Posts Tagged ‘race’

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Porno-graphics and porno-tactics: desire, affect and representation in pornography. An interview with Emilie Jouvet.

September 4, 2013

Pornography’s inscriptions in representation have troubled feminist writers, who since the 1970s have been critically addressing issues related to the presentation of the female body. Porn, it was contended, is for the most part a heterosexist genre, and its market circulation serves male libidinal pleasure, fixing the position of pleasure for both wo/men and abiding by patriarchal, gendered and sexually imposed norms. Later, the term was reclaimed under a critical re-perception of porn, cast as a gaze upon different others. This time race, religion, class came to the forefront. From Rosi Braidotti (m.s.) who addresses issues of racism in islamophobic representations such as the documentary ‘Fitna’, to the many commentators who related pornography to acts of torture, most notably in Abu-Ghraib (McClintock 2009) – pornography becomes a ‘concept metaphor’ that haunts autonomy (the laws of the self) through an heteronomous (laws of the other) affect (cf. Nancy 2007). Similarly, in debates over forced sex-work, the voyeuristic humanitarian gaze produces its Others either by sexualizing the other’s body, or by desexualizing the human in it.

On the other hand, many newly emerging artworks, documentaries, and porn productions, attempt to exscribe from porn its initial, normatively repressed qualities, and re-inscribe a feminist or queer perception of enjoyment and pleasure through feminine jouissance and the possibilities to push the limits of representation. In such tactics (de Certeau 1984), porn does not only become a concept-metaphor but, rather, it is being worked through a radical metonymic approach which seeks to transgress norms, explore desires and open up to affects. Tactics thus become tactile.

Continue Reading at Re-Public HERE

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When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, And The Technology Of Identity

January 9, 2013

From digital fingerprinting to iris and retina recognition, biometric identification systems are a multibillion dollar industry and an integral part of post-9/11 national security strategy. Yet these technologies often fail to work. The scientific literature on their accuracy and reliability documents widespread and frequent technical malfunction. Shoshana Amielle Magnet argues that these systems fail so often because rendering bodies in biometric code falsely assumes that people’s bodies are the same and that individual bodies are stable, or unchanging, over time. By focusing on the moments when biometrics fail, Magnet shows that the technologies work differently, and fail to function more often, on women, people of color, and people with disabilities. Her assessment emphasizes the state’s use of biometrics to control and classify vulnerable and marginalized populations—including prisoners, welfare recipients, immigrants, and refugees—and to track individuals beyond the nation’s territorial boundaries. When Biometrics Fail is a timely, important contribution to thinking about the security state, surveillance, identity, technology, and human rights.

When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity
by Shoshana Amielle Magnet

Text and Image via BiblioVault

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Fear of a Black President

August 29, 2012

As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s original sin, slavery. But as our first black president, he has avoided mention of race almost entirely. In having to be “twice as good” and “half as black,” Obama reveals the false promise and double standard of integration.

The irony of President Barack Obama is best captured in his comments on the death of Trayvon Martin, and the ensuing fray. Obama has pitched his presidency as a monument to moderation. He peppers his speeches with nods to ideas originally held by conservatives. He routinely cites Ronald Reagan. He effusively praises the enduring wisdom of the American people, and believes that the height of insight lies in the town square. Despite his sloganeering for change and progress, Obama is a conservative revolutionary, and nowhere is his conservative character revealed more than in the very sphere where he holds singular gravity—race.

Part of that conservatism about race has been reflected in his reticence: for most of his term in office, Obama has declined to talk about the ways in which race complicates the American present and, in particular, his own presidency. But then, last February, George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old insurance underwriter, shot and killed a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, armed with a 9 mm handgun, believed himself to be tracking the movements of a possible intruder. The possible intruder turned out to be a boy in a hoodie, bearing nothing but candy and iced tea. The local authorities at first declined to make an arrest, citing Zim­mer­man’s claim of self-defense. Protests exploded nationally. Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea assumed totemic power. Celebrities—the actor Jamie Foxx, the former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, members of the Miami Heat—were photographed wearing hoodies. When Rep­resentative Bobby Rush of Chicago took to the House floor to denounce racial profiling, he was removed from the chamber after donning a hoodie mid-speech.

Excerpt of an article written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic. Continue HERE

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The Neuroanthropology of Race

August 7, 2012

Decades of research in biological anthropology have led to one simple conclusion: Race is a biological fiction; human variation is real. People do indeed vary in their biology all around the world. That variation just does not fall into the simple slots imagined by government forms, discussed in locker rooms, and shown on television. Humans are more complex than white, black, red, and yellow.

Decades of research in cultural anthropology have led to one simple conclusion: Race as a social construction is real, and this social reality shapes people’s everyday lives, including their bodies. Some societies do indeed divide up people by color, and those divisions make a difference in people’s lives. The way those divisions make a difference is not just through stereotypes and race-based thinking, but also through how “races” have divided people in economic and historical terms. People’s lives were not and are not the same because of race as a social phenomenon.

Race as a social phenomenon has real biological effects. We understand now from human development that people’s experiences, from being marginalized to expecting discrimination, have definite, often unhealthy outcomes. The converse of this point is also true: race as white is as embodied as race as black or any other color. In the case of white privilege in the United States, this embodied space often has positive biological effects: better nutrition, less stress, less fear, and so forth. This lack of equality because of race also has another name: injustice.

Excerpt from a text written by Daniel Lende, PLOS. Continue HERE

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Are there human races?

June 19, 2012

One of the touchiest subjects in human evolutionary biology—or human biology in general—is the question of whether there are human races. Back in the bad old days, it was taken for granted that the answer was not only “yes,” but that there was a ranking of races (invariably done by white biologists), with Caucasians on top, Asians a bit lower, and blacks invariably on the bottom. The sad history of biologically based racism has been documented in many places, including Steve Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man (yes, I know it’s flawed).

But from that sordid scientific past has come a backlash: the subject of human races, or even the idea that they exist, has become taboo. And this despite the palpable morphological differences between human groups—differences that must be based on genetic differences and would, if seen in other species, lead to their classification as either races or subspecies (the terms are pretty interchangeable in biology). Racial delimitation could, critics say, lead to a resurgence of racism, racial profiling, or even eugenics.

Excerpt of a text via Why Evolution is True. Continue HERE

Previously on Wanderlust: What is Race? Bodies with Histories: The New Search for the Biology of Race

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What is Race? Bodies with Histories: The New Search for the Biology of Race

June 8, 2012

Have you heard this one? A sociologist, a lawyer, and a biologist walk into a bar, scoot their stools up to the counter, order drinks, and begin to chat. Suddenly, a booming voice (God, the bartender?) envelops them. “What is the meaning of race?” the voice asks.

While the question may seem straightforward on its face, it quickly spawns further questions, often vexing. Is race purely a political construct, or is it biologically encoded? Certainly there are aspects of human biology—skin color, hair color, the presence or absence of epicanthic folds, etc.—that are commonly associated with racial differences, but is race just the sum of these physical features, with all of the overlaps, exceptions, and ambiguities they involve? How do genes factor into the story? And what connection—if any—is there between biological markers of race and the social experiences of racial groups?

Excerpt from a text written by Anne Fausto-Sterling, Boston Review. Continue HERE

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Smells Like Old Spirit

June 4, 2012

Older folks give off a characteristic scent that’s independent of race, creed, or diet. The Japanese even have a name for it: kareishu. Most people say they find the smell disagreeable, typically describing it as “stinky-sweet.” But in a new study, participants in a “blind sniff test” found the body odor of older people less intense and more pleasant than that of the young or middle-aged.

Sensory neuroscientist Johan Lundström has been familiar with old-person scent since his childhood in Sweden, where he sometimes accompanied his mother to her job at a nursing home. Decades later, as the head of his own lab at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he gave a talk at another nursing home. “The same smell hit me again,” he says. Lundström wondered if there really are specific age-related odors that the human sense of smell can detect. Although research shows that animals can distinguish the ages of other animals based on their odor, no comparable studies had been done in humans.

Excerpt of an article written by Elizabeth Norton, at AAAS. Continue HERE