Sunday, June 24, 2012

On the coup in Paraguay

It’s been awhile since I last posted.  It’s been a busy time, with doing some fieldwork – mainly interviewing people – for a report which I’m trying to get done by the end of this week.  However, I had some spare minutes yesterday to draft the following about events in Paraguay.  Just now I’ve had an email from one of the editors of our book on the Latin American right, who notes how prescient Peter Lambert was regarding his chapter on that country.  Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my take (and which should possibly be up at the Ideas Centre blog in the next few days – I hope!):

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Latest publications out

After several rounds of writing and revising, this has been a good start to the year in publication terms.  I have just had my third academic article published, which I am especially pleased with.  It’s in Third World Quarterly and is on the Islamist political party, Hamas, and its vision of development.  I’m happy with it because it’s the first Palestine/Middle East related article I’ve published.  The others have been Latin America-oriented and based on my PhD topic.  Also, it got accepted with no demand for changes, which was surprising.  Anyway, I certainly hope that people find it of interest.

As for the other articles, both are related to my PhD years and deal with education in Brazil and Chile.  The one on Chile is a relief, especially as I was never sure if it would actually be published or not.  I wrote the original draft more than four years ago and the process dragged on and on.

On top of these articles, I have just submitted a few others (either first drafts or revisions), which – fingers crossed – should lead to further publications in the next year or so.  One is on European aid to the Palestinian Authority and the other on Brazil’s poverty reduction and alleviation programmes.  I just hope they are both accepted!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Comparing Israel and South Africa and its limits

Last night I accompanied a friend to watch ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’, a documentary which draws together the experience of apartheid in South Africa with the discrimination and oppression visited by Israel on the Palestinians.  The analogies were well done, with footage from South Africa before 1994 set alongside with that from Israel and the occupied territories.  Images of checkpoints, soldiers checking permits, beating up and shooting protestors were all used to reinforce the idea that Israel is busy introducing an effective apartheid state.

Anyone working in academia will be familiar with the charge.  To this are increasing numbers of solidarity activists and supporters and sympathisers of the Palestinian cause who are making the link.  Perhaps the most visible expression of this analogy is that of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement that has grown up in recent years – and Israeli reaction and paranoia that they may one day be labelled a pariah state in the same way that South Africa was (hence the draconian legislation relating to the BDS which exists within Israel today).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Corniche, Beirut
Lebanon, then and now

Beirut has changed substantially when compared to my last trip there.  That’s to be expected, given that I first visited the city 15 years ago.  And while I knew that it had changed, it wasn’t until I got there that I realised how much.  It was brought home to be from the first day I was there, as I walked from my accommodation on Rue Gemmayze to the American University of Beirut (AUB).  Back in 1997 I recall seeing the bombed out Holiday Inn standing amid a pile of rubble where a whole neighbourhood once stood.  On Monday I recognised the same building, presumably standing as a memorial to the civil war.  But I didn’t recognise anything else around it.  It was hemmed in by all sorts of new buildings, of different shapes and colours, although many of them harking back self-consciously to the past.
Recent presentations

I’m now back behind the office desk after spending the last two weeks travelling, first to London and then to Beirut.  In London I presented my paper on poverty reduction in Brazil and the government’s (still relatively) new poverty elimination plan at the Institute for the Study of the Americas.  I was also hoping to present it at the symposium being organised by Middlesex University on Brazil, but I think there was a foul up in communications, as they didn’t seem to get my message.  Fortunately, they are organising another event, which may take place in April.  I may well be at that one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Upcoming events

Next week I'll be presenting on poverty reduction and elimination in Brazil in London.  I'm booked to present at the Institute for the Study of the Americas on Tuesday (28) and at a symposium organised by Middlesex University in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday (29).  That said, I have no idea how long I will be able to present for - I'm still waiting to hear back!

Anyway, this should hopefully be an interesting exercise and pay-off for the last few weeks.  I've been giving up my Fridays and Sundays to prepare this work and have become quite interested in the topic.  Maybe I can develop it further after the events into a possible journal article.  The subject is also complementing other work I'm doing on participation and grassroots development among Palestinians.  I find that reading on one helps the other.  After next week's events I aim to post a summary of what I said and the response to it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brazil under Dilma

My latest reflections on Brazil and its foreign policy are now up at the Ideas blog.  I haven’t written there for awhile so it was about time that I did so.  It was only after I sent it in that I realised I had written something else of Brazilian foreign policy, only a few months earlier and based on the workshop we had at the LSE in the summer.  So the next Latin America-related piece that I draft will have to focus on another country.  When that will be, I don’t know.  The year is not even a month old and already things seem so busy.

That said, I have begun to make a start on a paper that I’ve had in mind to write for awhile.  This week I finished the last interview needed to make a start on it, which considers Brazil’s and Venezuela’s contrasting approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I won’t say any more about it at the moment, other than that I aim to get a first draft done to present at the Ideas Centre (if they’ll have me!) in early April.  Also around that time a couple of journal articles are due to come out, the proofs of which I’m currently checking.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Journal uncertainty

I’m coming to the conclusion that academic journals are like London buses: you wait ages for one to reply to your submitted article and several all reply at the same time.  So it has happened in the past couple of weeks when several journals sent decisions on papers I submitted, one from last month, another in July and two others after I made the changes requested by the reviewers – in one case two years ago.

So it seems that two of them may soon be published, while in responding to the third I am no clearer to knowing if they will publish it (since they didn’t express any urgency about when I might make the changes) and the fourth will require more work.  Anyway, what this all suggests is that the Christmas-New Year period may not be as calm as I like, since I will need to do some work on these papers.  Still, it’ll be nice to boost my publications total and actually see them in print (fingers crossed – can’t get too confident since I've been waiting for at least one to be printed for over a year now!).
Thoughts on Brazil's development model - shared in public

It was a flying visit back to London at the weekend for the Latin America 2011 conference.  This is an annual event organised by the various solidarity groups and bringing together activists and academics.  I had been invited to present on the Brazil panel, along with Joaobe Cavalcanti (an Anglican priest based in London who is also the Workers Party representative) and Francisco Dominguez of Middlesex University.

I was invited through my involvement with the LSE Ideas Centre and the conference I presented at back in July.  I guess they didn’t realise at the time what making an invitation to me would mean.  But I didn’t feel I could say no: I’ve never been invited to present at a conference before and it’s good to keep my foot in the door on Latin America-related activity, including in the UK.  There was also the matter of the launch for the Right Wing Politics in the New Latin America book, which I contributed a chapter on (it now seems so long ago – the paper I presented at the Society of Latin American Studies conference in Leeds in April 2009 which was the genesis for the chapter and finally sending it to Steve Ludlam, one of the editors, back in July last year).