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Places of Otherness

Comparing Eastleigh, Nairobi, and Xiaobei, Guangzhou, as Sites of South-South Migration

Neil Carrier and Gordon Mathews

This article looks at two urban landscapes critical for mobility within the Global South: Eastleigh, Kenya, and Xiaobei, China. While different, they are both centers of global trade that attract migrants seeking livelihoods, and are also regarded with great ambivalence within the countries that host them. We explore this ambivalence, showing how it links to fear of the “others” who animate them, and to broader politics in which migrants become caught. Such places often simultaneously attract members of the host society for a taste of the other, or business opportunities, yet also repel and induce fear as places of danger. For the migrant population, there is also ambivalence—as they are places that offer both opportunity for social mobility, yet also places of hard lives and immobility. In short, both are critical nodes in patterns of South-South mobility where dynamics of such mobility and reaction to it can be understood.

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Plastic Packaging, Food Supply, and Everyday Life

Adopting a Social Practice Perspective in Social-Ecological Research

Lukas Sattlegger, Immanuel Stieß, Luca Raschewski and Katharina Reindl

This article presents practice-theoretical conceptions of societal relations to nature as a fruitful alternative to common system approaches in social-ecological research. Via the example of plastic food packaging, two different practice-theoretical approaches to food supply are discussed regarding their suitability for relating the material properties of packaging to their everyday use by producers, retailers, and consumers: (1) the network approach (portraying food supply as a network of practices; these practices include material elements that interrelate with other elements like competence or meaning) and (2) the nexus approach (investigating the interrelation between social practices and material arrangements in which they take place). Depending on the given research interest, both perspectives have their pros and cons: the network approach is stronger in understanding the everyday use of technologies, while the nexus approach encourages the integration of infrastructures and environmental contexts that are not directly observable within the practice.

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The Timeline of a Concept

Juan Francisco Fuentes

The concept of populism has generated endless controversy marked by both the contrasting political feelings it conveys and a particular problem of definition. This article—based on political speeches, academic literature, and relevant online sources, such as Google Ngram Viewer, catalogs of great libraries, and digital archives of newspapers—adopts a pragmatic approach to the concept throughout its history, from the moment when the noun appeared in North American political life in the late nineteenth century until the most recent “populist moment” in response to the economic crisis that started in 2008. The study of its changing meanings shows, however, some elements of continuity that make sense of what Margaret Canovan defined as “a notoriously vague term.”

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Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Francesco Carella

In this interview with Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Francesco Carella—Labour Migration and Mobility Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO) currently covering Central America, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, and previously covering North Africa—reflects on the position of “the South” and “South-South migration” in policy and programmatic responses to different forms of migration. He discusses how and to what effect terms such as “South” and “South-South migration” are used by different stakeholders in his professional field, and outlines contemporary challenges and opportunities to better understand the needs and rights of migrants, and to promote the rights of migrants and their families around the world.

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Refugee studies in Austria today

From challenges to a research horizon

Leonardo Schiocchet, Sabine Bauer-Amin, Maria Six-Hohenbalken and Andre Gingrich

This article sets out to highlight present-day anthropological contributions to the field of forced migration and to the current debates on this topic in Europe through the experience of developing an international and interdisciplinary network for the study of refugees based in Vienna, Austria. To this end, this article engages with the grounding facts of the present Central European sociohistorical context and global political trends, grapples with shifting and questionable research funding landscapes such as the focus on “integration,” illustrates some of the main current research challenges, and highlights pressing topics. It concludes proposing a research horizon to counter present strong limitations on forced migration research and steer this research toward a more meaningful direction.

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Emma Findlen LeBlanc

This article examines Syrians’ narratives about the network of Sharia Committees (Hay’āt al-Sharia) that emerged as the most pervasive and popular legal project during the ongoing civil war. Many Syrians formerly excluded from political power, especially working-class Sunnis, envision the Sharia Committees as a revolutionary space for realising self-determination, where sharia is articulated as a democratic legal process embedded in its ostensibly inherent pluralism, flexibility, anti-authoritarianism and conception of justice as reconciliation and public good. By reviving a historically recurrent vision of sharia as radical democratic practice, Syrians attempt to extricate sharia from its entanglements with efforts to govern. The Sharia Committees thus represent a creative effort to reclaim democracy from state control while challenging rigid, rule-oriented understandings of sharia.

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Representative Government in the Dutch Provinces

The Controversy over the Stadtholderate (1705–1707) and Simon van Slingelandt

Bert Drejer

This article reconsiders the way political representation was understood in the early modern Netherlands by focusing on the contemporary contribution of Simon van Slingelandt. His views of the representative nature of the government of the Dutch Republic were deeply polemical when he developed them, but went on to have a profound influence on the later literature and are notably sustained in modern histories of the subject. The best way to nuance the view of political representation our historiography has inherited from Van Slingelandt is by returning to the earlier views he set out to discredit. By examining both views, I thus hope to shed some new light on the representative nature of early modern Dutch government.

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Research Methodology in Kurdish Studies

Interactions between Fieldwork, Epistemology and Theory

Mehmet Orhan

Kurdish studies are generally defined and conducted according to a topic or geographic location, namely, within the Middle East. Research procedures used to handle different issues as well as develop concepts and hypotheses have become important, since most of the current theories lack practical approaches when conducting studies on the Kurds. Relying on specific examples, published sources as well as the author’s personal fieldwork and insights, the article establishes a critique of bias, problems and solutions in research goals and methodologies in the field of Kurdish studies. The article underlines the importance of problem-oriented research, notably addressing the questions who, where, when, how and why. Furthermore, it shows the way in which the personality of the researcher, as well as the fluctuations and constraints encountered during the fieldwork, influence the methodology. Finally, it emphasises the practical and theoretical challenges dealt with by the researcher due to the political aspect of the Kurdish question, which encompasses orientalist, imperial, or national interests.

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Rihab Azar

Can collaborative, transparent, and open-ended inquiries empower social activism and grassroot change? In my response to “Listening with Displacement,” I argue that it can and that it should. In an age full of unhelpful and dangerous narratives of displacement, I suggest that anthropologists are very well-positioned to take their role a step further to facilitate social understanding and cohesion as they collaboratively explore and create points of contact with and for their subjects.

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Annabel Brett, Fabian Steininger, Tobias Adler-Bartels, Juan Pablo Scarfi and Jan Surman

Searching for the Political History, Archaeology, and the History of Ideas. Elías José Palti, An Archaeology of the Political: Regimes of Power from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), xx + 235 pp.

Translation in International Relations and Ottoman-Turkish History. Einar Wigen, State of Translation: Turkey in Interlingual Relations (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018), 276 + xvii pp.

The Invention of Conservatism as a Modern Ideology. Amerigo Caruso, Nationalstaat als Telos? Der konservative Diskurs in Preußen und Sardinien-Piemont, 1840–1870 [Nation-State as Telos? Conservative discourse in Prussia and Sardinia-Piedmont, 1840–1870] Elitenwandel in der Moderne, Bd. 20 (Berlin: de Gruyter Ouldenberg, 2017), 516 pp.

Reconsidering Friendship in the Face of Anarchy in International Society: Refreshing Insights from Conceptual History. Evgeny Roshchin, Friendship among Nations: History of a Concept (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 264 pp.

On the Use of Foreign Words. Falko Schmieder and Georg Toepfer, eds., Wörter aus der Fremde: Begriffsgeschichte als Übersetzungsgeschichte [On the Use of Foreign Words: Conceptual History as History of Translation] (Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2017), 328 pp.