Tag: Imagining Better Worlds

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No Other Way

 There’s no other way

That’s what they say.

Economics must put money before people

And medicine must put profit before health.

Education must put management before wisdom

And religion must put war before love.

Technology must put machines before environments.

And politicians must put power before care.

We must follow the way things are done.

There’s no other way

That’s what they say.

But what if economics valued feelings

And medicine fostered dignity

Education aimed for all to flourish

And religion wanted better worlds for all

Technology looked out for justice

And politicians put people first.

If we would just be kind and care for each other.

Then we would have the road less travelled.

A much better way

Than the way they say.

There is never only one way.

This was my little contribution to Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet which has just been published.

Global Chorus is a groundbreaking collection of over 365 perspectives on our environmental future. As a global roundtable for our times, in the format of a daily reader, this book is a trove of insight, guidance, passion and wisdom that has poured in from all over the Earth. Its message is enormously inspiring, and ominous in its warnings. And yet, united in a thread of hope, its contents are capable of helping even the most faithless global citizen to believe that we have the capacity to bring about lasting positive change in our world. Places at this roundtable are occupied by writers, environmentalists, spiritual leaders, politicians, professors, doctors, athletes, businesspeople, farmers, chefs, yogis, painters, actors, architects, musicians, TV personalities, humanitarians, adventurers, concerned youth, concerned senior citizens, civil servants, carpenters, bus drivers, activists, CEO’s, scientists, and essentially those who have something thoughtful and visionary to say about humanity’s place upon Earth. Compiled for your reading as a set of 365 pieces, Global Chorus presents to you a different person’s point of view for each day of your year.

Contributors to Global Chorus have provided one-page responses to the following line of questioning:

“Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

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- in the Times Higher Education. October 2nd

Imaginations: University of Essex’s sociological half-century Eminent sociologist Ken Plummer captures 50 tales of a groundbreaking department.   The continuing relevance of the ideals that have inspired one of Britain’s pioneering departments of sociology is examined in a new book.   Ken Plummer, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Essex, has devoted much…

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…

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Edward Said (1935 – 2003) is best know for his 1978 book Orientalism,  a critical analysis of how the west’s cultural biases result in serious misrepresentations of Middle Eastern affairs.

In the preface to Orientalism he wrote:

“…humanism is the only – I would go so far as saying the final – resistance we have against the inhuman practices

and injustices that disfigure human history……”

He defined Humanism as, “be[ing] able to use one’s mind historically and rationally for the purposes of reflective understanding,” and went on to say, “Humanism is centred upon the agency of human individuality and subjective intuition, rather than on received ideas and approved authority.”

Said’s final book, written in 2004, is Humanism and Democratic Criticism, a collection of  five lectures on the place of  and need for humanism in today’s world

He was an advocate for the political and the human rights of the Palestinian people and a critic of Israel. Despite being a pro-Palestinian activist, He was critical of Islamic organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As he explained inPower, Politics, and Culture (2002): “First, I am secular; second, I do not trust religious movements; and third, I disagree with these movements’ methods, means, analyses, values, and visions.”

 In 1992 he achieved the title of University Professor, Columbia’s highest-ranking professional status. Said also spent time as a visiting professor at Yale, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins Universities
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Telling Sexual Stories Twenty Years On: Fragments Towards A Humanist Politics Of Storytelling

  I gave this lecture at the Huddersfield Conference TROUBLING NARRATIVES: IDENTITY MATTERS on June 20th 2014.   In this lecture I revisited my study Telling Sexual Stories, published nearly twenty years ago. I began by considering the background – how it came to be written. I then asked what its original contributions might have…

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?

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(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.

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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