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Constructing 'unteachability' through menacing warnings

The coupling of welfare benefits and migration control in Switzerland

Luca Pfirter

This article scrutinises case files concerning the revocation of stay permits in Switzerland due to the receipt of social assistance. Through in-depth exploration of case files and Federal Supreme Court judgements, it provides insights into the increasing coupling of migration control and welfare instruments. The article does so by investigating one specific type of paperwork: ‘menaces of warnings of the revocation order due to the dependency on social assistance’. The article argues bureaucratic practices and the paperwork they produce must be investigated for their effects on foreign nationals and for the (re)production of politics of belonging and the ‘anti-citizen’. By individualising the reason for receiving social assistance, the analysed paperwork simultaneously aims at disciplining recipients of social assistance and legitimises exclusion by constructing ‘unteachability’ through ‘unsuccessful’ self-disciplining.

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Contemporary "Structures" of Racism

A Sartrean Contribution to Resisting Racial Injustice

Justin I. Fugo

This paper develops an account of racism as rooted in social structural processes. Using Sartre, I attempt to give a general analysis of what I refer to as the “structures” of our social world, namely the practico-inert, serial collectives, and social groups. I then apply this analysis to expose and elucidate “racist structures,” specifically those that are oftentimes assumed to be ‘race neutral’. By highlighting structures of racial oppression and domination, I aim to justify: 1) the imperative of creating conditions free from oppression and domination, over the adherence to ‘ideal’ principles which perpetuate racial injustice; 2) the shared responsibility we have collectively to resist and transform social structural processes that continue to produce racial injustice.

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Aliza Luft

Recent years have witnessed a turn in the field of contentious politics toward the study of political violence, yet scholars have yet to focus their lens on genocide. Moreover, research on genocide is characterized by fundamental disagreements about its definition, origins, and dynamics, leading to a lack of generalizable theory. As a remedy, this article suggests that research on genocide can be improved by incorporating concepts from social movements. After reviewing the history of research on social movements and genocide, I analyze civilian participation in the Rwandan genocide as an example of how social movement theory helps explain civilian mobilization for genocide. Finally, I propose that a contentious politics approach to genocide would consider it one among many forms of contentious collective action, analyzable within the existing framework of social movement theory.

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Claudia Mitchell

The concerns addressed by the authors in this issue point to the need for a reimagining of girlhood as it is currently framed by settler and carceral states. To quote the guest editors, Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney, and Lena Palacios, “The very notions of girl and girlhood are embedded in a colonial privileging of white, cis-heteropatriarchal, ableist constructs of femininity bolstered by Euro-Western theories of normative child development that were—and still are—violently imposed on othered, non-white girls, queer, and gender-nonconforming bodies.” Indigenous-led initiatives in Canada, such as the Networks for Change: Girl-led ‘from the Ground up’ Policy-making to Address Sexual Violence in Canada and South Africa project, highlighted in four of the eight articles in this issue, along with the insights and recommendations offered in the articles that deal with the various positionalities and contexts of Latinx and Black girls, can be described as creating a new trail. In using the term trail, here, I am guided by the voices of the Indigenous researchers, activists, elders, and community scholars who participated in the conference called More Than Words in Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence: A Dialogue on the Impact of Indigenous-focused, Youthled Engagement Through the Arts on Families and Communities held in Montreal. Their use of the term trail suggests a new order, one that is balanced between the ancestors and spiritual teachings on the one hand, and contemporary spaces that need to be decolonized on the other with this initiative being guided by intergenerationality and a constant interrogation of language. The guest editors of this special issue and all the contributors have gone a long way on this newly named trail.

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Giuseppe Ballacci

In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt’s views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann’s banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation.

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Democracy Needs Rebellion

A Democratic Theory Inspired by Albert Camus

Markus Pausch

Democracy has come under pressure in many countries in recent years. Authoritarian tendencies, populism and the cult of leadership threaten pluralistic societies in Europe and other parts of the world. But democracy is more than just a method of finding a majority; it is inextricably linked to the fight against oppression and injustice in all contexts of life. Especially in times of democratic crisis, it is necessary to focus on its core aspects. The political thinking of French philosopher and writer Albert Camus, who died in 1960, offers the basis for a redefinition of democracy that is linked to and dependent on rebellion. From his reflections, a radical theory of democracy can be derived that is based on the absurdity of the world, its incompleteness, revolt and resistance to authoritarianism, on doubt, dialogue and foreignness.

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Christian Ewert and Marion Repetti

What is democratic theory? In this article we treat it as a semiotic code – that is to say, a shared assumption – and argue that democratic theory enables people to think and talk about the idea(s) of democracy. Furthermore, the application of this specific code is highly political. For one, it is embedded in concrete contexts and discourses and used in arguments and narratives. In addition, the application of democratic theory has also substantial consequences on the lives of people. We illustrate this argument by reflecting briefly on Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and its recodification and consequences in different contexts.

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Ali Aslam, David McIvor and Joel Alden Schlosser

Urgent alarms now warn of the erosion of democratic norms and the decline of democratic institutions. These antidemocratic trends have prompted some democratic theorists to reject the seeming inevitability of democratic forms of government and instead to consider democracy as a fugitive phenomenon. Fugitive democracy, as we argue below, is a theory composed of two parts. First, it includes a robust, normative ideal of democracy and, second, a clear-eyed vision of the historical defeats and generic difficulties attendant to that ideal. This article considers how democratic theorists might respond to the challenges posed by fugitive democracy and the implications of such an understanding for future research in democratic theory.

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Designing a New Method of Studying Feature-Length Films

An Empirical Study and its Critical Analysis

Jose Cañas-Bajo, Teresa Cañas-Bajo, Eleni Berki, Juri-Petri Valtanen and Pertti Saariluoma

Measuring viewers’ experiences of films has become a critical issue for filmmakers because all kinds of audiences now have access to new releases from all over the world. Some approaches have focused on the cognitive level of the experience, while others have emphasized the structure of films. Additionally, some have used quantitative objective methods to examine audience reactions to short film sequences, while others have applied qualitative approaches to study feature-length films. However, an integrated method that combines the features of these approaches is needed. In this article, we describe a new method that combines quantitative and qualitative data to study viewers’ experiences of different structural features of films. This method involves an online subjective response mechanism that can be used to capture and measure the experiences of different target audiences as they watch movies of different lengths.

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Dis/working with Diagrams

How Genealogies and Maps Obscure Nanoscale Worlds (a Hunter-Gatherer Case)

Nurit Bird-David

Standard diagrammatic tools in ethnographies, locational maps, and kinship trees are supposed to help make fieldwork and its findings intelligible to readers. This article explores how, to the contrary, they obscure locals’ lived worlds and the fieldwork process when they are used cross-culturally and cross-scalarly in studies of minuscule indigenous societies, anthropology’s traditional study subject. I draw on my experience of producing and using these visuals, from fieldwork through to writing ethnography, in my work with foragers who live in South India in order to show the effect of these diagrammatic tools on our understanding of nanoscale communities and their intimate worlds.