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Wrap Up the Week: Arab Graffiti, Pretty Curious, Marlon James, West Africa and Aliens (maybe)

Kanta Dihal

The Oxonian Review presents Wrap Up the Week, featuring articles the editorial staff have found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy.

1. In some spaghetti westerns, Native American actors were hired to portray damaging stereotypes of themselves, or even of any other Native culture. The film Reel Injun shows how one of these actors, asked to speak a few lines in their own language for such a film, used the opportunity to blurt out some hilarious insults in this language. This week, a very similar incident has occurred in which Arab graffiti used on the set of Homeland turned out to contain strong criticism against the series. Hollywood hasn’t learned, it seems.

2. Painfully, right after Ada Lovelace Day, another attempt at engaging girls with science has backfired. The reason for this requires no further explanation beyond the title of the campaign: Pretty Curious.

3. Jamaican author Marlon James has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize with his epic (700-page) novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, a fictional history set in Kingston, Jamaica, of an attempt to kill Bob Marley. This makes the 44-year-old author the first Jamaican to win the prize. Inspired to write by Salman Rushdie – James referred to him in his acceptance speech – in 2014 the two authors shared the stage in a fascinating conversation.

4. At the British Library, the exhibition ‘West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song’, which traces a millennium of West African storytelling, opened this Friday with a conversation with Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka. Featuring music and the spoken word as much as written texts, the exhibition counters the still too common idea of Africa as a country with an exclusively oral history. The exhibition will run until 16 February 2016.

5. Hurrah, we have found aliens again! After the greatly disappointing announcement that a scrutiny of 100,000 galaxies was unable to find any alien supercivilizations, astronomers now have found a planet with stuff around it. People hope the stuff is made by aliens. To be honest, this find is probably equally fascinating if no aliens are found: after all, we used to think that pulsars were signals sent by aliens, too. We now use them to test the limits of our knowledge about physics.

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