People, plants, and animals travel; so do theories, ideas, and concepts. Concepts migrate across disciplines—from the sciences to the humanities and back—oft en repurposed to theorize new objects in new contexts. Many terms span species and disciplines, from human contexts in ethnic studies, post/colonial studies to scientific/biological terminology: native, alien, local, foreign, colonizer, colonized, naturalized, pioneer, refugee, founder, resident. In this article, I explore concepts around mobility and “migration” and how the values and political contexts accompanying these concepts circulate across geopolitical and scientific terrains. In extending theories of migration to examining the history of science, I explore the migrations and diasporic lives of concepts.
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The Diasporic Lives of Concepts
Changing the Relationship between Philanthropy and Democracy?
Joshua Murchie and Jean-Paul Gagnon
This Practitioner’s Note considers the disruptive function of Little Phil, a mobile app that seeks to democratize philanthropic giving. Although many of the cultural aspects of philanthropy – such as increased control over donation, tracking the impact of one’s giving, and building interpersonal relationships with receivers – can be opened to any person with an app-hosting device and internet access, it cannot supplant the role of big philanthropy and solve Rob Reich’s problem: how to domesticate private wealth so that it serves democratic purposes? Little Phil’s disruption has in concept gotten us halfway to legitimizing philanthropy. Perhaps the uptake of citizens’ panels by large philanthropic foundations will cover the remaining distance.
The Mexican portion of the Colorado River
Alfonso Andrés Cortez-Lara, José Luís Castro-Ruíz and Vicente Sánchez-Munguía
This study examines the social and institutional factors that determine whether local actors in the region take local and binational actions to manage scarce and highly contested water resources, focusing in the Mexican portion of the Colorado River. Based on the common pool resources and institutional approaches, the research project analyzes qualitative data from individual interviews with local key informants as well as official documents. The results reveal: (1) the variety of institutional behaviors, actions, and strategies implemented at the local and binational level; and (2) how complementary perspectives contribute to sustainable water management. The findings of the study contribute to the common pool resources literature by showing the importance of the actors’ collaboration to address water scarcity in a context of rapidly changing conditions.
Ghanaian Migrant Business and Power in Veneto, Italy
This article discusses the challenge of returning home after years abroad from the perspective of Ghanaian labor migrants in northern Italy. It seeks to explore how Ghanaian migrants aft er years of hard work still find themselves fundamentally estranged from Italy and constantly must navigate day-to-day experiences of bigotry and discrimination in the workplace. Yet the migrants realize that returning home to Ghana is not as straightforward as they might have imagined when they set out, and how to protect advances upon returning to a home country that has changed rapidly during their years in Italy is a recurring subject of concern. Based on ethnographic vignettes, the article will explore West African migrants’ everyday struggles in Italy’s segregated and crisis-hit labor market.
Lacan and the Satirists
This article investigates the applicability of certain aspects of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the study of visual satire and/or caricature. Lacan’s treatment of the phenomenon of visual anamorphosis can provide a fruitful new way of thinking about the art of caricature. The visual exaggerations and distortions central to the art of caricature function as they do, as works of social or political satire, by virtue of the extent to which they expose the psychological emptiness or hollowness (castration) which inheres in all human social or symbolic activity. This argument is then applied to the political circumstances prevailing in late Georgian England: in particular, the visual satirical treatment devoted to the nature and status of the monarchy during this period is examined in the light of foregoing arguments.
Trapped Mobilities and Adventure in Morocco
This article examines how “irregular” migrants from West and Central Africa make sense of their trapped mobility in Morocco: for many, crossing into Europe has become almost impossible, returning to home countries “empty-handed” a shameful option, and staying very difficult in the face of repeated infringement of their rights. I explore the limits of contemporary depictions of a “migration crisis” that portray migrants south of the Mediterranean Sea as simply en route to Europe and fail to engage with (post)colonial entanglements. The article recalibrates the examinationof migrants’ lived experiences of stasis and mobility by exploring the emic notion of “adventure” among migrants “looking for their lives.” A focus on how migrants articulate their own (im)mobility further exposes and defies the pitfalls of abstract concepts such as “transit migration,” which is misleading in its implication of a fixed destination.
The article aims to add a ludic perspective to those generally used for studying environmental issues in social sciences. To introduce in the debate a play/game metaphor enriches the interpretations of environmental crisis and provides a further motivation to action. The ludic perspective has a sociorelational background. That tradition of studies helps in constructing a set of categories that are then applied to environmental education (EE). The choice of such a topic is motivated by two factors: EE is an aspect generally practiced but mistreated in the main theorizations, and EE is exemplary of the potentialities of the playing games metaphor, which are the desire to create, the acceptance of slow changes, the protection of an experimental bubble, and irony toward environmental issues.
Rivka Feldhay and Gal Hertz
In this article, we offer a broad view of “knowledge in motion” based on our collaborative work and experience at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University. We first present our reflections through a short case study concerned with the perception of sunspots through the telescope and their alternative conceptualizations by agents with different research agendas. We then present our theoretical reflections on “migrating knowledge” and summarize a few research projects done in our center that may throw further light on our socio-epistemic framework. Finally, we articulate some of our suggestions for mobility studies in order to engage them with the kind of questions we have been concerned with for quite some time now.
Withheld Stories and the Limits of Ethnographic Knowability
How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called “migration as survival” by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living through a life-threatening event and as living on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim “Other.” By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.
A 1945 Primer from Socialist Macedonia
This article examines the textual and visual content of the first postwar primer in socialist Yugoslav Macedonia in order to understand the messages that it contains relating to techniques of militarization. After outlining the historical context in which this primer was developed, with reference to teachers’ memories and archival sources, the article analyzes the role of teaching materials in connection with the experience of the Second World War and the politics of the new communist state. This content analysis identifies six militaristic messages and values communicated to the pupils, who are addressed as future soldiers.