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Contested Representations

Exploring China’s State Report

Halme-Tuomisaari and Miia

As states become parties to international human rights treaties, they undertake the obligation to provide periodic state reports to UN human rights treaty bodies. Officially, state reports are paramount vehicles of factual information of a given state’s human rights situation. Unofficially their status may be contested and their data reduced to state propaganda. This article examines this transformation through the submission of China’s first state report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The article shows how human rights documents of diverse genres join together in a continual ceremony of dialogue. It connects minute details of treaty body proceedings to more general developments in the international human rights field, and argues that beneath the veneer of diplomatic conduct accompanying human rights dialogue lays an intense struggle for representation and legitimacy. It further discusses how this struggle reflects the recent rise of Kantian theories of international law. These theories seek to re-evaluate the foundational concept of international law, namely ‘sovereign equality’, and, thus continue the mission civilisatrice that has characterized elements of international collaboration for centuries.

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Dialogue for Development

An Exploration of Relations between Oil and Gas Companies, Communities, and the State

Florian Stammler and Emma Wilson

This introduction provides an overview of academic research and current practice relating to stakeholder dialogue around oil and gas development in the Russian North, Siberia and the Russian Far East. We discuss the two main strands of analysis in this special issue: (a) regulation and impact assessment; and (b) relationship-building in practice, with a particular focus on indigenous communities. We argue that an effective regulatory framework, meaningful dialogue, and imaginative organization of stakeholder relations are required to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits from oil and gas projects. Self-interest, mistrust, and a lack of collective agency frequently lead to ineffective planning and heightened tensions in relations. We identify lessons to be learned from partnerships and initiatives already established in Sakhalin and Western Siberia, despite the lack of a stable legal framework to govern relations. This issue focuses on the academic-practitioner interface, emphasizing the importance of practical application of academic research and the value of non-academic contributions to academic debates.

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The Editors

We at Projections have stated our purpose as being to ‘facilitate a dialogue between people in the humanities and the sciences’ (not a modest goal for a little journal first making its way in the world). We have intended to do this through what seems to us the medium that best synthesises art and technology and opens itself up to scientific investigation because of its complex perceptual nature—film. Our focus, at the same time, has been on the mind/brain, since that seems to us the place were science and film best meet.

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Regina Franco

A World Family Portrait is a joint project of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) and Regions and 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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Fostering peace through dialogue

The international social democratic movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pentti Väänänen

The Socialist International (SI), the worldwide forum of the socialist, social democratic, and labor parties, actively looked for a solution to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in the 1980s. At that time, the Israeli Labour Party still was the leading political force in Israel, as it had been historically since the foundation of the country. The Labour Party was also an active member of the SI. The Party’s leader, Shimon Peres, was one of its vice-presidents. At the same time, the social democratic parties were the leading political force in Western Europe. Several important European leaders, many of them presidents and prime ministers, were involved in the SI’s work. They included personalities such as Willy Brandt of Germany; former president of the SI, Francois Mitterrand of France; James Callaghan of Great Britain; Bruno Kreisky of Austria; Bettini Craxi of Italy; Felipe Gonzalez of Spain; Mario Soares of Portugal; Joop de Uyl of the Netherlands; Olof Palme of Sweden; Kalevi Sorsa of Finland; Anker Jörgensen of Denmark; and Gro Harlem Brudtland of Norway—all of whom are former vice-presidents of the SI. As a result, in the 1980s, the SI in many ways represented Europe in global affairs, despite the existence of the European Community (which did not yet have well-defined common foreign policy objectives).

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Adaptation Lived as a Story

Why We Should Be Careful about the Stories We Use to Tell Other Stories

Nicole Klenk

Within the field of climate change adaptation research, “stories” are usually simply mined for data, developed as communication and engagement technologies, and used to envision different futures. But there are other ways of understanding people’s narratives. This article explores how we can move away from understanding stories as cultural constructs that represent a reality and toward understanding them as the way in which adaptation is lived. The article investigates questions such as the following: As climate adaptation researchers, what can and should we do when we are told unsolicited stories? How can storytelling, as a way of life rather than as a source of data, inform and elaborate scientific approaches to adaptation research and planning? In this article, I move away from the literature that seeks to develop narrative methods in adaptation science. Instead, I focus on stories that we do not elicit and the world-making practice of storytelling.

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Adam Drazin and Simon Roberts

Ethnographic work conducted by the Digital Health Group, Intel Ireland, explores the questions of how concepts of health and independence relate to peoples' lives in later life. This paper serves to present artistic approaches to the design of the material culture in elderly homes in Ireland, and aims to highlight and discuss the merits and problems of such approaches. Through writing 'in miniature' about specific experiences and homes, we propose that it is possible to develop explorations of material objects in the home which, rather than presenting material contexts as terminal 'conclusions' to the research process, use them as provoking and questioning resources for engaged dialogical encounters with informants.

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Spaces for Transdisciplinary Dialogues on the Relationship between Local Communities and Their Environments

The Case of a Rural Community in the Calchaquí Valley (Salta, Argentina)

Martha Crivos, María Rose Martínez, Laura Teves and Carolina Remorini

Our ethnographic research focuses on the perception and use of components of the natural environment in terms of routine activities carried out by the residents of a rural community in the Calchaqui Valley (Salta, Argentina). Life in this community is characterised by the presence of traditional subsistence activities – agriculture, cattle farming, textile manufacturing and ancestral medical practices – coexisting with business ventures focused on monoculture and export, tourism centred on landscape intervention and promotion of native products, and the growing key role of public policies in the areas of health and human development. In this context, a joint reflection on viability and sustainability of local and global practices and resources must be undertaken. Implementing intersectoral forums and focus-group discussions, governmental and non-governmental actors, researchers and local people must work conjointly to achieve a fresh patrimonial awareness of livelihood strategies based on their long interaction with a specific environment.

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Ina-Maria Greverus

Elisabeth Katschnig-Fasch died on 4 February 2012. Many people, including the present and past editors of AJEC, are mourning the loss of this very special, indeed unique woman. However, she remains in dialogue with us through her numerous publications.

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Jonathan Magonet

A memorial tribute to Rabbi Nathan Peter Levinson (23 November 1921–27 October 2016) a leading figure in rebuilding post-war Jewish life in Germany and Jewish-Christian dialogue.