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The politics of affect

Perspectives on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism in the West

Sindre Bangstad, Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Heiko Henkel

This article is based on the transcript of a roundtable on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism held at the AAA Annual Meeting in 2017. The contributors explore this rise in the context of the role of affect in politics, rising socio-economic inequalities, racism and neoliberalism, and with reference to their own ethnographic research on these phenomena in Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the UK and Hungary.

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Thijs Schut

Development discourses often assume linear rural transitions, in which educated young people are supposed to leave their rural communities, becoming urban. However, drawing on fieldwork in Flores (East Indonesia), I argue that tertiary educated young people do return to their natal communities upon graduation. There, they want to act—by virtue of their education—as vanguards of positive change and alter what they consider backward, rural livelihoods and practices. Yet, educated young people often depend on these livelihoods and practices, too, especially when they cannot obtain work, which is common in rural Flores. To better understand the tensions inherent to these young people’s position within their rural communities, I map the reasons for their returns to rural Flores.

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Queering Lucrezia’s Virtú

A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Radical Machiavelli

Andrés Fabián Henao Castro

This article argues for a feminist reinterpretation of the ‘radical Machiavelli’ tradition which pushes Machiavelli’s performative theory of power towards emancipation. I base my argument on a rereading of Niccolò Machiavelli’s Mandragola, whose historical use of the mandrake legend, I claim, symptomatizes historically gendered forms of labour expropriation characteristic of early modern capitalism. Against the background of that historical contextualisation, I then argue against James Martel’s interpretation of Machiavelli’s theory of open secrets, as one that remains unable to extend to Lucrezia the democratic insights that he identifies in Callimaco and Ligurio’s textual conspiracies. Dialectically relocating the political heroism of this play in Lucrezia’s performance, I conclude, Machiavelli’s comedy becomes nevertheless useful for a subaltern theory of democratic action.

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Recovered enterprises from the South to the North

Reclaiming labor, conflict, and mutualism in Italy

Giovanni Orlando

Since the global crisis of 2008, Italy has witnessed several recoveries of failed private enterprises led by workers trying to escape the precarization of life under austerity. Some see this phenomenon as linked to the highly politicized occupations that took place in Argentina during the crisis of 2001. Italian recoveries, however, are usually far less controversial affairs carried out under the aegis of the state. What explains this difference? Looking at exceptions within the Italian case provides some answers. For example, a protracted conflict between workers (labor) and ownership (capital), the building of links with transnational struggles (including the Argentinian one), and the rediscovery of past working-class values such as mutualism all appear to be factors that can generate collective responses to austerity.

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Repetitions of Desire

Queering the One Direction Fangirl

Hannah McCann and Clare Southerton

Like other fangirls, fans of former boyband One Direction (“Directioners”) have often been represented in media discourse as obsessive and hysterical, with fan behaviour interpreted as longing for heterosexual intimacy with band members. Subverting this heteronormative framing, a group of Directioners known as “Larries” have built a sub-fandom around imagining a relationship (“ship”) between two of the band members, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Representation of the Larry fandom has gone beyond pathologizing fangirls to framing their shipping practice in terms of “fake news.” The conspiracy theory panic around Larries misses the complex ways that subtext and queer reading are mobilized within the fandom to invoke feelings of queer intimacy and belonging. Drawing on a digital ethnography conducted on Twitter with Larries, we argue that these fans engage in queer reading strategies to explicitly imagine and interrupt dominant heterosexual narratives, and thus queer the figure of the fangirl.

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Republican Freedom in the Labour Market

Exploitation Without Interpersonal Domination

Fausto Corvino

In this article, I query whether participation in the labour market can hinder neo-republican freedom as non-domination. I briefly present the view of Philip Pettit on the topic, based on the distinction between offering a reward and threatening a punishment. I compare it to the analysis of labour republicans, recently reconstructed by Alex Gourevitch, according to whom, the exclusion of a group of individuals from the control of productive assets represents a form of structural domination. Then, I explain why I take a position that is different from both. I hold that capitalist structural domination leads only to exploitation, not interpersonal domination. In doing this, I consider two objections that might be raised against my argument. The first one is based on incomplete contracts and on a possible ideal benchmark for job offers. The second one challenges the supposed arbitrariness of unequal property relations within the capitalist social system.

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Requiem for a Waria

Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experience

Sylvia Tidey

This article engages recent queries in anthropology regarding where to find openings for reimagining, recreating, or rearticulating a moral and political otherwise. I suggest we can find such openings in the political potentiality of ironic experiences—intensely unnerving confrontations with the discrepancy between accepted norms and cherished ideals, of which these norms fall short. Through a person-centered account of one of Indonesia’s most well-known waria (transgender woman), I demonstrate how an out-of-the-ordinary woman’s pursuit of a pious, ordinary life occasions a profound estrangement from common understandings of what it means to be Muslim. This, then, facilitates the possibility of reimaging religious and political orientations despite a national political context of growing incommensurability between Islam and non-heteronormativity.

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Itay Noy

Levien, Michael. 2018. Dispossession without development: Land grabs in neoliberal India. New York: Oxford University Press.

Li, Tania Murray. 2014. Land’s end: Capitalist relations on an indigenous frontier. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Kari Palonen

This article is a thought experiment. It constructs ideal types of political representation in the sense of Max Weber. Inspired by Quentin Skinner and others, the aim is to give a rhetorical turn to contemporary debates on representation. The core idea is to claim an ‘elective affinity’ (Wahlverwandschaft, as Weber says following Goethe) between forms of representation and rhetorical genres of their justification. The four ideal types of political representation are designated as plebiscitary, diplomatic, advocatory, and parliamentary, corresponding to the epideictic, negotiating, forensic, and deliberative genres of rhetoric as the respective ways to plausibly appeal to the audience. I discuss historical approximations of each type of representation and apply the combination of representation and rhetorical genres to the understanding of the European Union’s unconventional system of ‘separation of powers’. I conclude with supporting parliamentary representation, based on dissensus and debate, with complements from other types.

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The Return of the Republic

Crowd Photography and the Liberation in Toulouse, 1944–1945

Hanna Diamond

During the Liberation of Toulouse, crowd photography dominated the local press rather than the scenes of combat and barricades that marked coverage in Paris and elsewhere. This article shows how crowd photography contributed to a common construction of republicanism across the Toulouse press and exhibitions. It argues that the circulation of these images not only communicated the message that the “people” were once again sovereign, but also implied that these populations had been instrumental in their liberation, thereby contributing to the mythology of “la France résistante.” Editors mobilized crowd photography to convey to viewers the importance of adopting their republican roles at a time of community reconstruction. Reading the photography of the Liberation of Toulouse reveals that while photographic messaging in Liberation France varied in line with local circumstances, it nonetheless played a potent role in contributing to democratic resurgence.