Safe or sorry: China’s struggle to balance an increasing population with decreasing pesticides

When we think about Chinese food, we often recall the greasy, mouth-watering, and delicious stir fry rice of our favourite take a-way place. Usually cheap, fast, around the corner, and open 24/7; good for midnight cravings or during around the clock work to meet a deadline. But in China, where

Tourism: Mutual Benefit, or Modern Colonialism?

Chinese souvenir dolls. Source: KittyKaht, Flickr Travel & Tourism is the world’s biggest industry, contributing almost one-tenth of world GDP, and employing more than 266 million people. Originating in 17th century Britain, it involves travel for business and medical purposes, but its most important form is leisure or recreational tourism. Despite its important role in economic growth and employment, the environmental, cultural and social effects of tourism are still controversial. This begs the question of whether contemporary tourism can be interpreted as a form of modern-day colonialism? As Nils Finn Munch-Petersen explained on his SASNET/UPF lecture, it is rather tourism can be conceived of as ”the appropration of local land, labour and natural resources for tourism purposes by local elites”. Thus, exploitation does not (only) happen in the West-East direction, but by the global higher class, inside and outside country borders.

By Andrea Czervan

Small Island, Big Problems

Some of Easter Island’s famous Maois. Source: Arian Zwegers, FlickrEaster Island, or Rapa Nui, as it is called by the locals, is the most remote inhabited region in the world. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, more than 3000km from the Chilean mainland. Easter Island makes up the south-eastern point of the Polynesian triangle, which consists of islands in the Pacific, including New Zealand and Hawaii as the south-western and northern points. One might expect the 5000 islanders to lead a happy and peaceful life on their tropical island. Unfortunately, this is far from being true – Rapa Nui has quite a troubled history.

By Christina Welpelo

Backbreaking boobs and big butts: Dangerous beauty in Venezuela

The inflated ideal? Photo by: Paul Lowry, Flickr“Inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.” This statement comes from a man with huge influence in the beauty industry in Venezuela: Osmel Sousa. He is one of the most prominent men concerning female beauty and body image in Venezuela and is the leader of the immensely popular Miss Venezuela pageant. His vision of beauty is all about gigantic boobs and butts, but how that “perfection” is accomplished is of little importance. As he himself puts it: “If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it?”

by Lotta Herz

Rebel Rebel: A nomad rock band and its involvement in Touareg rebellion

Tinariwen on stage. Photo by mamarazi17, FlickrHave you ever heard of this band singing in Tamasheq? They reside in different parts of the Malian desert and actually struggle to bring the band members together for world tours due to the obligations many of them have toward their goat herds. Maybe you have, because Touareg blues band Tinariwen has reached unpredicted levels of fame in the last few years, with a Grammy Award in 2012 highlighting their international success. Today, their fan base has reached a far wider sphere than just their Touareg home, but their struggle for the Touareg cause is almost equally appreciated as their music.

by Jacob Berntson

Balancing Bilingualism: English Language policy in Tanzania and Sweden

The school grounds of Kigrunyembe Demonstration School, Morogoro Tanzania. Photo by Kate O Donnell.Education policy has long been regarded as one of the most important parts of a country’s long-term economic and social development – and Tanzania is no exception. In Tanzania today there is a bilingual educational structure in which Swahili is the language of instruction in primary schools and English is the language of instruction in secondary schools. The national website of Tanzania highlights this policy as ‘the main feature of Tanzania’s education system’ and is regarded by officials as a cornerstone to the country’s progress. Although there are sharp differences between Tanzania and a Western European country such as Sweden, it is intriguing to note that similarities exist between the two countries in relation to the role and influence of a national language on both economics and culture.

By Kate O Donnell

Gangnam Style/Pyongyang Slam Dunk

South Korea’s PSY. Source: Wikimedia CommonsThe conflict between North and South Korea is at a long impasse. Both sides of the Korean peninsula keep waiting to bring their sister country to the point of exhaustion in order to force them into their own version of a reunion. While the South is fully incorporated into global society, the North has closed its doors to the outside world like a “Hermit Kingdom”. Their decades long separation and radically different political systems have produced two countries whose influence on the world’s pop-culture is entirely different.

By Ali Acikgoz and Niklas Hjelm-Smith

Conceptualizing Racism in Europe

Photo: Terra Nova Fondation. Racism is a term imbued with ambiguity. Sometimes racism is a manifestation of misplaced anger or irritation, at other times it is deep-seated and systematic. Part of recognising the shapes racism takes is crucial in the battle against it. Racism is a product of its context, which makes the European and Swedish perspectives an interesting duality for investigation.

by Talib Jabbar

The Gamer’s Choice: Play or Quit!

The video game industry giant Blizzard is able to organize its own expo. Photo: Joi ito on fotopedia.Sometime in Spring 2010, the following conversation took place in an American university, somewhere on the North-eastern seaboard. The class discussion was about U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Student A: “The number of insurgents we killed are more than the number of our casualties.”

Student B: “Dude, this is not HALO!”

HALO is a bestselling video game, developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Studios. How do video games and their portrayal of military culture affect or reflect discourse in universities and in politics?

by Ali Acikgoz

Is Morsi Becoming Mubarak?

Morsi looks in the mirror and sees Mubarak, according to this street artist.When Mohamed Morsi took office in the summer of 2012, there were great expectations placed on his shoulders. This was only natural: he was Egypt’s first democratically elected president, representing the organisation with the broadest public support in the country – the Muslim Brotherhood.

But his first major move made people draw comparisons between the new and the ancien régime. In November last year, Morsi signed a constitutional declaration that strengthened his own powers and forbade courts from striking down his decisions. Public protests reached revolutionary heights and the declaration was at last rescinded in December, but it planted a seed of fear among Egyptians that their new president might be of the exact same model as their last one.

Of course, this is the most obvious proof supporting anti-Morsi protestors’ theory saying that Morsi is becoming Mubarak. However, there are more subtle examples not making the headlines, including how Morsi is using the media, how the regime is supposedly hiring street thugs to break up peaceful anti-government demonstrations and the rumoured conspiracy surrounding the convictions at the Port Said tragedy trial.

by Jacob Berntson