Remembering care in times of academic rejection.

15230617_10154930734863738_4688359053708215565_n

At the risk of committing yet another academic faux pas, I want to talk about the running monologue in my head when I received my latest academic rejection yesterday afternoon.

It is 0029hrs and I haven’t slept in a billion years but I need to affectdump all the disappointment I am holding inside my body, so that I can offload it from my brain, make sense of it some other time, let it go now, and go to sleep.

So, this is going to be long. Continue reading Remembering care in times of academic rejection.

From Subversive Frivolity to Normativity: A lineage of Trump memes

image26

The internet has been saturated with Trump memes. Some times they are hilarious, some times they are hurtful. Some times they bring relief, some times they are agonizing. This post is a product of my observations and archive of Trump memes and their evolving power from “subversive frivolity” to “normativity”. I demonstrate how Trump memes have transited along a continuum as: attention fodder, subversive frivolity, the new normal, and popular culture.

Screengrabs with the black header were archived from the mobile app version of 9gag on 8 November 2016, around 0001hrs, GMT+8 time. They include all the posts tagged “Trump”, with the earliest backdating to 14 weeks. There were 141 original memes in total but a handful have been omitted from this post. Screengrabs without the black header were archived from various news sites and social media throughout the Election season.

Continue reading From Subversive Frivolity to Normativity: A lineage of Trump memes

Things a Singaporean appreciates about the US Presidential Elections.

img_6894

I am a Singaporean woman in my late 20s. To date, I have closely followed x03 US Presidential Elections, x02 SG General Elections, and x01 SG Presidential Elections. This post is not about the Election results, but rather the differences in my experiences of consuming the electoral proceedings between the US and in Singapore. Although there are some similarities between the first world, developed, economically stable, culturally diverse, migrant populace, allied countries, these elements stand out to me: Continue reading Things a Singaporean appreciates about the US Presidential Elections.

Global politics is micropolitics.

img_6725

I’ve just spent ten minutes waiting for a bus on campus in Singapore and overheard students say these things with respect to the election results:

1) “It’s not gonna affect us one la, the US is damn far away leh bro”

2) “Trump is racist but everybody is racist to some extent anyway, it’s quite normal”

3) “These things won’t come here one, we’re not so racist”

4) “He won’t dare to do anything to Singapore cos of trade”

5) “His business is quite good right, like he’s quite successful la so he has experience”

6) “I read on Facebook that Hillary is corrupt […] so I’ll never vote for her”

7) “Wah that was damn fun to watch, it’s like reality TV but real […] so entertaining”

*

Where to from here, as instructors who work with young people every day:

1) Be even more invested in engaging with students to see their worldview. Understanding and trying to speak their language is more important and effective than belittling students or shutting them down.

2) Probe students to critically assess their opinions, validate their sources of information, stimulate desire to develop critical thinking. Parochial media consumption breeds closedmindedness, but the media culture here has fostered unthinking passive uptake.

3) Teach and discuss Standpoint Theory and Cultural Relativism and Positioning and Interpellation in the classroom. Some students don’t think critically or practice empathy because they haven’t been taught how to, and we will equip them.

*

We encourage these conversations when we can. We do this in baby steps. We start tomorrow.

Parochial anxiety.

image-1

Many world leaders have issued official congratulations to the new president dude on social media, as has the Prime Minister of Singapore – a tiny country of 5 million that survives on trade and cannot afford to gamble on its bilateral ties with the US.

It brings me some comfort that one congratulatory post is garnering hundreds of measured comments from citizens, pleading with the PM to understand their panic while performing the acrobatics of diplomacy.

But it scares me beyond measure that a vast majority of these comments are concerns about Singapore’s economic future, the TPP, and the strength of the SGD, rather than the incoming president dude’s frightening disavowing of basic human rights and alarming disregard for humanity. And it’s hard to blame them for this has been 51 years of state hegemony by one incumbent party.

When a country has been conditioned and calibrated, through sticks and carrots, to privilege economic development over human rights, we end up producing highly educated, self-sufficient, goal-driven citizens who cannot empathize beyond their own bubble of need and comfort.

I always tell my students that despite the booksmarts they compete to pursue in our rigid education system, the auntie selling tissue paper on the street wouldn’t care much for Durkheim or Queer Theory or 3500 word essays. The onus is on us to break out of these bubbles, to relate to each other, to be level citizens, to empathize, to call out microaggressions, to visibilize systemic discrimination – to care and care enough to take action. And if you think there is nothing wrong with what’s happening now (also demonstrated by a very frightening lot of responses from some privileged folk), then educate yourselves and learn to seek information and knowledge outside of the state-controlled press.