Trump, Putin, and the Tatmadaw

Posted on: October 23, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

    [Below is a note to a colleague on his way to Bangkok for discussions regarding the Rohingya situation.]   My esteemed colleague, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…” -Lord Acton I am keenly aware that quoting the words of a colonialist -let alone a British colonialist- to begin this message is perhaps the height of irony. Acton’s words, though, are relevant to my observations below. I read the document you sent to me [as background for your high level meeting in Bangkok to discuss the situation in Maynmar regarding the Rohingya]. Thank you. I have been thinking a great deal about the situation in Myanmar and what can be done to create a different political narrative in that country. Enlarging my scope of attention, I see my own country, the United States, being very much influenced by the…

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Status set exercise using the Hydra model

Posted on: October 1, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Status set exercise using the Hydra model Exploring and understanding your status set though the lens of the Hydra model starts with a quick and simple status count and, using some basic tools from sociology, ends up by discussing the concept of master status. The exercise below will be helpful in understanding the concept of positionality discussed here. Before beginning this exercise it is important to note the distinction between primary and secondary groups. Primary groups are characterized by an emotional intimacy, and the most obvious example is the family. Secondary groups are more affectively distanced and are instrumentally based, such as in a committee meeting. This exercise is geared toward only secondary group membership. Step One 1: A Binary look Look at the heads of the Hydra. Each represents a significant privileging force driven by the process of toxic othering, creating and maintaining the marginalization of those who are…

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Confronting toxic othering exercise

Posted on: September 25, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Hydra "privileging forces"

Confronting toxic othering exercise ‘…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 Universal Declaration of Human Rights   [Note: This exercise is an example of how to employ critical Hydra theory (CHT) discussed elsewhere on this blog. For additional context the reader is invited to explore other posts on this blog.]   Overview This exercise builds on the insights and methodologies of Critical Race Theory (CRT).  The purpose of this exercise is to generate examples of how toxic othering has been confronted at all levels, local, national, and global. One of the most important wisdom‘s from CRT is that we must interrogate the history of racism and how it has entrenched itself into laws, policies, norms, and general expectations of behavior….

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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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Book of poems published by genocide survivor

Posted on: September 6, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

The Painful Life of Rohingya by Roshidullah Kyaw Naing published by Evincepub Publishing   A must read It has been my honor to write about and in some cases to partner with many Rohingya poets over the last few years, and I have written many posts about these poets. I invite you to click here to read about some amazing young Rohingya women and men who have chosen writing poetry as one way of responding to the agonies of being a genocide victim. Early this summer I was contacted by Rohingya poet Roshidullah Kyaw Naing. After reading -and re-reading many times- his collection of poems I agreed to write a foreword for his book. His dream of having this book of poems is now, fantastically, a reality.  I encourage anyone who wants to learn about the struggle of the Rohingya people to order this book now on Amazon or directly from the…

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Five long years seeking justice

Posted on: August 24, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Uncategorized

[Note: this post was intended as an op-ed. Mohammad Azizul Hoque of the Centre for Peace and Justice in Dhaka, Bangladesh contributed to this essay. Hoque and his colleague Tasnuva Ahmad wrote an excellent article on this important five year anniversary.]   Five long years seeking justice August 25, 2022 marks the five year anniversary of the Rohingya genocide. This ethnic and religious minority has spent five long years seeking justice. The facts are both clear and stark. Five years ago the Rohingya people were  the victim of a genocide by the military junta controlling Myanmar. Beginning  August 25, 2017 nearly 800,000 Rohingya fled across the border into Bangladesh. Some 140,000 Rohingyas were internally displaced in the melee and herded into IDP camps, where they have remained ever since. Though the Rohingya diaspora nearly global in reach, most are  concentrated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and  India, with the vast majority…

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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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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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On World Refugee Day 2022 let us remember that education is a basic human right

Posted on: June 18, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

  On this World Refugee Day 2022 let us not forget that all refugees have a right to an education Listen to a poet As a sociologist I am fully aware of how complex social reality is. In this ever globalizing world where cultural histories are now blending together, the task of capturing all the detailed nuance of one’s life is a daunting undertaking. Poetry is a time honored tool women and men from all over the world have used to artfully articulate observations about their lives and about the culture(s) in which they live and act. Poets are lay sociologists using an alternate language structure to share powerful insights. My goal with this essay is to comment on education as a basic human right and I can think of no better way to start than to use poetry. Below are two poems by Rohingya refugee Roshidullah Kyaw Naing, soon…

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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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