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In any region of the world, in any country, each beginning of the year offers us a scenario for potential changes, purposes, goals and hopes, and 2019 does not have to be the exception. Despite various forecasts of slower global economic growth in the coming year (World Bank, Forbes, Reuters), and despite the latest reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on stressful atmospheric conditions, among other environmental discomforts around the planet, we cannot limit our human capacity to see the future with courage and optimism.

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Pamela H. Smith

A research group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science on “Itineraries of Materials, Recipes, Techniques, and Knowledge in the Early Modern World” held a series of workshops (2014–2015) on the movement of knowledge (materials, techniques, objects) across Eurasia, resulting in an edited volume. Participants articulated a framework of “entangled itineraries,” “material complexes,” and “nodes of convergence” by which historians might follow routes of knowledge-making extending over very long distances and/or great spans of time. The key concepts are (1) “material complex” denoting the constellation of substances, practices, techniques, beliefs, and values that accrete as knowledge around materials; (2) the “relational field,” the social, intellectual, economic, emotional domain formed by a “node of convergence”—often a hub of trade and exchange—within which a material complex crystalizes; and (3) “itineraries,” or the routes taken by materials through which they stabilize and/ or transform.

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Edith Kauffer

A World Family Portrait is a joint project of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) and Regions & Cohesion. It aims to promote interdisciplinary and cross-cultural communication through images and essays on the different faces of humanity, including, but not limited to, our similarities and our differences, our strengths and our weaknesses, our hopes and our concerns, our legacies and our aspirations, as well as our interactions with each other and our world. This project seeks to establish a dialogue between human experiences, academic reflections and shared ethics, such as mutual respect, the protection of human dignity and solidarity.

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A Transtextual Hermeneutic Journey

Horst Rosenthal’s Mickey au camp de Gurs (1942)

Yaakova Sacerdoti

Gérard Genette’s transtextuality theory serves as the basis for a hermeneutic inquiry into Horst Rosenthal’s Mickey au camp de Gurs. Multiple levels of meaning emerge from transtextual links to other literary genres and works of Western culture, from Disney’s early animations to fairy tales and satire, concluding with Dante’s Inferno. This article analyses Rosenthal’s transtextual discourse and shows how his use of the comic genre to depict the horrors of the Gurs internment camp involves readers in what happened there and produces a text that speaks to all. Using Mickey Mouse, the international cartoon hero, alongside referencing the Inferno, a cornerstone of the Western canon, turns Rosenthal’s experience into a universal one and permits author and reader to focus on the emotional level that transcends all rationality.

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Anthony Rausch

This article examines the impact of contemporary higher education policy at a rural university in Japan. Hirosaki University, although a national university with an attached medical school, is far from the centre of academia in Japan, with a comparatively low ranking among national universities in Japan, and severe budget constraints. The policies that influence the trajectory of the university simultaneously illustrate two dimensions. On the one hand, they reflect global trends of neoliberal higher educational governance as these unfold in a leading nation-state within Asia. On the other hand, they show how policies originating within central government ministries and dictated by population and budget dynamics yield a highly localised outcome that forces a peripheral university to concentrate its efforts predominantly in its own community.

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Underground waterlines

Explaining political quiescence of Ukrainian labor unions

Denys Gorbach

In order to explore factors conditioning the political quietude of Ukrainian labor, this article analyzes ethnographic data collected at two large enterprises: the Kyiv Metro and the privatized electricity supplier Kyivenergo. Focusing on a recent labor conflict, I unpack various contexts condensed in it. I analyze the hegemonic configuration developed in the early 1990s, at the workplace and at the macro level, and follow its later erosion. This configuration has been based on labor hoarding, distribution of nonwage resources, and patronage networks, featuring the foreman as the nodal figure. On the macro scale, it relied on the mediation by unions, supported by resources accumulated during the Soviet era and the economic boom of the 2000s. The depletion of these resources has spelled the ongoing crisis of this configuration.

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“Urban renewal with dancing and music”?

The renewal machine’s struggle to organize hegemony in Turkey

Cansu Civelek

In 2012, an urban renewal project in Eskişehir, Turkey, was initiated with claims of “festive renewal,” challenging the theories of critical urban studies that emphasize the disruptive effects of such projects. Built on a discussion about hegemony, which deploys consent and dissent in its organization, this article ethnographically investigates the tactics and strategies of the renewal machine that mobilized and co-opted parts of the locals into the project while invoking layers of dissent, distrust, and discomfort. The article discusses how historically built political, socioeconomic, and gender inequalities were efficiently detected, reconstituted, and put into the service of the renewal machine while revealing tension and dynamism behind the “festive renewal.” It shows a fragility of hegemony that is neither a given nor a completed template.

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Ehsan Nouzari, Thomas Hartmann and Tejo Spit

The underground provides many spatial planning opportunities as it offers space for structures, but also functions as a resource for energy. To guide developments and use the capabilities the underground provides, the Dutch national government started a policy process for the Structuurvisie Ondergrond (a master plan). Stakeholders are involved in the policy process because of the many interests linked to underground functions. However, past policy processes related to the underground dealt with lack of stakeholder satisfaction. This article explores a quantitative approach by focusing on (a) statistical testing of four criteria of interactive governance and (b) using said criteria to evaluate the satisfaction of stakeholders in a policy process. This article highlights the usefulness of a more quantitative approach and provides new insights into the relation between interactive governance and the procedural satisfaction of stakeholders. It also provides insights that help to improve interactive governance in terms of process management to achieve greater procedural satisfaction.

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Water Use and User Attitudes

Common-Pool Resources and Longitudinal Change in a Brazilian Community

John Marr Ditty and Maria Eugênia Totti

Common-pool resources (CPRs) are subtractable resources that are physically or institutionally available for many users. The present study sought primary participant observation and focus group data on a Brazilian CPR-dependent community. It analyzes this data through the lens of CPR theory to assess ongoing local natural resource management efforts against longitudinal changes related to large-scale state and private development projects. The findings indicate that real or perceived changes related to the resources, technology, human populations, and decision-making processes in the study area have disrupted social arrangements and resulted in natural resource degradation. The article argues that, in order to achieve sustainability objectives, CPR-guided policy formulation must consider the social embeddedness of community-based actors and resources within their wider historical and social contexts, as well as user attitudes and relations among shifting conditions on multiple scales.

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WHEN THE EXIT?

The Difficult Politics of German Coal

Tessa Coggio and Thane Gustafson

This article considers Germany’s contentious exit from brown coal (lignite), now set for 2038. While greener alternatives, such as wind, solar, or natural gas have been reducing coal’s standing in Germany’s energy mix for years, coal proponents, backed by special interests, have pushed back at all levels of government. With a focus on the politics of coal during the 2017 parliamentary elections, the tedious months of coalition negotiations and the work of the coal committee since summer 2018, we explore how policymakers try to reconcile competing interests at the federal state, local, as well as international levels.