Human Rights

The past century has seen a revolution in the struggle for human rights, but the revolution remains unfinished. There is an ongoing need to share knowledge and transform it into action and meaningful change. This section of the Weave is devoted to raising awareness of some of the world's most pressing human rights issues.

"Drop Bass, Not Bombs"

The mural commemorating the Westgate shooting, which I discussed in my first “Weaving the Streets” blog post, is not the only example of Kenyans voicing their dislike of the violence they have been enduring through street art. As my WSPHA colleague Megan Kloeckner noted in an earlier post, matatus (the buses and vans that make up Nairobi and Kenya’s public transportation system) are an important part of the country’s street culture scene. Each vehicle has its own personality—they are decorated with art from religious symbols to graffiti to photos of hip-hop artists. They blast music and are painted in bright colors.

First Observations - Kenya

Hello! My name is Meg Chandler and I am a junior at St. Lawrence University currently studying in Kenya. I found Weave News through my professors and classes as a Global Studies major. My focus, so far, within my major is on street art in Nepal and Kenya. Last spring (2015) I studied abroad in Nepal and became involved in a mural with many of the prominent Nepali street artists. Last semester (fall 2015) I focused on my experience in Nepal and with street art in particular in my Global Studies classes and I took an experimental street art studio course with Cathy Tedford, director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. Cathy introduced my class to the People’s History Archive—an online archive of stickers, posters, and anything in the realm of street art and street culture. Throughout the semester, I was able to contextualize my experience in Nepal and relate it to my academics. When I found out I was going to Kenya, she suggested I look into the Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive (WSPHA) project, which would enable me to write for the “Weaving the Streets” blog during my semester abroad. So as a result of my major, my semester in Nepal, and Cathy Tedford, I found WSPHA and am pursuing my passion for street art culture!

NYT Palestine Spoof: Defending the Right to Satire

Acting in the tradition of culture jamming groups such as the Yes Men, who pulled off a famous 2008 fake edition of the New York Times, two American Jewish groups (Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No!) recently launched a website that brilliantly reveals the problem with the NYT's notoriously slanted coverage of Palestine/Israel. Not surprisingly, their efforts have been met with a swift response from the powerful gatekeepers who would prefer to silence those who engage in this sort of satirical creative work.

Interweaving: Khaldoun Samman on Islamophobia and the Struggle for New Alternatives

936 I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Khaldoun Samman (left), Professor of Sociology at Macalester College, for a follow-up to our 2010 conversation on rising Islamophobia. In our latest discussion, Samman offers his analysis of how the complex interactions of racist, patriarchal, and Islamophobic discourses continue to evolve in relation to ongoing stories such as the migration/refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

Direct from Lesvos: Keeping the Refugee Crisis Visible (UPDATING)

880 2015 may well be remembered as the year of Europe's Great Refugee Crisis, but it's worth noting that while people desperately continue to flee conflict and try to reach European shores, the story has been rapidly disappearing from mainstream media coverage. It's a good reminder of how the media machine produces amnesia just as relentlessly as the machines of global capitalism, imperialism and militarism produce human suffering and displacement.

Interweaving: Greg Afinogenov on Paris and the Geopolitics of Violence

876 As public debate regarding the recent attacks in Paris continues to reverberate, I reached out to historian Greg Afinogenov, who wrote a widely-shared Facebook post on November 17 calling for a more critical awareness of how global structures of violence operate. Afinogenov is a recently-defended PhD candidate in history at Harvard University, working on Russo-Chinese relations in the long 18th century. He is also an occasional contributor to n+1 and the London Review of Books. Below is a transcript of our conversation, presented here as part of my occasional “Interweaving” series of conversations on contemporary global issues.

'You don’t see me the way I see myself': In Response to Rachel Dolezal and the Misappropriation of Transracial Identity, part I

This week, the name Rachel Dolezal has filled the headlines of media and reignited a conversation on identity politics in the United States. The former chapter president of NAACP in Spokane, WA has identified herself as an African-American woman, yet does not have any biological black or African-American ancestry.

The Wesleyan Occupation and the Limited 'Moral Solidarity' of the 21st Century Administrator

855 As someone who cares about justice in Palestine and who has written a lot about the global significance of Palestine, I pay close attention to the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is seeking to put economic pressure on Israel. So when a group of nearly 40 student activists at Wesleyan University decided to occupy the office of President Michael Roth last month, with divestment from the Israeli occupation as one of their core demands, they had my attention. After digging further into the case, I’ve concluded that it does more than provide an inspiring example of student activism. It also reveals something about the failures of courage that leave many university administrators blunting organized efforts to seek justice in Palestine instead of standing on the right side of history. (Image: https://www.facebook.com/WesDivest)

Public Transport Stickers and Detailing

For a long time, the city of Nairobi and the rest of Kenya had banned any detailing or artwork on public transportation vehicles because the government believed that they were supposed to be functional and uniform, not flashy spectacles. This concept is similar to the one in Venice, Italy that declares that the gondolas so famous for navigating Venice’s hundreds of canals no longer could be decorated as elaborately as they traditionally had been, and are required to be painted solely black.

People without homes, homes without people

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The other day as I was walking through Lavapies in Madrid I came across this piece of street art. Although I had never seen this particular artwork before, I had seen the same message in many other forms throughout Madrid.  Whether it be written on a wall in graffiti or incorporated into an image like this one, the message always reads something along the lines of, “gente sin casa, casas sin gente” or “ni gente sin casa, ni casas sin gente:” translating to people without houses, houses without people.