What the war in Ukraine says about humanity and confronting toxic othering

Posted on: March 7, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Updated 3-28-22 What the war in Ukraine says about humanity Some thoughts from two people who know about war All through time, writers, philosophers, and social scientists have brooded about human nature; most have concluded that as a species we are full of contradictions. We are quite capable of both astounding acts of beautiful compassion but at the same time -and even by the same people- grotesquely cruel behaviors. Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn tells us about the universality of evil in the human psyche. His words offer little optimism; evil will always be with us. Though now deceased, I am sure were he to be alive today he would not be surprised at Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. “(T)he line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This…

Read More

Video materials related to toxic othering and the Hydra

Posted on: March 4, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Video materials related to toxic othering and the Hydra Inspiration from the Rohingya and Bangladeshi learners As I wrote in the last chapters of Confronting Toxic Othering, it was the inspiration I got from the Rohingya and Bangladeshi learners I co-taught in the summer of 2021 that helped me to more clearly understand the many (and still developing) nuances of what I am calling ‘critical Hydra theory’ (CHT). Over the course of our 3 month class I produced scores of short, subtitled videos intended as ‘mini-lectures’, augmenting both our text and the weekly meetings we had via GoogleMeet and Zoom. My teaching assistant, Elon student Trevor Molin, helped me to put these videos together, most combined into same-themed longer videos. Those interested will find all this material linked below. Videos made for our Rohingya and Bangladeshi learners in the summer of 2021: Culture #1 Culture #2 Socialization Self and Society…

Read More

Additional section and/or chapter ideas for Confronting Toxic Othering

Posted on: February 6, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

[updated 2-21-22] Additional section and/or chapter ideas for Confronting Toxic Othering An ongoing project Though I published Confronting Toxic Othering (CTO) in late September 2021, I never considered the project done. In presentations to several audiences here in the US I have found myself explaining and expanding the concept of the Hydra, each time finding new and useful wrinkles to add. In the preface I invite the reader to provide feedback and I constantly seek same from my current and past students. As of this writing I am in communication with several colleagues here at Elon University but also with (the soon to be Dr). Tanishia Williams at the African-American Policy Forum, co-founded by Kimberle Crenshaw, and with Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Minnesota’s Bemidji State University. My hope is that from each I will gain deeper insight about the forces of oppression which dominate our world. Perhaps most…

Read More

More on Confronting Toxic Othering

Posted on: January 13, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

“In contrast to those who suggest that we act as soon as the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before the whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live — and act. Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.” – Mahmood Mamdani, Saviors and Survivors (p. 6)     More on Confronting Toxic Othering and Critical Hydra Theory (CHT) [Note: Content from this post may be updated regularly to be used in a revised edition of my recent book Confronting Toxic Othering.] Ethnocentrism In conversation with a veteran humanitarian worker, I listened to her vent about a recent deployment to a major conflict zone. She noted that ‘ethnocentrism be damned’ there are some fundamental wrongs embedded into the local culture, using as an example the grotesque mistreatment of women and the use of rape as…

Read More

Confronting Toxic Othering now on Kindle and Amazon

Posted on: November 3, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Confronting Toxic Othering now on Kindle and Amazon A long journey My book Confronting Toxic Othering: Understanding and Taming the Hydra is now available on Kindle and as a paper back on Amazon. Publishing this book was a more than two year journey. It began with an email from a humanitarian worker by the name of Leah Campbell at ALNAP who had the who had read some of my blogs and thought that I would be a good fit for a session at this organizations semi annual meeting in Berlin. When I got her email about contributing to a panel on privileging forces, almost immediately I saw the connection between the the five social forces mentioned. I connected all of these privileging forces together in an image of a hydra, and for the last two years I have been presenting this idea to every one of my sociology classes. My…

Read More

Protecting civil society in Cox’s Bazar and beyond

Posted on: October 18, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Updated 11-26-21   “If I die, I’m fine. I will give my life.”  -Mohib Ullah Protecting civil society in Cox’s Bazar and beyond The death of a civicv leader The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the Rohingya as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”. An ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar, the Rohingya people have been persecuted for generations, and in August of 2017 the genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar military reached a fever pitch, and nearly 750,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh. Life in the sprawling refugee camps is not easy, and maintaining a transplanted civil society is a massive challenge. The Government of Bangladesh and nearly 100 humanitarian agencies including UN, IFRC, IOM, UNHCR, etc. are responding to the humanitarian crisis of Rohingya. The Bangladeshi Government has deployed police and Armed-police Battalion (APBN) in the camps to protect the Rohingya. On September 29,…

Read More

Applying Critical Hydra Theory on Tuesday morning

Posted on: September 28, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

“Until the lion learns to speak, tales of hunting will always favor the hunter.” African proverb   Applying Critical Hydra Theory on Tuesday morning   Paris, 2021 Later this fall I will take part in a panel session at the 6th meeting of the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) meeting in Paris. As co-organizer of this panel, I will have the duty of opening our session with some remarks intended to frame our discussions related to the panel’s theme “Privileging Forces in the Humanitarian System: Power and Marginalization”. It seems fitting that this next phase of talking about what I have called ‘critical Hydra theory’ will take place in the context of a conference since this conceptual journey had its beginning at the ALNAP meeting in Berlin in 2019. My goal will be to introduce the Hydra model and urge those listening to embrace this conceptual tool. Though having a longer history,…

Read More

Talking with Rohingya and Bangladeshi learners about taming the Hydra 

Posted on: August 22, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Talking with Rohingya and Bangladeshi learners about taming the Hydra    “The educator has the duty of not being neutral.” -Paulo Freire Taming the Hydra My experience teaching sociology to Rohingya and Bangladeshi has been deeply rewarding. Introducing the ideas of culturally embedded privileging forces, ascribed statuses, toxic othering, and the image of the Hydra as a way to understand the common sources of various systemic affronts to human dignity has been an amazing and profound experience. In our final class as we talked about taming the Hydra and false consciousness the learners offered many useful questions, comments, and examples. When we started this journey together several months ago I had no expectation that given the language difficulties we would ever advance this far. That our last class was so engaging is a testament to my colleague Azizul’s ability as a translator and critical thinker and even more so to…

Read More

Guest post: The root causes of toxic othering: Narratives of Rohingya and Bangladeshis

Posted on: August 18, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

The root causes of toxic othering: Narratives of Rohingya and Bangladeshis Guest post by Mohammad Azizul Hoque[1] Ascribed status and identity politics “Why have I have become a stateless refugee in a world of 195 countries? Why have I been confined by persecution in my motherland Myanmar and beyond? I ask my friends and family, but none of them can soothe my inquisitive mind.” A Rohingya refugee asked this question while Professor Thomas Arcaro and I were facilitating an online sociology course for underprivileged refugee and host community youth in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. “Our hopes and aspirations are identical to other human spices of the Earth; however, because of our ethnicity, we are rejected, displaced and persecuted,” commented another student. Their words triggered us to apprehend how the ascribed status of “Rohingya” has become the cause of needless discrimination. Professor Arcaro replied, “Being a refugee or stateless is an ascribed…

Read More

Humanism, Feminism, and Cultural Relativity: Contradictions and Ambiguities

Posted on: August 14, 2021 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Coming full circle I wrote this essay nearly 40 years ago and now, though I might change some wordings, the essential message I sought to convey then is the same I am advocating now with Critical Hydra Theory. I have indeed come full circle.   Humanism, Feminism, and Cultural Relativity: Contradictions and Ambiguities By Thomas E. Arcaro The Columbus College of Art and Design1 [Note: First published in The Humanist Sociologist, newsletter for the Association of Humanist Sociology, fall 1980] This essay is an open question to my humanist colleagues. I will outline below what I feel are basic theoretical contradictions in the acceptance of humanistic, feminist, and culturally relativistic ideologies and the application of these ideas to my everyday life and my teaching of undergraduates. I am not certain that I want my colleagues to respond with answers, and thus somehow reconcile the contradictions that are outlined. For, like…

Read More
Previous