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Contested Asante trophy head to shine in Wallace Gallery’s new room


This is the largest surviving gold work of art from Sub-Saharan Africa
The Wallace Collection, London

Martin Bailey 18 June 2018

The largest surviving gold work of art from Sub-Saharan Africa is to be highlighted in an exhibition at London’s Wallace Collection this month. Until now, the mysterious Asante trophy head from Ghana has been displayed in what may seem an unexpected location, the museum’s Oriental Armoury, where it attracts relatively little attention.

The golden head—nearly life-size and weighing three pounds—was seized by British troops during the Anglo-Asante (or Ashanti) war in 1874 and eventually became the subject of restitution claims. It is in a similar category to the Maqdala treasures and Benin bronzes in UK collections, which are claimed by the governments of Ethiopia and Nigeria.

The punitive expedition against the Asante people ended with the occupation of Kumasi, their capital. The treasures of Kofi Karikari, the Asantehene (king), were seized as war booty and auctioned off, most of it coming to the UK. Richard Wallace, who later left his collection to the nation, bought 16 Asante pieces from Garrard, the London jewellers. These included the gold head, for which he paid £500.

In 1974, a century later, restitution claims were filed against several UK museums by the reigning Asantehene and submitted through the Ghanaian government. The British government rejected the claims, arguing that national museums, such as the British Museum and the Wallace Collection, are unable to deaccession.

Although the Asante head has been displayed at the Wallace Collection since 1900, a museum spokeswoman admits that it has “not been extensively studied”. This is surprising, considering that the museum says that it is quite exceptional and “one of the great masterpieces of African art”.

The current label dates the head rather vaguely as “19th century or earlier”, but it was probably made during the first half of that century. Its function remains a mystery, although specialists believe that it may have been hung from the ceremonial sword of an Asante warrior, to threaten enemies with an impending attack. Made by an Asante craftsman, the head has earrings, which suggests that it depicts the features of a defeated warrior from a neighbouring ethnic group. The head has suffered some damage at the top, most likely when it was looted in Kumasi.

The gold head is now to be displayed in the exhibition Sir Richard Wallace: the Collector (20 June-2 January 2019), the inaugural show in the museum’s new exhibition gallery. Xavier Bray, the Wallace’s director, says that he is “keen to work with scholars and researchers in Ghana and internationally to develop our understanding of this incredible work of art”. The director is now making plans for a new permanent display of Asante art next year, after the temporary exhibition.

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Spanish volcano becomes more aggressive

NEWS9 liveOct 25, 2021
The Spain volcano has continued to erupt for over a month. The lava and ash flows seem unending. In the latest, one of the four mouths of the volcano collapsed due to the pressure.

White Nationalists on Trial in Charlottesville over Deadly Rally After Victims Sued Under KKK Act

Democracy Now!Oct 27, 2021
Four years after the deadly white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a federal civil trial charges the organizers with an unlawful conspiracy to commit violent acts. Defendants include Jason Kessler, the main organizer, and Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who spoke at the event. Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields, who slammed his car into a crowd of antiracist counterprotesters during the rally and killed activist Heather Heyer, has already been sentenced to life in prison. Plaintiffs in the case cite the careful advance planning done in online chatrooms to wreak irreparable harm. We look at the details of the case with Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick, who lived in Charlottesville during the 2017 rally, and also its relation to the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse now starting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the judge has ruled the three protesters shot by the white teenager during racial justice protests last year cannot be labeled “victims.”

Lawyer Who Sued Chevron over “Amazon Chernobyl” Ordered to Prison After 800+ Days of House A rrest

Democracy Now!Oct 27, 2021
The environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger joins us just before he is ordered to report to jail today, after a years-long legal battle with the oil company Chevron and 813 days of house arrest. In 2011, Donziger won an $18 billion settlement against Chevron on behalf of 30,000 Indigenous people in Ecuador for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral land in the Amazon. Since the landmark case, Donziger has faced a series of legal attacks from Chevron and a New York federal judge, who has employed a private law firm linked to the oil company to prosecute him. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court, and his request for bail pending his appeal was denied. Amnesty International and United Nations human rights advocates, along with several U.S. lawmakers, are calling for Donziger’s immediate release. “Chevron and these two judges, really allies of the fossil fuel industry, are trying to use me as a weapon to intimidate activists and lawyers who do this work,” says Donziger. “I need to be prosecuted by a neutral prosecutor, not by Chevron.”

Hunger Striker Out of Hospital Demands Biden Keep All Climate Provisions in Build Back Better Plan

Democracy Now!Oct 27, 2021
We speak with one of the group of five climate activists who have entered their eighth day of hunger strike demanding President Biden pass the full $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan to combat the climate crisis and expand the U.S. social safety net. The climate programs drafted in the bill face opposition from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who has made millions of dollars from coal companies in his home state of West Virginia since taking office. ​​”I’m on hunger strike for my family and my future and the promises that the president made to young people who put him in office,” says Kidus Girma, who is on the eighth day of the hunger strike. He argues the reconciliation deal President Biden is said to have cut with Manchin “is simply not enough,” and calls Biden “too much of a coward to fight for the people who actually put him in office.”

Philadelphia’s ‘Liberty’ exhibit spotlights role of people of color in American Revolution

PBS NewsHourOct 27, 2021
A new Philadelphia exhibit, “Liberty,” seeks to tell a more inclusive story of the American revolution by introducing visitors to people critical to building the nation — yet whose names they’ve likely never heard. John Yang visited as part of our arts and culture series, CANVAS.

Nuclear Weapons Education Project

Aron M. Bernstein

Physics Dept., Lab for Nuclear Science, MIT

Welcome to the MIT Nuclear Weapons Education Project. Our goal is the introduction of the enormous threat of nuclear weapons into the graduate and undergraduate curriculum. This website is intended for students, lecturers, and professors who are interested in learning and educating the community about nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons pose an enormous threat to the future of humanity. It is important that individuals, particularly those who grew up after the end of the Cold War, learn about what nuclear weapons are and their effects on the world. The MIT Nuclear Weapons Education Project aims to support this goal by providing materials for lectures or discussions at introductory course levels.

Let’s consider some questions and topics that could be discussed:

  • What are nuclear weapons and what damage do they cause?
  • What were the consequences of using nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did they end WW2 and save lives, or were they the beginnings of the Cold War?
  • Did the large numbers of nuclear weapons developed during the cold war save us from WW3 by deterrence, or did they pose an unnecessary danger of future use?
  • What are the current arsenals of nuclear weapons?
  • What agreements have been reached to limit the nuclear arms race?
  • What is the current strength of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals? Do they simply maintain deterrence and keep us safe, or do they maintain overkill capacity? Is there need and the political will for reductions?
  • Eisenhower thought that the possession of nuclear weapons was the least expensive way to offset the large numerical advantage of troops and tanks that the Soviet Union had in order to keep the peace. At the present time, the US has a $1 trillion 30-year modernization plan for its nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Is this affordable and does it really keep us safe, or does it stimulate other nations to emulate it?
  • Is the Iran nuclear agreement good or bad?
  • Is it possible to deal constructively with North Korea? How?
  • Is the spread of nuclear weapons unstoppable? What is the role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?
  • Is nuclear war inevitable?

…(read more).

Opinion: How the Statue of Liberty became a symbol for a national myth – CNN

Opinion by Reece Jones

Updated 6:09 AM ET, Wed October 27, 2021

Reece Jones (@ReeceJonesUH) is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawaii. He is the author of “White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall.” The views expressed here are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)For many Americans, the Statue of Liberty, dedicated 135 years ago this month, is an enduring symbol of the idea that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Lady Liberty’s torch was the first image of America for millions of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Emma Lazarus’ immortal words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore” are etched into a plaque on its base and into the collective memory of Americans. However, despite the symbolic power of the statue and the sincere belief that the US is a nation of immigrants, neither of these stories we tell ourselves about what it means to be an American is actually true.

The transformation of the meaning of the Statue of Liberty illustrates how Americans often misremember our history. The original purpose of the statue was to commemorate the end of slavery and the country’s centennial. It had nothing to do with immigration.
Similarly, the United States was never a country that allowed completely open immigration, particularly for non-White immigrants. The history of US immigration policy is one of ever-expanding restrictions and deportations of the poor and huddled masses, from Chinese Exclusion through the rapid removal of over 10,000 Haitians last month.

…(read more).

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Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move: Reece Jones

A major new exploration of the refugee crisis, focusing on how borders are formed and policed

Forty thousand people have died trying to cross between countries in the past decade, and yet international borders only continue to harden. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union; the United States elected a president who campaigned on building a wall; while elsewhere, the popularity of right-wing antimigrant nationalist political parties is surging.

Reece Jones argues that the West has helped bring about the deaths of countless migrants, as states attempt to contain populations and limit access to resources and opportunities. “We may live in an era of globalization,” he writes, “but much of the world is increasingly focused on limiting the free movement of people.”

In Violent Borders, Jones crosses the migrant trails of the world, documenting the billions of dollars spent on border security projects and the dire consequences for countless millions. While the poor are restricted by the lottery of birth to slum dwellings in the ailing decolonized world, the wealthy travel without constraint, exploiting pools of cheap labor and lax environmental regulations. With the growth of borders and resource enclosures, the deaths of migrants in search of a better life are intimately connected to climate change, environmental degradation, and the growth of global wealth inequality.

Newly updated with a discussion of Brexit and the Trump administration.

Editorial Reviews


“I’d like an endless supply of Reece Jones’ Violent Borders to hand out to all the people I meet who flirt with an anti-refugee sensibility. This book is the antidote to the world of walls that we live in, an argument for a world of humanity.”
Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South

“A much-needed counter to a thousand newspaper columns calling on us to secure our borders, Reece Jones’ Violent Borders goes beyond the headlines to look at the deeper causes of the migration crisis. Borders, Jones convincingly argues, are a means of inflicting violence on poor people. This is an engaging and lucid analysis of a much misunderstood issue.”
Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

“From early modern land enclosures through Westphalian state formation to the current fortification of the US–Mexico frontier, Reece Jones explains what a boundary is, and how national sovereignty is being reinforced, in an age of capital mobility, by the crackdown on human movement across borders.”
Jeremy Harding, author of Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World

“In an era of terrorism, global inequality, and rising political tension over migration, Jones argues that tight border controls make the world worse, not better.”
Boston Globe (recommended books for fall 2016)

“A fierce polemicist.”
Rowan Williams, New Statesman

“Promise[s] to take your arguments from the general to the specific … The United States is one of a few countries whose immigration philosophy is jus solis or right of land, which means that if you spend enough time on US territory you have a right to citizenship. But who has that right and if it matters how they entered is our all-consuming question. In Violent Borders, Jones provides plenty of examples of how these semantic arguments lead to inequality, isolation, racism, and institutional loss of liberty for entire groups of people.”
Ingrid Rojas Contreras, KQED

“With the building of border walls and the deaths of migrants much in the news, this work is both timely and necessarily provocative.”

“The breadth and spread of Jones’s historical examples and empirical case studies make for stimulating and engaging reading.”
Nando Sigona, Current History

“Reece Jones believes that borders are essentially tools of violence used to constrict and sometimes entirely stop flows of humanity. And Jones has the facts to back up this radical assertion … This book is a valuable antidote to the xenophobia sweeping the privileged nations of the Northern Hemisphere.”
East Bay Express

Violent Borders goes beyond most considerations of refugee history to consider how new borders are formed and policed, and how state attempts to contain and control populations and allocate resources have resulted in many limits to peoples’ movements around the world … A powerful survey that should be a ‘must’ for any social issues collection.”
Midwest Book Review

Violent Borders puts questions of movement and intrastate inequality in a historical perspective that once glimpsed cannot be unseen. It firmly, and convincingly, maintains that borders are nothing more than state tools for maintaining control of resources and populations, the beneficiaries of which are often the rich while those who suffer its intrinsically violent wrath are the poor who seek safety within its walls … An excellent read.”
Arab Weekly

“Though the movement of people and the tightening of borders continue to be hotly debated throughout the world, Jones’s book is successful in providing careful historical and present-day examples for his analysis and thought-provoking arguments about the need to soften borders.”

About the Author

Reece Jones is a Professor of Geography at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and the author of Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, India, and Israel.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Verso; Illustrated edition (October 10, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1784784745
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784784744
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.09 x 0.61 x 7.81 inches

Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, India, and Israel: Reece Jones

*** Winner of the 2013 Julian Minghi Outstanding Research Award presented at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting ***

Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, why are leading democracies like the United States, India, and Israel building massive walls and fences on their borders? Despite predictions of a borderless world through globalization, these three countries alone have built an astonishing total of 5,700 kilometers of security barriers. In this groundbreaking work, Reece Jones analyzes how these controversial border security projects were justified in their respective countries, what consequences these physical barriers have on the lives of those living in these newly securitized spaces, and what long-term effects the hardening of political borders will have in these societies and globally.

Border Walls is a bold, important intervention that demonstrates that the exclusion and violence necessary to secure the borders of the modern state often undermine the very ideals of freedom and democracy the barriers are meant to protect.


Reece Jones has written an important book Klaus Dodds Royal Holloway

Reece Jones convincingly shows that the border security arrangements of the past decade are likely to be among the most enduring consequences of the global ‘war on terror’ Alexander B. Murphy University of Oregon

Reece Jones makes a significant contribution to the emerging but vital field of securitization studies. Jeff Halper Director of ICAHD

Empirically rich, theoretically sophisticated, and highly accessible, ‘Border Walls’ is an important and valuable book.Joseph Nevins Vassar College

About the Author

Dr. Reece Jones is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and a leading authority on political borders.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Zed Books (July 12, 2012)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1848138237
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1848138230
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.52 x 8.5 inches