Tag Archives: colonialism

Gandhi the Activist, Gandhi the Pacifist

by Anand Venkatkrishnan, ’10

The recent flurry of articles and subsequent commentary on this and other sites about Stanford and South Asia, India and Israel, casteism and nationalism, disrespect and denigration, have made me think about the relationship of these conversations to my own social location as a scholar in the field of religious studies. In one sense, these debates fall along the spectrum of a thematic which we might call “Hinduism and its Culture Wars,” to invoke the title of a recent online essay (and to which I have responded elsewhere). In another sense, they raise larger issues of political commitment, moral self-criticism, and religious sentiment. I want to take a step back and consider these issues with reference to M.K. Gandhi, whose voluminous writings reveal a nexus between religion, politics, and public discourse that frequently confounds the ways we have been conditioned to think about them. Continue reading

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On the Merit of Blurred Lines

by Surabhi Nirkhe, ’13

I am tired of discourse that divides brown from white, the oppressed from the oppressors, students of color from white students, and the underprivileged from the privileged. Tracing and retracing these lines prevents us from creating identities that are much more complex, often in the spaces where these lines blur.

In her recent STATIC article, Holly Fetter ended with a powerful statement that resonated with me: “unless we confront our fears and make active changes to educate ourselves about the perspectives and experiences of those in other communities, we’ll never be able to see past the illusion of isolation”. To me, the recent mixer held between Sanskriti, the South Asian student organization, and the Stanford Israel Alliance represents just that. I did not attend the mixer, but I have been a part of similar events at Stanford, and I can honestly say that experiences which have pushed me to interact with individuals from outside my community have been some of the most valuable.

I do not mean to say that I don’t hold opinions; I do and I hold on to them very strongly. Continue reading

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White Fetish

by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12


A failing of the word ‘activism’ is its designation of certain activities as political engagement and the rest of our lives as some other floaty and apolitical space.  In reality, we are always enacting and interacting with the structures of power and social positions each of us inhabit.  My friend Alok and I were at a queer conference this weekend in Atlanta to facilitate the same workshop that we’re presenting tonight: ‘Because You’re Brown Honey Gurl!: A Dialogue about Race and Desire’.  Our intention was to bring to bear a conversation on spaces where desire, sex, and romance circulate as political spaces.  The project of queer liberation isn’t limited to our policy engagements or our organizing work — it is also about considering how we desire and are desired in white supremacist realities.

We use the term ‘sexual racism’ to describe the ways that racism and racist traumas inflect our romantic and sexual relations. Continue reading

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Inappropriate Appropriations: An Interview With Adrienne Keene, ’07

by Annie Graham, ’14

Adrienne Keene is an ‘07 Stanford graduate who visited Muwekma-Tah-Ruk to speak on Monday night. Currently in her third year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she used her spare time or sheer determination to start a project alongside her life as a student: she writes a blog called Native Appropriations, concerned with (mis)representations of Indigenous peoples. Her work proves the potential of blogs to formulate individual ideas and change the minds of others. She is also a very upbeat and welcoming person — I got to sit down and ask her a few questions before her presentation.

Annie Graham: Would you say you were an activist at Stanford as an undergraduate?

Adrienne Keene: When I was a student, my activism was a little bit more limited. Stanford was the first place that I was exposed to issues of social justice and activism, in the sort of the “on the ground, protest signs” form. When I was an undergrad and was the co-chair of the Stanford American Indian Organization, we had a couple of instances of frat houses using the Indian mascot for various things. So that was the first time I was kind of involved in activism pushing back against it.

One thing I really appreciated about the Stanford administration, at least when I was a student here, is that they really supported the Native students on the mascot issue. So, whenever something popped up — and it happened fairly often, The Stanford Review was also using an Indian image for a while — the administration would have our back fairly quickly… the president would issue a statement saying the mascot was discontinued in 1971 and is not to be used for any reason anymore.

AG: What happened in grad school that made you become more of an activist? Continue reading

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Student activism, Stanford STAND, and a brief intro into the conflict in eastern Congo

by Caity Monroe, M.A. student in the African Studies program

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This op-ed is by no means a complete account of the recent conflict in eastern Congo, but is instead intended to engage the Stanford campus with an international issue and the way students on campus are addressing it. To learn more, follow the links, contact the author, attend a STAND meeting, or come to our event today with UN Group of Experts coordinator, Steve Hege, at 4:15pm in the CISAC conference room of Encina Hall Central.

The first paper I ever wrote about Congo received two main pieces of feedback. The first was that I should have done a better job including Congolese agency in my account of Congo’s independence crisis of 1960-65. I was told that while Lumumba was indeed constrained by a polarized Cold War global context and that Tshombe did in many ways work with his Belgian backers, the story was in fact more complicated than this. (Little did I know that years later I would be sifting through Belgian archives studying this exact period, yet looking at a completely different aspect of this story which involved the effects of colonial-era labor migrations and a small-scale war over land, cattle, and citizenship.) The second piece of advice I received about that paper was that I probably should have chosen a less complicated topic, and maybe even a “less complicated country.”

Around this time, I joined the Stanford chapter of STAND, a national anti-mass atrocity student group. Continue reading

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The United States is the greatest threat to its own national security

by Kristian Davis Bailey, ’14

This post originally published at Kristian’s personal website, “With a ‘K.’”

After yesterday’s presidential debate on foreign policy, can we talk about how the United States is its own greatest threat to national security?

This might have something to do with the fact that America’s been “cheating” the past hundred years or so and manipulating the economic and military affairs of the world to its favor–and often to the detriment of all but a few allies, who also benefit from standing on the rest of the world.

Iran is not a threat to the security of the people of the United States, even if it obtains nuclear weapons.  Iran’s major threat is becoming a nation that can defend its own sovereignty without posturing to American hegemony. It is part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which features the majority of the countries in our world and which are not part of any major power blocs. The countries in NAM are struggling for a new world order* that is not dictated and/or dominated by the aforementioned “cheating” Western policies. Continue reading

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Revolutionary Art: “Call Me Human”

by Lyla Johnston, ’12

Listen to her poem here:

“Call Me Human”

from birth we etch these lines
engrave them in your mind
by the rockets red glare
the bombs bursting mid air
the war it begins
to make the imaginary country
as real as your skin.

America does not exist
It’s an idea men have obsessed over since 1776.

an excuse we use to manifest a reality that
destroyed the destiny of Native civilization. Continue reading

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Cultural Work in the Philippine National Democratic Movement

by Julian Jaravata and Michael Tayag, ’13

From May 18 to May 20, activists from throughout the country travelled to Chicago to attend the 4th congress of BAYAN-USA, the 2nd congress of Gabriela-USA, and the founding congresses of Anakbayan-USA and the United States Chapter of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS)—all of which are progressive, anti-imperialist alliances of groups fighting for genuine social change in the Philippines and other countries around the world. Anakbayan-USA (the youth organization to which we belong), Gabriela-USA, and BAYAN-USA are national democratic alliances that work specifically to address the root causes of issues such as forced migration, corruption, and poverty in the Philippines. The movement working for national democracy in the Philippines offers an important example of how peoples subjected to colonialism and imperialism have risen up to reclaim the history, land, and culture that have been taken away from them. Furthermore, the establishment of a US chapter of ILPS highlights the need for international solidarity, especially as a weapon against imperialism. The congress included figures such as Fred Hampton, Jr. and Carlos Montes, who spoke out about the oppression engendered by imperialism. One May 20, the congress attendees mobilized against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the G8, a military alliance and the world’s eight most powerful economic powers, respectively. Continue reading

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