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Open access

Martyrdom and Destiny in Time of Revolution

Urgent Actions and Imminent Endings in Syria

Charlotte Al-Khalili


Through the ethnographic exploration of the Syrian uprising, this article shows how revolutionary actions and times are shaped by competing ideas of martyrdom. Aiming at tracing Syrian revolutionary engagement through the fragments left by martyrs and witnesses; this article argues that the urge to act now during the 2011 revolution was linked to the imminence of personal and collective endings. Through revolutionary actions, Syrian revolutionaries seemed to actualise in the present their desired destiny, often understood as martyrdom among my interlocutors. Destiny thus appears not so much as a cosmological but as a moral frame of revolutionary actions, as well as an ex post facto theory of the revolution's defeat and the course of history.

À travers l'exploration ethnographique du soulèvement syrien, cet article montre comment la révolution est façonnée et subsumée dans un discours islamique du destin. Qu'advient-il du sens de la temporalité et de l'action révolutionnaires dans un contexte où le temps est prédéterminé et les actions orientées vers un futur inconnu mais pré-écrit ? Cet article soutient que l'urgence d'agir maintenant pendant la révolution de 2011 était liée à l'imminence de fins personnelles et collectives. Par le biais d'actions révolutionnaires, les révolutionnaires syriens ont tenté d'actualiser dans le présent leur destin souhaité, souvent projeté comme un martyre. De plus, la révolution était orientée vers la fin du régime syrien, à l’échelle historique, et vers le Jugement dernier, à l’échelle cosmologique. À travers la révolution syrienne, le destin apparaît donc comme un cadre moral des actions révolutionnaires, ainsi qu'une théorie ex post facto de la défaite de la révolution et du cours de l'histoire.

Free access

Benjamin Abrams, Giovanni A. Travaglino, Peter R. Gardner, and Brian Callan


Contention is everywhere nowadays, permeating the fabric of society and constituting an important element of many different social relationships. It is also a central topic across a wide range of social scientific disciplines. Following the most contentious decade in over a century, scholarship on the topic of “contention” is booming. Nonetheless, we still lack a conceptual approach to “contention” as a general academic term beyond the bounds of the study of “contentious politics.” What is the meaning of contention? Drawing on a decade of editorial and research work on contention, this article surveys the profound breadth and variety of academic research on the topic, ranging from politics, psychology, and sociology to material culture, criminology, and beyond. We outline the common conceptual thread across these various areas, where “contention” generally indicates conflictual collective contests concerning competing claims.

Open access

Irvin Evany Aguilar León


The 2030 Agenda, established seven years ago, still has not being implemented by most of the signed countries. Due to its breadth, implementation becomes a complex process since it is necessary to find coherence with national policies. Of the 17 SDGs, the UN declared that SDG-7, referring to affordable and clean energy, is central. For countries dependent on fossil fuels or without technology to take advantage of renewable sources, the application of SDG-7 to their energy policies is posing challenges. This article analyzes the normative coherence in Mexico of the SDG-7 goals regarding their progress and the energy and development policy during the 2015–2022 period as a representative case for the theoretical and empirical discussion on the energy-development relationship.


La Agenda 2030, establecida hace siete años, todavía no ha sido implementada por la mayoría de los países firmantes. Debido a su amplitud, la implementación se convierte en un proceso complejo, ya que se requiere encontrar la coherencia con políticas nacionales. De los 17 ODS, la ONU declaró que el ODS-7, referente a energía asequible y no contaminante, es central. Para países dependientes a energéticos fósiles o sin tecnología para aprovechar fuentes renovables, la aplicación del ODS-7 a sus políticas energéticas está suponiendo desafíos. El presente artículo analiza la coherencia normativa en México de las metas del ODS-7 respecto a su avance y la política de seguridad energética y desarrollo durante el periodo 2015–2022 como un caso representativo para la discusión teórica y empírica sobre la relación energía-desarrollo.


L’Agenda 2030, établi il y a sept ans, n’a pas encore été mis en œuvre par la plupart des pays signataires. En raison de son ampleur, la mise en œuvre devient un processus complexe, car il est nécessaire de trouver une cohérence avec les politiques nationales. Parmi les 17 ODD, l’ONU a déclaré que l’ODD-7, qui fait référence à une énergie abordable et propre, est central. Pour les pays dépendants des combustibles fossiles ou sans technologie susceptible de tirer parti des sources renouvelables, l’application de l’ODD-7 à leurs politiques énergétiques pose des défis. Cet article analyse la cohérence normative des objectifs de l’ODD-7 concernant leur progression et la politique énergétique et de développement au cours de la période 2015-2022 au Mexique comme un cas représentatif de la discussion théorique et empirique sur la relation énergie-développement.

Open access

Militancy and Martyrs’ Ghostly Whispers

Disbelieving History and Challenges of Inordinate Knowledge in Iran

Younes Saramifar

Abstract: The so-called Iranian revolutionary youth’s aspirations for martyrdom are not based merely on Islamist doctrines or Islamic ideologies. They readily place all fallen combatants in a ‘martyrdom box’, linking them to Islamic sacrality and claiming they feel martyrs via martyrs’ ghostly whispers. Through ethnographic journeys in Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, I unpack how they craft the ‘martyrdom box’ and communicate with the ghostly whispers. I argue that the Iranian revolutionary youth’s perceptions of martyrdom and militant subjectivities emerge in relation to disbelieving histories that contest the state’s narratives and their mystical relationships with martyrs. This article takes Iranian revolutionary youth as exemplars to explain how individuals implicated in political violence craft acts of ‘knowing’ and render death and dead ‘knowable’. In other words, instead of asking what is known, I proceed by unpacking how what is known becomes real and how the act of knowing contributes to the emergence of reality.

Résumé : En Iran les aspirations de la soi-disant jeunesse révolutionnaire pour le martyre ne sont pas basées simplement sur les doctrines islamistes ou les idéologies islamiques. Ces aspirations visent à mettre toutes les personnes qui sont mort au combat dans une “boîte de martyre” afin de les unir au sacré islamique. La jeunesse prétend pouvoir ressentir la présence des martyrs grâce au chuchotement-fantôme. À travers des voyages d’ethnographie en Iran, en Liban, et en Iraq, j’étudie leurs façons de construire la “boîte de martyre” et de communiquer avec le chuchotement-fantôme. L’idée que les jeunes révolutionnaires iraniennes se font de martyre et de militantisme émerge dans le contexte du scepticisme face à l’histoire, ayant comme but de contester les récits de l’état et les relations mystiques avec des martyres. Cet article montre que la jeunesse révolutionnaire en Iran pourrait servir comme modèle pour expliquer comment des individus qui sont impliqués dans des violences politiques se présentent comme artisans-créateurs des “connaissances”. Ils essayent de se rapprocher des morts et de rendre la mort compréhensible. Mon objectif c’est de mettre de côté le questionnement sur la connaissance elle-même, afin d’établir comment la possession des connaissances contribue à l’apparition de la réalité.

Open access

Kristina Großmann


Drawing on my involvement as a researcher in mining conflicts on customary land in Central Kalimantan, I reflect on my positionality, assumptions, roles, expectations and impacts on social change. Constant re-thinking of my own biases was necessary in order to grasp the nuanced and complex nature of villagers’ attitudes towards mining, and their entangled relations with the mining companies. My attempt to act as a process facilitator, by persuading an indigenous rights organisation to support villagers in their dispute over land rights with the mining company, was unsuccessful. I conclude that a constant reassessment of expectations and aims is needed in order to achieve the co-production of knowledge that is relevant for social change and for the attempt to enhance villagers’ participation in decision making.

Open access

A mutable space

Identity in the ruins of a polyethnic town camp, Outback Australia

Alana Brekelmans

As that which troubles simplistic binaries, ruins provide an entry point for scholars to conceptualize time, space, and identity as multiple, fragmented, and mutable. Th is article contributes to these studies by interrogating Australian settler-colonial time-space narratives (chronotopes) of White dominance through engagement with counter-narratives of mutable materialities and identities. Through ethnography of a commemorative event in a rural Australian town, I show how peoples of mixed Aboriginal and Asian descent negotiated racialized ruins to reassert narrative agency. I argue narratives of identity—when reremembered through spatial understandings of multiple community membership, re-lived through embodied experiences, and re-collected through affective engagement with ruins—create a mutable space to disrupt settler-colonial chronotopes, revealing narratives of hybrid, polyethnic, and polyracial belongings in Australia.

Open access

Bernard Forjwuor


How do we define Black politics conceptually? What is the conceptual jurisdiction from which it is framed as distinct from other political concepts? The concept of Black politics, I argue, operates as a force of refusal of the inevitability of liberalism as the ‘end of history.’ It repudiates what liberal politics routinely represents as pacific, universal, rational and inclusive to the field of politics. The concept of Black politics, then, is an anamorphic signifier that destabilises dominant conceptions of liberal politics as inevitable. I make two arguments in this article: first, that liberalism is an anaemic singularity that excludes the imperial and racial assemblages in which it is implicated, and second, that the concept of Black politics is anamorphic in so far as it creates the possibility for emancipation that transcends this liberal obligation in its imperial and racial assemblages.

Open access

Suvi Rautio

The shift in China’s national economy from industrial manufacturing to technology and IT has placed constraints on the lives of rural-to-urban male migrant workers from the lower social strata. As the pace of out-migration in China slows, male rural returnees are harnessing self-reliant masculinities to reclaim status and heighten a sense of collective pride in and affiliation with their natal village. Centering on two ethnographic case studies of Dong ethnic minority male rural returnees in the autonomous district of Guizhou Province, the analysis in this article contributes to critique on the recent unfolding of the state-led “crisis of masculinity” to highlight the wider socioeconomic conditions that continue to deepen the inequalities and felt anxieties of male rural returnees.

Full access

The Palestinians, Israel, and BDS

Strategies and Struggles in Wars of Position

Ian S. Lustick and Nathaniel Shils


Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) have been in conflict within one another for nearly two decades. In this article we compare trajectories of Palestinian-led BDS mobilization and Israeli-led counter-mobilization by deploying two theoretical perspectives, a rationalist, strategic learning model and a political competition model. We find that the difference in balance of power on each side between state and civil society led to strategic convergence by Israel in its counter-BDS efforts but not (yet at any rate) on the Palestinian side. We locate BDS as an example of a transnational boycott movement and identify patterns in its conflict with Israel observed in association with other such movements. Our analysis leads to an explanation of why both sides see the battles between them taking place in the United States and Europe as particularly crucial.

Free access

Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

Girlhood Studies, as an academic discipline, is continually growing. Since some educational institutions include girls’ studies as part of a special curriculum, an academic program, a certificate course, a minor, or as part of Women's Studies or Gender Studies, Girlhood Studies has a presence in academia although at this stage rarely in an autonomous department. This interest in the pedagogies and practices of teaching Girlhood Studies is an important aspect of its growth as a field of study not only at the university level but also in other academic settings and outside of them, be they workshops, special programs for girls, and summer camps, among others. Depending on these formal and informal educational contexts, the discussion of approaches to teaching Girlhood Studies ranges from the theoretical to those that outline hands-on projects that invite and promote the discussion of girlhood. As states in her editorial “What can Girlhood Studies be?” the research and scholarly work in Girlhood Studies “stands as its own theoretical and practical area” (vi) that warrants its study and teaching and that prompted the production of this special issue on teaching Girlhood Studies.