All in the Family Debt

What do social conservatism and neoliberalism have in common? They both undermine community responsibility and force families to take on cross-generation debt.

Indeed, many of the policy reforms after the Reagan revolution can be understood as an attempt to reinvent the imperative of familial responsibility in the new idiom of household debt. As policymakers imposed cuts to health, education, and welfare budgets, they simultaneously identified the family as a wholesale alternative to the twentieth-century social state. And as the responsibility for deficit spending shifted from the state to the household, the private debt obligations of family were defined as foundational to socioeconomic order. The family, not the state, would bear primary responsibility for investing in the education, health and welfare of children.

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Curating a New Literary Canon

Who would you put in a museum of the best American writers? Hemingway? Kerouac? Bukowski? Note those are all white guys. The author visits a new museum devoted to writers to ponder the question of “who (and what) deserves to be in America’s first museum dedicated to writers?”

Walking through Chicago’s new American Writers Museum a week before it opened to the public, I felt like a cross between that eleven-year-old (wide-eyed, thirstily trying to absorb the canon, inspired by history) and that twenty-one-year-old (tallying up gender and race and queerness on the 100-author “American Voices” wall of fame and doing some quick math).

The museum’s creators faced an impossible task, the same one undertaken perennially by anthologists and English professors: How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?

Electric Literature

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

‘Pure’ European is a Myth

With all of European media harping about immigration issues in Europe, it is ironic that the latest studies show that almost ALL indigenous Europeans descend from immigrants, most of them from what is now known as the Middle East. This article, by Science, explores the history of migration in Europe, examines the different studies being done by genetic researchers and surprises us with their findings.

When the first busloads of migrants from Syria and Iraq rolled into Germany 2 years ago, some small towns were overwhelmed. The village of Sumte, population 102, had to take in 750 asylum seekers. Most villagers swung into action, in keeping with Germany’s strong Willkommenskultur, or “welcome culture.” But one self-described neo-Nazi on the district council told The New York Times that by allowing the influx, the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash.”

In fact, the German people have no unique genetic heritage to protect. They—and all other Europeans—are already a mishmash, the children of repeated ancient migrations, according to scientists who study ancient human origins.

Full Article Here

Science – Ann Gibbons

Original Scientific Paper – Available for Download

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Why Are Economists Giving Inequality the Cold Shoulder?

I’ve long questioned the value of economics as a profession. Most economists focus on the quantitative rather than the lived. They are also consistently unable to explain or predict economic movements. I think the former may lead to the latter. Indeed, in this piece in the Boston Review, the author examines professional economists’ opposition to Thomas Piketty’s focus on inequality:

But perhaps the greatest rebuke of Piketty to be found among academic economics is not contained in any of these overt or veiled attacks on his scholarship and interpretation, but rather in the deafening silence that greets it, as well as inequality in general, in broad swathes of the field—even to this day. You can search through the websites of several leading economics departments or the official lists of working papers curated by federal agencies and not come across a single publication that has any obvious or even secondary bearing on the themes raised by Capital in the Twenty-First Century, even in order to oppose them. It is as though the central facts, controversies, and policy proposals that have consumed our public debate about the economy for three years are of little-to-no importance to the people who are paid and tenured to conduct a lifetime’s research into how the economy works.

Read the full article at The Boston Review

Marshall Steinbaum — Boston Review

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How America’s Obsession With Hula Girls Almost Wrecked Hawai’i


This is a long weekend read where you will get to know all the history you wish to know about Hula.

Cook and his men—and the merchants, whalers, artists, and writers who followed—mistook the hula’s sexually charged fertility rituals as a signal the Hawaiians’ youngest and loveliest women were both promiscuous and sexually available to anyone who set foot on their beaches. In her 2012 book Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire, historian Adria L. Imada explains how natural hospitality of “aloha” culture—the word used as a greeting that also means “love”—made Hawaiians vulnerable to outside exploitation. To Westerners, the fantasy of a hula girl willingly submitting to the sexual desires of a white man represented the convenient narrative of a people so generous they’d willing give up their land without a fight.

The complete article

Lisa Hix — Collectors Weekly

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A Culinary Pilgrimage

Just like the one posted yesterday, this Needull is also an engaging travelogue about a birthplace. However in complete contrast to yesterday’s account, this article explores the origins of my favorite ‘Chindian’ dish – Chilli Chicken. For someone who absolutely loves the heavenly combo of Egg Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken and orders the same divine dish, be it in the swanky lounge at Taj Colaba or a alley-side hawker stall at Tangra, this is no less a ‘pilgrimage’ than the one you read about yesterday.

Before the Chinese arrived in Kolkata, the city’s restaurant culture was limited to Indian cuisine. Biryani and Kolkata rolls were the go-tos for fast food. It took nearly a century after the first Chinese immigrants arrived for Hakka food to become an intrinsic part of the city’s culinary landscape, thanks both to the mix of ingredients in Chinese kitchens and the marriage of Chinese men to Indian women. Like Schezwan sauce, other dishes were created exclusively for Indian tastes: potatoes were deep-fried and doused in chili, fried eggs and peppers were added to noodles, and the slow Indianisation of Chinese food began.

Full Article Here

Vice – Sharanya Deepak

Bonus: Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe of ‘Banarasi’ Chilli Chicken

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Warren Hastings ‘Loved India a Little More Than His Own Country’


Recently, I was listening to a Malcolm Gladwell podcast which spoke about the protest related to removing Woodrow Wilson’s name from some building at Cambridge. Historical figures are reevaluated. Today’s needull is a relook at Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of British India.

When Hastings retired in 1785, he left British administration in India on a sounder footing than ever before. He expected his successes to be rewarded with the same favours as Clive had received, and at first all seemed to go well. Hastings was warmly received by King George III, although Whig wits ridiculed him for showering the royal family with ‘fine diamonds’ and ‘a certain richly carved ivory bed which the Queen had done him the honour to accept from him’. London gossip was particularly cruel about the extravagance of Hastings’ beautiful, German wife, who allegedly appeared at one function wearing jewels worth a staggering £2 million in today’s money.

In the public mind, Hastings had become symbolic of the East India Company, widely unpopular for its role in buying up British MPs and corrupting British politics. His old enemy, Philip Francis, now an active Whig backbencher in Parliament, had been feeding Edmund Burke with ammunition. When Burke threatened to bring a motion of censure against him, Hastings dared him to do his worst. The result was one of the last impeachments in British history, a procedure whereby the House of Commons acts as prosecutor in a case tried by the House of Lords. It was a measure reserved for what were considered ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ beyond the remit of other courts, and it could carry the death penalty.

The complete article

Zareer Masani — Open

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