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Clothing and Colours in Early Islam

Adornment (Aesthetics), Symbolism and Differentiation

Hadas Hirsch

The article discusses the colour subtext in the founding texts of Islam, namely, the Koran and jurisprudence. These texts were the raw material to create a scale of colours appropriate and inappropriate for clothing, and to analyse the role of colours in differentiating among subjected groups. Colours were positioned on a scale as preferred, permitted or prohibited for clothing based on their symbolic interpretations and perceptions of adornment and aesthetics. The use of colours for clothing as a means to establish and reinforce gendered differentiation reflects the patriarchal and hierarchal nature of Muslim societies. The other use of colours was to create religious-political differentiation between the Muslim ruling elite and two different subject populations, namely, their non-Muslim tributaries and rebels against the regime.

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.

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.

Full access

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.

Open access

Federica Tarabusi

Despite considerable analysis of development policies in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, local–internationals encounters have received less attention. In an attempt to fill this gap, this article traces the discursive processes through which development professionals frame their narratives about Bosnian society, and in turn, how its inhabitants experience the internationals staying in the country. Applying Maria Todorova’s framework, I show how Western “expatriates” tend to incorporate the Balkans’ liminality into their social constructs to depoliticize development practices. On the other hand, I approach emic understandings of Europeanness and Balkanism as a situationally embedded and contested process that comes into play to (re)draw social and moral boundaries in Bosnian society. I conclude by considering local–international encounters as a privileged site for exploring the postsocialist state but also new political subjectivities in contemporary Bosnia.

Open access

Dirty Work, Dangerous Others

The Politics of Outsourced Immigration Enforcement in Mexico

Wendy Vogt

While Mexico has been openly critical of US immigration enforcement policies, it has also served as a strategic partner in US efforts to externalize its immigration enforcement strategy. In 2016, Mexico returned twice as many Central Americans as did the United States, calling many to criticize Mexico for doing the United States’ “dirty work.” Based on ethnographic research and discourse analysis, this article unpacks and complicates the idea that Mexico is simply doing the “dirty work” of the United States. It examines how, through the construction of “dirty others”—as vectors of disease, criminals, smugglers, and workers—Central Americans come to embody “matter out of place,” thus threatening order, security, and the nation itself. Dirt and dirtiness, in both symbolic and material forms, emerge as crucial organizing factors in the politics of Central American transit migration, providing an important case study in the dynamics between transit and destination states.

Open access

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Mette Louise Berg and Johanna Waters

Since the “birth” of our journal, we have been committed to publishing work that situates migration in a wider historical and societal context, which has included paying attention to critical theoretical perspectives on migration, and particularly encouraging scholarship from and about the global South. This commitment is also related to the increasingly mainstream acknowledgment that Anglophone academic studies of and policy responses to migration and displacement continue to have a strong Northern or Eurocentric bias. In effect, while scholars and journals focused on “migration” and the cognate fields of “ethnic and racial studies” have often prioritized studies of South-North migration (i.e., from “underdeveloped” or “developing” countries “to” North America, Europe, and Australia), much less attention has been paid to migration within and across the countries of the so-called global South (i.e., South-South migration). In turn, scholars and policy makers alike have often positioned particular directionalities and modalities of migration, and specified groups of migrants as “problems to be solved,” including through processes that are deeply gendered, classed, and racialized.

Open access

Editorial

Reinventing Anthropological Topics

Soheila Shahshahani

In this issue of AME you have articles which are within established anthropological topics. What is new in them is first, new data from the field, second, new search within old data, and finally new perspective of researchers from the area. So, while kinship, law, methodology, archaeology remain the pillars of our field, they are “reinvented” through new research by scholars some of whom are from the area. Syria, Iraq, and Iran are presented, and Kordish studies relates to all countries which have a Kord population. Our journal being concerned with culture and not political borders, we include an exquisite article on emblems in Uzbekistan which proves the persistence of cultural similarities in symbols from the Middle East and Central Asia.

Free access

Giovanni A. Travaglino and Benjamin Abrams

Contention has now reached its eighth volume and fifteenth issue, and we have been delighted to see the journal move from attainment to attainment over the past eight years. Contention has developed a reputation for publishing high-quality research, articles, and analyses in the fields of social protest, collective action, and contentious politics, soliciting contributions from world-leading scholars and early career academics alike. Its articles are strongly interdisciplinary and global in nature, with the journal offering a platform for research that crosses old-fashioned national and theoretical boundaries. We were delighted to see such merits recognized by the recent inclusion of Contention in the SCOPUS database. Together with the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences, where the journal is already indexed, the inclusion of Contention in SCOPUS will bring further visibility to the scholarly work we publish, facilitating its diffusion by providing an even stronger opportunity to contribute to international scholarly dialogue.

Open access

The emergence of the global debt society

Governmentality and profit extraction through fabricated abundance and imposed scarcity in Peru and Spain

Ismael Vaccaro, Eric Hirsch and Irene Sabaté

As a result of the financialization of household and national economies, indebtedness has become a system of domination shaping the making of contemporary subjects. This sort of governmentality through debt is a multifaceted phenomenon affecting people’s economic and political behavior in both the North and the South. Disguised and legitimized by the moral obligation to repay debts, and by promises of upward social mobility (for the working classes in the North) and of development (for the population of the Global South), indebtedness disciplines households and neutralizes political agency under finance capitalism, as our ethnographic examples on the mortgage crisis in Spain and on microfinance in Peru reveal.