That ambivalent space

Been thinking a lot about group chats on WhatsApp and the like. The ambivalence of those little pockets of space.

— “To put it another way, “a meme is never just a meme,” in the words of Phillips and Milner (2017, italics added) with reference to Harvard’s decision to rescind admission offers from ten prospective students for having posted rape-apologist, pe­dophilic, and violently racist memes on Facebook. A May 2018 court ruling in India, ob­serving that forwarding a social media post is equal to endorsing it, also echoes the point that content sharing is a speech act in its own right (Ashok, 2018).” (Lee & Scott-Baumann, 2020)

Exeter university students suspended over racism and rape claims (BBC, 20 March 2018).

University of Warwick suspends 11 students over hate posts (BBC, 9 May 2018).

Spycams, sex abuse and scandal: #MeToo reaches Korean pop (Justin McCurry, The Guardian, 22 March 2019)

Inside the secret border patrol Facebook group where agents joke about migrant deaths and post sexist memes (A. C. Thompson, Pro Publica, 1 July 2019)

German state suspends 29 police officers in far-right online chat group (DW, 16 September 2020)

Scottish police officers lose disciplinary fight over racist messages (Severin Carrell, The Guardian, 16 September 2020)

WhatsApp Vigilantes: An exploration of citizen reception and circulation of WhatsApp misinformation linked to mob violence in India (Shakuntala Banaji & Ram Bhat, Media@LSE, 11 November 2019)

Facebook’s role in the genocide in Myanmar: New reporting complicates the narrative (Evelyn Douek, Lawfare, 22 October 2018)

Hate speech on Facebook is pushing Ethiopia dangerously close to a genocide (David Gilbert, Vice, 14 September 2020)

Food in our genes? [2]

I am a carbs person. Carbs (and sugar) in all shapes and forms. Probably unsurprisingly though, rice will always hold an extra special place in my diet.

It is still to my surprise that yogurt rice has become part of my comfort food repertoire. While having a bowlful of it, I put together this random post that is a collection of a few ‘rice-related’ online memes I have recently come across.

1. A “rice breaker”.

2. “You can only add 2 things to this plate of simple rice. Name them.”

3. Uncle Roger and “crimes against rice”.

p.s. It escalated so much (read: the female presenter being massively trolled) that they ended up doing a series of ‘peacemaking’ videos together, such as this, this and this.

4. “Spicy Korean rice gnocchi” versus “bland Italian potato tteok” (as in Chinese ravioli versus Italian dumplings).

 

For future archaeologists [2]

Sliding boundaries [2]

Not a School: Using Tech for Good with Samsung

Been alerted to a new suite of online courses from FutureLearn and Samsung aimed at 18 to 25-year-olds.

  • Turn climate anxiety into positive action
  • Solving inequality in education
  • Respect our differences online
  • Building human connection in a digital world

🤔 #신박

See also:

Barclays Life Skills

Barclays Digital Eagles

— RT @MedFet_UK Today we donated our entire stock of disposable scrubs to an NHS hospital. It was just a few sets, because we don’t carry large stocks, but they were desperate, so we sent them free of charge. We don’t usually do politics on Twitter, but here’s a short thread. [1/5]

When you see someone from the government saying the NHS is getting what it needs, that is a LIE. We have been contacted this week by representatives of NHS procurement all over the country, trying to source basic protective equipment and clothing. [2/5]

When we, a tiny company set up to serve a small section of the kink community, find ourselves being sought out as a last-resort supplier to our National Health Service in a time of crisis, something is seriously wrong. In fact, it’s scandalous. [3/5]

Let’s be under no illusions, this is the result of a decade of chronic underfunding and cuts which has left the NHS barely able to cope under normal circumstances, much less when faced with the onslaught of a global pandemic. It did not, and should not, have to be this way [4/5]

So when it’s all over…and the doctors, nurses and other staff have done an amazing job (as they undoubtedly will despite the circumstances)…let’s not forget, or forgive, the ones who sent the NHS into this battle with inadequate armour and one hand tied behind its back. [End] (27 March 2020)

— RT @steak_umm we’re a frozen meat brand posting ads inevitably made to misdirect people and generate sales, so this is peak irony, but hey we live in a society so please make informed decisions to the best of your ability and don’t let anecdotes dictate your worldview ok

steak-umm bless (7 April 2020)

Who is Karl Marx: Meet the anti-capitalist scholar (Adryan Corcione, Teen Vogue, 10 May 2018)

We must dismantle white supremacy: Silence is NOT an option (Ben & Jerry’s, 2020)

Lockdown #donelist [2]

At one point during the lockdown, I subtitled a Korean superhero animation film in English. Not my usual gig, but I had to do it. Yes, the director is someone I know personally and admire, but the real-real reason was that my namesake features as a complex villain in it. Could be my alter ego. 😈

The film is going to be screened at BIAF 2020 next month in the International Competition category.

Staying afloat [2]

9 remote interviewing tips for journalists (Damian Radcliffe, 17 August 2020)

How to transcribe interviews like a pro (Nicholas Yarmey, 18 August 2020)

RT @noor_halabi Hello! I have done so much research and arrived at two different software. One is Microsoft streams (available through your institution’s Office 365). You can upload the video and wait for about 2 hours while it generates CC. You can then copy-paste the text, or download. Otter.ai also works, and so does Dragon I hear. (17 August 2020)

What is Qualitative Data Analysis Software? (Daniel Turner, 20 August 2020)

Beginner’s guide to coding qualitative data (Daniel Turner, 19 November 2019)

What is actually Grounded Theory? (Daniel Turner, 8 July 2016)

Writing up qualitative research (Daniel Turner, 25 August 2020)

Greater than the sum of one’s many selves [3]

If you are a teacher and looking for a real-life vignette for your class on the messy intersections of identities, here is one for you.

Premises:

— A bunch of high school boys in Uijeongbu, South Korea, did a blackface parody for their graduation photoshoot. [Pictures in question can be seen in this news article among many others.]

— Sam Okyere, a Ghanaian TV personality in Korea, spoke up against it, both in Korean and in English, on his Instagram on 6 August. [The full text of his post, now deleted, has been reported here.]

— Having met with an extremely hostile backlash, in the news media and social media alike, Okyere ended up publicly apologising (!) for any offence (!!) he had unintentionally caused, on 7 August. [The apology post has been captured here and his first offline appearance since here.]

This microcosmic incident of racism in Korea (or as some call it K-racism) offers many additional layers for you, the teacher, to throw in for further discussion.

— The graduation photos of Uijeongbu High School, where students dress as individuals representing the news of that year, has become a much-anticipated annual event for a broader online audience and the stakes are higher year on year. The school publishes those photos on its Facebook and YouTube pages.

— This is not the first time its students wore blackface.

— While students of this all-boy high school in Gyeonggi Province have been celebrated for their wit and creativity, students of Jakjeon Girls’ High School were trolled and sexually harassed when their costume pictures of similar nature were shared beyond their circles of friends on Facebook in 2016.

— Okyere’s first post has attracted a variety of criticisms and hatred remarks, each of which chose to focus on certain aspects of his identity at the expense of other aspects. For example:

  • Those students are minors and he is an adult. Some argue that by re-posting their pictures and making a serious allegation of racism, he violated their privacy and placed them in potential harm.
  • He has on air made racist and sexist comments himself before.
  • He first came to the country on a Korean government scholarship and he makes a living in Korean showbiz.
  • Some, including a journalist, claim that he adopts a different ‘tone‘ when he posts in Korean and in English.

— His apology post has also attracted a wide array of responses.

  • Some sympathise with him, pushing new hashtags: #I_Stand_with_Sam_Okyere and #나는_샘_오취리와_연대합니다.
  • Some argue that blackface cannot be construed as a racist act in Korea where it is ‘imported’ without its historical and political context.
  • Some Black observers, seemingly outside Korea, have expressed their disappointment in Okyere’s backing down.
  • Some believe that the Uijeongbu students are in the clear since Benjamin Aidoo from the Ghana Dancing Pallbearers, the actual person that the boys parodied, implicitly approved it on his Instagram.

— In the meantime, educators on the ground see this as a confirmation of their long-held suspicion that the country’s curriculum is failing to prepare the next generation of global citizens. [An e-petition calling for an improved curriculum can be found here.]

— On 10 August, students of another high school in Chungnam province reportedly wore the same blackface make-up and coffin dance costume and posted pictures on social media, with Sam Okyere’s name as a hashtag.

— Deeper, more reflective articles on racism have started emerging, such as this.

— His own interview with BBC here.

— Okyere’s professional life has been affected adversely.

Either invisible or hypervisible. Nothing in between.

A team of colleagues have just released a report that shares the findings and policy recommendations from their six-year-long project “Re/presenting Islam on Campus“. I wasn’t part of the original team, but I became quite closely involved in the project over the last two years and, in the end, named in several places of the research outputs.

The report has attracted a lot of media attention and heated debate within the span of a week alone. Too much to archive here, so I am just gonna list some of the pieces written by the team.

I am not actively contributing to the online debate myself, but if I were to summarise the 68-page report, the title of this post would be it.

The message is loud and clear.

I started this post, under the title above, on Monday (6th), but couldn’t bring myself through it. Then the week has taken more unbelievable turns since, and the post was going to end up in the forever-draft folder. That’s when I spotted that someone had just done the job for me.

RT @oldtype 1. South Korean liberals have a problem with normalizing sexual violence. A thread. (11 June 2020)

2. Actually, disclaimer before the thread. I am in no way implying that South Korean conservatives do not have a problem with normalizing sexual violence. But they’re also irrelevant. So I don’t write about them.

3. In 2018, poet/activist Ko Eun was accused of gross sexual misconduct spanning decades That July, he filed a $1 million defamation lawsuit against his accuser with Duksu, a prestigious public interest law firm known for its constitutional litigation championing liberal causes.

4. Duksu representing a credibly-accused sexual predator in a retaliatory civil suit against his accuser was odd, to say the least. While the lawsuit was being argued, Lee Suk-Tae, Deoksoo’s managing partner, was nominated by President Moon to sit on the Constitutional Court.

5. Also in 2018, former presidential hopeful Ahn Hee-Jeong was found to have sexually assaulted a staff member at least 4 times. In 2019 Ahn was convicted and sentenced to 42 months in prison. Recently, he was released on furlough to attend his mother’s funeral.

6. The funeral was attended by prominent ruling-party politicians, including likely 2022 nominee Lee Nak-yeon. But most notable were the flowers sent by President Moon, showing beyond a doubt that the liberal establishment still stood with Ahn.

7. This April, Pusan mayor Oh Keo-Don resigned after admitting to sexually abusing an employee days before the April 15 general election. Later, it emerged that Oh had signed a contact with the victim agreeing to resign in exchange for her keeping quiet until after the election.

8. After Oh’s resignation, it emerged that his problematic behavior had been an open secret. But for nearly 2 years, nobody intervened. Here’s a photo of him at an office dinner in 2018. Notice how he’s seated himself next to what appears to be the only three women in the photo.

9. 2 days ago, Seoul mayor Park Won-Soon was found dead. He was reportedly facing a criminal complaint for sexual harassment. While Park hasn’t been found guilty (and never will be now), you’d imagine the political reaction would be cautious given the allegations. It isn’t.

10. Park is being feted with a lavish five-day funeral held by the City of Seoul. All the same people who attended Ahn’s mother’s funeral (and more) are at Park’s. And they are waxing lyrical about his accomplishments as if the allegations never happened.

11. Minjoo Party chair Lee Hae Chan lashed out at a journalist when asked about the allegations, using profanity and saying the questioner had “no manners”. The President’s flowers, already in the public eye due to Ahn, are prominently placed here as well.

12. The Minjoo Party has not expressed any intention of conducting an independent investigation of the allegations against Park — which will remain forever unsubstantiated due to his death. They haven’t made any effort to stop internet trolls from doxing and harassing his accuser.

13. As a Korean man myself, I understand this, to a degree. Korean liberal politics is a tight fraternity. A lot of these people literally went through hell together in the 80s. I understand that it’s difficult to abandon your friends, even when they’ve done horrible things.

14. But these aren’t would-be revolutionaries hammering soju shots in a basement anymore. They are the most powerful men in Korea. Their refusal to speak out firmly against those in their ranks who commit sexual crimes perpetuates social attitudes that see those crimes as trivial.

15. Liberal politicos in Korea don’t have a monopoly on retrograde attitudes about sexual crimes, but they do have a monopoly on power. With that power comes a responsibility to set a better example. But if anything, they’re lagging behind their constituents.

16. Once or twice is an unfortunate mistake. This is a pattern. Between Ahn, Park, and the non-extradition of Son Jung-Woo, I can’t imagine how difficult of a week this has been for Korean women. /end