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Open access

“Your debts are our problem”

The politicization of debt in Azerbaijan

Tristam Barrett

a “fully authoritarian state” ( Levitsky and Way 2010: 34 ). It allows us to look beyond the recent backlash against organized civil society to see how particular constituencies of interest may exist outside this framework and be enrolled in local

Open access

Julie Fedor

This article explores a key claim underpinning Russian official memory politics, namely, the notion that Russia’s past (and especially the role it played in the Second World War) is the object of a campaign of “historical falsification” aimed at, among other things, undermining Russian sovereignty, especially by distorting young people’s historical consciousness. Although “historical falsification” is an important keyword in the Kremlin’s discourse, it has received little scholarly attention. Via an analysis of official rhetoric and methodological literature aimed at history teachers, I investigate the ideological functions performed by the concept of “historical falsification.” I show how it serves to reinforce a conspiratorial vision of Russia as a nation under siege, while simultaneously justifying the drive toward greater state control over history education.

Open access

Emergent Police States

Racialized Pacification and Police Moralism from Rio's Favelas to Bolsonaro

Tomas Salem and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

be understood as a modern colonial formation. In what can be read as an elaboration of—and addition to—their nuanced and rich analyses, we use postcolonial theory to examine how authoritarian moralism and urban security practices in the favelas

Open access

Emma Findlen LeBlanc

most promising strategy for its fulfilment, democracy is also their answer to Islam, the collective practice through which authoritarian trends in Islam are thwarted, and its true radical vision for justice realised. This article is based primarily on

Open access

Anna Berglund

interlocutors to reject, despite the challenges it posed to everyday life. The Rwandan state implemented its development policies in a top-down, authoritarian way. Ordinary Rwandans have long been closely surveilled, controlled and threatened with reprisals

Open access

Takamichi Sakurai

of authoritarian political regime’ ( Bach 2006: 192 ). The eminent theorist of fascism Roger Griffin further defines fascism as a ‘revolutionary form of ultra-nationalism that attempts to realize the myth of the regenerated nation’ (2012: 1). On the

Open access

Politics, Consumption, or Nihilism

Protest and Disorder after the Global Crash

Bob Jeffery, Joseph Ibrahim, and David Waddington

The years since the onset of global recession, circa 2008, have led to an unprecedented rise in discontent in societies around the world. Whether this be the Arab Spring of 2011 when popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes cascaded across North Africa and the Middle East, or the rise of left-wing, anti-capitalist and far-right movements in the developed 'north', ranging from the Indignados in Spain, Syriza and the Golden Dawn in Greece, Le Front National in France, student movements in Quebec, or the allegedly less articulate explosion of rage characterizing the English Riots of 2011, it is clear that Fukuyama's thesis regarding the final ascendency of liberal capitalism (and its puppet regimes in the developing world) was grossly misplaced. In Badiou's (2012) terms we are witnessing 'the rebirth of history', where all bets regarding the trajectories of local and global political economies are off.

Open access

Civil Societies and Uncivil Times

The Rubber Band Ball of Transnational Tensions

Brian Callan

This article introduces a special issue of Contention Journal addressing various contemporary mobilizations of civil society in response to the war in Syria and the migration of refugees into Europe. With contributions from Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany, the cases represent a breadth of multidisciplinary approaches and a variety of stylistic standpoints, from statistical media analysis to troubled personal reflections of engaged activist academics. The subject matter ranges from political mobilization against authoritarianism and austerity, transnational philanthropy, the emergence of local grassroots voluntary aid to right-wing populist nationalism. Though diverse, a coherent narrative is seen to converge around the refugee crisis as it unfolds in Europe; one of radical polarization within civil societies and starkly conflicting imaginaries of social futures that claim to preclude the legitimacy of other possibilities. At the same time alliances are being generated beyond borders in an attempt to bolster ideological capacity, authority, and force. This is not a clash of civilizations but the rubber band ball of transnational tension, a strained, chaotic and overlapping global contestation. At stake is the understanding of what a civil society should be.

Open access

An Obstacle to Decolonising Europe

White Nationalism and Its Co-option of Serbian Propaganda

Jordan Kiper

While the central aim of decolonisation is undoing colonial legacies, a major obstacle is white nationalism. A new wave of transnational anti-globalist, Islamophobic, and white-grievance tropes have hybridised with local political ideologies of right-wing politics and authoritarian populists in Europe and the United States. Here, I review the cultural characteristics of this new wave of white nationalism by focusing on its co-option of Serbian nationalist propaganda from the Yugoslav Wars and shared receptivity to narratives among far-right political groups in former colonial powers. The portrait that emerges is one of cross-cultural variations on a common theme: maintaining white supremacy and actively countering ideological challenges to it. Critically, the new wave of white nationalism expands our anthropological understanding of white supremacy but also highlights the significance of white nationalism in obstructing justice initiatives that address the race crimes of colonialism. Less consensus has been reached, however, on how to counter white nationalist networks and transnational extremist propaganda. In addition to highlighting ways to counter white nationalist propaganda, I argue that decolonising Europe and achieving its envisioned relations of sociative peace will not be fully realised unless more is done to minimise the influence of white nationalism.

Open access


Decolonisation Matters

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos and Livio Sansone

In 2020, Europe was the setting for several events that sparked off a broad debate on the need for the decolonisation of thought, practices, spaces, monuments and museums. Historically, several European countries have had a direct or indirect relationship with colonialism and its practices, as well as with the authoritarian ways of managing and exercising power (Cahen and Matos 2018; Cooper and Stoler 1997; Matos 2019). The need to reflect on imperial ruins (Stoler 2013) and to decolonise thought today is therefore understandable. This was not always considered urgent, however. Additionally, there was not always an opportunity for it. In the postcolonial period, debates were limited mainly to academia and, more recently, to the world of museums, where the hot issue of repatriation of artefacts and human remains that were pillaged, stolen, or abusively gathered in the Third World was initiated by the 1970 UNESCO Convention against Illicit Export under the Act to implement the Convention (the Cultural Property Implementation Act) and boosted by the successive UNESCO resolutions on repatriation (Sansone 2017; 2019).