Ismael García Colón & Harry Franqui-Rivera: Puerto Rico Is NOT Greece

Notes on the Role of Debt in US Colonialism

UPDATE: On Tuesday, September 8, the City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies is hosting a free panel discussion and presentation based on this blog post. For more details, visit the FocaalBlog event page here.

Early July 2015, at an event discussing the Greek debt crisis hosted by the German Federal Bank in Frankfurt, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble talked about a sarcastic conversation he’d had with United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Responding to pressure from the US government for a resolution on the pending Greek debt talks, Schaeuble told Lew that the European Union could take Puerto Rico into the euro zone if the US was willing to accept Greece into a dollar union. In the video of the event, one can appreciate people laughing at Schaeuble’s remarks, made in front of a large projection of the event’s theme “Turning points in history: How crises have changed the tasks and practice of central banks.” Interesting enough, his comments say more about Germany’s intentions and its role in the Greek debt default than about Puerto Rico.
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Alan Bradshaw: European austerity and collective blame

According to Richard Seymour (2015), current European austerity politics ought to be regarded not as a temporary period of economic rationalization during crisis but rather as a shift toward a new political economic paradigm. This new paradigm is to be driven by a rhetorical commitment to “worker flexibility” and “labour market competitiveness”—both euphemisms for a long-term decline in the value of European salaries and an overall context of bottom-to-top economic redistribution. A further defining aspect of austerity in Europe is the condition of financialization, meaning that mantras of “living within our means” typically define the parameters of sensible governance yet often take the form of shifting public debt onto private households, as capital accumulation becomes increasingly driven by banks leveraging household debt to fund trading on financial markets (see Lapavistas and Flassbeck 2015).
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John Levack Drever: Sublime-sound-of-the-one-hand [Ryōan-ji]

My soundscape composition Sublime-sound-of-the-one-hand [Ryōan-ji] sounds out the acoustic ecology of the “quintessential … karesansui dry landscape garden” (UNESCO 1993: 41) Or, put another way, to limit “idiosyncratic and ambiguous” (BSI 2014: v) concepts spilling across interrelated disciplines, by implementing the new British International Standard’s definition of “soundscape,” the question is: how is “the acoustic environment perceived or experienced and/or understood by a person or people,” in the “context” of the karesansui dry landscape garden (BSI 2014:1)?
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Chiara Ambrosio & Caterina Pasqualino: Tending to the Garden

Caterina Pasqualino is an anthropologist whose research within the realm of Gypsy flamenco for the past twenty years has culminated in her seminal book Flamenco Gitan. Her interest in performance and ritual and their relationships with experimental film—explored in the book she co-edited with Arnd Schneider, Experimental Film and Anthropology—has led her to begin exploring her practice through the language of experimental film.

Following a meeting with Chiara Ambrosio—a filmmaker, visual artist, and flamenco dancer—the two have decided to develop a film together to explore the role of the “outsider” and of suffering within art and, more specifically, within the space of flamenco.
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Dave Lewis: “Field Work”

My engagement with the ideas and practices of fieldwork stems from my interest in anthropology and the classification of human “types” through the “science” of anthropometry in the mid-nineteenth century, which began when I was a photography undergraduate student. “Field Work” (2010) was my attempt to address visual ethnographic practice from the position of a contemporary photographic practitioner. As a photographer I have always been concerned with issues around race, identity, and representation, and the award of the AOA1 commission provided the opportunity to question specific perceptions of boundaries and region in the United Kingdom, and how these relate to identification with a particular community. The commissioners wanted “an image-maker who can have agency as a British citizen, meditate and reflect on being a ‘stranger,’ but also move to a place that can be seen as his home domain and look out towards ‘his’ England.”
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