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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

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Between Science and Utopia

Physical and Astronomical Notions within French and Polish Fourierism

Piotr Kuligowski and Quentin Schwanck

This article investigates the role of physical and astronomical notions in the formation process of transnational political ideologies. It does so by focusing on the striking example of nineteenth-century early socialist movements, particularly Fourierism. Indeed, Fourier’s bold cosmogony enabled him to connect many fields of knowledge, and soon became a powerful vehicle for his ideas on the international scale. The article likewise analyses the ideological process through which Fourierist astronomical conceptions were adopted by foreign socialists, focusing on examples of Polish thinkers such as Jan Czyński and Stanisław Bratkowski who, in drawing on Fourierist ideas and usage of scientific terms, tried to embed his vocabulary in the ongoing nineteenth-century debates about Polish history and, more generally, the burning issue of the independence of the Polish state. Our comparative analysis highlights the contextual influences which contributed to re-shaping such ideas within a new absorbing context.

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Continuing Formalization of Coalition Formation with a New “Sound”

Negotiating the Coalition Contract after the 2021 Bundestag Election

Sven T. Siefken

Getting a new government together in Germany requires building a coalition. The process for doing so has evolved, becoming more institutionalized but remaining part of informal politics. Looking closely at the coalition building in 2021 shows that its organizational structure was vertically slimmer and horizontally more differentiated than in previous years. The role of parliamentary actors was more pronounced than before, and parliamentary organization was mirrored throughout it. Yet the strong inclusion of the Länder (party) perspectives prevailed, making coalition building a multi-level task. While the process in 2021 had more procedural transparency than before, its content remained largely out of public sight. At defined steps, party approval was gathered through formal votes. Whether the established account of better personal trust among the involved partners is more than a nice narrative remains to be seen in the analysis of the coalition’s governing practice.

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Huaiyu Chen

East German sinologists organized an international conference on East Asian studies in Leipzig in October 1955, bringing together scholars from most communist states and several scholars from Western Europe. This conference served to unite sinologists from both the Communist Bloc and West Germany in the early Cold War era. Since the Chinese delegation was particularly honored, this article suggests that China expanded its political influence in East Europe after the Korean War and the death of Stalin, which prompted a tension within the international communist community, especially between China and the Soviet Union. Moreover, this conference demonstrated a strong “modern turn” in the rising field of Asian studies, sinology in particular, because of the rise of the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s.

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From the Eternal Grand Coalition to the Traffic Light Alliance

The German Party System before and after the 2021 Federal Election

Frank Decker and Philipp Adorf

The first German election without Angela Merkel as a candidate in over one and a half decades would turn out to be one of the most unpredictable in the history of the Federal Republic. For most of the election year, a conservative Green alliance appeared the most likely outcome, potentially even with a Green chancellor at its head. However, the final months of campaigning showcased the volatility of the increasingly fragmented party system and the relevance that candidate selection and external events can have on political majorities. Having been stuck in third place for about three years, the spd’s well-organized campaign managed to complete a remarkable victory, allowing the Social Democrats to come in first for just the third time in close to half a century. Transcending traditional ideological divides, Olaf Scholz’s subsequent three-party “traffic light” alliance serves to perfectly reflect the changes that Germany’s party system has undergone since reunification.

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Introduction

A Zeitenwende Indeed

Eric Langenbacher

With Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the new coalition government’s resulting reorientation of German foreign and security policy—an epochal shift that jettisoned 30, even 50 years of policy the world immediately changed. The consequences and spillover effects of this paradigm shift or Zeitenwende will take years to become truly apparent and will rightfully seize the attention of academics, pundits, and policy analysts. Nevertheless, we should also not neglect other events from the recent past, namely, the most important election in the world in 2021. The September election for the German Bundestag was the most eventful, surprising, and momentous in that country for almost two decades, with an outcome that has already greatly affected Germany, Europe, and the world. It was also a novel election and outcome in several ways: it was the first election since 1953 without an incumbent chancellor running for re-election, and it resulted in the first three-party coalition government in over half a century.

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Etienne Lock

Cet article est une réfl exion sur la question identitaire telle que portée et exprimée dans l’itinéraire historique du mouvement Présence Africaine. Il met en exergue une dimension fondamentale, voire l’essence même de l’engagement de ce mouvement, jusqu’ici non explorée. Tout en faisant redécouvrir les défi s et de grands événements quiont fait la notoriété de Présence Africaine soutenue par une revue et une maison d’édition, cette réfl exion s’articule aussi autour des débats philosophiques et théologiques au sein de ce mouvement, et se déploie par ailleurs en référence aux indépendances africaines. L’opportunité d’une telle réfl exion s’explique par le fait que la question identitaire reste un enjeu important pour les sociétés contemporaines.

This article examines the issue of identity as expressed in the historical journey of the intellectual movement Présence Africaine. It highlights a fundamental dimension of the commitment of that movement not yet explored in academic research. The current study uncovers the challenges and the great events that shaped the reputation of Présence] Africaine as an African intellectual movement with a journal and a publishing house. It also deals with the identity issue through philosophical and theological debates as well as in reference to the independence era in Africa. The relevance of such a study is due to the topicality of the identity issue for contemporary societies.

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The Leftist “Imagined Community”

The Transnational Imagination of Left-Wing Subversive Organizations in Western Europe

Mikuláš Pešta

This article concerns radical leftist subversive organizations in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s and their transnational shared imagination. It shows that despite the scarcity of direct contacts, there existed a sense of belonging to the same transnational current, the “imagined community.” On selected criteria (Images – Semantics – Practice), the article provides analysis of the shared tropes in self-perception and in the communication. The patterns were shared among the Western European subversive organizations but also imported from the countries of the Global South. The article further presents the lack of eff ort of the subversive organizations to create their own mark and graphic identity, whether consciously or not, to become a part of the “global anti-imperialist front.” It puts into question the utility of the traditional categorization of subversive organizations and discusses the use of the term “terrorism” regarding its self-perception and global context.

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Pathways to the Chancellorship

The Making of Chancellor Scholz in Perspective

Ludger Helms

Olaf Scholz emerged as the Federal Republic’s ninth chancellor from a context marked by several “firsts,” including in particular the absence of an incumbent chancellor seeking re-election and a competition between three chancellor candidates. While few, if any, individual elements of Scholz’s profile were exceptional, the combination of elements was as unique as the wider political context. Echoing similar experiences from the Merkel years, the 2021 campaign and results suggest that in the German political context, advanced levels of personalization in the electoral arena are not dependent on any particular charisma of the competing lead candidates. In the end, Scholz, who managed to portray himself as a de facto incumbent seeking re-election, profited strongly from the perceived limitations and deficiencies of his contenders. A historical assessment of competitions for the chancellorship also reveals that the stakes for unsuccessful chancellor candidates have risen dramatically.

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The Quest for Gender Parity

Angela Merkel and the Diversification of Electoral Politics in Germany

Joyce Marie Mushaben

Given Angela Merkel’s long-standing reluctance to label herself a feminist, many scholars would find it hard to credit her with the increasingly “intersectional” composition of the Bundestag and the Landtage as of the 2021 elections. The last 16 years have nonetheless witnessed major shifts in German policies affecting the rights of women, persons with migration background, and lgbtqia community members. These developments have arguably contributed, directly and indirectly, to voters’ willingness to accept candidates with diverse backgrounds as capable of representing “the people’s interests” beyond the needs of their respective identity groups. This article considers multiple factors contributing to increasing diversity among German lawmakers at various levels, including policy shifts that have helped to reconfigure the political opportunity structure and thus the electoral landscape. It concludes with reflections on Merkel’s legacy, coupled with the role of generational change in “normalizing” diversity across the Berlin Republic.