anthro in the news 9/7/15



Chagos update

The Financial Times reported on continuing efforts in the U.K. and elsewhere by displaced Chagos Islanders to return home and receive compensation for their forced removal fifty years ago. The article provides comments from two cultural anthropologists: David Vine of American University and Sean Carey of Manchester University. “When you tell people about the history, they think it must be something out of the 19th century. They are shocked to hear it happened so relatively recently,” says Vine, author of the book, Island of Shame about Diego Garcia. Carey is quoted as saying: “A lot of the islanders [living in Mauritius] remain at the bottom of the heap…Mauritius is dominated by Indian politicians for whom the issue does not have the same emotional resonance. Even among the local Creole population [Mauritians of African origin], many Chagossians talk about discrimination.”


Fracture Zones in the Eurozone

The Eurasia Review carried an article about the current European refugee crisis. It refers to the refugees in the park in Belgrade as “part of a fracture zone” that is easy to trace; across Greece, Macedonia and Serbia and on through Europe. The article acknowledges cultural anthropologist Carolyn Nordstrom of Notre Dame University as the source of the term fracture zone, in her chapter in the edited book, An Anthropology of War. She wrote that “fracture lines run internationally and follow power abuses, pathological profiteering, institutionalized inequalities, and human rights violations – actions that fill the pockets and secure the dominance of some while damaging the lives of others.” Nordstrom sees the danger of fracture zones in how they institutionalize crisis and make it enduring. Continue reading “anthro in the news 9/7/15”

Chagossians still want to go home

By contributor Sean Carey

The case concerning the right of return of the Chagos Islanders, who were forcibly removed from their homeland by the British authorities between 1968 and 1973 to make way for the U.S. base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, is before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In the near future, the judges will rule whether the case falls within the court’s jurisdiction. If it does, a verdict is expected by July or August.

Diego Garcia Atoll, Chagos Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory. WikiCommons

In the meantime, a petition to the Obama Administration is calling for the Chagossian exiles to be able to return to the outer islands of the Chagos Archipelago like Peros Banhos and Salomon, along with financial compensation and targeted employment programs. The petition has just been launched by the SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative. The organization was founded in 2010 by a small group of Mauritian lawyers, and is working with the Port Louis-based Chagos Refugees Group led by Olivier Bancoult.

The aim of the petition is to collect at least 25,000 signatures by April 4. A successful number of signatories on the “We the People” website will oblige White House staff to review the issue, seek expert opinion and provide an official response. Details can be found here.

For a comprehensive study of Diego Garcia and the Chagossians’ situation, see the books Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia by David Vine and Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK: Forced Displacement and Onward Migration by Laura Jeffery. Vine is a cultural anthropologist and professor at American University in Washington, DC. Jeffery is a social anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh.

Stealing a Nation: A Film Screening and Discussion

When: Tuesday, November 9 at 7pm
Where: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library
2nd Floor West Lobby
901 G Street NW, Washington, DC

As part of Native American Heritage Month, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library presents a screening of the award-winning documentary Stealing a Nation by acclaimed investigative journalist John Pilger. The film tells the story of the expulsion of the Chagossian people from Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Between 1968 and 1973, the U.S. and British governments exiled the Chagossians from their homeland so that Diego Garcia could be turned into a major U.S. military base that has been used prominently in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continue reading “Stealing a Nation: A Film Screening and Discussion”