A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘diasporas

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • 3 Quarks Daily asks whether parenthood is morally respectable.
  • blogTO has vintage photos of Toronto’s neighbourhood of Corktown.
  • Centauri Dreams notes that a small moon may be condensing out of Saturn’s Ring A.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes evidence that close-orbiting “hot Jupiters” influence their stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes continuing progress in teasing out evidence of Neandertal ancestry from current populations.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that some Muslim cab drivers in Cleveland refuse to drive cabs with signs advertising the upc9oming Gay Games.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes on the minor scandal of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s non-receipt of a symbolic degree from Brandeis University.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen seems unduly skeptical about Norway’s program of buying books by local authors for libraries, so as to subsidize literary production.
  • New APPS Blog contrasts the open citizenship of the Roman Republic with the closed citizenship of the Greek city-states, with Carthage being somewhere in between.
  • Towleroad explores continuing controversy around the use of Truvada as an alternative to condoms in HIV/AIDS prevention.
  • Transit Toronto notes the closing of several streets, notably Church Street, in downtown Toronto on the occasion of former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty’s funeral.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that contemporary Russians like their country’s open egress to the world and wouldn’t be pleased by transit restrictions, and observes that ethnic Russians in Estonia seem to be mobilizing against Russian annexation.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly makes a case about the benefits of radical honesty.
  • At the Buffer, Belle Beth Cooper describes how she has streamlined her writing style.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China’s space station isn’t doing much.
  • Eastern Approaches observes the continuing popularity of Polish populist Lech Kaczynski.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes the vulnerable popularity of UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
  • Geocurrents’ Asya Perelstvaig comments on the entry of Jewish businessman Vadim Rabinovich into the Ukrainian presidential contest.
  • Joe. My. God. is unconvinced by the suggestion that marriage equality means the end of gay bars.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Erik Loomis speculates about the responsibility of American consumers for air pollution in exporting Asia.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Constantine Tsang describes evidence for volcanism on Venus.
  • Savage Minds interviews one Laura Forlano on the intersections between anthropology and design.
  • Towleroad mourns the death of godfather of house music Frankie Knuckles.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • At the blog Buffer, Kevan Lee shows what lengths–in characters and in words–tweets and blog headlines and blog posts should be, according to science.
  • Patrick Cain notes that Canadians have no way of knowing how many banned guns there were under the former registry since its junking.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining what, exactly, is needed for a planet to become Earth-like.
  • The Dragon’s Tales, meanwhile, links to a paper claiming that the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity was a product of a nearby gamma-ray burst.
  • Geocurrents explores the question of whether and how it matters to call the eastern European country “Ukraine” or “the Ukraine”.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a site gathering the first and last lines from noted gay novels.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, bloggers question whether the American soldiers who perpetrated genocide in the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 should have their Medals of Honor stripped from them, and have no truck with the idea that American airpower can save Ukraine.
  • John Moyer responded to OKCupid’s boycotting of Mozilla for its anti-gay president by quitting Mozilla, and explains why.
  • At the Planetary Society Weblog, Emily Lakdawalla examines the latest thinking on Titan’s methane lakes and oceans. Where do they come from?
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Hungarians in former Hungarian territories in central Europe.
  • Strange Maps examines how maps are used to lie in George Orwell’s 1984.
  • Torontoist shares a picture of a vintage streetcar on the streets of east Toronto’s Scarborough.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy comments on the International Court of Justice’s ruling against Japan on the subject of its supposed scientific whaling program, and argues that a federal system for Ukraine might not be bad notwithstanding Russian bullying.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s military depends heavily on the technological and industrial output of southeastern Ukraine, relying on now-suspended cooperation.

[LINK] “Crimea crisis: The Tatarstan factor”

Al Jazeera features an article co-written by Ildar Gabidullin and Maxim Edwards that explains one thing I’ve been interested in. Why has the Russian autonomous republic of Tatarstan been so involved in Russia’s outreach to the Crimean Tatars? It turns out that for Tatarstan, building close relations with ethnic kin is one way the republic can exert its autonomy and identity without challenging Russia’s rule.

Mustafa Djemilev, former leader of the Crimean Tatar Majlis and veteran activist for the community, has just declared to Ekho Moskvy that he is satisfied with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reassurances to him on the safety of the Crimean Tatar community. Djemilev, who initially refused to meet the Russian president, still insists on the removal of Russian forces (should they officially exist or not) from the peninsula.

Putin stated that Russia’s final decision on the crisis in Crimea will be presented after the referendum on its legal status. The role of mediator in these negotiations was played by Mintimer Shaimiev, former President of Tatarstan.

[. . .]

The Crimean Tatars’ anti-Russian (hence in this context, pro-European) stance was forged by their 1944 deportation to Central Asia and problematic resettlement in their ancestral homeland. They are suspicious of Russian intentions and politically mobilised under the leadership of the Crimean Tatar Majlis. The official justification for Russia’s actions in Ukraine was supposedly their concern for minority groups – specifically, though not limited to, Crimean Russians. Given their mistrust and fears of repeated persecution, the Kremlin is approaching the Crimean Tatar community cautiously, with a little help from its friends, such as Shaimiev.

The related but ethnically distinct Volga Tatars, numbering some six million across the Russian Federation, are one of the country’s largest ethnic minorities. They are chiefly concentrated in the gas-rich and economically successful Republic of Tatarstan. It is one of the top four regions of Russia by contributions to the federal budget.

Both Volga and Crimean Tatars traditionally trace their ancestry back to the Turkic peoples of the Golden Horde. Tatar patriots perceive them as brotherly nations, though there are significant differences: the Volga Tatar and Crimean Tatar languages are quite different.

Throughout the 1990s Tatarstan’s regional leadership asserted the Republic’s “sovereignty” to varying degrees (and much to Moscow’s irritation) until the erosion of provincial autonomy under Vladimir Putin. Parading its supposed regional sovereignty in the 1990s, Tatarstan was one of the most flamboyant about it and went as far as opening a small number of its own delegations abroad. Yet for over twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tatarstan maintained no official ties with Crimea. This was probably because of pressure from Moscow not to do so, as journalist Rim Gilfanov has explained.

It can be no coincidence that Crimean officials have welcomed a number of high-profile guests from Tatarstan as of late. On March 5, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov signed an agreement on co-operation between Tatarstan and the new Crimean authorities, the actual contents of which were to be established over the coming month. The agreement implies significant collaboration between ten government institutions as well as significant financial aid to Crimea from Tatarstan businesses.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2014 at 12:28 am

[LINK] “Irish ask: What’s the big deal about letting gays in St. Pat’s parades?”

Jason Walsh’s Christian Science Monitor article examining why Irish-Americans’ St. Patrick’s Day parades tend to be structurally homophobic while St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have gotten over homophobia is worth noting. (The mayors in question didn’t march in the parade in the end.)

Irish-American communities, particularly in Boston and New York, are known for being cohesive, having a strong community spirit, and, despite tilting Democratic come election, for being socially conservative.

Back in the aul’ sod, however, they stand accused of being bigots.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny has come under fire for agreeing to participate New York’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, because it bans marchers carrying posters promoting LGBT rights.

[. . .]

Larry Donnelly, a law lecturer at the National University of Ireland, says Irish-American communities often are different from the Irish in Ireland, but that times are changing in the US, too.

“If you look at the parades, I wouldn’t take the organizers as a barometer of where Irish America is. There are different shades of opinion, but there is certainly a Catholic conservative streak. Catholicism and Irishness would be closely tied together in their identity,” he says.

Mr. Donnelly, a Boston native who formerly worked as an attorney in Massachusetts, says Irish need to understand where Irish Americans are coming from, which is in part from a much more actively Catholic identity.

“Rates of participation in [Catholic] mass and sacraments are far higher in Irish America than they are in Ireland, even if they don’t toe the [church’s] line on issues like abortion and gay marriage,” he says.

“The ethnic identification in Boston particularly was defined by standing up against the WASPs [white Anglo-Saxon Protestants], or against the Italian Americans. It wasn’t only the Irish who were exclusionary. I don’t think its a simply prejudicial issue. You have to understand it historically.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • io9 links to a map showing the Milky Way Galaxy’s location in nearer intergalactic space.
  • The Big Picture has pictures from the Sochi Paralympics.
  • blogTO shares an array of pictures from Toronto in the 1980s.
  • D-Brief notes the recent finding that star HR 5171A is one of the largest stars discovered, a massive yellow hypergiant visible to the naked eye despite being twenty thousand light-years away.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes recent studies suggesting that M-class red dwarfs are almost guaranteed to have planets.
  • Eastern Approaches argues that the lawsuits of Serbia and Croatia posed against each other on charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice will do little but cause harm.
  • Far Outliers explores how Australian colonists in the late 19th century feared German ambitions in New Guinea.
  • The Financial Times World blog suggests that, in its mendacity, Russia is behaving in Crimea much as the Soviet Union did in Lithuania in 1990.
  • Geocurrents notes that the Belarusian language seems to be nearing extinction, displaced by Russian in Belarus (and Polish to some extent, too).
  • Joe. My. God. notes the protests of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in New York City against mandatory conscription laws in Israel that would see their co-sectarians do service.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, in pre-Israeli Palestine, local Arabs wanted to be part of a greater Syria.</li?
  • Otto Pohl notes the connections of Crimean Tatars to a wider Turkic world and their fear that a Russian Crimea might see their persecution.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Venezuela has attacked Panama in retaliation for a vote against it by confiscating the assets of its companies there. In turn, Panama has promised to reveal the banking accounts of Venezuelan officials in Panama.
  • John Scalzi of Whatever is unimpressed with the cultic adoration of Robert Heinlein’s novels by some science fiction fans.

[LINK] “From Syria to São Paulo”

Monique Sochaczewski‘s recent article published at The Cairo Review of Global Affairs takes a look at the presence of Syrians of whatever religious background (and Arabs more generally) in Brazil. Brazil’s large populations of Arab and Jewish background dates back to the 1880s, and have seen interesting fluxes in identity, political behaviour, and relationships with other groups.

Middle Eastern immigrants began trickling into Brazil as early as the 1850s, and Arab descendants mark 1885 as the official beginning of their immigration from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. The 1890s witnessed the first large-scale arrival. The Rio newspaper Gazeta de Notícias reported that crowds of “strange tanned and bearded men” attracted much “admiration and distrust” on the part of Brazilians. Those first immigrants largely became peddlers, initially selling objects brought from the Holy Land, such as amulets, rosaries, and small religious images. They later began to sell matches, clothes, and haberdashery in remote places that did not have established trade, such as in the suburbs and regions far from urban centers. Arab peddlers spread throughout the country.

About 4.5 million immigrants entered Brazil between 1872 and 1949. Approximately 400,000 of these were Asians, Arabs, and Jews. Europeans, who made up the majority of the immigrants, were welcomed and could rely on large private or public programs to help them settle. The Brazilian government and the elites believed that Europeans were the “ideal immigrants,” able to work as farmers, settlers, and craftsmen; and they also assisted in “whitening” society after centuries of African slavery. Asians, Arabs, and Jews on the other hand, were considered by the government and elites as non-white or “imperfect white” and, with the exception of the Japanese arrivals in 1908, could not rely on official immigration programs at all.

The Arabs were Ottoman subjects leaving an empire that did not officially allow their departure, as they were needed for cultivating the land and serving in the army. The Sublime Porte also feared the poor image that some immigrants projected of the Ottoman Empire—as they begged on the streets of European cities such as Marseille and Genoa to afford passage to the Americas. The Brazilian government showed little interest in encouraging immigrants who had no intention of working in agriculture and were not seen as white and Western.

[. . .]

Over time, these immigrants and their descendants began to project varying identities. Some 85 percent of the Arabs in all the waves of immigration to Brazil were predominantly Christian; they included Roman Catholics, Maronites, Antiochene Orthodox, Melkites, and Protestants. As the anthropologist Paulo Pinto points out, some immigrants focused on ethnic issues, using the generic term “Arab” or the term “Syrian-Lebanese” common in Brazil. Others gave more importance to their places of origin, such as Beirut, Zahle, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Homs, Aleppo, or Damascus. There was still an emphasis on “national” origin, including by Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians. Among the Muslim immigrants, membership in one of the various sects, such as Sunni, Shiite, Druze, and Alawite, also shaped their self-designation. Jews immigrating from the Middle East could have an Arab or Sephardic identity, as well as a deep connection to their hometowns, such as Sidon, Safed, Beirut, Istanbul, or Smyrna.

Until the 1940s, a relatively close relationship existed among Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, and Arab Jews in Brazil. In a series of popular essays on the religions of Rio de Janeiro published in 1904, the Brazilian writer João do Rio noted that the Arab Jews of the city center were more integrated with the rest of the Arab immigrants than with the Ashkenazi Jews of European background, who also had begun to settle in what was then capital of the country. The historian Rachel Mizrahi, in her 2003 book Jewish Immigrants of the Middle East: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, highlights that the area of Rio where Arab Muslim, Christian and Jewish families lived was called Little Turkey—a reference to the Ottoman Arab territories—and that it was a space of “respect and cordiality.” There are some published memoirs and photographs that evoke the rounds of hookah and backgammon games that united the Arabs of different religions in downtown Rio in the first decades of the twentieth century. Something quite similar happened in São Paulo’s Mooca district.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2014 at 2:37 am

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • io9 shares wonderful illustrations of Titan’s methane showlines.
  • The Atlantic Cities notes that the coastline of Louisiana is receding so quickly mapmakers are hard-pressed to keep up.
  • BusinessWeek wonders how great cities, like New York City or Rome, reconcile change and tradition.
  • Christianity Today features a Philip Jenkins article noting that the origins and alliances of the Crimean crisis can be traced back at least as far as the Crimean War.
  • Ha’aretz notes that Israelis are moving to Tel Aviv, abandoning peripheral areas (with large Arab population) like Galilee and the Negev.
  • MacLean’s notes that condo construction is set to boom in Toronto.
  • Tablet Magazine notes that Crimea, immediately after the Second World War, was positioned as a potential homeland for Soviet Jews.
  • According to Time, changes in Canadian immigration law may be discouraging rich Chinese immigrants.
  • Universe Today notes that China’s Yutu moon rover can’t properly move its solar panels.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • The Globe and Mail notes that the Ukrainian revolution isn’t so popular in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, largely Russophone and Rusasophile.
  • Al Jazeera profiles the first generation of children born into the large ex-Yugoslav community in the American city of St. Louis and examines the ongoing persecution of Sikhs in Afghanistan.
  • CBC observes uproar on Prince Edward Island about changes in employment insurance requiring people in the more prosperous area of Charlottetown to work more to qualify, and reports on a worrying polls suggesting half of Québec’s non-Francophones are considering leaving the province.
  • National Geographic chronicles the stress on water reserves in Jordan placed by the huge influx of Syrian refugees.
  • The New York Times features an op-ed suggesting that the European Union should signal to Ukraine that membership is possible.
  • Open Democracy notes worries in Tajikistan that the withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan will leave it exposed to instability there.
  • New Europe observes that, in fact, hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians haven’t overwhelmed the United Kingdom.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling shares photographs of the Euromaidan protests in Kiev.
  • BlogTO notes that Toronto in the 1970s and even after was actually pretty dirty, with soot covering all kinds of iconic buildings.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell argues that higher education linked to migration is going to give the United States a key advantage.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the latest effort to come up with the size of Kuiper belt object Haumea. (It turns out it’s an ellipsoid.
  • Far Outliers notes the critical role played by Canadian and Australian shock troops at the end of the First World War.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas notes that Heidegger was right: we are using technology to control technology.
  • Inkless Wells’ Paul Wells argues that Justin Trudeau is the first Liberal Party leader who feels like a Liberal to leaders in a decade. Critically, Stephen Harper may not feel conservative.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the United Kingdom is in the process of adapting its titles of nobility and royalty to take account of same-sex marriage.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the writings of economist Anders Aslund on the economy of Ukraine.
  • John Moyer shares photos of the amazing northern lights of Iceland.
  • In his latest Historicist feature, Torontoist’s Kevin Plummer describes the 1940 hunt for escaped killer John Kluk, who haunted the eastern European districts of the west end.
  • Transit Toronto observes that Mississauga and Brampton are set to work on building a 20-stop light rail route connecting their cities, seeking public consultations.
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