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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Migrants and Home (a talk in German) by Mehrnousch Zaeri-Esfahani: Main ideas in English

Image result for Mehrnousch Zaeri-Esfahani+free pics
Image result for Mehrnousch Zaeri-Esfahani+free pics
Mehrnousch Zaeri-Esfahani

Those of you who understand German, listen to this inspiring Kulturradio RBB (Berlin Brandenburg) interview with Mehrnousch Zaeri-Esfahani: Erzählen ist Heimat.

https://mediathek.rbb-online.de/radio/Das-Gespr%C3%A4ch/Mehrnousch-Zaeri-Esfahani-Erz%C3%A4hlen-ist-/kulturradio/Audio-Podcast?bcastId=48864984&documentId=53710806

You probably have to copy this link to your browser.

The following are some of the high points translated by me.

Mehrnousch is a writer, a reader, and a story teller. She was born in Iran and from age 10 grew up in Germany and loves it. Most concepts like Heimat (homeland), as well as Monochronic and Polychronic time take on special meaning, which she captured from her own experiences as a refugee.

For example, take her meaning of Heimat (country of origin). While it is a term with a long emotional history in Germany, Mehrnousch re-defines it. She says, of course, having a homeland is necessary, but it is not bound to land, geography, or earth. Rather it is in and around us in this sense: (a) we belong to a group by birth, or find a group to belong to, in which we simply are who we are; (b) we remember the past or regain it by remembering it and hearing it from our parents and grandparents. These two things are Heimat. We have therefore a firm identity. The remembrance is a process that takes years. And here she adds another distinction, namely, that between monochronic and polychronic time.

She experienced both kinds of time; but it is the monochronic time of Germany that she experienced as real freedom. She describes how she first experienced monochronic time in a town in Germany when she and her siblings decided to explore it. They went to a train station and noted a framed sign with a lot of information and numbers on it. Puzzled they stared at it until suddenly her brother said, "look, that has to be the times when the trains arrive." And then, sure enough, at 8:13 p.m., a train arrived. Mehrnousch and her siblings were positively excited and thrilled. She calls the moment of recognition and realization an "integration bomb". In this town and this country, she understood, "things were clocked" and more, this structure, she and her siblings experienced as freedom. If we assume, or give our assent to. this organization as an inner attitude, well, then we are free for example to simply walk to a station at a specific time to get from A to B. We do not need to find and persuade someone from our grand-family to drive us here and there. We are free to make plans and go ourselves. 

What is significant to Mehrnousch, is that she contrasts this experience with that of her family in flight from Iran to Turkey. They stood on the road, unending hours, and  hoped quite fatalistically that some time, somehow, some means of transport will pass by and have space to take all with them. To stay sane, she and her parents drew on very different inner attitudes. Her parents remember those with great pain.

In short, Mehrnousch came to understand integration as a process of self acceptance and as meeting persons from the host country who, like her, had their own self understanding. She began to see herself as having carried a Rucksack filled with things and memories of her past. According to her, integration is the process where, shifting from polychronic fatalism and clan dependence to monochronic attitudes of plan making and realizing, led, over time and bit by bit, to emptying her backpack of those items or memories that in the adopted country were simply no longer necessary. But one needs that backpack, she emphasized, and one needs to love it, both its positive and negative aspects, and then nurture the positive qualities of self and move on freely in what she sees clearly as her world or her home. 

Her love of her origins and her love of Germany where she lives a full professional and generally integrated life is genuine. 

Karla Poewe



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Alexander Betts and His Ideas about Survival Migration: a short video


In the video below,  Dr- Alexander Betts talks about his ideas concerning "Survival Migration". He notes that different countries offer different responses. Usually they are inadequate. And there he is right.

He is talking about people who suffer "socio-economic rights deprivations" and who should not be forcibly returned to countries of origin because these countries do not meet such fundamental human rights. Existing international laws should be adjusted to make this form of migration acceptable.

To me, this looks at best like a short term measure not unlike the one put in place after the Second World War. Instead, the world's countries that do function well, need to get together to make those that do not function well improve their governance and economies. It would involve China, Russia, Europe, India, and North America doing something constructive in Africa and the Middle East and with combined resources and power to force the adoption of socio-economic rights to survival, education, and jobs in the countries of people's birth. Beyond that, the international community needs international laws about immigration so that people can move across the world in an orderly fashion that accommodates both those immigrating and those receiving immigrants.

But of course, listen to his talk. It is addressing a serious problem working within a frame of the plausible.

https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/news/survival-migration-and-fragile-states-alexander-betts



Saturday, July 21, 2018

Photo from a video on my facebook: reading from My Apprenticeship: An Intellectual Journey

Photo from Video

It is time to learn more technology. This is a photo from a first video that I posted to my Facebook. In it I am reading an excerpt from the book "My Apprenticeship: An Intellectual Journey."

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Below is a link of a Youtube video about an earlier book "New Religions and the Nazis".

https://www.google.com/search?q=Youtube%2BKarla+Poewe%2BConcordia+University&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Discourse Analysis, what is it, and why we should reject it.

The intellectual left sees Africa almost entirely in terms of a post-colonial discourse. This discourse consists of the development of such influential concepts, each with a distinct origin, like genocide, power, race, plunder, rape, or exotic glance, among others. You may well ask, why is the complex history of Africa reduced to a string of concepts. Is there an advantage to this perspective?

There is an advantage for discourse analysts. The above concepts, and any other emerging concepts for that matter, are advantageous because they avoid reference to individual subjects thus bypassing potential libel while also hiding ideologically informed presuppositions. Together, they raise the discourse to the status of being objective and unquestionable. The resultant complex of concepts, and the assumed knowledge and language history on which they are based, are then combined with a selected history of institutions to become not only a sharp ideological criticism of the West, but also a method of exposure and suspicion. And as such, let us say as a method of exposure, it is not only used to analyze history. More importantly, it is also used to exact reparations from national and international courts.

It is not too difficult to understand that such a discourse accuses anyone who disagrees of being a fascist, or if not that, otherwise ruin the disagreeable person’s career. After all, postcolonial discourse variants expose wrong doing and hold the moral high ground.

But is the history of Africa with the rest of the world, or are post-colonialists’ portrayals generally, that simple, that black and white, that morally pure? Robert Irwin (2007), in his book For the Lust of Knowing, shows that it is not. Another fascinating book by Dario Fernandez-Morera, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, also says no. Fernandez-Morera goes further. He shows how to break away from Discourse Analysis altogether. 

See my summary below, where Fernandez-Morera shows humanity as both suffering and inflicting suffering. He very carefully bases his findings on primary sources.



The book, My Apprenticeship: An Intellectual Journey (2018) about my first field work experience likewise resists discourse analysis. First hand experience with the people one studies, living with them, experiencing their doubts, deceptions, ideologies, theories and daily lives do not allow for simple one-sided judgments.