Rozenberg Quarterly: The World Is Not Made Up Of Statistics Alone

Photo:  en.wikipedia.org

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Although a large part of our content is written by academics, let us start out by saying that Rozenberg Quarterly is not an academic journal in the traditional sense.
We aim to show that science can and should support and advance journalism. In order to do this, we have abandoned several rules that are the norm in the world of academic journals. For instance, we do not limit ourselves to one subject nor do we involve ourselves with ranking-, citation- and review systems.

Academics do not live in an ivory tower. In the information society, science should play a supporting role as well as provide a service by delivering information. In our view, this should even be considered one of its main tasks: Make information widely available. Journalism has evolved from merely bringing the news to analyzing it. Science and academics can and should claim their place and expand their role in this process.
Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that news analysis and investigative journalism benefit from academic articles and books. And it’s beneficial for all parties involved: Journalists gain access to extra (background) information and delve deeper, while academics are able to show that they do not function isolated and outside of mainstream society.

Background
We started this website in 2011, as a platform to promote Rozenberg Publishers’ publications. After a year, we had the idea that it could evolve into a broader platform.
We made this change for several reasons. First of all, we thoroughly enjoyed the concept as it was crystalizing while we were working on it. The second reason is our conviction that we are doing something new in the world of publishing. Third, we want to show that the time has come to start sharing academic information in a different way than it has been traditionally. Last but certainly not least, we would like to contribute to social debates by making high quality material widely available.
In the past two years we have slowly rolled out this concept. We started by making informative, mostly academic articles and full books available for free. We also created separate, dedicated sections focused on relevant social issues, such as the consequences of urbanization, changing health care policies in the Netherlands, and the dilemmas facing the constitutional state.

Role of social sciences
The last few years have seen an attack on the humanities or social sciences. The neo-liberal society has little eye for the ‘soft’ side of science. Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that society cannot function without social sciences. The world is not made up of statistics alone.

Role of academic publishers
In the world of academic publishing, the publisher plays a curious part. Academics have succumbed to the fact that the publisher puts a value on articles through review- and ranking systems. The fact that the publisher should provide a service seems to have been forgotten.

The open access culture
Since the open access culture (making academic material available for free) will determine the future of academic publishing, it is time to start looking at the publisher’s role. The Dutch government for instance is demanding that from 2016 all academic publications are available for free. However, as of yet there is no demand or intention to debate how that will work. The system, and thus the role of the publisher, has not changed (yet).

The role of science in society
Academic journals are usually very narrowly limited. For each segment of science, there is a journal. It appears that different disciplines should not be combined.
The argument that offering more than a part of something diminishes the quality of the offering, is a strange one. By setting up and using a good network it is possible to offer readers quality information from different disciplines. We choose a relatively broad selection of subjects in order to highlight the social function of science.

The information society
In today’s world, the sheer quantity of information available to readers is mind boggling, but not always easy to find or easy to read. We want to contribute to the media landscape by making unique information available in a clear, accessible and technologically simple manner in order to reach as many readers as possible.

Global vs Local
Rozenberg Quarterly has made the choice to be bilingual, by offering texts in English as well as Dutch. Mostly English, in order to serve the world. But since we are based in the Netherlands, we have also created several Dutch sections. Subjects such as health care and the constitutional state play a part in all our lives. Our approach of these subjects, offering research and background information to the news, is another way of showing how science and society are intertwined.

The role of Rozenberg Quarterly
Rozenberg Quarterly sticks its neck out by showing that the combination of different disciplines creates a unique platform where journalism and science advance and promote each other.

The state of business
The success of Rozenberg Quarterly is quantifiable. In May 2014 we surpassed the 10,000 monthly visitors mark for the first time. It means that this year we will have over 100,000 visits to the website. We expect to double this number in 2015.

The future
We have clear plans for the future. Whether we can realize those is mostly dependent on funding. Everything takes time and money, and so far we have mostly invested our own. Besides asking our readers for donations, we are researching the ways in which RQ could be funded with subsidies. We are debating whether or not we should offer parts of our content behind a pay wall, as well as the question whether to put ads on our site.

Finally
We are very happy with how Rozenberg Quarterly is evolving. At the time of writing the site has 256 pages (1536 articles in 17 sections/categories), monthly increasing visits and an increasing number of articles and full text books are submitted for publishing (which we would be happy to do). The fact that 54% of our readership is under the age of 35 is an interesting and fun detail. People are still reading and they will continue to do so.

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Jan Briffaerts – When Congo Wants To Go To School. Educational Realities In A Colonial Context

Playground Girls School Sainte Thérèse in Coquilhatville, 1950s.

Playground Girls School Sainte Thérèse in Coquilhatville, 1950s.

Rozenberg Quarterly will publish on paper and online:
Jan BriffaertsWhen Congo wants to go to school. Educational realities in a colonial context.  An investigation into educational practices in primary education in the Belgian Congo (1925-1960) – Pb – 420 pag. – € 39,50 – ISBN 978 90 3610 144 8 – 2014

The education system in the Congo was widely considered to be one of the best in colonial Africa, in particular because of its broad reach among the Congolese youth. At independence however, the wake-up call was brutal as soon it became clear that the colonial educational system had neglected to form an educated class of people able to cope with administrating one of Africa’s biggest and economically most important countries. To be able to understand the mechanisms and effects of missionary education it is most enlightening to go back to the classroom and investigate the everyday reality of school. What did missionary education do exactly, how did it work, what did it teach, and how did it relate to its subjects, the children of the Congo?

This study gives clear insights into the everyday realities of colonial education. It is the result of historical research into educational practices and realities in catholic missionary schools in the Tshuapa region, located in the south of the Congolese province of Equateur. It is based on a rich array of historical source material, ranging from missionary archives and mission periodicals through to contemporary literature and interviews with missionnaries and former pupils who experienced colonial education themselves. The title, “When Congo wants to go to school… ” refers to one of many articles published in Belgian mission periodicals on the subject of the education and civilisation work carried out by missionaries in the Belgian colony.

The complete book now online:
Introduction & A Few Preliminary Remarks
Educational Organisation In The Belgian Congo (1908-1958)
The Missionaries And The Belgian Congo: Preparation, Ideas And Conceptions Of The Missionaries
Catholic Missions In The Tshuapa Region

Part II – Realities
The Educational Climate
Educational Comfort
The Subject Matter
Educational Practices

Part III – Acti Cesa
The Short Term: Reactions
The Long Term: Memories
As Justification And Conclusion
Appendices & Bibliography

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When Congo Wants To Go To School – Introduction & A Few Preliminary Remarks

BriffaertsThe research project that formed the foundation for this study grew from a few existing lines of research. On the one hand it relates to research on the so-called Belgian civilisation project in the Congo, on the other to research into the micro-history of education in Belgium. Both my promoter and I have some experience in research into colonial education. Marc Depaepe’s work on the colonial phenomenon grew out of a representative, personal connection to it. As with many Flemish people, the colonial past was a part of his family history. The letters from his great aunt, Sister Maria Adonia Depaepe, a missionary in the Congo between 1909 and 1961, which he later published, are a testimony to this.[1] Her personal documents were published as part of a project on the history of education, more specifically the missionary action of the Belgians in the former colony. The result was a general study at a macro level based on the theory of historical education, focussing in on the educational policy and institutional development of colonial education.[2] At about the time this book was published I was writing an extended paper in the framework of the “Historische kritiek” (tr. Historical criticism) lectures in the history department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. The subject of my paper was the “school struggle” in the nineteen fifties in the Belgian Congo. This paper really related to a part of political history and the political players behind colonial education, particularly in Belgium and to a limited extent the Belgian Congo.[3] Some years later the content of the paper was presented at a colloquium on 50 years of the school pact (2nd and 3rd December 1998, V.U.B.) and published in the resulting conference notes.[4] Read more

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Marlise Simons ~ Rokende spiegel – ‘Kissinger noemde mij een rood onbetrouwbaar element’

Simons

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, in conversation with Marlise Simons, correspondent for The New York Times.

Onder de titel Rokende spiegel publiceerde Vrij Nederland* op 14 mei 1988 mijn interview met de Nederlandse journaliste Marlise Simons die ik in april van dat jaar sprak in haar toenmalige woonplaats Rio de Janeiro.
Hoewel er inmiddels ruim een kwart eeuw is verstreken is het als journalistiek tijdsdocument en als portret van een bijzondere journaliste nog steeds een goede eerste kennismaking. Bij mijn weten is dit het enige geschreven portret dat van haar is verschenen in Nederland.

Simons woont en werkt vanaf 1989 in Parijs nadat ze jarenlang voor de Washington Post en vanaf 1982 voor de New York Times, Zuid – en Midden – Amerika coverde. Vanuit Parijs deed ze verslag van de oorlogen op de Balkan en van de processen die zijn gevoerd door het Joegoslavië Tribunaal. Samen met Heikelien Verrijn Stuart publiceerde ze in 2009 : The Prosecutor and The Judge: Benjamin Ferencz and Antonio Cassese. Interviews and Writings.

Als één van de weinige vrouwen die zich moeiteloos staande houdt in de machowereld van de internationale schrijvende journalistiek, is ze te vergelijken met een andere heldin van mij, Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998) die ik in 1991 uitgebreid heb gesproken. Ze bedrijven echter twee totaal verschillende stijlen van journalistiek: is Gellhorn persoonlijk en zeer aanwezig in haar verhalen en reportages, Simons is de spreekwoordelijke buitenstaander en de beschouwer.

Marlise Simons’ eerste kennismaking met Latijns-Amerika dateert uit 1967. Na haar studie Engels en Spaans maakte ze op zevenentwintigjarige leeftijd een rondreis van drie maanden door Mexico. Ze raakte ‘zo geboeid door de hoogontwikkelde beschaving, de culturele rijkdom en de bevolking die bijna van een andere planeet afkomstig leek te zijn’ dat ze vier jaar later, vergezeld door collega en latere echtgenoot Alan Riding en een volgeladen ‘oude Volkswagen met boeken, typemachines, pillen en kort- golfapparatuur’ opnieuw naar Mexico vertrok. ‘De grote kranten hadden correspondenten zitten in Buenos Aires en Santiago, maar Midden-Amerika leek in de pers helemaal niet te bestaan. Het was dus niet zo moeilijk om daar aan het werk te komen.’
Ze vestigde zich in Mexico – Stad. Van daaruit bereisde ze het gehele Latijns–Amerikaanse continent en schreef reportages voor NRC Handelsblad, Newsweek, de Washington Post en later de New York Times. Dertien jaar later, in 1984, verhuisde ze naar Brazilië. Voor haar werk ontving ze in 1981, samen met Jacobo Timmerman, de prestigieuze Maria Moors Cabbot Prize, die elk jaar door Columbia University in New York wordt uitgereikt. Na de Pulitzer Prize (waarvoor ze in 1991 werd genomineerd, B.S.) is dit de belangrijkste journalistieke onderscheiding in de Verenigde Staten. Maar ze is de eerste om het belang van deze prijs te relativeren: ‘De journalist als held, zoals mijn collega’s Bernstein en Woodward, is voor mij uit den boze. Of zoals Oriana Fallaci die in 1968 aanwezig was bij de rellen op de Universiteit van Mexico. De volgende dag stond met grote koppen in de krant dat ze een krasje had op haar bil. Dat nieuws was belangrijker dan het leger dat het vuur opende op driehonderd mensen. Een journalist blijft altijd een doorgeefluik. Mij gaat het erom hoe ik de ene cultuur over kan brengen naar de andere, hoe moet je iets duidelijk maken voor de huiskamer in Zutphen?’

Uitgeverij Meulenhoff publiceerde in 1987 onder de titel De rokende spiegel een selectie uit de talrijke artikelen over Latijns–Amerika die Marlise Simons in de afgelopen zestien jaar schreef voor binnenlandse – en buitenlandse bladen. Tezamen geven deze ruim zestig achtergrondverhalen een breed, samenhangend beeld van de Latijns–Amerikaanse cultuur en de politieke – en maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen in de jaren zeventig en tachtig. Van de staatsgreep in Chili tot de teleurgestelde officier in Cuba, van de onderdrukte Indianenstammen in Guatemala tot het uitzichtloze bestaan in de krottenwijken van de grote steden.

Het balkon van het appartement van Marlise Simons in Rio de Janeiro biedt tussen de palmbomen op het strand een fraai uitzicht over de Atlantische Oceaan. Ook de inrichting van het appartement is het aanzien meer dan waard. De liefde die Marlise Simons voor Latijns–Amerika heeft opgevat wordt weerspiegeld in de inrichting van haar woning. Verspreid in de woonkamer staan de beeldhouwwerken die taferelen uit de rijke geschiedenis van Mexico voorstellen en aan de wanden hangen houtsnijwerken en fel gekleurde schilderijen uit Haïti.
Aan het begin van het gesprek excuseert ze zich voor het feit dat door haar jarenlange verblijf in het buitenland haar Nederlands achteruit is gegaan. Haar artikelen voor NRC Handelsblad worden uit het Engels vertaald. Wel klinkt nog zacht haar Limburgse accent door.

Is het voor een vrouwelijke journalist in dit continent moeilijker werken dan voor een man?
‘Er zitten twee kanten aan. Enerzijds voelen mannen zich minder bedreigd door een vrouwelijke journalist. Militairen vertellen je bijvoorbeeld dingen die ze niet aan mannen zouden vertellen. Een vrouw willen ze helpen en beschermen. Ze zijn nieuwsgierig. Aan het begin van de jaren zeventig was er in Latijns–Amerika veel minder ruimte voor een vrouw. Men wilde wel eens weten wat voor vreemd iemand ze voor zich hadden en men wilde dus wel praten. Anderzijds kun je als vrouw niet met mannen optrekken zoals mannen met elkaar omgaan en een pilsje gaan drinken. Maar als je buitenlandse bent dan worden de spelregels ineens anders. Wat ze van hun eigen vrouw niet zouden tolereren, dat kan van een buitenlandse wel.’ Read more

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New York Times ~ Forum For New Diplomacy – Marlise Simons In Conversation With Fatou Bensouda (ICC)

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, in conversation with Marlise Simons, correspondent for The New York Times

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Right2Know Campaign – Mapping SA’s (Growing?) Climate Of Secrecy

StateNationTwenty  years into South Africa’s democracy, the right to know faces apparent threats.

The right to know – to access and share information, to organise, protest and speak out – is the foundation of a just society. Information rights were a driving principle in the struggle against apartheid, and at the centre of the democratic gains achieved in the 1990s.
Twenty years into South Africa’s democracy, these gains appear to be facing greater limits.

Climate of secrecy
At the heart of this is an emerging trend towards security-statist approaches to governance.[i] An expansive ‘national security’ mentality encroaches on democratic principles by stifling debate,undermining accountability and protecting the powerful from scrutiny.
The best-known embodiment of this securitystatist mentality is the Protection of State Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill), which sits on President Zuma’s desk, awaiting signature. Few laws have so focused the public mind on the problem of secrecy in our society and what appears to be a resurgence of the ‘securocrats’.
But the Bill may merely be a symptom of a broader climate of secrecy and securitisation:
– The use of secrecy to shield political actors, in particular President Zuma, from embarrassment and accountability;
– Increasing limitations on protest, with an extraordinary spike in police violence and growing signs of criminalisation of protest;
– Apparent increase in the use of state-security policies such as the National Key Points Act;
– Lack of democratic oversight of surveillance tools which are vulnerable to abuse.

Ordinary people, ordinary secrets
Secrecy is not only about the political machinations of major institutions. At the heart of possibly every grassroots struggle for social, economic or environmental justice,
there is a need for information. This is often basic information about bread-and-butter issues, which people need in order to exercise control over their own lives. Here we see worrying signs of the obstacles to accessing information:
– Access to information mechanisms are failing;
– There is too little proactive release of information;
– The transparency obligations of the private sector, particularly in industries with a serious environmental impact, are largely overlooked. Read more

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  • About

    Rozenberg Quarterly aims to be a platform for academics, scientists, journalists, authors and artists, in order to offer background information and scholarly reflections that contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue in a seemingly divided world. By offering this platform, the Quarterly wants to be part of the public debate because we believe mutual understanding and the acceptance of diversity are vital conditions for universal progress. Read more...
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