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Intimate Uncertainties

Ethnographic Explorations of Moral Economies across Europe

Sabine Strasser and Luisa Piart

For this special issue we are bringing together six ethnographic cases of intimate uncertainties that are situated within different regimes of reproduction, healthcare and borders in and beyond Europe. These ethnographic inquiries exemplify unprecedented settings of moral ir/responsibility shaping the intimate on different scales and in various sites of power (agencies, clinics, borderlands). These uncertainties in times of major transitions from old to new moral orders, from industrial to postindustrial, from welfare to austerity spark off a renewed debate on moral economy. The authors of these contributions all focus the theoretical lens of moral economy squarely onto the intimate.

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Marco Giuliani and Erik Jones

The year 2009 was a period of uncertainty, during which the Italian

political world appeared to be floundering and in need of a compass.

As evidenced by the chronological overview, many events continued

to beleaguer the political and social life in Italy. Some, such as the

result of the European elections and the escalation of the economic

crisis and its repercussions, were foreseen or, in any case, predictable.

Others, including the numerous scandals and irregularities that

tarnished the political year, continuously feeding the mass media with

distractions and nurturing the public debate with less then edifying

themes, were less expected.

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The Intimate Uncertainties of Kidney Care

Moral Economy and Treatment Regimes in Comparative Perspective

Ciara Kierans

Today the social and material situations of sick bodies are increasingly and intimately bound up with the variable moral economies of national healthcare systems in uncertain and contrastive ways. I approach these ‘intimate uncertainties’ comparatively and methodologically by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on transplant medicine in Mexico in order to interrogate European healthcare, specifically the UK. The UK National Health Service is an exemplary site of moral economy, one that the Mexican case appears to stand in stark contrast to. However, as I show, the uncertainties we see at work in Mexico enable us to seek them out in the UK too, particularly those generated at the nexus of the state, failing organs and new strategies for healthcare rationing. The article traces the gendered and socioeconomic inequalities, which follow from these shifts, while offering a critique of analyses that take the European and North American experience as methodologically foundational.

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Yaron Ezrahi

Is Israeli democracy in danger? The short answer is yes! But which democracy is not in some sense or another fragile and in danger? In some democracies it is the rise of the extreme right and racism in reaction to Muslim minorities, in others the possibility of disastrous economic collapse, and in still others the nearing possibility of a civil war. In the case of Israel it is unreasonable to assess the future of democracy given the deep uncertainties about the prospects of a settlement with the Palestinians and of achieving definable agreed-upon borders in the foreseeable future, and Israel’s permanently grave state of security. In addition, no one can risk predicting the prospect and consequences of a war involving thousands of missiles over Israeli cities if the present deadlock of the peace process persists and eventually leads to an explosion.

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the Sociology of Military Knowledge in the IDF

From 'Forging' to 'Deciphering'

Zeev Lerer and Sarit Amram-Katz

This article discusses the links between military knowledge production and the cultural representations of war based on the Israeli experience during the past two decades. It argues that the locus of military knowledge production has moved from what can be described as 'forging knowledge' to 'deciphering knowledge'. This transition is linked to a crisis in the classic representation of war, which is based on the congruence between three binary signifiers: enemy, arena, and violence. The article asserts that the blurring of these three signifiers has created a Bourdieuian field of military knowledge production in which symbolic capital is obtained from the production of knowledge that deciphers the new uncertainty. The article follows the relations between the binaries and the types of knowledge that have been imported and translated in the IDF with regard to four major operational settings: the Oslo redeployment, the Second Intifada, the disengagement from Gaza, and the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.

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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.

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Valeria V. Vasilyeva

important element of navigation in the tundra is to take the right direction and to move along a straight line. Uncertainty and fear force the driver to change direction, which is the worst mistake. Donatas Brandišauskas dealt with the emotions that

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Anna Bara and Sveta Yamin-Pasternak

interchangeably, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Western Ukraine, and Poland. A chapter by Tatiana Buzekova presents an ethnographic study of practicing Neo-shamans in Bratislava and their contribution to the concept of healing against the backdrop of legal uncertainty

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Israel Goes to the Polls

The Road to Elections for the Constituent Assembly, 1948–1949

Meir Chazan

atmosphere of severe uncertainty, accompanied by a variety of harsh internal conflicts. The preparations and the successful elections were the result of the increasingly functional skills of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv (the Jewish community of

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Udi Sommer

. The ‘Glocal’ Settings of Judicial Decision-Makers As international connections and international law play an ever-growing role, decision-making processes have become increasingly composite for political actors. Complexity and high levels of uncertainty