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07/02/2012

Magazine Roundup

Polityka 03.02.2012 (Poland)

After thousands of people took to the streets in Poland last week to protest against Acta, Poland's premier Donald Tusk announced his decision not to ratify the agreement. In Polityka Edwin Bendyk explains (in German) that the protests were a reaction to the increasing control of the public sphere in Poland - from football fields to pubs. "The internet, according to demographic study on 'Young People and the Media' has become a social space where internet users - who in Poland are by definition young - can make decisions about their lives independently of and out of the sight of grown ups, teacher, police and politicians. They are participating in culture, communicating, solving problems together, coordinating real life activities." And Acta was seen as a threat to this. More information on Acta over at Wikipedia.


Himal 07.02.2012 (Nepal)
Filmmaker Hira Nabi explains how hard it is for for gays and lesbians in Pakistan. "It is not just that the penal code criminalises homosexuality, however. Certain tenants of Islam as practiced in Pakistan also condemn it. On the ground, this is more effective than the inherited colonial law, as the fear of committing a 'sin' tends to carry far more relevance for most than the fear of being charged under Article 377. Southasian history is steeped in evidence of fluid sexual practice, but in modern-day Pakistan there has been significant re-writing of history. Classical poetry carries references to homoeroticism; monuments and legends bear witness to queer love affairs and homosexual devotion; love is celebrated regardless of orientation. This past, however, is not easily reclaimed. Polyamorous love – having multiple sexual partners at any given time – has also been written out of the region's many histories, and has largely disappeared from the public imagination."



Caffe Europa
  02.02.2012 (Italy)

"The rule of the sign" is the title Daniele Greco gave to his series of photographs taken on a trip to Japan. They can be seen online at Geonvainedita, Tina Cosmai's personal window on cultural life in Genoa. Japan is perfect for the street photographer Greco, Cosmai writes. "Japan's big cities are the ideal places for taking photographs', he says. 'The Japanese are normally very orderly, but the mass of objects and symbols lend the scenery a seductive disorder, in which I love to work. I am attracted by the mix, the piling up of contradictory elements, the imperfection, the simple ideas that stem from excessive situations and yes, the chaos. The Japanese city has all this in overabundance. Beyond horizontal perception these places develop a deeper dimension where things play out under the surface. Places like the huge markets are full of entrance ways, eversions and impressions. Spaces of redistribution where both fixed and fluid elements reflect light and colour and become carriers of meaning."


Outlook India  13.02.2012 (India)

Sony Pictures caused some confusion in India by announcing last week that it will not be releasing David Fincher's new screen adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in India. After all, the Indian censorship board  announced back in December that some alterations would be necessary, explains Namrata Joshi, and Sony has not objected to film scenes being pixellated in other countries. "All this comes as a blow at a time when the Central Board of Film Certification has been trying to take a step forward towards becoming less restrictive. Last year saw a clutch of mainstream Hindi films given 'A' certificates without cuts. A long, gay kiss was allowed in 'I Am' and 'Delhi Belly' got away with foul language and references to oral sex. (...) What would go a long way is a sound rating scheme rather than censoring or bans."


Le Monde  06.02.2012 (France)

He has never felt more  awake, explains Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah in conversation about his film "Apres la Bataille" which he is currently putting the finishing touches to in Paris. It will be one of the first fictional films about the events on Tahir Square a year ago: a female demonstrator falls in love with one of the horse riders who is hired to attack the demonstrators. It is all about the ambivalent nature of this character: "I saw that these riders were completely unarmed and that they were the ones who were beaten most severely by the crowd. I was interested in their background and it became very clear that they were not stooges of the men in power, but poor devils who were thoroughly instrumentalised…."

There is also a report on the film festival in Rotterdam whose focus this year is the Arab Spring.

Eurozine 01.02.2012 (Austria in English)

"Will Serbs be forced to 'eat grass'?," asks Slavenka Drakulic in reference to a statement by the former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, who ordered his people to eat grass rather than cooperate with the Russians. Serbia is certainly headed this way, she fears, because president Boris Tadic is sounding increasingly nationalistic in the Kosovo debate in order to weaken more rightwing (or leftwing?) populists, among other things. And EU membership is slipping ever further away. "Will this mean that Serbia remains isolated in Europe, like Albania once was? Not quite. It would be different were Serbia dependent solely on the EU for 'grain' and other goodies. But as communist Albania once connected herself with distant China, so Serbia is already well plugged-in with not-so-distant Russia. If the EU were to place too harsh demands on Belgrade – well, there are always the 'fellow Slavs' who can ease Serbia's suffering and add potatoes and even a little meat to their diet of grass."


Stories from the US and UK:

The Economist also looks at the repression of homosexuality in the Muslim world. Wired profiles the Parisian underground movement Urban eXperiment. William Boyd tells the Guardian about his Proustian shudder in Vienna and his new book "Waiting for Sunrise". In Open Democracy Nicu Popescu explains how, in Russia, nationalists can be left-wing, right-wing and even liberal. In the NYRB, Tim Parks feels for cowardly Italians.
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