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Achieving the Ordinary

Everyday Peace and the Other in Bosnian Mixed-Ethnicity Families

Keziah Conrad

In Bosnia, 20 years aft er a war of ethnic cleansing, mixed-ethnicity families swim against the stream of nationalist separatism that insists all Bosnians should be neatly sorted into ethnic categories. When asked about their experiences, however, mixed families in Sarajevo during fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 repeatedly insisted that they were just “ordinary,” “normal” families. In this article, I look closely at an ordinary evening in the life of one such family, examining how they achieve this atmosphere of everydayness within which ordinary kin relationships are sustained despite the volatility of diff erences in ethnic and religious affi liation. Using a conversation analytic approach and building on the work of ordinary ethics theorists, I argue that the sense of being an ordinary family is an accomplishment constituted through active intersubjective work.

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Adaptation Lived as a Story

Why We Should Be Careful about the Stories We Use to Tell Other Stories

Nicole Klenk

Within the field of climate change adaptation research, “stories” are usually simply mined for data, developed as communication and engagement technologies, and used to envision different futures. But there are other ways of understanding people’s narratives. This article explores how we can move away from understanding stories as cultural constructs that represent a reality and toward understanding them as the way in which adaptation is lived. The article investigates questions such as the following: As climate adaptation researchers, what can and should we do when we are told unsolicited stories? How can storytelling, as a way of life rather than as a source of data, inform and elaborate scientific approaches to adaptation research and planning? In this article, I move away from the literature that seeks to develop narrative methods in adaptation science. Instead, I focus on stories that we do not elicit and the world-making practice of storytelling.

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African Communitarianism and Human Rights

Towards a Compatibilist View

Munamato Chemhuru

That human rights are new, alien, and incompatible with African social and political reality is pervasive in much of African social and political thinking. This supposition is based on the assumption that African societies are inherently communitarian, and hence inconsiderate to the guaranteeing and safeguarding of individual human rights. However, I seek to dispel this essentialist notion in African social and political thinking. I consider how the human rights discourse could be reasonably understood in the African traditional context if the thinking that is salient in the African communitarian view of existence is properly understood. After considering the way in which human rights are guaranteed within an African communitarian framework, I give reasons why the quest for individualistic human rights in Afro-communitarian society could be considered to be an oxymoron. Overall, I seek to establish that an Afro-communitarian model is compatible with the quest for the universality of human rights.

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Jonathan O. Chimakonam and Victor C. A. Nweke

We argue that Menkiti and Gyekye – the forerunners in Afro-communitarianism, to different extents both trivialise the notion of human rights. While Menkiti prioritises community and denies human rights, Gyekye who upholds human rights subsumes these to the community. We contend that both are however mistaken in their trivial conceptions of human rights. To clarify the confusion, we propose that the notion of rights in Afro-communitarianism can have two possible senses namely, rights as participatory and rights as entitlements and that the failure to recognise these senses was what led Menkiti to a fringed position and Gyekye to a difficult position. We then conclude that Afro-communitarianism, in both Menkiti and Gyekye harbours a certain notion of rights contrary to Menkiti’s assumption but it is not one that accommodates the idea of inalienability contrary to Gyekye’s suggestion.

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Alienation, Ambivalence and Identity

Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book, In Other Words, is an autobiographical text that highlights the author’s journey to a new land and language. She grows up in America, communicates in Bengali with her parents during her early childhood and uses English in school; a sense of ambivalence about language dawns in her at this time. Her parents insist that Bengali be a dominant language in her life, but she falls in love with English, which later becomes her own language and the medium of her literary writing. During her doctoral studies, she feels an impulse to learn Italian and desperately strives to speak and write in that language. In Other Words, originally written in Italian, is the ultimate outcome of her aspirations to learn Italian. As the author switches from one language to another, from Bengali to English, and then from English to Italian, she forms an ambivalent sense of separation and proximity. This article seeks to explore Lahiri’s love for language, her sense of alienation and belonging, loss and achievement, and her search for identity and metamorphosis.

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The anthropology of human-environment relations

Materialism with and without Marxism

Penny McCall Howard

What are Marxists to make of the new wave of materialism that has become influential in anthropology and across the social sciences and humanities? An ethnography of fishing in coastal Scotland and an analysis of Tim Ingold’s ecological anthropology demonstrates both the usefulness and gaps in contemporary ecological and materialist anthropology. It finds that the reduced role for political economy, human intentionality, and material results in this literature significantly reduces their explanatory power. Efforts to unite analysis of humans and nonhumans have led to a lack of attention to the divisions within human societies, particularly the alienation of labor and therefore of ecological relations in capitalism. Understanding these dynamics is essential to contending with the current planetary ecological crisis.

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Between the Social and the Political

The Role of the Proto-Political Sphere in Political Participation

Pia Rowe and David Marsh

While Wood and Flinders’ work to broaden the scope of what counts as “politics” in political science is a needed adjustment to conventional theory, it skirts an important relationship between society, the protopolitical sphere, and arena politics. We contend, in particular, that the language of everyday people articulates tensions in society, that such tensions are particularly observable online, and that this language can constitute the beginning of political action. Language can be protopolitical and should, therefore, be included in the authors’ revised theory of what counts as political participation.

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Anna Schön

Kevin Olson, Imagined Sovereignties: The Power of the People and Other Myths of the Modern Age (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 230 pp., ISBN: 9781107113237

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Aro Velmet and Rachel Kantrowitz

Richard C. Parks, Medical Imperialism in French North Africa: Regenerating the Jewish Community of Colonial Tunis (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017).

Harry Gamble, Contesting French West Africa: Battles over Schools and the Colonial Order, 1900–1950 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press: 2017).

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Tair Karazi-Presler, Moti Gigi, Luis Roniger, Yossi Harpaz, Oded Adomi Leshem, Meir Elran, Dany Bahar and Yuval Benziman

Edna Lomsky-Feder and Orna Sasson-Levy, Women Soldiers and Citizenship in Israel: Gendered Encounters with the State (New York: Routledge, 2017), 178 pp. Hardback, $149.95.

Aviva Halamish, Kibbutz: Utopia and Politics. The Life and Times of Meir Yaari, 1897–1987 (Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2017), 496 pp. Hardback, $119. Paperback, $45.

Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Julius H. Schoeps, Yitzhak Sternberg, and Olaf Glöckner, eds., Handbook of Israel: Major Debates (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2016), 1,304 pp. Hardback, $165.00. Paperback, $81.00.

Uri Ram, Israeli Sociology: Text in Context (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 174 pp. e-Book: $54.99.

Herbert C. Kelman, Transforming the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: From Mutual Negation to Reconciliation (London: Routledge, 2018), 248 pp. Hardback, $112.00. eBook, $27.48.

Charles D. Freilich, Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 496 pp. Hardback, $39.95. Kindle, $14.57.

David Rosenberg, Israel’s Technology Economy: Origins and Impact (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 275 pp. Hardback, $84.95. eBook, $64.95.

Lee Perlman, But Abu Ibrahim, We’re Family! (Tel Aviv: Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, 2017), 198 pp. Paperback, $20.00.

Shapiro Prize Winners

This new feature of ISR will present the report of the committee choosing the recipient of the Yonathan Shapiro Prize for the best book in Israel Studies, to be awarded at the annual meeting of the Association for Israel Studies. In 2018, there was a tie, and two books received the prize. The committee members were Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Mikhal Dekel, Tamar Hermann, Sam Lehman-Wilzig, and Ruvi Ziegler.

Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Seizing Jerusalem: The Architecture of Unilateral Unification (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 376 pp. Hardback, $160.00. Paperback, $39.95.

Kimmy Caplan, Amram Blau [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi and the Ben-Gurion Institute, 2017), 588 pp. Paperback, NIS116.