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The 2020 paradox

A multisystem crisis in search of a comprehensive response

Aleida Azamar Alonso and Carmen Maganda Ramírez

In most of the world, we follow a production model based on economic premises from the middle of the nineteenth century, including processes of accumulation, monopolization, and privatization of a territory’s common goods and of life itself, in order to guarantee the reproduction of capital. International regulations and laws that protect nature are mostly limited to reaction and repair of environmental damages caused by anthropocentric activities in the most vulnerable and impoverished nations in the world but do not o􀄞 en question the damage to populations, especially indigenous peoples and their ancestral territories. Latin America exemplifies this, given that the region has experienced a series of political, economic, environmental, and now health crises as it has become the epicenter of the current COVID-19 pandemic (Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, 2021).

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The American continents have become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistically, it is the world region which has been impacted the most by the pandemic. By August 3, 2021, over two million people have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19, which represents roughly half of the total number of confirmed global deaths from the disease (Statista, 2021). Moreover, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that the economies of this region will contract by 5.3% in 2021, which will plunge almost 30 million inhabitants of this world region into poverty (ECLAC, 2021).

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The antimonies of the PAH (Platform of Mortgage Victims) in Spain

Between solidarity and political effectiveness

Monique Nuijten and Pieter de Vries

In the Platform of Mortgage Victims (PAH) the common view exists that all activists are equal, that there are no leaders, and that there is no division of labor between grassroots activists and activist-politicians. We show that the trope of horizontalism (the nonexistence of hierarchy within the platform) in effect hides the existence of an unacknowledged leadership structure and of electoral aspirations. We argue that the tensions between grassroots activists and emerging activist-politicians stand for a fundamental divide that renders possible a true change in the state of the situation. This article draws on the work of Alain Badiou and Jodi Dean to argue that the PAH contributed to the 15M movement as a truth event by staging performances of egalitarianism and cultivating solidarity in a disciplined way.

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Geoffrey Aung

Dua, Jatin. 2019. Captured at sea: Piracy and protection in the Indian Ocean. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Appel, Hannah. 2019. The licit life of capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Sopranzetti, Claudio. 2018. Owners of the map: Motorcycle taxi drivers, mobility, and politics in Bangkok. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

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“Biggest Nationalist in the Country”

Self-Descriptive Uses of “Nationalist” in Contemporary Russia

Veera Laine

Nationalism is an ism rarely used as self-description. This article suggests that nationalist discourses are on the move, meaning the concept may be used in novel ways. In Russia, for example, the president recently identified himself as a nationalist, claiming ownership of the concept in the long-standing struggle against manifestations of oppositional nationalism. The article asks who describes themselves as nationalists in contemporary Russia, how do they define the concept, and how did it change during the years 2008–2018 when nationalism as a political idea became increasingly important in Russian politics? Drawing from Russian newspaper sources, the article suggests that diverse, self-proclaimed nationalist actors rely on narrow ethnic understandings of the concept and do not embrace the president’s interpretation of multinational nationalism.

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Conceptual History of the Near East

The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity

Florian Zemmin and Henning Sievert

Conceptual history holds tremendous potential to address a central issue in Near Eastern Studies, namely the formation of modernity in the Near East, provisionally located between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. The encounter with European powers, primarily Britain and France, was a decisive historical factor in this formation; and European hegemony is, in fact, inscribed into the very concept of “modernity,” which we take as an historical, rather than analytical, concept. The conceptual formation of modernity in Arabic and Turkish was, however, a multilayered process; involving both ruptures and continuities, intersecting various temporalities, and incorporating concepts from several languages. To interrogate this multilayered process, we suggest the metaphor of the Sattelzeit (Saddle Period) as a heuristic tool, precisely because of its being tied to modernity. Finally, the article will show what conceptual history of the Near East has to offer to conceptual history more broadly.

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Conceptualizing an Outside World

The Case of “Foreign” in Dutch Newspapers 1815–1914

Ruben Ros

This article studies the concept of buitenland (the foreign) in a broad sample of Dutch newspapers in the period between 1815 and 1914. Buitenland emerged as a key concept in the nineteenth century. It referred to an “outside word” that was marked by semantic properties such as instability and closeness. As such, this apparently mundane spatial indicator bolstered the emergent “spatial regime” of globality and globalization. The article thus shows how a computational analysis of concepts that could be easily overlooked reveals structural transformations in the way past and present societies conceptualize (global) space.

Open access

Carlos A. Rodríguez Wallenius

English Abstract: This article analyzes the extractivist and dispossession modalities in the Mexican neodevelopmental proposal to face the multiple crises accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the qualitative narrative method applied to social processes, four infrastructure and extractivist megaprojects are analyzed. Neodevelopmental policies of the current government insist on carrying out works as a strategy to create jobs, reactivate the economy, and promote well-being, especially for the southeast region with high rates of socioeconomic inequality. The findings point to an increase in investment and job creation and a rejection by various communities and organizations that consider that their ways of life are being threatened by the efforts of the neodevelopmental government to build megaprojects before and during the pandemic.

Spanish Abstract: Este artículo analiza las modalidades extractivistas y de despojo en la propuesta neodesarrollista mexicana para enfrentar las crisis múltiples acentuadas por la pandemia de la COVID-19. Con el método cualitativo narrativo aplicado a procesos sociales, se analizan cuatro megaproyectos de infraestructura y extractivistas. Las políticas neodesarrollistas del gobierno actual insisten en realizar obras como una estrategia para crear empleos, reactivar la economía y fomentar el bienestar, especialmente para la región sureste con altos índices de desigualdad socioeconómica. Los hallazgos señalan un incremento en la inversión y en la generación de empleos pero también un rechazo de varias comunidades y organizaciones que consideran que sus formas de vida están siendo amenazadas frente a los esfuerzos del gobierno neodesarrollista por construir megaproyectos antes y durante la pandemia.

French Abstract: Cet article analyse les modalités extractivistes et de dépossession incluses dans la proposition néo-développementaliste mexicaine afin de faire face aux crises multiples accentuées par la pandémie de Covid-19. Avec la méthode narrative qualitative appliquée aux processus sociaux, quatre mégaprojets d’infrastructures et d’extraction sont analysés. Les politiques néo-développementalistes du gouvernement actuel insistent sur la réalisation de travaux comme stratégie pour créer des emplois, réactiver l’économie et promouvoir le bien-être, en particulier pour la région du sud-est qui connaît des taux élevés d’inégalités socio-économiques. Les résultats indiquent une augmentation des investissements et de la création d’emplois, mais aussi un rejet de la part de diverses communautés et organisations qui considèrent que leurs modes de vie sont menacés par les efforts du gouvernement néo-développementaliste pour construire des mégaprojets avant et pendant la pandémie.

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Dumpster Diving for a Better World

Explaining Unconventional Protest and Public Support for Actions against Food Waste

Benedikt Jahnke and Ulf Liebe

Food waste is a major challenge in affluent societies around the globe. Based on theories of protest and a mixed methods design combining qualitative, experimental, and survey research, we study the motives for, frequency of, and public support for dumpster diving in Germany. We find that dumpster diving as an unconventional daily protest action is related to more general protest against capitalist societies. It is motivated by both altruistic and egoistic concerns. The perceived legitimacy of violence and self-identity explain the frequency of dumpster diving. A factorial survey experiment with activists and the general public reveals strong similarities between the views of activists and those of other citizens in strong support of dumpster diving. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining different empirical methods to study food activism.

Open access

Denise Soares

English abstract: The article approaches community water management in the rural town of El Mirador, Puebla, Mexico, from the political ecology perspective. To answer the question of how community water committees face the challenges of water management at the local level, we combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The results indicate that community households face lack of access to water, and the community committee manages the water from normative, technical, ecological and symbolic spheres, without having technical or financial support from the municipality, acting autonomously. We conclude that the norms established for the management of the resource of common use are consensual, which has fostered both sustainability in the use of water and the strengthening of community ties.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo aborda la gestión comunitaria del agua en la localidad rural El Mirador, Puebla, México, desde la perspectiva de la ecología política. Para contestar la pregunta: ¿cómo los comités comunitarios enfrentan los retos de la gestión del agua a nivel local? combinamos metodología cuantitativa y cualitativa, dado que una permite generalizar y otra profundizar relaciones. Los resultados indican que los hogares de la comunidad enfrentan la carencia de acceso al agua y el comité comunitario gestiona el líquido desde ámbitos normativos, técnicos, ecológicos y simbólicos, sin contar con el apoyo del municipio. Concluimos que las normas establecidas para el manejo del recurso de uso común son consensuadas, lo cual ha propiciado tanto sostenibilidad en el uso del agua como el fortalecimiento de lazos comunitarios.

French abstract: Cet article évoque la gestion de l’eau dans la communauté rurale d’El Mirador, au Mexique, abordée dans une perspective d’écologie politique. Il répond à la question suivante : comment les comités communautaires font-ils face aux défi s locaux de la gestion de l’eau? Nous combinons les méthodologies quantitative et qualitative, l’une nous permettant de généraliser et l’autre, d’approfondir les relations. Les résultats indiquent que les familles assument le défaut d’accès à l’eau et que le comité communautaire gère les aspects normatifs, techniques, écologiques et symboliques, sans soutien de la municipalité. Nous concluons que les normes établies autour de la gestion de l’eau sont consensuelles, ce qui a favorisé la durabilité dans l’utilisation de l’eau et le renforcement des liens communautaires.