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.

 

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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?