Maybe it’s Contemporary Warfare (or maybe it’s Maybelline.)

What? War? I thought we were in a time of world peace (sort of)?

And uhm… make-up? I’m confused…

Well, supposedly this is the closest we’ve gotten to world peace. Commonly referred to as ”relative peace” or ”long” peace. It’s based on the idea that war for conquest is pretty much obsolete, punitive wars are nearly gone too and all the colonial wars have ended (*cough*). This leaves civil wars, most of which have cooled down over the years. The term ”long peace” marks the time from after the second world war, to the present day, due to the absence of major (obvious) wars between the dominating powers of the period aka the USA and Russia (previously USSR). Such a long period of ”relative” peace between major powers hadn’t been documented since the Roman Empire.

Major ”in your face”-wars, the ”blowing citys into smithereens” kinda wars might be over (it’s not, major citys in various countrys in the middle east are war zones, and we’ve got groups of people immigrating en masse) but from the toning down of guns and loud air-raids, we’ve seen the rise of a new form of warfare, namely the title of the piece, Contemporary Warfare (que off-key horns).

Technically, modern warfare isn’t that new, because the term covers everything after the gunpowder revolution (c. 1300- 1650) to now lol. So… how do we narrow it down to what I’m here to focus on? Well, luckily (modern) warfare tactics are divided into 5 generations, each generations set of tactics generally influenced by whatever was relevant at the time (so like guns from 1300’s and forward vs mounts and sharp things basically every generation before that). In this piece I’ll focus on 4th and 5th generation tactics, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about any of this, here you can read about the remaining generations.

Starting with the 4th generation (4GW), these tactics are characterized by a return to decentralized forms of warfare. Meaning here it might be hard to spot who’s fighting who and when/where the actual war in taking place, blurring the lines between war, politics, soldiers and civilians. A classic example includes any war where one of the major participants is not a state/recognized government, but rather a non-state actor. If we look at the Cold War, major powers fought to regain grip over some of their previous colonies, and with the non-state entities representing said colonies lacking muscle power to fight back, other methods became essential. Movements were created, propaganda was spread, espionage, secrecy, surprise attacks or means of terror were used to fill the obvious gap in raw muscle. The tactics themselves aren’t new, you’ll see similar tactics in previous slave rebellions or anywhere else where there’s a huge power-gap.

The 5th generation (5GW) is like a semi-continuation of 4GW. They share many similarities, and since it’s under development right now the definition itself isn’t quite finished, but so far 5th generation war is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives, without measurable damage that can be identified by the target. The goal is for the target to not know they’ve been attacked, resulting in loss before the fight’s even begun. If you google 5GW you’ll be presented with a number of pieces on Al Qaeda since these tactics are most commonly associated with terrorist organisations.

5GW espoused by the likes of Al Qaeda, with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems. They’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations are viable in the modern world.

US Army Major Shannon Beebe, Wired (magazine) 2009

Alright alright, so now I understand the current generation of warfare, when do we get to the part where you explain why we’re talking about this?

– Right about now.

I chose modern warfare as my topic this week because these same tactics are all around us, and they’re being used on the daily by several other countries, organisations and companies. Not for the sake of terrorism, but for the sake of power. These tactics aren’t terrorist exclusive, and more common than most of us might think. Let me give you an example that ties to my meme-esque title. Earlier I wrote that this generation is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives. What if the tactical objective isn’t to take your city, but to take your money? Maybe it’s contemporary warfare, or maybe it’s Maybelline, is a play on the commercial slogan ”Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe it’s Maybelline”, by the cosmetics company by the same name. Most people have heard or seen it around, if not in an actual make-up commercial, then as a meme, since the slogan gained popularity for being catchy and easily meme-able. The company’s intention might not’ve been to go viral, but it was definitely intended to be stick. Just memorable enough, so it’ll stick around to the point where when I’m trying to think of a title, this is what I crawls up from the pits of my brain. It was also most likely the culprit behind why 14 year old me (subconsciously) thought it was a good idea to buy their shitty foundation. Objective accomplished.

A lot of the people reading this now, probably have that same phrase resting in your mind. It’s not that big of a deal, I guess, just a make-up add. However, if a catchy phrase can make you subconsciously favor one brand over another, what’s saying the same can’t be done with political partys? Or decisions in referendums? Or make you leave personal information up for grabs for the ability to virtually befriend people? This is how easy it could be to push an incentive. An alternative humorous title to this piece could’ve been – Capitalism’s invisible ”war” for your monetary favor. I say humorous because calling it war sounds like a click-bait scandal.

Nonetheless, let’s get to the conclusion.

The generations of warfare tactics reflect the times during which they were developed. It might be easy to think of war as heavy guns and infantry, but that’s not what the new tactics of our generation will look like, because it doesn’t reflect the big players of our generation, which is globalization, an information overload and favoring efficiency (I haven’t even touched on the internets role really, so that’ll be a beast for another day). Weapons and muscle are always gonna be relevant, for the fear they instill and damage they do, but if you can win people over by re-wiring them to think like you, or (as a reference back to the quote) undermine the viability of their nation, people wont even notice they switched sides, you’ll win masses without bloodshed, reserve immense amounts of energy (and it’ll take less to start a war too).

The lines between fields of study are getting blurrier, as we progress into a future of less black and white areas of discipline whilst adding more gray. So, what I wanted to share with this was the value of perspective through these examples, as well as the relevance of staying up to date on things that you initially might think doesn’t concern you. The world is becoming increasingly intertwined and time waits for no one. If you’re asleep, somebody is going to make your decisions for you. Just like how that catchy commercial made my decision for me.






Interesting articles and links:

Long Peace

World Peace

Contemporary war: Ethnic conflict, resource conflict or something else?

Modern Warfare

Gunpowder Revolution

Generations of warfare

Give it back (part 3)

Alright, so we’re back at it again with the last part under this title. This time we’re talking about supremacy! Specifically white supremacy and the role it played in the history of archaeology. (Aka the role it plays in today’s debate about shadily obtained artifacts.)

First you may wonder why specifically white supremacy? Why not just supremacy alone as a concept?

Well that’s an easy one. Supremacy alone is just a term used to describe predominance, sovereignty or hegemony. It’s literally the state/condition of being superior to all others in authority, power or status. White supremacy however, is the racist belief that white people are superior to other people and therefore should be the ones in power. This birthed a system and a political ideology that perpetuates an institutional domination by white people in every field from politics to culture and history.

From the Cape to Cairo, Udo J. Keppler, 1902

So let’s zoom-in a bit,

White supremacy was absolutely booming from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Like a real hit. We had scientific racism, race-studies, colonization, apartheid, Jim Crow Laws, the Atlantic slave trade, like there was a lot. Zoom in a little more and we hit a man named Rudyard Kipling, the biggest poet of his time who in 1899 dropped the notorious poem ”The White Man’s Burden”. For anyone that might’ve read some of my earlier posts this isn’t news to you. This poem covers part of the very essence of the ideology that is white supremacy. A desire (and excuse) to take land, raid tombs, forcefully impose Christianity and seize power. To quote an excerpt:

Take up the White Man’s burden—

    Send forth the best ye breed—

Go bind your sons to exile

    To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness

    On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

    Half devil and half child

The White Mans Burden – Rudyard Kipling

I’ve linked it above if you’re interested in reading the whole thing, but yeah, there you have it all. The guilt, the part where they’ll receive hate from the people they’re oppressing but must stand tall, the supposed god-sanctioned raids, the ”saving” and the enslaving too.

So how does it relate to the blatant stealing of artifacts you ask?

Here’s three major ways. We’ll start from the top. First of all, colonization provides access, you go and come as you please, you’re the one in charge, you’ve claimed the land, and it’s impossible to steal from yourself so your conscience is clean. Secondly, there’s accountability, fast forward to now, your countrymen literally wrote THE law in the past, and laid the foundation then for the jurisdictional system of today so there’s nothing officially holding you accountable from that time. Thirdly, we cover the saviourism, if you validate keeping an object regardless of history, by expressing concern, claiming you’re more suitable to care for it, who’s going to argue? No one. Especially not, since you ensured it. Colonization enriched your country and crippled others, securing your country’s financial position for generations to come. Besides it’s your burden, your duty, to take it upon yourself as better equipped, to assist in this noble cause of preservation. See It’s a deadlock. A wheel that spins itself.

So what can we conclude from this?

When posed with the argument ”we’re more suited for the job so it’s our duty to help”, highlight that sending money to fund a country to accommodate an artifact also qualifies as help, and that the desire to ”step in” and ”grab hold” smells of (white) supremacy. Another option could be to assign ownership of the artifacts to the country of origin, and set up a ”loan situation” with the current country of residence, until appropriate action towards an ideal housing environment is taken. This way the country of origin can financially and ethically benefit from their own history. The countries that requested independence should be treated as equals regardless of where they’re at in their development and stepping on them isn’t the best way to further the field of history nor cultural preservation.

This part culminates the ”Give it back” piece, and so I’ll be back with something new (and old) next week.

Give it back (part 2)

Alright so let’s pick up where we left off – How the illegitimate claim of ancient artifacts acquired during the colonial-era relate to power play and supremacy. Last time we ended on the note thatWalking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing”. So what can prompt somebody to do this? Well let’s get into it; In this part we’ll focus on power play.

Artifacts are enriched by being viewed in their place of origin, not only does it hold a unique connection to the area where it was produced but for somebody to come view it as a visitor, the historical context would become that much clearer due to the relationship it shares with it’s surroundings. I believe that link should be honored and respected.

If the argument against this is a desire to exhibit it where as many people as possible would get a chance to visit, I’d rather we value the historical context. People are going to have to travel to see it regardless, and exposing artifacts to high numbers of tourists posses a risk and tends to damage them. As seen with the tombs of the Valley of Kings, or this coffin in a museum in England, and these are examples of things that remain in their country of origin, yet the amount of visitors haven’t gone down.

But hey, let’s get into the term itself and let’s start with the illegitimate claim (stealing) and the power play part. So what is a power play?

”A power play is an attempt to gain an advantage by showing that you are more powerful than another person or organization, for example in a business relationship or negotiation.”

http://www.collinsdictionary.com

Take the Pantheon Marbles (aka Elgin Marbles after the man who stole them) for example:

Pantheon Marbles (Temple of Pantheon, Athens) in the British Museum, London

This collection of sculptures were shipped stolen in rounds from their home in Athens to Britain between 1801-1812, under the supervision of a Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. Bruce claimed he received an ”a ok” from the Ottoman Empire who were ruling Greece at the time. Once in Britain he was met with both support and criticism but ended up being exonerated, thus he preceded to sell the marbles to the government, who then handed them over to the museum, in which they remain today.

After gaining its independence in 1832, the Greek state began a series of projects in order to restore monuments and retrieve looted art. Expressing disapproval of Elgin’s actions as well as requesting the collection be returned. However…. they still haven’t been.

Here’s where the powerplay comes in, let’s back up a few month, it’s now February 2020 and a draft of an EU document surfaces. Here the Union suggest attaching a demand for the UK to return Pantheon sculptures to Greece to its negotiations concerning post-Brexit trade deals. To quote:

”The parties should, consistently with Union rules, address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin.”

The times of London

Regardless of how happy I’d be for this to possibly be a legit demand which could result in their return, this also serves as a juicy example of the issue at hand. Here several nations have agreed and acknowledged that Britain possesses illegally obtained artifacts which should be returned to their country of origin, yet the EU is trying to strike a deal, because legally there’s not much else they can do. These artifacts that are just supposed to be there to encourage learning and embody history (reference to my previous post) suddenly become a bargaining chips of power. So now we have both partys acknowledging the artifacts as something of great value due to their actions (Britain’s almost 200 year long refusal to return it and the EU’s Brexit demands to give it back).

The conclusion we can draw from this is that anyone that wishes to reduce this discussion to a matter of childish wonder, supposed ideal circumstances and impartial care, needs to step out the sandbox and look at it for what it is – a powerplay.

There’s real monetary value in culture, there’s influential value in owning objects of historical significance, and the people who discredit modern art, or wishes to lower modern day cultural funding, are the same people ready to fight when you speak ill of their mother ‘cause then it hits home. Some of us might’ve missed this or semi-forgotten it along the way but ultimately It’s about heritage. There is (and I cannot stress this enough) real power in knowing where you come from and owning items connecting generations back and the world leaders in my example literally just showed it to you.

If you’re more curious about powerplay amongst nations/groups of people, or wish to dig deeper in the use of this type of tactics, I recommend looking into Contemporary war/warfare or Dehumanization. However, if you’d rather it handed to you in a neat Marakulus wrapping, I’ll most likely write a piece on it in the future.

Seeing how long this got…. we’ll save supremacy for the next part lol.

Catch ya then!





Interesting links and articles:

Greece demands Elgin marbles for EU trade deal

Brexit: EU to ask UK to return Elgin marbles to Greece in trade talks

Give it back (part 1)

So.. let’s talk about artifacts.. and museums, and how archaeology during the colonial period (and various decades after that) kinda resembles… stealing.

Colonial-rule ”officially” ended for most countries during the second half of the 1900s, however, some opinions beg to differ and pose the question of whether colonialism has ended at all. In this post I’ll be discussing museums and artifacts, and the potential role they play in neo-colonialism.

So, I linked the term neo-colonialism above if you’re curious to find out more about it, but to sum it up briefly, it’s basically old school colonialism’s offspring. All those countries thrown into debt due to being left to their own demise as their colonial rulers reluctantly were letting go, were very often posed with an offer. Something like a – You’ll be independent but remain a commonwealth (wack, diminishing, acknowledging the monarch of your previous colonial ruler), or you’ll be independent but indebted to me because you need me to capitalize off of your main export, or here’s a gigantic loan to cover your massive expenses and potholes since we just threw you out the nest into the vampire that is the western economy.

The South African Cullinan Diamond, part of Queen Elizabeth’s crown jewels

Something we seldom talk about though, is how most museums today possess artifacts obtained through now illegal measures. They were excavated/stolen during the golden age of colonialism, and even though most countries officially have been declared free, their stolen artifacts remain in the possession of their previous colonial rulers. Not only are these artifacts valuable and increase the overall wealth of said country, but they also pull tourists which contributes to yearly BNP. Thus these countries continue to make money off of colonialism in this way to this very day.

Politicians know this, world leaders, professors and experts know this. That’s why some of these previous colonies have requested their artifacts be returned. Only to be be met with crickets and no’s.

I read an article just today quoting a sociologist named Tiffany Jenkins, arguing that the artifacts should stay where they are because determining the exact origin of some pieces will be difficult, as well as the inability to return things that were made in kingdoms and empires long since fallen, for example where would an Assyrian pot or a Nubian statue belong, when these places no longer exist? Jenkins also argued that the original purpose and ownership of artifacts are sometimes unknown, and that objects are made everyday only to end up in somebody elses hands. That pot or tablet allows us to learn the history of their maker and people, they don’t need to be returned to their place of origin for them to do so.

 The decision about where to place ancient artifacts should not be reduced to chasing impossible historical authenticity, contrition for the past, or ethnicity, but where is best for the object.

Tiffany Jenkins, Sociologist
Head of Amarna (Egypt) Princess, Altes Museum Berlin

Here’s where I’m about to go 180, firstly because that very same argument, to highlight ”it doesn’t need to be returned to it’s place of origin” also means, that you might as well return it, since It’s place of residency doesn’t affect its ability to be gazed upon (aka fulfilling it’s purpose). Secondly, because the value of housing these objects can not be overlooked from an economical standpoint in a capitalist-driven society. If it was only about the experience, museums could make it by with pristine forgeries for people to gaze upon, this would probably be better since it’d mean that more countries could offer the same exhibits, reaching a larger audience of learners. Leaving the original artifact to be stored under ideal circumstances, conserving it for as long as possible.

Sadly it’s not just about the experience, that’s why countries refuse to acknowledge requests of retribution. Because it’s also power and wealth, the cultural value and impact is high. People love to act like we’re past powerplay and that the age of supremacy is behind us, but it isn’t.

The very last claim that Jenkins makes states that we should be considering the best place to keep said object. Some countries would claim that they’re better equipped to house such valuable delicates. I agree. Thus, I suggest we (any and all countries housing colonial loot) collectively fund the establishing of proper protection and maintenance of the object as they’re returned home. One of many long sought after steps towards actual retribution.

Walking into somebody’s home and taking something that belongs to them is stealing, regardless of whether you were invited in or fought your way through. It doesn’t become any more yours simply because time keeps passing. The same way you proudly present your countries riches, stand ready to redeem their mistakes.

This theme will continue in part two where we’ll get further into the powerplay/supremacy/ownership aspect of this issue, ‘til then,

stay hydrated and wash your hands<3






Interesting articles on the subject:

British Museum ”has head in sand” over return of artifacts

European museums may ”loan” stolen artifacts back to countries in Africa

Do historical objects belong in their country of origin?

The battle to get Europe to return thousands of Africa’s stolen artifacts is getting complicated

7/4-20 part 2

She wanted to coin bars,
she wanted to birth rhymes,
but she ain’t ever had it in her to share it with the times-

A new rome,(an)
empire,
creators would wield it.

The masters, the villains, the Zahs.
Yield it, bend, skip break at their will.
Their lungs…. could kill.

There is nothing I desire like the word itself.
God.
If I could have but one wish itd be to live as loudly as they do through word.

Every punctuation a breath,
every matched syllable a code.

Like Da vinci but way more culturally involved.

I never wanted to write! I’ve always been a talker, since I was a walker,
look at ‘er.
Writing…

Bad,
never good enough,
show it,
get a compliment, throw it,
forget you ever thought it was worth anyone knowing,
it’s too much.
Not enough,
way to salty wet, yet dry af.

Wack.

Sigh

Let me live,
loudly.

All I desire,
is the wor(l)d power.

7/4-20 part 1

Corresponding forces of black and light,
I pause,
step out
and look at the stars this night.
With gas and conundrum,
chaos and heat,
they burn with shared passion that pushes my feet.

Another night, like any other, envelopes me whole,
I sink into it deep,
yet somehow stay a float.
Puls is the waves,
mind is the drift,
shifting in and out
me and everything that is.
I is. Are. Am. All.

Breezy, A (world) SeMinaR.

Bob Marley Didn’t Sing For You

As per usual the title states what I’m about to talk about, in this case it’s how Bob Marley didn’t sing for you. So now, before you jump to any conclusions regarding my choice of title, let me take you back to where it all started.

The year is 1945, Robert Nesta Marley is born in the country side of St Ann parish JA. Jamaica is still a colony as most other countries in the world at this time, however this is about to change with the end of World War II and the ripple effect events following afterwards.

Alright, so far I imagine you’re still with me. So now we’re going to skip a few years, if you want to know more about specific details I’ll link some more information later on.


Bildresultat för jamaica 1962

The year is 1962, The JLP (Jamaica Liberation Party) won the election and The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Jamaica independence act, granting independence as of August 6th (with the Queen of England remaining as head of state). After years of slave rebellions, economic shifts, the great depression, UK missionaries and british rule, Jamaica was an imbalanced country seeking identity and stability. Being a majority agricultural society after the abolishing of slavery in the late 1800’s up until independence, the rapid swaying introduction to industrialization has left the country with huge class gaps and a high poverty percentage. Rastafarianism in it’s early stages has been around for about 30 years now and they’re not on good terms with the government. Originating in poor ostraziced afro-jamaican communities with ideological influences from the bible, ethiopianism and panafrikanism , openly critizising colonialism, the white church and their former colonial rulers, Rastafarianism was seen as very controvercial at the time.
Hey, now it’s getting interesting, let’s fast forward some more.

Bildresultat för catch a fire album cover

Relaterad bild

The year is 1963, Catch a Fire by Bob Marley and The Wailers just became the first reggae album to make it big internationally, for them it’s their third album as a group and food on the table. The album carries lyrics such as:

”400 years, 400 years
Of the same philosophy
400 years, 400 years
And, the people, they still can’t see

Referencing 400 years of slavery, and the biblical Genesis 15, believing that after these 400 years have passed liberation awaits. Other lyrics include:

”Today they say that we are free
Only to be chained in poverty
Good God, I think it’s illiteracy
It’s only a machine that makes money”

and

No chains around my feet but I’m not free
I know I am bound here in captivity”
”Where the living is harder (in a concrete)
Concrete jungle (jungle)
Referencing industrialism, urbanization, neocolonialism and inequality.

Fast forward a few years and all over the world people are singing along to Jamaican Redemption song’s about unity and freedom, Bob is now an icon for one-ness. Fast forward some more and people are still sharing red, green and yellow inspiration quotes with Marley’s face on them declaring ”One Love”. However, somewhere along the way after his passing people stopped talking about where he really came from, they kept saying Jamaica but forgot or chose to not mention the years of poverty, scrutinization as a rasta, violence, shootings and colonial scars of which he was also born. Bob Marley spoke for a whole generation of Jamaicans growing up in a time where the country and it’s people were yet to be their own, having been cut off from their history and ascribed a new one, Rastafarianism was a movement for identity and reggae music was their voice that would come to echo all over the world.

Sooooo, who is he not singing for?

The answer is new age spiritualist who wish to make his words mean something else than they do. When Bob Marley sings of slavery (both mental, symbolical and physical), slavery is exactly what he is singing about, slavery in all it’s forms. Most of us can never understand fully what this means, having grown up after colonial states gained their independence on paper, however, this does not give us the right to ascribe our own meaning to his words. This does not give anybody the right to hijack this Jamaican movement. Bob Marley sang and asked us to sing his songs of freedom with him, not for him.

This is worth remembering today and everyday with different movements being born all over the world as we speak, as well as old movements still working towards goals yet to be achieved. If you wish to support a movement and you’re completely new coming in as a guest, rule number one is to not make it about you. This is considered hijacking a movement, I could go on and on about that subject alone, but for now I’ll leave this as an introduction, maybe I’ll get into it some other time.

So until next time, if there’s any instance in the future where you approach an event, experience some art or listen to a song that you don’t understand or can’t relate to on a personal level, don’t just fill in the blanks with something you understand. Take the time to learn about what you wish to partake in, your place, your contribution and the space you’re about to take. If you truly wish to forward said movement you’re going to need to know when it’s time to take a step front and when it’s time to take a step back.

”I don’t wanna live in the park
Can’t trust no shadows after dark
So, my friend, I wish that you could see,
Like a bird in the tree, the prisoners must be free”

//Marakulus

Bob-Marley-Quote1


Links and books worth you’re time:

Links:

History of Jamaica

Independence of Jamaica

Rastafari

Books:

Reggae, rastafari and the Rhetoric of social control – Stephen A. King

CALL OUT’S and why we need them

Here I am at it again, writing about something scene related, something some of you all probably don’t want to hear, and that is okay. Everything isn’t for everyone and the same goes for Hiphop. Hiphop sn’t for everyone.

A few weeks ago a facebook post was made by Ice-O (a bronx born popper currently residing in Stockholm and an active member of the local dance scene) questioning whether ”call out’s” still matter anymore.

To recite: – ”Do call out battles even work anymore? Do they bring change? I understand when it comes to beefs that are personal, however many people in the dance scene don’t care about ”craft”, ”culture” or ”respect”. So what does a ”call out” do?

I read this post yesterday and it reminded me of the ”call out”-situation here in Sweden and how I should make a post about that too someday.

Then, the following morning comes along and I wake up to one of my friends messaging me about last night’s concert. Apparently, my friend had tried to call out somebody from the local scene, just to get ignored or ”go unseen”.

So, here I am, writing this post, because it’s about time.

First, we start by explaining what a ”call out” is, to those unfamiliar with the term (or familiar but with a lack of understandning),

What is a call out in literal terms?

I’ll admit to urban dictionary not being the most reliable source of information, but the world is evolving and to be ”cooking something up” doesn’t even refer to food anymore. Just like ”lit” doesn’t refer to any form of actual light.

So, a call out is to challenge someone or somethings behaviour or their claims, a groups ideal, an instance etc etc. The base is accountability. How legitimate is what’s being said? How true is this person to their claim?

In this post we’re adressing call out’s as a concept in the dance community. Thus there’s culturally specific traits/rules that have been applied to the basic concept of a call out. Usually, and maybe the most famous culturally specific trait, is for a call out to manifest as a dance battle (not to be mistaken for the event version of a dance battle which is closer related to a competition).

To a spectator looking in, the battle might give the impression of being a simple measure of cheer danceskill, and sometimes it is just that. Other times there’s alot more at stake. Winning a competition is nice, but earning the respect of your peers or discrediting some phony is great.

There are several things you can call someone out on, sky is the limit, but to bring forth some examples of common reasons for a call out:

Personal disputes: This is when you call somebody out that you don’t like for whatever reason (or vice versa) aswell as somebody who might’ve publicly insulted/questioned/discredited you.

Legitimacy: Claims such as – I am the best dancer here! I know this style so well that I can teach it! I am an OG! Can be subjected to call out’s regarding legitimacy. If people consider your claims to be false, they’ll call you out.

Growth: Calling someone out doesn’t need to be an insult. It’s also a challenge, meaning you can learn from it and grow. For example, calling your teacher out can be a great opportunity to remind yourself why they’re qualified to teach in the first place, or if it might be time to branch out and learn from new people. Calling your best friend out and wiping the floor with them can motivate them to practice more and come back and call you out in the future.

Here’s what Buddha Stretch (Hiphop OG and teacher) responded when I asked – What is a call out? :

The callout is the original way of confronting someone based on battling them. You feel that you’re better, or that they’re just wack? You call them out! You want to test yourself against someone with a reputation? Call them out! The modern day call out has been used to address the difference in opinion between dancers at organized battles, most of the times with biased judges/judging, the intent remains the same, to show and prove!

So, now that we know what a call out is and what they’re used for, why do we need them?

Here’s what Bboy Afternoon (active member in the international streetdance scene, teacher, organiser and literarian) answered when I asked him,

-Why do we need call out’s? What’s the purpose?

  • Settling disagreements
  • Making the general dance level in an area level up
  • Allow the community to regulate itself in skills and beliefs
  • Allowing dancers to level up
  • Create a sense of respect among said dancers
  • Squashing differences
  • Polarizing the scene and It’s members

So in conclusion;

A scene without call out’s would have to regulate in some other way, the same goes for the leveling up (development) and creating a space of respect. Every functioning system needs some form of regulation for the system to remain intact. Without a healthy element of call out’s in our scene we have no way of determining level, there’s no outlet for settling disagreements and the members of the scene don’t have a voice. There’s no tool for setting the standards of respect. Without means of regulation there’s no way of determining who’s in the scene and who isn’t either.

If we ascribe to a culture who’s origins are not our own, we are guests in said culture, which means for us to be allowed to respectfully partake we must respect the system and rules already set in place. Most cultures are built around communities and for you to be considered a part of said community, the members must accept or co-sign you. You can’t just call yourself something without having the means to back it up, because by doing so you’re already distancing yourself from said community, their ideals and rules. Thus, resulting in you not being a part of said culture and community.

We can’t just pick and choose which part of a culture we choose to respect. Even if we don’t personally agree with everything, we must respect it. To ignore somebody callling you out without a valid reason is to disregard a vital aspect of the culture you claim to be a part of.

//marakulus

Why All Styles Battles are ruining the scene

On the subway home I caught myself thinking about how happy I was when I got to see Grandmaster Flash live here in Stockholm.

The majority of that joy came from the relief of not having to listen to the DJ switch from house, to Sean Paul, to ”Afrobeat” (which I refuse to recognize as a real thing), to Usher and so on. I got to listen to Hiphop (with the occasional funk song) for the whole night and that’s been long overdue.

So, here I am now, writing a piece about all styles battles, and why they’re a nice thought but something that clearly doesn’t work in practice.

My experience is that people grow from challenge. Regardless of what level you are, meeting someone at an undisputedly higher level, is gonna inspire you and drive you to work harder in some way (assuming you’re already trying to be better).

”Street”dance (historically) relies on a community. For you to know if you’re good or bad (within the community context), you compare yourself to the other members of that community. The other members will compare you to the general idea of what is good (according to the group) and to other members of that same community. Co-signing will take place and you will just simply ”know” on which side of that spectrum you are. It could be as simple as someone of importance telling you or as difficult as being excluded out of things and not knowing why. There’s a ”general agreement” of what is good and bad within the community, aswell as some default criterias like musicality, being on beat etc, which are less prone to being disputed (although they do get disputed) by which the judgment is based. This is also the reason why removing the somewhat naturally occurring element of competition in streetdance, in ways such as demeaning wanting to exceed or encouraging ”being average/okay” at something slows growth.

For a style to be a style there has to be defining criterias. Something telling you what the style is aswell as what it isn’t. Sometimes the differences aren’t as clear cut as salt and pepper, but the difference is there nonetheless.

An All Styles Battle, refers to a battle where (in theory) all styles are allowed, aka you’re allowed to enter the battle with any style/styles and you can be up against any kind of music. Usually this gets switched up a bit depending on the event. Some will limit it to five styles (usually 5 ”street” styles), some will allow any style but only play certain kinds of music and so on. But the general idea remains the same.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, what a great idea! Now everyone can dance together. Unity above all! Hiphop dancers and poppers can meet in the same space and dance together and just do whatever.

Let me stop you right there. ‘Cause that’s where the undesired (or maybe desired?) magic happens. Simply doing ”whatever” is what causes the problem in the first place. When everything is everything, everything becomes nothing. When every battle is an all styles battle, nobody strives to be the best house dancer ‘cause he’ll still most likely lose to the person who’s above average in 3 styles. Since it is an all styles battle after all, in theory the more styles you know the greater the advantage. This isn’t necessarily true. But sadly it’s very common.

For a style to advance and for dancers to advance within a style, you must first establish what the style is and what it isn’t to then work within this field as well as occasionally step outside of it for inspiration and reflection. Then you put what you’ve made up against what other people have made and get judged based on specific criterias for that style aswell as general criterias for dance. If done right, now the style advances, ‘cause this forces people to work hard and be creative so they have something to bring to the table when the next challenge comes around. This is related to being able to ”hold your own” as they say.

The only thing all styles advances is all styles. Which makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it. That which you practice is what you’ll get good at. I’ve co-arranged some events like that myself based in the idea of the all styles label attracting more people. To later realize that the lack of people isn’t necessarily due to the event itself, but I might address that topic some other time.

Any how, I wanna see the scene in Sweden advance and all of these all styles battles we’ve been throwing is not the way, ‘cause the level isn’t getting higher. People would rather leave for knowledge than stay, and they view borderline every other countrys capital as a mekka for everything street in comparison.

The argument for hosting all styles battles is that there’s not enough people to throw battles for individual styles, as nobody is gonna show up, but that’s when we need to take a step back and ask why? If there’s a lack of people dancing, the solution isn’t in the events. If the issue really was people not attending events, there wouldn’t be a lack of people in basically every other aspect of the culture aswell. I’m referring to sessions, clubs and meetups etc, and just general media presence. Clearly the issue is the lack of active people in the scene. There’s something that’s not working properly in terms of knowledge being passed on to more people, handed down through generations aswell as maintenance of the scene. Don’t believe me? Just look at the amount of theater productions/Dance shows with ”street dancers” that we have in comparison to the amount of teams participating in KOD last year. Look at the amount of people present at the ”street dance” debate at Urban Connection in comparison to how many of those faces you actually see at Megashop (which is supposed to be this great practice hub (which we can get into some other time) yet majority of the people there are breakers who got their own thing going scene-wise so you know they’d practice regardless, which has been proven over and over ‘cause they’d injure themselves if they didn’t).

We need to be better than this and better than lagom. At least for me personally, I’d prefer it if we all aimed to be great rather than lagom. If everyone kept growing instead of settling, which I see happening time and time again (an example is the lack of people both simply choosing to aswell as successfully competing abroad, yet the scene here idolizes dancers abroad).

We have to share a common goal to act as a unit and for people to know what to work towards and measure themselves by when they join our scene. Say no to sauce and mediocrity. All styles battles are not the solution! It’s not even a band aid on the deeper issue at hand.


Åsa Folkhögskola?

I’ve chosen to split this text into three sections. Each section named after the aspect it adresses. My part, which are my individual thoughts, first hand, straight from my head, The Culture, which is my somewhat objective attempt at discussing the issue from a cultural standpoint (specifically dance culture, more specifically ”streetdance culture” or hiphop culture) and the last part which I named The Conclusion, just to wrap it up a bit.


My part:

This post is a message for the entire swedish streetdance community, and anyone else who might be interested in my (as an individual’s) experience as part of it.

I feel like we rarely ever talk, like actually talk as a community. Some people will even claim that we shouldn’t need to talk. See, we might meet up now and then, to dance like we do, but we rarely sit down and have a discussion, yet we’re supposed to be a community; a group of people with a somewhat common goal, a shared culture, some norms and a system of our own.

Naturally, a community is supposed to regulate itself, handle what need be handled for the bettering and growth of the community according to the will of the people in it. Personally I don’t see this happening. Why haven’t we talked about Åsa Folkhögskola? And I dont mean why haven’t you sat down with ur close friends to discuss it. I mean us, as individuals in the community, putting time into having the conversations in the forums we have access to and share.

If ur an active member of the community, you can’t possibly have missed what the people at Åsa have come to call ”the big crash”. 3 teachers well known in the community were put on blast online and ended up getting fired a few days later. This is what you know. What you probably don’t know is how outrageously poor the establishment itself handled it. The establishment itself being Åsa Folkhögskola.

For the people that don’t know what I’m talking about, to briefly sum up what went down. Three teachers were put on blast due to claims of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse of positions of power. These claims started circultating in connection with the #metoo movement on the internet last year. The whole process was messy, meetings were scheduled, both students and teacher were kept in the dark until eventually the school ruled these teacher unfit to teach, fired them and eventually hired new teachers.

What I can’t wrap my head around is how our community aspires to be healthy and functioning without us adressing this properly. Because there’s no way a school like Åsa can fire three ground pillars of the 5 person staff that is the dance course and fairly replace them within a month. It’s not just any 3 pillars too, they’re all some of the most respected, influential and renowned dancers we have in our community and regardless of what got them fired nobody can deny that the positions left behind are gonna be hard to fill. Impossible even. One of the indivuals is the founder of the dance course itself! The teachers and the students attending built Åsas reputation! And for the school to irresponsibly and rashly replace these teachers, sweep everything under the rug, wear the same shirt of reputation (that has taken years to make) and act like the school is the same old same old is incredibly disrespectful to the teachers that built what it is known for and what it is today.

How can they kick these 3 teachers out, when this issue has been discussed before, and back then the establishment decided to let the teacher/teachers that were under fire stay. Once again, brief sum up, teacher/teachers were under fire for having relationships with students, sexual harassment and/or abuse of power. Back then the teachers/teacher were suspended for a period of time to later be allowed to come back, this was ruled by the people in charge of the school. Now, several years in the future, once again these teachers are under fire for things that have happened in the past. So, my question is how were these members in charge of the school not put under fire aswell? How many people in positions of power knew of the situation and decided not to act on it? If three people got fired now after not being fired the first time, then the people who knew about the situation (the people who made the decision back then) should have to go too.

(Note here that I’m speaking of teacher/teachers since all of these things don’t apply to all teachers concerned. I wish to speak of this in a general manner and not neccessarily throw any names out there. This to shine light on the problem itself rather than on the individual teachers.)

People will argue that having relationships with students is inappropriate. I’m not arguing against this since that debate gets very gray zone-y and debatable unless it’s specifically intended to be absolute with no exceptions what so ever. Neither am I arguing against being fired for sexual harassment or the alike. What I am arguing against though is insisting on a clean sweep for the school to ”start fresh” and ”build something new”, claiming this is why what has been done has been done, and then not sweeping the place clean.


The Culture:

From a cultural perspective, what went down is an outrage. Three incredibly influential and important members of the swedish dance scene, who mentored and taught people from my generation and the people before me, who hosted some of the earliest street dance events we had and helped bring attention to the swedish scene were kicked out at the blink of an eye, after the school was put under pressure from the outside.

If you look at the respect involved here there is quite the lack of it. Neither for the students or the teachers involved. On one side we have the students being supplied with no information at all in the ”decision making process” which was right after we were informed that some stuff from years back had re-surfaced and our techers might not be coming back to school. No information about what had actually happened back then was shared ”officially” (some rumors and the alike were going around, some stories could be read online etc), one day it was labeled sexual harassment another day they said it was sexual assault, the third it was having relationships with students and abusing power. An official statement was never made. We weren’t even allowed to form our own opinion of the situation since we were denied the information with which to do so. After speaking to the teachers I was informed that they were also very much kept in the dark with what was going on.

One of the teachers involved was the founder of the course, and the other two had later on joined in. Together they built it up and made it what it became known for, aswell as giving it the reputation it has amongst dancers in Sweden, as I mentioned earlier. Åsa Folkhögskola was known as one of the few places and used to be the only place in Sweden where you could get a ”legitimate” education in Hiphop, House, Popping, Breaking and Locking. Legitimate meaning with care taken to the cultural aspect of the dances.

To truly learn a cultural dance, care must be taken to the cultural aspects of said dance, simply taking a class of steps isn’t enough. Unlike classically schooled dances the frame for the various styles within streetdance isn’t as clearly cut on paper (an by this I mean with actual regulations stated on paper). It is however dependent on a system nonetheless where the community regulates the rights and the wrongs with tools of their own. The system regulating what’s right and wrong in ”streetdance” isn’t as established internationally (as it is locally in some areas) in terms of having organizations dedicated to keeping schools in check. Thus we as a local community have to shape our community to what we want it t be. If we wish to be a force to be reckoned with on the international scene, our community disregarding this as trivial isn’t going to be taken lightly upon.

Even if the term isn’t official, the amount of ”streetcredd” collected from the community once you’ve established something like this should be imense. The respect given to the people involved and the influence awarded shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yet nobody is talking about what these people did. Yet nobody sees any issues with the school continuing the education in the same manner, carrying on with the reputation they didn’t even establish themselves, hiring new teachers like nothing happened and speaking of Åsa as this amazing dance school with zero regards to what made it amazing in the first place. Sure, people will argue that anybody could’ve done it. Arranged for a meeting ground in the woods where dancers could learn and grow together. The gag is they didn’t. These teachers did. It’s the people that make the place, so thinking you can continue on like nothing happened is naive and disrespectful.

Teaching and passing on knowledge in the community is sacred and should be treated as such, naturally, in a perfect world, the people teaching would’ve picked their successors when the time is right. This is not what our scene looks like now. We have teachers popping up on left and right for the sole purpose that there is a market for it, making all kinds of claims about what passes as ”street dance”. Rashly trying to find a replacement for these teacher, hiring the ”best” one according to an unqualified opinion (the none-dancer school board), in the middle of work term, choosing from what’s available nationally and within range only puts the quality of the education at risk. To be honest, nobody can do what these teachers did because they were the ones who did it. Thus the need for the clean sweep. You can’t just take something somebody else made and wear it, ‘cause it won’t fit.

”Adapting” a culture that was never meant to be put in a classroom to fit in a classroom is incredibly difficult and alot of things get lost in the process. Thus, the fact that the school was known to do so such a great job, is a rarity. What Åsa managed to establish wasn’t handled with care and the aftermath after the crash was a joke. Alot of people now act like everything is fine and that this is a thing of the past, but this is as much of an embarrassment now as it was then.


The Conclusion:

I chose to release this post now (although I started writing it months ago), since it took me a while to process and figure out how to put my experience of the whole situation into words.

A new year has started at Åsa with some new and some old faces. All I’ve got to say about the year to come is that if this is supposed to be a fresh start make sure It’s actually clean. For the new students, attending the ”new” Åsa, I look forward to hearing about your experiences when your year is over.

To the teachers who left: I wish to send my regards to the three teachers from before. What you did won’t be left unacknowledged. I only got to experience your Åsa for less than one term, but I carry what I learnt with me and I use some of it everyday. I came out better on the other side. Thank you.

I would end this post with good vibes only, but I prefer to acknowledge and partake in all the emotions on the emotional spectrum with all they have to offer, so

Sincere vibes only

//Marakulus

#MyÅsaExperience