Foreign Affairs

Antibacterial Wipes, Wigs, Jump Ropes, Vodka

Antibacterial Wipes, Wigs, Jump Ropes, Vodka

The fight for workplace safety at Amazon France

Thanks to its ubiquitous presence across Europe, Amazon was never seriously penalized. The nearly boundless scale of the company also allowed it to ignore the mandate about excluded products; its catalogue for French shoppers offered thousands of both essential and non-essential items. In fact, according to a report from Bloomberg, Seattle may have shut the French warehouses precisely to avoid setting this expensive and complex precedent for other countries.

The Wantok System

The Wantok System

A horizon of maximum difference, a test bed for linguistics and for linguists

New Guinea remained on my radar: a horizon of maximum difference, a test bed for linguistics and for linguists. Elsewhere, linguistic differences usually stem from geographic isolation. But in much of New Guinea the diversity is actually deepest in places where travel is easiest. Instead of using religion, clothing, or food, Papua New Guineas have distinguished themselves above all through language. Call it tribalism or, as linguists do, the “constructive fostering of variegation” through “intentional language change.”

Hold Your Applause

Hold Your Applause

The French respond to paperwork

As of this writing, France’s death toll is more than thirteen thousand. The trees were bare when this began; now the lindens are in full leaf, and the ashes will follow shortly. At some point the clocks changed, and at first it made us bashful to face each other each evening in full daylight. But without fail at 8 we appear at our windows, sometimes grimly, sometimes exuberantly, to fulfill what we all seem to agree is a duty to each other.

Eyes Open

Eyes Open

Que se sepa que en Chile nos estarán robando los ojos mas no la VOZ! 

The citizen body has always been the target of state violence, but, in keeping with these visual times, the police targeted the optic organ itself, rendering their violence spectacular. The target was no longer the body but the eye of the citizen. They aimed to leave eyes open and awake forever, perpetually shot upward, blank.

Aden Dispatch

Aden Dispatch

Hard times in an uncertain south

He has been fighting for eleven months and talks with bitterness about the conditions in the dry hills where the front line is. He scrolls past pictures of himself posing with his rifle to find the pictures of his daughter, who is back in Aden, back down the road, back where he is from. Visibly upset, he pauses to collect himself.

“Chinese Virus,” World Market

“Chinese Virus,” World Market

The best safeguard against the novel coronavirus is the ability to voluntarily withdraw oneself from capitalism

What all these stories have in common is how unremarkable they are: this is contemporary global interchange at its most prosaic. Travel to and from countless other cities across Asia and Europe for business meetings and tourism follows a very similar pattern. Whereas the SARS outbreak was blamed on the peculiar, outlandish diets of the Cantonese people and then traveled through the elite cosmopolitan links between major Asian cities, the so-called “Wuhan virus” points to the utterly mundane way that countless nodal points around the world, including “second-tier” Chinese cities, are interwoven more tightly than ever across global circuits of commerce, education, and tourism.