Since the major Sahelian droughts and famines of the early 1970s and 1980s, international development and aid organizations have played a large role in the small village of Biidi 2, located in northern Burkina Faso. This article explores how a visit by a development 'expert' to the village can be analyzed as a social situation in which normal social control is suspended and negotiated. Focusing on gender relations, the analysis shows how the women of Biidi 2 involved in the event were relatively free to construct alternative definitions of their identity and social position vis-à-vis the men.
Climate Change, Gender Relations, and Situational Analysis
Jonas Østergaard Nielsen
This paper analyzes public understanding and moral reasoning with regard to regulating nature, specifically, societal efforts to control an insect population. It presents a study of a Swedish case in which a biological insecticide has been used to fight mosquitoes to reduce the nuisance to the local population. This case involves conflicting values regarding environmental protection. People's right to outdoor life is placed in opposition to long-term risks to biodiversity. Through interviews with local residents, their deliberations on the spraying are analyzed, particularly concerning to what extent and how they describe the situation in moral terms, but also how they acknowledge and use scientific findings in their argumentation.
Modern Pilgrimage and the Expression of Suffering on Spain's Camino de Santiago
This article examines the experiences of walkers along the Spanish Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. It explores their journeys as exercises in narrative adjustment, social practices, and somatic experiences of a crippling loss of control over the course of their lives. Using a phenomenological method of descriptions, the article argues that mobility is a trope that expresses existential issues in a bodily idiom. It draws attention to the value of inter-subjective experience as a potential source of existential mobility, one that finds metaphorical expression in the slow daily rhythms structuring pilgrims' journeys and that impacts on the researcher as much as the pilgrims.
Michael D. Jackson
In 2003, anthropologist and poet Michael Jackson went to French Catalonia with the intention of crossing the Pyrenees on the anniversary of Walter Benjamin's fateful journey on 25-26 September 1940. Retracing Benjamin's steps over a tortuous terrain of vineyards, stony paths and Mediterranean maquis, Jackson meditates on the life and work of the great twentieth-century philosopher, critical theorist, and essayist, as well as on the ways that events beyond our control or comprehension impact on and shape the course of our individual journeys through life.
Robert B. Marks
In nature, tigers have existed only in Asia. Over the millennia, Asian peoples have had much interaction with tigers, and those experiences have come to influence the patterns of everyday life, especially for villagers. In short, humans and tigers have a long history in Asia. Through case studies of China, the Malay world, and India from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, this article argues that Asian rulers used tigers—or more properly, their control of tigers—to enhance their political power, further the reach of central states, and inform their understanding of colonizing European powers.
Lamenting and Photographing the Dead in Serbia, 1914–1941
This article is part of a larger research project on the political, cultural, and social implications of interwar Yugoslavia’s remembrance and mourning of its war dead. Es- chewing a focus on state-centered commemorative practices, this article focuses on two types of sources, laments of Serbian women and photographs by Serbian military photographers, as entry points into understanding the private, cultural, and religious arenas of Serbian wartime and interwar remembrances. Drawing on research examining the political uses of lament and grief, the article considers the role Serbian women played in controlling and directing the “passion of grief and anger” within their communities as they remembered the dead. The photographic evidence reveals that traditional death rituals and laments were performed and that these rituals were significant socio-political spaces where women, families, and communities of soldiers advanced claims for recognition of their wartime experiences and memories. However, the photographs themselves are sites of memory and this article examines how military photographers, acting on behalf of the state, sought to control the representation of grief and by doing so politicized and secularized the way grief was expressed. Placing these sources side by side illustrates the intermingling of forms of mourning and remembrance that existed not only in the Balkans, but also in many other communities throughout Europe, especially among its rural inhabitants.
The Construction of Flow in and through Radio Traffic Reports
With the rise of privatized automobility and the increase of traffic jams, new sociotechnical systems have emerged that aim at traffic control. Radio traffic information has been a key element in these systems. Through a qualitative analysis of historical radio broadcasts of the largest Dutch news station between 1960 and 2000, this article explores the changing format and content of traffic information updates. I will show how the rather formal, detailed, and paternalistic narratives of the traffic reports in the 1960s gave way to more informal, witty, yet flow-controlling traffic information discourse in later decades. I will explain the dynamics involved by drawing on mobility and media studies and by developing two distinct notions of flow, one of which builds conceptually on Raymond Williams’s work on mobile privatization, the other is grounded in the field of traffic management. In so doing, this article aims to contribute to a better understanding of the role of public radio broadcasts in our world of privatized automobility.
Cattle Economy and Environmental Perception of Sedentary Sakhas in Central Yakuti
Thermokarst depressions in the permafrost environment of Yakutia (northeastern Siberia) provide fertile hayfields for Sakha cattle economy. These areas of open land in the boreal forest are called alaas in Sakha language. At this northern latitude cattle breeding is particularly in demand of nutritious fodder, because cows spend nine months on average in winter stables. Therefore alaases are the focus of Sakha environmental perception. Sakhas not only dwell in alaases, but through their economic activities, they modify and maintain them. This process is based on control and domination rather than on procurement of food by a “giving“ environment. Villagers in Tobuluk (central Yakutia) consider the areas surrounding their village as controlled islands of alaases (hayfields) in a sea of uncontrolled forest. This article examines Sakha environmental perception in which landscapes and cardinal directions evoke and define each other, and characterize those who reside there. Due to the subsequent transformations of Sakha economy and lifestyle by the Soviet and Russian state administration in the last 100 years (collectivization, centralization, and decollectivization) the way that Sakhas interact with their surroundings has transformed radically within the four generations causing profound differences in the way generations relate to, interact with, and understand alaases.
One characteristic of ‘the new wars’ is that they are often about identity politics, i.e., the quest for power is couched in terms of exclusion and inclusion of people in various groups. But although wars and violence can be explained with reference to ethnicity, i.e., cultural factors, it must also be taken as a language with which other things—economic, material, and political—are being addressed. First, ethnicity is a relational concept that explains such relationships as ethnic. But although it is imagined, it is real in terms of mobilizing individual people on the bases of a history of common origin that people take to be true. Secondly, ethnicities are not remnants of the past but entities continuously being re-created and shaped within contemporary realities. Hence, colonialism helped pin down relationships, and thereby make them basis for continuous new elaborations about identities, and also ordering them in new systems of hierarchy, creating new elites based on ethnic belonging that play key roles in today’s developments. Thirdly, we should also note that in socalled ethnic wars, civilians are targeted because the aim is to clear areas of people who do not ‘belong.’ We see this clearing of areas used as a strategy, for instance, in order to control key strategic resources. And as the war economy is no longer controlled by a state alone, but rather is decentralized and based on exploiting specific resources through outright plunder, black market trade, and external support, even enemies are not what they used to be.
Sergio Fabbrini and Marc Lazar
This chapter discusses Renzi’s leadership with regard to his party and the government. The main argument is that Renzi was able to use his party to support the government through his double role of secretary (of the party) and prime minister (of the government). However, the support of the party for the government’s actions has been regularly contested by an internal left-wing faction and has been weakened by the disaggregation and political autonomy of the local and regional party organizations. The chapter describes and analyzes the divisions within the national party, the difficulty of controlling local and regional organizations and leaders, and the parliamentary achievements of the government, which came about due primarily to the popularity of the prime minister. The personal leadership of Renzi has been a resource for promoting governmental reforms, but a leadership unsupported by a party will have difficulty facing future political and policy challenges.