Category: General

Platypus Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month

In celebration and recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, take a look back at some of our favorite past posts from and about the region. (read more...)

Black Geographies: New Maroon Studies and the Politics of Place

Jamaican Maroons are the descendants of Africans who escaped enslavement on plantations in the early colonial period. Mentions of the Maroons in the colonial record begin around 1655, when the British, having routed the Spanish from Jamaica, started facing fierce guerrilla resistance from groups of Africans who had established free communities in the hills. The Maroon population grew as frequent revolts on the plantations facilitated the flight to freedom in the hills. The British unsuccessfully tried to subdue the Maroons by force of arms. Ultimately, they signed peace treaties with the leaders of the two main Maroon groups in 1739. The treaties included land grants and recognition of Maroon autonomy, but also included stipulations that the Maroons help capture runaways and subdue revolts in the future. (read more...)

Getting Online / Becoming Misaligned in the American Midwest

“Data Threshers” is a simulation portrait that experiments with the representation of metabolic conflicts in multiple scales of time, space, and perspective. Formally, the video takes its cue from Grant Wood’s 1934 painting Dinner for Threshers. The piece seeks to stage an encounter for the viewer with the strange new rhythms of data mining, logging, and farming that are emerging along historical patterns of development in America’s heartland. (read more...)

Responding to the pandemic of 21st century : Dynamics of power, intersections and the ‘Imagined Corona’ in India

The current times have seen a surge of concern around the soaring cases of the global pandemic of COVID 19. The novel nature of the virus has pitted several countries including India in flux, to understand the nature of transmission, virulence, and the case-fatality of the disease. To contain the spread, stringent measures like lockdown(s) and social distancing have been imposed. In light of the recent turn of the events, the reactions to the disease and the government responses to it have been varied. (read more...)

The militarization of life under war, “post-conflict,” and the COVID-19 crisis

Like many others in Colombia, Nairys[1] is a campesina for whom the experience of confinement has been one of dramatic disruption. Marked by restricted mobility, which means very difficult access to water and subsistence crops, being locked down also implies the reduced possibility to buy medicine, food, and other basic supplies. As for many other women, stay-at-home ordinances have also meant more care work, as the responsibilities of feeding and tending for her relatives fall heavily on her. Likewise, confinement involves being permanently under the same roof with her partner, which has exposed Nayris to more possibilities of being mistreated and abused by him, particularly as pressures over mere subsistence increase. (read more...)

Architecture as a Justice-Accessing Technology in Postwar Guatemala

On an early January morning in 2015 a group of lawyers from the Guatemalan NGO Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (Women Transforming the World), social workers, and human rights activists drove me and Megan Eardley (both of us PhD Candidates in Architecture History and Theory at Princeton University) through the department of Alta Vera Paz to reach the small village of Sepur Zarco. We were invited as architecture specialists after training under Eyal Weizman, who was a Global Scholar at Princeton University at that time. Weizman is the founder of Forensic Architecture, a research agency that uses the tools of architecture to conduct advanced spatial and media investigations in human rights violation cases. Traveling through what we thought would be a jungle, we encountered a landscape that was incredibly uniform, with vast cash crop fields of African Palm dominating our path. Although this image has become preponderant in the Global South, flex crops are just the last iteration of a long history of indigenous land dispossession and, in the case of Sepur, crimes against humanity by military forces. It is precisely in noting these changes in the landscape that altered forest patterns and absent villages can become tangible evidence of coordinated war interventions.[1] (read more...)

#Hashtag: “I AM one of the 1.4 Billion”

When I agreed to write this post in January, I could not have imagined that I would be doing so in quarantine. The state of the coronavirus continues to escalate. I do not yet feel ready to engage with this current event in this blog post, but its weight is present and felt in the writing. On January 17, 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics of China published 2019’s annual economy data (English here). Among the lists of numbers from the world’s second largest economic body — lists that included agricultural and industrial production, the growth of the service sector, and consumption and employment, among others — the section of data about population is what dominated the media’s attention. During the press conference, a Financial Times reporter asked about the lowest-recorded birth rate (10.48‰), its relation to the “two-child policy” and its impact on the (future) economy. This question led to an elaborate response from the bureau commissioner, in an attempt to veil the journalist’s critique (that the termination of the one-child policy failed to reverse structural aging) and place things under a more positive tone: although the rate is low, the actual number of newborns is still pretty high. (read more...)

Eco-Horror: Facing Climate Change in Minas Gerais, Brazil

The January 2020 floods in Minas Gerais, Brazil were catastrophic for the communities of the more than fifty people who lost their lives to the disaster and for the hundreds more displaced in its wake (Lima 2020). Such disasters often seem chaotic and unpredictable eruptions, but in the time of the climate crisis and amidst decaying support for democratic institutions, disasters like these floods are likely to become more common and more dangerous. (read more...)