Monthly Archives: January 2019

5 Questions for Alexander L. Fattal, author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing’

January 15, 2019
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5 Questions for Alexander L. Fattal, author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing’

In his new book—Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia—Alexander L. Fattal takes a detailed look at the Colombian government’s efforts to transform Marxist guerrilla fighters in the FARC into consumer citizens. In doing so, he illuminates a larger phenomenon: the convergence of marketing and militarism in the twenty-first century. A recent New Yorker review called Guerrilla Marketing “A sobering book on how armies burnish their brands. . . a detailed, eye-opening investigation.” We sent Fattal a few questions to learn more about his research for the book, his recent reads, and his motivations to delve into this topic. What’s the best book you’ve read lately? The best, hmm, I’ll pick two Chicago titles. Not because this is the UCP blog, really. W. J. T. Mitchell’s Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present and Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence. Clearly I have a thing for smart, reasonably polemical books about the representation of political conflict. How did you wind up in this academic field, and what do you love about it? I became an anthropologist because I loved fieldwork. It’s trite but true. What I love about academia is the relative autonomy. Right now I’m finishing . . .

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We’re doing it all wrong. (When it comes to teaching history, that is.)

January 10, 2019
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We’re doing it all wrong. (When it comes to teaching history, that is.)

“Back in my day, teenagers and college students knew stuff. Now they just look things up on their phones.” Well . . . maybe? As Sam Wineburg has learned through extensive study of how we teach history and whether it works, we’ve always been bad at teaching history. And there really wasn’t ever a “golden age of fact retention.” So maybe we should just give up on drilling facts into kids and let their surfing fingers lead them to the knowledge they need, when they need it? Well, that’s a problem, too, Wineburg shows in his book Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone). The solution to our historically ineffective methods of teaching history (rote memorization among them) isn’t to stop teaching history: it’s to teach it better, using the knowledge we’ve gained through studies of what actually works. And a big part of that is figuring out how to give students the knowledge and critical thinking skills they’ll need to navigate a world of often suspect online information. Only by combining the two–giving students a sense of what history is and why it matters while also showing them how to use online news and sources with an effective amount . . .

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