All posts for the topic: Travel

Blackface, Jewface, any-face

Est Reading Time: 3 min Lately I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to take something seriously enough when you’re not the target. How knowing that something is wrong is important but doesn’t get you all the way. The distinction between blackface and Jewface has highlighted this. I’m not black. I’m very much against blackface (whether in Australia, the US, the Netherlands etc). But I know I’m not equipped to treat blackface as seriously as someone who’s the target of the blackface. For example, the last (maybe only?) time I saw blackface in real life was at Camelot, a world music venue in Sydney. […]

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On those “food around the world” photo-essays

Est Reading Time: 6 min One genre that does well online is photo-essays about food around the world. The food is often fascinating but the pieces can also elicit some interesting and simplistic reactions from the online audience. The form I’ve seen this take is people from wealthy English-speaking countries looking at examples of food from “their” countries vs “other” countries and comparing it. Here are three photo-essays that I’ve seen reveal some simplistic attitudes on the part of the audience (I’m not sure how much we can attribute this to the photographers). School lunches around the world This was a blog investigation that got […]

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Dear international tourists: don’t come to Australia

Est Reading Time: 3 min Australia is now a proper rogue state, deserving universal condemnation not tourist dollars If you’re outside Australia, you’ve probably seen our Prime Minister Tony Abbott made fun of on international news (or US satirical tv). These included his promise to ‘shirtfront’ Putin over MH17, putting his foot in his mouth over the Scottish independence referendum, his deliberate obstructionism of any climate change progress at G20, his grin and wink at a woman who said she worked in phone sex to make ends meet, his resurrection of terra nullius etc etc. One problem with such coverage is that it overplays the […]

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Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom is very racist & sexist

Est Reading Time: 6 min Many kids have movies they love to watch over and over again. One of mine was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I’ve just seen it again for the first time in 15+ years. I suspected that it’d probably be quite racist but it exceeded my racism+sexism expectations by a lot. Another childhood favourite struck off the list! Many people hate the mere idea of criticising a movie for being racist/sexist. A good resource about the problems with this is these three posts by Heina Dadhaboy. And if you want a case of specific harm from racist movie stereotypes, […]

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The moral cost of living where you live

Est Reading Time: 4 min When I was travelling recently, I realised that living in any particular country has a certain moral cost associated with it. A majority (or even everyone) who lives there pays the cost. It spans practical and ideological lines because it touches on the very basics that we all use for living. When you live in a place, unless your life is extremely traumatic, you will tend to normalise the way the place works. This includes the terrible stuff you don’t agree with. No matter how much you might fight against it, our brain can’t help but respond to it as […]

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Eilat vs Aqaba

Est Reading Time: 3 min This March I was in Israel for a wedding. We flew to Eilat, a holiday destination at the very south of Israel, on the Red Sea. Eilat is right near the border of Egypt and Jordan and you can see both countries right across a small stretch of water: Here’s a photo I took of Eilat, sharpened to overcome the haze in the air: A close-up of the fanciest hotels: And this is Aqaba, Jordan, which is just across a short stretch of water.: Throughout my time there, I kept thinking about what inhabitants of each city would think of […]

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The Gulf States vs Western Countries

Est Reading Time: 3 min I don’t know a whole heap about life in the Gulf States (by which I mean Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman). But I’ve formed impressions from reading some online articles, looking at some stats, having a stopover in Qatar and observing the Gulf from a plane. I will now list some observations based on this very incomplete picture. As an exercise, you might like to list out a few items of your own before reading further. You will also notice that the items are negative — I’ll address this at the end: They are very […]

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One day at Istanbul Airport

Est Reading Time: 4 min I went to a modern-Orthodox Zionist high school. You can imagine the kind of stuff they taught there. Highlights included: A school assembly with a debate of students about the validity of the (1990s) peace process. With someone on the side that it’s not worthwhile saying that the idea of the peace process suggests that ‘Arab countries’ can change, then saying without irony “[but] can a leopard change its spots?”. “You’re such an Arab!” being a Category 1 insult in the playground. Our director of Jewish studies saying he respects Arabs for organising buses from Sydney’s western suburbs to go […]

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Do they know it’s International Women’s Day [in Afghanistan]?

Est Reading Time: 4 min Vignette the First A few months ago I was in a conversation where International Women’s Day was brought up. Specifically, the question of whether a particular someone would know what it is. One person (let’s call him Bob) said “Of course they do, it’s celebrated everywhere. Except Afghanistan.” He said this as a way to tell a snarky joke but I wasn’t impressed. Why wouldn’t they have International Women’s Day in Afghanistan? Vignette the Second I was also in a Facebook discussion about a documentary (that I haven’t seen) called I Am A Girl, which follows the challenges that women […]

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Travel Pros and Cons

Est Reading Time: 1 min [The Central Asia wrapup post prompted me to attempt to say the same thing in verse.] I hate the ramblings of Those trendy travelling wankers At home their life’s a bore They’re lawyers, tradies, bankers Yet get them overseas Especially to places That they think are obscure They’ll never shut their faces “They’re friendly over there Despite them being so poor I loved their toothless smiles As they fished on the shore” “We had a cultural show They held a tribal dance Us Westerners aren’t free It’s boring wearing pants!” “We visited some orphans For one afternoon’s laze I’m SO […]

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