Strange Culture at the Designing Safe Living conference

Next month during the Designing Safe Living conference in Lancaster, director Lynn Hershman-Leeson‘s film about the artist Steve Kurtz called ‘Strange Culture’ will be screened on Friday, July 11th. Lynn will then be giving an interview live on Second Life after the screening.

Strange Culture examines the case of artist and professor Steve Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble (CAE). The work of Kurtz and other CAE members dealt with genetically modified food and other issues of science and public policy. After his wife, Hope, died of heart failure, paramedics arrived and became suspicious when they noticed petri dishes and other scientific equipment related to Kurtz’s art in his home. They summoned the FBI, who detained Kurtz within hours on suspicion of bioterrorism.

As Kurtz could not legally talk about the case, the film uses actors to interpret the story, as well as interviews with Kurtz and other figures involved in the case. Through a combination of dramatic reenactment, news footage, animation, and testimonials, the film scrutinizes post-9/11 paranoia and suggests that Kurtz was targeted because his work questions government policies. At the film’s close, Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, former chair of the Genetics Department at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date.

As of late May, 2008, the Buffalo Prosecutor has declined to reopen the case within the 30 day window in which he was allowed to do so. So, Steve Kurtz is free.

Top 9 political risk hot spots of 2008

In a series of nine reports, Eurasia Group identifies the key regions around the world where political risk will be especially acute in the coming year. Locations include the usual suspects including the US, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan/Afghanista, Russia, South Africa + Turkey. They also flag up some red herrings in the risk survey!  In addition, they look at several long term risks that they view as emerging political risk trends.

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Eurasia Group have also developed a more comprehensive, systematic approach for evaluating a country’s political stability and risk. Below you will see Screenshots from the online country stability ranking web tool: have a look yourself


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Workshop 5: Truth and justice in the wake of dictatorship and armed conflict by Jose Zelaquett

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photos:Will Pollard

The Irdell Lecture is run by the Department of history and law at Lancaster University and is 15 year old lecture series for interdisciplinary scholars of history, society and law. As part of the fifth Designing Safe Living workshop dealing with Presentation, Documentation and Mediation, Jose Zalaquett was invited to speak with the IAS.

José Zalaquett is the Professor of Law at the Human Rights Centre at Chile University

José Zalaquett is probably Latin America’s foremost and most well known authority on human rights. He has taught as visiting professor at the Law Schools of Harvard University, New York University, the University of Maryland and the University of Toronto. Advocate of human rights. Head of amnesty international committees. President in American commission.Human rights missions to numerous countries. UNESCO + carter foundation. Arrested, detained and exiled in the past in his beliefs. Worlds most respected members of human rights. Field of Human rights in the world and in Chile.

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Workshop 4: Protocols, Procedures & Institutions

Read more about the Protocols, Procedures and Institutions workshop here>

Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone
The Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone

CONFIDENTIAL MEMO
A CONFIDENTIAL MEMO discussing the IF-POLITICS membership and duties of the Lancaster University Expert Assessors of Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone from the UK Government Regulation Office, Division 3496723. Source: ANON

Community cohesion as safe living: delimiting the obligations to and dangers of proximity

Anne-Marie Fortier – Sociology, Lancaster University

In this paper I discuss how ‘cohesion’ figures in government policy strategies targeted at local communities and neighbourhoods. By going to the ‘ways of seeing’ that policy documents open up, I consider how policy discourses ‘figure social life in certain imaginary ways’ (Butler 2002). I argue that community cohesion is a governing strategy that designs particular groups and practices both in and out of the social space of locality. Defined most recently as promoting ‘safe and tolerant communities that are close, vibrant [and] resilient’ (Cabinet Office 2007), cohesion is conceived as the antidote to violence, conflict and the threats posed my terrorism and extremism. In this paper, I consider how the politics of community cohesion have shifted, since 2001, from celebrating diversity as an asset to making diversity a destabilising factor for local communities. I consider the implications of this shift in the reconfiguration of Britain’s multicultural ethnoscape, which is refracted through class, race, gender and generation (note that I will not have time to develop all of these in the paper). Overall, I argue that policy discourses on community cohesion discursively emplace individuals within webs of social or institutional interactions that prescribe ways of living (together) and feeling for the community. Thus the management of diversity is not only about the management of encounters in literal spatial forms (such as linking projects bussing kids between ‘faith schools’) but these relations are imagined through specific emotional and ethical injunctions such as mixing, tolerance and adhering to ‘core civic values’. Moreover, these injunctions are imagined in the ambivalent spatial terms of obligations to and dangers of proximity.

Buried But Not Forgotten?: The Secret of Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain repository diagram Nuclear waste markers Landscape of Thorns Blue Yucca plant nuclear waste markers

Brian P. Bloomfield & Theo Vurdubakis – Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Lancaster University

ABSTRACT: Yucca Mountain in Nye County, Nevada (USA), is the site of a very ambitious project to construct an underground repository for high-level nuclear waste. The object of scientific research and planning for over 20 years, and still facing significant political and legal challenges, the project aims to transport thousands of tons of radioactive waste from sites across the USA for storage at Yucca Mountain where it is meant to be kept safe for some10,000 years. Examination of the project highlights the relationships between social boundaries (proximity), language, and risk, geology and technoscience, in which the effort to realise safety materially (through the repository, and its situation within the local geology and geography) is complemented by efforts to communicate the dangers held within the mountain to the unknown (and unknowable) peoples of the distant future.

LINKS:

US department of Energy: Civilian Radioactive Waste Management

Yucca Mountian homepage

Peter Schwartz (founder of Global Business Network & wrote The Art of the Long View: see my FOSK blog entry) writes about the future of Yucca Mountain on The Long Now Foundation blog

US Army Muslim Chaplain James Yee talk

US Army Muslim Chaplain James Yee

Photo credit: Rob Miller

US Army Muslim Chaplain James Yee gave his first ever talk in the UK at Lancaster University on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. Addressing a crowd of nearly 200 people, Chaplain Yee addressed one of the programme themes of ‘designing safe citizens’ by reflecting on his experiences as a US Armny Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and his subsequent wrongful arrest on charges of spying for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Chaplain Yee was designated a US enemy combatant, subjected to sensory deprivation, and held in solidary confinement for 76 days before all charges against him were dropped.

guantanamo bay prisoners sensory deprivation

Guantanamo bay prisoners on arrival are subject to complete sensory deprivation with the use of blacked out googles, ear guards and face masks.