-fight-in-the-south-china-sea

      A months-long standoff over oil and gas operations in the South China Sea is playing out between Malaysian, Chinese, and a small number of Vietnamese vessels, though all three governments are keeping the episode out of the public eye.

      At issue are two oil and gas fields that Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas is exploring on the extended continental shelf claimed by both Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi. These fields sit within Malaysian oil and gas blocks ND1 and ND2. China has responded with a campaign of intimidation reminiscent of its operations against Malaysian and Vietnamese oil and gas work last year. Those operations have spilled over to include harassment of other Malaysian oil and gas work closer to shore.

      AMTI has tracked the standoff using the vessels’ automatic identification system (AIS) broadcasts along with commercial satellite imagery. This data reveals a dangerous, ongoing game of chicken involving law enforcement, militia, and civilian vessels. It is necessarily an incomplete picture—it only captures those ships broadcasting AIS or which happened to be in the area when a satellite image was captured. It is entirely likely that additional naval, air, law enforcement, and militia assets from all sides have been involved over the last two months. But the available data captures those vessels that have been most heavily involved, particularly China Coast Guard (CCG) ships Haijing 5203 and 5305. It also reiterates the #new_normal in the #South_China_Sea: that new energy development by Southeast Asian states anywhere within the nine-dash line will be met by persistent, high-risk intimidation from Chinese law enforcement and paramilitary vessels.

      The West Capella, a drillship operated by London-managed Seadrill and contracted to Petronas, is at the heart of the standoff. In October 2019, the West Capella began operating in oil and gas block ND4 off the coast of Malaysia’s Sabah State. From December 6 to 9, two CCG ships—the Haijing 5202 and 5403 —patrolled around the vessel, presumably taking time off from escorting a fishing fleet which would later provoke a very public standoff with Indonesia. At nearly 5,000 tons, the Zhaolai-class 5403 is one of the most intimidating ships in the CCG arsenal. At 2,700 tons, the Zhaojun-class 5202 is considerably smaller but much better armed, sporting a 76-mm cannon.

      suit le suivi détaillé de plusieurs opérations. de décembre 2019 à février 2020. La dernière :

      A Chinese fishing vessel named Lurongyuyun 50018 left Hainan on February 15, arriving in ND1 the next day. AIS data from February 17 showed the ship, apparently a member of China’s maritime militia, approaching close to the West Capella and several offshore supply vessels servicing it. The fishing boat also appears to have interacted with the 5305, which then headed to Fiery Cross Reef for resupply, and the 5302, which was passing through on its way from Luconia Shoals to Hainan.

      As of publication, the standoff is ongoing. The West Capella and its offshore supply vessels continue to operate in block ND1. Vietnamese militia vessels remain on-station monitoring and likely demanding it halt its work. Chinese militia and law enforcement ships continue to approach dangerously close to the rig and supply vessels, creating risks of collision as they have during other oil and gas operations over the last year. So far, the Malaysian government appears determined to continue the exploration. But China’s response sends a message that actual production of oil and gas in blocks ND1 and ND2 would be prohibitively risky for any commercial actor, including Petronas. The motivations of China and Vietnam seem clear. The biggest question is why the Malaysian government chose to ignore the spirit of the 2009 join submission with Vietnam and, in so doing, undermine whatever solidarity Southeast Asian parties might hope to build in their oil and gas disputes with Beijing.

  • Military sees surge in sites with ’#forever_chemical' contamination | TheHill
    https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/487782-military-sees-surge-in-sites-with-forever-chemical-contamination

    The military now has at least 651 sites that have been contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more than 50 percent jump from its last tally.

    The information was released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense (DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military remove a class of chemicals known as #PFAS from the water supply near numerous military bases.

    PFAS, used in a variety of household products as well as an “AFFF” fire fighting foam relied on by the military, has been deemed a forever chemical due to its persistence in both the environment and the human body. The military has been under increasing pressure to clean up its contaminated sites, previously estimated to be at 401 locations.

    #pentagone #pollueur #eau #bases_militaires #CENTCOM
    #AFRICOM #EUCOM #NORTHCOM #INDOPACOM #SOUTHCOM
    #etats-unis

  • Décolonisations (1/3) - L’apprentissage | ARTE
    https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/086124-001-A/decolonisations-1-3

    1. L’apprentissage
    De la #révolte des #cipayes de 1857 à l’étonnante République du #Rif, mise sur pied de 1921 à 1926 par #Abdelkrim_el-Khattabi avant d’être écrasée par la #France, ce premier épisode montre que la #résistance, autrement dit la #décolonisation, a débuté avec la #conquête. Il rappelle comment, en 1885, les puissances européennes se partagent l’#Afrique à #Berlin, comment les Allemands commettent le premier #génocide du XXe siècle en #Namibie, rivalisant avec les horreurs accomplies sous la houlette du roi belge #Léopold_II au #Congo. Il retrace aussi les parcours de l’anthropologue haïtien #Anténor_Firmin, de la Kényane #Mary_Nyanjiru, de la missionnaire anglaise #Alice_Seeley_Harris ou de #Lamine_Senghor, jeune tirailleur sénégalais devenu #militant #communiste et #anticolonialiste.

  • ’Bangladesh agrees to allow India to construct fence in 13 places’

    Bangladesh government has in principle, agreed to allow India to erect barbed wire fencing along the zero-line in at least 13 areas along the India-Bangladesh border in #Meghalaya, a senior Indian official told PTI on Sunday.

    As per the Indira-Mujib pact of 1972, no permanent structure can be built within the 150 yards of the border.

    In 1975, a guideline for the management of the 4,000 km long India-Bangladesh border was formulated by the two countries which also agreed not to construct any permanent structure within the 150-yard limit.

    ’Following India’s request, the Bangladesh government has in principle agreed to allow construction of fencing on zero-line in at least 13 areas of the state within the zero line,’ the official said to Press Trust of India.

    Fencing at the identified areas along the zero line at #East_Jaintia_Hills district, #West_Jaintia_Hills district, #East_Khasi_Hills district and #South_West_Khasi_Hills district will be taken up accordingly, he said, the Indian news agency added.

    The state government had identified those areas where erection of fencing 150 yards away from zero-line would not be feasible and as such approached India to seek permission from Bangladesh, the official said.

    The matter is awaiting final nod from the Bangladesh government as all line departments including the BGB has sent their note of agreement on the matter, he said.

    Of the 443 km-long India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, about 100 km was unfenced. Earthworks have already begun for the remaining patches, the official said, says PTI.

    Till date, some problems have cropped up in the erection of fencing on certain stretches of the border due to existence of low-lying areas, human habitations, cemetery and cash crops within the 150 yards of the border, a BSF official.

    According to PTI, checking of illegal cross-border activities has been a major challenge for the BSF manning it, the official said.

    The Bangladesh government in 2012 had allowed India to erect barbed wire fencing along the zero-line in Tripura’s Mohanpur market, near the international border.

    https://en.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/news/205887/Bangladesh-agrees-to-allow-India-to-construct
    #murs #barrières_frontalières #Bangladesh #Inde #frontières

    Localisation:

    ping @reka @fil

  • The great American tax haven : why the super-rich love South Dakota | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/the-great-american-tax-haven-why-the-super-rich-love-south-dakota-trust


    Comment le Dakota du Sud est devenu à la fois la Suisse et le Luxembourg des États Unis.

    Super-rich people choose between jurisdictions in the same way that middle-class people choose between ISAs: they want the best security, the best income and the lowest costs. That is why so many super-rich people are choosing South Dakota, which has created the most potent force-field money can buy – a South Dakotan trust. If an ordinary person puts money in the bank, the government taxes what little interest it earns. Even if that money is protected from taxes by an ISA, you can still lose it through divorce or legal proceedings. A South Dakotan trust changes all that: it protects assets from claims from ex-spouses, disgruntled business partners, creditors, litigious clients and pretty much anyone else. It won’t protect you from criminal prosecution, but it does prevent information on your assets from leaking out in a way that might spark interest from the police. And it shields your wealth from the government, since South Dakota has no income tax, no inheritance tax and no capital gains tax.

    A decade ago, South Dakotan trust companies held $57.3bn in assets. By the end of 2020, that total will have risen to $355.2bn. Those hundreds of billions of dollars are being regulated by a state with a population smaller than Norfolk, a part-time legislature heavily lobbied by trust lawyers, and an administration committed to welcoming as much of the world’s money as it can. US politicians like to boast that their country is the best place in the world to get rich, but South Dakota has become something else: the best place in the world to stay rich.
    ...
    Despite all its legal innovating, South Dakota struggled for decades to compete with offshore financial centres for big international clients – Middle Eastern petro-sheikhs perhaps, or billionaires from emerging markets. The reason was simple: sometimes the owners’ claim to their assets was a little questionable, and sometimes their business practices were a little sharp. Why would any of them put their assets in the US, where they might become vulnerable to American law enforcement, when they could instead put them in a tax haven where enforcement was more … negotiable?

    That calculation changed in 2010, in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. Many American voters blamed bankers for costing so many people their jobs and homes. When a whistleblower exposed how his Swiss employer, the banking giant UBS, had hidden billions of dollars for its wealthy clients, the conclusion was explosive: banks were not just exploiting poor people, they were helping rich people dodge taxes, too.

    Congress responded with the Financial Assets Tax Compliance Act (Fatca), forcing foreign financial institutions to tell the US government about any American-owned assets on their books. Department of Justice investigations were savage: UBS paid a $780m fine, and its rival Credit Suisse paid $2.6bn, while Wegelin, Switzerland’s oldest bank, collapsed altogether under the strain. The amount of US-owned money in the country plunged, with Credit Suisse losing 85% of its American customers.

    The rest of the world, inspired by this example, created a global agreement called the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). Under CRS, countries agreed to exchange information on the assets of each other’s citizens kept in each other’s banks. The tax-evading appeal of places like Jersey, the Bahamas and Liechtenstein evaporated almost immediately, since you could no longer hide your wealth there.

    How was a rich person to protect his wealth from the government in this scary new transparent world? Fortunately, there was a loophole. CRS had been created by lots of countries together, and they all committed to telling each other their financial secrets. But the US was not part of CRS, and its own system – Fatca – only gathers information from foreign countries; it does not send information back to them. This loophole was unintentional, but vast: keep your money in Switzerland, and the world knows about it; put it in the US and, if you were clever about it, no one need ever find out. The US was on its way to becoming a truly world-class tax haven.
    ...
    The Tax Justice Network (TJN) still ranks Switzerland as the most pernicious tax haven in the world in its Financial Secrecy Index, but the US is now in second place and climbing fast, having overtaken the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Luxembourg since Fatca was introduced. “While the United States has pioneered powerful ways to defend itself against foreign tax havens, it has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion,” said the TJN in the report accompanying the 2018 index. In just three years, the amount of money held via secretive structures in the US had increased by 14%, the TJN said. That is the money pouring into Sioux Falls, and into the South Dakota Trust Company.
    ...
    “You can look at South Dakota and its trust industry, but if you really want to look at CRS, look at the amount of foreign money that is flowing into US banks, not just into trusts,” the lawyer said. “The US has decided at very high levels that it is benefiting significantly from not being a member of CRS. That issue is much larger than trusts, and I don’t see that changing, I really don’t.”

    #USA #South_Dakota #nantis #capitalisme #mondialisation #évasion_fiscale

  • Thai Parliament Reinstalls Coup Leader as Premier
    https://www.cetri.be/Thai-Parliament-Reinstalls-Coup

    After a day-long debate on the suitability and qualifications of Prayuth Chan-ocha, the joint parliamentary session on June 5th – in what was a foregone conclusion — handed him Thailand’s premiership with 500 votes out of a total 750 against 244 for Thanathorn Juangroongkit, the youthful leader of the Future Forward Party, a genuinely democratic party. During the debate, pro-democracy lawmakers vainly punched into Prayuth’s technical disqualification as a candidate, his disdain for democratic (...)

    #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, #Thaïlande, #Election, #Autoritarisme, #Coup_d'état, Asia (...)

    #Asia_Sentinel

  • Between throwing rocks and a hard place : FPI and the Jakarta riots
    https://www.cetri.be/Between-throwing-rocks-and-a-hard

    Many of the questions surrounding who was responsible for the violence that erupted in Jakarta on 21–22 May will likely never be answered. Prevailing theories suggest roles for a mix of interests and actors, involving paid thugs, religious extremists, opportunists and mysterious gunmen. But there is little clarity on which, if any, of the gaggle of contesting elites may have “masterminded” the unrest, or what precisely they sought to gain from it. In this respect there are strong resonances (...)

    #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, #Indonésie, #Election, #Religion, #New_Mandala, Revendications (...)

    #Revendications_identitaires

  • #Election results 2019 : Five reasons why we will have five more years of Modi
    https://www.cetri.be/Election-results-2019-Five-reasons

    Here are five reasons that can be easily identified right away for Mr. Modi’s spectacular second victory Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be ruling India for five years more. At least. This victory will be analysed from multiple angles, not only in the days to come, but for years. But here are five reasons that can be easily identified right away for Mr. Modi’s spectacular second victory. The emotive factor Mr. Modi’s personality was the overarching theme of the winning campaign and in him (...)

    #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, #Inde, Election, #The_Hindu

  • Another fork in the road for democracy ?
    https://www.cetri.be/Another-fork-in-the-road-for

    Five years ago, many saw the electoral contest between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto as a battle between good and evil. In April 2019, the two men face-off again for the presidency. This time it seems more like a case of the lesser of two evils. In 2014, Jokowi had campaigned on a promise to end the horse-trading that had slowed democratic reform to a virtual halt, pitching himself as a president who would represent the voice of the people. His candidacy spurred a new sense of hope, (...)

    #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, #Indonésie, #Asie, #Election, #Inside_Indonesia

  • China Military Threat: Seeking New Islands to Conquer - James Stavridis - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-21/china-military-threat-seeking-new-islands-to-conquer

    The constant refrain was simple: The West is becoming a less reliable partner. These allies are dismayed by a U.S. administration that has repeatedly criticized its closest partners and accused them of freeloading on defense. They are also worried about weakness and distraction of a Europe facing Brexit. This is compounded as they watch China increase pressure on Taiwan to accept a “one nation, two systems” deal a la Hong Kong and militarize the #South_China_Sea by constructing artificial islands.
    […]
    There is also a less-noticed but extremely worrisome aspect to China’s increasing boldness: It seems to be building its naval capability to dominate farther into the Pacific — as far as what Western analysts call the “second island chain.

    When thinking in a geo-strategic sense about China, the island-chain formulation is helpful. Since the 1950s, U.S. planners have delineated a first island chain, running from the Japanese islands through the Philippines, and down to the tip of Southeast Asia. Dominating inside that line has been the goal of China’s recent buildup in naval and missile capabilities. But U.S. officials warn that Chinese strategists are becoming more ambitious, set on gaining influence running to the second island chain — running from Japan through the Micronesian islands to the tip of Indonesia. As with its initial forays into the South China Sea, Beijing is using “scientific” missions and hydrographic surveying ships as the tip of the spear.

    Japan and Singapore are essentially anchors at the north and south ends the island chains. They have been integrating their defense capabilities with the U.S. through training, exercises and arms purchases. They are exploring better relations with India as the Pacific and Indian Oceans are increasingly viewed as a single strategic entity. This is a crucial element in the U.S. strategy for the region. But there are changes coming.

    First, there are expectations that China will eye the third island chain, encompassing Hawaii and the Alaskan coast before dropping south down to New Zealand. This has long been regarded as the final line of strategic demarcation between the U.S. and China. Second, some analysts are beginning to talk about a fourth and even fifth island chain, both in the Indian Ocean, an increasingly crucial zone of competition between the U.S. and China.

    Two obvious Indian Ocean chains exist. The first would run from southern Pakistan (where China has created a deep-water port at Gwador) down past Diego Garcia, the lonely atoll controlled by the U.K. from which the U.S. runs enormous logistical movements into Central Asia. As a junior officer on a Navy cruiser in the 1980s, I visited Diego Garcia when it was essentially a fuel stop with a quaint palm-thatched bar. The base has expanded enormously, becoming critical to supporting U.S. and British combat efforts in the Horn of Africa and Middle East.

    The fifth and final island chain could be considered to run from the Horn of Africa – where the U.S. and China now maintain significant military bases – down to the coast of South Africa. Little wonder the U.S. military has renamed its former Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command.

    #Mer_de_Chine_méridionale

  • Greenpeace India may be forced to halve staff, operations amid government crackdown
    https://www.cetri.be/Greenpeace-India-may-be-forced-to

    Greenpeace India, the environmental non-governmental organisation, will scale back its operations and staff in the country by nearly 50 percent in the near future. This comes months after the Enforcement Directorate’s decision to freeze its primary bank account in October 2018. Greenpeace India staffers I spoke to said the government’s actions have put an enormous strain on the organisation financially. It is unable to pay its employees their salaries, and is currently restructuring its (...)

    #Southern_Social_Movements_Newswire

    / #Le_Sud_en_mouvement, #Inde, #ONG, Relations entre mouvements sociaux & gouvernements, #Répression, The (...)

    #Relations_entre_mouvements_sociaux_&_gouvernements #The_Caravan