The new year is right around the corner, and that has us thinking about some of our favourite posts — and yours — from 2017. Whether we’re delving into pop culture, biting satire, or political commentary, we like to seek out things that make us view the world a little differently. In 2017, we hope we achieved that — and we’ll continue into 2018 with more of the same.
2017 marked the start of our periodically updated podcast, featuring interviews with thinkers, commentators, and other delightful Middle East culture makers. Our first interview included His Excellency Omar Saif Ghobash, talking about his new book, Letters to a Young Muslim, along with other aspects of Muslim identity and culture. In December, we returned for a chat with Sunny Rahbar of the Third Line in Dubai. Her work as a curator has launched many artistic careers and shaped the way the Middle East approaches modern art.
‘#WednesdayWisdom: Why the rich shouldn’t pay taxes‘ (Natalia Antonova)
We’re delighted to have Natalia on board as a culture critic, delving into the issues that really matter: Tax breaks for the rich, Louise Linton’s shoes, shopping for the apocalypse, and more. Her biweekly #WednesdayWisdom column is one of our favourite things…and we think it should be yours, too.
This is why the GOP is sort of right when it proposes tax breaks for the rich, it just happens to not be radical enough in its approach. Cancel taxes for the rich. They’re already dodging them anyway and will continue to do so — probably because they were fed more nutritious food as children and are therefore more advanced. Think about the extra sugar babies they’ll be able to afford. Think about the extra iPhone Xs the sugar babies will be able to buy. You want egalitarianism and a way to further stimulate the economy? You got it.
‘Quit it with the Bush nostalgia‘ (E. Young)
E. Young loves film and has been delving into horror and other maligned genres, but this political commentary, on the strange fetish for George W. Bush, is spot-on. Liberals in the US have been quick to forget his legacy because he said a few mean things about Donald Trump, and that’s a big mistake.
Gasp! A high profile Republican said something negative about another high profile Republican! The GOP is imploding! Oil the skids! Is clapping back against someone that is so blatantly intent on destruction really the point where we’re taking everyone back in? Especially from someone that was equally bent on it?
‘Asian Grocery Stores: The Unsung Heroes of Immigrant Life‘ (Louise Hung)
One of our most popular posts this year was this thoughtful look at Asian grocery stores from Louise Hung, who has been exploring a variety of Asian American issues in politics and pop culture for us this year, along with revisiting the beloved topic of hauntings, unsettling events, and all-things creepy. (Long-time Louise Hung fans miss Creepy Corner to death so we’re delighted to be able to summon its spirit for you!)
Not only can immigrants find the comfort foods and goods from back home, but they have a chance to communicate, in their own language, with people who may have been in the country longer than them and can share some insight into assimilating. Just being able to get a newspaper written in your mother tongue can be a relief. And never underestimate the power of a bulletin board or “community corner” that has postings in various languages, offering everything from English classes to real estate agents who are multilingual.
‘Assisted suicide is dangerously disablist‘ (Philippa Willitts)
Another extremely popular post this year from Philippa Willitts, who covers disability issues, UK politics, LGBQT issues, and more in her Friday column. This piece seemed to resonate with many readers because it presents a side of the assisted suicide debate that’s often silenced: The disability perspective.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the current assisted suicide debate in the UK and around the world is the idea that suicide prevention is very, very important and to be prioritised, but only for non-disabled people. When a disabled person becomes suicidal, their urges can be legitimised by their family and friends and approved by a doctor where their non-disabled counterpart would have been offered mental health support (at least they would in the days we had functioning mental health services, prior to austerity).
We’re fortunate to have another disability writer and pop culture critic in Anna Hamilton, who explored The Right to Maim in a piece that proved to be one of our most trafficked this year. Who says disability studies has to be dry and dull?!
By engaging with geopolitical issues that U.S. and Eurocentric Disability Studies has not yet considered or wrangled with in much depth, Puar convincingly shows readers what the future of the discipline might look like. As she writes in the book’s preface, her goal in The Right to Maim is to “think through how and why bodies are perceived as debilitated, capacitated, or often simultaneously both […] I am arguing that the three vectors, debility, capacity, and disability, exist in a mutually reinforcing constellation, are often overlapping or coexistent, and that debilitation is a necessary component that both exposes and sutures the disabled/non-disabled binary.”
‘Where are all the articles on Clinton voters?‘ (Erika Heidewald)
We’re always delighted when Erika has time to stop by for a chat. This piece is timely and important given the endless flood of interviews, thinkpieces, and meditations on people who voted for Donald Trump. Why aren’t we talking about the people who voted for Secretary Clinton? How are they doing? What’s happening in their lives?
Since the election, media reporting on the impact of Trump’s policies has largely focused on their impact on Trump’s own voters. There’s a compelling hook – “look at these Trump voters who voted their own health insurance away.” The New York Times, NBC, the LA Times – all have explored the fate of Trump voters. I couldn’t find a single article asking what is happening now to Clinton voters, those who tried to keep their insurance and are now losing it through no fault of their own.
‘Who gets to #BeBold on International Women’s Day?‘ (Anna Hamilton)
We’re always here for juicy feminist criticism that challenges people to take their praxis to the next level. This piece looks at the deep flaws in feminist organising in the midst of a year when feminism itself is enjoying a resurgence. Can the next wave of feminism do better?
Certainly, such general language has a place in feminism and feminist activism, particularly for beginner feminists. However, as the many problems with intersectionality—or lack thereof, as Global Comment’s Philippa Willitts outlined recently—that the Women’s March platform had, it may be time to move beyond the Feminism 101-style language that has characterized 2017’s mass feminist activism. The concepts and best practices behind intersectionality can be made accessible to many. Like listening to and fully including marginalized women in mass feminist protests and actions, this takes work, but it can be done.
What about you? Did we miss one of your favourite articles this year? Tell us! And we’d love to hear about what you want to see more of in 2018.
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Photo: Jill Carlson/Creative Commons