THE VILLAGE STRIKES BACK
by Hernan Barros
We are all connected now; we can be, thanks to all the resources at our disposal in the Cyberspace era. We have evolved at a faster pace year by year to be synced. The concept of “Global Village” is no more associated only to the Western Countries and is closer day by day to live up to its name. The constant expansion of online coverage keeps building up this village, making it stronger, self-aware and omnipresent. News circulates within milliseconds, jokes go viral in a matter of hours and trends become popular in days. To be out from this village is unconceivable, we all belong to this massive tribe and we all want to be part of it, even if we don’t agree with its rules, with the way we treat each other, with the rites taken in some corners of it but it is out of discussion not to be part of it.
In those places of the planet, where there is a crack in the Village, normally violence and repression is involved. The censorship in China, the Cuban and Palestine Embargos and certain parts of the Middle East are some examples of it. However, as a living organism, the Village has mechanisms to heal its wounds and resist the tearing of its skin. The Cuban Embargo is receding slowly and the Spring Revolutions brought some changes in the Arab countries.
What about Palestine and a conflict that has spanned for more than half a century?
The embargo is not a matter of being excommunicated but one of knowing that you can’t interact, that you are in the playground but are not allow playing. Commercial relationship with the West is restricted and companies that trade in the area are exposed to bans, fines and all series of penalties. The Village finds a way not only by smuggling goods, a black market that always exists and of course by a resistance to be an outsider.
A common scene in a busy city anywhere, from Bogota to Mumbai, Manchester to Tokyo, Sydney to Vancouver, is to pass by the main streets downtown, seeing the crowd flooding to the shops and eateries, living their daily fast lives with the background made of a collage of multinational brands: Starbuck, Pizza Hut, Burger King and so on. You would think that in Palestine, that common scene wouldn’t be possible. The Village is not there but they refuse to be left out and had reinvented the Village within. They counterattack in this war with the food, the way they eat it and the way they sell it. Of course, Starbuck is not allowed to be there, but there is a Star&Buck, with a very familiar green backdrop and logo made of a star crowned female character. Pizza Hut would be blacklisted in many trade organisations and would face its closure if you would see it in Ramala, but there it is, PizzaHot, with its red roof and a yellow underline. The same happens with countless of western franchises. In Ramala, the Village refuses not to be there, the inhabitants are part of her by a stand. They live in it and eat like in it.
It is not only what we eat or how we cook it; it is also, how we eat it, how we serve it and how we offer it. Food is part of our Village; we all share it and react to it. It is more than a mere basic need of survival. It has never been just that. It is communication, relationships of acceptance or rejection; mark of status, the centre of the three most commons daily rituals in the Village and as such, it cannot be repressed.