Category: Imagining Better Worlds

Today is World AIDS Day

AIDS Day 2014: December 1st Go to AIDS UN: http://www.unaids.org/World In 2013, there were 35 million [33.2 million–37.2 million] people living with HIV. Since the start of the epidemic, around 78 million [71 million–87 million] people have become infected with HIV and 39 million [35 million–43 million] people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. Close the…

End Violence Against Women

  Today is ‘End Violence Against Women’ Day – and runs for the next two weeks ( and forever!). The Issue To raise awareness and trigger action to end the global scourge of violence against women and girls, the UN observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. The 16…

Leonore Davidoff (1932 -2014): In Memoriam

  I was very saddened to hear of  the death of yet another friend: Leonore Davidoff who died on Sunday 19 October at the age of 82. She was Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology and was internationally recognised for her pivotal role in developing the study of gender history She was also a…

Imaginations: Fifty Years of Essex Sociology. Rave reviews.

IMAGINATIONS: FIFTY YEARS OF ESSEX SOCIOLOGY EDITED BY KEN PLUMMER was published on September 1st The photo shows the ‘sneak preview’ at the Wivenhoe Book Shop. This unique book tells the story of the Sociology Department at the University of Essex through fifty contributions from past and present. With many photographs, the students and lecturers…

Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology

Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology edited by Ken Plummer   A book to celebrate fifty years of the  Essex Sociology Department. Through fifty contributions from past and present, the students and lecturers in the department tell the story of its history, its ideas and its community. It provides an unusual insight into the workings…

I recently presented this little ditty at the start of a presentation on Cosmopolitan Sexualities in Amsterdam  (for the full summary click here)

Today, being  a difficult day, I thought I would put it on the web site.

Is That All There Is?

 Unknown

(this can be cheerily sung along with Peggy Lee to the song by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and inspired by a short story by Thomas Mann: Disillusionment).

 

When I was fifteen, I discovered homosexuality.

They said it was a crime.

And a sickness, a sin, a shame and a sadness.

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

When I was twenty-five, I discovered liberation.

It was GLF; we were out and proud; we made demands.

We were modern homosexuals out to change the world.

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

When I was thirty, I discovered research.

Transvestites and paedophiles and sado-masochists and more:

The conflicting meanings of the whole damn thing!

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

When I was thirty-five, I discovered AIDS and feminism.

I knew the tragedy of AIDS: twenty five millions dead and still counting

And the tragedy of feminism: its interminable divides.

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

When I was forty-five, I went global and postmodern.

Queer had come around again;

And rights was on the world agenda.

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

When I was sixty, I nearly died: but I didn’t.

Starry starry nights and the incorrigible plurality of snow.

The multiplicities of life, of death, of suffering.

And I said to myself: is that all there is?

So life goes on as I look to seventy.

The inevitability of disappointment and the importance of hope.

And I say to myself: is that all there is? So let’s keep dancing.

 

Remembering Michael Schofield

A dear friend Michael Schofield, the researcher and campaigner, died on Thursday 27th March, aged 94.     This “Tribute to Michael” was presented at Golders Green Crematorium on Tuesday 15h April by Ken   For timeline , click here…….. For the service, Click here  The service 1 I first met Michael in 1967 as…

 

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If our world is to be a decent world in the future, we must acknowledge right now that we are citizens of one interdependent world, held together by mutual fellowship as well as the pursuit of mutual advantage, by compassion as well as self interest, by a love of human dignity, in all people, even when there is nothing to gain from cooperating with them. Or rather even when we have to gain the biggest thing of all: participation in a just and morally decent world. Martha Nussbaum Frontiers of Justice 2006: p324

I first encountered Martha Nussbaum through her book Sex and Justice  (1999), and have been a cautious fan ever since.

I thank her for her discussions of the issues of narrative and ‘cultivating humanity’; of the importance of capabilities, rights and human flourishing; for her tentative list of central human capabilities; for her ideas of shame and disgust;for her work beyond the narrow confines of a US academic; for the ideas of cosmopolitanism; for her concerns about gender and sexuality; for her ‘religious tolerance’; for her concern with anmals and disability;  and for her passion for a ‘decent world culture’ and a world moral community;   She is surely one of the world’s leading philosophers and feminists and ~i think provides a good grounding for developing a better sociology. .

Martha Nussbaum’s Central Human Functional Capabilities.

  1. Life.  Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely or before one’s life is so reduced as to be not worth living
  2. Bodily Health and Integrity.  Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; being adequately nourished; being able to have adequate shelter
  3. Bodily Integrity.  Being able to move freely from place to place; being able to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault, marital rape, and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.
  4. Senses, imagination, thought.  Being able to use the senses; being able to imagine, to think, and to reason – and to do these things in a “truly human” way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training; being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing expressive works and events of one’s own choice (religious, literary, musical etc.); being able to use one’s mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression wit respect to both political and artistic speech and freedom of religious exercise; being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid nonbeneficial pain
  5. Emotions.  Being able to have attachments to things and persons outside ourselves; being able to love those who love and care for us; being able to grieve at their absence; in general being able to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger; not having one’s emotional developing blighted by fear or anxiety.  (Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development.
  6. Practical reason.  Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s own life.  (This entails protection for the liberty of conscience.)
  7. Affiliation.  (a) Being able to live for and in relation to others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; being able to imagine the situation of another and to have compassion for the situation; having the  capability for both justice and friendship.  (Protecting this capability means, once again, protecting institutions that constitute such forms of affiliation, and also protecting institutions that constitute such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedoms of  assembly and political speech.)  (b)  Having the social bases of self-respect and nonhumiliation; being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others.  (This entails provisions of nondiscrimination.)
  8. Other species.  Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature
  9. Play.  Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.
  10. Control over one’s environment.  (a) Political: being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one’s life; having the rights of political participation, free speech, and freedom of association (b) Material: being able to hold property (both land and movable goods); having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. In work, being able to work as a human being, exercising practical reason and entering into meaningful relationships of mutual recognition with other workers.

From Martha Nussbaum Sex and Social Justice. 1999: 41-2; but it can be found everywhere in her work (eg Frontiers of Justice); and most recently in Creating Capabilities (2011) and Development and Change, Forum 2006 Vol 37, No 6 November 2006 p1325-7, where she also comments on problems with the list – page 1315.

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“Empathy”

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible
Comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weight thoughts,
Nor measure words–but pouring them
All right out–just as they are
Chaff and grain together,
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them,
Keep what is worth keeping,
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

 George Eliot 

Erasing 76 Crimes

I  have recently found this very lively and active blog which keeps its eye on the law against same sex relations across the world. This site is really worth a look. Click here Erasing 76 Crimes: http://76crimes.com/ It documents the ongoing horrors of discrimination, oppression and inhumanity around the world toward, suggesting what needs to be…

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