More on the origin of the Hydra concept

Posted on: September 25, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

  On the origin of the Hydra concept I have been teaching sections of Introduction of Sociology every semester for the last four decades. Over the years every course text I’ve used has had useful chapters on ‘Race and Ethnic relations’, Social stratification’, and ‘Sex and gender.’  Through trial and error, I have adapted various definitions of the many ‘isms’, but about a 20 years ago I began using this definition of racism: Racism is an ideology of domination and subordination based on the assumption of the inherent biological and/or cultural inferiority of other groups and the use of this assumption to legitimize or rationalize the inferior or unequal treatment of this group. About ten years ago I started testing my students ability to ‘connect the dots’ by giving them the definition of racism and then immediately asking for a good definition of sexism, and then classism. Most picked up…

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An example of humanitarian support from a small NGO

Posted on: July 27, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

  An example of humanitarian support from a small NGO Prologue This essay is a continuation of my ruminations about the humanitarian imperative, the edges of the humanitarian ecosystem, bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice, and basic human nature. It is mostly about a small act motivated by humanitarian concern and involving what I consider to be an array of everyday heroes. Michael Kojo Orleans Michael Orleans is a young tour company operator in Cape Coast Ghana. I met Michael 21 years ago in 1999 on a university organized faculty tour of Ghana.  We had an immediate connection, and continued regular communication over the years; we have developed a close mentor-mentee relationship.  Each of us has always felt strongly about our civic duties, and we have worked together on almost a dozen community outreach events in the last 15 years, all in response to Michael’s knowledge of and…

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The humanitarian imperative as seen in the flow of remittances

Posted on: July 15, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Local aid and development workers in the US

  Remittances as part of the humanitarian ecosystem Critically important for every 1 in 7 people on Earth A very high percentage of refugees and immigrants now living in the minority world (aka ‘Global North’) regularly send money back ‘home’ to family and friends they left behind. These funds, typically in small amounts and sent every month, are mostly used for health care, living expenses, school fees, and other necessities.  The term for this transfer of funds is ‘remittances’. I make a point of defining this term because in conversations with both my students and with even generally well informed friends and colleagues I have found that they know little to nothing about the fact that remittances exist and, more importantly, how critical they are to the alleviation of poverty in the developing world. Here are a few relevant data points about remittances. According to the World Bank in 2019…

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A Code of Ethics for Privileged Anti-Othering Persons: the humanitarian imperative and Hydra revisited

Posted on: June 29, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Hydra "privileging forces"

A Code of Ethics for Privileged Anti-Othering Persons: the humanitarian imperative and Hydra revisited   “Humanitarianism started off as a powerful discourse; now it is a discourse of power, both at the international and at the community level.” (p. 190) –Antonio Donini “Humanitarianism, Perceptions, and Power” In the Eyes of Others (Abu Sada, editor; 2012)   Overview Below I expand on previous posts related to the humanitarian imperative, the ‘privileging forces’ Hydra, and the  quest for global social justice. Studying and engaging with humanitarians all over the world has provided me with a broad base of insights, and I especially thank those from the majority world (aka Global South) who have so patiently offered me their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The recent reemergence of a surprisingly inclusive #BlackLivesMatter movement both here in the US and around the world has many talking frankly about systemic racism and toxic white nationalism, and…

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A day for voices to be heard

Posted on: June 16, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

A day for voices to be heard A day of protest Today, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, is a day of protest at Elon University intended to hear and amplify the voices of the many black students/parents, black faculty/staff, black alumni, and allies of this university. I support and stand with all who join the #BlackatElon virtual protest. The image on the left, created as a visual representation of this protest, is powerful. The acorn in the center is a long used representation of Elon. ‘Elon’ is the Hebrew word for oak, and this one small seed can grow into a mighty and lasting figure. The yellow flame represents the Elon mascot, the Phoenix which rose from fiery ashes, and the clenched fist is a long used and respected symbol of unity, resolve, and power. This protest centers on these messages: Black Voices Matter. Black Experiences Matter and Black Lives Matter….

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Changing behavior and attitude

Posted on: May 30, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

Changing behavior and attitude A voice from Ghana I talked recently with Nicholas Nyantakyi, an anesthetist. He was kind enough to take time away from his medical duties at the venerable Metropolitan Hospital in Cape Coast, Ghana to share details with me about the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, his hospital has 17 COVID-19 patients and he seemed clear they have not yet reached a crest in the number of cases. Metro has no ventilators, is low on both oxygen and PPE, and has a staff that is strong, but feeling stressed. Ghana, with a population of just over 31 million now has over 7300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 34 deaths. The Cape Coast Metropolitan area has about 170,000 people, and there is only tentative data on the number of COVID-19 positive cases. We talked about how many people in Cape Coast, very much like countless others in the…

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Views on the COVID-19 pandemic from the majority world

Posted on: May 18, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry, Refugee humanitarians

Updated 22 May 2020 “Until we build a world for all of us, it’s almost like humanitarian efforts are just putting a band-aid over life-threatening wounds.” -Michael Koppinger Views on the COVID-19 pandemic from the majority world The majority world First, a comment on naming. It is not the “Third World” or the “developing world” or even, as I have used in the past, the “Global South.”  It is the majority world, the part of the world that has the most people. This term “…defines the community in terms of what it is, rather than what it lacks”, and are were encouraged to use it by the person believed to be the creator of the term, Bangladeshi photojournalist and activist Shahidul Alam. Here in the minority word With the specter of what happened just over 100 years ago with the Spanish flu, massive and deadly second and third waves, government leaders in…

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Killing the humanitarian space one bullet at a time

Posted on: April 21, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

Killing the humanitarian space Far from sacred The international press is reporting today that a WHO (World Health Organization) vehicle carrying COVID-19 test swabs from Sittwe to Yangon was fired upon and the driver was killed. The bullet taken from the body appears to be a M-23 (machine gun) slug produced by the Myanmar defense factory. There is little doubt this round was fired by a Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] soldier. Here is an article from the local press describing the incident in more detail, with both sides, the AA and the Tatmadaw being blamed. Here is one definition of the ‘humanitarian space’: “’Humanitarian space’ refers to an operational environment that allows humanitarian actors to provide assistance and services according to humanitarian principles and in line with international humanitarian law.” (OCHA, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) In this ‘civil war’ between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw it…

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An open letter to Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted on: April 19, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

An open letter to Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi   19 April 2020 Dear President Win Myint and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, I respectfully request that you read my words. I write to you because you are in positions of power in Myanmar. I urge you to take immediate actions to halt all warfare in your nation. Who am I to ask you to take these peace-oriented actions? I am nobody. I am everybody.  I am the voice of humanitarians everywhere.  I am a sociologist who has devoted his life to understanding the human condition and working for a world where all humans are able to live with dignity and peace. Your military has a long history of waging war against a wide range of ethnic minorities, and your nation is currently  charged with the crime of genocide in the International Court of Justice. Just…

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COVID-19 response: ‘acute on chronic’ for the entire humanitarian sector

Posted on: April 5, 2020 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

“In any case, these interrelations between the three communities, all with different cultures and nationalities, proved that there exist people with a sincere understanding of other people, no matter where they are in the world. It proves that there always exist significant people who transcend government ideologies.” –Behrouz Boochani, A Letter from Manus Island COVID-19 response: ‘acute on chronic’ for the entire humanitarian sector 8 minute read [Updated 4.7.20;5:20PM EST] A global crisis The humanitarian sector is reacting to a massive ‘acute on chronic’ situation as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts all aspects of ‘normal’ humanitarian work. UN entities (e.g., IOM, WFP) and all major INGOs scramble to react to this viral tsunami and to coordinate response with each other, major donor entities, and with affected governments on all continents.  Supply chains are strained or broken, funding is even more uncertain, and affected populations are in varying states of even more…

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