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Chalk Back

The Girl and Youth-Led Street Art Movement to #StopStreetHarassment

Natasha Harris-Harb and Sophie Sandberg

The Chalk Back movement that started in March 2016 is a rapidly growing collective of over 150 young activists from around the world. As part of a university class project, Sophie decided to collect experiences of street harassment, write them out verbatim with chalk on the streets where they occurred alongside the hashtag #stopstreetharassment, and post them on the Instagram account @catcallsofnyc. Two years later, the account gained popularity. Other catcallsof accounts opened in London, Amsterdam, Ottawa, Dhaka, Nairobi, Cairo, and Sydney. These accounts, discussed below, are just a few of those spanning 150 cities in 49 countries in 6 continents. We are two Chalk Back members—Natasha from Ottawa and Sophie from New York City—highlighting the risk, empowerment, and power dynamics of what we call chalking back by amplifying the voices of those doing this work around the world.

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Alexander Weiss

This article sketches a theoretical framework and research agenda for what is labeled as “Comparative Democratic Theory.” It is introduced as an approach to democratic theory which is informed by conceptual and methodological debates from “Comparative Political Theory” (CPT) as well as from insights from a global history of democratic thought. The inclusion of CPT perspectives into democratic theory is motivated by what is diagnosed as a conceptual blindness in Western democratic theory. When following this approach, however, the two extremes of unjustified universalism and normatively problematic relativism both must be avoided. To do so, a mode of sound abstraction is proposed, using the term “constellation,” and a discussion of aims and benefits of Comparative Democratic Theory is presented.

Open access

Heidi Hakkarainen

This article explores the ways the emerging concept of humanism was circulated and defined in early nineteenth-century German-language press. By analyzing a digitized corpus of German-language newspapers and periodicals published between 1808 and 1850, this article looks into the ways the concept of humanism was employed in book reviews, news, political reports, and feuilleton texts. Newspapers and periodicals had a significant role in transmitting the concept of humanism from educational debates into general political language in the 1840s. Furthermore, in an era of growing social problems and political unrest, humanism became increasingly associated with moral sentiments. Accordingly, this article suggests that its new political meanings and emotional underpinnings made humanism culturally contagious, particularly immediately before and during the 1848/49 revolutions.

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Contesting the Social Contract

Tax Reform and Economic Governance in Istria, Croatia

Robin Smith

This article investigates how Istrian business owners challenged the Croatian government’s motivation for and enforcement of fiskalizacija, an automated VAT reform adopted in 2013 as Croatia prepared for EU membership. Fiskalizacija threatened local economic agency and sowed distrust in government. The analysis of this tax reform demonstrates how Istrians envisage their economic agency, rights, and responsibilities. I argue that it is not just the construction of fiscal systems, but how such a system is projected onto society that is fundamental to the development of state-society relations. The way in which a tax reform is put into effect, including the enforcement practices of state agents, shapes how citizens perceive the social contract to be constituted by fiscal regimes.

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Coronavirus with “Nobody in Charge”

An open reflection on leadership, solidarity, and contemporary regional integration

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The Editors’ Note is a space for us to introduce important themes addressed by the articles in each issue of Regions & Cohesion. We will, of course, complete this task. However, before doing so, we take this opportunity to write about our world during the present coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, this crisis has forced most nation-states to close their borders as a necessary public health measure. Travel restrictions are regrettable but comprehensible.

Open access

Decolonial Approaches to Refugee Migration

Nof Nasser-Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab in Conversation

Nof Nasser-Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab

In this conversation, Nof Nasser Eddin and Nour Abu-Assab—the founders and directors of the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration (CTDC)—discuss the importance of decolonial approaches to studying refugee migration. In so doing, they draw on their research, consultancy, and advocacy work at CTDC, a London-based intersectional multidisciplinary Feminist Consultancy that focuses in particular on dynamics in Arabic-speaking countries and that has a goal to build communities and movements, through an approach that is both academic and grassroots-centred. CTDC attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice through its innovative-ly transformative programmes, which include mentorship, educational programmes, trainings, and research.

Nof and Nour’s conversation took place in November 2019 and was structured by questions sent to them in advance by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. What follows is a transcript of the conversation edited by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Mette L. Berg.

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

This paper seeks to address the problem of strangeness within the context of migration in Africa. I draw on historical realities that inform existing international and African discourses on migration. I hope to show that most African countries have unconsciously bought into international arguments that drive the legitimacy of building walls, visible and invisible, and the promotion of stringent migration policies that minimise the influx of African immigrants. I draw on political and philosophical positions of African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, among others, in my theorisation of strangeness and the need to dispel the potential negative conception of strangeness within Africa’s migration policies. I juxtapose these positions with Western political theories with the hope of emphasizing African humanism as a key conception worth considering when decolonising borders.

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Federica Tarabusi

Despite considerable analysis of development policies in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, local–internationals encounters have received less attention. In an attempt to fill this gap, this article traces the discursive processes through which development professionals frame their narratives about Bosnian society, and in turn, how its inhabitants experience the internationals staying in the country. Applying Maria Todorova’s framework, I show how Western “expatriates” tend to incorporate the Balkans’ liminality into their social constructs to depoliticize development practices. On the other hand, I approach emic understandings of Europeanness and Balkanism as a situationally embedded and contested process that comes into play to (re)draw social and moral boundaries in Bosnian society. I conclude by considering local–international encounters as a privileged site for exploring the postsocialist state but also new political subjectivities in contemporary Bosnia.

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Dirty Work, Dangerous Others

The Politics of Outsourced Immigration Enforcement in Mexico

Wendy Vogt

While Mexico has been openly critical of US immigration enforcement policies, it has also served as a strategic partner in US efforts to externalize its immigration enforcement strategy. In 2016, Mexico returned twice as many Central Americans as did the United States, calling many to criticize Mexico for doing the United States’ “dirty work.” Based on ethnographic research and discourse analysis, this article unpacks and complicates the idea that Mexico is simply doing the “dirty work” of the United States. It examines how, through the construction of “dirty others”—as vectors of disease, criminals, smugglers, and workers—Central Americans come to embody “matter out of place,” thus threatening order, security, and the nation itself. Dirt and dirtiness, in both symbolic and material forms, emerge as crucial organizing factors in the politics of Central American transit migration, providing an important case study in the dynamics between transit and destination states.

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Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Mette Louise Berg and Johanna Waters

Since the “birth” of our journal, we have been committed to publishing work that situates migration in a wider historical and societal context, which has included paying attention to critical theoretical perspectives on migration, and particularly encouraging scholarship from and about the global South. This commitment is also related to the increasingly mainstream acknowledgment that Anglophone academic studies of and policy responses to migration and displacement continue to have a strong Northern or Eurocentric bias. In effect, while scholars and journals focused on “migration” and the cognate fields of “ethnic and racial studies” have often prioritized studies of South-North migration (i.e., from “underdeveloped” or “developing” countries “to” North America, Europe, and Australia), much less attention has been paid to migration within and across the countries of the so-called global South (i.e., South-South migration). In turn, scholars and policy makers alike have often positioned particular directionalities and modalities of migration, and specified groups of migrants as “problems to be solved,” including through processes that are deeply gendered, classed, and racialized.