The Soleman article outlines the process that she needed to go through in order to integrate human rights principles into the ongoing health care reform. It is done on the local level largely on a interpersonal level requiring a lengthy process of getting to know the staffs and politicians involved and what they would need or want in order connect the upcoming reforms to international health standards. My first reaction to seeing all the background relationships to getting something like this past the inefficiency. But, at a second glance how would you have it changed?  The lengthy process of getting to know the staff and politicians ensured at least some level of understanding of what the local concerns were. It is unfortunate however that such little effort was put forth to explore the populations reaction to what they were working towards was. A line or two tacked onto a ballot is hardly proof of local support. A more in depth survey should have been taken instead of simply taking it for granted that they would see it as a positive thing.

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Refusing to be forgotten

 

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“I am a zero on the rez. And if you subtract zero from zero, you still have zero. So what’s the point of subtracting when the answer is always the same?”

A determination to not give up hope, to not give up on life. When the world sees you as nothing but a blotch on the landscape and you are either ignored or attacked do you give up or maintain your worth to yourself and move stubbornly forward? This is one of the choices presented to Junior in Alexie’s book “the absolute true diary of a part time indian”. In this book Jr pushes forward with a determined refusal to accept the status quoe that was expected of him. This reminds me greatly of the Chechens refusal to simply disappear when they are deported from their homeland after World War 2. Resilience against those would see them forgotten and a stubborn refusal to lose their hope much as Junior had.

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Bandaids from thousands of miles away.

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“treatment interventions must go beyond a vision of saving bare lives and be implemented with a broad view

of social and economic citizenship.”

This is the conclusion to the quarterly medical anthropology by Kalofonos. That report details the hardship of AIDs patients and their struggle to survive through hunger, illness, and crippling poverty. While I agree that these people need their treatment integrated with a broader view than merely bodily treatment, I don’t think globalization and direct foreign intervention is the answer.  Of course neither is the concept that the free market will provide because it won’t. It doesn’t in the US, it doesn’t in Chechnya and it certainly won’t in Africa because there is nothing to be gained from those with nothing to give up. But, another extreme of the UN or other countries coming in and solving the deep problems is unrealistic and would fail as certainly and the free market would in it’s attempt. This is simply because in the rush to help, understanding of the deep factors that influence these social issues is impossible. Cultural, political and health issues are addressed but without the understanding that comes from having lived within these intersections of society they cannot be fully understood or solved. (Well I have almost begun to articulate my thoughts on this. Here is to progress.)

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Botched aid

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Why not just say the vaccination will help ensure healthy children? If fertility is such a important value in that culture why not appeal to it rather than trying to overcome it? Of course the tetanus vaccine effort in Cameroon described by Feldman was  poorly conceived from the outset. Here in the US where we are used to receiving immunizations, there would be a huge uproar by students and parents, if you simply looked students in a school and forced them to receive shots. The any project was conducted as if they were herding animals. To me there isn’t a question as to why the rumor sprung up ,but , how did they expect people to react. Without basic preparation and awareness of your objectives to the target population, you aren’t going to accomplish anything. Now they must find a way to overcome the backlash of their arrogance, which will take time at extensive acts of good will and positive association to do what they should have started with which was gaining the populations’ trust.

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Ethical luxuries

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Look for more here soon.

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Shifting ideas

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“The idea of tempered revenge has a strong foundation in Chechen culture. When a family member is harmed or killed it is the responsibility of the family members to seek out the evil doer and make him or her par accordingly.”

Donnelly goes on to explain in, “Developing strategies to deal with trauma in children”, that there is a shift in the mentality of revenge in Chechen culture. With extensive use of indiscriminate bombing, systematic rape and attacks on people, this has been shifting to idea that instead of hurting the person responsible an entire ethnicity can be held responsible. In this case that means Russians more often than not. That is not to suggest that Chechens are always innocent or reactionary, but that the decades of attempting to enforce a colonial power base on a people with an cultural identity stretching back thousands of years (there is evidence of a history reaching apx 3500BC) achieves a shift in cultural structure  to one of increasing violence.

 

 

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Normalization of Insecurities

 

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“the normalization of collective insecurity”

 

A world apart the citizens who lived and died during the 1995 Chicago heat wave and the Chechen people have little in common except they are surviving in a world largely not of their making, beset by the societies that have developed to cope with insecurity and marginalization

Living for years under occupation and threats of violence Chechens create new homes in refugee camps only to be forcibly evicted in order to satisfy government demands that life return to normal. This even as the region remains one of the most heavily mined post war zones in the world. 

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Rape as a weapon

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In the Chiwengo article “When wounds and corpses fail to speak” we gain a idea not only of what victims go through, but, also just how little interest the rest of the world takes. As in the examples of Rwanda and DRC, Chechnya has been a place of widespread violence and terror. Rape is often used as a weapon to “Destroy the soul of a nation” or in the case of the Congo or Rwanda more likely to destroy the soul of a people. Why is it that these nations are ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world? Even the Sudan , despite being far from a example of successful help and aid, received a degree of public recognition. In that case we knew we were failing, but, for Chechnya there is no recognition of the suffering, the world takes no responsibility and no interest. So when Russian soldiers systematically rape woman as a way to ethnically cleanse the region there is no backlash, and with no outside pressure and nowhere to turn for help internally a people are left forgotten. 

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Power

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 One example of “opting out” is political descent 

We say the state has power and therefore it does, that power is limited only to the point that we fear some form of retribution rather it is actual physical, social effects or self-imposed fears and limits.  For any revolution in history where the established power was threatened or overturned a segment of the population first had to reach the point where the fear of what we have to lose was outweighed by anger at what was already lost or by the prospect of gaining something more. The recent paper focused on power and its evolution from deciding when someone will die to how a person will. Detailing how as the importance and responsibility of the individual increased the structure of power moved from a defensive act with the power over ones death to a proactive controlling act of how a person should act and live in daily life. This form of power shows a growth in influence over individuals actually controlling them through empowerment and responsibility. When people decide to opt out of the current power structure or to form their own definition of it as in the case of secessionist movements in Chechnya or the revolutions in the Mid East individuals it is a necessary precondition to first reach a point where the desire to loosen the yoke of control outweighs any fear of loss at what the power structure provides.  (violent suppression to maintain power) 

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Controlling the unknown

“it could be used as a machine to carry out experiments, to alter behavior, to train or correct indeviduals”

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We live in a society that values individuality while simultaneously fearing what we can’t understand. When we are afraid we grasp at the idea of control to keep our world orderly in a way we can understand. We work to control the world around us changing and building it directly or simply defining what we find placing it in our order. In the article Discipline and Punish the Panopticon is used to control and develop an understanding of people, both specifically people who do not fit in the constructed order as well as more generally people in general because even as we build and define our world we cannot prevent people from not fitting in our order and until they can be fixed or defined they cannot be trusted or allowed to move freely with those who do. Simply; fear seeks order, we try to understand what we find and control what we can’t understand. When violence is committed, as in the Chechen war, on us we seek to understand it, failing that we seek to regain control sometimes violently perpetuating a cycle that is justified a hundred different ways without knowing or understanding the reason. 

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