commonplace.calebeckert.com

A personal digital archive of the social sciences, humanities, projects, etc.
by Caleb Eckert

Those who do not as yet suffer directly from climate change or might be able to deal with it because they enjoy more wealth, must decide to make personal sacrifices without expecting personal advantages in return. It is in such circumstances that genuine altruism is put to the test.

— Matthieu Ricard, "Environment and Altruism" (Matthieu Ricard - Blog, 2009)

If we are serious about enacting different realities then we need to seriously consider both our choice of tools and the objects we seek to create. As long as our primary strategy is the creation of written artifacts using the tools of ethnography, how can we expect to craft anything new?

— Ted Maclin, "Late to the Party of Things" (Sandworms, 2014)

The new ecological anthropology offers not only a better understanding of environmental and social conditions, but also a better position from which to act. By being attentive to the interconnections between different entities, we can begin to craft ecologies in a variety of ways while understanding that these attempts are uncertain and contingent upon the participation of other beings within the system. As a result, anthropological research becomes a practice of relating to and working with others – human and non-human – to co-create a better world.

— Jeremy Trombley, "The Anthropological Thought" (draft) (Struggle Forever, 2012)

Infra and The Enclave are conceptually compelling, and very beautiful bodies of work, but both leave me with more questions and qualms about the process behind the images than with the appalling things they actually show. Photographed somewhere else, and focused on a subject with less history and less gravity, they might have evaded these problems, but the conflict in the DRC seems too important to become, as I rather feel it does, the over-shadowed side show of a huge conceptual ploy.

— Lewis Bush, "Visions of War: Richard Mosse and The Enclave" (Disphotic, 2013)

It is uncomfortable for many people to contemplate that perhaps homeless addicts are just as smart and just as ethical as anyone else. It requires us to come to realize that maybe “success” (as society defines it) has to do with luck, with being born in the right place and at the right time, and with being subject to laws and law enforcement that are designed to help instead of hurt you.

— Chris Arnade, "Donors will go out of their way to save cats. People? It’s complicated" (The Guardian, 2014)

Earth Day is a dark holiday. It is a reminder, not of the beauty of nature or the miracle of life, but of the horrors that we have wrought upon the rocky surface of this planet… It is a day, not for remembering a utopic vision of a harmonious world that once (but never) was, but one for recollecting (a more appropriate term than remembering), for contemplating, for praying, for making right, and for imagining a world that could be.

— Jeremy Trombley, "Earth" (Struggle Forever, 2013)

I think there are some fundamental issues that need to be discussed by the photography community, moral and philosophical issues about how we represent the world and how we reinforce or challenge the status quo for example.

— Gary Knight, from "Three of VII: The Life of a Photograph" by Janna Dotschkal

Someone from a reputable paper would call and say, “I’m looking for a woman, preferably in Syria, who worked for the Americans and was attacked.” Or, “Is there anyone on the list who is in Egypt, Christian, and had family members killed?” or “Yeah, hi, I need someone in Iraq or Jordan who’s been tortured and is in hiding.” Or, “Do you have any Iraqis who worked for the Brits who fled to Lebanon?” Like ordering a pizza.

— Kirk W. Johnson, To Be A Friend Is Fatal (2013, p. 191)

The years of my life spent studying the language and living throughout the region drained swiftly from the tub that day. It meant nothing that I spoke Arabic or understood their history and religion. The only thing that mattered was that these kids stayed away from my vehicle and that they not make any quick movements when I passed by. They needed to freeze.

— Kirk W. Johnson, To Be A Friend Is Fatal (2013, p. 83)

Our well-fueled arsenal of Green Zone generators kept our power steady and water pure, insulating us from the only metric that counted: the number of hours of electricity each day, the truest barometer of violence and insurgency.

— Kirk W. Johnson, To Be A Friend Is Fatal (2013, p. 57)

The drop in oil production—85 percent, by most accounts—meant that the Iraqi government had less money to import food. Although Iraq was the land of two rivers, it could not feed itself, unable to coax enough food from its soil when its tractors were broken and pesticides and fertilizer were illegal.

— Kirk W. Johnson, To Be A Friend Is Fatal (2013, p. 27)

It is in these precious moments—when something shakes us up, rattling us from our resignation or depression, or galvanizing that vague sense that there must be more to life—that we can break free.

— Frances Moore Lappé, Getting A Grip (2007, p. 113)

Can we learn to hold two seemingly contrary truths at once? Can we encourage desperately needed positive corporate actions and, without blinking, also recognize that, no matter how conscientious the economic giants become, their concentrated power and ability to buy political influence contradict democracy?

— Frances Moore Lappé, Getting A Grip (2007, p. 58)

An awareness of plenty itself undermines a focus on raw, self-centered competition, leaving us able to refocus not on the goodness of human nature, which seems to deny human complexity, but on the undeniable goodness in human nature…

— Frances Moore Lappé, Getting A Grip (2007, p. 39)

That the wealthiest country in the world is so panicked at the prospect that others might catch up reveals the fallacy of the notion that continued growth will somehow reach an endpoint in which everyone enjoys a decent standard of living.

— Alyssa Battistoni, "Alive in the Sunshine" (Jacobin, 2014)