This article intends to analyze the emergence of new subjectivities and economic discourses, and the semiotic construction of sacred places in global Tokyo as inventively constituted within the popular urban pilgrimage routes of the Seven Lucky Gods (shichifukujin). While a specific neoliberal discourse in Japan linked to tourism and the media has promoted the reinvention of traditional pilgrimage sites as New Age “power spots” informed by novel forms of temporality and subjectivity, urban communities living in those places, with their specific concerns and problems related to the local neighborhoods, often generate pilgrimage spaces that are radically different from those of the “neoliberal pilgrims.” I will thus argue that the pilgrimage of the Seven Lucky Gods emerges as a double discourse through which religious institutions and urban collectives semiotically assemble themselves not only by rebranding older sites as neoliberal power spots through media and tourism practices, but also by creatively producing hybrid subjectivities, sacred places, and alternative ontologies that are set apart from neoliberal economies.
Pilgrim Economies, Tourists, and Local Communities in Global Tokyo
Comment on Special Section on Media and Mobility
Patricia L. Mokhtarian
People have exchanged messages across distances of space or time since the dawn of human history. Modern technologies, for both travel and telecommunication, have vastly increased the speed and reach of our communication potential, but the difference from the past is not just one of degree: at least one difference in kind is the convergence of information/computing technology with communication technology (ICT), and specifically the emergence of the (now-mobile) internet. Relationships between ICT and travel are numerous, complex, and paradoxical. Speculation that “modern“ ICT could substitute for travel virtually coincided with the invention of the telephone, but scholars as early as the 1970s also realized the potential for mutual synergy and generation. Although ICT and travel have diminished the tyranny of space, they cannot be said to have conquered it.
la revolución egipcia a través del graffiti
*Full article is in Spanish
English abstract: The emergence of graffiti's urban subculture as a means of political expression has become a singular issue of the so-called Arab Spring. Graffiti and urban art, which had little to no relevance in the Arab world until now, emerged with unusual force in many countries, notably in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Egypt. This blossoming takes shape in tangent with the strengthening of a civil society and its rise as a decisive actor in the new political arena. In Egypt's case, graffiti achieved a leading role that reflected the milestones of civil disturbance, marking the walls with virtual snapshots of the popular sentiment. The proliferation of graffiti also had considerable resonance in international media because of the strategy of spreading rebellious and subversive slogans by means of the symbolic occupation of a public space, which, until now, was monopolized by authoritarian powers.
Spanish abstract: Un fenómeno singular de la denominada “Primavera Árabe“ ha sido la eclosión de la subcultura urbana del graffiti como medio de expresión política. De escasa o nula relevancia hasta ahora, el arte urbano de las pintadas ha surgido con una fuerza inusitada en varias zonas del mundo árabe, notoriamente en los Territorios Palestinos, el Líbano y Egipto. Dicho florecimiento cuaja en paralelo con la rearticulación de la sociedad civil y su irrupción irreversible como actor de los nuevos escenarios políticos. En el caso de Egipto, los graffitis han tenido un señalado protagonismo como reflejo de los sucesivos hitos de las revueltas, marcando los muros y paredes con verdaderas instantáneas del sentir popular. La proliferación del graffiti ha tenido asimismo una considerable resonancia en los medios internacionales, debido a la estrategia de ocupar simbólicamente el espacio público, -que hasta ahora estaba reservado al monopolio de los poderes autoritarios- para la difusión de consignas contestatarias y subversivas.
French abstract: Un phénomène singulier de la “printemps arabe“ a été l'émergence de la culture urbaine du graffiti comme un moyen d'expression politique. Avec peu ou pas d'importance jusqu'à ce jour, l'art urbain et le graffiti ont émergé avec une force inhabituelle dans diverses régions du monde arabe, notamment dans les Territoires Palestiniens, le Liban et l'Égypte. Ce e éclosion doit être mise en parallèle avec le renforcement de la société civile et son émergence comme acteur décisif dans le nouveau scénario politique. Dans le cas de l'Égypte, le graffiti a joué un rôle clé comme reflet des jalons successifs des révoltes, en marquant les murs avec des instantanés virtuelles du sentiment populaire. La prolifération des graffitis a rencontré aussi un écho remarquable dans les médias internationaux en raison de la stratégie d'occupation symbolique de l'espace public pour la diffusion des slogans rebelles et subversifs; un espace public qui était réservé jusqu'à aujourd'hui aux pouvoirs autoritaires.
Zur Raumvorstellung der elementaren Geographieschulbücher des Japanischen Kaiserreichs
*Full article is in German
Changing Horizons of World Knowledge: On the Presentation of Space in Primary School Geography Textbooks of the Japanese Empire
The presentation of space in primary geography textbooks of the Japanese Empire (1868–1945) changed according to the political climate. In the liberal phase of the 1870s, Japanese geography schoolbooks dealt with the entire earth. In the revisionist phase of the 1880s, in order to encourage a sense of national identity, no knowledge of lands outside of Japan was imparted to lower primary school students. In the phase of colonial expansion from the 1890s, the world reemerged in geography school books, with an increasing emphasis on the reorganisation of East Asia. Drawing on premodern mythology, primary geography textbooks served to consolidate the Japanese concept of empire in accordance with the respective political situation.
Die Raumvorstellung in den elementaren Geographieschulbüchern des Japanischen Kaiserreichs (1868–1945) änderte sich mit dem politischen Klima. In der liberalen Phase der 1870er Jahre behandelten die Geographieschulbücher alle Erdräume. In der revisionistischen Phase der 1880er Jahre wurde den unteren Grundschülern zur Wahrung der nationalen Identität kein Wissen über die Erdräume außerhalb Japans vermittelt. In der kolonialen Expansionsphase ab den 1890er Jahren fanden die Erdräume außerhalb Japans wieder Eingang in die Geographieschulbücher, wobei die Neuordnung Ostasiens immer stärker betont wurde. Auf der vormodernen Mythologie basierend dienten die elementaren Geographieschulbücher der Festigung des japanischen Reichsgedankens nach Maßgabe der jeweiligen politischen Lage.
Keywords: Geographieschulbücher, Großostasiatische Wohlstandssphäre, Japanisches Kaiserreich, koloniale Expansion, nationale Identität, Raumvorstellung
Stephen G. Gross
This article explores the economic context behind Germany’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia in 2014 in response to the Ukraine crisis, through the lens of energy and natural gas. It does so by comparing 2014 with another moment in German-Russian relations when questions of energy, economics, sanctions, and transatlantic politics converged—the Yamal natural gas pipeline in 1982. Then, West Germany had little economic latitude to disrupt trade with Russia because of its high unemployment rate, its balance of payments problems, and the large investments major German corporations had made in Yamal. Consequently, Bonn broke with the United States over the question of sanctions. In 2014, by contrast, Germany’s strong economy, robust balance of payments, and the absence of a united business front opposing sanctions gave Berlin the space to pursue a non-economic agenda and support the United States in imposing sanctions. The article concludes that these cases illustrate how Germany should not be characterized as a “geo-economic power,” insofar as Berlin still has the space to prioritize goals such as the advancement of democracy and human rights over its need to promote exports and secure imports of raw materials.
Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space
Jeppe Trolle Linnet
In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.
The Role of Domestic Space in the Social Inclusion and Exclusion of Refugees in Rural Denmark
Birgitte Romme Larsen
This article examines negotiations over social inclusion and exclusion that take place during everyday settlement processes among refugee families located in rural areas in Denmark. Using the case study of a Congolese household, the article shows how local codes of sociability are often concretized and materialized in domestic space in ways that turn the home sphere, with its daily routines and material culture, into a domain of vital importance for the social incorporation of refugee newcomers. This domestic domain is of particular significance in a country where, on the one hand, the integration programs of the welfare state are highly regulatory and tend to intervene deeply in refugees' private spheres and, on the other, cultural homogeneity is emphasized and regarded as closely related to equality.
Internationalisation of higher education has been overwhelmingly embraced by Canadian universities (Beck 2009). Yet, the decentralised nature of higher education institutions, coupled with the absence of a national governing body with responsibility for higher education, creates an interesting terrain for internationalisation. In this paper, I examine the ideas related to internationalisation pursued by one Canadian organisation, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Responding to concerns from Canadian institutions and government ministries about their potential exclusion from global markets, the AUCC took a national lead to better acquaint Canadian institutions with the Bologna reforms, declaring an urgent need to respond to the reforms taking place in Europe (AUCC 2008a). I analyse the policy knowledge, spaces and actors involved with internationalisation through the AUCC's interaction with the Bologna Process, to argue that a deeper entangling of universities in the ideational market-based competition embedded in neoliberal reforms has created tensions in how autonomy can be conceived in Canadian higher education.
Friedrich Ratzel’s Impact on German Education from the Wilhelmine Empire to the Third Reich
This article examines the influence of Friedrich Ratzel’s idea of the struggle for space and its impact on cultural and national development depicted in German geography and history textbooks from the Wilhelmine era to the Third Reich. Ratzel’s concept of bio-geography conceived the state as a living organism that is the product of humanity’s interaction with the land and also facilitates humanity’s spread across the earth. German textbooks promoted a similar concept of the state in their portrayal of geography and history, the implications of which were appropriated by the National Socialists to support their geopolitical goals.
Construction of the United States and New York in 1950s and 1960s Czech Travel Writing
Early postwar Czech travel writing was mainly concerned with representations of countries from the newly emerging Soviet Bloc and former European colonies in the developing world. In this way, travel writing played a role in nation building and the creation of new cultural identity. However, following the slow process of political liberalization, the United States became an increasingly visible feature of travel narratives, concomitant with interest and reception of American literature in the second half of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. While focusing on the analysis of space and articulation of the identities of travelers/narrators, this article tracks the re-emergence of the image of the United States in various types of travel narratives in order to depict a trajectory from the representation of a strictly bipolar world in political reportage from the early 1950s, to its subversion in the travel writing of the 1960s.