Culture & Conversation

Posts by Eric Hamovitch

Jerusalem's Dung Gate between 1940 to 1946

A Jerusalem childhood

Issa Boullata presents a loving portrait of his childhood in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1930s and 1940s, during the latter days of the British mandate in Palestine.

Barack Obama, Enrique Peña Nieto and Stephen Harper: the three not-so-much amigos?

NAFTA’s cultural legacy

Is NAFTA bringing us culturally closer to Latin America? Closer to Walmart, yes, but as Spanish departments get decimated, the prognosis on cultural life is not so good according to Blue Met’s panellists.


How did the US get where it is today?

George Packer is a New Yorker staff writer perhaps best known for his award-winning book The Assassins’ Gate on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In The Unwinding, subtitled An Inner History of the New America, he examines the lives of individual Americans over several decades to back his contention that the U.S. has become a country where Wall Street titans reign supreme and where the productive economy is subordinated to galloping financialization.

The Real Haiti

Fred Voodoo is not a real person. He has never existed. This made-up name is the shorthand used informally by some foreign correspondents to refer to the man (or woman) in the street in Haiti, often in a condescending tone.

Targeting the CBC

First a confession: I happen to like classical music. I suppose this puts me among the elite who feel betrayed by an evident dumbing-down of CBC programming over the years. A clear example of this came a few years ago with the elimination of most classical music programming from Radio 2 and Espace Musique and its replacement by what critics sneeringly dismiss (and what marketers happily embrace) as “adult contemporary.”

He Who Must (Not) Be Named

Foreign policy tends to get short shrift at key moments — like during election campaigns — in spite of having a profound effect on us in ways we are not even aware. I looked forward to this book by Montreal writer and political activist Yves Engler, who has earned a reputation as an intrepid researcher. The Ugly Canadian could not have come at a better time. Stephen Harper must be taken to task for tarnishing Canada’s international reputation.

Almost Lost

Incredible as it may seem today, Yiddish was once the third most widely spoken language in Montreal, after French and English. For several decades in the first half of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Central and Eastern European Jews formed the city’s largest immigrant group. As immigration patterns changed in the post-war years, Italian became the city’s third language, succeeded more recently by Spanish and Arabic.

It’s Dark Out There

Riders of the Montreal metro have reason to cringe when they hear the chimes presaging the announcement of unwelcome news, such as service interruptions. “Un incident nous oblige d’interrompre le service sur la ligne orange …,” a typical message may begin.

Debunking Myths

A century ago, my grandparents left their East European homelands to settle in Montreal. Like the many thousands of other Jewish immigrants arriving at that time, they faced not only the severe economic and cultural challenges common to most immigrants but also deep suspicion and abiding mistrust linked to their non-British and non-French origins.