Anthropology PhD student explores new approaches to humanitarian photography

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“I sat down with Marciella on some rocks in front of her house and had a chat, I asked her how she wanted to be represented,” recalls Aubrey Graham, a photographer and a PhD candidate in anthropology at Emory’s Laney Graduate School. “She said that she wanted to be shown suffering, no question about that. So I asked her how she wanted to portray her suffering. She took her beautiful headscarf off to show her gray hair and clasped her hands to her face. It was quite dramatic.”

Marciella was thrilled with the resulting photographs (above and right), says Graham. The striking images are part of an exhibition of Graham’s photographs on the ground floor of the Emory Center for Ethics, where Graham is currently an artist-in-residence through the Ethics and Arts Program. She will be giving a talk on the exhibition at noon on Wednesday, April 15, in the Center for Ethics, room 102.

“Portraits in Disneyland: Stories of Mugunga III,” on view through May, consists of photos that Graham made in collaboration with internally displaced people in a camp near the humanitarian hub of Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Graham describes the camp, known as Mugunga III, as having “been visited and photographed by nearly every errant aid worker, VIP, celebrity and journalist who arrives in the region — to the degree that its frustrated coordinators casually dubbed it ‘Disneyland.'”

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David Graeber is an American anthropologist, political activist and author. He is currently a professor at the London School of Economics and was formerly an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. David also played a role in the Global Justice Movement and was one of the earlier organisers of Occupy Wall Street. He is the author of numerous books including The Democracy Project, and Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011)

Classism in Academia

This week, I’ll be posting part two of my blog on corporatocracy and the McDonaldization of work in higher education. In part two I’ll be talking about what happens among academic workers when their work becomes corporatized and dehumanized. My focus will be on workplace bullying and hostile academic work environments.

Before I do that however, it seems only fair that I share my experience with academic bullying and classism/sexism. I wrote this piece a couple of months after quitting academia, when I was working through feelings and coming to grips with what I thought academia was and what it actually is. This was originally published by my friends at Class Action in September 2012.

Classism in Academia

A little over two years ago, a student called me a ‘cunt’ in front of 38 other students. My academic employer did little to protect me and allowed a local, “progressive” paper to attack me in a newspaper/Internet article. I believe this had everything to do with my being a popular but adjunct, community college teacher (earning about $18,000 per year). I didn’t know it at the time, but the clock was ticking on my professional career.

The article from the newspaper has haunted my professional life. Last year, a potential client backed out of hiring me for a professional development training, citing a comment at the end of the article that he’d read after Googling me, a threatening comment (written by a tenured colleague) about my credibility as a professional. He said he could not take the risk with me. And, because of how academia works, with its rigid hierarchies and polite wars, I quit after six years and am likely not to teach again. In academia, classism works like this–once tainted, always fouled.

I made a choice; I quit adjuncting because I was experiencing class-based bullying. My life on campus post-newspaper article was awful, every semester a copy of the article found its way to the desk of my shared office and on two occasions, my campus mailbox, and once last spring, placed under the windshield wiper of my Subaru. Every semester after, students wondered why in the hell I hadn’t responded and told “my side of the story,” not understanding the gag the college put over my mouth. I also couldn’t get outside work anymore, which was how I paid for the extra costs of teaching and advising a student club. The comments in the article made me look “unprofessional,” which is a middle class euphemism for “you have no class.” A whopping dose of personal trauma enabled me to see academia for what it is–a bad fit for a working class woman like me. (gehiago…)

Male Nurses Outearn Female Ones Every Which Way

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fully employed women earn $0.81 for every dollar men make. Some of this discrepancy is due to women working in male dominated occupations, but when men work alongside women in female-dominated occupations, they still earn more.

Nursing is this week’s example. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, male nurses out earn female nurses in every work setting, every clinical setting, and every job position except one.


On average, male nurses make $5,100 more a year than female ones. In the specialty with the biggest discrepancy, nurse anesthetists, they out earned women by $17,290. More at NPR and the New York Times.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Beyond Ishtar: The Tradition of Eggs at Easter

Photo by Willow Gardeners. CC, click on image for license and information.

Eggs occupy a special status during Easter observances. They’re symbols of rebirth and renewal—life bursts forth from this otherwise plain, inanimate object that gives no hint as to what it contains. In this regard it is a handy symbol for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it is is a symbol that has held this meaning long before Christianity adopted it.

There is a meme floating around Facebook that some people have rallied around and are sharing as a “truth” of Easter. It proclaims:

Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?) After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex.

Clearly, we all know that Facebook memes are the ultimate source of information—particularly when they makes a biting point about something or some group that is not particularly favorably viewed. But it is well known that under the Roman Empire, Christianity did indeed adopt the pagan rituals of conquered peoples in an effort to help convert them. It worked pretty well as a strategy as it allowed the conquered peoples to continue a semblance of their observances as they remembered, and with time the population would be replaced with those who only knew the new traditions. This is not a secret. However, there are a few things wrong with the Ishtar meme that a simple Google search will turn up: (gehiago…)