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Reformulating the Guatemalan State

The Role of Maya Intellectuals and Civil Society Discourse

Marta Elena Casaús Arzú

Guatemala's 1996 Peace Accords (particularly the Agreement on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples) and the participation of certain Maya intellectuals in recent governments open new possibilities for indigenous peoples to see themselves as a nation and to provide that nation with ethnic-cultural content. However, the vision of the country's elite does not correspond to that of most Maya intellectuals. Some emphasize ethnic-cultural aspects and forms of ethnic autonomy while others have a more wide-ranging and pluralistic vision based on a more national and intercultural perspective. The process of providing the government with new and legitimate bases and the nation with cultural content merits study. This article examines this process based on interviews with Maya intellectuals and ladino leaders as well as the content of public speeches and essays.

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Theory for Praxis

Peacemaking, Cunning Recognition, and the Constitution of Enmity

Joyce Dalsheim

This article argues that scholars and activists concerned with peace and social justice in Israel/Palestine may unintentionally undermine their own goals when they abandon theory for praxis through recognition of parties to conflict. Recognition of ethno-national identity in peacemaking efforts helps reproduce the hegemonic order. Recognizing the subaltern here is a form of Elizabeth Povinelli's 'cunning recognition', which may do little more than produce a moral community of the recognizers. This case illustrates a broader pattern in which controversial ideas only succeed in arriving at the center of politics when they can no longer be implemented. It raises concerns about abandoning theory for praxis more generally, suggesting that theory not be abandoned because it is inconvenient for political purposes.

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The uninvited guest

Soviet Russia, the Far Eastern Republic and the Washington Conference, November 1921 to February 1922

Paul Dukes and Cathryn Brennan

This article seeks partly to redress the neglect of international relations, especially concerning the Far East, in recent Western writing on Soviet Russia. It concentrates on the sequel to the Paris Peace Conference, the Washington Conference of 1921-2, suggesting that Soviet Russia played the role of 'Banquo's ghost' at both meetings. Making use for the most part of documents from the US National Archive, the article concentrates on the problem of bringing the Japanese intervention to an end, with special reference to the use made for this purpose by the Soviet government of the Far Eastern Republic or DVR. The DVR enjoyed considerable success as a 'democratic' buffer state, while its Special Trade Delegation acted as unofficial representative for Soviet Russia at the Washington Conference. As the Japanese intervention came to an end, the DVR was dissolved.

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And Till the Ghastly Tale Is Told: Sarah Kofman – Primo Levi

Survivors of the Shoah and the Dangers of Testimony

Rachel Rosenblum

The great catastrophes of history can be recognised through the paralysed silence which they leave in their wake, a silence which frequently is broken only to make way for the falsifications of memory. BEtween silence and falsification, a third path may be opened. For those who are capable of it, this path involves saying what happened, writing in the first person. This third possibility is doubly valorised. First of all, it offers a public testimony. It allows a truth which is unspeakable or not to be spoken to erupt onto the social scene. Secondly, it is meant to have a cathartic function. The author of the testimony would in this way be unburdening himself o a horror too heavy to bear. Put into words, his suffering would become something which could be shared. It is this sharing which will be discussed here, its power to grant peace. One may doubt this power.

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Silke Schwandt, László Kontler, Anu Korhonen, Marie-Christine Boilard and Johan Strang

Burkhard Hasebrink, Susanne Bernhardt, and Imke Früh, eds., Semantik der Gelassenheit: Generierung, Etablierung, Transformation [Semantics of detachment: Formation, establishment, transformation] (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2012), 319 pp.

Martin J. Burke and Melvin Richter, eds., Why Concepts Matter: Translating Social and Political Thought (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012), 240 pp.

Ute Frevert, Monique Scheer, Anne Schmidt, Pascal Eitler, Bettina Hitzer, Nina Verheyen, Benno Gammerl, Christian Bailey, and Margrit Pernau, Gefühlswissen: Eine lexikalische Spurensuche in der Moderne [Emotional knowledge: In search of lexical clues in modernity] (Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2011), 364 pp.

Julia Harfensteller, The United Nations and Peace: The Evolution of an Organizational Concept (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2011), 355 pp.

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, ed., Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 351 pp.

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'The Bray of the Gramophones and the Voices of the Poets'

Art and Political Crises in Between the Acts

Jane de Gay

In ‘Why Art Follows Politics’, published in The Daily Worker in 1936, Virginia Woolf remarked on a change in the conditions for creativity in the late 1930s. She wrote that the artist’s studio was now ‘far from being a cloistered spot where he can contemplate his model or his apple in peace’, for it was ‘besieged by voices, all disturbing, some for one reason, some for another.’ She characterised the developing political crisis in terms of auditory disturbance or interruption, including the noises of radio news; the voices of dictators addressing the public by megaphone in the streets, and public opinion, which, Woolf wrote, called for artists to prove their social and political usefulness. In extreme political systems, artists were forced to compromise and use their work for political purposes – to ‘celebrate fascism; celebrate communism’ – in order to be allowed to practise at all.

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Free from State Violence or Free to Comply?

A Revised Typology of Coercion and Repression in Liberal Democracies

Barbora Capinska

This article addresses the problem of unclear usage of “coercion” and “repression” in literature concerning protest and repression in democratic and nondemocratic states. It questions the bases and conclusions of domestic democratic peace theory and discusses its consequences. The article proposes expanding definitions of coercion and repression in terms of timing, agency, and perceptiveness. Using vocabulary of poststructuralist discourse theory and the “logics” approach to analyzing social phenomena, it introduces the notion of hegemonic coercion and repression and describes their functioning. It argues that contemporary liberal democracies are not free from coercion and repression, but that the hegemony embodied in the state is able to sustain itself by means of hegemonic coercion with little use of direct violence. Consequently, the absence of state violence is not a criterion of a mature democracy, but can also be a characteristic of a totalitarian regime where ideological deviations are strictly and preemptively controlled.

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The Religious Challenge

To Live in the Context of Diverse Cultures

Rainer B. Irmgedruth

For the past five years I have been the pastor in charge of two communities in Mettingen in the northern part of the Muensterland (North Rhine–Westphalia). My predecessor spent thirty-two years there and in the area in which I carry out my pastoral duties there are 10,000 Catholic Christians as compared to 2,500 Protestants. We have barely one hundred Muslims, and Jews never settled in this area. 350 years ago the violent clashes between Catholic and Protestant Christians finally came to an end (the Peace of Westphalia) and 110 years ago legal discrimination against Catholics by a liberal Protestant state (the Kulturkampf, the phase of the struggle between church and state under Bismarck) was abolished.

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Guat Kwee See

Over the last fifty years, Muslims and Christians have never talked so much with each other, according to Jean Claude Basset. However, he writes that it is mainly a small elite group of scholars who are doing the talking Ismail Faruqi described Muslim-Christian dialogue as a 'failure, a struggling desperately to survive', and in vain, with no visible results. He argued that Muslim-Christian dialogue has mostly been led by Christians; Muslims as 'invited guests' have thus not been free to speak being obligated to their 'hosts'. Furthermore, participant Muslims are often selected by Church authorities, rather than elected or appointed by their communities. Although a good number of dialogues have been organized at the international level with the support of religious organizations, they claim little impact beyond more local initiatives, have not prevented mistrust and conflicts from occurring, and have offered little help in healing wounds and restoring peace.

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Dorothee Schaper

First, I want to say thank you for the invitation to speak here to you on the ‘holy mountain’ from a Protestant perspective. With me, you get a reverend from the Protestant church in Rhineland. I live with my bicultural family in Cologne and I work for the section on theology, ecumenics and interreligious dialogue at the Melanchthon Academy, the place for Protestant adult education in Cologne. For a long time it has been a place for Christian-Jewish and Christian-Muslim dialogue, and sometimes we succeed to talk as all three together. For example at the evangelischen Kirchentag in Cologne we organised an Abraham center and we signed the Cologne Peace Declaration, signed by representatives from synagogues, mosques and the churches.