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Max Stille

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.

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Configurations of Plague

Spatial Diagrams in Early Epidemiology

Lukas Engelmann

Diagrams are found at the heart of the modern history of epidemiology. Epidemiologists used spatial diagrams to visualize concepts of epidemics as arrangements of biological, environmental, historical, as well as social factors and to analyze epidemics as configurations. Often, they provided a representation of the networks of relationships implied by epidemics, rather than to offer conclusions about origin and causation. This article will look at two spatial diagrams of plague across a period in which an epidemiological way of reasoning stood in stark contrast to arguments provided about plague in the rising field of bacteriology and experimental medicine. This historical genealogy of epidemiologists working with diagrams challenges perceptions of epidemic diagrams as mere arguments of causality to emphasize diagrammatic notions of uncertainty, crisis, and invisibility.

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Angélica Rodríguez Rodríguez and Carlos Enrique Guzmán Mendoza

Full article is in Spanish.

English abstract: This article analyses how, during the period from 2013 to 2017, popular consultation was used by nine Colombian municipalities to slow mining and hydrocarbon exploitation due to their harmful socio-environmental impact. In order to do so, we review the concept of sustainable development in relation with the legal mechanisms employed to its promotion and defense. We present the developments of the extractive sector in Colombia and discuss the nine popular consultations promoted by the municipal authorities. We conclude that despite the suitability of popular consultation, it has proved to be ineffective to stop the extractive projects that generate harmful effects on the communities where they are developed.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo analiza cómo, durante el periodo 2013–2017, la consulta popular fue utilizada por nueve municipios colombianos para frenar la explotación minera y de hidrocarburos dado su dañino impacto socioambiental. Para ello, revisamos el concepto de desarrollo sostenible en relación con los mecanismos legales empleados para su promoción y defensa. Presentamos los desarrollos del sector extractivo en Colombia y discutimos las nueve consultas populares adelantadas por los entes municipales. Concluimos que, a pesar de su idoneidad, la consulta popular ha resultado poco efectiva para detener los proyectos extractivos que generan efectos nocivos sobre las comunidades donde se desarrollan.

French abstract: Cet article analyse comment, au cours de la période 2013-2017, une consultation populaire a été menée dans neuf municipalités colombiennes sur l’exploitation minière et des hydrocarbures, en lien avec leur impact socio-environnemental. Pour ce faire, nous procédons d’abord à une révision du concept de développement durable par rapport aux mécanismes juridiques utilisés pour sa promotion et sa défense. Nous présentons ensuite les développements du secteur extractif en Colombie et analysons les neuf consultations menées par les autorités municipales. Finalement, nous concluons que, malgré son utilité, la consultation populaire s’est révélée inefficace pour mettre un terme aux projets d’extraction là où ils ont eu des effets néfastes sur les communautés.

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Contemporary "Structures" of Racism

A Sartrean Contribution to Resisting Racial Injustice

Justin I. Fugo

This paper develops an account of racism as rooted in social structural processes. Using Sartre, I attempt to give a general analysis of what I refer to as the “structures” of our social world, namely the practico-inert, serial collectives, and social groups. I then apply this analysis to expose and elucidate “racist structures,” specifically those that are oftentimes assumed to be ‘race neutral’. By highlighting structures of racial oppression and domination, I aim to justify: 1) the imperative of creating conditions free from oppression and domination, over the adherence to ‘ideal’ principles which perpetuate racial injustice; 2) the shared responsibility we have collectively to resist and transform social structural processes that continue to produce racial injustice.

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Aliza Luft

Recent years have witnessed a turn in the field of contentious politics toward the study of political violence, yet scholars have yet to focus their lens on genocide. Moreover, research on genocide is characterized by fundamental disagreements about its definition, origins, and dynamics, leading to a lack of generalizable theory. As a remedy, this article suggests that research on genocide can be improved by incorporating concepts from social movements. After reviewing the history of research on social movements and genocide, I analyze civilian participation in the Rwandan genocide as an example of how social movement theory helps explain civilian mobilization for genocide. Finally, I propose that a contentious politics approach to genocide would consider it one among many forms of contentious collective action, analyzable within the existing framework of social movement theory.

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Claudia Mitchell

The concerns addressed by the authors in this issue point to the need for a reimagining of girlhood as it is currently framed by settler and carceral states. To quote the guest editors, Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney, and Lena Palacios, “The very notions of girl and girlhood are embedded in a colonial privileging of white, cis-heteropatriarchal, ableist constructs of femininity bolstered by Euro-Western theories of normative child development that were—and still are—violently imposed on othered, non-white girls, queer, and gender-nonconforming bodies.” Indigenous-led initiatives in Canada, such as the Networks for Change: Girl-led ‘from the Ground up’ Policy-making to Address Sexual Violence in Canada and South Africa project, highlighted in four of the eight articles in this issue, along with the insights and recommendations offered in the articles that deal with the various positionalities and contexts of Latinx and Black girls, can be described as creating a new trail. In using the term trail, here, I am guided by the voices of the Indigenous researchers, activists, elders, and community scholars who participated in the conference called More Than Words in Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence: A Dialogue on the Impact of Indigenous-focused, Youthled Engagement Through the Arts on Families and Communities held in Montreal. Their use of the term trail suggests a new order, one that is balanced between the ancestors and spiritual teachings on the one hand, and contemporary spaces that need to be decolonized on the other with this initiative being guided by intergenerationality and a constant interrogation of language. The guest editors of this special issue and all the contributors have gone a long way on this newly named trail.

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Giuseppe Ballacci

In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt’s views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann’s banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation.

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Democracy Needs Rebellion

A Democratic Theory Inspired by Albert Camus

Markus Pausch

Democracy has come under pressure in many countries in recent years. Authoritarian tendencies, populism and the cult of leadership threaten pluralistic societies in Europe and other parts of the world. But democracy is more than just a method of finding a majority; it is inextricably linked to the fight against oppression and injustice in all contexts of life. Especially in times of democratic crisis, it is necessary to focus on its core aspects. The political thinking of French philosopher and writer Albert Camus, who died in 1960, offers the basis for a redefinition of democracy that is linked to and dependent on rebellion. From his reflections, a radical theory of democracy can be derived that is based on the absurdity of the world, its incompleteness, revolt and resistance to authoritarianism, on doubt, dialogue and foreignness.

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Christian Ewert and Marion Repetti

What is democratic theory? In this article we treat it as a semiotic code – that is to say, a shared assumption – and argue that democratic theory enables people to think and talk about the idea(s) of democracy. Furthermore, the application of this specific code is highly political. For one, it is embedded in concrete contexts and discourses and used in arguments and narratives. In addition, the application of democratic theory has also substantial consequences on the lives of people. We illustrate this argument by reflecting briefly on Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and its recodification and consequences in different contexts.

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Ali Aslam, David McIvor and Joel Alden Schlosser

Urgent alarms now warn of the erosion of democratic norms and the decline of democratic institutions. These antidemocratic trends have prompted some democratic theorists to reject the seeming inevitability of democratic forms of government and instead to consider democracy as a fugitive phenomenon. Fugitive democracy, as we argue below, is a theory composed of two parts. First, it includes a robust, normative ideal of democracy and, second, a clear-eyed vision of the historical defeats and generic difficulties attendant to that ideal. This article considers how democratic theorists might respond to the challenges posed by fugitive democracy and the implications of such an understanding for future research in democratic theory.