May
03

Qatar: A Modern History

Other than a short publication from 1979, there are few academic books on the history of Qatar. After spending a year in Qatar, at Qatar University, Allen Fromherz wrote 'Qatar: A Modern History'. The book was originally published in 2012, (Kamrava's book is 2013) however, the updated version (published in 2017) provides updates throughout the text (as additions, this also makes for some jumpy reading at parts). As a history, this book has the potential to remain relevant longer, however only about half of the book is history while the other half is better described as current affairs (a focus on the decade before publication). The book provides a lot of historical information, however at many points it is unclear where the historical information is coming from (not being referenced). Although at times repetitive, this is a useful text and worth reading for anyone interested in contemporary history. A serious limitation, however, is the reliance upon the colonial record and the absence of Arabic (or any other, such as Turkish) sources. This replicates the colonial gaze of history, which the author recognizes but does little to address.

A few notes:

"Qatar is not a place 'without a past' or 'without a culture' as it has been described in popular literature. Ironically, anxiety about a lack of historical roots appears to be felt more by visitors to Qatar than by Qataris themselves. Perhaps expecting exotica, adventure and orientalized Arabness, the expatriate is disappointed by the modernity, by places that look 'Western' or 'just like home'. Many Qataris, in contrast, rarely express the same level of postmodern angst." (p. 4)

"Qatar is one of the world's most unlikely political entities. Surrounded by powerful and expansionist neighbours and projecting into Gulf waters, waters rocked by centuries of conflict, Qatar has one of the more extraordinary stories of state formation in the Gulf." (p. 41)

"No longer did the most respected man in Doha need to base his power ultimately on the Islamic baya, the oath of allegiance and obligation between ruler and ruled, or the shura and majlis, the council of respected sheikhs in Arabic tribal and Islamic religious tradition, that power was now based on the full weight of the British navy. As Lisa Anderson aptly observed, before imperial interests created European-style monarchy in the Middle East, 'Political authority has been exercised and justified not as an aspect of family or property but on religious grounds.'" (p. 57)

"Both external powers were kept at bay by the resourcefulness of the Qataris under Muhammad bin Thani and his successors, especially Shiekh Jassim Al-Thani. Qatar, led by a successful line of tenacious and usually astute Al-Thani Emirs successfully resisted full external domination. They accomplished this not through technological superiority but through the deft use of diplomacy and negotiation. Only at the last resort, as at Wajbah against the Ottomans in 1892, would the Qataris use force to protect their position. The Qataris continually searched for rivals who would be partners." (p. 65)

"The fourth Article virtually hands over all of Qatar's foreign policy to the British government, even forbidding correspondence with 'any other power' without the consent of the 'High British Government'. Nor was Abdullah permitted to 'cede to any other Power or its subjects, land either on lease, sale, transfer, gift, or in any other way whatsoever'. A prohibition on selling land to non-Qataris, originally part of a British strategy to control Qatar's foreign commitments, continues to this day, with the exception of..." (p. 71) 

Apr
27

Home and Exile (Achebe)

 Notes from Chinua Achebe, who needs no introduction, from Home and Exile (2000):

"One morning all the animals were going to a meeting to which the town crier had summoned them the night before. Surprisingly the chicken was headed not to the public square like the rest, but away from it. When his neighbours and friends asked him if by any chance he had not heard the summons to the meeting, he said he had indeed heard but, unfortunately, must attend to a very personal matter that just cropped up. He asked them to convey his good wishes to the assembly and, for good measure, added his declaration to support and abide by its resolutions. The emergency before the animals, as it happened, was the rampant harassment that man had begun to cause them since he learned to offer blood sacrifice to his gods. After a long and heated debate the animals accepted, and passed unanimously, a resolution to offer the chicken to man as his primary sacrificial animal." (p. 14-15)

"In the end I began to understand. There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much where, and as, they like. Just as in corrupt, totalitarian regimes, those who exercise power over others can do anything." (p. 24)

"Let us imagine that someone has come along to take my land from me. We would not expect him to say he is doing it because of his greed, or because he is stronger than I. Such a confession would brand him as a scoundrel and a bully. So he hires a story-teller with a lot of imagination to make up a more appropriate story, which might say, for example, that the land in question could not be mine because I had shown no aptitude to cultivate it properly for maximum productivity and profitability. It might go on to say to say that the reason for my inefficiency is my very low I.Q. and explain that my brain had stopped growing at the age of ten" (p. 60)

"People have sometimes asked me if I have thought of writing a novel about America since I have now been living here some years. My answer has always been "No, I don't think so." Actually, living in America for some years is not the only reason for writing a novel on it. Kafka wrote such a novel without leaving Prague. No, my reason is that America has enough novelists writing about her, and Nigeria too few. And so it is, again, ultimately, a question of balance. You cannot balance one thing; you balance a diversity of things. And diversity is the engine of the evolution of living things, including living civilizations. To any writer who is working in the remote provinces of the world and may now be contemplating giving up his room or selling his house and packing his baggage for London or New York I will say: Don't trouble to bring your message in person. Write it where you are, take it down that little dusty road to the village post office and send it!" (p. 96)

Apr
23

Reading Qatar

Qatar National Library


The Creation of Qatar (1979) Zahlan

Histoire et Changements Sociaux au Qatar (1982) Montigny-Kozlowska

Oil and Politics in the Gulf (1990) Crystal

Qatar, A Modern History (2012, 2017) Fromherz

Small State, Big Politics (2013, 2015) Kamrava

Policy-Making in a Transformative State (2016) Tok, Alkhater, Pal

The Global Majlis (2016) Al Kawari

Doha Experiment (2017) Wasserman

The Gulf Crisis (2018) Miller

Teach for Arabia (2019) Vora

Warriors in a Time of Sacrifice (2019) Sandoval 

Changing Qatar (2020) Harkness

Beyond Exception (2020) Kanna, Le Renard, Vora

Contemporary Qatar (2021) Zweiri and Al Qawasmi


Apr
23

The Doha Experiment

There is a reason why some books are published by academic publishers, and others not. Academic books are peer reviewed and are held to a standard of quality (usually). Retired professor Gary Wasserman's book, "Doha Experiment: Arab Kingdom, Catholic College, Jewish Teacher" (2017), was not published by an academic press, he opted for Skyhorse (known for its travel guides, science fiction and fantasy). Wasserman has published with academic presses before, he wrote a book (his thesis) published by Cambridge about decolonization politics in Kenya (which turns out to not be so ironic, as he focuses on Europeans in Kenya and their supposed outsmarting of the 'native population'). The Doha Experiment would not pass as academic, but doesn't claim to be.

Wasserman starts the book explaining that he had no contextual knowledge upon arrival (saying he had never even heard of the country before going) and ends the book saying "I never fully engaged the community in which I lived" (p. 244). Despite making little to no effort to learn about the country during his 8 years in Qatar, Wasserman nonetheless felt comfortable knowing his 'missionary' task: "implant liberal ideas... [and] do a lot of things that are certainly different from the traditions of the region." If this sounds like a colonial attitude (essentially: I don't know the place or the people, but they need to be more like me), it is not much different from Wasserman's work on Europeans in Kenya in the 1970s. Throughout the book the author speaks about bringing a 'liberal presence' to 'the Arabs' in a 'fundamentalist', 'Wahhabi' country, a part of the world he suggests is living under 'thuggish elites' who 'killed opponents'. This is exactly the kind of uncritical, generalizing stereotypes that Edward Said critiqued, whose work Wasserman should re-read (he quotes Said in the Introduction about such labels).

If you are looking for a Euro-Western view of narrow experience in Qatar, conveyed via orientalist tropes and with a colonialist attitude, Wasserman has your book. This could also be your book if you are looking for a coming-of-age read of a professor who was insecure about his own ethnic / faith identity (with fears rooted in bias and stereotype, and suspicion that everyone is Google'ing his faith), and coming to terms with himself in a Muslim country. Or, this could be your read if you are looking for examples of how openly unethical some professors are in their sexualization of students or in publishing student work / words without ethics review or informed consent. On a positive note, Wasserman was transparent in explaining that he knew nothing of the country and people, made little to no attempt to learn, and did not adjust his teaching to make it accessible and relevant to a new audience (other that course classifications (p. 226), there was a "resistance to revisions" (p. 242); imposing 'home', as the benchmark of all that was good). Wasserman concludes his book in suggesting: "I couldn't teach any other way because I didn't know anything else. And only now, on reflection, did I see this as an unacknowledged gap." (p. 244). Apparently there was no interest to learn. 

If you are looking to learn something about Qatar, read Kamrava; if you are looking to learn about Education City, read Vora.

In case that sounds too critical, a few quotes for context:

Even in re-writing personal history in 2017 the racism is bold: "When we left for Silver Spring, it was not just because of the expected influx of blacks, the worsening integrated schools, and the perceived growing danger in the streets..." (p. 8). The author says (distancing himself from labor exploitation in Doha): "my family had a "colored lady", whose name was Mary, come to the house to clean", which is presented as not as bad as Doha because while there was "separation between Them and Us but it wasn't much" (p. 196).

Comments made about students (additional context: the book was written while author was in his 70s): "riveting face... tall and attractive" (p. 73); "chubby Pakistani" (p. 5); "She would not be called conventionally pretty - too many angles on her long Semetic face" (p. 82); "long, athletic legs of this six-footer" (p. 90); "attractive, lively Syrian girl" (p. 102); "a tall, good-looking Qatari" (p. 105).

Thoughts of the region? Certainly not one of respect and dignity, rather of broad generalization rooted in stereotype: "Communicating this to students in a region where they were surrounded by true believers, extremists, and group thinkers did not seem an unreasonable goal for a liberal outsider." (p. 130) Courageously, quoting his spouse, viewing "women who covered themselves as locked into medieval customs that forced them into marriages as teenagers" (p. 242).

Embracing the colonial narrative: "Much like colonists of an earlier century, the expats needed to see the locals as flawed or at least not quite good enough to operate on their own. As the economy got more complicated and the citizenry got wealthier and ever more indolent, the case became easier to make." (p. 159)

Embracing the 'mission': "He and others saw liberal education uncomfortably undermining many of the traditional values and assumptions with which students from the region began college..." (p. 238) "Their education became another step in the process of detaching from societies and peoples, beliefs and values, among whom they were no longer comfortable or even welcomed. They no longer followed the same faith, spoke the shared language, or felt comfortable in the same clothing they did before" (p. 240-241).

Apr
18

Changing Qatar

Geoff Harkness attempts to offer a sort of primer on Qatar in "Changing Qatar: Culture, Citizenship, and Rapid Modernization" (2020), published by NYU Press. The book reads like a mixture between Wikipedia pages and a Lonely Planet travel guide. One review of the book, by Daniel Martin Varisco, felt it more reflective of journalism than academic work. The author spent three years teaching in Education City in Qatar (drawing on experiences that seem to revolve around Education City, combined with student projects and follow-on mini-projects to collect additional qualitative data). Admittedly a work of an orientalist, outsider perspective (see Appendix in the book), the author views the country and people from a Euro-Western sociological lens and relies on perspectives from English speakers or student translations of Arabic conversations to tell us about the country and its people.

A spattering of quotes appear throughout the chapters, with broader narratives built around them or the quotes being used as concluding arguments (versions of: "a Qatari named Dana" or "a Qatari named Salim" says...). In building narratives and arguments, Harkness chooses which quotes he feels are important to include. This is a common challenge / bias in qualitative research. In analyzing and writing up research, if a quote was found to be offensive, but deemed important to include, we would expect scholars to engage with such comments critically. For example, one of these quotes reads: 

I am a little worried about these Qataris," one Westerner tells me. "Qatar without the expats would lead into chaos. They wouldn't know what to do with themselves. They would break out into tribes and try to get rid of each other. I'm a little worried about them. That's all they know: the sword dance and how to sit around in Souq Waqif. (p. 220). 

The author presents this quote - apparently said "half jokingly" - to conclude a subsection. No critical commentary is provided regarding this derogatory and paternalistic addition. In another selection, the author selects the following quote to include:

Most expatriates view education as Qatar's best chance for enlightenment... "We are agents of Chaos," insists Will, an associate professor at Education City. "They may not see it that way, but that's exactly what's happening here. You know that picture of the conquistadors approaching the natives with the flag? Take off the armor and the sallet, and put on a cap and gown. It's the same thing. We are academic conquistadors. (p. 236) 

In this explicit celebration of colonization, there is no critical commentary from the author. Colonization of the mind is framed as the "best chance for enlightenment" in Qatar. Notably, this quote is presented in the concluding remarks of the book. It is shameful that this was printed. How does NYU Press put this through peer review and approve to publish it? 

As Edward Said pointed out, decades ago, the orientalist gaze views and portrays others through a particular lens. What was of interest to the orientalists in days past continue in this book: clothing, sex, an authoritarian and apparently conniving ruling class, the 'tribe' and 'tribalism'. These foreign forbiddens are supposedly uncovered and secrets exposed, only to be derided as lesser than ("hijab micropractices, however, may inadvertently uphold a dynastic power structure that does little to advance women" (p. 18); "surface-level reforms that do little to alter the larger structural forces" (p. 226)). Women's attire is central, about which the author makes broad claims (for example, about how Qatari women dress when traveling outside of Qatar; p. 149-150). These generalizations consistently allude to oppression. Not surprisingly, Lila Abu-Lughod is not cited amidst this veiled saviorism.

Even when "facts" are presented, the eurocentrism is explicit. Harkness explains: "The name Qatar first appeared in print in a book published in 1660 by the Portuguese explorer..." (p. 63). Even if this were accurate, apparently Arabic books do not count, nor does the Arabic language - reminds me yet again of my late colleague Dr Adesanmi, who said: "If the West is hearing about it for the first time from a Western source, it is original...". According to Harkness, Qatar comes into being only when a European makes note of it. Varisco also highlights the highly questionable scholarship in his review of the book, with one of the main challenges he identifies being due in "large part to his lack of engagement with any sources". 

Apr
15

Forests to the Foreigners: Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Gabon

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-445X/10/4/420

Abstract:

For the past decade, the land rush discourse has analyzed foreign investment in land and agriculture around the world, with Africa being a continent of particular focus due to the scale of acquisitions that have taken place. Gabon, a largely forested state in Central Africa, has been neglected in the land rush conversations, despite having over half of its land allocated to forestry, agriculture, and mining concessions. This paper draws on existing evidence and contributes new empirical data through expert interviews to fill this critical knowledge gap. We situate Gabon's historic relationship with land, establishing the intrinsic relationship between colonial land tenure systems and present-day land rights. Our findings analyze the macro context of investors and investments, as well as the impacts related to rural–urban linkages and infrastructure development into the forests, civil society, human–environment relationships, and certification programs. While challenges continue to be experienced, the promise of Gabon's first national land use plan—the use of sustainable concessions and mandatory forestry certification—offers a unique opportunity for Gabon to transition towards a future that better benefits its population while also protecting its natural resources. 

Apr
13

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), a pseudonym meaning 'he who enlightens', was the leader of the independence struggle in Vietnam and served as the President of North Vietnam (1945-1969). He was a leader of the anti-colonial struggle in Asia, advocating for revolutionary action long before the establishment of the Community Party in 1930. A short book, "The Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh" (2011), presents a chronological ordering of short works (written between 1922 and 1960). Another book, by Walden Bello, put the work in context (to be covered in a future post). Interestingly, Ho worked on a French ship during the 1910s, taking him to ports in Africa and America. He lived in London and then France, and the first contributions in this book were penned while he was in France (until 1923). The next selection of works were penned in Moscow (until 1924), Guangzhou (until 1927), then Brussels, Paris, Thailand, Hong Kong. After 1930, he led the Indochinese Communist Party. The book offers a glimpse into the thoughts, perspectives and ideas of Ho Chi Minh. A few notes:

1922: "The mutual ignorance of the two proletariats gives rise to prejudices. The French workers look upon the native as an inferior and negligible human being, incapable of understanding and still less of taking action. The natives regard all the French as wicked exploiters. Imperialism and capitalism do not fail to take advantage of this mutual suspicion and this artificial racial hierarchy to frustrate propaganda and divide forces which ought to unite." (p. 10)

1922: "While the life of an Annamese is not worth a cent, for a scratch on the arm, M. Inspector General Reinhardt receives 120,000 francs compensation. Equality! Beloved equality!" (p. 26)

1923: "We have racked our yellow brains in vain, yet we cannot succeed in discovering the reason which led the men and women of France to found the remarkable institution called the 'Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals'. First, the reason escapes us because we see that there are still so many unfortunate human beings who appeal without result for a little care." (p. 43)

1924: "The same system of pillage, extermination and destruction prevails in the African regions under Italian, Spanish, British or Portuguese rule. In the Belgian Congo, the population in 1891 was 25 million, but it had fallen to eight and a half million by 1911. The Hereros and Cama tribes in the former German colonies in Africa were completely exterminated. 80,000 were killed under German rule and 15,000 were killed during the 'pacification' period in 1914. The population of the French Congo was 20,000 in 1894. It was only 9,700 in 1911. In one province there were 10,000 inhabitants in 1910. Eight years later there remained only 1,080. In another province with 40,000 black inhabitants, in only two years, 20,000 people were killed, and in the following six- months 6,000 more were killed or disabled." (p. 78)

1945: "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free. The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: "All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights." Those are undeniable truths. Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice. In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty. They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united. They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood. They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people. To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol. In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people, and devastated our land. They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank-notes and the export trade. They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty. They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers." (p. 85)

1956: "We should not stand in one place and wish for another one" (p. 129)

1956: "We are clearly aware that our common enemy's clamours only betray their fear in face of new forces and new victories. Faced with the ever more perfidious schemes of the imperialist reactionary influence, now more than ever, we must strengthen and develop ideological unity, solidarity among communist and workers' parties, and tirelessly struggle to defend the purity of Marxism-Leninism, which is our common treasury; study and apply correctly the theoretical principles of Marxism-Leninism to the realities of each country. We are confident that under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, victory will certainly be ours." (p. 139)

Apr
10

Teach for Arabia

After some politically-oriented books on Qatar, I was pleased to find Neha Vora's "Teach for Arabia: American Universities, Liberalism, and Transnational Qatar" (2019). The book takes a quasi ethnographic approach to Education City (individual interviews and personal experience) and the author is reflexive about a wide range of topics and experiences. "Field" research was conducted while the author was working and teaching in Education City, between 2010 and 2014, and the writing was finished in 2016 (which shows you how slow book publishing is, as this comes out in 2019). One limitation of the book is that much is assumed about life and ideas outside of the people and place of Education City - the author did not interview anyone at Qatar University, at least for some perspective. Nonetheless, this is an interesting book, and most enjoyably, it is (self) critical - which is quite rare amongst the other volumes, many being rooted in orientalist perspectives and perpetuating colonialist attitudes (one book uncritically notes Education City as a colonization project, even celebrates it as such). Interesting in this book is the journey of the author, which she takes us along; not arriving as a scholar critical of content or assumptions, but rather was pushed to contest, challenge and critique at the demands of students (example below). A few notes:

Journeys of learning: "The class - who were about half Qatari citizens and half foreign residents who had grown up in Doha - arrived the morning after reading the chapter uniformly offended; they had clearly had a group conversation prior to our meeting. They told me the reading did not speak to them and also presented them or their classmates as exotic. Overall, they were fed up with the textbook... The students then moved on to tell me how their other classes - STEM classes - contained similar moments of tension, sometimes in the curriculum and sometimes due to their professors' presumptions about what Qataris, Arabs, and/or Muslims were like." (p. 2)

Centering and marginalizing: "Faculty and staff teach and speak what they know, and what they knew was usually refracted through the United States. In addition, the texts themselves, written in English, most often published in the United States and reflecting Euro-American disciplinary conventions, were usually geared toward American audiences with unconscious familiarity in American cultural norms. As one student told me, "of course they do bring a lot of current events into the classroom but a lot of the materials in the textbooks are so US-centered." (p. 55-56)

Upending assumptions: "Whenever I design a course now, I am reminded of that class in Doha and how much it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It challenged me to question who I center and who I marginalize through my choice of readings and assignments, the language I use in delivering my lectures, how I assign group work, and my overall interactions with students. Today, I am a tenured faculty member at an elite liberal arts institution in the United States that markets itself as invested in critical thinking, undergraduate research experiences, diversity, and global citizenship training. The students at this institution will rarely get to experience these learning outcomes to the extent that I have witnessed students experience them at the American branch campuses in Doha, due to the diversity of students, quality of resources, and number of hand-on learning opportunities available there." (p. 3)

Liberal piety: "The categorization of places, ideas, regimes, and cultures in liberal and illiberal is fundamentally a project based on faith rather than fact, one that constantly needs to elide imperial histories, encounters with difference, and discursive and material inconsistencies in order to maintain what I call liberal piety, producing subjects who believe themselves to be liberal, cosmopolitan, and inclusive rather than parochial and complicit in ongoing forms of imperialism, Orientalism, exclusion, and American exceptionalism." (p. 9)

Contradictions: "The American university was foundationally colonial and white supremacist. The earliest universities in North America, which would become the Ivy League, were Christian missionary projects built in the name of manifest destiny and civilizing the inferior Indian. They were funded by profits accrued by white slaving elites, as well as built in part by slave labor." (p. 11)

Education system: "RAND's projects included helping to set up the Qatar National Research Fund guidelines, writing the Qatar National Research Strategy, working with Qatar Foundation on multiple projects, and assessing the national Qatar University. But their main project was focused on how to improve and develop public K-12 education. In 2007, RAND produced a report, Education for a New Era, which suggested three options for reforming what it felt was a system that had failed because of Qatari resistance to change and a lack of critical thinking in schools. All three suggested reform options were neoliberal approaches that reduced centralization and focused on parental choice..." (p. 41-42)

Priorities: "American branch campuses saw coeducation as integral to the liberal project in Doha. Branch campuses perpetuated the idea that students could not attain liberal academic progress without being in mixed classrooms, and they they could not attain full citizenship without heterosocial participation in activities outside the classroom. These understandings stemmed from the mainstreaming of liberal feminism into the US academy, and from the yoking of gender and sexuality to civilization metrics for branch campus success." (p. 81)

The voiceless: "I came to see how coeducation and other measures of liberal feminist success in Education City presumed a baseline voiceless Qatari female subject on which to inscribe liberation, not a woman who entered the university with her own forms of personal power and agency." (p. 83) 

Apr
03

Confronting Empire

Eqbal Ahmad (1933-1999) is a fascinating activist academic; not the least because he came into his own in the 1960s in North Africa, largely in Algeria, where he worked with Frantz Fanon in the struggle for liberation. He was also quite close with Edward Said. He was born in India, studied in Pakistan, then the US, and spent most of his career in American universities. But, also also connected with global activism, including the Palestinian struggle. Here is a lecture he gave in 1975 at a teach-in, which seems to have kept its relevance in 2021: 



Eqbal did not (as far as I know) write any books, but one book presents interviews he had with David Barsamian (covered in this post) and another brings together his writings (to be covered in a future post). The former book, Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire (2000, with a 2016 reprint) is not a polished written book, and as per its interview style, jumps topics and is often drawn into conversations specific to the weeks and months around which the interviews took place. A few notes:

"we all inherited a colonial system of higher education. These post-colonial governments had no will or desire to introduce an alternative system of education. The rhetoric and the structure they announced was that of independence. The reality was that of higher education based on colonial premises and systems. The educational system in this new setting of post-colonial statehood became increasingly dysfunctional because it came under opposing, contradictory pressures. Third, the functions of colonial education were different. As Lord Macaulav put it, "We want to train in schools of higher learning Indians who would be good at mediating between the Raj and the population, the large majority of Her Majesty's subjects."8 So, this education was supposed to produce not governors or citizens or educators or administrators of an independent state. It was all meant to produce servants of the empire. This we have continued to do to this day." (p. 16-17)

On Fanon: "If you take Black Skin, White Masks and read A Dying Colonialism or The Wretched of the Earth, or for that matter the editorials that lie wrote in El Moadjahid, which have been published as Toward the African Revolution 13 you see the passage of Fanon from race to class, from violence to reconstruction of society, from a distant resistance to reconstruction, from reaction to creativity." (p. 20)

Lessons from Chomsky: "truth has to be repeated. It doesn't become stale just because it has been told once. So keep repeating it." (p. 23)

Lessons for students: "I think that my life and my teachings all point to two morals: think critically and take risks." (p. 55)

"the absence of revolutionary ideology has been central to the spread of terror in our time. One of the points in the big debate between Marxism and anarchism in the nineteenth century was the use of terror. The Marxists argued that the true revolutionary does not assassinate. You do not solve social problems by individual acts of violence. Social problems require social and political mobilization, and thus wars of liberation are to be distinguished from terrorist organizations. The revolutionaries didn't reject violence, but they rejected terror as a viable tactic of revolution. That revolutionary ideology has gone out at the moment. In the 1980s and 1990s, revolutionary ideology receded, giving in to the globalized individual." (p. 83)

"The colonial state was not about being of service to the colonized. It was about exploitation and extraction of resources. The post-colonial state is exactly the same. This intelligentsia, this bourgeoisie - the propertied class of the third world - is as heartless in its lack of concern for the poor, in some ways even more so, as the colonial state. There has been a near breakdown of the institutions of higher learning." (p. 95) 

Mar
30

Warriors in a Time of Sacrifice

Ambassador of Panama to the State of Qatar, Oreste Del Rio Sandoval, prepared a paper for a presentation made at Camilo Jose Cela University, Spain, on his experience in Qatar. The work turned into a book, titled 'Warriors in a Time of Sacrifice' (2019), published by Lusail. The title draws from a line in the national anthem of Qatar.

The book is relatively brief, 135 pages with large font and spaced lines. Kamrava (who also a book on Qatar), authored the Forward. The book is a primer to Qatar (history, economy, politics, society, region) and offers reflections on the period of the blockade (2017-2021). For readers looking for a more detailed political book, Kamrava's book (although now somewhat dated) is quite useful. This presents some updates, but is much briefer.

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