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Introduction

Number Politics after Datafication

Moisés Kopper and Hannah Knox

Abstract

For decades now, scholars of quantification have been exposing the rationalist and modernist operations that lend numbers their political qualities. Yet recent anthropological scholarship has begun to show how data's ontological plasticity and messiness are constitutive of alternative political fields. This introduction brings these two streams of literature into productive conversation to rethink the means and meanings of number politics after datafication. We move beyond extant concerns about the governing and stabilising powers of numbers to highlight the moral and affective and the collective and subjective practices out of which data's political effects emerge. Foregrounding the everyday ethical work animating data worlds gives new insights into how numeric infrastructures thrive and fail within emerging socio-cultural and politico-legal milieus.

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Introduction

Federico Filauri, Victor Jeleniewski Seidler, and Johan Siebers

Abstract

The introduction outlines the genesis and evolution of the two-year German Philosophy Seminar, setting the stage for the current special issue. Originating in 2019 at the University of London, the seminar initially focused on Martin Buber's philosophy, since his insights into dialogue and human relationality became once again topical and relevant in light of the recent broad and rapid changes in public and interpersonal communication. The 2020 shift to an online format due to the Covid-19 pandemic presented challenges but also facilitated global participation, fostering a virtual community. The seminar's success prompted its continuation, partnering with the Global Lehrhaus to explore contemporary themes in conjunction with Buber's philosophy. Across two academic years, sessions delved into Buber's ideas in dialogue with diverse perspectives such as Marxism, feminism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, communication theory, and contemporary social philosophy. The resulting publication captures these discussions, emphasizing the enduring relevance of Buber's concepts in today's context.

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Introduction

Viral Masculinities: Virality, Gender, Pandemics

João Florêncio

When, in 2019, I started planning a conference that would take place in September 2020 at the University of Exeter, my aim was to bring together a wide variety of scholars to reflect on the viral modes of contemporary masculinities. The conference was being planned in the context of an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellows grant I had been awarded, thanks to which I had been researching contemporary gay “pig” sex subcultures. That is, a kind of contemporary gay male subculture anchored in the eroticization of bodily fluid exchanges and of the corruption of the whole, self-contained, and impermeable male body hegemonically idealized in modern European thought. In a biopolitical context in which HIV infection had become something one can self-manage through highly active antiretroviral therapies, or otherwise avoid with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug regimens, I contended that the twenty-first-century erotic investment in bodily fluids and transgression of the boundaries of the idealized bourgeois body makes gay “pig” subcultures a rich field of practice that can help us think about new and hopefully more capacious ways of relating to the other that no longer require identification and recognition as preconditions. Emerging at the intersection of twenty-first-century sex media, pharmacotechnologies, and sex practices, gay “pigs” are porous creatures that can simultaneously point toward new kinds of relating, of sociability, of ethics, while at the same time still often manifesting and reinforcing some of the traits that have historically defined modern European masculinities (Florêncio 2020). In short, the literal opening up of their masculinity, which I saw—and continue to see—as ethically and politically promising, still often remained dependent on a strengthening of other traits coded as masculine: endurance, athleticism, resilience, heroism, and so on; as if masculinities weren't a static monolith but indeed a fleshy psychosexual reality that manages to survive precisely because it is plastic, adaptable, receptive to change. Diversity ensures the survival of any species, I guess.

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Introduction

Politics and Pedagogy

The articles in this edition of European Comic Art cover a range of themes, including adaptation, whether from an Ibsen play or a range of classic novels, and a corresponding scrutiny of the affordances of the comics medium, along with a reflection on the differential apportioning of artistic prestige from the eighteenth century through to the twenty-first. An in-depth interview with an award-winning translator brings in further angles on comics as a transnational medium, and an essay by an eminent semiologist revisits the linear/tabular distinction that has been the basis of much formal analysis of comics. The issue of pedagogy recurs both as subject matter of primary texts and in the form of a constructive proposal for enlightened curriculum development. Politics pervades all the articles: the environmental crisis and media collusion in obfuscation, the process of achieving change in education, the responsibility of a satirist to adhere or refuse adherence to one camp or another, the negotiations and frictions that arise out of relocation into new contexts of reception, and an exploration of the borderline regions of the social unconscious.

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Is civilizational primordialism any better than nationalist primordialism?

Denys Gorbach

The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war seems to have prompted a return to anthropology's origins: the armchair. Claiming authority based on status and knowledge accumulated elsewhere and extrapolated to Ukraine, public scholars have proffered takes, op-eds, and geopolitical phantasies. Slow research in the full ethnographic mode, studying actors and subjectivities in fast shifting contexts, would have been preferable. In a context of war, complex and dynamic political phenomena easily become tokens in political debates that do not go much beyond statements of political identity.

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Israel on the Cusp

Democracy in Peril or an Opportunity for Regime Change?

Ian S. Lustick

Abstract

Political scientists distinguish between governments and regimes. A government is comprised of incumbents holding positions of authority specified within an institutionalized “regime,” that is, a legal order. Within a well-institutionalized regime, politics consists of legal struggles over what governments and government officials do. But when the issues in contention pertain to what governments are authorized to do, and not about what they should do, competitors may no longer feel bound to follow the rules. Such struggles can threaten the integrity of the regime. This article suggests that the prolonged, if temporarily sidelined, crisis over the overhaul of the Israeli judiciary should be understood less as a threat to democracy than as both a challenge to the Israeli regime's remaining liberal features and as an early skirmish in what will be a long political war over whether and how to emancipate millions of non-citizen Palestinian Arabs living in effectively annexed territories.

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The Legitimation Process of the Hilltop Youth

From Outcasts to the Israeli Cabinet

Tom Levizky and Yuval Benziman

Abstract

Over the years, the ‘hilltop youth’ have acted in opposition to both Israeli state authorities and the settler leadership. Israeli society viewed them as a group acting to realize an extremist religious ideology while violating Israeli law and ignoring the state's decisions. However, after coming to feel that their social position was making it difficult for them to realize their vision, they embarked upon a process of trying to gain political legitimacy. By turning to mass media and by disseminating messages with which the public at large could identify, they have worked to move closer to Israeli consensus opinion. We identify the steps through which this was carried out and trace its success. The process reached a significant point in 2023 when politicians identified with the hilltop youth took up important ministerial positions in government, marking their transition from actors who opposed the state to ones responsible for its decisions.

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Liminality in academic middle management

Negotiating the associate dean role in US higher education administration

Karla L. Davis-Salazar

Abstract

This article explores the complex academic-administrative role of the associate dean in US higher education administration. Previous research in Australia, UK and USA indicates that these academic middle managers experience significant conflict and ambiguity due to their roles and responsibilities as faculty members and administrators. Victor Turner's concept of liminality provides insight into the challenges of academic middle management at this administrative level. Analysing qualitative data collected through semi-structured interviews with associate deans at US research-intensive universities, I find that associate deans experience changes in perspective and relationships that foreground contradictions of meaning and highlight their paradoxical social status. I argue that, as part of a process of transition from faculty to administrator, the associate deanship is essential to the social construction of the university.

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Low Art, ‘Skits’, and ‘Pot-boilers’?

Re-examining the Political Caricatures of Thomas Rowlandson, 1780–1827

Callum D. Smith

Abstract

This article re-evaluates Thomas Rowlandson, and his historic dismissal as a ‘hack caricaturist’ (Gatrell), by quantitatively analysing his political caricatures from 1780–1827, exploring their range, political affiliations, and satirical techniques. Qualitative analysis of selected prints provides context and showcases his effectiveness and distinctive style of attack. A unique focus is placed on Rowlandson's publishers and their potential influence. The article aims to reposition Rowlandson as a prominent caricaturist of the medium's ‘golden age’, highlighting the value in his satirical artistic output and challenging the assertion that his caricatures were ‘pot-boilers, which cannot bear artistic comparison with his watercolours’ (Bryant and Heneage, eds.).

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Making Sense of Increasing Physical Touch in Australian Men’s Friendships

A Feminist Poststructuralist Dialogue with Inclusive Masculinity Theory

Brittany Ralph and Steven Roberts

The increasing incidence of platonic hugging and kissing among men has sparked considerable debate in scholarly literature, particularly surrounding Eric Anderson’s articulation of inclusive masculinity theory (IMT). Aiming to move productively beyond Anderson’s critics, we propose a feminist poststructuralist reframing of IMT that emphasizes the discursive dynamics underpinning men’s uptake of “feminized” practices. Drawing on data from interviews with 14 pairs of fathers and sons living in Australia, we conceptualize their increasing engagement in platonic physical intimacy with other men as an assertion of queer-inclusion discourse and contestation of masculinist discourse that is neither linear nor necessarily consistent. Ultimately, we argue this approach allows scholars to retain some of Anderson’s key theoretical contentions, while better accounting for change, continuity, and contradiction in men’s gender practice.