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During treaty body sessions at the Palais Wilson one of the undoubted ‘hotspots’ for action is the cafeteria located on the first floor opposite to the Conference room where the formal proceedings take place. During sessions there is always plenty of action in the café: as soon as it opens, the first visitors make their way in either in search of their daily pick-me up also known as coffee, or with other missions in mind, such as holding informal meetings. Indeed, in addition to the steady flow of staff members from the UN Secretariat, one can almost always spot small gatherings of people seated at the tables overlooking the lake and discussing matters of importance in semi-hushed tones. It is also in the cafeteria that one can trace important links between different actors and individuals related to the Session.
As part of my doctoral research on workers in the fashion industry in Paris and Brussels, I conducted fieldwork for a year and a half. I had found an agreement with Franck, a young Belgian designer highly appreciated by the press and the media. In return for allowing me to observe his work, I helped his team of collaborators in the preparation of the show organised in the context of the “Fashion Week” in Paris. I spent 3 weeks in his studio in Brussels, working from 9 am to 6 pm and I supported his team for a week during its stay in Paris. But how was the agreement made? I learnt that Frank was looking for some assistants. Here is the announcement that circulated on a job announcements website, followed by my application.
“This is a phenomenally impersonal and detached forum for addressing what really are issues of life and death for millions of people…. The meeting itself reinforced this detachment, with its ungodly amount of minutiae and complete absence of any emotion whatsoever. This is unabashedly, and unmistakably, an insider’s club.”
This is how my research assistant described her first experiences of following the sessions of the Human Rights Committee.
In UN treaty body proceedings members of the bodies regularly mention – after they are done with elaborate rounds of welcomes, thank yous and appreciations toward the state presenting its periodic report – that whereas they have been happy to receive statistical information and specific figures in the report they ultimately wish to achieve something more: to be exposed to ‘real reality’.
Huge skyscrapers in the middle of the desert. The city looks like a mega shopping mall. On my way from the airport (through which I passed only 4 months ago on my way to Australia) to the Five stars Sheraton hotel where we are accommodated, we pass by Shaykh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques that can host 41000 worshipers and has one of the heaviest chandeliers as well as the largest hand made carpet in the entire world (at least, so the website visitabudhabi claims). In this city state, size does seem to matter.
Dear Savage Mind,
We are approaching you in the singular, for if our understanding is correct, it was just one ‘savage mind’ that got the blog with the same name going – is this correct? Now of course things have changed dramatically, and the title really should be in the plural for the list of contributors is large and impressive. Just what are the numbers today, and how did you arrive here?
How about that – this is the week when Allegra turns 1! We’ve made mental notes of this week’s approach for quite some time, and yet its arrival still feels surprising. This is perhaps due to some recent heat we’ve been getting on a totally different issue, which has kept us somewhat preoccupied and also slightly puzzled. This debate will continue, yet today we give it a break by focussing on celebrating all that the past year has brought with it. Now, in doing this, we’ll be setting things off with something highly ‘un-Allegran’, namely focus on NUMBERS! Yes, those good old digits that are in today’s world so often treated as the arbitrators of ‘factual’ and ‘important’.
Yesterday we brought you back to basics by introducing the idea behind AVMoFA. Today we continue by sharing a ‘jewel’ from our AVMoFA archives: the bottle of Professional Lightweight mousse ‘Curl Collection’, provided by Giulia Mensitieri. The bottle is connected to her fieldwork of the fashion industry in Paris and Brussels – which she also shared with Allegra readers via some fieldnotes. That this topic is timely is also reflected in our recent New Publications list on #Economics – put together by our very own reviews editor Judith Beyer. Thus we’ll continue with this theme soon as reviews will be arriving on books such as Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins and Flip-Flop. A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads by Caroline Knowles. ENJOY!
WE’RE BACK!!! We hope that you have all enjoyed yourselves during our absence – whether with work or play! On our part we’re once again full of ideas for things to come, we’re getting everything set for our #EASA2014 coverage in Tallinn as well as the ‘Shadow EASA’ in Helsinki. And of course continuing our #Fieldwork thread with plenty of #AVMoFA fun too…
So let’s hop to it – and there’s NO better way to pick up the pace than by glancing at July’s #EVENTS (those besides the EASA 2014), courtesy once again of Hilja Aunela! This time we have noticed a strong embrace for all things visual, which is hardly a surprise considering the bright light and long summer days currently bracing the Northern hemisphere.
Enjoy & DO send us your conference notes & papers! And remember: CONTACT US if you’re organising an event that you think Allegra should feature; EMAIL: email@example.com
By Charis Boke
I’m from here. Well, sort of. When I was 18 months old, we moved to this small town on the Connecticut River, in the shadow of Mt. Ascutney. I grew up here and left when I was 20. I’ve returned to conduct my fieldwork in Vermont because it’s home for me, though I wasn’t born here. The matter of birth means that the way in which I belong is fraught, especially in the eyes of the old-time Vermont community–folks whose families have lived with this land for several hundred years, who understand a “real Vermonter” in part by family association with particular places, dairy farms, forests, livelihoods.