Public Sociology

Photo by:  Timon Studler (Unsplash)


The importance of studying Sociology across the globe in a Post-Pandemic era

The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. Educational institutions came to a standstill - face-to-face interaction, campus sociality, public lectures—a large part of academic life ceased to exist.

Sociology, which is about human social relationships, can approach complex societal problems by mixing historical, theoretical, and contemporary knowledge with critical methodologies. In the past two years, it has been about delivering modes of critical thinking in the best and most accessible way possible.

A way to discuss the present pandemic has been through debates that students had learned theoretically. What kind of sociality does social distance entail, etiquettes, symbols, and rituals of the new normal? The socio-economic impact of the pandemic, how different communities are coping with the current crisis, and the implications of ‘vaccine wars.’ Based on race, class, and geographical divides, it was a challenge for specific communities to follow the strict guidelines of lockdown living in cramped and temporary arrangements.

Through online discussions and forums, instructors probed many complex issues factoring students’ perspectives of the situation. In my social theory teaching, a productive way to talk about the pandemic was through the literature of the Anthropocene - ideas and discussions prompted by the human impact on the Earth’s ecosystem. COVID-19 was in the middle of debates on global warming, habitat loss, industrial farming, and zoonotic diseases. How does one identify the different pieces of the pandemic to avoid its recurrence in the future? The magnitude of each one’s experience provided fertile space for speculative thinking—particularly for students reflected on capitalism and its links to consumerism and waste.

Right now, people are getting vaccinated, and we are witnessing a drop in mortality rates. In the coming times, teaching sociology will be challenging and exciting at the same time. The forefront of discussions will critically investigate the crisis, links to societal structures, and inequalities, considering the new needs of students coming out of a tough year. Sociology provides tools for students to think about the future creatively. Such emphasis comes from concepts, methodological rigour, and being aware of diverse empirical realities.

Continuing a sense of community will be helped by the different centres at our department where experts regularly speak on current issues. Apart from the Centre for Criminology, Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship, and the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation, we are also now developing a Centre for Global South Studies. The new centre will give a platform to develop the complexities of living in an interconnected world, particularly incorporating debates and ‘controversies’ emerging from the Global South, including Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.

The first half of the twentieth century saw another big pandemic, the Spanish flu, with many lives lost worldwide. But what was unique about the COVID-19 pandemic was the immediacy of news arriving from different parts of the world through print and social media. One was living both a local context and a global one; each of us has friends and relatives in different contexts, and even as strangers across the world, we came together in our crisis. The transnational networks of people and goods connected food, clothing, and medicines between the Global South and North. Living in a pandemic is to be aware of the interdependencies between human, non-human actors, and geographical regions to move forward with caution without reproducing old hierarchies, which has brought us to this stage in the first place.


The author is Maitrayee Deka, Department of Sociology, University of Essex.


By:     Dr Maitrayee Deka

Date: May 15, 2022

Source: The Free Press Journal


The Sound and the Fury in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is having immediate and stark humanitarian and economic impacts, yet its long-term consequences are challenging to predict. This column revisits the evidence on the long-term impact of conflict and presents preliminary evidence for the continued invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The after-effects of bombing campaigns and those of violence against civilians can be substantial and are typically, although not exclusively, damaging. The authors find a strong positive correlation between the presence of ethnic Russians historically and current conflict, as well as a negative relationship between modern conflict and Holodomor famine deaths, both within Ukraine.

As we have recently seen, the destructive nature of conflict is hard to overemphasise (Ray and Esteban 2017, Blattman and Miguel 2010, Bauer et al. 2016), yet its long-term consequences have proven more elusive to assess empirically. Several studies, stressing postwar recovery, have found no long-lasting economic impacts of the bombings in Japan, Germany, and Vietnam (Davis and Weinstein 2002, Brakman et al. 2004, Miguel and Roland 2011, respectively).1 In the very long term, Charles Tilly postulated that war made the state, and that states made war, through enhanced fiscal capacity (Gennaioli and Voth 2015, Dincecco and Onorato 2018).

Evidence on the long-term impact of historical bombing

A series of papers have revisited the existing evidence with new data, econometric tools and studying different contexts. For Vietnam, Dell and Querubin (2018), show that US bombing led to more anti-American sentiment, using both an instrumental variables strategy and a spatial regression discontinuity design. Adena et al. (2020) find that Allied bombing and propaganda undermined German morale during WWII, exploiting exogenous variation in weather conditions. Redding and Sturm (2016) and Dericks and Koster (2018) use the blitz of London during WWII to study neighbourhood effects and agglomeration economies. For that same conflict, Harada et al. (2020) show that neighbourhoods in Tokyo more affected by the air raids have lower social capital today.

Building on this literature, in Riaño and Valencia Caicedo (2020), we evaluate the enduring effects of the US government’s ‘Secret War’ in Laos (1964 -1975). As a result of one of the most intensive aerial bombing campaigns in human history, Laos is now severely contaminated with unexploded ordnance, which has impaired Laotians’ health, education, and migration choices. These factors have in turn hindered the structural transformation and economic growth of the country, which remains one of the world’s poorest. These findings for Laos – especially with regards to the role of unexploded ordnance contamination – extend to other war-torn countries. On the other hand, Chiovelli et al. (2018), stress the large economic benefits of clearing the landmines left after the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992). Lin (2020) studies the problem in Cambodia, which neighbours Laos, finding that agricultural land has become less productive due to unexploded ordnance. Moreover, Fergusson et al. (2020) show that political conflict during La Violencia (1948-1958) period in Colombia also slowed down structural transformation there.

Empirical evidence on political repression

The issue of violent repression of civilians during war is particularly relevant to the current context of the war in Ukraine. Existing work in political science has already examined the long-lasting impact of Soviet repression. Lupu and Peishakin (2017) find that political violence shapes political identities among Crimean Tatars. Descendants from those that suffered the most during Soviet times identify more strongly with their ethnic group and hold more hostile views towards Russia today. Rozenas et al. (2017) also stress the intergenerational impact of indiscriminate violence on political behaviour. In a tragically relevant case – involving deportations to Siberia – they document that people are less likely to vote for ‘pro-Russian’ parties later on in areas where Stalinist repression was strongest in western Ukraine. For identification they use both an instrumental variables strategy (based on railway networks) and a fuzzy regression discontinuity design across Soviet rayons. In a follow up paper, Rozenas and Zhukov (2019) show that indiscriminate and ‘credible’ repression can induce political obedience. Specifically, they show that Ukrainian communities that were more exposed to Stalin’s ‘terror by hunger’ behaved more loyally towards Moscow in the future. Their identification strategy exploits exogenous variation in local famine mortality due to weather shocks.

The findings for Soviet repression extend to other contexts. Fontana et al. (2018) study the impact of the Nazi occupation of Italy at the end of WWII. They find that where this occupation was stronger, the Communist party – which was active in the resistance movement – gained more votes during the postwar period. These long-term effects are at the expense of centrist parties. For identification, the authors use a regression discontinuity design along the Gothic Line, an important defensive line that crossed northern Italy. Cannella et al. (2021) reach similar conclusions for Norther Italy, along with lower political participation. Bühler and Madestam (2022) examine the long-term political effects of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. They find that in places closer to the Killing Fields, people vote more and do so for the opposition party. For identification, they use exogenous shocks to rice productivity, a keystone of the authoritarian regime.

In Tur-Prats and Valencia Caicedo (2020), we examine the cultural and political legacies of the Spanish Civil War, focusing on political repression. We find a significant, negative, and sizable relationship between political violence and generalised trust, which extends to trust in institutions more associated with the Civil War. We also find a long-lasting impact on voting during the democratic period from 1977 to 2019, corresponding to the political repression carried out in the Aragon region, consistent with the results above on credible repression and targeted political violence. For identification, we exploit deviations from the initial military plans of attack in an instrumental variables framework and a geographical regression discontinuity design along the battlefront of Aragon. In terms of mechanisms of persistence, we find lower levels of political engagement and differential patterns of collective memory about this traumatic historical event.

Our results echo those found in other settings, or for shorter time periods. Bautista et al. (2020) show that in places closer to military bases people voted against Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. Rohner et al. (2013) find that conflict in Uganda decreased generalised trust and increased ethnic identity. Using experimental evidence from Tajikistan, Cassar et al. (2013), show that exposure to violence undermined trust and participation in market transactions. Alacevich and Zejcirovic (2020) also find that individuals living in more violent areas during the Yugoslavian War in Bosnia and Herzegovina are less trusting and politically active today.

Preliminary evidence on the Russian–Ukrainian conflict

The war in Ukraine is an ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which can be dated to February 2014, with the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas – after the Euromaidan protests and Revolution Dignity, in Kyiv. The Russian occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Eastern Ukraine was followed by an all-scale invasion of the country by Russian military forces, including bombings of military and civilian targets. It is now estimated that almost 3,500 civilians have died in the confrontation, while approximately 5,000 soldiers have died on each side. Both bombings (specifically, unexploded ordnance) and civilian repression (including mass graves) have been important features of the struggle.

For our empirical analysis for this column, we use geo-localised data from the ACLED project (see Figure 1), municipal level data from Zhukov (2022) on the ongoing struggle, and Rozenas and Zhukov (2017) on historical ethnicities – originally from the 1926 Census – and historical Soviet repression, including the Holodomor famine. We also employ a large set of potentially relevant controls such as elevation, agricultural suitabilities for wheat, potato, maize, flax, and barley, forest cover and distance to the Russian border from FAO, and the aforementioned sources. Results are updated daily, so we report here regressions for 9 May 2022, a historic date for Russia (Victory Day) and a significant one for the current conflict.

First, we find a positive, significant, and robust correlation between ethnic Russians in Ukraine in 1926 and current attacks. We observe this positive association in Figure 2 using ‘binsreg’ estimation (i.e. a regression of binned variables, see Cattaneo et al. 2021). This relationship is also visible in the map in the bottom panel, where areas with both more attacks and higher historical Russian ethnic populations appear in purple. These include border areas, such as Donbas and Luhansk, as well as districts at the South (Mariupol and Odessa) and the centre of the country.  The relationship with this historical correlate is striking, but we recognise that other omitted factors could be driving the result. Politically, invading territories with Russian population has been used as motivation by Russian propaganda. Targeting places where ethnic Russians reside could be a tactical strategy hoping to garner support and eventual territorial control.2 Lastly, the findings are consistent with a Russian nationalist doctrine of irredentism.3

Second, we examine the relationship between the Holodomor famine and modern conflict. The Great Famine or Holodomor was a famine occurring from 1932 to 1933, which killed approximately 3.9 million people (Naumenko 2019). Results can be seen in Figure 3: areas where famine severity was higher in the past correspond with those that have had less confrontations in the modern struggle and where opposition to the invasion has been stronger. This could be – related to the previous point – because these happen to be areas with more ethnic Ukrainians historically, in line with the findings of Markevich et al. (2021), as well as places where resistance has been stronger.

We defer and invite more interpretations, while acknowledging the lack of a proper identification strategy, though several have been suggested in the literature (Rozenas and Zhukov 2019). We do note, however, that our empirical results are robust to controlling for the large set of controls described before, including distance to Russia, hold for areas at 200 kilometres from the Ukrainian border and for different types of violence classified in the modern data, such as airstrikes, anti-air defence, tank battles, arrests, and Russian initiated attacks. Notably, they do not hold for other ethnic minorities, such as the Germans, in a placebo-type exercise. In a horserace with the two historical covariates, we find that both coefficients are of similar magnitude, but are marginally stronger for the Russian ethnicity results. 

Naturally, not enough time has passed for a long-term analysis of the current struggle, but the findings from the historical bombing and political repression literatures surveyed above suggest a bleak future for the affected areas, beyond the current humanitarian catastrophe. We focus here on bombing and civilian repression, but acknowledge that there are other historical and modern elements at play in the current war, such as migration (Becker 2022) political preferences (Grosjean 2022), and sanctions (Guriev 2022), pointing the reader towards these and other important contributions in this valuable debate on VoxEU.



Adena, M, R Enikolopov, M Petrova and H-J Voth (2021), “Bombs, Broadcasts and Resistance: Allied Intervention and Domestic Opposition to the Nazi Regime During World War II”, Working Paper.

Alacevich, C and D Zejcirovic (2020), “Does Violence Against Civilians Depress Voter Turnout? Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Journal of Comparative Economics 48(4): 841-865.

Bauer, M, C Blattman, J Chytilová, J Henrich, E Miguel and T Mitts (2016), “Can War Foster Cooperation?”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 30(3): 249–74.

Bautista, M A, F González, L R Martinez, P Muñoz and M Prem (2020), “Chile’s Missing Students: Dictatorship, Higher Education and Social Mobility”, Working Paper.

Becker, S (2022), “Lessons from history for our response to Ukrainian refugees”,, 29 March.

Blattman, C and E Miguel (2010), “Civil War”, Journal of Economic Literature 48(1): 3–57.

Brakman, S, H Garretsen and M Schramm (2004), “The Strategic Bombing of German Cities During World War II and its Impact on City Growth”, Journal of Economic Geography 4(2): 201–218.

Bühler, M and A Madestam (2022), “State Repression, Exit, and Voice: Living in the Shadow of Cambodia’s Killing Fields”, Stockholm University.

Cannella, M, A Makarin and R Pique (2021), “The political legacy of Nazi Annexation”, Working Paper. 

Cassar, A, P Grosjean and S Whitt (2013), “Legacies of Violence: Trust and Market Development”, Journal of Economic Growth 18(3): 285–318.

Cattaneo, M C, R Crump, M Farrell and Y Feng (2021b), “Binscatter Regressions”, Working Paper. 

Chiovelli, G, S Michalopoulos and E Papaioannou (2018), “Landmines and Spatial Development”, NBER Working Paper No 24758.

Davis, D R and D E Weinstein (2002), “Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity”, American Economic Review 92(5): 1269–1289.

Dell, M and P Querubin (2018), “Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 133(2): 701–764.

Dericks, G and H R A Koster (2018), “The Billion Pound Drop: The Blitz and Agglomeration Economies in London”, Journal of Economic Geography 21(6): 869-897.

Dincecco, M and M Onorato (2017), From warfare to wealth: The military origins of urban prosperity in Europe, Cambridge University Press.

Fergusson, L, A M Ibàñez and J F Riãno (2020), “Conflict, Educational Attainment, and Structural Transformation: La Violencia in Colombia”, Economic Development and Cultural Change 69(1): 335-371.

Fontana, N, T Nannicini and G Tabellini (2018), “Historical Roots of Political Extremism: The Effects of Nazi Occupation of Italy”, Working Paper.

Gennaioli, N and H-J Voth (2015), “State Capacity and Military Conflict”, The Review of Economic Studies 82(4): 1409–1448.

Grosjean, P (2022), “Conflict, empires, and political preferences”,, 28 March.

Guriev, S (2022), “Russia under sanctions. The political economy of Putin’s war in Ukraine”,, 14 March.

Harada, M, G Ito and D M Smith (2020), “Destruction from Above: Long-Term Legacies of the Tokyo Air Raids”, Working Paper.

Lin, E (2022), “How War Changes Land: Soil fertility, unexploded bombs, and the underdevelopment of Cambodia”, American Journal of Political Science 66(1): 222-237. 

Lupu, N and L Peisakhin (2017), “The Legacy of Political Violence Across Generations”, American Journal of Political Science 61(4): 836–851.

Markevich, A, N Naumenko and N Qian (2021), “The political-economic causes of the soviet great famine, 1932-33”, NBER Working Paper No 29089.

Miguel, E and F Roland (2011), “The Long-Run Impact of Bombing Vietnam”, Journal of Development Economics 96(1): 1–15.

Naumenko, N (2021), “The Political Economy of Famine: The Ukrainian Famine of 1933”, The Journal of Economic History 81(1): 156-197.

Ray, D and J Esteban (2017), “Conflict and Development”, Annual Review of Economics 9(1): 263–293.

Redding, S J and D M Daniel (2016), “Estimating Neighborhood Effects: Evidence from War-time Destruction in London”, Working Paper. 

Riaño, J F and F Valencia (2020), “Collateral Damage: The Legacy of the Secret War in Laos”, Working Paper.

Rohner, D, M Thoenig and F Zilibotti (2013), “Seeds of Distrust: Conflict in Uganda”, Journal of Economic Growth 18(3): 217–252.

Rozenas, A, S Schutte and Y M Zhukov (2017), “The Political Legacy of Violence”, The Journal of Politics 79(4): 1147–1161.

Rozenas, A and Y M Zhukov (2019), “Mass Repression and Political Loyalty: Evidence from Stalin’s Terror by Hunger”, American Political Science Review 113(2): 569–583.

Tur-Prats, A and F Valencia Caicedo (2020), “The Long Shadow of the Spanish Civil War”, Working Paper.

Zhukov, Y M (2022), VIINA: Violent incident information from news articles on the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies.



1 As noted by Sascha Becker, the psychological costs of conflict can still be immense.

2 We thank Dominic Rohner for this point.

3 We thank Shanker Satyanath for guiding us towards this interpretation.


By        :        Ellen Munroe (Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia)

                     Anastasiia Nosach  (Economist, Statistics Canada)

                    Juan Felipe Riaño  (Ph.D. candidate in Economics, University of British Columbia) 

                    Ana Tur-Prats   (Assistant Professor of Economics, UC Merced)

                    Felipe Valencia Caicedo (Assistant Professor, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia) 

Date    :       June 8, 2022

Source:       VOX EU  ( 


Where the bars are

Has LGBTQ+ acceptance resulted in losing valuable community spaces?

Are rainbow-festooned events full of glitter, sequins, and boas signs of progress? Strides made by LGBTQ+ people are increasingly under fire in the forms of violence, rhetoric, and quasi-legal attacks on the rights of the community. Has the LGBTQ+ community unwittingly played a role in this by seeking assimilation?

Some might say that the idea that LGBTQ+ people have achieved assimilation (or even acceptance) is up for debate. “I worry a lot less about being ‘assimilated’ than about the mental health and physical safety of queer teens in a country debating (again) whether it is OK for teachers to even acknowledge their existence,” says Dr. Lane Fenrich, distinguished senior lecturer in gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University. “Heck, I worry about the mental health and physical safety of LGBT adults, especially trans adults of color.”

Dr. Amin Ghaziani, professor of sociology and Canada research chair in urban sexualities at the University of British Columbia, notes that queer spaces like gay bars are closely linked to the LGBTQ+ community’s sense of identity. “The history of gay bars is the history of trans people. We cannot think about one without the other,” he says.

Ghaziani continues, “If you consider the Stonewall riots as an example that has broad, even global recognition, then we know that members of the trans community were pivotal in the uprising, its motivational energy, and its effects in terms of affecting the American consciousness about sexuality, and the LGBTQ consciousness about politicizing our identities.”

These struggles for the right to exist in safety over time have become less radical and more accepted. Contemporary Pride events are reminiscent of where we have been before, with similarities to the drag balls Chicago has seen since the early 1920s. This is a history that has historically been remarkably inclusive in ways we haven’t seen in recent years.

The Prohibition-era sociologist Myles Vollmer wrote about Chicago drag balls for his research in 1933: “Physically, all types are there. Homosexuals thin and wasted, others slender and with womanish curves, others overfed and lustfully fat. Most of the younger homosexuals have pallid complexions with rather thin hair, due, perhaps, to overindulgence. There is a preponderance of Jews and the Latin Nationalities, although homosexuality is no respecter of races. Many of the men are of Polish blood. Negros mingle freely with whites. There seemingly is no race distinction between them.”

This celebration flew in the face of the customs and laws of the society at the time, providing a safe place for all manner of queer people to come together and enjoy their right to exist. These temporary spaces, drag balls, were eventually replaced, following the repeal of Prohibition, with more permanence in the way of gay bars.

These bars were places of activism and community from the civil rights era through the AIDS crisis and the quest for equality in the 90s. Bars were a mecca of sorts for LGBTQ+ people from all over—a lighthouse of hope in the sea of a society that continued to denigrate and abuse queer people—and, mostly, accepted people as they were without regard to race, size, gender, and the like.

The bars were such an important support for the community that some people used to call bars on the telephone just to listen in on the “happy laughter of other gay people.” As interviewee and community member Myrna Kurland told writer Marie Cartier in Cartier’s 2013 book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall, “I used to phone up all the gay bars, just to hear them answer the phone. Just to hear the noise. I would just hear the noise and the laughter in the background. I just wanted to be there.” These days, the movement of many in the LGBTQ+ community away from LGBTQ+-specific spaces has in part led to their rapid decline. Though there is limited data, existing research including a 2019 paper by Greggor Mattson at Oberlin College shows that the number of gay bars nationwide has dropped by more than half since the mid 1980s.

“We’re not going to really understand the full impact of the loss of these spaces for a number of years,” says K Anderson, a cultural anthropologist who created the Lost Spaces podcast with this very topic in mind. “There is an older generation of queers who are recognizing and mourning the loss. Over the coming years, I think we’ll start to see more innovation, reimagining both the community and the spaces that hold them. People’s priorities and need for queer spaces have changed, and the scene needs to evolve to reflect that—hopefully, this means that there are spaces that aren’t exclusively centered around drinking and drugs, ones where people of all ages feel welcome. What that looks like exactly I don’t know, but we are a resilient and innovative community, so I’m excited to see what is to come.”

“Assimilation is a double-edged sword. We spent years trying to prove that gay folks are equal and just the same as straight people. Now that we’ve done that—marriage, military, kids, etcetera—we seem to have dumbed down our once gay culture,” St. Sukie de la Croix, a gay historian and inductee in the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, tells the Chicago Reader. “Gay bars, bookstores, and newspapers are disappearing. Is that good or bad? As a gay senior, I’m very conscious of the danger of clinging to the past and not accepting new things. However, it does seem a shame that what made us different and exciting is now being watered down.”

De la Croix isn’t the only one worried about this loss of culture. World Business Chicago’s vice president and director of marketing and communications Andrew Hayes agrees. “The Gay Pride Parade that began to help demonstrate the community’s collective power is today a traveling party, a drink fest. While the acceptance and assimilation have led the community to realize greater access to what others enjoy, it has also, in my humble opinion, given us less of point-of-distinction, too. Our once ‘rallying cry’ has been silenced. We are now happily blended—but thinking back to the days of ACT UP and the need to protest for the rights denied us, but afforded others, united the community in ways we don’t see today.”

In preparation for June’s Pride Month, young staffers in Hayes’s office passed around rainbow flags and other decorations. He says, “Watching this unfold stopped me in my tracks. While I appreciate and am genuinely touched by the outward demonstration of support this was intended to represent, I couldn’t help but think that all those who fought for our rights, and died from discrimination in all its forms, were reduced to desktop flags. At that moment, having known friends who were dying weekly from AIDS, and having seen regular protests and fights for our civil rights, I wished for those younger than me to see LGBTQ history as so much more than a desktop flag.”

These experiences differ based on circumstances. Dr. Ghaziani says, “Attitudes about homosexuality have liberalized at unprecedented rates, as we can see from the Gallup poll [Ghaziani is referring to his research based on a 2011 Gallup Poll asking respondents, “Do you think gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal?”]. Sometimes, we falsely assume that aggregate statistics about public opinion apply to all LGBTQ people. This is not true, unfortunately. Cis white gay men and women have a set of experiences that are different from racialized and trans communities. As an example, we see that these groups are systematically more susceptible to anti-LGBTQ violence.”

“We receive the protection of popular culture, as the ways we look, and love, are synthesized by the mainstream. The benefit is we may become less threatening. We lose being viewed as radical. At the same time, we become diluted and divided as other ‘isms’ like sexism, classism, elitism, and racism rise to the surface,” says Dionne “Choc Tréi” Henderson, executive director of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ kink organization Paragon Cooperative and Club and a board member at Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum. “In other words, we sacrifice the uniqueness that binds us together by mimicking heterogeneous customs.”

These “isms,” and others, sometimes make gay bars themselves less than inclusive. This leads to finding other venues—such as cruising places or recently, apps. Dr. Ghaziani adds, “Cruising places have been foundational to the history and culture of gay men. In the 1960s and 1970s, political liberation was inextricable from sexual liberation. To have sex was a radical act, a liberatory act, an act in the service of pleasure as well as politics.” 

Though cruising places still exist, one needs only look at websites like Squirt to find out which neighborhood park or library restroom hosts men looking for sex with other men; other online platforms have taken the place of that risky activity. “While platforms such as Grindr and Scruff make hooking up a virtual certainty for those looking to do so, they aren’t the wild ruptures in the sexual culture they’re often depicted as. Neither do they impede the formation of friendships or the development of communal ties,” Dr. Fenrich says. “Although I’ve sat through many a dinner party where such suspicions were aired as certainties.”

Depending on your perspective, there is much still radical about the LGBTQ+ scene in our city. Many LGBTQ+-owned gay bars and businesses serve the community as a space to congregate and affirm—just not as many or in the same ways as in their heyday. The danger exists in our allowing them to close without replacing them with something aspirational, welcoming, and distinctly our own.


By     :         James De Lise

Date :          June 14, 2022

Source:       Chicago Reader  ( 


“¡Hola a Todes!” Language Becomes a Political Battleground in Latin America

More pundits and politicians are embracing the issue, but the public is less enthusiastic.

Standing in front of a vast field in Argentina’s Chaco province, President Alberto Fernández greeted the crowd with an enormous smile: “Good morning, amigos, amigas y amigues!” Fernández’s use of the gender-neutral word amigues (friends) is an example of inclusive language, which is increasingly becoming a hot-button issue in the so-called culture wars raging throughout much of Latin America.

Young, left-leaning Gen-Z activists have been spearheading the movement for inclusive language—like the use of phrases such as “todos, todas y todes”—to, they say, stop language from marginalizing women and nonbinary people. This kind of language has been discussed in progressive circles since the feminist movements of the 1970s, but its current use came into vogue during the 2018 pro-choice protests in Argentina.

Now, it has swept across the region and into politics, often brandished by politicians on the left and pilloried by those on the right. While the general public frequently shrugs at such controversies, they have still proven a tempting wedge issue at a time when many politicians are eager to deflect attention from rising inflation, stagnant economic growth and other pressing challenges.

In March, for example, a social media firestorm ensued after Colombian vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez used gender-neutral language in her first remarks as Gustavo Petro’s running mate.

Congressional representative Margarita Restreppo tweeted, “Mayores y mayoras, nadies y nadias, personas y persones ¡Dios salve a Colombia!” and former representative Álvaro Hernán Prada tweeted in Spanish, “They do not know how to speak, they were not taught Spanish … they’re damaging the language.”

Other less strident critics brush off gender-neutral language as nothing more than linguistically incorrect political posturing. The Real Academia Española has repeatedly dismissed it, and the RAE’s director recently called the current push political nonsense. He said the RAE has encouraged the evolution of more inclusive language in the past—by changing, for example, the definition of words like jueza from “a judge’s wife” to “a female judge”—but that the new asks are “foolishness.”

Other critics are painting the use of inclusive language in public settings as part of a large-scale project of ideological indoctrination into pro-LGBTQ “ideologies.” Schools have become a major flashpoint. When a school in Porto Alegre, Brazil, sent students home with gender-neutral texts, some parents complained to school officials and local politicians, and right-leaning pundits helped amplify the event.

Across Brazil, at least 34 state-level bills have cropped up that would restrict the use of gender-neutral language in schools. “There’s a clear political strategy by conservative political leadership [in Brazil] to capitalize on this issue,” said University of São Paulo political science professor Rafael Cortez. He added that right-leaning politicians seize on identity issues like inclusive language to win votes from the rapidly growing, socially conservative evangelical electorate. President Jair Bolsonaro has made his position on the issue clear, declaring in front of the presidential palace that “the gays’ gender-neutral language” is “messing up our kids.” He said, “it damages young people… [making them] interested in those things.”

Similar bills focused on education have appeared across the region. In Uruguay, the far-right Cabildo Abierto proposed a bill that would ban inclusive language in the classroom, and in Nuevo León state in Mexico, a state bill would ban the use of inclusive language within the educational code.

While most relevant legislation in the region restricts rather than encourages the use of inclusive language, Argentina passed a law in 2021 that requires public media—and incentivizes private media—to conform with a series of guidelines meant to establish equity in gender and sexual diversity representation in audiovisual media. The guidelines include the “promotion of the use of inclusive language.” Compliant companies would receive an “equity certificate,” while non-compliance could lead to reduced access to publicity or scheduling from public entities.

The legislation attracted harsh criticism. For Argentine libertarian Javier Milei, ??“There’s no reason why the state has to put this oppressive boot on my head and force me to use something that even the Real Academia doesn’t accept.”

Yet despite the legislative sparring, polling in Argentina suggests that most people either vaguely favor inclusive language or don’t care at all. This includes even progressives and gender activists. “Today, the discussion [in progressive circles] is more focused on the acquisition of concrete rights, like being able to move freely and having greater equality for trans people, lesbian people [and] the LGBTQ+ collective,” said Gonzalo Olivares, an adjunct professor in sociology at the University of Buenos Aires and a consultant for Argentina’s Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity. “The debate over language just isn’t a priority right now, especially considering the very poor socioeconomic conditions the country is experiencing,” he said.

Cortez, of Brazil, pointed to a similar dynamic. “We cannot deny that step by step these new ideas are impacting the electoral arena … [but] issues like economics, unemployment and crime will still dominate this year’s elections.” He added that media outlets and politicians are giving inclusive language disproportionate attention, considering that Brazilians are much more concerned with a range of other issues.

As the debate over gender-neutral language spreads across borders, one constant remains: politicians and pundits seem more interested than the public.

This article was updated to remove a quote from a Colombian comedy group.

González Camaño is an editorial assistant at AQ, specializing in the cultural and ecological politics of the Southern Cone.

Brown is an editor and production manager at AQ.


By        :           Ezequiel Gonzalez Camaño and Rich Brown 

Date    :           May 4, 2022

Source:            Americas Quarterly


Why The Son Of A Hated Dictator Won The Philippine Elections

The failures of liberalism made illiberalism popular. But the inevitable crises of the Marcos-Duterte regime offer opportunities for progressive organizing.

As a progressive activist, I am dismayed at the election of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the former dictator, by a landslide in the recent Philippine presidential election. But as a sociologist, I can understand why.

I am not referring to the malfunction, intended or unintended, of 1,000-plus voting machines. I am not alluding to the massive release of billions of pesos for vote buying that made the 2022 elections one of the dirtiest in recent years. Nor do I have in mind the decade-long online campaign of disinformation that transmogrified the nightmare years of martial law during the senior Marcos’s rule into a “golden age.”

Undoubtedly, each of these factors played a role in the electoral result. But 31 million plus votes — 59 percent of the electorate — is simply too massive to attribute to them alone.

The truth is the Marcos victory was largely a democratic outcome in the narrow electoral sense. The challenge for progressives is to understand why a runaway majority of the Philippine electorate voted to bring an unrepentant, thieving family back to power after 36 years.

How could democracy produce such a wayward outcome?

Illiberalism Is Popular

No matter how slick or sophisticated the internet campaign was, it would have made little impact had there not already been a receptive audience for it.

While the Marcos revisionist message also drew support from among the middle and upper classes, that audience was in absolute numbers largely working class. It was also a largely youth audience, more than half of whom were either small children during the late martial law period or born after the 1986 uprising that ousted Marcos — better known as the “EDSA Revolution.”

That audience had no direct experience of the Marcos years. But what they had a direct experience of was the gap between the extravagant rhetoric of democratic restoration and a just and egalitarian future of the EDSA Uprising and the hard realities of continuing inequality and poverty and frustration of the last 36 years.

That gap can be called the “hypocrisy gap,” and it’s one that created greater and greater resentment every year the EDSA establishment celebrated the uprising on February 25 or mourned the imposition of martial law on September 21. Seen from this angle, the Marcos vote can be interpreted as being largely a protest vote that first surfaced in a dramatic fashion in the 2016 elections that propelled Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency.

Though probably inchoate and diffuse at the level of conscious motivation, the vote for Duterte and the even larger vote for Marcos were propelled by widespread resentment at the persistence of gross inequality in a country where less than 5 percent of the population corners over 50 percent of the wealth. It was a protest against the extreme poverty that engulfs 25 percent of the people and the poverty, broadly defined, that has about 40 percent of them in its clutches.

Against the loss of decent jobs and livelihoods owing to the destruction of our manufacturing sector and our agriculture by the policies imposed on us by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the United States.

Against the despair and cynicism that engulf the youth of the working masses who grow up in a society where they learn that the only way to get a decent job that allows you to get ahead in life is to go abroad.

Against the daily blows to one’s dignity inflicted by a rotten public transport system in a country where 95 percent of the population doesn’t own a car.

These are the conditions that most working class voters experienced directly, not the horrors of the Marcos period, and their subjective resentment primed them for the seductive appeals of a return to a fictive “Golden Age.”

In the presidential elections, the full force of this resentment against the EDSA status quo was directed at Marcos’s main opponent, Vice President Leni Robredo. Unfairly, since she is a woman of great personal integrity.

The problem is that in the eyes of the marginalized and the poor that went for Marcos, Robredo was not able to separate her image from its associations with the Liberal Party, the conservative neoliberal Makati Business Club, the family of the assassinated Benigno Aquino, Jr., the double standards on corruption that rendered Benigno Aquino III’s “where there is no corruption, there is no poverty” slogan an object of ridicule, and — above all —  with the devastating failure of the 36 year old EDSA Republic to deliver.

The rhetoric of “good governance” may have resonated with Robredo’s middle class and elite base, but for the masa (masses) it smacked of the same old hypocrisy. Good governance or “tapat na papamalakad” sounded in their ears much like the Liberals’ painting themselves as the “gente decente” or “decent people” that led to their rout in the 2016 elections and the ascendancy of Rodrigo Duterte.

Moreover, the Marcos base was not a passive, inert mass. Fed with lies by the Marcos troll machinery, a very large number of them eagerly battled on the internet with the Robredo camp, the media, historians, the left — with all those that dared to question their certainties. They plastered the comment sections of news sites with pro-Marcos propaganda, much of it memes either glorifying Marcos or unfairly satirizing Robredo.

Generational Rebellion

This protest against the EDSA Republic had a generational component.

Now, it is not unusual that a new generation sets itself against that which the old generation holds dear. But it is usually the case that the younger generation rebels in the service of a vision of the future, of a more just order of things.

What was unusual with the millennial and Gen Z generations of the working masses was that they were not inspired by a vision of the future but by a fabricated image of the past — the persuasiveness of which was enhanced by what sociologists like Nicole Curato have called the “toxic positivity” of Marcos Junior’s online persona. He was reconstructed by cybersurgery to come across as a normal, indeed benign, fellow who simply wanted the best for everyone.

From the French Revolution to the Philippine Revolution to the Chinese Revolution to the global anti-war movement of the 1960’s to the First Quarter Storm, it was the left that usually offered the vision that youth latched on to to express their generational rebellion.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Philippines, the left has simply been unable to offer that dream of a future order worth fighting for. Ever since it failed to influence the course of events in 1986 by assuming the role of bystander during the EDSA Uprising, the left has failed to recapture the dynamism that made it so attractive to youth during martial law.

The left’s decision to deliberately sideline itself during the EDSA Uprising led to the splintering of the progressive movement in the early 1990s. Moreover, socialism, which had served as the beacon for generations since the late 19th century, was badly tarnished by the collapse of the centralized socialist bureaucracies in Eastern Europe.

But perhaps most damaging was a failure of political imagination. The left failed to offer an attractive alternative to the neoliberal order that reigned from the late 1980s on, with its presence on the national scene being reduced to a voice yapping at the failures and abuses of successive administrations.

This failure of vision was coupled with the incapacity to come up with a discourse that would capture and express people’s deepest needs, with its continued reliance on stilted, formulaic phrases from the 1970s that simply came across as noise in the new era. There was also the continuing influence of a “vanguardist” mass organizing strategy that might have been appropriate under a dictatorship but was disconnected from people’s desire for genuine participation in a more open democratic system.

The times called for Gramsci, but much of the left here stuck with Lenin.

This vanguardism in mass organizing was coupled, paradoxically, with an electoral strategy that de-emphasized class rhetoric, threw overboard practically all references to socialism, and satisfied itself with being a mini partner in elections with contending factions of the capitalist elite. To be sure, one cannot overemphasize significant state repression exercised against some sectors of the left, but what was decisive was the perception that the left was irrelevant or, worse, a nuisance by large sectors of the population as memories of its heroic role during martial law faded away.

Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say, and when it came to capturing the generational energy of working class youth in the late EDSA period, that vacuum was filled by the Marcos revisionist myth.

The Coming Instability

This is the history against which the 2016 and 2022 elections unfolded. But the great thing about history is that it is open-ended and to a great extent indeterminate.

As one philosopher observed, women and men make history, but not under conditions of their own choosing. The ruling elite may strive for control of where society is headed, but this is often frustrated by the emergence of contradictions that create the space for the subordinate sectors to intervene and influence the direction of history.

The Marcos-Duterte camp is currently gloating behind the façade of calls for “burying the hatchet,” and we should expect this froth to overflow in the period leading up to June 30. Beginning that date, when it formally assumes power, reality will catch up with this gang.

The Marcos-Duterte alliance, or what is now the circle of multiple political dynasties around the Marcos-Duterte axis, is a connivance of convenience among powerful families. Like most alliances of this type, which are built purely on the sharing of spoils, it will prove to be very unstable.

One would not be surprised if after a year, the Marcoses and Dutertes will be at each other’s throats — something that might be foreshadowed by Vice President-elect Sara Duterte’s being denied the powerful post of chief of the Department of National Defense and given instead the relatively powerless position of Education Secretary.

This inevitable struggle for power will unfold against a backdrop of millions realizing they have not been led to the promised land of milk and honey and the 20 pesos per kilo of rice, disarray in a business sector that still has memories of the crony capitalism of the Marcos Sr. years, and splits in a military that will have to work overtime to contain the instability triggered by the return of a controversial dynasty that the military itself —or a faction of which — contributed to overthrowing in 1986.

But probably the most important element in this volatile scenario is a large sector, indeed millions, who are determined not to provide the slightest legitimacy to a gang that have cheated and lied and stolen and bribed their way to power.

In voting for Marcos, 31 million people voted for six years of instability. That is unfortunate. But that is also the silver lining in this otherwise bleak scenario. One of the world’s most successful organizers of change observed, “There is great disorder under the Heavens but, hey guys, the situation is excellent.”

The inevitable crises of the Marcos-Duterte regime offer opportunities to organize for an alternative future, and this time we Filipino progressives better get it right.


FPIF columnist Walden Bello was a candidate for vice president in the recent Philippine elections. He has served as a member of the Philippine House of Representatives and is currently the Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton.


By     :       Walden Bello 

Date :        May 18, 2022

Source:     Foreign Policy in Focus