WhatdoYOUTHink? – a perspective on panel discussions and precariousness

At the end of February, my fellow scholarship holders and I, who received a stipend from German institutions to finance our stay in New York with the UN, organized a panel discussion on:

The Youth, Peace, and Security agenda and its implications for European Youth.

While the discussion did not turn out as fruitful as we had hoped, it nevertheless alluded to one of the core problems that we, and youth all over the world, face in global politics at the moment: being taken seriously – or rather: not! While I won’t mention the names of the participants and speakers (it was a rather informal discussion), I want to give you some impressions about how the discussion quickly turned out to be a signifier for the lack of voice and credibility that is given to youth.

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by wallsdontlie 2013

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London crisis – or: from post-communism to pure capitalism!

Some months ago, the US-economist Jeremy Rifkin published his newest book, in which he predicts the end of capitalism as an outdated form loosing power to the “Sharing Economy”. This model, as opposed to capitalist system of reducing marginal costs as far as possible for competition means, is based on zero marginal costs in society in many different aspects. I have not yet read the book (for more details click here) but have heard of similar models.

As nice as they sound (although of course every model bears their own problems), they are hard to believe in if you are currently living in Europe’s most capitalist city: LONDON!

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NGOs that do nothing and other absurdities

“Anyone working in international development for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) over the past few years has likely had the following experience:

Working for or interacting with NGOs (such a broad category that it encompasses all manner of organizations) that serve no apparent purpose”. (africasacountry.com)

The introductory sentences are from an article featuring a new TV-series about an “NGO that does nothing”. In an interview, published on the blog “Africa is a country”, whose philosophy is about empowering the continent from within[1], the director announces the subject of the first season being about the NGO applying for a huge grant. In episode 2 they are looking for an acronym before having decided about the project’s topic.

Since this is a comedy series, it is of course highly exaggerated, but nevertheless the abovementioned quote is picking on some weak points, rubbing salt in the wounds, (or whatever you want to call it) of the critique on NGOs and foreign (humanitarian) intervention(s).

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Расистская Федерация (Racist Federation) – thoughts about the “Russian March” in Moscow

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Lenin on a square in the centre of Bishkek

November 7 was a national holiday in Kyrgyzstan celebrating – the Bolshevik Revolution. Well, every post-soviet country has a different way of dealing with its past. While in most of them every single Lenin statue has been torn down, this is not the case in lovely Kyrgyzstan, where my Latvian flatmate is still shocked and disgusted whenever she sees Lenin on a street corner, friendly standing opposite the national hero Manas. Neither in Latvia nor Uzbekistan or Georgia could bronze Lenin survive his empire.

But for somewhat more contemporary reasons I want to talk today about Russia. Although Lenin can also be found in Russia, apparently the country has developed another way of dealing with its memory.

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Nationalist demonstration in Russia under the old flags, pic by valya v. (flickr.com)

On November 4, Russia celebrated “Unity Day”, a holiday established in 2005 to commemorate the unification of Russia against a Polish-Lithuanian occupation force in the beginning of the 17th century. It is also said that the day was mainly installed to replace November 7.
However, “Unity Day” somewhat seems to be the opposite of unifying today. In several marches all over the country it showed to be mainly anti-gay, anti-muslim, anti-migrant, xenophobic and racist (“Russia for Russians”, “White Russia”).

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Cars and cotton – an Uzbek roadtrip

Some time ago, I’ve been to Uzbekistan. It’s an amazing country, full of beautiful mosques, madrassahs and mosaics. I’ve been there for ten days but traveled five cities. That’s usually not my style of traveling, as I like to have more time to get into the atmosphere and lifestyle of a city. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to do this one time and I saw a lot of amazing buildings and got an impression of the huge differences in architecture and culture in this big country.

But, because of our ambitious travel planning and the size of the country (see box), we spent a long time in cars, trains, marshrutkas and even a propeller-driven plane. So, before talking about the amazing buildings and history of this fascinating country, I want to give you an impression of our “roadtrip”, and some lessons we learned. A somewhat sarcastic “road”-experience:2013-09-10 14.42.45

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