Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_26p0p7vanj14rbo9hkvq2otnp2, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in /home/awaysheg/public_html/wp-content/themes/Divi/header.php on line 1
Social Justice - Away She Goes

Social Justice

Finding My Voice – and My Tribe

Finding My Voice – and My Tribe

Food + Feminism. Photo by the brilliant Alex Chapman. I started travel blogging the way most people do: to keep in touch with friends and family, and to let my mom know I was safe. But I have always been a political person, someone with a strong sense of justice, tons of opinions, and an allergy to keeping my mind shut. I like when disparate things connect, whether it means seeing Gilbert & Sullivan references alongside homages to Busta Rhymes and Ja Rule in Hamilton, or seeing the lessons of Amnesty International and Comparative Politics play out in tourism. So it should come as no surprise that I have brought my academic and activist background to my blog, just like I bring it everywhere else. For the first few years, though, that made travel blogging a very lonely place. To most travelers and travel bloggers, I’m a downer who won’t just let them enjoy their cultural appropriation and unchecked globalism in peace. On the other hand, travel blogging has always felt like the most frivolous thing I do, and at times I have held back from the more serious, academic writing many of my friends engaged in, because I was afraid of submitting pieces that wouldn’t be good enough. Since I graduated Northeastern in 2012, I’ve watched the general public bend closer to awareness and justice. I rarely have to explain what street harassment is anymore, and I’m continually surprised to see sexual violence, racial justice, reproductive rights, and other important social issues discussed by non-activists at parties and in my news feed. It seems while I had my head down... read more
Violence, Agency, Photojournalism and Activism

Violence, Agency, Photojournalism and Activism

TW/CN: This post contains several famous graphic images. As someone who works in multiple media to mobilize people around causes, I’ve had a lot to think about this year. The entire Black Lives Matter movement has been a case study in average people mobilizing the masses in order to force traditional media coverage, as well as how to use a loosely-tied grassroots network to subvert and exploit media coverage in service to a cause. Most recently, though, the photo of two dead toddlers whose bodies washed up on the beach in Bodrum, Turkey, has got the wheels turning. As a photographer, one of the questions I often grapple with is those situations where I find myself wondering, do I take the picture? Of course, the photographer in me answers: take the picture, you can always decide what to do about it later. But the advocate in me wonders about the harm that can be done just in the act of photographing. There’s also the idea that once an image exists, it could be seen by someone else like an editor who would take the decision about what to do with it out of my hands. Images like the ones of the boy on the beach in Bodrum always seem to simultaneously be completely necessary and yet eat away at the photographers who take them. In this case, Nilufer Demir, the photographer who took the image said, “I wished there was no problem in their country, that they hadn’t left it and hadn’t tried to leave Turkey and that I hadn’t taken this photograph. But as I found them dead,... read more
Open Wound: Life in a Batey

Open Wound: Life in a Batey

On the first day that my fellow student researchers and I returned to Mata los Indios in the Dominican Republic, our trek was pretty muddy. As we squished and squelched our way to the batey, the velcro on my trusty Merrell sandals became so clogged that it wouldn’t function, leaving me with a raw, open blister on the inside of my right ankle. Through cement mixing, dirt sifting, and slogging across Cruz Verde in the rain, keeping it clean and dry was impossible. I tried to go barefoot when inside and to refrain from complaining, but during an even muddier return trip to Mata los Indios, it was painful and dirt-filled. Mata los Indios, a small batey in the rural province of Monte Plata, is less than a mile from the village of Cruz Verde, where we were staying, but a world away economically. It’s hard to imagine that there is something smaller or more vulnerable than a village, but in the Dominican Republic, there is: a batey. A batey is a small company town that was set up for sugar cane workers decades ago. There are hundreds of them throughout the country, near the cane fields and usually owned by either the government or the owner of the fields. There have been times in the last century when workers were imprisoned on the batey until the work was done, and there was a time when all workers suspected of being Haitian were rounded up and murdered en masse. A typical batey cement block structure. Inside it would likely be broken up into several different homes.  Most of the sugar industry left the Dominican... read more
Beers for BARCC

Beers for BARCC

Last year, my wonderful friend Liz joined my team for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) Walk for Change. As a fundraiser, she hosted a party with donated food and drink. The premise was that guests would donate to the BARCC Walk what they would have spent on a night out. The fundraiser was one of those great nights you hope they will all be, drinking pickle-backs and dancing to awesomely bad music. Liz raised a whole bunch of dough, but we realized the only thing holding her back from raising more money was the small size of her apartment. This year, Liz and I were determined to be even more competitive in the team standings. We also smartened up and joined forces with Hillary, who had captained her own team the year before. Lucky for us, Liz started working at Aeronaut Brewery in Somerville running their community events, and Hillary is a veteran of the food service industry. All three of ushad many friends who we knew wouldn’t donate to the BARCC Walk for a variety of reasons, but who would come to a fun event and throw cash in a jar. And so, #BeersforBARCC was born. Aeronaut donated the space free of charge, and Liz, Dillon, and several other Aeronaut bar staff agreed to work the event for no pay and no tips, which is so generous it’s bonkers. While folks would have to pay for the beer due to Massachusetts state law, we wanted them to feel like they were still getting a worthwhile experience in exchange for their donations. So Hillary and Liz got... read more
Robbed

Robbed

On Monday, my laptop, external hard drive, and ipod were all stolen from my office at my new job.  It happened in the middle of the day, while other people were in our suite, which is tucked away in a rarely-visited corner.  I was only gone for about half an hour.  Luckily no one else lost anything, no one got hurt, and I had my phone and wallet with me.  I kept hoping there was some other explanation–that I had left my laptop at home, or a coworker had moved my ipod.  Yes, I did everything I was supposed to do, from filing a report to changing my passwords.  I know people mean well, but I’m not all that interested in advice that would require time travel for me to carry it out. It’s so strange to not have a “when it happened” moment.  I have been robbed before, but in this instance there was no action, just a realization that I didn’t have my things and it wasn’t a mistake.  There’s also some irony in that these objects have been with me all over the world, and yet they were taken from my posh new job at home.  I keep hoping that maybe the thief will see the laptop is a pc, and ditch it.  Or that they’ll have a heart when they see the hard drive is just a terabyte of images, and will turn it in as though they found it.  I would honestly let them keep the stuff if they offered to give back the data.  But I know none of that is realistic.  As the cop said,... read more
Ganvie: the Stilt Village of Benin

Ganvie: the Stilt Village of Benin

En route to Ganvie. It’s rare for people to write about Ganvie, or really any part of Benin, but when they do it churns my stomach.  Romantic, they write.  Mystical, inviting, the Venice of Africa. None of this is what I saw in Ganvie. We got to the stilt village in the middle of Nokué Lake, not far from Cotonou,  Moving in a pair of long motorboats we passed fish farms and what looked like the invasive species water hyacinth along the way.  Because we were a human services group, someone asked the obvious question of whether the men who brought us there were from the community, and the answer was hand-waved away with a probably.  When we arrived, we got out to find a small, angry monkey chained to a post, setting the tone for our visit. The only monkey I saw in three weeks in Benin.   Reasons given for the existence of the village are varied, from the villagers themselves as well as the internet.  Some claim it started 400 years ago, others say the 16th or 17th century.  The Tofinu people were running from enslavement by either the Fon or Dahomey tribe.  Or was it the Portuguese?  Some claim it’s the only one in the world, or perhaps the biggest. Everything felt uneasy there. A woman screamed at us in a tribal language as we came to a shop.  Throughout the day, children and adults would curse, yell and point at us as they passed on their completely non-mechanized boats.  Even for those who didn’t speak French, it still had a chilling effect.  We found ourselves lowering... read more
Elephant Rides: Animal Abuse vs. Tourism

Elephant Rides: Animal Abuse vs. Tourism

Elephant rides top many bucket lists, and tourists from around the world seek them out. Like walking into a guide book, we ran into “domesticated” elephants several times now in Kerala, India, always completely by accident.  Well, by accident or unknowingly on our part.  But the two times when we saw elephants at or near hotels were certainly no accident.  I quote the word domesticated because I’m not convinced that such an animal can be domesticated.  And if it can, surely this cannot happen over the course of one lifetime–isn’t true domestication a multi-generation process, a form of contrived evolution? According to EleAid, India has some of the strictest laws in Asia governing domesticated elephants, but the laws aren’t enforced.  City life is completely unsuited to what elephants need, and some elephants used in tourism or in temples are known for being chained to one spot their whole life or completely over-worked. Elephant rides often force animals to carry too much weight and for too long, with insufficient time to rest. Being on display in public exposes elephants to human food and limits their ability to exercise. As a person who loves animals (and used to spend quite a bit of time in the sciences), I find myself pulled between two poles: I want to both be with animals and see them able to live their lives naturally.  As interesting as it was to spot a bear on a neighbor’s porch in Maine, for example, it was sad to realize that this animal had acquired a taste for human food and was bold enough to walk up to someone’s... read more
Boston Marathon Tributes

Boston Marathon Tributes

I was hoping to post something on Wednesday with my thoughts on the marathon a year out, but Tuesday night’s events left me exhausted in more ways than one.  I’m glad no one got hurt and that there was no actual potential for violence, and I hope he finds the help that he needs.  I also hope his family gets some privacy and the support that they surely need as well.  There’s a lot out there on the marathon, some better than others.  Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite marathon-related things hanging around the internet. Jeff Bauman, seen by many as the face (along with Carlos Arredondo, he of the cowboy hat) of the Boston Marathon survivors wrote a great piece at the Guardian explaining how he feels about the famous wheelchair photo, and how he hopes we’ll view it.  I think it’s incredibly powerful for him to take charge of his own narrative and of this devastating thing that was inflicted upon him.  It’s also fascinating from the standpoint of photography and journalism to think about whether taking this photo was a good idea, and to hear Jeff’s thoughts about the image and the man responsible.  If you didn’t see the coverage at the time, you’ll also note that most people who weren’t on twitter at the time or actively seeking it out haven’t seen the complete image, in a self-imposed censorship similar to the images of people jumping from the twin towers.  The images are seen as too much, and too damaging a way for  a loved one to get bad news (as Jeff’s parents... read more
Street Harassment and Traveling Advice for Women

Street Harassment and Traveling Advice for Women

Everyone has a lot to say about women travelers, especially if they’re solo, especially if they go somewhere in the Global South.  And really, everyone has a lot to say about women.  Some of the advice is good, like researching backup plans ahead of time so you don’t get stuck staying somewhere that makes you uncomfortable.  It’s pretty obvious and rather good advice for everyone, but at least it’s not bad.  There’s also a lot fo bad advice out there, ranging from racist to victim-blaming, restrictive to non-sensical.  Some people just can’t seem to stop themselves from sharing this advice, even if I don’t ask.  Even if they’ve never been where I’m going.  All of the advice essentially boils down to one premise: as a woman, you are vulnerable and it is therefore your responsibility to alter your behavior in every way imaginable in order to prevent other people from harming you.  If you fail in this, you will be judged for your poor safety efforts and it will be used as an excuse to make blanket statements about what women travelers should or should not do.  Its for your own good, honey. Thankfully, there was very little street harassment directed my way on my trip to Kerala, India, contrary to the typical American view of the country.  Some of us were discussing possible reasons for this, with the most obvious being that we spent very little time on actual streets.  We were generally in our bus, and when we walked we tended to be on the grounds of a hotel or other attraction where the only people we see are staff. ... read more
The Party

The Party

After I had made all my arrangements to go to Kerala, I found out something fantastic: it has an active communist party (or two)!  Does communism find me or am I chasing communism?  Either way, I find it fascinating, especially to see how it works in a unicameral parliamentary democracy.  Kerala prides itself on being the first place where communism came into power via peaceful elections, a tidbit no one lost any time in telling me.  The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the Left Democratic Front (which includes the currently-impotent Communist Marxist Party), is still very active, generally winning elections on alternating 5 year terms. The Kerala Land Reform Act (which originated in 1963 with several notable amendments),  gave land rights to tenants, ending the feudal system (except for cash crops) and giving thousands a home of their own for the first time.  The reform completely altered the state and set it on a trajectory for relatively little economic stratification.  Redistribution of wealth (and land in particular) is a hallmark of communism, often lamented by wealthy landowners, and beloved by hardworking farmers freed of their peasant status (unless they’re just random people who you forced to be farmers.  That doesn’t go over to well.)  People commonly referred to Kerala as a state made entirely of the middle class, and I think the land reforms were a key factor in this. Communism in Kerala hit a turning point in 1967 with the Naxalite uprising, and other ensuing violent acts.  Elements within the party wanted a more anarchic stance, and used violence to that end, which drastically changed public opinion.  The communists, who at the... read more

Subscribe Now

Join the Away She Goes mailing list to make sure you don't miss out! You'll get the monthly newsletter with posts, plus exclusives like travel discounts, never-before-seen photos and advanced travel plans that you won't find anywhere else. No spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Great Success!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: