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Durkheim

Une sociologie d’État

Catherine Colliot-Thélène

It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.

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Ezekiel

The Prophet, His Times, His Message

Carl S. Ehrlich

With the exception of a brief ‘golden age’ in the days of the United Monarchy in the tenth century BCE, ancient Israel was a minor actor on the world scene. This pattern was set by the successors of King Solomon, the latter of whose disastrous internal policies led to the split of his father David’s kingdom into the rival states of Israel and Judah (1 Kgs. 12). Caught between various mighty empires and petty national entities, the kings of Judah and Israel attempted to maintain their semi-independence through a constant game of shifting political alliances. The first to succumb was the kingdom of Israel in 721 BCE (2 Kgs. 17). It had counted on Egyptian aid in the attempt to shake off the shackles of Assyrian authority. However, as recorded in 2 Kings 18:21 and Isaiah 36:6, Egypt was a ‘broken reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of the one who leans on it’. Those deported from Israel as a consequence of its defeat were to disappear from history and to enter into legend as the ‘ten lost tribes’.

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Pascal Bourdeaux

Indochina played a pioneering role during the decolonization of the French empire, and the religious issue proved important to the process. Even to this day, state-church relations bear signs of this contentious and painful past. The historiography of the Indochina War, as well as that of the Vietnam War, clearly call attention to the activism of religious leaders and religious communities, especially Buddhists and Catholics, who fought for independence, peace, and the needs and rights of the Third World. And religion was put to the service of shaping public opinion both in Vietnam and internationally. Naturally, ideological convictions during the era of decolonialization account for the dominance of political analysis of this subject. But with the passage of time we can now develop a more sociological understanding of people's religious motivations and practices and the role they played in the conflict between communism and nationalism. The historian can also re-examine the secularization process in decolonized societies by analyzing, on the one hand, the supposed loss of ascendancy of religions in society and, on the other hand, the appearance of new religious movements that tended to adapt to modernity. This essay explores these politico-religious dynamics in the context of the decolonization of Vietnam.

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Between Writing and Image

A Scriptwriter's Way of Working

Benoît Peeters

This article concerns the way in which a comics scriptwriter works collaboratively with different artists. It traces the development of a working method with François Schuiten, the artist of the Cités obscures ['Cities of the Fantastic'] series, and the extension of the series itself beyond the two-dimensional page into other formats. The constant exchange between artist and scriptwriter is stressed: each is involved in the conception of both the plotline and the visual aspects of the work. Hergé is cited as an example of an artist whose ease in conjuring images out of words and ideas from images may be termed 'graphic thinking'. It is noted, however, that the tendency of publishing houses to favour scriptwriters who predetermine the course of the album limits such inventiveness. The open-endedness that, in ideal conditions, characterises the work of the comics scriptwriter, and the thoroughgoing nature of the collaboration, is compared with the more rigid, and limited, role assigned to a film scriptwriter. A more flexible and creative process is not impossible to achieve in cinema, but it is concluded that this is rare, and that it is the comics medium that affords the greater degree of freedom and independence.

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Virginie Rey

This article presents an analysis of the evolution of ethnographic museums in Tunisia, tracing their development from the period of French colonial rule until the present. It documents and interprets the trajectory of museography in the country over nearly a century, demonstrating changes and continuities in role, setting and architecture across shifting ideological landscapes, from the colonial, to the postcolonial to the more recent revolutionary setting. It is argued that Tunisian ethnographic museums, both in their processes of conception behind the scenes and in their scenography itself, have been key sites in which to read debates about national identity. The article excavates the evolution of paradigms in which Tunisian popular identity has been expressed through the ethnographic museum, from the modernist notion of 'indigenous authenticity' to efforts at nation-building after independence, and more recent conceptions of cultural diversity. Based on a combination of archival research, participant observation and interviews with past and present protagonists in the Tunisian museum field, this research brings to light new material on an understudied area.

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Dagmar Herzog

This article analyzes the evolution of sexual politics and cultures in post-unification Germany, tracing these through three stages. First is the more immediate aftermath, in the early to mid 1990s, of ostalgische consternation over the loss of what Easterners understood to be the special qualities of GDR sexual culture, analyzing this consternation in the context of the—mutually conflicting—fantasies that Easterners and Westerners had about each other, replete with Easterners' ideas about how capitalism deforms interhuman interactions and Westerners' ideas about the deformations caused by totalitarian surveillance. A second stage runs from the mid 1990s through to the early twenty-first century, and includes both the convergence between East and West on the governmental policy level and the growing similarities identified in Easterners' and Westerners' sexual habits and mores. The third stage concerns the more recent past of the last five years and emphasizes the paradoxical coexistence of, on the one hand, strong commitment (on both the governmental and popular levels) to liberal values of individual sexual self-determination and toleration of diversity and a general sex-positive climate with, on the other, tremendous anxiety about the rise of European Islam (with its purportedly intrinsic hostility to both homosexuality and female sexual independence) and about the precipitous decline of the German birthrate. Attention is also paid to the newest policy directions with regard to adolescent sexuality and age of consent laws, abortion access, and disability rights.

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Pierre Bourdieu

In my book, The Rules of Art,2 I demonstrated that the intellectual world is an autonomous world within the social world, a microcosm which constituted itself progressively through a series of struggles. In the history of the West, the first to acquire their autonomy with regard to power were the jurists, who in twelfth century Bologna succeeded in asserting their collective independence in relation to the Prince, and, simultaneously, their rivalry amongst themselves. As soon as a field is constituted and asserts its existence, it asserts itself into the internal struggle. It is one of the properties of “fields” that the question of belongingness to this universe is at stake in the very midst of these universes. Suppose that, like a French historian by the name of Viala, one makes a study of the French writers of the seventeenth century: one uncovers lists of writers, one compiles these lists and one undertakes to describe the social characteristics of the writers. In terms of a good positivist method, it is beyond reproach; in fact, I believe that it is a serious error.

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Autonomy and control

Danish university reform in the context of modern governance

Susan Wright and Jakob Williams Ørberg

In 2003 the Danish government reformed universities to 'set them free' from the state. Yet ministers are actively trying to shape universities and even set research agendas. How does the government's notion of 'freedom' reconcile independence with control? We identify three discourses of freedom: freedom to use academic judgement over what to research, teach, publish and say publicly; a free trade discourse where universities are free to pursue profit; and a modernising state discourse where government steers universities to contribute to the knowledge economy. Danish universities were reformed as part of the modernisation of the welfare state. We explore the assemblage of administrative and funding mechanisms through which the government now steers independent organisations: a chain of contracts for outsourced services, newly appointed managers, output payments and accrual accounting. While responsibility for achieving government policy is passed downwards through the independent organisation, formal lines of accountability run back up to the government. University leaders and academics are set free to manoeuvre within the system, but their economic survival is firmly dependent on responsiveness to centralised steering mechanisms

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Victoria Rowe

Through an analysis of articles and novels written by four Armenian women, which appeared in the periodical press from 1880 to 1915, this text evaluates the ways in which the trajectories of the intellectual and cultural movement known as the Zartonk (Awakening) in Armenian history facilitated women writers' emergence into the public sphere and their creation of the language and formulation of a discourse of women's rights in the Armenian socio-political context. The article provides biographical information on four women writers and examines the secular cultural institutions—such as the salon, the periodical press, the school, and the philanthropic organisation—which emerged in Constantinople and were conducive to women's participation in the public sphere. The article then problematises Armenian women writers' formulation of a specific political discourse of women's rights in the socio-political context of the Armenian millet in the Ottoman state and suggests that Armenian women writers produced a type of feminism that may have been typical of nations without independence in the context of state-sanctioned violence.

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Governing ethnic diversity in rainbow nations

The politics of citizenship and multi-culturalism in Peninsular Malaysia—the case of Penang

Christian Giordano

The present article analyzes how, after its independence in 1957, Malaysia has been able to manage the difficult coexistence among its three numerically most relevant ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese and Indian). This complex situation, a legacy of the British colonial-like plural society, has been governed via a specific model of multi-racial citizenship, which is significantly unlike the Western European ones in which, as a rule, the equivalence between nationality and citizenship predominates. Starting from the specific example of Penang in Peninsular Malaysia, the article intends to highlight two points. Firstly, that citizenship must be perceived as an agonistic process with competition, tensions and conflicts as well as permanent negotiations. Secondly, that the Occidental agenda, based on liberal principles, can no longer be regarded as the only valid one. Therefore, believing that the Western type of citizenship could be a universalistic institution exportable anywhere is misleading. Consequently, citizenship ought to be analyzed instead as a 'concrete abstraction' that is set up in strict correlation with the specific historical contexts and with particular circumstances of a sociological nature, relative to the characteristics of each society.