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Fair Exchange

Utilisation of Working Animals (and Women) in Ancient Mesopotamia and Modern Africa

Jill Goulder

Modern sub-Saharan African studies on the recent adoption and impact of working-animal use provide valuable ethnographic insights for archaeologists into early exploitation of this new resource in antiquity. The systematic use of working cattle and (often forgotten in models) of donkeys constituted a key factor in the burgeoning of complex societies in fourth- and third-millennium BC Mesopotamia. Modern analogy indicates that models should include the economic importance of year-round utilisation of working animals and strategies for achieving this, including user training and animal hiring and lending. Another key finding is that the situation of women, commonly culturally constrained worldwide from handling cattle, is greatly ameliorated by the availability of donkeys, which can empower them in terms of income and status.

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Whose Austria?

Muslim Youth Challenge Nativist and Closed Notions of Austrian Identity

Farid Hafez

The Austrian Muslim Youth was founded in 1996 by young Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds and has become the largest multi-ethnic, co-educational, German-speaking youth organization in Austria today. Since its inception, it has presented the concept of an ‘Austrian Muslim identity’ as a key philosophy. In this article, I ask how the idea of this identity was negotiated. I suggest that this concept is not reinforcing nativist notions. Rather, the formation of an Austrian Muslim identity can be seen as an attempt to create safe spaces to empower young Muslims to live their religion while fully participating in Austrian society. Hence, this concept speaks to two audiences simultaneously, challenging nativist notions and offering young Muslims ways to see themselves as possessing multiple and hybrid identities.

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Bringing Indigenous Kamchatka to Google Earth

Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples

Brian Thom, Benedict J. Colombi and Tatiana Degai

Indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East are engaged in vibrant cultural and linguistic resurgence and revitalization through their community and regional organizations. Through the activities of these organizations, a computer-aided cultural mapping project was initiated in collaboration with indigenous villages along the Kamchatka Peninsula, working with youth and elders to map out the histories of special cultural places. The project utilized innovative participatory methodologies using Google Earth and related Google mapping tools, which are freely accessible and desired for use in the communities, providing an accessible, low-cost, easy to-use computer application for detailed digital cultural mapping. This article elaborates on the use of these technologies to empower a community-based collaborative research project and reflects on critical issues in aligning community, corporate, and scholarly objectives in successful projects.

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From West to East

International Women's Day, the First Decade

Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

The year 2010 was the centennial of Clara Zetkin's proposal for an annual women's holiday, which became known as International Women's Day, and 2011 was the centennial of its first celebrations. The first ten years of the holiday's existence were a particularly tumultuous time in world history, with the advent of World War I, revolutionary upheavals in some of the major combatant countries, and the demise of the German, Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian empires. During this time, International Women's Day celebrations quickly gained great popularity, and in 1917 sparked the February Russian Revolution. This article focuses on the development of the holiday from its U.S. and Western European origins and goal of women's suff rage, to its role in empowering Russian women to spark a revolution, and its re-branding as a Soviet communist celebration. Special attention is paid to the roles of two prominent international socialist women leaders, Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, in shaping the holiday's evolution.

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A human rights-based approach

A gate to development of African women's land rights?

Karin Tengnäs

The global competition for African land is at a historical peak. Local effects of large-scale land acquisitions depend on multiple factors, but women's rights and livelihoods are generally very fragile due to historical and contemporary injustices. Good land governance is important for turning the land acquisitions into equal and equitable development opportunities. The human rights-based approach promotes good governance by adding strength and legal substance to the principles of participation and inclusion, openness and transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and equality and nondiscrimination. By empowering rights-holders and enhancing duty-bearers' capacity, international development cooperation can lead to wider and more gender-balanced inclusion of civil society in negotiations of large-scale land acquisitions and greater adherence of duty-bearers to the rule of law. This is especially important in African countries with large amounts of land and weak legal and institutional frameworks to protect rights, especially those of women.

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The End Begins in Me

New Forms of Political Action in Israeli Channeling

Adam Klin-Oron

In this article I examine eschatological beliefs and practices among channels in Israel and abroad, and show that they demonstrate an avoidance of traditional, group-oriented political action, and an embrace of alternative, spiritual action performed individually. This is linked to Israel's shift to a neo-liberal economy and culture in the last few decades, where self-accountability has become the norm. Channeling teaches an extreme version of self-divinity, claiming that a person creates all aspects of his or her life and objecting to outside authority and regulation. It believes in a coming of a New Age of light and that the means to achieve it are personal quests for individual empowerment, which are anticipated to affect the whole world via the “virtual aggregate group,” an energetic reservoir that replaces the traditional group. Channels are engaged in alternative political action, attempting to change the world by virtually pooling spiritual resources.

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Urban access

Contested spaces and contested politics

Ulrich Ufer

The global Right to the City network challenges exclusionary effects of neoliberal urbanization by claiming citizens' rights for access to urban space and to the benefits of urban culture. Artists belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in the context of gentrification and urban exclusion. At the same time, their creative and expressive capacities put them in a privileged position to voice protest. Oscillating between counterhegemony, accommodation, and strategic collusion, a group of artist-activists from the city of Hamburg in Germany have been employing the means of empowered symbolism, activist art, and emancipatory knowledge in order to implement an alterpolitics of space. Their occupation of the historic Hamburg Gängeviertel has successfully repoliticized questions over urban use value and urban access, which had been purposefully excluded from the realm of the political in the revanchist, neoliberal city.

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Ramin Jahanbegloo

The article deals with Mohandas K. Gandhi's theory of democracy and its related civic practices. It indicates the relation between Gandhi's idea of civic duty and his idea of democracy, and argues that few would dispute that Gandhi was one of the most original and transformative thinkers of democracy. The article maintains that among his many notable contributions, Gandhi is rightly credited with emphasizing on the ideas of citizenship duty, truth in politics, genuine self-rule, and ethically enlightened democracy. In addition to advocating self-sustaining villages and communal cooperation, Gandhi developed an idea of non-liberal democracy reducing individualism, economic greed, and laissez-faire by insisting on a duty oriented and spiritually empowered participative democracy. Nearly seven decades after his death, Gandhi stands as one of the most significant and relevant non-Western theorist of democracy.

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Constructing the Socialist Worker

Gender, Identity and Work under State Socialism in Braşov, Romania

Jill Massino

Utilising socialist legislation, propaganda and oral history interviews, this article analyses how women’s identities and roles – as well as gender relations – were reformulated as a result of women’s participation in paid labour in socialist Romania. Although some women regarded work as burdensome and unsatisfying, others found it intellectually fulfilling, personally rewarding and, in certain respects, empowering. For example, work improved women’s economic position and offered them an array of social services, which, although inadequate in a number of ways, were welcomed by many women. Moreover, work increased women’s physical and social mobility, which in turn provided them with greater freedom in directing their own lives and in choosing a partner. Finally, the experience of being harassed by male co-workers and of combining work outside the home with domestic responsibilities motivated some women to rethink their status both within the workplace and the family, and to renegotiate their relationships with male colleagues and partners. Although women never achieved full equality in socialist Romania, by creating the conditions for women’s full-time engagement in the workforce, state socialism decisively shaped the course of women’s lives, their self-identities and their conceptions of gender roles, often in positive ways.

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Michael Ebert, Ilona Ostner, Uschi Brand and Steffen Kühnel

Large-scale initiatives to improve individual life chances and social structures face many problems. They need proper theorising and equally proper operationalisation. This is where the EFSQ project on ‘Social Quality Indicators’ comes into play: its main objective was to develop concepts and instruments for a country- and European-wide assessment of social quality. On the basis of ontological considerations about ‘the social’, the new approach defined a ‘quadrangle’ of four basic conditions which were assumed to determine the development of social quality: ‘socio-economic security’, ‘social inclusion’, ‘social cohesion’ and ‘social empowerment’. Relevant domains and sub-domains for each of the four components were identified and a restricted set of ‘ideal’ – mostly objective – indicators was chosen. The availability of already existing ‘hard’ data did not influence that process. Hence the project has stretched beyond the mere description of social quality in Europe and provided a stimulus to gather new relevant data on ‘forgotten’ aspects of the social quality of life. Social indicator research has a long tradition in Germany which helped us to draw effectively upon the results of regularly conducted surveys. The following report starts by explaining the German context. It then summarises key-findings from existing databases to give meaning to the ninety-five social quality indicators in the four components. Finally, we have included discussion of relevant policy initiatives.