China’s Growing Body Art Movement
Changing economic and cultural conditions in socially conservative China have given birth to a burgeoning body art movement, and Chinese women are battling mores to ink up. Shanghai in particular has become the center of tattoo production in the country, with some estimates putting the number of tattoo artists in China’s largest city as high as 2,000. While several ethnic groups (including the Dulong, Dai, and Li) have had historical tattooing traditions, contemporary Chinese body art has emerged from the relaxation of legal and cultural prohibitions on tattooing in China and the resurgence of tattooing in global popular culture. For women in particular, body art has come to mark an assertion of both identity and bodily autonomy. Recent media coverage has chronicled the dismantling of the tattoo taboo and the uptake of body art among Chinese women.
“Tattooed and proud: Chinese women peel away stigmas” (Agence France-Presse, via France 24 | December 2017)
“Good girls, not gangsters? Tattoos no longer taboo in China” (CNN | August 2015)
“Shanghai Inked: The Artists Redefining Tattoos in China” (That’s Shanghai | November 2015)
Wen Shen: The Vanishing Art of Chinese Tribal Culture
Suicide bombing attack on Shia cultural center in Kabul kills dozens
- A single suicide bomber infiltrated the Tabian Social and Culture Centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, leaving more than 40 dead and at least 80 injured.
- The attack took place as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of more than a dozen since 2016 targeting Shiites that have left more than 700 dead.
“Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul kills dozens” (CNN | December 2017)
“Why is ‘Islamic State’ targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?” (Deutsche Welle | December 2017)
U.A.E. airline issues travel ban on Tunisian women
- Emirates, the U.A.E.’s national airline, barred Tunisian women from its flights, necessitating Tunisian government intervention to help stranded passengers.
- A presidential spokesperson indicated that the Emirati government had issued the directive in response to information indicating women with a Tunisian passport would attempt a terrorist attack.
- In response, Tunisia banned Emirates from landing in its capital, Tunis.
“Attack fears prompted UAE-Tunisia female passenger row” (BBC News | December 2017)
“UAE has information Tunisian women may commit ‘terrorist acts’, Tunisia says” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over security measures targeting women” (Agence France-Presse, via The Guardian | December 2017)
Zimbabwe looks to reverse Mugabe-era land reform policies amidst economic instability
Source: CGTN America via YouTube
- Since independence, the land ownership reform and redistribution of farmland from the white settler minority to the indigenous black majority has been central to Zimbabwean politics, with most viable land having been legally restricted to white owners and large—largely white-owned—corporations in the colonial era.
- The government began allowing for the seizure of white-owned farms without compensation after a period of voluntary land sales, and some militant groups and security forces occupied farms and drove out their owners.
- Following the effective coup that brought about the end of President Robert Mugabe’s nearly three decades of rule, the new government, led by former Vice President Emmerson Mnangawa, has begun returning expropriated land to white farmers in an attempt to stabilize the fragile economy.
“Ululations, tears as white Zimbabwean farmer returns to seized land” (Reuters | December 2017)
“White Zimbabwean farmer get back land seized under Robert Mugabe rule” (Sky News | December 2017)
“Why Zimbabwe has failed to sate the yearning for land and to fix rural hunger” (The Conversation | December 2016)
“Robert Mugabe admits Zimbabwe’s land reform flaws” (BBC News | February 2015)
Deported Somali immigrants file suit against U.S. for inhumane conditions during removal flight
- The 92 deported individuals were reportedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse during a 48-hour trip intended for Mogadishu, including physical shackling, medication withholding, and lack of restroom access.
- After landing in Dakar, Senegal, the flight was held for nearly 24 hours before eventually returning to the U.S., with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials denying incident.
- The lawsuit seeks to reopen their deportation cases and ensure the future treatment and security of the plaintiffs, with some having lived in the U.S. for decades and fearing retribution by the militant group al-Shabaab given the publicity surrounding the flight.
“Somalis were shackled for nearly 48 hours on failed US deportation flight” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘inhumane’ abuse on US deportation flight” (Al Jazeera | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘slave ship conditions’ on failed deportation flight” (Public Radio International, via USA Today | December 2017)
Discussions of systemic racism in France provoke backlash
- Recent rows in French government and civil society have pitted anti-racism activists against government officials over discussions of the state and other political institutions’ role in propagating racial inequality.
- Journalist Rokhaya Diallo was removed from France’s national digital council only a week after her appointment following a campaign by right-wing activists and officials that targeted her for, among other things, her discussions of “institutional racism.”
- The same use of the term by the teachers union SUD-Education 93 led Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer to indicate he will pursue complaints against the organization as well as for having hosted workshops reserved for people of color.
“French race row erupts as feminist forced off advisory body” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Blanquer porte plainte contre un syndicat qui a utilisé l’expression «racisme d’Etat»” (Le Monde | November 2017, in French)
“Les ateliers « en non-mixité raciale » du syndicat SUD-Education 93 créent une polémique” (Le Monde | November 2017, in French)
“When will France admit that police racism is systemic?” (The Guardian | March 2017)
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)