Where do you find non-cursed discourse on international issues?
November 17, 2022 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for well-informed, progressive, and non-western-centric perspectives on international issues. MeFi is one of the few places online where I see people saying things re: these issues that I agree with. Where are you getting your information from? Broadly looking for recommendations on regional/local news sources, people to follow on twitter/mastodon/substack/blogs/podcasts, etc.

Some context: I’m a decently privileged American and child of refugee parents from the Global South. I work in a position where I am empowered to influence policy on global issues, typically from the perspective of international NGOs/UN agencies. I feel that I’m generally more informed on many of these issues compared to the average American, but recognize that my understanding pales in comparison to those with relevant lived experience. I’m also a millennial and lack historical context that older folks have lived through and understand.

Some random examples of issues/subquestions I have lingering in my mind:

Where do you find leftist perspectives on China that are neither reductive tankie takes nor neoliberal sinophobic warmongering takes? Also trying to avoid takes from “experts” who reference Imperial Chinese policy from 2000 years ago and extrapolate it to today.

Where do you find practical, yet justice-oriented discussion on impactful policy demands we should make re: the plight of peoples in places like Afghanistan or Syria that don’t amount to “well ACTUALLY, we never should’ve been there in the first place” (ok yes, but what now?) or “military intervention is the only viable strategy” (please, no)?

Where to find discussions on how climate change is affecting LMICs right now, and what sort of adaptation/mitigation measures are in place or being considered? E.g., less focus on how climate change may impact “our grandchildren,” more focus on the countless being displaced and harmed by climate disasters today.

Where do you go to determine the financial and geopolitical incentives the West considers before deciding on military intervention? For example, why did the US/NATO intervene in Libya in 2011? With more details than “because oil”, or less naivete than “humanitarian reasons.”

The American Left seems largely disconnected from foreign affairs beyond textbook anti-interventionism, with a few exceptions (Palestine, fleeting trump-era outrage over “kids in cages”, etc). I get the historical reasons why this is the case, but it feels like a huge missed opportunity to me. Who is working to build international solidarity, and what are the paths forward from here?

What’s going on with China’s financial investments in various African countries? To what extent is it exploitative vs just mutually beneficial? Looking for specific experiences or anecdotes with context rather than the broad narrative strokes typically used to characterize this relationship.

The above questions are just examples of things on my mind, and don’t need definitive answers — instead, any pointers of where I should look for more info would be appreciated! Especially looking for resources/perspectives from people who have personal experience of any justice-related issues that are not apparent to an American observer. I’m also generally looking for sources that give insight into what life, culture, or ways of thinking in other places are like — they don’t necessarily have to be political. Any region/country in the world is fine.

Some examples of resources I like, many of which I found on MeFi: Al Jazeera, The New Humanitarian, Foreign Policy, Grist, Chaoyang Trap, New Bloom, indi.ca

I also use various internal mailing lists, academic publications, and all of the typical mainstream news outlets.
posted by bongerino to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might be interested in New Lines Magazine.
New Lines is an American magazine for the best ideas and writing from around the world. We specialize in long-form essays and reportage that aim to make the past relevant and the present grounded in history.

We began as a global affairs magazine focused primarily on the Middle East because we felt that this region, for so long the center of U.S. foreign policy, needed far more coverage from those who have lived and worked there. Many of our staff cut their teeth covering revolutions, wars and terrorism across different countries in the Middle East — often from the perspective of someone born and raised in places on which they were reporting.

Over time, we expanded our remit. Continued upheaval at home and abroad has convinced us of the necessity of journalism and storytelling produced by people fluent in the language and culture, with experience and deep knowledge of the context about the place they’re writing about — whether that is a front line in Ukraine, a city in China’s Xinjiang region, a province in Syria or a town in the United States.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:28 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you're not reading it already I think the Economist would be of value to you. You're not going to agree with chunks of its perspectives on capitalist policy directions, but it doesn't present itself as evangelizing them, and is much closer to the progressive side of the spectrum on global political, social and environmental issues.

It's thoroughly researched, well presented and both broad-based and in-depth enough to give you plenty of food for thought and background knowledge for your own decision making. The back end of each issue also has short but very diverse and unfailingly fascinating science, tech, culture and obituary sections.
posted by protorp at 3:24 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like Global Voices for having reports by people local to the areas they're discussing (and for being available in multiple languages).
posted by wintersweet at 7:04 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For China, the academic-y but excellent Chuang and Made in China Journal. Sixth Tone is state-run apparently but I like a lot of their stuff anyway!
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:46 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Raiot for Northeastern India.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:49 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Rest of World for global tech stories. Seconding Global Voices.

HK Free Press for independent news about Hong Kong.

Lausan Collective for leftist HK stuff - it's infrequently published, though.

I follow Rui Zhong on Twitter; she writes some great articles at World Politics Review regarding China/US relations, and it looks like they have decent coverage of the rest of the world.

Jewish Currents for leftist Jewish content.

Sa'alouni El Nas substack for MENA cultural stuff and great music recommendations.
posted by toastyk at 7:52 PM on November 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Podcasts:

Black Diplomats is hosted by an Black American diplomat and centers the perspective of locals of whichever region is under discussion.

New Economics Podcast is from the UK and focuses on UK issues but I think has the political bent you're looking for.
posted by Comet Bug at 9:00 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: New Internationalist. From Wikipedia: an international publisher and left-wing magazine based in Oxford, UK, owned and run by a worker-run cooperative, known for its strict editorial and environmental policies.

I have read the Australian edition primarily, which I actually just learned is separate from the UK organisation - but same values and approach I think.
posted by Weng at 9:22 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Chaoyang Trap is a killer podcast and newsletter and one of the absolute best of the genre.
posted by yueliang at 9:34 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might find The Diplomat interesting. It covers the Asia-Pacific, from Russia to New Zealand.

Right now the front page has stories on the impact of the BRI in Nigeria, Australian-Chinese diplomacy, the Malaysian general election, the Iran protests as seen from Pakistan, etc. The authors tend to be from the country they are writing about. Sure, the US and European countries are in there, but they aren't the focus.

I use it a LOT in research for work, in trying to understand the current situations in different countries. We also use Foreign Policy, so if you like that, this may also be useful.

Maybe a bit of a left-field suggestion, but if you just want to keep up with news around conflict, protests, human rights etc, the weekly updates from the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are very good (this week: ceasefire in Tigray, COVID protests in Lhaksa, attacks on journalists in Gambia, anti-femicide campaigns in Turkey, and much more). But obviously this is coming from a European POV, even though it mostly draws from local media and NGOs.

I also like the suggestion of the Economist, although it has an ugly anti-trans slant at the moment, and is under this weird impression that Democrats are all full-on woke and want to defund the police.
posted by Pink Frost at 1:10 AM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would trade D Davidsons ‘Foreign Exchange’ newsletter for the Economist. It generally starts with a couple of great historical bits and then a global view before going region by region.

The best part is that it’s concise, covering around twenty countries and LINKS ARE PROVIDED FOR MORE DETAIL. Just like how the damn internet is supposed to work. And if necessary a situation might get more paragraphs. It’s foreign policy wonk but it is not dry. The author’s academic background is in Islamic history.
posted by zenon at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so, so much everybody. I've been reading through all of the links and I'm blown away.

In case anybody was curious, the notion of "cursed discourse" was cribbed directly from Chaoyang Trap, which is apparently also cofounded by mefi's own.

Regarding The Economist, I do like their rigor, and find it not too difficult to separate their weird ideological slants from the reporting. Although I had a bit of a gell-mann amnesia moment when they covered some my of research from a while back in a flattering but entirely inaccurate way, so I've been trying to be more wary of their work.

Everything else recommended I either hadn't seen before or had briefly seen (probably on mefi) and forgot about. Again, thank you so much for sharing.
posted by bongerino at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention The Blue Roof for English language coverage of South Korean politics and news.
posted by toastyk at 9:40 PM on November 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

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