Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Examining Ghana's use of intellectual property law to protect adinkra and kente fabrics

In Ghana, adinkra and kente textiles derive their significance from their association with both Asante and Ghanaian cultural nationalism. In her new book The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here, Boatema Boateng, associate professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego, focuses on the appropriation and protection of adinkra and kente cloth in order to examine the broader implications of the use of intellectual property law to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge.

Adinkra cloth with nwhemu stitching.


Q&A WITH BOATEMA BOATENG

Associate professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego

Q: First, what are adinkra and kente textiles?


Adinkra textiles are fabrics with designs stenciled onto them using a black dye. The fabric is used mainly for funerals, but when the designs are stenciled onto a white background, adinkra cloth can also be used for celebration. Each adinkra design has a specific meaning, for example, the most well-known design, Gye Nyame, refers to the power of God.

Kente cloth is made using the strip-weaving technique that is widespread in different parts of Africa. In Ghana, the name “kente” refers to the strip-woven cloth of two ethnic groups, the Ewe, and the Asante. My book focuses on Asante kente cloth, which tends to have more abstract designs and a more vibrant color palette than Ewe kente. As with adinkra cloth, the designs of kente cloth also have specific meanings. Where adinkra is used mainly for funerals, kente is used mainly for celebration.

Popular myths link both adinkra and Asante kente cloth to the Asante kingdom, which emerged in the early 18th century in the area that is now called Ghana and still exists in diminished form. Adinkra is said to have come from Gyaman, near the border between Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and kente from Salaga, to the northeast of Asante.

Q: How do these textiles derive their significance?

They derive their significance from a number of sources. The most important of these are the fabrics’ association with (and reflection of) Asante royalty, culture, and history, as well as Ghanaian culture and history. The textiles are also significant for the symbolism of the designs used in their production, and in their primary association with death and mourning, in the case of adinkra cloth, and with wealth and celebration, in the case of kente.

Q: How does the appropriation of adinkra and kente textiles compare with appropriation issues that continue in other indigenous communities (such as yoga)?


At a very general level, the appropriation of adinkra and kente is similar to the appropriation of other forms of culture produced by indigenous peoples and local communities, especially when those cultural forms are deemed to lie outside the realm of intellectual property law.

However, Ghana cannot be described as an indigenous community in the same sense as, say, Native American communities in the U.S. Rather, the Ghanaian copyright protection of adinkra and kente designs is similar to cases like India’s patent protection of yoga poses because they involve the claims of nations over cultural production within their territories. The Ghanaian and Indian examples also show that indigenous culture takes a wide range of forms, and this is evident in the different kinds of intellectual property law that these nations have chosen in order to protect these cultural forms.

Q: The kente strip on the cover of your book depicts the copyright symbol. If kente cloth producers incorporate non-Ghanaian elements into their work, can it not be argued that they are also guilty of appropriation?

Weavers have for several years diversified their cloth production by incorporating a range of images into kente strips. Those images include numbers, letters, words, adinkra symbols and the symbols of sororities and fraternities (in the case of strips woven for the U.S. market). While departing somewhat from the abstract nature of most Asante kente designs, these strips retain important elements of kente cloth. In the examples shown in the book, the middle portions of the strips are similar to conventional kente cloth in featuring alternating panels and a traditional stool design.

These newer woven images and symbols are testimony to the dynamic and changing nature of cloth production as well as the skill of cloth producers. I should make special mention of Joseph Amegah of Accra, who wove the strip on the book cover. He was shown the copyright symbol, asked to weave it in a kente strip, and the result is the beautiful and original piece on the cover of the book.

That argument has been made (that appropriation exists here). However, a number of scholars argue that appropriation must be considered in relation to factors like the relative power of the actors involved. I share this view and in the book, I examine appropriation in relation to factors that include the scale at which it occurs, the medium in which it occurs, and the political and economic projects underpinning it.

Kente cloth in aberewa ben design.

Q: What parallels or divergences do you see between your work and others working in indigenous studies?

Many of us are concerned with the simultaneous marginalization and appropriation of the cultural production of indigenous peoples around the world and of local communities in Third World nations. Such marginalization and appropriation of indigenous cultural products, be they medicinal plants or fabric designs, relegates them to the status of raw materials, rather than artistic and scientific goods in their own right. This leaves them open to appropriation – often by groups and individuals who then claim ownership of their appropriations by recourse to intellectual property law.

Our work diverges in that my research focuses on a country that is different from indigenous communities because it has full independence and sovereignty as a nation-state. While it can be argued that nations like Ghana occupy a status that is neocolonial rather than fully postcolonial, they are equal, in some important respects, to other independent nations. This means that compared to indigenous peoples, they have relatively privileged access to the institutions of the international community. These include institutions that regulate the global circulation of cultural goods, like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Q: What implications do your research and conclusions have for global attempts to protect or regulate the exchange of traditional knowledge?

My work challenges arguments that have been advanced against granting such knowledge protection within intellectual property regimes, especially those arguments that place so-called “traditional knowledge” and “modern art and science” in separate and unequal spheres. By pointing to the culturally and historically contingent nature of intellectual property law, my book demonstrates that such arguments often have more to do with the relative power of different groups of cultural producers, than with the nature of what they actually produce. In making this argument, my work also challenges the premises of intellectual property law as well as the increasing use of intellectual property regimes to advance the interests of industrialized nations over those of Third World nations and indigenous peoples. Finally, it underscores the need to radically re-think the ways that cultural production is conceptualized for the purposes of protection and circulation.

Q: Does your book come to any conclusions about regulating intellectual property?


An important principle in intellectual property law is that both creators and users should benefit from cultural products. However, in many of their current national and international forms, intellectual property regimes essentially protect the interests of large producers over the interests of users and less powerful producers. In this set of arrangements, groups ranging from independent filmmakers in the U.S. to adinkra and kente producers in Ghana are all placed at a disadvantage.

In addition, intellectual property is based on ideas of creativity that are not universal and do not apply very well to cultural products like adinkra and kente cloth. Therefore, my concern is not with the successful regulation of intellectual property law as it currently stands in most parts of the world, but with its successful reform or replacement. I am interested in how one might arrive at an alternative framework that is more just in being sensitive to the interests of both producers and users of cultural products.

One alternative I explore in the book draws on scholarship that calls for renewed attention to the commons as an alternative to intellectual property law. I explore the idea of the commons while seeking to overcome the ways that this concept has been used against the interests of indigenous peoples and Third World nations. All too often, the cultural production of these groups is viewed as occurring in the commons and therefore free for the taking.

I argue that the concept of the commons can be a useful one if one thinks of it as a space of specialized cultural production. In doing so, it is also important to pay attention to its boundaries, and respect the right of those who work within it to manage those boundaries and determine the conditions on which one can draw from it. It is also important to undo the hierarchical ranking of different kinds of commons-based cultural production by viewing different commons as inter-related rather than discrete entities. Such a perspective makes it harder to celebrate the privileged spaces of commons-based cultural production in the global North without paying attention to the relative lack of privilege in commons like those of adinkra and kente production in the global South.

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Find out more in The Copyright Thing Doesn't Work Here.

"This fine-grained historical and ethnographic inquiry into the social life of Ghanaian textiles is—quite simply and by several degrees of magnitude—the best study anywhere of how Western tropes of intellectual property fail to grasp the complexity of systems in which the traditional arts are practiced today. It should be required reading for policy-makers in world capitals and at international organizations."
—Peter Jaszi, American University


This post published in partnership with First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Preparing for an apocalypse: Government officials, architects, and the history of the fallout shelter

In 1961, reacting to U.S. government plans to survey, design, and build fallout shelters, the president of the American Institute of Architects told the organization that “all practicing architects should prepare themselves to render this vital service to the nation and to their clients.” Here, David Monteyne, author of Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War, shines a historical light on the doomsday bunker's recent surge in popularity—and how they were originally built to protect government officials.

A fallout shelter sign gets posted on an apartment building in the early 1960s in Falls Church, Virginia. Photo no. 29-S-106; RG 397-MA; National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

BY DAVID MONTEYNE
Assistant professor, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Canada

Recent articles on CNN and MSN.com suggest that Americans suddenly are commissioning and building backyard and underground bunkers to protect themselves from the end of the world. Portents of apocalypse these days include the Japanese earthquake and tsunami as well as 2012 predictions of the Mayan calendar. Only a few years ago it was Hurricane Katrina, and before that al-Qaeda, and Y2K, and so on and so forth. In fact, these spikes of interest in personal protective construction can be traced steadily back to 1945, at least, when the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led immediately to fears of an atomic Pearl Harbor. However, even at the peaks of Cold War nuclear fear in the early 1950s, early 1960s, and early 1980s, few people in the United States actually built or bought bomb, fallout, or other types of shelters. While this spring’s reports claim that “inquiries” and sales of personal bunkers “have gone through the roof,” citing massive percentage increases, we ought to note that the real numbers tell the usual story. Quadrupling sales, when typical sales are one per month, still doesn’t add up to much other than hype. As a number of Cold War historians have shown, things were little different during the McCarthy, Kennedy, or Reagan eras.

Much more interesting than what a few well-prepared, or paranoid, citizens have done is what the federal government—and the experts and professionals mobilized by it—have done to prepare for apocalyptic wars and other non-routine events. As I argue in Fallout Shelter, government programs of the 1950-60s proposed and produced massive interventions, research projects, and propaganda campaigns to demonstrate a national capability for protecting every U.S. citizen. In particular, the book explores how architects (and to some extent, engineers and urban planners) were mobilized by the state to imagine, project, and occasionally build, spaces safe from the Cold War threat of nuclear war. Bunkers certainly played a role, but most of the ones actually built to resist nuclear blasts and firestorms and initial radiation pulses were for the protection of government officials.

Meanwhile, the government proposed that civilians only needed protection from a singular threat: fallout. Those other aforementioned effects were written off along with their victims (according to the Department of Defense at the time, 100 million or so dead Americans in a full-scale nuclear exchange). Fallout shelters just needed to block residual radiation over the days and weeks following a nuclear war. Accordingly, civil defense experts took an optimistic tone. As Architectural Record noted in 1962, “the building you are in right now is a fallout shelter,” because all buildings blocked some radiation. It was up to professional architects to determine which buildings provided better protection than others.

The National Fallout Shelter Program, which was instituted by JFK in 1961 and remained active for the next decade or so, represents the United States’ most sustained and extensive development of civil defense—at least prior to the Department of Homeland Security. Architects were key players in the Program. First, they were sent out to survey every structure in the United States for its fallout shelter potential, a gargantuan and unprecedented task. Then, the American Institute of Architects teamed up with the federal civil defense agency to educate professional designers about fallout shelter design and to encourage them to deploy its methods in every new project.

The evidence of the National Fallout Shelter Program still marks buildings today: its trademark shelter signage in black and yellow hangs by entrances and basement stairwells; and often, piles of rancid crackers in moldering cardboard boxes, heavy barrels of water, and partially pilfered first aid kits are tucked away in some forgotten corner. Many of the early continuity of government bunkers have suffered the same fate, though a couple of them have become tourist attractions. However, the U.S. government continues to maintain others and to build new ones. Certainly, the activities and the legacies of the National Fallout Shelter Program—not to mention the government’s Cold War civil defense in general—reached far further than a scattering of backyard and basement shelters.

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Read more in Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War, which details activities from the training of architects as shelter analysts to the design competitions, charrettes, and awards for buildings with fallout shelter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saunas, journalism, and the making of Minnesota: Meet our MN Book Award winners

From left: Aaron W. Hautala, photographer, The Opposite of Cold; Todd Orjala, UMP's Senior Acquisitions Editor in Regional Studies; Michael Nordskog, author, The Opposite of Cold; and Mary Lethert Wingerd, author, North Country: The Making of Minnesota.


UMP is excited to introduce four significant persons and three books that received Minnesota Book Awards on Saturday night:

Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune books editor and author of News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, was the recipient of the much-anticipated and competitive Readers' Choice Award, sponsored by Pioneer Press and TwinCities.com (according to the Star Tribune, a whopping 2,000 votes were tallied for this one). In the vast sea of congratulations, we were, unfortunately, unable to round Laurie up for the above group photo, but you can check out a very nice close-up of the award and leave a comment on her Facebook page. We also recommend visiting her book trailer, which features photos from Laurie's early adventures in journalism.

Mary Lethert Wingerd, associate professor of history at St. Cloud State University and author of North Country: The Making of Minnesota, received the Award for Minnesota (sponsored by Xcel Energy). For more info, listen to her segment on MPR, in which she discusses the 200 years before Minnesota's statehood, here.


Michael Nordskog, an attorney, writer and editor who lives in Viroqua, Wisconsin, is author of The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition, which took home the Award for General Nonfiction (sponsored by the Minnesota AFL-CIO).

Aaron W. Hautala, creative director and owner of RedHouseMedia in Brainerd, Minnesota, is the photographer for The Opposite of Cold. You can check out Hautala and Nordskog in conversation about their experiences traveling for the book—as well as catch a preview of some of the book's gorgeous photographs—in this series of videos produced by UMP.

Find a full list of the Minnesota Book Awards nominations and winners here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Understanding the global nature of counterculture

Recent protests in Wisconsin are reminiscent of 1960s counterculture movements. Here, Steven Ridgely asks what, if any, form of counterculture might emerge from this highly politicized moment. Image source.

BY STEVEN C. RIDGELY
Assistant professor of Japanese literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

The recent protests in Madison, Wisconsin, by a coalition of students, organized labor, and concerned citizens reminded many (mainly due to the size of the rallies) of Vietnam era protests, although this time citizens of all ages marched alongside unionized police and firefighters.

To those of us who work on 1960s Japan these events could not help but resonate with the mass protests in Tokyo and around the country that marked the beginning and end of that turbulent decade. The deepest resonance for me was in watching people turn to the “what next” questions as the rallies continued on for an entire month and interest shifted toward legal challenges, recall elections, and consumer boycotts.

Counterculture, I think we could safely say, emerged in the '60s as a different sort of answer to the “what next” question, proposing not just an alternative lifestyle but also a set of tactics that could be used to secure autonomy, frustrate the authoritative consolidation of power, and begin creating pockets of a postrevolutionary society. I am very curious to see if some new form of counterculture (hopefully not just a reissue of bell-bottoms) emerges from this newly politicized moment.

As I argue in Japanese Counterculture, tracking the work of a figure such as Terayama Shūji (1935-1983), who was central to countercultural art in Japan, can help us better understand both 1960s Japan and the global nature of counterculture. His movement across the worlds of poetry, radio drama, fiction, underground theater, and experimental film often tracks an intervention by young artists in those realms. But a hub-and-spoke, influence-and-adaptation model of cultural movement breaks down dramatically upon close evaluation of counterculture, and what I try to show with this book is not only how a Japanese poet and artist operated as a full participant in counterculture but also how we might productively look toward art for theory, even as we view it through theory, with the expectation that a fuller theory of counterculture could be distilled from patterns in the artistic production itself.

With eyes on Japan after the earthquake, tsunami, and now as we all nervously watch the nuclear disaster, the “what next” questions I’ve heard percolating so far extend beyond
Terayama Shuji's Butterfly, 1974.
Image source.
just the future of nuclear power to wondering if these events will mark a shift in contemporary society’s relationship to electricity itself. At the least it seems that the technocratic logic suggesting that sufficient safeguards were in place has been dealt yet another blow. There will certainly be calls to draw down demand with more “sustainable” lifestyles (and the increase in rolling blackouts predicted for this summer will require energy austerity of a huge percentage of the population), but the long-term proposals for a real solution will be an interesting debate.

Terayama was decidedly of the urbanist faction of counterculture, and found the return-to-the-land maneuver of the commune movement to be an unfortunate retreat. I can’t imagine him pushing for deurbanization or technophobia even now, but I’m almost certain he’d find some way to utilize the blackouts as an opportunity of some kind ... maybe participatory street theater.

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Steven Ridgely is author of Japanese Counterculture: The Antiestablishment Art of Terayama Shūji.

"Ridgely’s exciting book opens Terayama’s world—his work as a poet, playwright/theater director, radio dramatist, filmmaker—and most importantly conveys the feeling and air of the times, the ‘tactical’ interventions of this fascinating figure within the space of counterculture."
—Miryam Sas, University of California, Berkeley

Friday, April 8, 2011

When Species Meet: "The dog ate it."

Of course it did.


A fabulous, ironic example of what can happen when form meets content, as posted by a friend of the Press who teaches Donna Haraway's When Species Meet.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Working conditions, the battle at Tyson, and the Wisconsin moment

In Breaks in the Chain, Paul Apostolidis investigates the personal life stories of a group of Mexican immigrant meatpackers who are at once typical and extraordinary. After crossing the border clandestinely and navigating the treacherous world of the undocumented, they waged a campaign to democratize their union and their workplace in the most hazardous industry in the United States. Linking stories of immigration to stories about working on the meat production line—the chain—he reveals the surprising power of activism by immigrant workers and their allies and demonstrates how it can—and should—promote social and political democracy in America. Here, Apostolidis discusses Wisconsin workers' recent and continuing plight with regard to his research.

Citizens rally in Washington, DC, recently for Wisconsin union workers. Paul Apostolidis discusses how employer prerogatives that are often difficult to challenge lie at the heart of the U.S.'s wage-based labor system. Image source.

BY PAUL APOSTOLIDIS
Judge and Mrs. Timothy A. Paul Chair of Political Science at Whitman College

Wisconsin’s infamous Act 10 is snarled in the courts and the media spotlight on Governor Walker’s assault on workers’ rights has dimmed. But after spending the last decade writing about a courageous bunch of workers in Washington State who came to realize, as the song goes, that “there is power in a union,” and who fought a long and bitter struggle to preserve that power, I hope Americans of good will do what takes to keep our “Wisconsin moment” alive.

Events in Wisconsin parallel the labor upsurge I wrote about in Breaks in the Chain in key ways, even though some things are very different. What caught my eye right from the start was the specific focus of the Wisconsin Republicans’ attack on unions: the nullification of employees’ rights to bargain collectively about anything other than wages, above all their working conditions. The media’s analysis of this vital issue has been scanty, to say the least. Maybe that’s because when workers assert a right to determine the qualitative features of labor processes – not just their quantitative rewards – they challenge employer prerogatives that lie at the very heart of our wage-based labor system. They propose, in effect, that employers share with them the power to design socioeconomic processes. They strive to exert their own creative, innovative capacities instead of haggling over a payoff for letting those abilities atrophy from disuse. Managers, public sector or private, would much rather have it the latter way, as my research notes, at the Tyson beef plant (Chapter 4) and, more recently, in the land of cheese.

As Breaks in the Chain shows, the physical and psychological horrors of work in the slaughterhouse are extreme. When the Tyson workers fought to change working conditions at the plant, they sought freedom from gravely disabling occupational safety and health hazards and the transformation of a shop floor culture so abusive that workers invoked religious metaphor to describe it, comparing it to “Calvary” and to “hell.” I’ve seen no reports that Wisconsin public workers face working conditions so outrageously unjust. But it’s precisely because the general assumption increasingly exists that workers have no rightful place in determining the conditions of their own labor that, back in 2004, Tyson could summarily reject its employees’ bid for a voice in setting line speeds and refuse to negotiate over anything other than wages and benefits. The showdown in Wisconsin shows just how broad and deep this contemptuous attitude toward working people has become, and how urgent the fight against it remains.

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Find out more about Paul Apostolidis' research in Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach American about Democracy.

"Theoretically illuminating, politically engaged, and of vital importance, Breaks in the Chain lucidly intertwines subtle reflections about the ways immigrants negotiate and contest power with the interview narratives in a riveting manner. It exemplifies the very best of contemporary political theory."
—Romand Coles, Northern Arizona University

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis is latest example of how containing radioactive materials is simply not possible.

Japanese residents undergo radiation checks. Image source.

BY PETER C. VAN WYCK
Associate professor of communication at Concordia University, Montreal, and author of Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and Nuclear Threat (2005).

At the time I wrote Signs of Danger, the two great nuclear indices were Three Mile Island (1979), and Chernobyl (1986). Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the third index, but here at least, in North America, these events stand as repressed adventures particular to war-time endeavors. In a word, they were not accidents.

Today, things have changed, although it is at this point difficult to say precisely how. In part, the ongoing tragic events in Japan have spawned a new arithmetic of nuclear disaster. Fukushima equals Three Mile Island plus a staggeringly large earthquake and equally staggering tsunami. Or, Fukushima equals Chernobyl minus its graphite and massively insane reactor design. It’s not Chernobyl, Japanese authorities have been chanting even as the unmistakable signature of fission isotopes scatter across Japan and the Pacific. Here is one of the world’s most nuclearized nations, a nation that in every conceivable way has internalized the atom, mastered the atom, as producer, champion, as victim. And, living as they do at the tectonic confluence poetically known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, they are also one of the world’s most prepared nations for large seismic events. Yet the unimaginable arrived, simultaneously, unexpectedly.

As the earthquake struck, the three reactors then operating went into shutdown mode. So far so good. Minutes later, a mountain of water crested the tsunami walls protecting the six-reactor complex from the sea, and stunned operators discovered that the backup diesel generators would not work; they too had been flooded by the tsunami. And worse, battery units, the tertiary power source, capable of delivering power for only a few hours, were effectively useless in the face of damaged equipment and reactors. A general loss of power gave way to a loss of coolant accident, followed attempts to vent pressure, several (resulting) hydrogen explosions, and the eventual revelation that spent fuel ponds were heating up fast, and were possibly damaged, exposing highly radioactive fuel to the air. Talk of “uncoolable geometry” - certain configurations of fuel that cannot be cooled – began circulating on the web. Soon there was news of exposed reactor cores, and now, contamination measurable as far as the west coast of North America.

Today, it’s radioactive puddles clocking in at over 1000 millisieverts an hour, and a sacrificial workforce of 600 poor souls – “glow boys” as the American nuclear industry puts it. And Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and reports of Plutonium in the soil near the reactor site (from the MOX fuel, in reactor 3?).

This prolonged and indeterminate accident makes of all of us anxious semiologists, attempting to decipher the signs, and the peculiar formalities and disinformation of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. It’s horrifically complicated, really. An earthquake. A tsunami. Old equipment, including a forty-year-old Mark 1, General Electric reactor – an unsafe design, widely and long recognized as vulnerable to containment failure. A corrupt and opaque company – Tokyo Electric Power Company – with a storied and well documented history of concealing information and falsifying records. Exceedingly weak oversight by Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. An ongoing and catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the wake of the tsunami. A deeply ineffectual national government. New evidence of ongoing fission, but no way at the moment, says TEPCO, to know the source of the leak(s). The “accident” was not a failure mode that anyone involved, had recognized as credibly possible.

But of course, this is said of every complex technological accident. The point here is not higher tsunami walls – literally or metaphorically – the point is that containment (actual or symbolic) is simply not possible; not on the temporal scale demanded by radioactive materials; the Fukushima crisis is but the latest demonstration of this.

There was a moment a few weeks ago, as I cycled back and forth between Reuters, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, NHK World, Kyodo News – in the wake, I think, of the second hydrogen explosion – that it seemed like a transformation had taken place. A before and after moment. Surely, now, after this, there can no longer be a shred of credibility, a plausibility, to the intransigent claims of the global nuclear industry. They could no longer appeal to design safety, to carbon-less, green energy, to systems redundancy, to backups, to the maximum credible accident, to risk assessments and preparedness. To responsible oversight. To any of this. The game was over, it seemed to me.

Today, I am less certain. Discourses of risk and probability – the epistemological tsunami walls of risk society – remain deeply woven into our cultural, dare I say global, understandings of technological endeavors, and the accident. We will mourn for the Japanese -- for those lost as the sea rose up to engulf the land, for those whose land is now being rendered uninhabitable, and for those who will die in the effort to stem this disaster. Perhaps, too, we will mourn a future imperiled by these practices of the present.

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Peter C. van Wyck is associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Communications at Concordia University in Montreal. He is author of Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and Nuclear Threat (Minnesota 2005). His most recent book is The Highway of the Atom (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010).

Further reading:
-The Guardian will publish your ideas for stopping radiation leaks.
-The Japan Times on how the disaster holds lessons for the future.
-Yahoo! News: Japanese nuclear plant worker discusses choice to sacrifice his life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Twin Cities chef Jenny Breen: Creative recipes for the family table



Over the nice, sunny (for once!) weekend, Twin Cities chef Jenny Breen made an appearance on Kare 11 to demonstrate a very spring-y recipe indeed: Miso dressing with early greens and toasted almonds. See her in action with Belinda Jensen above; you can also catch the full recipe here.

Jenny Breen is author, with Susan Thurston, of Cooking Up the Good Life, which will soon be available from University of Minnesota Press. Join us for her book launch event at 10:30 AM this Saturday, April 9th, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (122 Learning Center, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska, MN). Admission is free for Arboretum members and $15.00 for nonmembers. To register, call 952-443-1440.