Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Bob Dylan and Post-Structuralism?

I think my last entry was a little depressing so this one is going to be light hearted. Well, as light hearted as I can do.

I was in a Sociology lecture the other day for a 'Topics of Comparative Historical Sociology' class which focused on the concept of liberalism stretching from the Enlightenment going right up to Charles Taylor (know as 'Chuck' to the lecturer) and Ernest Gellner. This lecture was a revision lecture and the teacher is so passionate about the subject it's hard not to agree with everything she says. The following comparison made me smile. This is somewhat paraphrased:

"OK, lets try and explain the differences between the Enlightenment and post-structuralism, post-colonialism and everything else post! Think of Bob Dylan, Blowing in the Wind and that 60s feeling of we're going to change the world for the benefit of everyone else?" pause "Everyone in this room is too young for Bob Dylan, aren't they? Anyway, go and listen to Blowing in the Wind and that should explain what I'm talking about. Then, jump to post-everything else and think of Radiohead, No Surprises. This is what Western intellect has become, this narcissistic naval gazing self-absorption with ourselves. While people are being killed for being different ethnic identities, in the West Sociologists are worrying about the affects of the Ipod on teenagers."

So, while I was waiting on the bus home, my Ipod alternated between the Folk Singer and naval gazing.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Those crazy Nazis...

Funny enough, the title is NOT referring to university or my part-time job.

It's mandatory for all History students to have taken at least ONE German history class during their education. Specifically, a class which features the Nazis at some point. Considering these topics are extremely popular at Higher History level a worrying number of students in this class are potential teachers. Teaching - the fail safe option for people with social science degrees.

But enough ranting. I have a group presentation next week concerning the concept of the racial state in post-1933 Germany. Unsurprisingly, I was assigned the topic of women to research. It has proved some interesting reading. Although Jews were one of the main groups focused upon, they were not the only ones. This was helped by the Nazis criminalising social behaviour and making it racial. Female prostitution became a racial crime rather than a social one. You were threatening the Aryan race. Nice Aryan boys that were dipping their nib in the prostitution pool picked up all sorts of nasty STDs and kindly passed them onto nice Aryan girls when they got married. Obviously this could threaten the health of the Master Race which Hitler and his posse weren't too happy about.

Sterilisation was a common approach as well. The 'Final Solution' didn't really kick off until the late 1930s. One case example I read involved a heterosexual couple who had applied for a marriage license (which could be rejected on racial and social groups). They were denied the license because the woman was hard of hearing. Before they could get married the woman had to agree to be sterilised. Between 1933-39 over 400 women died from such procedures. How many men died from the same procedure? 80.

Earlier this week, I visited an open evening for the Lesbains Archive in the Glasgow Women's Library. One of the artefacts was a banner that had been made a feminist rally down in London. Various symbols were dotted along the banner. One I was extremely surprised at was the black triangle. It's one of the many feminist symbols I find uncomfortable. Why would you adopt a symbol from such a destructive regime to convey your cause? On a feminist message board, one member proudly posted she was getting a tattoo of the Black Triangle. In my opinion, that's not much different from getting a swastika printed on your body. Social movements trying to 're-claim' symbols do not work. Attempts to re-claim queer as a positive identity have not been hugely successful.

So, more of a pondering entry than a rant. Apologies for any disappointed readers ;-)