field-notes

Elizabeth Zerofsky 

The French government decided to set up its first so-called deradicalization center at Pontourny, an eighteenth-century chateau outside a tiny town in the Loire valley that had been used as a welcome center for refugees who were unaccompanied minors. The refugee center was slated to shut down, but the government made a deal with the town that it would retain the jobs at the center if it could be repurposed to take in young people who were “at risk” of jihadist radicalization. There was some backlash among town residents over security concerns, but the government had promised that the young people who would be housed at Pontourny would not be dangerous, and would come voluntarily. But this agreement raised all sorts of questions – no one chooses voluntarily to be “deradicalized,” and if an individual doesn’t appear to be a threat to the public, then why would he or she need to be housed at a secure residential center? Indeed, once the center opened in September, the government found that it had trouble recruiting the right “profile,” and it had reportedly temporarily placed someone there who was on an intelligence watch-list. The programming at Pontourny is experimental, and no one knows how effective it will be. Nonetheless, the government will move ahead with opening a dozen or so similar centers across the country in the next few years.

Guenons are Old World monkeys found in sub-Saharan Africa. Different guenon species exhibit incredible range of phenotypic features from differently shaped of ear tufts to differently coloured nose spots. It is thought that this great diversity has evolved to prevent interbreeding between different species (habitats of different guenon species often overlap geographically), which could lead to less fit offsprings.  

Illustration by Jonathan Kingdon