Levende-Doden ~ Summary

Pijl‘Living-Dead: African-Surinamese perceptions, practices and rituals surrounding death and mourning’ describes and interprets the death culture of the descendants of African slaves, Creoles and Maroons, in Suriname. The book offers an integrated approach in which a wide range of attitudes comes to the fore, and uncommon (supernatural, bad or tragic) and common (natural, good) death are studied together. In this way, the study presents a comparative and reflexive perspective that reconciles ethnographic detail with middle range theories.

The book is guided by two leitmotifs. The first concerning the coexistence of tradition and modernity or the phenomenon of multitemporal heterogeneity, arguing that African-Surinamese actors always live, on the one hand, in terms of conflicting demands, desires and expectations associated with voices of authority and, on the other, with the idiosyncratic aspirations of the individual. Processes like creolization, syncretization/anti-syncretization and de-/retraditionalization play a prominent role in this dialectic and, consequently, in the construction of African-Surinamese death culture as well as people’s changing attitudes towards dying, death and mourning.

Despite this dynamic nature, African-Surinamese culture is characterized by an inevitable constant that forms the second leitmotif of this study: the living-dead. Throughout this study it appears that within the African-Surinamese worldview and spiritual-religious orientation, (biological) death does not necessarily mean the end of life. Death rather implies a continuation of life in another form, in which contacts between the living and the deceased (or their spirits) are still possible. The dead are not dead: they are the living-dead who might interfere in people’s lives – as spiritual entities or simply as a lasting remembrance. Living-dead have therefore to be handled with utmost care and respect, while the rituals regarding death, burial and mourning are considered as the most important rites de passage of African-Surinamese culture.

Because of the enormous significance of the living-dead and the subsequent transitional rituals, an important part of this book consists of the description, analysis and interpretation of the ritual process that starts at the deathbed or even before the dying hour. In the conceptualization of death as a process and transition, I draw heavily on Van Gennep’s model of rites of passage, Hertz’s study of liminal rituals as well as his insights into the relationship between corpse, soul and mourners, and several contemporary followers of these founding fathers. In order to grasp all the different ritual stages that surround the process of dying, death and mourning, one first needs an understanding of the sociocultural and religiousspiritual perceptions behind the ritual practices as well as an outline of the social-economic and political context in which people live, die, bury, grief and mourn.

The introductory chapter of this book discusses therefore not only some key concepts and approaches that molded my notion of conducting ethnographic fieldwork on African-Surinamese death culture, but portrays also the precarious situation in which the Surinamese society found itself during my research (1999, 2000). In brief, the country and a large part of  its population suffered enormously by a severe economic crisis and a grinding poverty that, because of political and financial-monetary misgovernment, was becoming structural and most in line with Latin-America. At the edge of a new millennium Suriname had deteriorated into one of the worst functioning economies of the region. The process of marginalization hit many if not all my informants in the field, and caused a chasm between a small and privileged group of rich haves (gudusma, elite) and a growing mass of poor have-nots (tye poti). The latter increasingly lacked access to health care, suffered various sanitary inconveniences and subsequent diseases, and saw itself exposed to all kinds of life-threatening conditions, ‘new’ diseases and causes of death. Read more

Bookmark and Share

Levende-Doden ~ Glossarium, Bijlagen I, II & Literatuurlijst

Glossarium – PDF

Bijlage I – Interviews – PDF

























Bijlage II – Casussen, situatie-analyses & observaties[i] – PDF























i. Nota bene: het betreft hier volledig uitgewerkte casussen. Veldaantekeningen betreffende allerhande dagelijkse of frequente activiteiten, zoals begraafplaatsbezoek, ‘routinematig’ bijwonen van begrafenissen, mortuariumbezoek, rouwvisite en veel hanging around, zijn niet opgenomen in deze lijst.

Abbenhuis, M.F., 1966 Honderd jaar missiewerk in Suriname door de Redemptoristen, 1866-1966. Paramaribo: [s.n.].
Agerkop, T., 1982 Saramaka Music and Motion. Anales Del Caribe 2: 231-245. Read more

Bookmark and Share

Joseph Semah: Breathing In Reverse

Joseph Semah, Paul Groot and Mohammed Sabet simultaneously reading Baruch de Spinoza “Tractatus theologico-politicus” in the Hebrew, Latin and Arabic languages: 23 Feb. 2008 Amsterdam (Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt).

More at www.josephsemah.nl

Bookmark and Share

There Is A Solution To Climate Change ~ And It Is Carbon Negative Technology

ChichilniskyClimate change poses the greatest threat to human civilization as we know it. Yet, governments around the world are reluctant to take drastic action to avert a climate change catastrophe even though we have the means to do so, as I will point out in the latter part of this essay.

But let’s take things from the start and look at the latest attempt of the part of the world’s governments to redress the problem of climate change, i.e., the Paris Agreement of late 2015.

In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, whose provisions run out in 2020, the Paris deal includes no legally binding carbon dioxide emissions limits. There are no mandatory emission limits and no mandatory payments to help poor nations develop clean energy technologies, nor to mitigate the damages caused by climate change on poor nations, when the damage was historically caused by the rich nations. Mandatory emissions limits are necessary for the carbon market to operate. What is traded in the carbon market is the right to exceed one’s mandatory limits. With no mandatory limits, there can be no carbon market. The entire world is clamoring for a “price on carbon”: this is the carbon market.  The six largest oil and gas companies in the world publicly support a price on carbon (Including Shell, BP, Statoil, Total and Engie). Yet the Paris Agreement undermines the very foundation for a price on carbon by requiring no mandatory emission limits.

Why did the Paris climate change negotiations move away from mandatory targets on carbon emissions and adopted instead a voluntary approach to the climate change challenge?  Because a legally binding treaty that needed ratification by governments back home would have reduced substantially the chances of reaching any kind of an agreement.

This is certainly the case for one of the world’s biggest polluters, i.e., the United States. Any treaty on climate change that made its way to Capitol Hill would be shredded into pieces by the Republican-controlled Congress.

However, as time goes by, it is certain that more and more people will realize that the political compromise made in Paris over mandatory emissions comes at a great cost.  Our ability to control rising temperatures caused by carbon dioxide accumulated in the air is greatly hindered since voluntary agreements guarantee failure.

But there is more. As the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report points out, carbon emission cuts are not enough to slow down global warming. According to IPCC, we are headed with certainty towards an increase in temperatures by three degrees Celsius by 2100, although there are scientists who believe that two degrees of warming is “a recipe for disaster.” It suffices to recall the superstorm Sandy that closed down New York City for weeks, with flooded subways, leaving entire neighbourhoods without electricity, no schools, no law enforcement, and automobiles floating in the streets of this proud city. Climate change means an increase in the frequency and severity of such climate events. This means three or four Superstorm Sandies every year in New York, and the city cannot survive such climate change.

In addition to reducing drastically emissions through mandatory limits and adopting clean energy systems, it is now imperative that we utilize negative carbon technologies to remove existing carbon dioxide from the air. This was required by the IPCC, the scientific foundation of the climate negotiations, in its November 2014 5th Assessment Report. We procrastinated too much and now we have to massively reduce the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere in addition to reducing emissions. There are carbon negative technologies in Silicon Valley, like those employed by Global Thermostat, that are operating at SRI in Menlo Park California, which can offer a solution to the greatest threat facing the future of human civilization as we know it. This requires that we accept mandatory emission limits and reactivate the carbon market that is based on mandatory emissions, and was trading $175Bn/year by 2011.

The funding from the carbon market suffices to implement and scale up carbon removal around the world, as the IPCC requires, for example through carbon negative carbon plants that clean the atmosphere while they produce electricity- and do all of this in a low cost and profitable fashion. A proposal made by the author in Copenhagen COP15 was to use the Kyoto carbon market to offer finance to scale up globally such carbon negative carbon plants in poor nations, thus providing electricity that is needed by 1,3 Bn people around the world that currently have no access to electricity, all this while cleaning the planet’s atmosphere. This was called the Green Power Fund and required $200Bn/year for building carbon negative power plants; instead the Green Climate Fund  was made into law, changing one word in its title and severing its connection from the source of funding, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol.

The reason the Climate Fund had its connection severed from its very source of funding, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol, was none other than the insistence of the US Congress – through its unanimously voted Byrd-Hagel Act —  that there be no mandatory emissions limits.

But there is technology that can remove carbon from the atmosphere as required by IPCC. It is already operating in the Silicon Valley.

The carbon negative technologies in Silicon Valley, like those  employed by Global Thermostat, which are fundamentally different from the now defunct carbon capturing and storing technologies, can offer a potential solution to the greatest  threat facing the future of human civilization as we know it.

Such technologies, if employed on a global scale, can be used to clean the air from carbon dioxide, acting like trees do but much faster, as is needed now. Moreover, they are quite inexpensive and offer the potential of financial rewards, thus making them an attractive incentive to investors and enterpreneurs since, again, the logic of the global economy is not going to change overnight and we certainly cannot wait for the materialization of the “ideal society” for the planet and the future of human civilization to be saved.

At the same time, this is not to suggest that technology is magic. Technology does not exist in a vacuum nor can it be expected to be our robotic slave. We need to change today’s global financial institutions and the prevailing economic values as well. Economic values decide what is meant by economic  progress. Today, economic values are based on short-sighted goals and on individualistic markets that defy logic, since they assign no value to clean air, to clean water or to biodiversity on which human survival depends. Assigning no value to the global commons–clean water, clean air, and biodiversity–leads to actions that threaten human survival. This has to change and can change. In the new Anthropocene era, humans are the most important geological force on the planet, and only with the right economic values can humankind survive.

Graciela Chichilnisky is Professor of Economics and of Statistics at Columbia University, Visiting Professor of Economics at Stanford University, Founder and CEO of Global Thermostat, and the architect of the Kyoto Protocol Carbon Market. www.chichilnisky.com

Bookmark and Share

Removing CO2 From The Atmosphere

VIDEO: Removing CO2 from the atmosphere

The world cannot avoid catastrophic climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases alone. Part of the solution must be removing CO2 that is already in the atmosphere, as Graciela Chichilnisky explained at the 2015 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit. She is the CEO of Global Thermostat, a firm whose revolutionary technology will be used in carbon-negative power plants that generate electricity while cleaning the atmosphere. Her equipment can convert existing fossil fuel plants, and the global carbon market’s clean development mechanism can help developing nations pay for the thousands of new clean power plants needed.

The plants will also generate revenue by using the extracted CO2 to produce carbonated beverages, fertilizers, and even synthetic gasoline. Chichilnisky envisions a future where Global Thermostat inexpensively licenses its technology to franchises all over the world, which can use crowdfunding to spread as fast as needed. She says this “is critical to resolving the climate change problem.”

Bookmark and Share

Luis Triveno ~ How Latin America’s Housing Policies Are Changing The Lives Of Urban Families

In an effort to harness the benefits of urbanization and improve the living conditions of the urban poor, Latin American countries have experimented with housing subsidies. Now that the region has several decades of experience under its belt, it is time to look back and ask: Have subsidies worked? What kind of impact have they had on the lives of lower-income residents? Moving forward, how can cities pay for ongoing urban renewal?

To address those questions and share their experiences, officials in charge of designing and implementing national housing policies in eight countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru) recently met in Washington DC, along with representatives from the World Bank, Cities Alliance, the Urban Institute, and Wharton’s International Housing Finance Program.

Looking into the future, while the discussions covered a lot of ground, at least three major issues caught my attention.

1. How to align the national level policies and programs with local level decision making in urban planning and management?
Each country’s housing policy has its own unique scale, context, political circumstances and measure of progress, but a number of common challenges were clear: How to implement national housing policies when working with local governments with very diverse technical and financial capacities; and avoid and/or manage the costs of urban sprawl (both formal and informal)? The Urban Institute synthetized the US experience working with block grants channeled from Washington to local governments for community development and housing so that participants could see what best fits their realities. Although the contexts are different, all governments were interested in learning from what has worked (or has not).

Read more: http://blogs.worldbank.org/how-latin-america-s-housing-policies

Bookmark and Share

  • 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...
  • Support

    Rozenberg Quarterly does not receive subsidies or grants of any kind, which is why your financial support in maintaining, expanding and keeping the site running is always welcome. You may donate any amount you wish and all donations go toward maintaining and expanding this website.

    10 euro donation:

    20 euro donation:

    Or donate any amount you like:

    ABN AMRO Bank
    Rozenberg Publishers
    IBAN NL65 ABNA 0566 4783 23
    reference: Rozenberg Quarterly

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please see our About page or contact us: info@rozenbergquarterly.com
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Follow us on Twitter

  • Archives