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 [Updated 3-16-23] [Trigger warning: Inherent in the nature of the material covered in this post are topics and exercises which may be triggering.] 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. This exercise is a companion to and should be done after exploring one’s status array. Positionality can be defined as “… the social and political context that creates our identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability…

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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, i.e, 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 ideas presented in this book will be talked about in a wide…

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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"

[Updated 4-4-23] “I’ve never understood what’s the point of supporting gay rights and nobody’s else’s rights, you know? Or workers rights but not women’s rights? It’s, I don’t know, illogical.” -Mark Ashton to Dai in Pride (2014) 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,…

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Review of Rohingyatographer Magazine, Issue #1/Summer 2022

Posted on: May 23, 2022 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Quick summary
In a hurry? Here’s the executive summary. If you are at all interested in the lives of Rohingya people living in the world’s largest refugee camp from an inside perspective get a copy of Rohingyatographer Magazine NOW.

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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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