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Suranjana Choudhury

The Partition of 1947 is a seminal episode in the history of the Indian subcontinent. Partition is still a living reality; it continues to define the everydayness of lives in the partitioned states. Memory is an important topic in the field of Partition Studies: the act of remembering and the subject of remembrance illuminate our understanding of Partition in more ways than one. Personal memories hold special significance in this regard. This article comprises two personal memory pieces on the cascading effects of Partition in individuals’ lives. The first story is a retelling of my grandmother’s experience of displacement and her subsequent relocation in newly formed India. The story brings forth memories associated with her wedding jewelry box, which she brought with her across the border. The second story focuses on the life experiences of my domestic helper, a second generation recipient of Partition memories.

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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.

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Conditional Freedom

A Portrait of Young Men’s Sense of Belonging to the Street in Maputo, Mozambique

Andrea Moreira

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, this article explores how a group of young men construct their sense of belonging to a public space, namely, a market in the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. The young men’s occupancy of the market was a clever opportunistic move. While life in and around the market provided opportunities and resources that allowed them to “get by,” the way space was lived and experienced in everyday life by these young men made them particularly exposed to punitive systems of social control. Their experience of belonging to the street was ambiguous, as the freedom they searched for became conditional and they recurrently put themselves in a situation in which they became easy targets for police harassment and incarceration in state prisons. The article shows how these young men position themselves and negotiate their masculinities in an urban environment where they are identified as a threat to the social order.

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Constructing Pathways to Responsible Manhood

Controlling Images and Meaning Making Through the Use of Counter-narratives

Mellie Torres, Alejandro E. Carrión and Roberto Martínez

Recent studies have focused on challenging deficit narratives and discourses perpetuating the criminalization of Latino men and boys. But even with this emerging literature, mainstream counter-narratives of young Latino boys and their attitudes towards manhood and masculinity stand in stark contrast to the dangerous and animalistic portrayals of Latino boys and men in the media and society. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, the authors draw on the notion of counter-storytelling to explore how Latino boys try to reframe masculinity, manhood, and what they label as ‘responsible manhood.’ Counter-storytelling and narratives provide a platform from which to challenge the discourse, narratives, and imaginaries guiding the conceptualization of machismo. In their counter-narratives, Latino boys critiqued how they are raced, gendered, and Othered in derogatory ways.

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.