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Liberation Autochthony

Namibian Veteran Politics and African Citizenship Claims

Lalli Metsola

Abstract

This article examines Namibian ex-combatant and veteran politics in the context of African claims and struggles over citizenship. Namibian veteran politics has unfolded as long-term negotiation between claimants and political authorities over recognition, realization of citizenship, and legitimacy. This process has operated through repeated claims and responses, material techniques such as employment and compensation, and changing delimitations of the categories of ex-combatant and veteran. Compared with citizenship struggles elsewhere in Africa, particularly the much-discussed surge of autochthony and ethnonationalism, this article discusses how the institutional environment and the particular histories of those involved have influenced modes of claim-making and logics of inclusion and exclusion. It finds that the citizenship politics of Namibian veterans are not based on explicit “cultural” markers of difference but still do construct significant differentiation through a scale of patriotism based on precedence in “liberation.”

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Processes of Territorialization in Mexico

Indigenous Government, Violence, and Comunalidad

Philipp Wolfesberger

Abstract

Current violence and insecurity have transformed many aspects of social life in Mexico. In this article, I will analyze how the different configurations of indigenous autonomous government in Cherán and Tlahuitoltepec are viable forms of social organization for providing local security through their relationship with communal territory. In the initial theoretic discussion, I define territorialization as a dynamic process that includes multiple actors, involves a collaborative claim over land and is grounded in violence. In the empiric part, I focus on the processes of territorialization that encompass the relation of indigenous autonomous government, violence, and comunalidad. The (violent) conflicts over hegemonic projects are compound in this study by the autonomous indigenous government and their linkages with the state apparatus of representative democracy.

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Seeking Recognition, Becoming Citizens

Achievements and Grievances among Former Combatants from Three Wars

Johanna Söderström

Abstract

How do former combatants understand and make themselves into a citizen category? Through exploring the life narratives of former combatants from three different wars (Namibia, Colombia, and United States–Vietnam), this article locates similarities in the claims for recognition. The achievements or the grievances associated with the war and their homecoming made them deserving of special recognition from the state, the country, or other veterans. These claims situate these veterans in a political landscape, where they are called upon to mend and affirm the relation with the state, achieve recognition from society, and defend their fellows, which inform their citizenship practices, as it shaped their political mobilization and perceived political status. Through seeking recognition, they affirm their role as citizens.

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To Be or Not to Be a Hero

Recognition and Citizenship among Disabled Veterans of the Sri Lankan Army

Matti Weisdorf and Birgitte Refslund Sørensen

Abstract

Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in and around a so-called War Hero Village (Ranavirugama) in northwestern Sri Lanka, this article traces the social (un)becomings of Sri Lankan Army veterans injured during the civil war with the Tamil liberation front. It argues that such veterans have long been able to draw on a materially rewarding narrative of sacrifice and carnal capital—epitomized in the honorific ranaviru (war hero)—in order to produce a particular kind of veteran citizenship, let alone subjectivity, and thus to pursue socially meaningful post-injury existences. In the eyes of the veterans themselves, however, this celebratory narrative is eroding and a “collective narrative” characterized by a kind of social forgetting of the injured veteran is emerging. Material benefits notwithstanding, this narrative contestation entails a “struggle for recognition” that threatens to leave them not only disabled but also with no one to be, or become.

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Unbecoming Veteranship

Convicted Military Officers in Post-authoritarian Argentina

Eva van Roekel and Valentina Salvi

Abstract

In post-authoritarian Argentina, veterans who participated in the brutal counterinsurgency of the last dictatorship (1976–1983) inhabit an extremely inconsistent citizenship, alternatively violating and respecting legal rights and entitlements. This article looks at how alternating transitional justice practices and the ever-changing moral discourses about warfare and accountability create highly unstable access to rights, resources, and entitlements for these veterans in Argentina. The recent shift toward retribution for crimes against humanity in Argentina has legally consolidated their moral downfall. From being untouchable and exemplary officers until the early 1980s, the now convicted military officers have been demoted twice by the state and the military institution. Based on long-term fieldwork with the convicted officers and their kin, this article traces the contingent relation between the moral and legal practices that underlie this double downfall that constitutes a fluctuating process of un/becoming veteranship for these veterans. Their veteranship, for that matter, depends on highly conflictive and transformative sociopolitical processes that speak to broader moral dispositions surrounding legal rights, entitlements, and worthiness for veterans.

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Unintended Securitization

Military, Medical, and Political-Security Discourses in the Humanitarian Treatment of Syrian Casualties in Israel

Hedva Eyal and Limor Samimian-Darash

Abstract

In this article, we examine statements by state officials and individuals from the military and the medical establishment regarding the provision of medical aid by Israel to casualties from the Syrian Civil War. We argue discussions of this project have been characterized by three different discourses, each dominant at different times, which we classify as military, medical, and political-security. We propose “unintended securitization” to describe how the project moved from the military into the medical-civilian and then into the political sphere, and came to be seen as advancing the security interests of the Israeli state. We argue the relationship between humanitarianism and securitization seen here challenges the view that humanitarian apparatuses are often subordinated to military rationales by showing how securitization here emerged from the demilitarization of what was initially a military project.

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Kim Knibbe, Brenda Bartelink, Jelle Wiering, Karin B. Neutel, Marian Burchardt, and Joan Wallach Scott

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Assessing and Adapting Rituals That Reproduce a Collectivity

The Large-Scale Rituals of the Repkong Tantrists in Tibet

Nicolas Sihlé

ABSTRACT

Tantrists, non-monastic religious specialists of Tibetan Buddhism, constitute a diffuse, non-centralized form of clergy. In an area like Repkong, where they present a high demographic density, large-scale supra-local annual ritual gatherings of tantrists are virtually synonymous with, and crucial for, their collective existence. In the largest of these rituals, the ‘elders’ meeting’ is in effect an institutionalized procedure for evaluating the ritual performance, its conditions and effects, and, if necessary, for adjusting aspects of the ritual. At a recent meeting, the ‘elders’ decided to abandon a powerful and valued but violent and problematical component of the ritual, due to its potential detrimental effects on the fabric of social relations on which the ritual depends for its continued existence. Thus, a highly scripted, ‘liturgy-centered’ ritual (per Atkinson) can be adapted to the social context. The specialists of these textual rituals demonstrate collectively an expertise that extends into the sociological dynamics surrounding the ritual.

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Assessing Ritual Experience in Contemporary Spiritualities

The Practice of ‘sharing’ in a New Age Variant of Umbanda

Viola Teisenhoffer

ABSTRACT

Seeking to attain balance and well-being through what practitioners call ‘spiritual development’, the ritual practice in Paris of Umbanda—an Afro-Brazilian religion—is emblematic of the orientation that characterizes contemporary spirituality. In this context, regular public mediumistic rituals are aimed at transforming participants into beings open to the teachings of ‘spiritual entities’, which they embody for their own and others’ benefit. In this process, specialists and participants are explicitly and systematically invited to ‘take stock’ or ’share’, that is, to revisit the rituals they perform. This article argues that ‘sharing’, which may also be found in other forms of contemporary spirituality, is not only an exegetical exercise that participants must regularly submit to in order to assess how these rituals affect them. It may also be understood as a ritual device that the efficacy and reproduction of such practices depend upon.

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Jack Hunter, Annelin Eriksen, Jon Mitchell, Mattijs van de Port, Magnus Course, Nicolás Panotto, Ruth Barcan, David M. R. Orr, Girish Daswani, Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Sofía Ugarte, Ryan J. Cook, Bettina E. Schmidt, and Mylene Mizrahi