Justin Bieber and the Graffiti Writers of Colombia

A few days ago, when he sneaked out from his hotel to do some graffiti on a 40 meters long gray wall of the Calle 26 in Bogota, Justin Bieber most probably didn’t imagine he would stir a lively debate and provoke a chain of reactions, which ended up legitimizing graffiti and urban art.

The image broadcasted by the media was strident. It showed Justin Bieber in company of few friends painting a marijuana leaf and the Canadian flag, while the police provided him with security even closing one of the street’s lane. Continue reading

Dirty Wars, the Documentary: An Anthropological Commentary

Saturday night, I went to see Dirty Wars, a documentary film about the U.S. covert operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, written and produced by investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, the national security correspondent for The Nation. Continue reading

3 Suggested Readings on the Politics of Surveillance

Obama scandals seem not to end. The disclosure that the Obama administration has continued the tradition inaugurated by president George W. Bush to routinely collect metadata of phone calls has sparked a lively debate on social media and in political circles. The disclosure came first from The Guardian newspaper, which described the process by which the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. have obtained a secret warrant to compel Verizon to turn over phone data. The first report was followed by a The Guardian and The Washington Post article revealing that the Obama administration was mining also data from nine U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Skype and Apple. The Prism Program , as it is known, was until now, a top secret program. Continue reading

Obama’s predator drones are destroying tribal structures in Pakistan

A week after president Barack Obama had promised a more restrained and “savvy” use of drone attacks, an Unnamed Arial Vehicle (UAV) spotted and killed in the Pakistani tribal belt, Wali ur-Rehman, deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban. As Mark Mazzetti highlighted in his New York Times analysis, the United States defined the Tribal area at the border with Afghanistan a zone of exception, where the new standards announced by the president are suspended; a reminder that in the production of terror, the state’s impulse as an apparatus of capture is always ready to conceive and to engender an exteriority defined as a space of exception: Continue reading

Lessons from my grandfather

In June, I visited the places where my mother’s father, Hubert Saurwein, founded and led the armed resistance against Hitler in a long and narrow valley of Austria, the Oetz valley, in the region of Northern Tyrol. He was nicknamed the Tito of the Oetz Valley.
He was a locomotive engineer, a committed Catholic, and a union member, with a strong believe in freedom and justice and when Nazism penetrated Austria, and people were forced to practice the Nazi salute, stretching high the arm and their hand, my grandfather like many others understood that a dangerous, dark and illiberal era was infiltrating their society. Continue reading