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Archive for October, 2012

How China sees a multicultural world

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The vast majority of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, a stark contrast to the multiracial composition of other populous countries. What effect does this have on how China views the world?

More than nine out of 10 Chinese people think of themselves as belonging to just one race, the Han. This is remarkable. It is quite different from the world’s other most populous nations: India, United States, Indonesia and Brazil. All recognise themselves to be, in varying degrees, multiracial and multicultural.

Why is this? The BBC answers


Ethnic minorities in China

Ethnic Uyghur grandfather holds child

Of the 55 recognised ethnic minority groups, the 10 largest are:

  • Zhuang (16.9 million)
  • Hui (10.59 million)
  • Manchu (10.39 million)
  • Uyghur (10.07 million)
  • Miao (9.43 million)
  • Yi (8.7 million)
  • Tujia (8.35 million)
  • Tibetan (6.28 million)
  • Mongol (5.98 million)
  • Buyei (2.87 million)

Source: 2010 China census

Reforming the north-east – Rustbelt revival

Monday, October 29th, 2012

A decade after an explosion of unrest in China’s north-east, a remarkable recovery is under way

The outgoing party chief, Jiang Zemin, was trying to promote a new catchphrase for the party called the “three represents”, including the notion that the party represented “the fundamental interests of the majority”. The workers who took to the streets in the spring of 2002, in the cities of Daqing, Fushun and Liaoyang were in effect saying that the party did not represent them and had indeed failed them.

Within a year of taking over from Mr Jiang, Hu Jintao launched a campaign to “revive the north-east”. It was an ambitious project for a region that had few of the advantages of the fast-growing Yangzi and Pearl River deltas, with their better-developed private sectors and ready access to investment and know-how from abroad, especially Hong Kong and Taiwan. Of the north-east’s GDP, two-thirds was being produced by state-owned firms

Much work remains to be done, from the reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to boosting social-security provisions. But a decade on, as Mr Hu and the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, prepare to step down, the party is likely to tout the north-east’s revival as one of its successes.

Problems for migrants “Don’t complain about things that you can’t change”

Monday, October 29th, 2012

After a generation of migration, barriers to social mobility remain…

THE greatest wave of voluntary migration in human history transformed China’s cities, and the global economy, in a single generation. It has also created a huge task for those cities, by raising the expectations of the next generation of migrants from the countryside, and of second-generation migrant children. They have grown up in cities in which neither the jobs nor the education offered them have improved much.

This matters because the next generation of migrants has already arrived in staggering numbers. Shanghai’s migrant population almost trebled between 2000 and 2010, to 9m of the municipality’s 23m people. Nearly 60% of Shanghai’s 7.5m or so 20-to-34-year-olds are migrants.

44% of young migrants worked in manufacturing and another 10% in construction.

Nearly half worried about the monotony of their work and despaired of their career prospects. Only 8.6% reported being “comfortable” at work. One worker told researchers: “We have become robots, and I don’t want to be a robot who only works with machines.”

One obstacle to a better job is their parents. In China’s system of household registration (known as hukou)…They are fated to grow up on a separate path from children of Shanghainese parents. Migrant children are eligible to attend local primary and middle schools, but barred from Shanghai’s high schools. For years reformers have called for changes in the hukou system.



The economics of home rule: The Scottish play

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Scotland could probably go it alone now, but the economics of independence are steadily worsening


‘Master’ Jefferson: Defender Of Liberty, Then Slavery

Monday, October 29th, 2012

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” there’s compelling evidence to indicate that he indeed meant all men, not just white guys.

But by the 1780s, Jefferson’s views on slavery in America had mysteriously shifted. He formulated racial theories asserting, for instance, that African women had mated with apes; Jefferson financed the construction of Monticello by using the slaves he owned — some 600 during his lifetime — as collateral for a loan he took out from a Dutch banking house; and when he engineered the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson pushed for slavery in that territory. By 1810, Jefferson had his eye fixed firmly on the bottom line, disparaging a relative’s plan to sell his slaves by saying, “It [would] never do to destroy the goose.”

Faced with these conflicting visions of Jefferson, scholars usually fall back on words like “paradox” and “irony”; but historian Henry Wiencek says words like that allow “a comforting state of moral suspended animation.” His tough new book, Master of the Mountain, judges Jefferson’s racial views by the standards of his own time and finds him wanting. Unlike, say, George Washington, who freed his slaves in his will, Jefferson, Wiencek says, increasingly “rationalized an abomination.”

7 minute book review of “Master”

The March Days of 1848: Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and his “Dear Berliners

Monday, October 29th, 2012

This document, based on a chapter from the author’s Germans and the Revolution of 1848-1849, which appears in the New German-American Studies series published by Peter Lang, is presented in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the March Days in Berlin that followed the deposition of King Louis-Philippe in France and the fall of the Austrian minister Clemens Metternich in Vienna, events that triggered a wave of revolutions all across the continent of Europe.

This account should be of special interest to descendants of Forty-Eighters who fled to the United States after conclusion of the revolutionary debates and hostilities.

A good chapter

Scottish independence: Cameron and Salmond strike referendum deal

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The agreement, struck in Edinburgh, has paved the way for a vote in autumn 2014, with a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK.

It will also allow 16 and 17-year-olds to take part in the ballot.

The SNP secured a mandate to hold the referendum after its landslide Scottish election win last year.

The UK government, which has responsibility over constitutional issues, will grant limited powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a legal referendum, under a mechanism called Section 30.

David Cameron says the agreement includes “one simple, straightforward question”

Read more about the deal at BBC

10 Great Resources on the Electoral College

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Well not all 10 are great. But all of these interactive maps will help you understand the convoluted process.

Free to Be, 40 Years Later

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Forty years ago this November, an album appeared in stores that wanted to change all that. Free To Be … You and Me aimed to teach kids that boys and girls aren’t different at all: that every child, no matter which gender, can wear whatever, like whatever, behave however it wants. That every child can be free just to be.

Check out this 3 part album retrospective

The American Revolution: The Game

Monday, October 29th, 2012

When Assassin’s Creed III was in development, the game’s Canadian developers regularly quizzed Americans about their knowledge of the Revolutionary War. Who were the leading lights of the era? What did Boston look like? Just how deep would Ubisoft Montreal’s writers, artists, and cultural consultants have to dig to tell a story that felt fresh and surprising to Americans?

Not all that deep, it turns out. Alex Hutchinson, the game’s creative director, says Americans were as likely to identify Christopher Columbus and Billy the Kid as Colonial-era figures as they were to cite George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. In addition, some assumed that cities like Boston were little more than frontier campgrounds, with tiny communities huddling for warmth in tents.

You might argue that these sorts of answers reveal how ignorant Americans are about their own history, and you might be right. But they’re also a consequence of the dearth of popular depictions of this period. When Assassin’s Creed III comes out on Tuesday, millions of gamers will be exposed to the American Revolution for the first time. (Perhaps tens of millions—Assassin’s Creed II sold more than 9 million copies.) What they’ll find is the most accessible reconstruction of the Revolutionary War era that’s ever been made.

Read on at Slate