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In other news…

April 18, 2010

Thanks to all-consuming essay/exam panic, here are some things I am not blogging about:

  • The Great Urban Horticulture Experiment has officially begun. My first thought, on hearing we could renew our contract for another year, was, ‘Hurrah, I can spend another year with my lovely housemates in our lovely house!’ My second thought was, ‘Hurrah, I don’t have to move the week after my exams!’ My third thought was, ‘Oh, thank god, I’ll have the garden for the whole of the growing season!’ Did a lot of slightly hungover clearing and digging last weekend, sowed some bean and pea seeds, and had a slightly comic excursion to collect two outside tables, a barbecue and a lantern and transport them back across north London during the week. There will be vegetables, and strawberries, and flowers, interspersed in a sustainable-and-biodiversity-promoting way, and warm summer evenings sitting in the garden after all my work is over, and possibly a birthday party involving barbecuing things…
  • I went on a beekeeping course. You know that bees are dying out, and why this is a terrible thing. And that, unlike other species extinctions or other harmful side-effects of industrial agriculture/urbanisation/whatever causes colony collapse disorder, the plight of the honey bee has caught the public imagination in a big way. At some point I shall attempt to write something exciting about what this says about representations of nature and human interaction with biological processes, but right now…. I just really want some bees!! (And a feminist beekeeping mentor. Ahem.) My housemates have said I can’t have bees in the garden, and they’ve really been quite tolerant about the strawberries, so I shall find a local community garden project and persuade them they really need pollinators. Given the fact I’ll probably be quite transient over the next few years, this is probably not a bad idea – apparently you can move beehives a few feet, and the bees will find their way back really easily, but if you’re going to move them any further it has to be more than three miles, or they try to go back to the old place and get confused when it’s not where they thought it is. More pointless bee facts coming soon!
  • ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is full of really interesting representations of capitalism. I’m not sure whether to be more worried that even when incapacitatingly hungover I am incapable of watching a film as mindless escapism, or that I have, despite my best intentions, turned into a raving Marxist since starting at SOAS. Did you notice how, unlike the book and the first film, Charlie’s family can’t just be really poor and then have a lucky break, but they have to ‘earn’ it by Mr Bucket getting a new job repairing the machines that put him out of work earlier on? Retraining for the new high-tech economy! Trickle-down capitalism does work! And the bit with the oompa-loompas and the mashed up caterpillars and the cocoa beans… This poor anthropologist of food didn’t know where to start. Sidney Mintz, you’ve broken my brain. =)
  • There was a really interesting film on BBC2 about urban agriculture in Detroit. Well, a film about Detroit. Which you missed, but is available on youtube if you look for it. (I feel guilty giving out more information than that. 😉 ) Amidst the unemployment, poverty, crime, crumbling infrastructure, racism and despair, some amazingly resilient people are making art and growing food. It was a beautiful, depressing, fascinating film, the narration was very unintrusive and let the pictures and people of Detroit speak for themselves most of the time. There’s a review here and an interview about the gardening here.
  • For my food essay, I’m using a lot of articles by someone who writes about the political economy of GM food aid, including the possibility that it is being used as a way of dumping (potentially harmful) surplus crops on developing countries. She’s also written an article about the international trade in toxic waste. I am restraining myself from drawing comparisons. 😉
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