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Power and Authority in Religious Traditions in Islam

Reflections about Issues of Power and Authority in the Traditions and the Present Situation of Muslims in Europe

Hüseyin Inam

The article begins with an example of the significant impact of antireligious restrictions in the twentieth century, which led to an intellectual retreat of Muslim authorities and a change of traditional authority structures. It makes clear the negative role that was played, and continues to be played, by the dominant European perspective on Islam. The article tries to describe the systematic misunderstandings about the role of the Islam in the Muslim communities. How can Muslims or non-Muslims give an authoritative response to several questions posed to Islam? It then clarifies how early the caliphate lost its significance so that the schools of religious jurisprudence took on the decisive role for the religious life of Muslims. Theological conceptions and their historic backgrounds show us that Islam contains a lot of positive potential for interpretation, which can be used by Muslim communities to rebuild new, democratic authority structures. How relevant are the new western-christian influences, and what are the essential bases for a Muslim argumentation? In the German context the article deals with the importance of the mosque as a centre for the religious life for the individuals and the community. Finally it discusses the important question, how could a new formation of Muslim authorities within the communities be constructed, and what role might the interfaith experience play in this.

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Eleanor Rimoldi

Sacrifice is an act and a concept of considerable importance to contemporary conflict. However, interpretations of the role and nature of sacrifice vary historically, culturally, and situationally. This article discusses the various ways that sacrifice has been interpreted in the anthropological literature, including an analysis of forms of conflict, negotiation, and sacrifice pertaining to Bougainville. Professional conciliators and government emissaries negotiating a solution to the Bougainville conflict brought into play ideologies and processes they often claimed were based on an understanding of indigenous ways of resolving conflict. A critical assessment of this claim discusses the possible effects of the co-option of ritual and traditional means of negotiation and considers what is lost in translation.

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Christopher C. Taylor

If anthropology is in need of a lesson against reductionism, it would appear that no longer is it in need of one against reification, for this is more often the logical flaw that contemporary anthropologists strive hardest and most consciously to avoid. Yet for all the merits of the critique against reification, it has its downside: it renders us less sensitive to the dangers of reductionism. Quite frequently today the charge of reification is leveled against what was once the discipline’s core concept, the concept of culture, which we are told is overly deterministic, excessively totalizing, and insufficiently sensitive to issues of multivocality and hermeneutic multiplicity. Cultural theorists are accused of investing the concept with too much causal weight and of sheltering it from the tides of history and contingency. Mere museum curators rather than observers of the dynamic human condition, cultural theorists are said to place ‘cultures’ under bell jars and then to claim that culture determines everything.

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Space, power, and prestige in the academic field

A case-study of Russian scholars

Artyom Kosmarski

This article investigates Russia's relationship with the West in the 1990s and 2000s by analyzing changes in a specific segment of the contemporary global economy—the academic sphere. It traces how the social sciences and the humanities in Russia have evolved from relative insularity and hierarchy during the Soviet era to a more complex web of multiple local institutions, setting their own rules, alongside powerful international agents. Assuming that individual trajectories can make objective spatial structures visible, the article analyzes the biographies of three young Russian scholars, collected in 2004 and 2005 during a research project in the anthropology of science. Patterns of academic migration and intellectual exchange with the West are presented here as providing clues to the spatial structure of the Russian scientific field and its place in the global academic economy. The article concludes with a discussion whether these findings may be generalized to other spheres, and applied not only to Russia but to other post-Soviet states caught in-between the First and the Third Worlds.

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Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld

The Ecuadorian indigenous movement emerged just as the binaries that once defined the Indian/white boundary became acknowledged internal polarities of indigenous society. In this article, I argue that these divergences energized indigenous communities, which built material infrastructure, social networks, and political capital across widening gaps in values and incomes. They managed this task through a kind of vernacular statecraft, making the most of list making, council formation, and boundary drawing. As the movement shifts into electoral politics, the same community politics that launched it now challenges the national organization. As they work to define a coherent national program, the principal organizations of the national movement must reproduce the local contacts and relations among communities that made Ecuador's indigenous pluriculturalism such a potent presence in the 1990s.

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Kenneth Margerison

The French monarchy's determination to suspend the trading rights of the Compagnie des Indes in 1769 stimulated a lively public debate over the establishment of commercial liberty in the Indies trade. Since mid-century, Vincent de Gournay and his disciples had advocated increased liberty in French commerce, and the Compagnie des Indes' privileged trading monopoly offered a tempting target for these reformers. Working on behalf of the ministry, the abbé Morellet undertook the task of convincing public opinion of the benefits that liberty of commerce in the Indies trade would bring to France. However, the company's principal banker Jacques Necker and physiocrat Pierre-Samuel Dupont raised serious doubts concerning both the feasibility and the value of such reform. These critiques challenged any expectation that commercial liberty would increase French strength in the Indies trade or contest British political hegemony in India after the Seven Years' War.

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Anne Sa'adah

Even as the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall was being celebrated, a scandal was beginning that seems destined to bring the Kohl era, however it is defined, to a close. My purpose in this article is to propose a framework for thinking about the broader political meaning and possible impact of the CDU’s difficulties. In this instance as in many others, I will argue, events in the Federal Republic are best understood if approached simultaneously from two angles. On the one hand, Germany remains bound to, if not necessarily by, its multiple experiences of dictatorship. Viewed in this context, events acquire meaning and significance as part of an ongoing process of democratization, or of an effort to “master” a past to some degree enduringly unmasterable. On the other hand, a half-century after its creation, the Federal Republic is an established democracy with a remarkable record of success and a predictable roster of problems. From this perspective, developments in Germany illustrate dilemmas and dysfunctions common across the advanced industrial democracies.

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Thomas Berger

Jeffrey Anderson, German Unification and the Union of Europe (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Thomas Banchoff, The German Problem Transformed: Institutions, Politics and Foreign Policy, 1945-1995 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1999)

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Kyle Shelton

It is striking how much recent scholarship on the mobility history of the United States has come to emphasize moments of relative motionlessness. More concerned with events in the halls of government than on the open road, historians have moved away from the nuts and bolts of transportation systems—the vehicles, the modes, and the infrastructure—to instead investigate how these networks have been shaped by larger political and social forces. Scholars have investigated these influences by highlighting how groups of Americans have codified, contested, or perceived the nation’s transportation system. By centering their studies on actors, rather than the actual systems, mobility scholars have framed their subjects in new ways and linked their subfield to political, legal, and social history.

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Lawrence Hamilton

from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist. ( Keynes 1936: 383 ) It has been a real pleasure to read the articles on my latest book, Freedom Is Power: Liberty through Political Representation ( FIP ), published in