Life & Culture

AP Photo/Philipp Guelland

Capturing Crises

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

Bibi Aisha’s melancholic beauty is magnificent to behold; her personal tragedy is easy to see: the 18-year-old’s ears and nose were cut off by Taliban members, as punishment for running away from her Taliban husband and seeking refuge at her parents’ home in Afghanistan. But it is the artistry and photo-journalistic talents of Jodi Bieber that captured the story in one single shot. The power of the portrait is that it allows the entire world to view the type of justice that strict Sharia law imposes upon women. The intimate, provocative piece won the 2010 World Press Photo competition and now serves as the centrepiece for the organization’s 2011 showcase. The other 171 images in the collection - some graphic, some baffling- also elicit visceral reactions, leaving exhibit-goers speechless, grappling for words to convey the emotions stirred.

Women & War

Women & War

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

Although full of provocative insights that highlight the tribulations of women in Palestine and Iraq, the collection of essays in Women and War in the Middle East falls short in offering a comprehensive picture of gender issues in Middle Eastern conflict zones. Several key authors capture the essence of the gendering processes that occur during conflict and reconstruction, but the book’s structure limits it to optimal use as an academic reference rather than a resource for policy-making.


Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

For author Robert Slater, it really is all about the oil. From manipulative government tactics, to aggressive moves by multinationals, to the minute diplomatic endeavours of politicians, the quest for oil lies at the centre of it all. While the book Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth is clearly slanted toward the resource narrative, the substantiating evidence Slater provides makes the bias seem justified.

Idaho Pin

Quietly Resisting in Tajikistan

By Jillian Foster 

As a women’s rights activist, I have always felt strongly that sexual assault and rape, referred to collectively as sexual violence, are unforgivably wrong. I have spent the majority of my life in a comfortable cocoon of white, upper-middle class, suburban privilege. It was not until I ventured to Tajikistan for work that I realised sexual violence is beyond unforgivable. Sexual violence is suffocating, it is stunting to the point of personality change, and it is problematic to the core. The idea of sexual violence incites violent rage inside anyone that has not normalised such behaviour, particularly women’s rights activists.


What Social Media Offers Diplomacy

By Lola Adeniyi 

Discussion of topical news events such as the Arab protests, the Wikileaks fiasco, or the 2009 Iranian student movement cannot be complete without considering the increasing relevance and impact of social media on commerce, politics and activism. From pure entertainment to business networking, the democracy of social media platforms presents an opportunity to acquire and assess the public’s perception of current events. Conversely, it provides the chance to tap into the public’s conscience on political and activist issues.

Photo Credit: © Militza Zemskaya

A Triumph in the Desert: Capturing the Savitsky Collection

By Ferren Gipson Lloyd

The Desert of Forbidden Art sounds like it could be the title for a film adaptation of a lost tale from The Arabian Nights, but the documentary of Russian art collector Igor Savitsky is no fairy tale.

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

São Paulo: The City of Contrasts

By Njoki Wamai

Meu nome é Njoki. Como você está? Obrigada. I thank my seatmate for a quick Portuguese language lesson and memorize the introductory lines one last time as our plane from Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg lands at Guarulhos Airport in São Paulo.