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A political ontology of seeds

The transformative frictions of a farmers' movement in Europe

Elise Demeulenaere

This article follows the trajectory of a French farmers' movement that contests the seed production and regulation system set in place during agricultural modernization. It focuses on the creativity of the movement, which ranges from semantic innovations (such as “peasant seeds”) to the reinvention of onfarm breeding practices based on new scientific paradigms, and includes new alliances with the social movements defending the commons. The trajectory of the movement is shaped by its encounters—with scientists, other international seed contestations, and other social movements—and by the productive frictions they create. This in-depth reframing of the activities connected to seeds contributes to building a counternarrative about farmers and seeds that reopens spaces for contestation. In this counternarrative, “peasant seeds” play a central and subversive role in the sense that they question the ontological assumptions of present seed laws.

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State of Uncertainty

Educating the First Railroaders in Central Sakha (Yakutiya)

Sigrid Irene Wentzel

In July 2019, the village of Nizhniy Bestyakh in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutiya), the Russian Far East, was finally able to celebrate the opening of an eagerly awaited railroad passenger connection. Through analysis of rich ethnographic data, this article explores the “state of uncertainty” caused by repeated delays in construction of the railroad prior to this and focuses on the effect of these delays on students of a local transportation college. This college prepares young people for railroad jobs and careers, promising a steady income and a place in the Republic’s wider modernization project. The research also reveals how the state of uncertainty led to unforeseen consequences, such as the seeding of doubt among students about their desire to be a part of the Republic’s industrialization drive.

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(Re)Constructing the Baikal-Amur Mainline

Continuity and Change of (Post)Socialist Infrastructure

Olga Povoroznyuk

The construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) in East Siberia and the Russian Far East in the 1970s and 1980s was the largest technological and social engineering project of late socialism. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the BAM was dogged by economic bust, decline, and public disillusionment. BAM-2, a recently launched state program of technological modernization, aims to complete a second railway track. The project elicits memories as well as new hopes and expectations, especially among “builders of the BAM.” This article explores continuity and change between BAM-1 and BAM-2. It argues that the reconstruction efforts of the postsocialist state are predetermined by the durability of the infrastructure as a materialization of collective identities, memories, and emotions.

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Richard York, Christina Ergas, Eugene A. Rosa, and Thomas Dietz

We examine trends since 1980 in material extraction in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan—which together contain over 40% of the world's population—to assess the environmental consequences of modernization. Economic and population growth has driven rapid expansion of material extraction in China, India, and Indonesia since 1980. China and India exhibit patterns consistent with the Jevons paradox, where the economic intensity of extraction (extraction/GDP) has steadily declined while total extraction grew. In Indonesia, extraction intensity grew along with total extraction. In Japan, total extraction remained roughly constant, increasing somewhat in the 1980s and then slowly declining after 1990, while extraction intensity declined throughout the entire period. These different patterns can be understood to some degree by drawing on political-economic and world-systems perspectives. Japan is an affluent, core nation that can afford to import materials from other nations, thereby avoiding escalation of material extraction within its borders. China and India are rapidly industrializing nations that, although increasingly drawing on resources from beyond their borders, still rely on their own natural resources for growth. Indonesia, an extraction economy with less global power than the other nations examined here, exports its own natural resources, often unprocessed, to spur economic growth. The trends highlighted here suggest that in order to avert environmental crisis, alternative forms of development, which do not involve traditional economic growth, may need to be adopted by nations around the world.

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Lars Rensmann

German extreme Right parties have increased their political and electoral significance in recent years, in particular through some considerable regional successes in the East. However, in spite of noticeable nation-wide gains by the NPD in the Bundestag election, the extreme Right suffered from another defeat. Looking at the interplay of supply side and demand side factors, the article examines the transformations and continuities of extreme Right parties within the German party system, their performance in the 2005 general election, and the reasons for their ongoing national electoral failure. While extreme Right parties benefit from more favorable conditions related to increased voter volatility, new public issues and new cleavage structures, these parties also continuously face crucial difficulties, especially on the supply side: the cordon sanitaire is still intact, and new cleavages in relation to globalization are more convincingly and effectively utilized by left-wing competitors. The main obstacle, though, are the extreme Right agents themselves. Incorporating Zeitgeist issues, they nevertheless remain unable to actually modernize their agenda. The present and future challenge to liberal democracy may be a new level of cooperation between extreme Right parties and consolidated "informal" right-wing extremist subcultures in Eastern regional strongholds.

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Les Assurances Sociales

une contribution à la modernisation de la société française dans l'entre-deux-guerres?

Bruno Valat

The 1930 law creating social insurance was the Third Republic's great achievement in the social arena. However, the historiography of contemporary France contains barely a trace of this achievement. Victim of the regime's discredit as well as of the lack of any reformist political efforts in its favor, social insurance of the 1930s has also suffered by comparison to later achievements, particularly the creation of Social Security in 1945. However, if we study social insurance in its own historical context—and not in reference to the postwar period—, it can constitute an original source for the study of the modernization of French society. This article proposes three approaches: social insurance constitutes a vector for the acculturation of the working class to retirement and to the medicalization of health, contributing to the history of working class uses and representations of consumption and social rights. On a more institutional level, the experience of social insurance reveals the first legal experiments with co-gestion involving employers, workers, and insurance organizations. Finally, a prosopographical study of the militant trajectories linked to social insurance could contribute to the history of the working-class movement between 1930 and the end of the Thirty Glorious Years: is there a "social insurance generation" within French syndicalism?

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Yulia Gradskova, Albena Hranova, Anastasia Falierou, Daniela Koleva, Birgit Sauer, Eleonora Naxidou, Sabine Rutar, Iris Rachamimov, Maryna Bazylevych, Timothy G. Ashplant, and Nadezhda Alexandrova

Elisabetta Addis, Paloma de Villota, Florence Degavre, and John Eriksen, eds., Gender and Well-Being: The Role of Institutions

Nadezhda Alexandrova, Robini, kukli I chelovetsi. Predstavi za zhenite vuv vuzrozhdenskata publitsistika i prozata na Ljuben Karavelov (Slaves, dolls, individuals: Representations of women in nineteenth-century Bulgarian periodicals, and in Ljuben Karavelov's fiction)

Efi Kanner, Emfiles Koinonikes Diekdikiseis apo tin Othomaniki Aftokratoria stin Ellada kai stin Tourkia: O kosmos mias ellinidas hristianis daskalas (Gender-based social demands from the Ottoman Empire to Greece and Turkey: The world of a Greek-Orthodox female teacher)

Krassimira Daskalova, Zheni, pol i modernizatsia v Bulgaria, 1878–1944 (Women, gender and modernization in Bulgaria, 1878–1944)

Krassimira Daskalova, Caroline Hornstein Tomic;, Karl Kaser, Filip Radunovic;, eds., Gendering Post-Socialist Transition: Studies of Changing Gender Perspectives

Evguenia Davidova, Balkan Transitions to Modernity and Nation-States: Through the Eyes of Three Generations of Merchants (1780s–1890s)

Daniela Koleva, ed., Negotiating Normality: Everyday Lives in Socialist Institutions

Anna Krylova, Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front

Marian J. Rubchak, ed., Mapping Difference: The Many Faces of Women in Contemporary Ukraine

Ingrid Sharp and Matthew Stibbe, eds., Aftermaths of War: Women's Movements and Female Activists, 1918–1923

Mark David Wyers, “Wicked” Istanbul: The Regulation of Prostitution in the Early Turkish Republic

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Salvatore Vassallo

During its sitting of 25 March 2004, the Senate gave first-reading approval

to a far-reaching, government-sponsored bill for constitutional reform,

which touches on almost all aspects of Part II of the Constitution. On

15 October, the Chamber of Deputies completed its examination of the

same proposal and approved it, though with a number of amendments.

Then, on 3 November, the Senate began its re-examination through the

Commission for Constitutional Affairs. If we are to believe what its rapporteur,

Senator Francesco D’Onofrio, stated during the Commission’s

first sitting, the majority remains committed to approving “a revision of

the Constitution during the life of this Parliament, such as will define

and achieve the principles of federalism, put an end to perfect bicameralism,

and, as a consequence, modernize the form of government.”

This commitment is linked to a proposed parallel revision of the electoral

law. Indeed, the majority parties’ investment in the bill—in terms

of public image and lengthy internal negotiations—makes it unlikely

that they will abandon it lightly.

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Michael K. Bess

The historical literature on mobility and transport in Mexico reveals the impact of infrastructure development on the country’s economic and political modernization in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From 1876, when Porfirio Díaz first ascended to the presidency, until the eve of the 1910 revolution, Mexico built nearly twenty-five thousand kilometers of railroads. Initially launched by foreign-dominated consortiums, and later centralized under the state-owned Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (Mexican National Railways), the burgeoning rail network linked the country’s major cities and ports together, facilitating regional industrial development and export-oriented economic growth. Following a decade of armed conflict, the postrevolutionary state faced the task of rebuilding devastated transportation infrastructure. Beginning under President Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–28), the national government repaired and built thousands of miles of railroads and motor highways, relying on a combination of domestic taxes and foreign-direct investment to fund the work. This policy improved regional and national mobility and contributed to a thirty-year period of robust economic growth, called the “Mexican Miracle,” from 1940 to 1970.

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Scientists in Time of War

World War II, the Cold War, and Science in the United States and France

Dominique Pestre

Before addressing its central concern—the convergence of science, war, institutions, and politics in the postwar period in France and the United States—, this essay evokes how scientific knowledge had been of importance to warfare and economic elites in the preceding centuries. In the 1940s and 1950s, scientific activities were profoundly redefined. A culture of laboratory solutions, of calculus, and management won the day. For the scientists, that meant versatility and a willingness to work between disciplines and métiers and to confront the nation's main concerns. It also led to increasingly technocratic versions of politics. Due to science, the state became a managerial apparatus, a "modernizer" arbitrating among different scenarios. Contrary to what happened in the United States, science was not center stage in France in the 1940s and early 1950s. The habitus of scientists was that of the prewar period, and they were still not technique-oriented. They had a more cultural definition of their trade and were not opportunists whose aim was to become pragmatically efficient in the world of business and military action. From the mid-1950s, things started to evolve due to a strong economic recovery and because French scientists had now caught up with the latest developments. The final break, however, occurred in France only when de Gaulle abandoned the Algerian war and elected for an autonomous nuclear deterrence system. By putting la stratégie de l'arsenal at the core of national development, de Gaulle significantly transformed French science, society, industry, and the military.