Globalization requires the ability to work and interact with people of many different nationalities and cultures. Such interaction further involves the ability to communicate more effectively across these different cultures, whatever one’s field or discipline. This implies the absolute necessity for all of us to understand the languages, values and attitudes of other cultures so that misunderstandings and misconceptions are reduced. The events of September 11 greatly increased the public’s awareness of this issue. As a professor of linguistics wrote in the New York Times shortly thereafter, we need to “understand the words of our enemies—not to mention those of our friends.”1 The Cultura project seeks precisely to develop in-depth understanding of a foreign culture, by first looking at specific words that will provide access to the heart and core of another culture.
The Cultura Project
Epistemic Practices and Ideologies of the Secret Police in Former East Germany
This paper traces the epistemic practices and ideologies that Stasi (East Germany's former secret police) used to construct the GDR peace and civil rights movements during the 1980s as one of the GDR's key enemies. In particular, the paper addresses the question of how communications in organized social encounters that are hierarchized by a cultivation of secrecy (legitimized by a Manichaean worldview) and corresponding myths about the distribution of knowledge and the proximity to an absolute social good have shaped interpretive processes. The particular epistemic style of Stasi is analyzed as a peculiar conflation of ethics and epistemology which was, ironically, profoundly undialectic, that is monothetic, and thus unable to react constructively to interpretive failures in response to a fast changing environment.
Trying to Create Cross-community Identities
St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast city centre since 1998 have been imagined as providing a common symbol and space to imagine cross-community identities. Celebrations represent an attempt to constitute a social act of forgetting, to abandon a past where public commemorations perpetuated sectarian division. This article charts how the celebrations were contentious as competing groups claimed ownership over its performance. The contested status of the celebrations were largely the outgrowth of political legislation which, rather than facilitating cross-community alliances and identities, preserves the outright difference and absolute cultures enshrined in the notion of 'nationalist' and 'unionist' identities. Moreover, if the performance of memory has helped maintain discrete unionist and nationalist identities, and an abandoning of a past blighted by sectarian conflict is required to create a new, harmonious society, this legislation rendered the role of memory and forgetting ambiguous by stressing both as contributors to reconciliation.
That old cliche Wechselbad der Emotionen aptly describes how Christian Democrats have felt since Germany’s September 1998 federal election. First came a crushing defeat, their worst showing in decades, and the end of sixteen years in power under Helmut Kohl, “chancellor of unity.” Two of Kohl’s proteges, newly chosen federal party and Bundestag caucus chair, Wolfgang Schäuble, and his handpicked general secretary, Angela Merkel, then helped the CDU to an unexpectedly rapid recovery: during 1999, the party gained ground in every Land-level election and an absolute majority of the vote in several contests. But even before their champagne went flat, party leaders found themselves mired in postwar Germany’s worst political finance scandal, triggered by revelations about Kohl’s penchant for long sustaining a personal slush-fund with large, unreported private contributions, and even by charges of bribery.
I hope it will be clear that in the point I am about to raise, I am not quarrelling with Michael's paper, and – while I do not in principle repudiate Joachim Prinz's effort to 'deflate what we might call the myth of Leo Baeck's sainthood' – that is certainly not my purpose at present. I would rather explore briefly the aspect that Michael identified in the first part of his presentation as central to Leo Baeck's legacy for us as progressive Jews: 'the unconditional divine commandment to do that which is right' – the divine command that 'leaves no room for ethical opportunism', the command that may require 'an utter subjugation of the self ', making one ultimately responsible to God and only secondarily to human beings, and that 'precludes obedience to any secular authority that contravenes God's will'. This sounds extremely noble and admirable. But how is it supposed to work for us? How are we to know what it is that God is commanding that requires such absolute obedience and sacrifice of self at a difficult moment? Clearly, as a progressive Jew, Baeck did not believe that God's will is to be discovered through the study and analysis of the ancient authoritative texts of the Jewish religious tradition. That is the Orthodox position that he did not accept. If God commands us today, it must be not in a message to be discovered in ancient texts but in a direct address. But what does this actually mean?
The Appendix delineates the economic, social, and political picture
that stands behind the events analyzed in this volume. It contains
three sections. The first, which includes Tables A1-A7, presents
historical data regarding the population: gender; age category;
labor-force, examined according to occupations and conflict; births
and marriages; various forms of criminality; important indicators
of the economy and public finance, such as domestic product and
debt. The second section is dedicated to the various electoral contests
that occurred during the year; regional, provincial, communal,
and referenda. Tables B1-B5 contain absolute numbers of votes
and the percentages obtained by the political parties in the regional
elections and the composition of the electoral coalitions in the
regions. Tables B6-B8 report the data on turnout for mayoral elections
as well as for contests for control of the capital seats of communes.
Tables B9 and B10 report the same data for elections for
provincial presidents. Finally, B11 presents the results of referenda.
The last section is dedicated to institutional data: Table C1 includes
the ministers in the Amato government.
Freedom as a Phenomenon of Political Virtuosity
In 'What Is Freedom?', Arendt speaks of freedom as a 'phenomenon of virtuosity', claiming that this phenomenon is the original, hitherto undertheorised experience of freedom in ancient Greece and Rome, and that the idea of freedom began to appear in connection with the will in our philosophical tradition only after freedom as a phenomenon of virtuosity had in practice disappeared in the late Roman Empire - but not from all human activities in which it continued to exist in a hidden form, as the power or 'gift' of humans to begin a new line of action. My interpretation of Arendt's conception of freedom begins from and elaborates on these claims, and shows that she should be taken seriously as a critic of the late antique notion that freedom consists in the decisions we make with our will. I also show that in rejecting accounts of freedom that reduce it to a matter of the will or the intellect, Arendt relies on the notion of an inspiring 'principle' of action that functions in a manner analogous to Hegel's understanding of (moral) action as taking place against a background of unwritten rules (sittlichkeit) and as deriving its 'validity' and 'absolute' character from a spirit, or principle, immanent within it.
Secondary education, indigenous people, and the state in Jharkhand, India
Rob Higham and Alpa Shah
This article proposes an anthropology of affirmative action that is embedded in analysis of the wider political economic transformations in which affirmative action policies emerge. It is argued that this historically situated approach enables analyses of the relative effects of affirmative action on processes of socio economic marginalization. The focus of the article is on the combination of preferential treatment policies and the provision of education as a state-led response to historical marginalization. These policies are explored in the context of adivasis (tribal or indigenous peoples) in Jharkhand, India. The analysis shows how, despite improvement in absolute educational outcomes among adivasis as a result of these policies, inequalities in relative outcomes are being reproduced and are widening. This is explained in part by market-led gains within the private edu cation sector for more advantaged sections of society that outweigh the predom inately state-led improvements for adivasis. The analysis demonstrates the limitations of contemporary affirmative action in affecting the relative position of socioeconomically marginalized groups in contexts where the state is losing some of its universal features and ambition.
Anna J. Wesselink, Wiebe E. Bijker, Huib J. de Vriend, and Maarten S. Krol
This article shows how Dutch technological culture has historically dealt with and developed around vulnerability with respect to flooding and indicates recent developments in attitude towards the flood threat. The flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina temporarily made the Dutch public worry about the flood defense infrastructure in the Netherlands, exemplified by the Delta Works. Could this happen in the Netherlands? After the flooding disaster of 1953, a system of large dams was built to offer safety from flooding with—in theory at least—protection levels that are much higher than in New Orleans. In the public's perception the protection offered is absolute. In practice not all flood defense structures are as secure as they are supposed to be, but their upgrading takes time and money. Katrina has served as a reminder of what is at stake: Can the Dutch afford to take another 10 years to restore the protection level of their flood defenses? Calls for pride in clever engineering are the latest in a continuing debate on the best way to continue life below sea level.
Rationalising Exclusion and Inequality in the Post-apartheid City
As with many other genres of storytelling, fables are as much about the socialisation of political values as they are about the amusement of children. Although their timeless appearance presents their truths as absolute, the meanings of fables change as they are reinterpreted through time by particular ideologies. Thus we find that The Ant and the Grasshopper, a children’s favourite about the need for hard work and careful saving, has recently been commandeered by conservative adults who are searching for ever more coded ways of communicating in today’s anti-racist contexts. This story is attributed to Æsop, a mythical sixth century B.C. slave and storyteller (Adrados 1999). During the renaissance, Europe’s fascination with antiquity prompted renewed interest in Æsop’s fables as vehicles of commentary on the politics of the time (Hanazaki 1993-1994 & Patterson 1991). Their popularity accelerated with the industrial revolution since some of the fables, such as The Tortoise and the Hare and The Ant and the Grasshopper, were particularly suited to the socialisation of selfrestraint and a strong work ethic. The Ant and the Grasshopper tells the story of the ant that worked hard collecting food during summer, while the carefree grasshopper did not. During winter, the ant survived while the grasshopper starved. This story conveyed to children that the threat of lean times was ever present but that hard work would stave off starvation.