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Coalition Politics in Crisis?

The German Party System Before and After the 2017 Federal Election

Frank Decker and Philipp Adorf

Abstract

The 2017 federal election illustrated the transformation of Germany’s political party system with six parties managing to enter the Bundestag. With the Christian and Social Democrats finally coming to an agreement almost half a year after the election, a grand coalition is set to govern for two consecutive terms for the very first time. The Alternative for Germany’s success also signaled the definite parliamentary establishment of right-wing populism in Germany. Multiparty coalitions that bridge ideological gulfs as the political fringe has grown in size are a new reality that must be accommodated. The 2017 election and subsequent arduous negotiations point towards a period of uncertainty and further upheaval for Germany’s party system.

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Uncertain Mobilities

A View from the Past

Colin G. Pooley

Contemporary society assumes high levels of unimpeded mobility, and disruptions to the ability to move quickly and easily can cause considerable concern. This paper examines the notion of mobility uncertainty and disruption from an historical perspective, arguing that interruptions to mobility have long been a characteristic of everyday travel. It is suggested that what has changed is not so much the extent or nature of disruption, but rather the resilience of transport systems and societal norms and expectations about travel. Data are taken from five examples of life writing produced by residents of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The texts are used to illustrate the travel problems encountered and the strategies adopted to deal with them. A concluding discussion examines these themes in the context of twenty-first century mobility.

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Egypt between Two Shakespeare Quadricentennials 1964–2016

Reflective Remarks in Three Snapshots

Hazem Azmy

Abstract

This article reflects critically on Shakespeare’s presence in the Egyptian cultural and national imaginaries between the country’s celebration of two Shakespeare quadricentennials. The 400th anniversary of his birth in 1964 coincided with the euphoric reimagining of Egypt as a decolonizing nationalist utopia, and also with the launch of the highly emblematic al-Masraḥ magazine; that of the Bard’s death in 2016 has occurred as the exhausted ‘post-revolutionary’ nation navigates a welter of blind spots and uncertainties on all levels. Culled from the wider public sphere, mainstream stage practice and my classroom experiences as an instructor of drama and theatre in contemporary Egypt, the article’s three snapshots exhibit compelling evidence of cultural hegemony, entrenched gerontocracy and both the subtle and not so subtle continuing subjugation of feminized voices.

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Configurations of Plague

Spatial Diagrams in Early Epidemiology

Lukas Engelmann

Diagrams are found at the heart of the modern history of epidemiology. Epidemiologists used spatial diagrams to visualize concepts of epidemics as arrangements of biological, environmental, historical, as well as social factors and to analyze epidemics as configurations. Often, they provided a representation of the networks of relationships implied by epidemics, rather than to offer conclusions about origin and causation. This article will look at two spatial diagrams of plague across a period in which an epidemiological way of reasoning stood in stark contrast to arguments provided about plague in the rising field of bacteriology and experimental medicine. This historical genealogy of epidemiologists working with diagrams challenges perceptions of epidemic diagrams as mere arguments of causality to emphasize diagrammatic notions of uncertainty, crisis, and invisibility.

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Memorialising Europe

Revitalising and Reframing a 'Christian' Continent

Peter Jan Margry

In the economic and political unification process of Europe, the idea of the creation of a pan-European identity was put high on the political agenda. With the failure of this effort, the emphasis shifted to the apparently less fraught concept of 'shared cultural heritage'. This article analyses how the politically guided rediscovery of Europe's past has contributed to the creation of a 'Religion of Heritage', not only by raising up a political altar for cultural heritage, but also through the revitalisation, instrumentalisation and transformation of the Christian heritage, in order to try to memorialise and affirm a collective European identity based on its Christian past. In the context of this process, the network of European pilgrims' ways appears to have been an especially successful performative form of heritage creation, which has both dynamised Christian roots as a relevant trans-European form of civil religion that has taken shape, capitalising on the new religious and spiritual demands created by secularisation, and responded to the demand for shared - and Christian inspired - European values and meanings in times of uncertainty and crisis.

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The Relational Ethics of ‘Never . . . Too Much’

Situating and Scaling Intimate Uncertainties in an Adriatic Harbour

Jelena Tošić

This article explores how a specific pattern of relational ethics – referred to as ‘never . . . too much’ – figures as a way of coping with intimate uncertainties in close relationships. The concept of relational ethics refers to the historically embedded ways in which people live and cultivate ethical values through relations and, as such, also represents an ethnographically grounded conceptual contribution to ongoing anthropological debates on moral economy. My research unfolds ethnographic insights into three variations of the relational ethics of ‘never . . . too much’, three respective sets of social actors and relational scales: ‘never feel too much’/local women and their relationship to their marital partner; ‘never own too much’/local men and their relationship to property; ‘never settle too much’/female migrants from Russia and their relationship to the place of settlement. The article’s analysis is developed against the background of a particular spatial and temporal location – a border minority town with a history of (forced) migration, and is a contemporary focal point of migration, marginalisation by the state and patriarchy.

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Student Mobility and Internationalisation

Rationales, Rhetoric and 'Institutional Isomorphism'

Vered Amit

Drawing on interviews with Canadian and Australian officials, this article examines the frame of student mobility within the broad discourse of internationalisation. Difficulties in definition and admitted shortfalls in achieving progress even on the more easily articulated benchmarks of student mobility, do not seem to staunch the enthusiasm of a variety of officials for the idea of internationalisation. This article will examine some of the contradictions framing these institutional discourses of internationalisation. These include the gaps between institutional claims and their substantiation, between lauding the internationalism inculcated by student mobility programmes and the more mixed motivations or engagements of student clients, and between claims for the entrepreneurial potential of internationalisation as against the uncertainty of its outcomes. I argue that a long-standing Western view of travel as a vehicle for self-cultivation and transformation combined with competitive efforts to keep up with perceived trends in the fields of post-secondary education are producing a momentum that is elusive even as it threatens to bulldoze its way across important institutional practices and procedures.

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Raymond Murphy

This article assesses the cornucopian theory of the mastery of plastic nature. Serious deficiencies are found, especially the theory's complacent faith in economic rationality and its underestimation of nature's capacity for unexpected emergent disturbances. Conclusions about the real state of the world and realistic expectations for the future must take into account not only present trends, but also the findings of research into disasters and societies that have collapsed. Learning from the analysis of such discontinuities and breaking points will help to avoid simplistic presumptions of safety based on extrapolating time-series trends of present well-being in wealthy societies into the distant future. It is precisely disaster research and studies of collapsed societies that can teach us about failures of foresight concerning nature's dynamics, about the material consequences of such errors, about the uncertainties involved in foreseeing nature's emergent dynamics, and about social barriers to learning from the prompts of nature. Although apologetics for business-as-usual, full-steam-ahead practices that masquerade as realism should be rejected, a deeper realism that has learned to expect the unexpected from nature is necessary. Such a critical realist perspective for investigating prompts from nature has been elaborated in this article.

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Known Unknowns

Critical Reflections on Daniel M. Goldstein’s Outlawed

Benjamin O. L. Bowles

Goldstein, D. M. (2012), Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City (Durham: Duke University Press), 344 pp., 9 photographs, 1 map, ISBN: 978-0-8223-5311-9 (paperback).

Daniel M. Goldstein’s Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City (2012) is a thickly described and richly detailed ethnography of uncertainty in the barrios of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It holds important insights for legal anthropology, particularly where the sub-discipline intersects with the anthropology of the state and the anthropology of human rights. The ethnographic detail is exemplary, with the work here having serious implications for anthropological theory and opening up several avenues for further investigation. That it opens new debates more than it offers cohesive answers – as is, admittedly, possibly fitting for the ‘uncertain anthropology’ that Goldstein advocates – both is the prime strength of the work and can be offered as a gentle critique. I consider this to be because of the ambitious breadth of the work to the extent that directions that were implied were ultimately left somewhat unexplored. This review article is an attempt to consider the prime contributions of Outlawed and to tentatively map some of these implied connections.

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Social orphans and the neblagopoluchnaia family

The cycle of child displacement in the Russian north

Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill

Due to profound socioeconomic and political changes in post-Soviet Russia, the number of families viewed as neblagopoluchnye and 'unfit' for bringing up their children is increasing, and so is the number of children without parental care. To protect children from the harmful influence of their 'unfit' parents and to ensure a better future for them, state agents remove children from their families placing them in residential care institutions. Yet the nature of parenting in state care, the absence of inter-generational support and the lack of networks for family support and assistance render some of these young people ill equipped to deal successfully with the difficulties and uncertainties of post-Soviet social realities. Usually the state agents hold care-leavers responsible for their maladjustment and place the former residents' children in residential care institutions. This leads to the creation of whole 'dynasties' of institutionalised individuals. This article outlines some concepts and practices of child removal, demonstrating that both are still underpinned by Soviet values. Institutional experiences as narrated by former residents illustrate the genesis of difficulties in post-institutional adjustment.