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Illegible Allegations

Navigating the Meanings of Rape in Colonial Algeria

Sarah Ghabrial

Abstract

Laws that shield men from punishment if they marry their victims are so ubiquitous that their genesis is impossible to identify. Rather than attempting to trace the colonial or pre-colonial “origins” of so-called marry-your-rapist laws in Algeria, this article examines particular moments within this thick history. It posits that Algerian colonial courts were sites of confrontation, misrecognition, and occasional confluence between local remedies for unlawful sex and modern legal conceptions of rape inextricable from medicalized methods of detection. Algerian litigants approached French courts in rape cases demanding forms of redress based in vernacular ontologies of equitable restitution and social cohesion. In turn, colonial authorities inferred equivalences between indigenous normative codes, Islamic textual prescriptions, and the French Code Pénal that reshaped the legal and social meaning of rape.

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Introduction

Innocence and the Politics of Memory

Jonathan Bach and Benjamin Nienass

Innocence is central to German memory politics; indeed, one can say that the German memory landscape is saturated with claims of innocence. The Great War is commonly portrayed as a loss of innocence, while the Nazis sought, in their way, to reclaim that innocence by proclaiming Germany as the innocent victim. After World War II, denazification and courts established administrative and legal boundaries within which claims of innocence could be formulated and adjudicated, while the “zero hour” and “economic miracle” established a basis for a different form of reclaiming innocence, one roundly critiqued by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “What Does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean?” In the 1980s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's famous pronouncement of the “grace [Gnade] of a late birth” (also translatable as “mercy,” “pardon,” or “blessing”) became the touchstone for a resurgence of war children's (Kriegskinder) memory. In the 1990s, the myth of the Wehrmacht as largely innocent of atrocities was publicly challenged. Today, right-wing critiques that cast Holocaust remembrance as a politics of shame draw upon tropes of innocence, of German air war victims and post-war generations, while right-wing images of migrants are cast in classic forms of threats to the purity of the “national body” (Volkskörper). The quickening pace of contemporary debates over Germany's colonial past pointedly questions the innocence of today's beneficiaries of colonialism, drawing attention to the borders and contours of implication.

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Multilocality and the Politics of Space in Protracted Exile

The Case of a Palestinian Refugee Camp in the West Bank

Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyzanowska

Abstract

This article employs the concept of multilocality to analyze the politics of space under the condition of protracted encampment. Rather than adopting a common synchronic approach to how refugees relate to space, the theoretical lens of multilocality grasps the diachronic dimension of protracted camps understood as places that encompass multiple attachments across time and space: the remembered and imagined places of origin, sites of residence in exile, and future geographies of hope or anticipation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in al-Am'ari, a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, I analyze multilocality as a political practice whereby local residents and organizations nurture the refugee identity of their communities, resist the permanence of protracted exile, and manifest the necessity for political change.

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Muslim Notables, French Colonial Officials, and the Washers of the Dead

Women and Gender Politics in Colonial Algeria

Augustin Jomier

Abstract

For many decades, scholars of gender and women's history in the Middle East and North Africa have challenged prevailing visions of an unchanged patriarchy, showing how patriarchy was transformed in relation to colonialism, and how some women struggled against it. To the contrary, this article aims to challenge our understanding of women's agency, taking Mzab as a case study. It explores the ways in which women of this Berber speaking region, inhabited by Ibadi Muslims and conquered by the French in 1882, contributed to the colonial reinforcement of male domination. Reading together works of ethnography, colonial administrative files, legal disputes, and Arabic-language newspapers, this article shows that, together with the colonial legal framework, other informal legal discourses and institutions shaped women's condition. Down the road, forms of patriarchy and notions of gender shifted.

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Novel Reviews

Anna-Leena Toivanen and Joanna E. Taylor

Michèle Rakotoson, Elle, au printemps (Saint-Maur: Sépia, 1996), 122 pp.

Kathleen Jamie, Surfacing (UK: Sort of Books, 2019), 240 pp., £7.99.

Kathleen Jamie (ed.), Antlers of Water: Writing on the Nature and Environment of Scotland (Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 2020), 232pp., £20.

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Pandemic Drones

Promises and Perils

Julia M. Hildebrand and Stephanie Sodero

Abstract

When the novel coronavirus moved around the planet in early 2020, reconfiguring, slowing down, or halting everyday mobilities, another transport mode was mobilized: the pandemic drone. We highlight the increasing prominence of this aerial device by surveying international media coverage of pandemic drone use in the spring of 2020. To address a range of pandemic drone affordances and applications, we organize manifold cases under two broad categories: sensing and moving with the pandemic drone. Here we ask: what roles do, and could, drones play during the pandemic? Following the empirical examples and related mobilities research, we theorize the drone versus virus and the drone as virus. As such, the work identifies avenues for mobilities research into pandemic drones as a growing mobility domain. Moreover, in thinking through the pandemic drone, we demonstrate creative extensions of mobilities thinking that bridge biological and technological, as well as media and mobility frameworks when multiple public health and safety crises unfolded and intersected.

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Past, Present, and Future of Peripheral Mobilities in Portugal

The Portuguese Narrow-Gauge Railway System (1870s–2010s)

Hugo Silveira Pereira

Abstract

In the Portuguese railway system, narrow-gauge lines were an important part of the network, accounting for a fifth of the extent and roughly a sixth of the traffic. Portuguese historiography about these railways focuses on partial aspects of their evolution and does not provide a general critical overview of their history. In this article, I propose the analysis of Portuguese narrow gauge as a Large Technological System connecting the Portuguese center(s) to its periphery(ies) in different stages of its evolution, from its implementation to its decline. Using available literature and unpublished statistical data of operation, I demonstrate how narrow gauge was unable to compete with automobility and ceased to be an alternative for long-distance transportation, but is resurfacing with different uses and goals.

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Place Making in Transit

Literary Interventions at the Airport and in the Underground

Emma Eldelin and Andreas Nyblom

Abstract

Spaces of transit and transportation are often thought of as one-dimensional and as defined by their functionality and rationality, but recent literary texts challenge such preconceptions by representing those spaces as multidimensional and meaningful. In this article, we examine literature through the lens of place making, seeking to understand in what ways literary representations are involved in renegotiations of transit space. Addressing two generic spaces of transit—the underground and the airport—we analyze a body of texts generated through initiatives relating to the London Underground and Heathrow Airport respectively. Arguing that literature contributes to a processual understanding of place, we conclude that literary texts should be considered as instances of place making, and thus deserve serious consideration in research.

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(Post-)colonial Myths in German History Textbooks, 1989–2015

Florian Helfer

Abstract

This article examines the evolution of textbook representations of colonialism in two North Rhine-Westphalian textbook series for the Sekundarstufe II since 1989. On the one hand, the article shows that the developing post-colonial discourse in the German public debate had a particularly strong impact on schoolbooks in the mid-2000s. Textbooks reacted quickly to changes in the public debate and have increasingly attempted to deconstruct colonial narratives. However, implicit mental conceptions of African “backwardness” continue to exert some influence even on today's textbook generation. On the other hand, the article identifies the distortions that appear when colonialism as a global phenomenon is discussed within a curricular framework that focuses on national and European history. Because of the close curricular link between High Imperialism and World War I, textbooks strongly focus on the global rivalry of the European powers, whereas other aspects of colonialism come up short.

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Symbol of Reconciliation and Far-Right Stronghold?

PEGIDA, AfD, and Memory Culture in Dresden

Susanne Vees-Gulani

Abstract

In the eastern German city of Dresden, populist and nativist far-right groups, such as the homegrown pegida and the AfD, enjoy particularly robust support among the population, even though Dresden is presented as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Many residents base their personal and social identity on Dresden's long-established narrative as an iconic baroque city that suffered an unparalleled loss and victimization in the 1945 Allied bombings, prior to its post-reunification revival. However, this narrative includes a blind spot about the Nazi context of the destruction, opening it up to various political appropriations from the gdr era to today. I suggest that the strength of the far right in Dresden is caused by a seamless linking of Dresden's perception as a victim due to cultural losses and the far right's fear of losing a unique German identity and homeland. As examples, I analyze discourse patterns of remembrance during the bombing anniversaries in 2015 and 2020.