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Introduction

The Social Life of Contentious Concepts

Ronald S. Stade

ABSTRACT

Concepts have cultural biographies and social lives. Some concepts become social and political keywords that can be both indicative of and instrumental in social and political conflicts. (It might even be possible to speak of conceptual violence.) But they are not just contentious; they also tend to be contested. Contentious and contested concepts have been studied by historians and social scientists from varying temporal and spatial horizons. It is a research area that lends itself to cross-disciplinary approaches, as is demonstrated in the three contributions to this section, the first of which investigates the Russian obsession with the concept of “Europe.” The second contribution to the section explores the military roots of the concept of “creative thinking” and the final contribution examines the social life of “political correctness” as a fighting word.

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Introduction

Narratives, Ontologies, Entanglements, and Iconoclasms

Sondra L. Hausner, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes

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Michael D. Jackson

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Ronald Stade

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Introduction

The Dialectics of Displacement and Emplacement

Henrik Vigh and Jesper Bjarnesen

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Introduction

Rethinking Resistance to Transitional Justice

Briony Jones and Thomas Brudholm

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Introduction

Post-Conflict Dynamics in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Identities, Nationalization, and Missing Bodies

Katerina Seraïdari

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Antonius C. G. M. Robben

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Introduction

Materialities, Histories, and the Spatialization of State Sovereignty

Valentina Napolitano, Nimrod Luz, and Nurit Stadler

In the introduction to this special section of Religion and Society, we discuss existing and potentially new intersections of border theories and religious studies in relation to two contested regions—US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine (as part of the history of the Levant)—respectively. We argue for a recentering of borderland studies through an analysis of political theologies, affective labor, and differing configurations of religious heritage, traces, and materiality. We thus define 'borderlands' as translocal phenomena that emerge due to situated political/economic and affective junctures and that amplify not only translocal but also transnational prisms. To explore these issues, we put into dialogue studies on religion, borderlands, walls, and historical/contemporary conditions in the context of US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine borders. In particular, we argue for recentering analyses in light of intensifications of state control and growing militarization in contested areas.