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Jan Ifversen

In March 2020, Melvin Richter, one of the founders of international, conceptual history passed away. This sad occasion makes it timely in our journal to reflect on the process that turned national projects within conceptual and intellectual history into an international and transnational enterprise. The text that follows—published in two parts, here and in the next issue—takes a closer look at the intellectual processes that led up to the founding meeting of the association behind our journal, the History of Concepts Group. It follows in the footsteps of Melvin Richter to examine the different encounters, debates and protagonists in the story of international, conceptual history. The text traces the different approaches that were brought to the fore and particularly looks at Melvin Richter’s efforts to bridge between an Anglophone tradition of intellectual history and a German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte.

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Ben Page, Olga R. Gulina, Doğuş Şimşek, Caress Schenk, and Vidya Venkat

MIGRANT HOUSING: Architecture, Dwelling, Migration. Mirjana Lozanovska. 2019. Abingdon: Routledge. 242 pages. ISBN 9781138574090 (Hardback).

THE AGE OF MIGRATION: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th ed. Hein de Haas, Stephen Castles, Mark J. Mille. 2020. London: Red Globe Press. 446 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1352007985.

REFUGEE IMAGINARIES: Research across the Humanities. Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and Agnes Woolley, eds. 2020. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 642 pages. ISBN 9781474443197 (hardback).

MIGRATION AS A (GEO-)POLITICAL CHALLENGE IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas. Olga R. Gulina. 2019. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag. 120 pages. ISBN: 9783838213385.

COMPARATIVE REVIEW: Migration and Development in India: Provincial and Historical Perspectives

INDIA MOVING: A History of Migration. Chinmay Tumbe. 2018. New York: Penguin Viking. 285 pages. ISBN: 9780670089833.

PROVINCIAL GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: Transregional Mobilities and Development Politics. Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, eds. 2020. New York: Routledge. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-06962-6.

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Marie Paxton and Uğur Aytaç

George Robert Bateman, Jr., The Transformative Potential of Participatory Budgeting: Creating an Ideal Democracy.

Garett Jones, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less.

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The Concept of Religion in Meiji Popular Discourse

An Analysis of the Newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun

Makoto Harris Takao

This article challenges claims that the Japanese neologism shūkyō (as a translation for “religion”) lacked an established nature prior to the twentieth century and had little to do with experiences of the urban masses. It accordingly problematizes the term as a largely legal concept, highlighting historical newspapers as underutilized sources that offer insight into Meiji popular discourse and attendant conceptualizations of “religion.” This article endorses a shift in both our chronological understanding of shūkyō’s conceptual history as well as its sociocultural mobility. By expanding the milieu understood as being familiar with debates on a range of “religious” issues, this article thereby offers a counter-narrative in which regular use of shūkyō begins to clearly emerge from the mid-1880s, exponentially increasing with the following decades.

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Conceptual Explorations around “Politics”

Thematizing the Activity of Politics in the Plenary Debates of the German Bundestag

Kari Palonen

This article discusses the ways of conceptualizing politics in parliamentary debates. When the politics-vocabulary is ubiquitous in them, which kind of speech act lies in emphasizing the political aspect? Focusing on thematized uses allows us to identify conceptual revisions in the politics-vocabulary in digitalized plenary debates of the German Bundestag from 1949 to 2017. My fourfold scheme for conceptualizing politics (polity, policy, politicization, politicking) provides the analytical apparatus. The units of analysis in this study are compound words around politics written as single words, a German language specialty. Their frequency has remarkably risen in the Bundestag debates, and the search engine can easily find them. This research interest allows me to speculate with changes in the understanding and appreciation of politics in postwar (West)Germany.

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Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane’s The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

In his latest opus, The New Despotism, John Keane continues to challenge existing wisdom in the field of democratic theory and comparative political studies. One of the key insights of the book is that there is nothing inherently democratic about democratic innovations and procedures, and thus they can be used to prop up despotisms, rather than usher in democracy. While this insight comports with existing misgivings about elections, the book stands out in the way it explains the sustainability of using the democratic procedures in the new despotisms. For democratic procedures to further the aims of the new despotisms, the condition of “voluntary servitude” needs to be met. “Voluntary servitude” means that people willingly give in to political slavery, and become accomplices in maintaining the illusion that democratic procedures are implemented (215–222). Keane’s achievement is that he creates an analytical ecosystem of interlinked assumptions, observations, conditions, and other logical connectors, which make his model of the new despotism so robust.

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Spencer McKay

Altman, David. 2018. Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dyck, Joshua, and Edward Lascher. 2019. Initiatives without Engagement: A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy’s Secondary Effects. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Hollander, Saskia. 2019. The Politics of Referendum Use in European Democracies. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Matsusaka, John G. 2020. Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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Emily Beausoleil and Jean-Paul Gagnon

This 16th issue of Democratic Theory features three articles, a trialogue (our first), two review essays, and two book reviews.

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Mette Louise Berg, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Johanna Waters

To say that working on this issue of Migration and Society has been a challenge would be an understatement. For all of us, from the members of the editorial team to our guest editors, contributors, ever-important reviewers, and the publishing team, 2020 has brought significant barriers. We have feared for the safety of our loved ones; grieved unbearable losses, often from afar; faced different forms of containment; and sought to, somehow, find the time and energy to care for our loved ones, our selves, and one another while navigating unsustainable work commitments and responsibilities.

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Enacting Citizenship

A Case Study of a Syrian Refugee Protest in Germany

Lucia Volk

Abstract

In June and July 2015, a group of Syrian asylum seekers and local refugee supporters organised a protest camp in Dortmund, Germany. For 53 days, about 50 protesters at a time slept under open tarps on the pavement in front of the city's main train station, demanding a quicker asylum review process and reunification with their families. This article focusses on the refugees’ interactions with different state actors on the municipal and state levels, and illustrates how the Syrian refugees were able to enact citizenship subjectivities. Through sustained and well-organised public protest, refugees claimed their place within the host community. Importantly, they became active contributors to the debate over Germany's response to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ and proved that political activism can help promote political and legal change.