The spectacle of charity: A York professor’s new book accuses celebrities of ‘humanitainment’

In his new book Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge, 2012), York University environmental studies Professor Ilan Kapoor argues that humanitarian gestures by celebrities do more harm than good, and promote the very inequality they aim to relieve….Kapoor says that despite the pose of altruism, so called humanitainment – from the Live 8 concert and Angelina Jolie’s foreign adoptions to George Clooney’s activism on Darfur and David Beckham’s posting as a United Nations goodwill ambassador – is primarily an excuse for audiences to “outsource” their sympathy to unaccountable, self-serving Hollywood stars, whose own brands are burnished by the spectacle, reported the National Post Jan. 17. Read full story.

Of defence and development
Janus Kozinski, dean of York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering, speaks to Ruchi Kumar about collaborations with the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) during his recent visit as part of the Canadian delegation to India….“The collaboration will bring together different perspectives and experiences in both Canada and India on some of the most important scientific and technological challenges faced by both countries, and throughout the world,” said Kozinski in The Times of India Jan. 14. Read full story.

Bilingual babies are smarter
Individuals who are fully bilingual constantly have both languages activated at all times, even during monolingual situations where they are using one language, explained York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok in the Vancouver Sun Jan. 18, whose team last year showed bilingualism may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “Our view at the moment is that the enhanced executive control network that bilinguals have developed compensates for failing memory networks (which are in the middle of the brain). This allows them to function at a higher level than they would normally with the disease.” Read full story.