The Power of Culture

The issue: Attacks in the USA

World Bank: free press helps struggle against poverty

More freedom of the press leads to better government and less corruption. Bad government and corruption are the root cause of lagging development: poor people stay poor. This is the opinion of the World Bank as stated in the World Development Report, published in September. The report is the annual overview of the Bank's development activities. The World Bank studied the effectiveness of the media in 97 countries.
More information:
World Development Report, 11-09-01

Two thousand years of Jewish-German history

The Jewish museum in Berlin opened on Sunday September 9th. The building by the American architect Daniel Libeskind hosts an exhibition of two thousand years of Jewish-German history. The museum shows Jews not just as victims, but also portrays the Jewish contribution to German culture, politics, economy and science. The opening of the museum to the public, scheduled for the evening of Tuesday the eleventh, was postponed for two days because of the attacks in the US.
More information:
Jüdisches Museum Berlin, 09-09-01

Posture and religion

Moslems walk with a dignified posture, wearing loose robes. Animists are muscular and care little for clothing. Christians wear tight clothes and walk with bowed heads. Anthropologist Janet van der Does de Willebois studied the connection between clothing, posture and world view. To do this, she visited three Senegalese villages, an Animist, an Islamic and a Christian village all situated near one another. The conclusion: clothing, movement and outlook on life are connected to one another. In September Van der Does received her doctoral degree at the Free University in Amsterdam for her doctoral thesis Bodywork: dress, demeanour and world view in the south of Senegal.

UN conference against racism

The UN conference against racism in Durban, South Africa lasted approximately nine days. At the end, the participating countries agreed on a final declaration and an action program for combating racism and discrimination. In the final declaration, the conference recognises slavery and slave trade as crimes against humanity. The expression of regret was a difficult point for Europe. Former colonial powers feared legal consequences and reparations to descendants of slaves.
The agenda contained other thorny items, as well. Arabic countries wanted Israel to be condemned for racism against Palestinians. The US and Israel both left the conference after a few days. In the final declaration, Israel is not specifically mentioned.
Dalits, the Indian casteless, attempted to bring attention to their own fate. However, Indian diplomats did not want to discuss the caste system.
More about the conference: OHCHR
More about Dalits: Asian Legal Recources Centre

Expression of regret by Zen masters

Zen masters of the Rinzai sect, one of the largest Zen movements in Japan, offered their apologies for the behaviour of their predecessors during the Second World War. This expression of regret is the result of lobbying by a Dutch woman, Ina Buitendijk. In the book Zen at War (1997) by Zen priest Brian Victoria, she read how Zen masters collaborated with the Japanese war regime. It is the first time that Japanese Zen masters have acknowledged their involvement and offered their apologies.

Languages in the Euro parliament

The Euro parliament recently decided that all languages must continue to be treated equally. English is not the preferred language. The Euro parliament wants all citizens to have access to the parliament in their own language. There are already eleven official languages. Interpreters and translations cost around 300 million Dutch Guilders per year. The number of official languages may rise as high as 23 when new members enter around 2004.
More information: Europarlement, 07-09-01

Sources: NRC Handelsblad, Trouw, de Volkskrant, UNHCR, Europarlement, World bank; Asian Legal Recources Centre, Jüdisches Museum Berlin


Photographic works by Angèle Essamba in Arnhem

Photos by the Cameroon photographer Angèle Etoundi Essamba can be seen through 11 November in the photo exhibition Noirs in the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem. Essamba does not want to be labelled a documentalist of misery, nor does she want to breathe new life into romantic myths of 'Mother Africa'. The photographer wants to break the cliché image of the repressed black woman by showing strong, dark, self-confident women.

You can find more exhibitions, cultural events and gatherings in 'World in action', the schedule on the International Collaboration web site.


october 2001