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The Power of Silence

Sonic Experiences of Police Operations and Occupations in Rio de Janeiro's Favelas

Sterre Gilsing

Abstract

This article examines the sonic dimension of police operations and occupations by tracing how the everyday life changed sonically in favelas in Rio de Janeiro during their occupation by Pacifying Police Units. I tune into the silencing practices of these security policies and conclude that a moral silencing of a racialized and gendered class of people takes place. A focus on silence helps us to understand sound as a technology of power, which enables the Brazilian state to operate along a gendered sonic color line. The cases I discuss are two instances of silencing that are a product of the operations and occupations: first, the silencing of the soundscape of the favela during police operations, and second, the silencing of funk parties. These ethnographic instances elucidate how racialized processes of negation of black subjectivity and black cultural expressions take place in the Olympic city.

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Racialized Governance

The Production and Destruction of Secure Spaces in Olympic Rio de Janeiro

Margit Ystanes and Alexandre Magalhães

Abstract

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the eviction of residents from Vila Autódromo, a neighborhood that was decimated as Rio de Janeiro prepared to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Inspired by Achille Mbembe's notion of “necropolitics” and Mindy Fullilove's concept of “root shock,” we argue that forced evictions in Rio constitute a form of racialized governance. The authorities exclude favela residents from the citizenry security interventions are intended to protect and conceptualize them instead as security risks. This exclusion reflects the spatial expression of racial hierarchies in the city and produces a public security governance that in the case of Vila Autódromo terrorized residents and destroyed life conditions in their community. Racialized governance therefore exacerbates insecurity for large parts of the population.

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Sheikhs and the City

Urban Paths of Contention in Sidon, Lebanon

Are John Knudsen

Abstract

This article examines the rise and fall of the “Assir movement,” a neo-Salafist campaign led by a charismatic local sheikh who, after years of community activism, rose to prominence in the wake of the Syrian uprising (2011–present) protesting the Sunnis’ political decline and disempowerment. To understand the Assir movement's popular appeal, it is necessary to examine the pathways of contention in specific urban contexts and the extension of Salafism to secondary cities such as Sidon, where Sheikh Ahmad Assir's neo-Salafism became a political force and can be classified as a new social movement. Neo-Salafism combines populism with sectarianism, and this accounts for its widespread support after 2011, when the Syrian uprising increased Sunni-Shia tensions and shifted the locus of contentious politics from the capital, Beirut, to Sidon, a Sunni-majority city and the seat of the Assir movement. Ultimately, this led to an armed confrontation that crushed the movement, eroded its popular support, and was followed by an electoral defeat in which local elites reasserted control.

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Suburban Dissent

Defining Neighborhood Space and Place in Perth, Western Australia

Jocelyn D. Avery

Abstract

This article discusses a Western Australian community's campaign against the development of a disability justice center in their Perth neighborhood. The history of the location provides context for an examination of the campaign that draws on the mainstream and social media reporting of the protests. Taking a spatial approach to the analysis situates the disability justice center as an unwanted place within the neighborhood space as imagined, created and reproduced by the residents. The center was, in effect, socially produced by the social relations and political economy of the campaign long before it was a built reality. While politics lay at the heart of the protests, the analysis reveals groups that were marginalized by the campaign and excluded from the community. The campaign brought the community together to protest against the inclusion of anomalous others in their neighborhood, but at the expense of the potential occupants of the disability justice center, many of whom are Aboriginal people. I argue that protests can bring people together and reinforce the idea of community, but protests also reveal who is excluded—inadvertently or not—and may compromise the rights of these “others.”

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“Where Is the New Constitution?”

Public Protest and Community-Building in Post–Economic Collapse Iceland

Timothy Heffernan

Abstract

Following mass demonstrations in response to the country's 2008 economic collapse, a dynamic civil society has emerged in Iceland focused on democratic reform through rewriting the constitution. This article demonstrates how, in the absence of the new constitution that was promised by the government, protesters are pursuing an unfinished project of reform by holding small, routinized protests founded on an ethic of empathic solidarity (samkennd). By exploring the aesthetic elements of these meetings, I argue that the protest site is being used to highlight and condemn ongoing government transgression while also providing a space to prefigure a future free of political corruption. To this end, explicit signage is shown to be reshaping political discourse while also extending (and denying) kin bonds between protesters.

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Achieving the Ordinary

Everyday Peace and the Other in Bosnian Mixed-Ethnicity Families

Keziah Conrad

Abstract

In Bosnia, 20 years after a war of ethnic cleansing, mixed-ethnicity families swim against the stream of nationalist separatism that insists all Bosnians should be neatly sorted into ethnic categories. When asked about their experiences, however, mixed families in Sarajevo during fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 repeatedly insisted that they were just “ordinary,” “normal” families. In this article, I look closely at an ordinary evening in the life of one such family, examining how they achieve this atmosphere of everydayness within which ordinary kin relationships are sustained despite the volatility of differences in ethnic and religious affiliation. Using a conversation analytic approach and building on the work of ordinary ethics theorists, I argue that the sense of being an ordinary family is an accomplishment constituted through active intersubjective work.

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Abhishek Choudhary, Rhys Machold, Ricardo Cardoso, Andreas Hackl, Martha Lagace, and Carly Machado

How Rivalries End By Karen Rasler, William R. Thompson, and Sumit Ganguly. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 280 pp. 4 illus. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4498-4.

The Privatization of Israeli Security By Shir Hever. London: Pluto Press, 2018. 256 pp. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-7453-3720-3.

Working the System: A Political Ethnography of the New Angola By Jon Schubert. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017. 270 pp. 5 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-1-5017-1369-9.

Overlooking the Border: Narratives of Divided Jerusalem By Dana Hercbergs. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2018. 284 pp. 46 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-8143-4108-7.

Out of War: Violence, Trauma, and the Political Imagination in Sierra Leone By Mariane C. Ferme. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018. 336 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-52029-438-7.

Sporadically Radical: Ethnographies of Organised Violence and Militant Mobilization Edited by Steffen Jensen and Henrik E. Vigh. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 290 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-8-76354-602-7.

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The Debts of War

Bifurcated Veterans’ Mobilization and Political Order in Post-settlement El Salvador

Ralph Sprenkels

Abstract

This article examines mobilization by civil war veterans of the insurgency and the government army. These veterans became a major political force in postwar El Salvador. I demonstrate that the ascendency of the war veterans hinged on the combination of two types of mobilization: “internal” mobilization for partisan leverage, and public mobilization to place claims on the state. By this bifurcated mobilization, veterans from both sides of the war pursued clientelist benefits and postwar political influence. Salvadoran veterans’ struggles for recognition revolve around attempts to transform what the veterans perceive as the “debts of war” into postwar political order. The case of El Salvador highlights the versatility and resilience of veterans’ struggles in post-settlement contexts in which contention shifted from military confrontation to electoral competition.

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Departheid

The Draconian Governance of Illegalized Migrants in Western States

Barak Kalir

Abstract

This article proposes the term Departheid to capture the systemic oppression and spatial management of illegalized migrants in Western liberal states. As a concept, Departheid aims to move beyond the instrumentality of illegalizing migration in order to comprehend the tenacity with which oppressive measures are implemented even in the face of accumulating evidence for their futility in managing migration flows and the harm they cause to millions of people. The article highlights continuities between present oppressive migration regimes and past colonial configurations for controlling the mobility of what Hannah Arendt has called “subject races.” By drawing on similarities with Apartheid as a governing ideology based on racialization, segregation, and deportation, I argue that Departheid, too, is animated by a sense of moral superiority that is rooted in a fantasy of White supremacy.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

The Making of War Veterans in Postindependence Mozambique

Nikkie Wiegink

Abstract

This article traces the emergence of three categories of war veterans in postindependence Mozambique: former fighters of the liberation war against the Portuguese colonial administration, the former soldiers of the Mozambican Armed Forces, and former Renamo combatants who both fought in the postindependence war. The article follows the emergence, negotiation, contestation, and transformations of these categories through memory politics, bureaucratic practices of inclusion and exclusion, and veterans’ collective political practices “from below.” By showing how some war veterans are come to be regarded as “worthy” of privileged state resources and others as enemies of the state, while again others are in an in-between position, the article shows how war veterans come to occupy specific citizenship positions and that these positions are contingent and changeable over time.