Freedom House released its 2010 Freedom in the World survey, which sadly, shows overall freedom declining around the world for the fourth straight year. The report designates a total of 89 countries as free, 58 as partly free, and 47 as not free. Last week, I asked Freedom House Director of Research Arch Puddington about some of the more surprising developments from this year in freedom:
I was a little bit stunned to realize yesterday that my working conditions — as a lowly graduate student at the University of Chicago — are in a sense markedly better than those of a typical French public university professor. You see, the University of Chicago owns a building in Paris where they give us, the visiting grad students, office space. But if you are a Maître de Conférences (somewhat like an associate professor) at, say, the University of Paris-8 (Saint-Denis), you get no work space whatsoever, aside from a cramped class preparation lounge where you can leave your coat while you teach your class. University professors in Saint-Denis, unless they are also administrators, must either find office space elsewhere or work at home.
It is a famous, even infamous fact about French universities that the system is deeply centralized, and centered on Paris. But over the years the university system has diversified and there are now 83 French public universities (of which 5 are in Corsica and the overseas territories). However, as every French academic would surely attest, the system remains deeply Paris-centric. For the foreign reader, I thought it would be helpful to present a little map of the density of universities by region (based on this original):
The Copenhagen Conference of Parties (COP15) held from 7 to 19 December 2009 marked (or was supposed to) the culmination of a two-year negotiating process launched in Bali at COP 13 in December 2007, to enhance international climate change cooperation and extend the Kyoto Protocol commitment period. The Conference’s high level segment held from 16 to 18 December and attended by close to 115 world leaders represented one of the largest gatherings of world leaders outside of New York. The conference was subject to unprecedented public and media attention, and more than 40,000 people, representing governments, nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, media and UN agencies applied for accreditation at the conference.
from Boing Boing by Andrea James
The international conference on Digital Arts and Culture is often a place for previewing coming theoretical trends in digital scholarship. Long before the formation of separate conferences for the Electronic Literature Organization and the Digital Games Research Association, DAC was at the forefront of interactive literature and game studies.
I’m always interested here by trying to get a sense of what goes on in French social sciences. Outside the research on universities and intellectuals that I have a professional interest in, it seems that there is, unsurprisingly, a rather wide range of stuff. Here I just want to give a list of recent Ph.D. theses in sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, which is probably the most prestigious social sciences institution here (not a university; it’s an autonomous, research-oriented school that grants the Ph.D.). Needless to say, a one-year sample of thesis topics, running in this case from September 2007-September 2008, is hardly a comprehensive look at a discipline. But there’s enough variation here to be interesting:
Every single year for the last 60 years, a mysterious man would visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave on his birthday and leave a bouquet of roses and a bottle of cognac. Yesterday though, the man never showed up. From the Associated Press (Litho from E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore):
How the hell am I going to get access to study these uber-elite media companies? In my desperation to find ethnographic facts about ‘corporate culture’ at the new media conglomerated behemoths I am viewing these reflexive industrial videos Google and its subsidiary YouTube upload about themselves. What are these things? Part recruitment propaganda to solicit CVs from the world’s top engineers, part PR-campaign to provide proof of its post-China ‘do no evil’ mantra, part braggadocios chest bump and back slap these videos must have some information that can provide evidence for the ‘real’ internal values and dynamics that influence the 20,000 employees and the 100s of millions of networked people that use their digital tools daily.
If you want to get a sense of the overall institutional situation of French universities, it helps to look at how many French students are studying what. In this post I just want to present a basic, broad overview of the situation.
[TWIAN (i.e., This Week in Anthropology) focuses on issues of anthropological practice that are of interest to the NAPA Anthro membership. The following post from Ethnography.com is a timely way to start the year since many of us are involved in academia.