The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'postcolonialism'
A resort in the Maldives has been offering wedding packages to (mostly Western) tourists, where, for $1300, they can have a "traditional Maldivean" ceremony. Unbeknownst to the tourists, the actual ceremony consisted of a stream of obscenities and nonsequiturs in Dhivehi, directed at the clueless couple. This only emerged when a staff member uploaded the video of one of the ceremonies, originally taped for the couple in question, to YouTube:
“Before buggering a chicken, check if the hole is clean. That is because the people of the countries that you are from are familiar with the taste of the ****holes of chicken,” he chants, still with hands held over the couples’.
The concluding chant is delivered in a gentler, softer voice: “Keep fornicating frequently, and keep spreading hatred among people. The children you will have from this marriage will all be bastard swine.”
With the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan having begun, some Islamic scholars are pushing to replace Greenwich Mean Time with a new standard based on Mecca time, at least in the Islamic world. The scholars assure us that the choice of Mecca as a global meridian has a sound scientific basis:
According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known around the Muslim world for his popular television show "Sharia and Life", Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is "in perfect alignment with the magnetic north."
This claim that the holy city is a "zero magnetism zone" has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.Not surprisingly, these "scientific" claims have not met with universal acceptance. In any case, magnetism or not, it'll be interesting to see whether Mecca Time makes inroads into replacing GMT in the Islamic world. I imagine it'll have an easier time of gaining acceptance than other proposed time standards (such as, say, Swatch's so-called "Internet Time", a weird form of metric time proposed in the 1990s and not actually connected to any internet standards), given that the conversion is merely a matter of adding a few hours.
(via Boing Boing)
Muslim scientists have called for Mecca time to replace Greenwich Mean Time as the international standard. Other than the religious argument (not likely to sway many non-Muslims) and the postcolonial argument, they contend that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was "in perfect alignment to magnetic north":
He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.
A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim "qibla" - the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.(Youssef al-Qadarawy? Where have I heard that name before?)
The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.
The Graun has an article on the phenomenon of fried chicken shops in Britain, tying in the class aspect (fried chicken as a signifier of underclass status), the racial and cultural dimensions and the connection with Islam:
The increasing number of halal fried chicken shops in the UK is testament to changing demographic and eating patterns. "The Muslim community here is growing," says Enam Ali, chair of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs. "Fried chicken is cheap - [people who eat it] are young, students, with limited pocket money." Masood Khawaja, president of the Halal Food Authority, says, "A great percentage of third generation Muslims are not eating the original cuisine of their families - they want more takeaways, more convenience foods."
"Let's just grasp the nettle here," says black comic Paul Ricketts, whose stand-up observations often turn to this issue. "All black areas have loads of fried chicken outlets. It is a socio-economic thing. Chicken is one of the cheapest birds you can get. When people go on about smelly food, what they really mean is fried chicken, and they're having a dig at the people eating it - we have an era where we don't mention class any more, we just call them chavs or hoodies - it's a term for working-class scum."
At Halal Southern Fried Chicken in London's Brick Lane, they lace their hot wing batter with chilli powder, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Most customers are men in their 20s. The story is the same further down the road at Al-Badar Fried Chicken and Curry Restaurant, where their hot wings are coated in cinnamon, coriander and fresh and crushed chillies. Manager Amer Salim differentiates his product from the nearby KFC, which, he says, caters to another market. "In London's Tower Hamlets, the Bangladeshi community like spicy with more and more chilli," he says. "Fried chicken in KFC is not spicy."It doesn't mention the iconographic idiosyncracies of these shops, with their varyingly plausible faux-Americanisms (from "_ Fried Chicken" shops named after random US states to shops whose signage evokes images of cowboys frying chicken over campfires on the Rio Grande to the ubiquitous cartoon mascots of chickens in cowboy hats.
The South African capital, currently known as Pretoria, is being renamed to Tshwane, the name of an ancient African king, and also a word meaning something like "unity". The renaming has to do with breaking links with the old colonial white minority regime.
By the same token, perhaps when the republican debate restarts in Australia, we can expect proposals for renaming Australian cities. After all, why should cities bear the names of dead English noblemen like Viscount Sydney or Lord Melbourne (let alone areas named after imperial war heroes like Baron Collingwood)? Perhaps, if Germaine Greer's Aboriginal republic ever comes about, Sydney can be renamed to "Warrane" or similar, and other places can have similar post-colonial name changes.
Two villages in the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu are the scene for a war between a Christian sect and a cargo cult.
The John Frum movement first emerged in Vanuatu in the 1930s when the islands were jointly ruled by Britain and France as the New Hebrides. Rebelling against the aggressive proselytising of Presbyterian missionaries, dozens of villages on the island of Tanna put their faith in a mysterious outsider called John Frum. They believed he would drive out their colonial masters and re-establish their traditional ways.
On Tanna, islanders became convinced that John Frum was an American. They have spent the past 60 years dressing up in home-made US army uniforms, drilling with bamboo rifles and parading beneath the Stars and Stripes in the hope of enticing a delivery of "cargo" again.
"In the past we believed in John Frum, but now we believe in Jesus," said Alfred Wako, 49. "The John Frum people don't go to church and they don't send their children to school. They believe in the old rituals. They are heathens."
An interesting piece about the dominance of English, and the efforts made to preserve other languages from its encroachment:
In Hong Kong, by contrast, the new, Chinese masters are promoting Cantonese, to the concern of local business. And in India some people see English as an oppressive legacy of colonialism that should be exterminated. As long ago as 1908 Mohandas Gandhi was arguing that "to give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them." Ninety years later the struggle was still being fought, with India's defence minister of the day, Mulayam Singh Yadav, vowing that he would not rest "until English is driven out of the country". Others, however, believe that it binds a nation of 800 tongues and dialects together, and connects it to the outside world to boot.
(Psychoceramic speculation: perhaps someone should try something like that in Australia; what's the point of becoming a republic if we still speak the tongue of our colonial oppressors? It may be politically correct to adopt and adapt an Aboriginal language (as has been done with Hebrew and Icelandic) as "Australian"; a committee of fashionable academics, bureaucrats and special-interest groups could be appointed to supervise the development of the language.)
[T]he Icelanders have readily adopted alnaemi for "AIDS", skjar for "video monitor" and toelva for "computer". Why? Partly because the new words are in fact mostly old ones: alnaemi means "vulnerable", skjar is the translucent membrane of amniotic sac that used to be stretched to "glaze" windows, and toelva is formed from the words for "digit" and "prophetess". Familiarity means these words are readily intelligible. But it also helps that Icelanders are intensely proud of both their language and their literature, and the urge to keep them going is strong
[M]ultilingualism, a commonplace among the least educated peoples of Africa, is now the norm among Dutch, Scandinavians and, increasingly, almost everyone else. Native English-speakers, however, are becoming less competent at other languages: only nine students graduated in Arabic from universities in the United States last year, and the British are the most monoglot of all the peoples of the EU . Thus the triumph of English not only destroys the tongues of others; it also isolates native English-speakers from the literature, history and ideas of other peoples. It is, in short, a thoroughly dubious triumph. But then who's for Esperanto? Not the staff of The Economist, that's for sure