Update on Iran: women's movement and civil society

Below please find links to an audio interview with Parisa Kakaee, Iranian women and children’s rights activist, about the impact of sanctions on the women’s movement and civil society in Iran.


Thanks to Sanam Naraghi Anderlini for providing this information. Anderlini is Co-Founder, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) and Senior Fellow, MIT Center for International Studies.

Ainu food on offer in Tokyo restaurant

Photo courtesy of RocketNews

Thanks to RocketNews (“yesterday’s news from Japan and Asia today”), readers can learn about Ainu indigenous food, at least as it is provided at Tokyo’s only Ainu restaurant. Great photos are included showing dishes such as rataskep, ohaw, and mefun. The author’s favorite is kampoca rataskep (pictured here), made with sweet Japanese squash: “It’s like having all the sweetness of nature melt on your tongue! But the flavor is balanced with roasted pine nuts and some medicinal plants in the rue family.” Enjoy!

Journal issue on applied anthropology of tourism

The latest issue of Anthropology in Action includes the uses of tourism development projects in solving the problems of inter-communal violence, the politics of representation as well as understandings of audiences and media-based constructions of “‘the toured;” and the ways in which the state and capital intersect in the development of tourism policy. This journal is not open access.

Review of new book on widows of Japan

Widows of Japan by Deborah McDowell AokiAn open access review in Pacific Affairs of Deborah McDowell Aoki’s book, Widows of Japan: An Anthropological Perspective, says that this “…comprehensive study of Japanese widows brings into focus the complex, ambiguous, often tragic history of the impact of spousal death on Japanese women. Her eight years of research from 1996 included 58 interviews with women from urban and rural areas. She states the themes in the introduction: ‘the fetishism of female bodies to protect and embody family honor, the historical role of state formation in creating family and kinship systems, and the integrative functions provided by women…’ ”

Washington DC photo exhibit on Pakistan floods

“Rebuilding Hope after Pakistan’s Floods” a United Nations Development Program exposition of photos by Satomi Kato, will be on display at The National Press Club from February 4th to 15th. A former television anchor and radio broadcaster in Japan, Satomi Kato documented UNDP’s work throughout Pakistan’s hardest hit areas by flooding in 2010-2011. These images were previously exhibited in New York, Milan, and Tokyo. Kato has also traveled to remote areas of Peshawar, Pakistan, near the Afghan border, to photograph Afghan refugee children in 2005.

Photo courtesy of Satomi Kato, Pakistan

There will be a reception on Tuesday, February 12th, from 5:30-7:30 p.m at 529 14th Street NW on the 13th Floor Lobby with remarks by:

Ajay Chhibber, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General & Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia & the Pacific

J Alexander Thier, Assistant to the Administrator for the Office of Afghanistan & Pakistan Affairs, US Agency for International Development (USAID)

Sherry Rehman, Ambassador of Pakistan in the United States (invited)

Koji Tomita, Minister Plenipotentiary & Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in the United States

For more information, contact sarah.jackson-han@undp.org or RSVP here.

France deports Roma

The Roma camps in France are not great places to live, but being summarily deported from them is even worse. Dozens of media sources around the world reported on the deportation. I am proud that my colleague, Michelle Kelso, assistant professor of sociology and international affairs at the George Washington University, was quoted in the reports as pointing out that: “Almost every family here is the family of a Holocaust survivor…Their grandparents were deported to camps in World War II.” Kelso translated interviews at Roma camps around Paris for The Associated Press.” See article.

Roma Flag. Wikimedia Commons.
Roma Flag. Wikimedia Commons

Mauritius joins the premier league of global democracies

By contributor Sean Carey

Mauritius is in the premier league of the world’s democracies, according to the newly released London-based Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. The Index, which monitors 167 nations ranks the small Indian Ocean island, with a population of 1.3 million, 24th out of 25 “full democracies,” just ahead of Spain.

Norway is in first place followed by three other Scandinavian countries—Iceland, Denmark and Sweden. Canada is eighth, Ireland is 12th, Germany is 14th, the U.K. is 18th, while the U.S. is ranked 19th.The remaining 90 countries which make it into the “democratic” category are divided into 53 “flawed democracies,” which includes France and Italy at 29th and 31st respectively. The next category consists of 37 “hybrid regimes” and includes Hong Kong (80th), Singapore (81st), Turkey (88th), Tanzania (90th) and Kenya (103rd). The remaining countries in the Index, including Bahrain, Chad, Fiji, Madagascar, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, are described as “authoritarian.”

EIU Democracy Index 2011

The Index is based on five criteria: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. However, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that almost all of the “full democracies” belong to a group of the world’s advanced economies, whose populations are well-practiced in placing marks on ballot papers and tossing out unpopular or incompetent governments.


Little wonder, then, that Mauritius’s inclusion has caught the eye of some commentators. “In some ways, of the 25 ‘full democracies,’ Mauritius is now the most notable,” writes Neil Reynolds, economics correspondent for the Toronto-based Globe and Mail. Reynolds cities Mauritius’s endorsement by the World Bank as the best among African economies, and its top position in the Sudanese-born telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim’s Index of African Governance.

Reynolds also goes on to note Mauritius’s ascent in the Index of Economic Freedom jointly produced by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010, it was in 12th place of 179 countries. In 2012 it has moved up to eighth place. The piece finishes with a rousing cry: “Economic freedom is as much a prerequisite for democracy as voting. Let’s hear it for the prosperous little democracy with a dodo on its coat of arms.”

But free-marketeers are not the only members of the economic tribe to endorse Mauritius. Last year, for example, Joseph Stiglitz, after a brief visit, wrote an article for The Guardian, heaping praise on the country for the provision of free education, transport for schoolchildren and free healthcare, including heart surgery. The former chief economist at the World Bank, and a leading light in the neo-Keynesian “third way” movement, reckoned that North America and Europe could learn lessons from Mauritius in terms of how the country managed “social cohesion, welfare and economic growth.”

Despite the brevity of his stay, the Nobel prize-winning economist was observant enough to point to some of the island’s problems, especially the colonial legacy in inequality in ownership of land and other forms of capital which differentially affects the life chances of various segments of the polyethnic population.

Then there is the vexatious issue of the US base on Diego Garcia. The island, along with 54 other atolls that make up the Chagos Archipelago, was detached in breach of international law before Mauritius’s independence from the UK in 1968 to form the British Indian Ocean Territory. “The US should now do right by this peaceful and democratic country: recognise Mauritius’s rightful ownership of Diego Garcia, renegotiate the lease and redeem past sins by paying a fair amount for land that it has illegally occupied for decades,” argued Stiglitz. He should have added that those 1500 or so islanders, who were forcibly removed from the Chagos Archipelago in the late 60s and early 70s by the British authorities to make way for the military base and dumped in Mauritius and the Seychelles, should be allowed to return to their homeland if they so wish.