Daily Archives: January 28, 2020

Shrines of the Slave Trade: Diola Religion and Society in Precolonial Senegambia): Robert M. Baum

In this groundbreaking work, Robert Baum seeks to reconstruct the religious and social history of the Diola communities in southern Senegal during the precolonial era, when the Atlantic slave trade was at its height. Baum shows that Diola community leaders used a complex of religious shrines and priesthoods to regulate and contain the influence of the slave trade. He demonstrates how this close involvement with the traders significantly changed Diola religious life.

The Benin Plaques: A 16th Century Imperial Monument (Routledge Research in Art History): Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch

The 16th century bronze plaques from the kingdom of Benin are among the most recognized masterpieces of African art, and yet many details of their commission and installation in the palace in Benin City, Nigeria, are little understood. The Benin Plaques, A 16th Century Imperial Monument is a detailed analysis of a corpus of nearly 850 bronze plaques that were installed in the court of the Benin kingdom at the moment of its greatest political power and geographic reach. By examining European accounts, Benin oral histories, and the physical evidence of the extant plaques, Gunsch is the first to propose an installation pattern for the series.

Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch is Department Head and Teel Curator for the Arts of Africa and Oceania at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Series: Routledge Research in Art History
Hardcover: 276 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 21, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1472451554
ISBN-13: 978-1472451552

Land “Grabbing” Grows as Agricultural Resources Dwindle | Common Dreams Newswire

As global agricultural resources shrink or shift, countries are crossing borders to obtain new farmlands

WASHINGTON – Since 2000, more than 36 million hectares—- an area about the size of Japan—- has been purchased or leased by foreign entities, mostly for agricultural use. Today, nearly 15 million hectares more is under negotiation (www.worldwatch.org).

“Farmland is lost or degraded on every continent, while ‘land grabbing’—- the purchase or lease of agricultural land by foreign interests—- has emerged as a threat to food security in several countries,” writes Gary Gardner, contributing author of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability.

About half of grabbed land is intended exclusively for use in agriculture, while another 25 percent is intended for a mix of agricultural and other uses. (The land that is not used for agriculture is often used for forestry.) Land grabbing has surged since 2005 in response to a food price crisis and the growing demand for biofuels in the United States and the European Union. Droughts in the United States, Argentina, and Australia, has further driven interest in land overseas.

“Today, the FAO reports that essentially no additional suitable [agricultural] land remains in a belt around much of the middle of the planet,” writes Gardner. As a result, the largest grabbers of land are often countries that need additional resources to meet growing demands.

Over half of the global grabbed land is in Africa, especially in water-rich countries like the Congo. Asia comes second, contributing over 6 million hectares, mainly from Indonesia. The largest area acquired from a single country is in Papua New Guinea, with nearly 4 million hectares (over 8 percent of the country’s total land cover) sold or leased out.

The largest investor country is the United States, a country already rich in agricultural land. The United States alone has acquired about 7 million hectares worldwide. Malaysia comes in a distant second, with just over 3.5 million hectares acquired.

Land grabbing is precipitated by the growing challenges shaking the foundation of food production: the water, land, and climate that make crop growth possible. Globally, some 20 percent of aquifers are being pumped faster than they are recharged by rainfall, stressing many key food-producing areas. Land is becoming degraded through erosion and salinization or is getting paved for development. The changing climate is projected to cause a net decline of 0.2– 2 percent in crop yields per decade over the remainder of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

…(read more).


Closer Look at New Contagion – Coronavirus


Jan 27, 2020

On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Tian Wei sat down with Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus. With a career focused on global pandemic studies, Dr. Piot shares the lessons learned in staving off epidemics.

WHO corrects itself, saying global risk of coronavirus is “high”


Jan 27, 2020

The World Health Organization is revising its assessment of the outbreak, saying the risk is “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level.” Earlier, the organization said the global risk was moderate but is now saying that its former assessment was incorrect.