Monthly Archives: April 2011

Guantanamo Files

Big news today from both the New York Times and the UK Guardian regarding Guantanamo Bay. The revelations contained in the “anonymously” leaked files are even now being groomed, torqued and repurposed for political gain. I strongly encourage you to learn about all this. Here are some links:,1518,758916,00.html

Update: Why The U.S. Declared An Iranian-Catholic Drug Dealer An “Enemy Combatant”

Topics (HUM303/ 415/ 470)

This week you’ll need to bring in a topic to discuss with your classmates. You’ll need to print out 4 copies. The topic ought to be developed, the product of some substantial reflection. With some honest, direct criticism from your peers it’s likely that you’ll be able to further refine the project of your final paper.

HUM303: Given that the general terrain of the final paper assignment is the Youth Concept, you’ve already got something of a start. Knowing which texts you’ll be using and what aspect of the YC you’ll be discussing will be important. Due date: Thursday, April 28.

HUM415: The parameters of the prompt for you paper are much looser than the above. Refer to the units and keywords on course information page for a sense of the scope of what’s possible. You’ll need to focus on a particular set of texts and concepts. Due date: Wednesday, April 27.

HUM470: The paper assignment for 470 is fundamentally contrastive– i.e. requires a comparison of different texts. In addition, your topic should demonstrate an awareness of the critical concepts and categories we’ve used to discuss Life Writing.  You are welcome to use a text beyond the syllabus provided you clear it with me. Due date: Wednesday, April 27.

From St. Ogg’s to Freetown (HUM303)

From Western Europe to West Africa: today I wanted to emphasize that the links between these two regions are of great depth and duration. After “first contact” Sierra Leone (from the Portuguese, Serra Lyoa or “Lion Mountains”) functioned as a trading post, then became the site of a “colonization” effort which attempted to settle formerly enslaved people of African descent. (Several decades later the US abolitionists also sought to do this, and the result is the country now known as Liberia.) The initial attempt at a settlement failed, but roughly 13 years later the Sierra Leone Company, a private corporation founded by opponents of the slave trade, induced freedmen from all over the British Empire– Jamaica, Nova Scotia, etc.– to come to the colony. With the abolition of the international slave trade (enslaved people were still traded domestically) the Royal Navy would pursue contraband slave ships and deposit anyone they managed to get ahold of in Sierra Leone. These “recapitves” were a heterogeneous bunch: polyglot, multi-ethnic, of different religions, etc. It became colonial policy to attempt to forge these disparate elements into a single, cohesive people via proselytizing them into Protestant Christianity. The first generations of the recaptives would come to be known as Creoles and eventually constitute the Sierra Leonean elite.

Continue reading

Surveillance Links (HUM415)

If you please, put a link to an article or website that concerns surveillance in contemporary culture in the comments section of this post.

Here’s mine. It’s a press release (i.e. infomercial) from Elite Protection Services:

The method through which CCTV surveillance cameras help companies save money works on three flanks at once. First of all, the productivity of the employees will be maximized as they know they are not allowed to waste time even in the absence of a manager or supervisor. Secondly, the inventory losses will be minimized or completely eradicated. Last, but not least, burglars and shop-lifters will be discouraged to attempt to harm your business by vandalizing your store or eatery. By making use of surveillance cameras which enforce these three actions, one can be sure that the well-being of one’s enterprise is ensured and the company is safe and sound.

Note that surveillance is being used not only to provide insurance against losses resulting from crime but in order to discipline workers.