Chrys Stevenson reviews Confronting Toxic Othering for The Australian Humanist

Posted on: July 19, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Book review I am excited to post a review of Confronting Toxic Othering: Understanding and Taming the Hydra by Australian author and critic Chrys Stevenson. Her review was published in the Winter 2022 edition of The Australian Humanist and is being used below with permission. Work on a revised edition of Confronting Toxic Othering: Understanding and Taming the Hydra is currently in progress with plans for re-publication in September, 2022.   Power and Privilege: the ‘Hydra’ Model of Intersectional Discrimination   Chrys Stevenson reviews Confronting Toxic Othering: Understanding and Taming the Hydra by Dr Tom Arcaro   “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.” – Kimberlé Crenshaw   Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University with a special interest in humanitarian aid. Arcaro has made it his mission to understand how power and privilege function to…

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Positionality and the Hydra

Posted on: September 18, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

‘…the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…      -from the first sentence of the Preamble to the 1948  Universal Declaration of Human Rights     Positionality and the Hydra In my continuing journey to expand on what I have been calling ‘critical Hydra theory’ and to better understand privileging forces I have been thinking a good deal about positionality. Dimensions of our identity influence how we both see and are seen by others. Positionality can be defined as “… the social and political context that creates our identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world. Positionality asks people to understand and describe how gender and other identity markers [your status set]…

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Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness and critical Hydra theory

Posted on: July 23, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

“The problem of the poor is not the problem, the problem is the rich.” -Miles Richardson   [Note: This and other posts will become part of a revised edition of Confronting Toxic Othering] Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness and critical Hydra theory More on critical Hydra theory My quest to more fully understand the genealogy of privileging forces continues, and below I present my less-than-optimistic view on why confronting toxic othering and systemic marginalization is perhaps a Sisyphean task. In brief, an ethos of privilege -based on gender, class, race, religion, etc. that some people are inherently superior to others- permeates all cultures at such a deep level that world-wide change may be impossible. Common Reading Not unlike many other educational institutions, every year my university assigns a common reading intended for all incoming students. The expectation is that the ideas presented in this book will be talked about in a…

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Beginning a genealogy of privileging forces: racism, classism, and colonialism/paternalism

Posted on: June 3, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Beginning a genealogy of privileging forces: racism, classism, and colonialism/paternalism Overview Below is a largely conjectural and theoretical beginning to a conversation about the history of privilege. I build on and then expand the work pioneered by critical race theorists in attempting to describe and explain how false consciousness plays a key role in establishing and maintaining unjust social structures. Deepening critical Hydra theory Effectively confronting toxic othering means deepening our use of critical hydra theory (CHT). One way this can be done is by looking at how all of the privileging forces represented by heads of the hydra are embedded into all contemporary cultural structures. This means looking deeply into our past nationally, regionally, and globally and making attempts to more fully understand the origins of these privileging forces and how they are intertwined in various ways. Critical Hydra theory (CHT) builds on critical race theory (CRT) by examining the…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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