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Editorial

African Philosophy and Rights

Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook

A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.

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Editorial

Social Quality, Environmental Challenges, and Indicators

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen

The first three articles of this issue are dedicated to aspects of the current debate about and the praxis of environmental questions, and thus of the ecosystems. The fourth article concerns the application of social quality indicators in China. The gaining hypothesis is that a disconnection of the social quality approach of daily circumstances in Japan, Russia, China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or India from environmental processes results into anachronisms. Without a global consciousness of the unequal consequences of these environmental processes, people in rich countries may be tempted to positively judge the nature of the social quality of their localities or country “as such.” Unknown remains that, seen from a global perspective, macrodetermined reasons for the positive outcomes in rich countries may go at the expense of ecosystems. They may cause, also because of the exportation of substantial elements of problematic (and partly environmental) aspects of the dominant production and reproduction relationships, serious forms of exploitation. Under the same conditions (ceteris paribus), this attack on ecosystems, as well as this exportation and exploitation cause increasingly declining social quality of daily circumstances in poor countries and regions. This will also result into an increase of “climate refugees.” Because of advancing technologically driven transformations—especially regarding communications systems—the interdependencies of countries between the West and the East, as well as between the North and the South, accelerate. Autarkic situations are becoming, or have already been for a long time, a myth.

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Yoram Peri and Paul L. Scham

An academic journal, naturally, cannot deal with current affairs. The research process requires time and perspective and is always lagging behind the actual events. This is all the more applicable when it comes to a period of accelerated changes, as has happened in recent years in the Western world. Even those who do not subscribe to Heraclitus’s notion of panta rhei (everything flows) or his adage that “you cannot step twice into the same river” cannot ignore the rapid, deep, and dramatic changes that are taking place in many countries—especially in Europe, but in Asia and the United States as well. Similar occurrences are also taking place in Israel, the research arena in which ISR operates.

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Ivi Daskalaki and Nadina Leivaditi

The closure of borders along the “Balkan route” and the EU-Turkey agreement in 2016 resulted in the involuntary immobility of thousands of refugees in Greece. Since then, the large-scale emergency relief aid on the Greek shores has been replaced by the development of provisions for the gradual integration of refugees within wider European society. In such a context, education comes to the fore in the management of Europe’s so-called “refugee crisis.” This article explores refugee youths’ educational engagements in the framework of their “temporary” accommodation in a Transit Shelter for Unaccompanied (Male) Minors on the island of Lesvos. The article discusses how the youths themselves act upon educational arrangements made by their caretakers within a context of limited agency inscribed in a “code” of filoxenia (hospitality to foreigners). This code positions refugee youths both as temporary “guests” and simultaneously as “subjects” of discipline in the residency and in wider society.

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Valerie M. Smith

Although early reviewers of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland recognized the novel as a fictional travelogue, the travelogue aspect of the novel remains underexamined. This essay examines Flatland as a travelogue and as a work of ethnographic criticism in relation to the emergence of Victorian anthropology as a science. Situating Flatland in relation to the emergence of Victorian anthropology as a science and in relation to Notes and Queries on Anthropology, For the Use of Travellers and Residents in Uncivilized Lands (1874)—in particular to its concerns with the dangers of cultural assumptions—provides a means of tackling the problem both early reviewers and more recent scholars have noted concerning the marked differences between the novel’s two parts and the difficulties of making sense of the novel as a whole.

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Ephraim Yuchtman-Yaar, Yasmin Alkalay and Tom Aival

Ethnicity and religious identity are two major interrelated cleavages within the Israeli-Jewish electorate. Previously, ethnicity’s effect had a stronger impact on voting patterns, while today religious identity is more influential. Former studies conceived religious identity in terms of levels of observance, such as Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox. We claim that each of these groups has unique characteristics independent of degree of religious identity. To test this hypothesis, we measure religious identity as a nominal variable, applying an interactive model that compares the effects of the pairings of religious identity and ethnicity to a common baseline. Data from before the 2015 elections reveal that religious identity has stronger effects than ethnicity: religious groups support the right more than the secular. However, the ultra-Orthodox tend to support the right to a lesser extent than other religious groups. In closing, we compare the role of religious identity in Israel to its status in today’s world.

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Franco Ruzzenenti and Aleksandra Wagner

The aim of the article is to discuss the unintended consequences of energy efficiency, in the context of defuturization, by addressing the phenomenon of the rebound effect. The energy discourse is presented as ideological discourse protecting the status quo, even if it contemplates alternatives solutions. The interpretation of energy efficiency in the light of the Luhmannian concept of temporal structures in the modern society is proposed, and two types of expert narratives on the rebound effect are outlined: the mechanistic rebound effect and the systemic Jevons paradox. Finally, we explain why none of them are noticeably reflected in public discourse on energy policy and are limited to the scientific milieu.

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El desarrollo sostenible como política pública

Caso Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado de Quito

María del Carmen Zenck Huerta, Puiyen Urrutia Camchong and Ingrid Ríos Rivera

*Full article is in Spanish

English Abstract:

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was chosen by WWF in 2016 as one of the most sustainable cities in Latin America, a distinction it shares with Bogotá, Cali, Monteria, San Isidro, Miraflores, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Belo Horizonte. To reach this recognition, the local governments of these cities implement economic, social and environmental policies that lay the legal foundations for an integrally sustainable and coherent development. This study explores the unique case of Quito, whose decentralized autonomous government implements a local public policy on social responsibility for the promotion of the sustainable development of the territory, based on corporate co-responsibility and citizen participation, incorporating international standards such as the Global Compact Principles, GRI, ISO 26000 and the SDGs

Spanish Abstract:

Quito, capital de Ecuador, fue elegida por WWF en 2016 como una de las ciudades más sostenibles en América Latina, distinción que comparte junto a Bogotá, Cali, Montería, San Isidro, Miraflores, Río de Janeiro, Recife y Belo Horizonte. Para llegar a este reconocimiento, los gobiernos locales de estas ciudades implementan políticas económicas, sociales y medioambientales que sientan las bases legales para un desarrollo sostenible integral y coherente. Este estudio explora el caso único de Quito, cuyo gobierno autónomo descentralizado implementa una política pública local en responsabilidad social para el fomento del desarrollo sostenible del territorio, sustentada en la corresponsabilidad corporativa y la participación ciudadana, incorporando normas internacionales como los Principios del Pacto Global, GRI, ISO 26000 y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible.

French Abstract:

Quito, la capitale de l’Équateur, a été choisie par le WWF en 2016 comme l’une des villes les plus durables d’Amérique latine, une distinction qu’elle partage avec Bogota, Cali, Monteria, San Isidro, Miraflores, Rio de Janeiro, Recife et Belo Horizonte. Pour parvenir à cette reconnaissance, les gouvernements locaux de ces villes mettent en oeuvre des politiques économiques, sociales et environnementales qui jettent les bases juridiques d’un développement durable intégral et cohérent. Cette étude explore le cas unique de Quito, dont le gouvernement autonome décentralisé met en oeuvre une politique publique locale de responsabilité sociale pour la promotion du développement durable du territoire, fondée sur la coresponsabilité des entreprises et la participation des citoyens, intégrant des normes internationales telles que le Pacte Mondial Principes, GRI, ISO 26000 et les ODD.

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Elite ethnography in an insecure place

The methodological implications of “studying up” in Pakistan

Rosita Armytage

Based on ethnographic research conducted with the wealthiest and most powerful business owners and politicians in urban Pakistan from 2013 to 2015, this article examines the particular set of epistemological and interpersonal issues that arise when studying elite actors. In politically unstable contexts like Pakistan, the relationship between the researcher and the elite reveals shifting power dynamics of class, gender, and national background, which are further complicated by the prevalence of rumor and the exceptional ability of elite informants to obscure that which they would prefer remain hidden. Specifically, this article argues that the researcher’s positionality, and the inversion of traditional power dynamics between the researcher and the researched, can ameliorate, as well as exacerbate, the challenges of undertaking participant observation with society’s most powerful.

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Elusive Fungus?

Forms of Attraction in Multispecies World Making

Michael J. Hathaway

This article explores how attraction, a companion term to elusiveness, reveals insights into multispecies worlds by showing how different organisms such as the matsutake mushroom interpret the world and interact with each other, whether or not humans are involved. Building on scholarly interest in the ‘animal turn’ (explorations of the human-animal relationship), this article moves beyond human-centered scholarship by using, but also modifying, the concept of umwelt introduced by the Baltic German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. Employing a critical social scientific reading of the biological literature that analyzes its findings, as well as challenges its animal-centric models of agency and behavior, I argue that this perspective helps us better understand ourselves as humans in a world that is much more than human.