Category Archives: Uncommon & anti-conventional knowledge

Repost: Casting out the caste system

Reposted from: http://www.imakesense.org/blog/light-fly-fly-high-review-documentary

 

How one Dalit woman is fighting the caste system in India and winning

by Amar Patel in ,

June 15, 2014


Thulasi is a Dalit, a girl from the lowest rung of the antiquated caste system in India. If you’re not familiar with the dangers of being an “untouchable”, this piece by Dalit artist and filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan paints an accurate and bleak picture. “Your family’s caste determines the whole of your life – your job, your level of spiritual purity and your social standing,” she explains. “We live in a caste apartheid with separate villages, places of worship, and even schools.  It is a lethal system where, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, four Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched every day.” (Sadly, the incidence of sexual abuse among women in India stretches much further.)

Unwilling to follow a set path laid out by her country or society, 24-year-old Thulasi sees herself as a free bird fleeing from marital subservience, the “jail life” as she calls it. Boxing, a passion for more than 10 years, is her ticket to brighter days. She is in a race against time to win selection for the national games and secure a well-paid job through a national program for athletes, before she reaches her 25th birthday. The training is gruelling, an injury threatens to knock her off course and those in charge at her local boxing club seem less than supportive. Something is amiss.

Apparently, “talent is all you need to succeed” at the club, according to the head official at the Tamil Nadu State Amateur Boxing Association. And Thulasi has it in abundance: we learn that she has already defeated five-time world champion Mary Kom. However as the story unfolds we realise that these women must be willing to give a little more than that behind closed doors.

Light_fly_fly_high_boxers

Away from the ring, Thulasi is living hand to mouth with a surrogate family, adrift from her own. “I walked out of my house because I refused to get my religion changed along with other family members,” she later explained to The Hindu. “My parents were unhappy about my decision and I had to leave. There were times when I would get back home late and there would be lechers making a pass at me. I would beat them up. No one should ever question the strength of a woman, boxer or otherwise.”

When this defiance threatens to deny her a fresh start and alienate her even more, we are left wondering whether resistance is futile for an impoverished woman living in a patriarchal state of India. But Thulasi is an indomitable spirit – taking on a male-dominated society in a male-dominated sport – and you can’t help but have faith in her to find a way through. The signs are encouraging: now a trainer at a gym called Combat Kinetics, she plans to open her own boxing club one day.

Light_fly_fly_High_Tulasi

New generations using sport to overcome financial, political and class handicaps have often made excellent subject matter for filmmakers. Sons of Cuba immediately springs to mind. And like all good documentaries, Like Fly, Fly High makes us care about the star – we’re rooting for her from the off. First-time directors Beathe Hofseth and Susann Østigaard let the drama of everyday life take hold – employing a fly-on-the-wall style with minimal narration – never once trying to heavy-handedly disparage a character or engineer tension. The struggle for freedom and progress is something that we can all identify with, wherever we come from. Thulasi is a compelling subject, commanding the screen in any number of situations: contemplating life on her bed, debating the subject of marriage with surrogate mother Helenma or throwing lefts and rights in the ring.

Inspired by Miriam Dalsgaard’s photo essay about female boxers in India, Hofseth and Østigaard began thinking about making a film as early as 2005 but it wasn’t until they met Thulasi at Nehru stadium in 2010 that they realised they had to make this film. So off they went on a three-year journey to tell her story, during which time they witnessed a troubled girl becoming a confident young woman. Their ability to capture candid moments about corruption and sexual abuse (a huge taboo) is very impressive, but as they explained at a recent event, their star was always determined to change the world by being true to herself…

“In one of the very first interviews we did with Thulasi, she told us that in India most girls sit on the back of their father’s, brother’s or husband’s motorbikes. But one day she was going to drive her very own bike, so that Indian father´s could look at her and realize what their daughters are capable of. She said she wanted to show people that there doesn’t have to be a difference between boys and girls. The fact that Thulasi herself wanted to be a role model to others is what eventually made us decide that we wanted to make a documentary about her. Thulasi is a feminist, without even knowing the meaning of that word, she has a message and we felt that her voice deserved to be heard.”

That interview obviously made a huge impression on the directors. Look at the opening and closing moments of the film and you’ll see what I mean. Highly recommended and compelling to the core.

‘Light Fly, Fly High’, winner of the 2013 Oxfam Global Justice Award and the Best Documentary award at the 2014 One World Media Awards, will be shown at selected film festivals throughout the summer. For forthcoming screenings, click here.

Read more: http://www.imakesense.org/blog/light-fly-fly-high-review-documentary#ixzz5IQNCAwbo

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Pure ‘white’ race – did it ever exist? Part 1

(based mainly on David Mac Ritchie’s Ancient and Modern Britons Volume 1, ISBN 9781592322251)51tqkszqn0l-_sy344_bo1204203200_

In keeping with accuracy, Britain does not mean just England. I mean it as synonymous with British Isles (the collective name of the island containing England, Scotland & Wales – what used to be called Albion/ Prettania/ Brettania/ Alouíōn), Ireland (Northern & Republic – what used to be called Ierne/ Hibernia/ Iouernía), and the surrounding smaller islands.

When I first heard of this book I knew I wanted it. Now I’ve got it, it’s quickly becoming one of the most fascinating books on ‘race’ I’ve ever read. Mac Ritchie was a ‘white’ Scottish historian & folklorist, yet the information he delivers will probably be nothing short of miraculous to ‘black’ people interested in ‘black’ history.

Disclaimer: As informative as it is, it must be remembered it was written in the 1800s before knowledge of DNA was available to corroborate. It was also the time when scientific racism was at its peak. I just present this info as a potentially useful guideline and insight into the mindset of the past. If you want to see how true the claims are, please do your own research to independently verify. 

Continue reading Pure ‘white’ race – did it ever exist? Part 1

The Plow: Origin of Sexism?

Sarvodaya

You read that correctly. There have been all sorts of theories as to why discrimination towards women seems so pervasive and near-universal, and from where it comes from to begin with. But a crude farming tool is by far the most interesting and unexpected origin. As the Economist – my most cherished and regularly read source – recently reported, a team of economists, of all people, set out to prove that the adoption of the plow coincided with a change of attitudes towards women that persists to this day.

Specifically, a move towards large-scale and labor-intensive agriculture – defined by the adoption of the heavy plow – created an economic system in which one’s physical strength and endurance became a major basis for productivity, and they key to society’s survival. Men were naturally more adept in this new function, and from this crucial role they would subsequently come to dominate…

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Aryans – native after all?

(based mainly on Jagat K. Motwani’s None But India [Bharat]: The Cradle of Aryans, Sanskrit, Vedas, & Swastika – ISBN 9781450261272)

none-but-india-bharat-the-cradle-of-aryans-sanskrit-vedas-swastika

In Western academia the story goes like this: Continue reading Aryans – native after all?

Cheddar Man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin

(Reposted from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-42939192)

Cheddar Man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin

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DNA shows early Brit had dark skin
Image caption DNA shows early Brit had dark skin

A cutting-edge scientific analysis shows that a Briton from 10,000 years ago had dark brown skin and blue eyes.

Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903.

University College London researchers then used the subsequent genome analysis for a facial reconstruction.

It underlines the fact that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon.

No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed.

As such, the analysis provides valuable new insights into the first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.

The analysis of Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal, and will also feature in the upcoming Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of The 10,000-year-old Man.

‘Cheddar George’ tweet on early Briton

Cheddar Man’s remains had been unearthed 115 years ago in Gough’s Cave, located in Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge. Subsequent examination has shown that the man was short by today’s standards – about 5ft 5in – and probably died in his early 20s.

Prof Chris Stringer, the museum’s research leader in human origins, said: “I’ve been studying the skeleton of Cheddar Man for about 40 years

“So to come face-to-face with what this guy could have looked like – and that striking combination of the hair, the face, the eye colour and that dark skin: something a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined and yet that’s what the scientific data show.”

Cheddar Man
Image captionA replica of Cheddar Man’s skeleton now lies in Gough’s Cave

Fractures on the surface of the skull suggest he may even have met his demise in a violent manner. It’s not known how he came to lie in the cave, but it’s possible he was placed there by others in his tribe.

The Natural History Museum researchers extracted the DNA from part of the skull near the ear known as the petrous. At first, project scientists Prof Ian Barnes and Dr Selina Brace weren’t sure if they’d get any DNA at all from the remains.

But they were in luck: not only was DNA preserved, but Cheddar Man has since yielded the highest coverage (a measure of the sequencing accuracy) for a genome from this period of European prehistory – known as the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.

They teamed up with researchers at University College London (UCL) to analyse the results, including gene variants associated with hair, eye and skin colour.

Extra mature Cheddar

They found the Stone Age Briton had dark hair – with a small probability that it was curlier than average – blue eyes and skin that was probably dark brown or black in tone.

This combination might appear striking to us today, but it was a common appearance in western Europe during this period.

Steven Clarke, director of the Channel Four documentary, said: “I think we all know we live in times where we are unusually preoccupied with skin pigmentation.”

Prof Mark Thomas, a geneticist from UCL, said: “It becomes a part of our understanding, I think that would be a much, much better thing. I think it would be good if people lodge it in their heads, and it becomes a little part of their knowledge.”

Unsurprisingly, the findings have generated lots of interest on social media.

Cheddar Man’s genome reveals he was closely related to other Mesolithic individuals – so-called Western Hunter-Gatherers – who have been analysed from Spain, Luxembourg and Hungary.

Dutch artists Alfons and Adrie Kennis, specialists in palaeontological model-making, took the genetic findings and combined them with physical measurements from scans of the skull. The result was a strikingly lifelike reconstruction of a face from our distant past.

Pale skin probably arrived in Britain with a migration of people from the Middle East around 6,000 years ago. This population had pale skin and brown eyes and absorbed populations like the ones Cheddar Man belonged to.

Chris Stringer
Image caption Prof Chris Stringer had studied Cheddar Man for 40 years – but was struck by the Kennis brothers’ reconstruction

No-one’s entirely sure why pale skin evolved in these farmers, but their cereal-based diet was probably deficient in Vitamin D. This would have required agriculturalists to absorb this essential nutrient from sunlight through their skin.

“There may be other factors that are causing lower skin pigmentation over time in the last 10,000 years. But that’s the big explanation that most scientists turn to,” said Prof Thomas.

Boom and bust

The genomic results also suggest Cheddar Man could not drink milk as an adult. This ability only spread much later, after the onset of the Bronze Age.

Present-day Europeans owe on average 10% of their ancestry to Mesolithic hunters like Cheddar Man.

Britain has been something of a boom-and-bust story for humans over the last million-or-so years. Modern humans were here as early as 40,000 years ago, but a period of extreme cold known as the Last Glacial Maximum drove them out some 10,000 years later.

There’s evidence from Gough’s Cave that hunter-gatherers ventured back around 15,000 years ago, establishing a temporary presence when the climate briefly improved. However, they were soon sent packing by another cold snap. Cut marks on the bones suggest these people cannibalised their dead – perhaps as part of ritual practices.

Image copyright CHANNEL 4Ian Barnes
Image caption The actual skull of Cheddar Man is kept in the Natural History Museum, seen being handled here by Ian Barnes

Britain was once again settled 11,000 years ago; and has been inhabited ever since. Cheddar Man was part of this wave of migrants, who walked across a landmass called Doggerland that, in those days, connected Britain to mainland Europe. This makes him the oldest known Briton with a direct connection to people living here today.

This is not the first attempt to analyse DNA from the Cheddar Man. In the late 1990s, Oxford University geneticist Brian Sykes sequenced mitochondrial DNA from one of Cheddar Man’s molars.

Mitochondrial DNA comes from the biological “batteries” within our cells and is passed down exclusively from a mother to her children.

Prof Sykes compared the ancient genetic information with DNA from 20 living residents of Cheddar village and found two matches – including history teacher Adrian Targett, who became closely connected with the discovery. The result is consistent with the approximately 10% of Europeans who share the same mitochondrial DNA type.

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