In 2015, Germany entered what would later become known as the ‘refugee crisis’. The Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) trope gained political prominence and met with significant challenges. In this article, we focus on a series of encounters in Berlin, bringing together refugee newcomers, migrants, activists and anthropologists. As we thought and wrote together about shared experiences, we discovered the limitations of the normative assumptions of refugee work. One aim of this article is to destabilise terms such as refugee, refugee work, success and failure with our engagements in the aftermath of the ‘crisis’. Refugee work is not exclusively humanitarian aid directed towards the alleviation of suffering but includes being and doing together. Through productive failures and emergent lessons, the collaboration enhanced our understandings of social categories and the role of anthropology.
A Collaboration Among Refugee Newcomers, Migrants, Activists and Anthropologists in Berlin
Nasima Selim, Mustafa Abdalla, Lilas Alloulou, Mohamed Alaedden Halli, Seth M. Holmes, Maria Ibiß, Gabi Jaschke and Johanna Gonçalves Martín
Reflections on the Inaugural International Girls Studies Association Conference
Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey and Helen Warner
As we move towards the second International Girls Studies Association Conference, to be held at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, in February 2019, we reflect on the work of the scholars and practitioners who presented at our first conference in April 2016, in Norwich, UK. In this special issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal we highlight the diversity of articles presented at the conference that provided us with a sense of the breadth of research in girls studies to date.
Sustainable development – Still haven´t found what we’re looking for…
Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda
Much debate has swirled around the United Nations’ (UN) 2000–2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On one hand, the MDGs established the fight against poverty in the global political consciousness. On the other hand, they maintained a traditional statistical approach to “development” that focused on indicators more than transformation. Critics (such as Blanco Sío-López, 2015; Martens, 2015) have contended that the MDGs reinforced power imbalances and the indicators included in the political program were unattainable by many developing states since the beginning.
John Ireland and Constance Mui
There has rarely been a writer and thinker who saw his writing as more tied to his age than Jean-Paul Sartre. His notion of committed literature argued that writing and thought are anchored first and foremost in their “situation,” the period and context in which they are first produced, disseminated and discussed. One writes for one’s era, he maintained; that is when a piece of writing has its greatest impact. Almost forty years after his death, there is some irony in the fact that Sartre’s writings and thought continue to be invoked in so many different contexts far removed from their immediate cultural moment and situation. And this despite the legion of detractors on both sides of the Atlantic for whom the end of the Berlin wall and Soviet Russia sealed Sartre’s failed legacy and any possibility of his continued relevance.
How important are regional foci in a world that is defined by transfers and mobilities? This issue of Transfers features a special section that addresses this question and provides varied answers on the role regions play in the understanding of modernity, power, and practices of moving. The call for the special section, “Asia on the Move,” went out in spring 2017. Since then, questions of mobilities, migration, and transfers have not only gained increasing attention and importance, they have also been met with resistance by local groups, in politics and social development—often, in the global point of view, from quite unexpected directions, as in the case of Myanmar and Rohinga migration in 2018.
African Philosophy and Rights
Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook
A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.
Social Quality, Environmental Challenges, and Indicators
Laurent J. G. van der Maesen
The first three articles of this issue are dedicated to aspects of the current debate about and the praxis of environmental questions, and thus of the ecosystems. The fourth article concerns the application of social quality indicators in China. The gaining hypothesis is that a disconnection of the social quality approach of daily circumstances in Japan, Russia, China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or India from environmental processes results into anachronisms. Without a global consciousness of the unequal consequences of these environmental processes, people in rich countries may be tempted to positively judge the nature of the social quality of their localities or country “as such.” Unknown remains that, seen from a global perspective, macrodetermined reasons for the positive outcomes in rich countries may go at the expense of ecosystems. They may cause, also because of the exportation of substantial elements of problematic (and partly environmental) aspects of the dominant production and reproduction relationships, serious forms of exploitation. Under the same conditions (ceteris paribus), this attack on ecosystems, as well as this exportation and exploitation cause increasingly declining social quality of daily circumstances in poor countries and regions. This will also result into an increase of “climate refugees.” Because of advancing technologically driven transformations—especially regarding communications systems—the interdependencies of countries between the West and the East, as well as between the North and the South, accelerate. Autarkic situations are becoming, or have already been for a long time, a myth.
Girlhood Studies in (and with) a History
This Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal highlights a unique moment in history in two ways. First, it offers a collection of articles based on presentations made at the inaugural International Girls Studies Association (IGSA) conference hosted by the University of Norwich in April 2016. I thank the guest editors, Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey, and Helen Warner, who, in keeping alive the spirit of this amazing international event, have worked to produce a collection of articles and an interview with a filmmaker, all of which focus specifically on media as a critical axis of feminist research and activism, and the reviews editor, Marnina Gonick, for three excellent book reviews.
Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino
Just as there are many repertoires of contention, there are also many repertoires of scholarship. Much of our writing on contentious politics utilizes one specific repertoire: the empirical research article. And yet, there is a plurality of forms through which we can advance scholarly knowledge on the subject of protest. This issue was devised, in a broad sense, as a celebration of that plurality. The articles in this issue offer a smorgasbord of scholarly work, highlighting the breadth of scholarly tactics that are available to academics and practitioners in the field of contentious politics.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom offer insights into a number of features of undergraduate study – independent study projects, the development of political attitudes, the graduate attributes agenda, general education courses in global studies and the attainment gap between students with different types of entry qualifications.