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Learning to Judge Politics

Professor John Dunn (Interviewed by Professor Lawrence Hamilton)

John Dunn and Lawrence Hamilton

In the first of a series of interviews conducted by members of Theoria’s editorial board with provocative political theorists and thinkers, Professor Lawrence Hamilton talks to Professor John Dunn in an exclusive interview at King’s College, Cambridge, held on the 28 March 2019.

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Making the State Blush

Humanizing Relations in an Australian NGO Campaign for People Seeking Asylum

Tess Altman

The Australian state’s hostile deterrence policy toward people arriving by boat who seek asylum evokes polarized public sentiments. This article, which ethnographically follows a humanitarian NGO campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 Australian election, examines how citizens who opposed deterrence sought to affectively and morally influence the state and the public. Building on anthropological theories of the state and feminist scholarship on the sociality of emotion, I develop the notion of ‘affective relations’. Distinguishing from nationalist, humanitarian, and activist relations that set up divisive dynamics, campaigners invoked ‘humanizing’ to create affective relations based on common values, personalization, and responsiveness. Although the desired election results were not achieved, the focus on humanization represented a long-term shift to an inclusive alternative politics based on the transformation of power relations.

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A megastructure in Singapore

The "Asian city of tomorrow?"

Xinyu Guan

The People’s Park Complex is one of two megastructures built in the early 1970s as prototypes for a new “Asian city of tomorrow” designed to humanize the urban expansion of Singapore through the creation of affective ensembles and connections, and would serve as an alternative to the state’s forcible relocation of the population to alienating, cookie-cutter high-rise new towns. While the envisioned model of an expansive, affective urbanism failed to materialize in these megastructures, I examine how the transnational migrant and working-class communities that use the complex engage in other forms of affective placemaking that disrupt the narratives and temporalities in the state’s recuperation of the surrounding old city by the state as a heritage and tourist district. I illuminate how affect can serve as an analytic to reorient a unilinear notion of architectural failure toward new temporalities, imaginations, and futurities.

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Solveig Roth and Dagny Stuedahl

In this article, we examine the case history of a young multi-ethnic Norwegian girl, whom we call Anna, from the age of 15 to 17 to show how her self-understanding of positionings within her educational transitions illustrates how gendered expectations in a Norwegian context influence girls’ future trajectories. We use the concepts of social positional identities in figured worlds and performativity to explore self-understanding. Anna’s case history illustrates how gender performativity comes about out of a complex web of family, school, and societal expectations. We discuss the tensions Anna experienced in her educational trajectory and the changes in her performative positioning when she entered upper secondary school. We consider the ways in which this had implications for her future life trajectory and offer suggestions to educators on how to understand and support the different learning trajectories of multi-ethnic students.

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Natural Sciences and Social Sciences

Where Do the Twain Meet?

C.S.A (Kris) van Koppen

Klintman, Mikael. 2017. Human Sciences and Human Interests: Integrating the Social, Economic, and Evolutionary Sciences. London: Routledge.

Jetzkowitz, Jens. 2019. Co-evolution of Nature and Society: Foundations for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Neglected Tropical Diseases

Creating a New Disease Grouping

Samantha Vanderslott

Neglected tropical diseases show how a disease group can be formed to compete in the global health policy marketplace. The naming and branding of a new disease category is used to organize activities, direct attention and resources, and rationalize the governance of diseases. The politics of classification involves processes of negotiation and conceptual development by key actors. Here, discussions about central characteristics, naming, and inclusion and exclusion criteria are rarely settled. Contradictions are present in the “tropical” and “neglected” characterizations, as well as choices of universalist rather than particularist approaches. Interacting with these considerations is a continued progression in means of dealing with disease from health actors and changing attributes of diseases in populations.

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Neither Shadow nor Spectre

Populism as the Ideological Embodiment of the Democratic Paradox

Anthony Lawrence Borja

The beating heart of democratic politics is a set of paradoxes revolving around the issues of popular identity and sovereignty. Populist ideology appeals to the sovereign people, consequently engaging the democratic paradox in a manner akin to either moving an immoveable object or catching something in constant flux. Marginal consideration has been given by scholars to populism’s relationship with the democratic paradox, with current notions of the former seeing it more as a result of the latter. Thus, by recasting the democratic paradox as a question and analysing its relationship with populist ideology, this article seeks to clarify the supposedly ambiguous relationship between populism and democracy. In analysing the transformative processes within populism by using early Peronism and Italian Fascism as case studies, it argues that as the ideological embodiment of the democratic paradox populist ideology preserves and expresses the paradox in the public sphere.

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Sandra Häbel

English abstract: The European Union (EU) is often understood as a normative power. However, based on a case study of European policy networks in Vietnam, this article shows that despite the EU’s commitment to norms and transformative development, norms are not a priority in the implementation of development policies. Rather, norm promotion is delegated to political and diplomatic representatives, whereas development and trade representatives are responsible for technical work. Consequently, policy networks created around these four sectors tend to operate separately from each other, undermining the spillover of norms from diplomatic and political networks to development and trade networks. As a result, this article shows that the structural–institutional separation of sectoral policy networks is one of the EU’s systemic characteristics that restrict normative policy coherence for development.

Spanish abstract: La Unión Europea (UE) es considerada un poder normativo, comprometida con las normas y el desarrollo transformativo. En cambio, usando un caso de estudio de redes europeas políticas en Vietnam, este artículo demuestra que las normas no son prioridad en la implementación de políticas de desarrollo. Al contrario, la promoción de normas se delega a representantes políticos y diplomáticos, mientras que los representantes del desarrollo y comercio se hacen cargo del trabajo técnico. Consecuentemente las redes políticas de estos cuatro sectores tienden a aislarse, dificultando la transferencia de las normas de redes políticas y diplomáticas a redes de desarrollo y comercio. El resultado demuestra que la separación estructuro–institucional de las redes políticas sectoriales es una de las características sistémicas de la UE que restringen la coherencia normativa de políticas para el desarrollo.

French abstract: L’Union européenne est souvent considérée comme une puissance normative. Cependant, sur la base d’une étude de cas de réseaux de politiques publiques au Vietnam, cet article montre que, malgré son engagement normatif et de développement réformateur, les normes ne sont pas une priorité dans la mise en oeuvre des politiques de développement. Au contraire, leur promotion est déléguée aux représentants politiques et diplomatiques, tandis que les représentants du développement et du commerce sont responsables des travaux techniques. Par conséquent, les réseaux politiques créés autour de ces quatre secteurs ont tendance à fonctionner séparément les uns des autres, ce qui compromet le transfert des normes des réseaux diplomatiques et politiques aux réseaux de développement et du commerce. Ainsi, cet article montre que la séparation structuro-institutionnelle des réseaux sectoriels de politiques publiques est l’une des caractéristiques systémiques de l’UE qui restreint leur cohérence normative en matière de développement.

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Queer Girlhoods in Contemporary Comics

Disrupting Normative Notions

Mel Gibson

In this article, I look at how comics aimed at young readers can serve to disrupt normative notions, gendered binaries, and fixed designations through featuring, or focusing on, queer girlhoods. In doing so I consider two contemporary series, Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes. I contextualize these titles against aspects of the publishing of comics, before analyzing some of the narratives and characters in the texts in relation to queer girlhoods. I conclude that the comics offer different approaches and, therefore, differentiated reading experiences for the young readers who engage with them, but that they also form part of a wider grouping of titles that offer diverse images of young people embracing affiliations going beyond family and nation.

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Refugee studies in Austria today

From challenges to a research horizon

Leonardo Schiocchet, Sabine Bauer-Amin, Maria Six-Hohenbalken and Andre Gingrich

This article sets out to highlight present-day anthropological contributions to the field of forced migration and to the current debates on this topic in Europe through the experience of developing an international and interdisciplinary network for the study of refugees based in Vienna, Austria. To this end, this article engages with the grounding facts of the present Central European sociohistorical context and global political trends, grapples with shifting and questionable research funding landscapes such as the focus on “integration,” illustrates some of the main current research challenges, and highlights pressing topics. It concludes proposing a research horizon to counter present strong limitations on forced migration research and steer this research toward a more meaningful direction.