Notes from the Now

Posts Tagged ‘social_activism’

Plight of The Poors (South Africa)

In Africa, Events, University of Chicago on November 12, 2009 at 12:34 am

Earlier this week, I went Ashraf Cassiem’s talk (notes) at the University of Chicago about the Western Cape’s Anti-Eviction Campaign (South Africa), and the plight of the poor in the developing world… where the term “privatization” now has all the airs of a modernized variant of “colonization”.

I can recommend (at least) two very different books about the plight of the poor in South Africa.

In 2007, I read “We Are the Poors” by Ashwin Desai which details efforts by community groups that work in a similar space as Cassiem’s, advocating for the poor in circumstances of evictions, water shortages, medicine shortages, and crime.  Desai’s book does a great job of conveying the extra-ordinariness of the way these groups band together, and to highlight the adversarial tone taken by the governments towards the poor.

A very different book is David Cohen’s “People Who Have Stolen from Me: Rough Justice in South Africa” which I read in 2005.  While really about the complex nature of crime as seen through the happenings in a furniture store in Johannesburg, Cohen touches upon all of the massive change, upheaval, and social injustices that factor in.  It’s clearly a much more nuanced picture of causes of crime than the caricatures you’ll find on the nightly news.



The People’s Historians

In Events, History, University of Chicago on November 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Last night, I attended the Keynote to Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s Annual Convention, and got a chance to see “The People’s Historians” — Howard Zinn and Dave Zirin.

I haven’t read anything yet by either Zinn or Zirin (although I’ve seen the documentary “You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train”).  I’m under the impression that the go-to books are: “A People’s History of the United States” and “A People’s History of Sports“.  Does that sound about right?