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Eric Lagenbacher

Observers across Europe and the world were shocked when British voters decided in June 2016 to leave the European Union. Since the Brexit decision, British politics have been in disarray and the government’s incoherent negotiation positions have created much economic and political uncertainty. Germans and others have had to formulate policy based on assumptions and predictions. Despite slightly different emphases, all mainstream German parties have endorsed a harder line rejecting British efforts to cherry pick the most desirable aspects of a relationship with the EU. This stance accords with the preferences of European Union actors and the vast majority of member states. Moreover, the likely effects on the German economy will not be catastrophic. Thus, as much as Germans prefer that the UK remain in the EU, there is also little desire to accommodate British demands—and there may even be a sense of relief.

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Admiel Kosman

The narrative in BT Kiddushin 81b about R. Hiyya bar Ashi tells of a sage who waged a battle with his Urge after he refrained from engaging in sexual relations with his wife. He, however, did not reveal to her the battle being waged within him, but rather pretended to be an ‘angel’. When his wife incidentally found it, she disguised herself as a harlot and set out to seduce him. After they had engaged in sexual relations, the rabbi wanted to commit suicide. The traditional readings view R. Hiyya as the hero of the tale. This article claims that the aim of the narrative is to present the rabbi as being carried away by dualistic-Christian conceptions. The article further argues that the topic of the narrative is not sexual relations, but dialogue.

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Scott W. Schwartz

The quantification of human environments has a history—a relatively short history. This article explores how the notion of quantifiable reality has become naturalized through the privileging of predictive utility as the primary goal of knowledge production. This theme is examined via the invention and application of temperature— how it was sociomaterially constructed and how it is globally restructuring social organization today. Temperature does not exist pervasively throughout all space and time. Physicists may affirm that fluctuations in relative heat are ubiquitous, but as a measurement of these fluctuations, temperature only emerges through arrangements of political and environmental observations. What phenomena do populations deem worthy of observation? How do populations manipulate materials to make such observations? By tracing the origins of thermometry and investigating modern efforts to reconstruct and model ulterior temperatures, I illustrate that temperatures, like other measurements, are cultural artifacts pliable to sociopolitical efforts of control and domination.

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Victoria C. Ramenzoni and David Yoskowitz

After Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, governmental organizations have placed the development of metrics to quantify social impacts, resilience, and community adaptation at the center of their agendas. Following the premise that social indicators provide valuable information to help decision makers address complex interactions between people and the environment, several interagency groups in the United States have undertaken the task of embedding social metrics into policy and management. While this task has illuminated important opportunities for consolidating social and behavioral disciplines at the core of the federal government, there are still significant risks and challenges as quantification approaches move forward. In this article, we discuss the major rationale underpinning these efforts, as well as the limitations and conflicts encountered in transitioning research to policy and application. We draw from a comprehensive literature review to explore major initiatives in institutional scenarios addressing community well-being, vulnerability, and resilience in coastal and ocean resource management agencies.

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Lasse Thomassen

South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens: On Dissent and the Possibility of Politics, by Julian Brown. London: Zed Books, 2015. ISBN 9781783602971.

Freedom Is Power: Liberty through Political Representation, by Lawrence Hamilton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. ISBN 9781107660342.

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Kathleen Gyssels

Fifty years after his Goncourt Prize-winning début, and three years after the author’s death, a first posthumous novel, L’Etoile du matin (Morning Star) was published by André Schwarz-Bart and his wife and co-author, Simone Schwarz-Bart. Their respective roles in the writing process have never been transparent, and the lack of interviews, as well as limited correspondence, keep this situation unchanged today. A new volume of their unfinished cycle, entitled L’Ancêtre en solitude (The Ancestor in solitude), came out in 2015. The new narratives continue to explore how margins can be minimized in order to make us see similarities rather than differences. Critics have marginalized an ‘extravagant stranger’ who has been misunderstood for his biracial and bicultural transracial imagery, a ‘Fremdkörper’ in the canon of both Caribbean and French-Jewish literature. His manifold displacements allow us not only to ‘read with different eyes’, but also to read one historical trauma in and through another (Mary Jacobus).

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Motsamai Molefe

In this article, I question the plausibility of Metz’s African moral theory from an oft neglected moral topic of partiality. Metz defends an Afro-communitarian moral theory that posits that the rightness of actions is entirely definable by relationships of identity and solidarity (or, friendship). I offer two objections to this relational moral theory. First, I argue that justifying partiality strictly by invoking relationships (of friendship) ultimately fails to properly value the individual for her own sake – this is called the ‘focus problem’ in the literature. Second, I argue that a relationship- based theory cannot accommodate the agent-related partiality since it posits some relationship to be morally fundamental. My critique ultimately reveals the inadequacy of a relationship-based moral theory insofar as it overlooks some crucial moral considerations grounded on the individual herself in her own right.

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Maurice Wren

In the summer of 2015, UK public attitudes towards refugees shifted significantly in the face of a substantial and sustained increase in the number of people entering Europe from the Middle East and North Africa in search of refugee protection. Contrary to what might have been expected, given that the prevailing public mood on refugees had up to this point been, at best, guarded and wary, this change in attitudes was not only overwhelmingly positive, but it also forced the UK government into a dramatic and significant policy change. This article considers whether this shift in opinion represented a real sea change in public attitudes, or was a fleeting and unsustainable compassion spasm.

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Diana Packer

Between 1880 and 1905, approximately 100,000 Jews, fleeing from Russia, entered Britain. The majority settled in the East End of London, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow. They were viewed as totally alien and a threat to society. It was claimed that they deprived the indigenous population of employment and housing. A group of rightwing Tories manipulated these allegations to instigate the 1905 Aliens Act, which laid the basis of immigration law in Britain. This article will consider how the long-term influence of the Russian Jews’ arrival impacted on the reception of the Jews fleeing from Hitler. While the government wished to maintain its façade of tolerance and the Jewish community wanted to offer traditional charity, the shadow of 1905 remained; entry into Britain was strictly controlled.

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Jeremy Schonfield

Psalms 113–118, known collectively as ‘Hallel’, are recited by Jews on New Moons and festivals and are thought to have formed part of Temple practice. I outline the historical development of this unit from two psalms to its full complement of six. Although its rabbinic title suggests that it expresses praise, other more complex associations of the word are explored in the context of reviewing the underlining ‘narrative’ traced by the texts. This spans episodes from patriarchal times to exile, ending with the eventual messianic advent. I propose here that the practice of occasionally abbreviating two of the psalms reflects sympathy for the Egyptian foe, based on rabbinic views concerning the sanctity of human life.