Iranian Shi’i believers claim that capturing sorrow and lamentation in their fullest sense falls beyond language and reason. They constantly refer to their inability to articulate in order to explain martyrdom and highlight a form of unsaid that explains all that appears impalpable for them. I undertake a journey among Iranian Shi’i youth to trace the unarticulated and the sense of wonder generated via religious experiences. By way of an ethnography of Muharram lamentation ceremonies, this article highlights how the unarticulated and the un said are socially and politically used in service of Shi’i militancy. I explore those uncharted terrains in the darkness of the Lacanian Real and in terms of how the Real is authenticated in order to address how realities are craft ed and religious subjectivities are enacted in the realm of militancy.
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Ethnography of Muharram laments among Shi’i volunteer militants in the Middle East
Hospitality and the Categorical Imperative of LGBTQ Asylum Seeking in Lebanon and Turkey
This article argues that Northern responses to, and recognition of, LGBTQ refugees bind queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey, which support such refugees, in a state of contradiction. This contradiction is defined both by the failure of Northern LGBTQ rights discourses to account for Southern ways of being queer, but also by the categorical imperative of hospitality, which asks that the “right” refugee appears in line with the moral, political, raced, and gendered assumptions of Northern host states. In recognizing this imperative, this article observes how queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey navigate this contradiction by simultaneously “coaching” their beneficiaries on how to appear “credible” in line with Northern assumptions about sexual difference, while working to accommodate the alterity of those they support.
Alienation in Kerala’s tea belt
The recent crisis in the tea industry has devastated the livelihood of the Dalit workforce in the South Indian state of Kerala. Retired workers were worst affected, since the plantation companies—under the disguise of the crisis—deferred their service payout. This article seeks to understand the severe alienation of the retirees as they struggle to regain lost respect, kinship network, and everyday sociality in the plantations and beyond. I argue that the alienation produced through their dispossession as wage laborers and the discrimination as Tamil-speaking Dalit must be understood as an interrelated process, whereas the source of alienation cannot be reduced to production or categorical relations alone.
Edith Kauffer and Carmen Maganda
This note presents an account of transboundary basins on a global and regional scale throughout history. The authors introduce the special section on transboundary basins, presenting their constant increase and profound complexity. Regions & Cohesion has shown a permanent interest in this subject, from its first publications and, in particular, with the 2014 special issue that addressed different theoretical, methodological, and case studies in different continents. The three readings that make up this section address contemporary water border contexts and Mexico–U.S. policy where multi- and transdisciplinary challenges continue.
Taking Stock and Looking Ahead - Selen A. Ercan with André Bächtiger
Selen A. Ercan and André Bächtiger
Deliberative democracy is a growing branch of democratic theory. It suggests understanding and assessing democracy in terms of the quality of communication among citizens, politicians, as well as between citizens and politicians. In this interview, drawing on his extensive research on deliberative practice within and beyond parliaments, André Bächtiger reflects on the development of the field over the last two decades, the relationship between normative theory and empirical research, and the prospects for practicing deliberation in populist times.
Amidst a global turn towards authoritarianism and populism, there are few contemporary examples of state-led democratization. This article discusses how Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (FA) party has drawn on a unique national democratic cultural heritage to encourage a coupling of participatory and representative institutions in “a politics of closeness.” The FA has reinvigorated Batllismo, a discourse associated with social justice, civic republicanism, and the rise of Uruguayan social democracy in the early twentieth century. At the same time, the FA’s emphasis on egalitarian participation is inspired by the thought of Uruguay’s independence hero José Artigas. I argue that the cross-weave of party and movement, and of democratic citizenship and national heritage, encourages the emergence of new figures of the citizen and new permutations for connecting citizens with representative institutions. The FA’s “politics of closeness” is an example of how state-driven democratization remains possible in an age described by some as “post-democratic.”
The Draconian Governance of Illegalized Migrants in Western States
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.
PETER DE BOLLA, EWAN JONES, PAUL NULTY, GABRIEL RECCHIA and JOHN REGAN
This article proposes a novel computational method for discerning the structure and history of concepts. Based on the analysis of co-occurrence data in large data sets, the method creates a measure of “binding” that enables the construction of verbal constellations that comprise the larger units, “concepts,” that change over time. In contrast to investigation into semantic networks, our method seeks to uncover structures of conceptual operation that are not simply semantic. These larger units of lexical operation that are visualized as interconnected networks may have underlying rules of formation and operation that have as yet unexamined—perhaps tangential—connection to meaning as such. The article is thus exploratory and intended to open the history of concepts to some new avenues of investigation.
Barr’s Irn-Bru (previously Iron Brew), Scotland’s best-known soft drink, was promoted by recurrent comic strip advertisements in Scottish newspapers from 1939 to 1970. ‘The Adventures of Ba-Bru’ featured an eponymous Indian character who was joined by a kilt-wearing companion known as Sandy. This article explores how what the firm presents as the longest-running promotional comic strip in history has helped shape the construction of Scottishness in the drink’s advertising. The exotic nature of the central Ba-Bru figure provides a counterpoint to manifestations of local particularism but also grounds the drink’s discourse on Scottishness in a wider imperial and unionist context. The comic strips also generate examples of intermedial transfer that underline the impact of quotidian consumption habits in a national identity shaped by popular culture.
Jean-Paul Gagnon and Selen A. Ercan
Democratic Theory’s eleventh issue (6, July 2019) features four new research articles as well as an interview, a critical commentary, a practitioner’s note and a book review. It begins with Stephanie Erev’s article, which explains neoliberalism’s assaults on democracy and nature. Working through Hayek, Erev suggests that opposing neoliberal extractivist culture from both the democratic and ecological standpoints “may offer the greatest promise for creative and collaborative struggles toward new worlds and new ways of life” today.