Saturday, December 7, 2013

Soap and Imperial Commodity Racism

With thanks to Anne McClintock's Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Imperial Conquest, section 1: The Lay of the Land: Genealogies of Imperialism for bringing up this subject and spurring the search for these images. (Click on any image to see a larger version.)

More commentary to follow soon...

The first step towards lightening The White Man's Burden
is through teaching the virtues of cleanliness.
Pears' Soap
is a potent factor in brightening the dark corners of the earth as civilization advances, 
while amongst the cultured of all nations it holds the highest place—it is the ideal toilet soap.

The Pears' Soap advertisement above, featured in McClintock's chapter, is striking and rich in its symbolism, as she details: the private domestic sphere indicated by the setting in a washroom and the act of hand-washing; the racial and moral purity indicated by the white clothing; the imperial voyage into the virgin land indicated by the location on a ship; the porthole indicating the window into knowledge with its implication of power; the kneeling African gratefully receiving a bar of soap as one "might genuflect before a religious fetish". (McClintock, p. 32.) "Domestic hygiene, the ad implies, purifies and preserves the white male body from contamination in the threshold zone of empire." (McClintock, p. 32.)

Said Uncle Sam: "I will be wise,
and thus the Indian civilize:
Instead of guns, that kill a mile,
Tobacco, lead, and liquor vile,
Instead of serving out a meal,
Or sending Agents out to steal,
I'll give, domestic arts to teach,
A cake of IVORY SOAP to each.
Before it flies the guilty stain,
The grease and dirt no more remain;
'Twill change their nature day by day,
And wash their darkest blots away.
They'll turn their bows to fishing-rods,
And bury hatchets under sods,
In wisdom and in worth increase,
And ever smoke the pipe of peace;
For ignorance can never cope
With such a foe as IVORY SOAP."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Regional Youth Media Workshops in Thailand

In 2010 and 2011, I worked as Co-curricular Director and Logistical Administration assistant at the Regional Youth Media Workshop, organized by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), the Open Society Foundations' (OSF) Media program, and the OSF Youth Initiative. One student project I assisted with in 2011 was titled Moslem in Chiang Mai: Adapt in Harmony. The website with information on the workshops and several of the final video projects can be seen here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Academic writing on religion and related subjects

Below are links to some of my academic papers, available to read online or download on scribd.

Multiculturalism, Religion, and Accommodation:
The Hmong in the United States, and Susan Moller Okin on
Women in American Constitutional Theory

written for
Politics and Religion
Prof. Jean L. Cohen
Columbia University
Fall 2013

 Thomas Edison's Apparatus for Talking with the Dead:
Imagining Spiritual Technologies in America

written for
Secular and Spiritual America
Prof. Courtney Bender
Columbia University
Fall 2013

Ida Craddock:
Outrider in the Borderlands of Body and Spirit

written for
Religion and the Sexual Body
Prof. Katherine Ewing
Columbia University
Fall 2013

The Beloved in the Mirror:
The Seer and the Seen in Sufi Poetry

written for
Honors Seminar in Religion
Prof. Barbara Sproul
Hunter College, CUNY
Spring 2010

Religious Ideas in Naguib Mahfouz’s
Fountain and Tomb

Written for
Thomas Hunter Honors Colloquium
Topics in Arabic Culture and Literature
Profs. Jonathan Shannon and Christopher Stone
Hunter College, CUNY
Spring 2007

read this paper on scribd

Suffering, Theodicy, and the Devil
in Job, Anthony, and Luther

Written for
History of the Devil
Prof. Sarah Covington
Queens College, CUNY
Spring 2009

read this paper on scribd

paint palette world
a poem with commentary

Presented in
Emerson & Thoreau
Prof. Nicholas Birns
Eugene Lang The New School
Fall 2011

For the Emerson & Thoreau class, I kept a
blog of various items related to our readings
and discussions on Transcendentalism:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Following up on my previous post announcing the exhibit at the Morgan Library, Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan. It is on view until January 29th, 2012.

I visited this exhibit a couple of weeks ago and it is superb.
There are a variety of styles of painting and of calligraphy, beautifully exhibited and well explained. The artwork is breathtaking.

Some of the highlights are:
• A series illustrating the story of Lailā va Majnūn, a story of a star-crossed historical couple of the seventh century C.E.
• the Read and Mughal albums, acquired by the Morgan in 1911.
• as mentioned in my previous post on this, an album depicting the life of Rumi, never before exhibited.
• several pieces depicting composite animals, including Peri Riding a composite Lion. A detail from this:

I enthusiastically recommend seeing this.
If you cannot make it to the Morgan to see it up-close and personal while the exhibit is up, you can see it online by clicking here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Islamic Manuscript Painting at the Morgan

It may be rather early notice, but I just saw that in October the Morgan Library will be hosting another exhibit that sounds very interesting:

Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan
October 21, 2011 through January 29, 2012

An excerpt from the exhibit's description:

Shown for the first time anywhere will be a series of twenty-nine miniatures from the 1590s illustrating the life of Rumi, the celebrated Persian poet and mystic.
Click here for the web page with more info.

Two Elephants. Abu Sa'd' Ubayd-Allah ibn Ibrahim, known as Ibn Bakhtishu Manafi al-Hayawan (Uses of Animals), in Persian, Persia, Maragha, dated 1294, 1297, or 1299. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1912; MS M.500 (fol. 13).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again

photo: Alan S. Weiner for The New York Times

“It was a whole personality shift for me. I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people.” CLARK MARTIN, a retired psychologist, on his participation in an experiment with a hallucinogen.

New York Times
Published: April 11, 2010

"As a retired clinical psychologist, Clark Martin was well acquainted with traditional treatments for depression, but his own case seemed untreatable as he struggled through chemotherapy and other grueling regimens for kidney cancer. Counseling seemed futile to him. So did the antidepressant pills he tried.

"Nothing had any lasting effect until, at the age of 65, he had his first psychedelic experience. "

Click here for the full article.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Cloninger Self-Transcendence Test

The following was published in Time Magazine, October 25, 2004, following the cover story, "Is God in Our Genes?" by Jeffrey Kluger.

How Spiritual Are You?

To find out, take this test, which is adapted from a personality inventory devised by Washington University psychiatrist Robert Cloninger, author of Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being

1. I often feel so connected to the people around me that it is like there is no separation between us.

True False

2. I often do things to help protect animals and plants from extinction.

True False

3. I am fascinated by the many things in life that cannot be scientifically explained.

True False

4. Often I have unexpected flashes of insight or understanding while relaxing.

True False

5. I sometimes feel so connected to nature that everything seems to be part of one living organism.

True False

6. I seem to have a "sixth sense" that sometimes allows me to know what is going to happen.

True False

7. Sometimes I have felt like I was part of something with no limits or boundaries in time and space.

True False

8. I am often called "absent-minded" because I get so wrapped up in what I am doing that I lose track of everything else.

True False

9. I often feel a strong sense of unity with all the things around me.

True False

10. Even after thinking about something a long time, I have learned to trust my feelings more than my logical reasons.

True False

11. I often feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with all the people around me.

True False

12. Often when I am concentrating on something, I lose awareness of the passage of time.

True False

13. I have made real personal sacrifices in order to make the world a better place, like trying to prevent war, poverty and injustice.

True False

14. I have had experiences that made my role in life so clear to me that I felt very happy and excited.

True False

15. I believe that I have experienced extrasensory perception.

True False

16. I have had moments of great joy in which I suddenly had a clear, deep feeling of oneness with all that exists.

True False

17. Often when I look at an ordinary thing, something wonderful happens. I get the feeling that I am seeing it fresh for the first time.

True False

18. I love the blooming of flowers in the spring as much as seeing an old friend again.

True False

19. It often seems to other people like I am in another world because I am so completely unaware of things going on around me.

True False

20. I believe that miracles happen.

True False

Give yourself one point for each TRUE answer and 0 points for each FALSE answer.
14 and above = highly spiritual, a real mystic;
12-13 = spiritually aware, easily lost in the moment;
8-11 = spiritually average; could develop more spiritual life if desired;
6-7 = a practical empiricist lacking self-transcendence;
1-5 = highly skeptical, resistant to developing spiritual awareness