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Book Reviews

Shavagne Scott, Walter Goettlich, Sheila Petty, Wang Yanjun, Chimwemwe Phiri, and Larissa Kopytoff

Julius S. Scott, The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution (New York: Verso Books, 2018), 272 pp. $34.95.

Carl Middleton, Rebecca Elmhirst, and Supang Chantavanich, eds., Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change (New York: Routledge, 2018), 202 pp. $160.00 (hardback).

Cajetan Iheka and Jack Taylor, eds., African Migration Narratives: Politics, Race, and Space (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press/Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2018), 310 pp., ten black and white illustrations. $125.00.

Jie Zhang, Cultural Politics of Railways (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2018, in Chinese), 310 pp., eight illustrations. ¥88.00.

Markku Hokkanen, Medicine, Mobility and the Empire: Nyasaland Networks, 1859–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 288 pp. £80.

Natasha Pairaudeau, Mobile Citizens: French Indians in Indochina, 1858–1954 (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2016), 370 pp., three maps, eighteen illustrations, two tables. £25.

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Book Reviews

Alexander Dilger, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, George Gibson, Michelle Lynn Kahn, Randall Newnham, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, and Stephen F. Szabo

Mark K. Cassell, Banking on the State: The Political Economy of Public Savings Banks (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2021).

Bryce Sait, The Indoctrination of the Wehrmacht: Nazi Ideology and the War Crimes of the German Military (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

Frank Bösch, ed., A History Shared and Divided: East and West Germany since the 1970s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018).

Christopher A. Molnar, Memory, Politics, and Yugoslav Migrations to Postwar Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018).

Eva Noack-Mosse, Last Days of Theresienstadt, trans. Skye Doney and Birutė Ciplijauskaitė (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2018).

Michael H. Kater, Culture in Nazi Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019).

Rolf Steininger, Germany and the Middle East: From Kaiser Wilhelm II to Angela Merkel (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

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Corps et blanchité au prisme de la Blackness

Body and Whiteness Through the Lens of Blackness

Sarah Fila-Bakabadio


This article examines Whiteness from the perspective of the concept of Blackness and the production of Black gazes upon Whiteness. The goal is neither to reverse old schemes nor to establish a new asymmetric duality, but to come back to the first space in which political, social, and visual dynamics are formed—the body. In doing so, the article shows that the notions and tools developed by Blackness Studies and Critical Race Theories enable the analysis of the role of corporeality in the joint construction of Whiteness and Blackness.

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Desperate Aspirations among Paraguayan Youths

The Renegotiation of Migration and Rural Futures

Corinna Land


This article explores how young Paraguayan migrants, returnees, and not-yet-migrants negotiate contradicting aspirations and desperations that they attach to urban and rural spaces in the present and future. While a protracted crisis of small-scale agriculture in Paraguay increases pressure to migrate, the economic crisis in Argentina challenges the established migration trajectories between rural Paraguay and Buenos Aires. The article shows how young adults continuously weigh up current living conditions and future prospects both “here” and “there” and are torn between leaving, staying, or returning. Based on multi-sited ethnographic field research, it reconstructs the ways in which they navigate between four ambiguous aspirations: security, advancement, belonging, and attachment. Whereas rural out-migration of young people is often interpreted as a yearning for modern city life, the analysis reveals that both rural and urban areas are linked with aspirations as well as desperations.

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Eco-Aesthetics and Climate Change

Poetic Reflections

Rodanthi Tzanelli

Environmental sustainability and ecological aesthetics experience a turbulent affair when academic language is replaced by an artistic register: can we articulate contemporary crises stemming from uncontrolled mobilities, such as hyper-consumption, hyper-automobilities, and technological pollution, better by replacing sociological analysis with affective poetic language? The following poem (unpublished but belonging to the theme of Altermodernities: A Traveller's Notes, book 1: Anthropocene Entanglements) explores what this transition offers to a “public sociology” of modernity that relays theory to multiple publics in alternative visual and textual styles.

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Stéphanie Ponsavady

This issue of Transfers showcases the first part of a thought-provoking special section edited by Supurna Banerjee (Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata) and Eva Gerharz (Fulda University of Applied Sciences). The collection of articles uses the interrelation between aspiration and desperation as a powerful analytical framework to interrogate the relationships between mobility, immobility, migration, and sedentarization. By confronting these termpairs, they also seek to deconstruct their seemingly antinomic associations. The contributions interrogate them beyond binary opposition and bring to light new connections. The second part of the special section, which will focus on negotiating aspirations in intimate social relations, as well as the response to the project will be published in an upcoming volume of our journal.

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German State Constitutional Courts

The Justices

Werner Reutter


The article shows that two constitutional principles govern the election of justices and the composition of the 16 German state constitutional courts: democracy and the separation of powers. The recruitment of candidates, the vote on nominees in state parliaments, and the composition of benches of the courts in question support this assumption. There is no evidence indicating that a partisan takeover of German state constitutional courts has taken place. In addition, the majorities required for an appointment of justices of state constitutional courts seem less crucial than is often assumed.

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Germany's Energiewende at a Crossroads

Jonas Heering and Thane Gustafson


This article examines Germany's current climate and energy policies. Nearly two decades on, Germany's Energiewende—the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy—is at a crossroads. While remarkable advances have been made, the technical difficulties of expanding the energy transition beyond the electricity sector, the mounting costs of the transition itself, and now the covid-19 pandemic are slowing further progress. Maintaining the momentum of the Energiewende would require collaborative action, yet the principal political players have different agendas, making it difficult to reach decisions. In this article, we consider three of those actors: the German public, the opposition parties, and the government. We find that agreements on German climate policy have been diluted in political compromises and that real progress is being blocked. These problems will only increase as Germany deals with the consequences of the pandemic and faces a transition in national leadership in 2021.

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Healthy Mobilities

Sarah L. Bell and Simon Cook


In this article, we articulate a distinct conceptual direction at the intersection of health and mobilities scholarship that centers on healthy mobilities. We take inspiration from relational, multiscalar, and more-than-human approaches to foreground an approach that asks what being in everyday healthy motion may entail and whose health is considered. We trace this approach through two brief provocations: exercise and differential mobilities, including the finely tuned movement-repertoires developed by disabled people. These illustrate the value of healthy mobilities, beyond humancentric, cure-oriented approaches to health, to understandings of how health takes shape among diverse living entities in motion. This focus can help foreground the interdependence of human, nonhuman, and planetary health in mobilities.

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Interrogating Aspirations through Migratory Mobilities

Supurna Banerjee and Eva Gerharz

While questions focused around social, economic, and physical movement have long been central to human lives, state policies, and economic regimes, the ‘mobility turn’ in academic scholarship has often seen a straightforward association of mobility as an upward trajectory mitigating socioeconomic inequality, as well as equating physical movement emerging from migration with mobility. Here, however, we argue that the relationship between migration and mobility is hardly so automatic, and needs to be considered in its complexities and contradictions. Rather than uncritically celebrating mobility, we consider it as a lens through which disruptions, inequalities, differential access, and the role of identities can be understood.