Garment Factory Fires And An Incomplete Debate

There is something exciting, and something disappointing in the many discussions provoked by the recent factory fire that engulfed the Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Today, for example, the New York Times invited a group of individuals involved with trade and labor rights to weigh on the matter with an online special in their Romm for Debate series called The Human Cost of Cheap Clothing.

It is exciting to read and hear a range of voices, both from inside Bangladesh, and outside, speaking out in outrage and demanding changes to domestic laws, international trade practices and corporate supplier monitoring and selection rules. The discussions are important, and one always hopes that they provoke a continous attention to the question of globalization and its real, lived consequences for the poor. At the same time, it is disappointing however because they lack new thinking and tend to dance around the same arguments we have heard before and which have never quite moved governments, retailers and consumer to change their preferences and patterns. Details »

The Freedom Of The Press Foundation And Small Voices Of Loud Dissent

It has been disheartening to watch the impunity and venality with which the US Government has targeted and attempted to dismantle the operations of Wikileaks, and the lives of all associated. From the hounding of Julian Assange, to the torture and humiliation of Bradley Manning, it has been clear that the US Government is determined to make an example of those who dare challenge its rights to do as it wishes, without oversight or any respect for the law. And the willingness with which major corporations – from financial institutions such as Visa to telecommunications firms eavesdropping on American citizens, have collaborated with illegal and unconstitutional requests from the government, has also been frustrating. I will say nothing about the obsequiousness with which newspapers such as The New York Times, with its herd of mindless stenographers lapping up selected ‘leaks’ given to them by the government, have coddled our politicians, obediently repeating the lies fed to them, and becoming collaborators in illegal wars, and practices such as torture, endless detentions, and the targeted assasinations including that of American citizens. Details »

Photographers In The World Or Looking At The Picture Outside Of The Frame

Writing hagiography is I suppose the easiest, most reactionary thing to do. Supported by the myth of Magnum, a myth that may once have had some weight, but today relies largely on recycled cliches about the agency’s role and impact, the writer can just easily close thought, avoid analysis. And this is what is offered to us here in a piece in The Independent called ‘Young Magnum: The Hotshots Ready To Take Their Place In History’.  Though remains unclear to me why any of these four photographers are the ‘hot shots’ they are labelled to be – probably only because they are Magnum nominees and that associated guarantees your seriousness and lavish praise. Be that as it may, – these are subjective opinions, what really confuses me is the consistent presentation of photography and photographers by depoliticizing their work by de-contextualizing it. Details »