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Understanding the Zār

An African-Iranian Healing Dance Ritual

William O. Beeman

This article explores the structure and meaning of the Zār ceremony as carried out throughout the Persian Gulf. This ceremony is mirrored by similar ones throughout North and East Africa, suggesting that the Zār may have resulted from cultural diffusion along historical trade routes. The Zār practitioners, the bābā and the māmā, must cultivate extensive skills in musical performance, movement and coordination in order to affect a palliative relief for persons affected by spirit ‘winds’ that inhabit them, causing physical and emotional distress. The Zār ceremony is an important method of non-allopathic treatment for emotional disorders that might elsewhere be treated through psychiatry in clinical settings. Practitioners see it as compatible with Islam, though not a strictly Islamic practice.

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The Ingathering of the Jewish (Moroccan) Diaspora

Zionism and Global Hometown Awareness among Spanish-Moroccan Jews in Israel

Aviad Moreno

Homeland/diaspora dichotomies are emblematic of the Zionist philosophy and, as a consequence, also in the common critical annals of long-lasting diasporic ethnicities among Jewish immigrants to Israel. This observation applies in particular to Jewish immigrants from Islamic countries, whose Eastern pre-immigration cultures conceivably contrast with the Western character of the national-Zionist venture. In this article, I focus on MABAT, an Israel-based hometown association of Jews from the former Spanish-dominated area in northern Morocco which, from its founding in 1979, embraced the Zionist notion of homecoming. I show how they came to form their own singular network in Israel, while appealing to their former hometowns, as well as to their emerging centres of diffusion in the Americas and Europe, thereby challenging commonly held assumptions of Israel/diaspora, East/West dichotomies in the annals of Jewish ethnicities in Israel.

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Johannes Paulmann

The article investigates an essential characteristic of the Federal Republic of Germany's search for self-assurance in foreign cultural representations after World War II. A normative behavioral pattern, described here as an “attitude of restraint,” emerged during the Adenauer era, resulting in representations without emulation. The article focuses on German participation in world fairs-an example that reveals the multi-layered mechanisms linking diplomacy with culture, political attitudes with individual experiences and memories, and foreign relations with social conditions. The formation of an attitude of restraint constituted part of the long-term process of West German self-education and shaped cultural identities in the Federal Republic. The self-assurance re-found during the Adenauer era is placed in the context of political debates about the break with the Nazi past, defense against communist East Germany, and the selective turn toward an international modernity. Furthermore, the article offers an explanation regarding the diffusion of certain behavioral norms through everyday experience and practice.

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Jobst Conrad

The article provides a general overview of social sciences perspectives to analyze and theorize climate research, climate discourse, and climate policy. First, referring to the basic paradigm of sociology, it points out the feasible scope and necessary methodology of environmental sociology as a social science concerning the analysis of physical nature. Second, it illustrates this epistemological conception by few examples, summarizing main results of corresponding climate-related social science investigations dealing with the development dynamics of climate research, the role of scientific (climate impact) assessments in politics, varying features and changes of climate discourses, climate policy formation, and knowledge diffusion from climate science. The receptivity of climate discourse and climate policy to the results of problem-oriented climate research is strongly shaped and limited by its multifarious character as well as by their own (internal) logics. The article shows that social sciences contribute their specific (conceptual) competences to problem-oriented research by addressing climate change and corresponding adaptation and mitigation strategies.

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Alejandro Miranda

Current scholarly work on mobilities has focused largely on how practices of mobility produce space, place, and landscape through their enactment and representation. There has been significantly less attention to the study of how social practices move, that is, how socially recognized ways of doing are produced through mobility. Although the literature of various disciplines generally agrees that practices are on the move at different scales, the mobilities of practice have yet to be developed explicitly. This article contributes to this emerging area of research by examining the case of music making. Drawing on ethnographic research, it analyzes how son jarocho, a musical tradition from southeast Mexico, is currently diffused and re-created across communities of practitioners in the United States. In doing so, the processes of diffusion, reproduction, and transformation of social practice are dependent on, and reciprocally related to, the movement produced during performances.

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The Appropriation of Bicycles in West Africa

Pragmatic Approaches to Sustainability

Hans Peter Hahn

Bicycles have a wide range of functions and roles in West Africa. They have vital functions for everyday necessities, but they also constitute prestige objects. The appreciation of bicycles in Africa started very early, almost simultaneously with their diffusion as consumer goods in Europe. However, the adoption of bicycles followed a specific pathway, which is explained in this article within the conceptual framework of appropriation. Cultural appropriation highlights the significant modifications of bicycles in Africa and the abandonment of some functions like braking. In spite of the technical simplifications, modified bicycles are perceived as having higher value, by virtue of their fitness for the tough roads and their increased reliability. Appropriation results in a specific “Africanized“ bicycle, which makes possible a prolonged usage. This essay argues that the “Africanized“ bicycle constitutes a model of sustainability in matters of transport, one which is not sufficiently recognized in current debates about sustainable innovations.

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Mobility on the Move

Rickshaws in Asia

M. William Steele

The rickshaw initiated an explosion in personal mobility in Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Invented in Japan in 1869, by 1872 there were forty thousand and by 1875 over one hundred thousand of the new two-wheel vehicles on the streets of Tokyo. The number reached a peak in 1896 with 210,000 countrywide. The rickshaw (in Japanese, jinrikisha) quickly spread to Asia, to Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1874, to Singapore and Calcutta in 1880. By 1900, the rickshaw had spread throughout the continent, bringing with it new mobility to an emerging urban middle class. Moreover, for many people in Asia, the rickshaw alongside the locomotive, came to symbolize modernity. This article will explore routes of diffusion, focusing on the role played by Akiha Daisuke and his adopted son, Akiha Daisuke II, Japan's largest exporters of rickshaws, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Louise K. Davidson-Schmich

Since the adoption of candidate gender quotas, women have always fared better in the “second” or PR tier of Bundestag elections than in the “first” or plurality tier, where quotas do not apply. This gap, however, has been closing. In the 2009 Bundestag election, 27 percent of the major parties' direct mandate candidates were women compared to almost 30 percent in 2013. All parties experienced an increase in the percentage of women among their nominees for direct mandates between 2009 and 2013. Why have the numbers of female candidates for the 299 directly elected Bundestag constituencies been increasing? This increase is puzzling because gender quotas have not been extended to this tier of the electoral system and candidate selection rules have not changed. This article explores five potential mechanisms that may be driving the observed rise in women nominated as constituency candidates. I argue that the main reasons for these increases lie in the advantages female incumbents incur, the openings presented when male incumbents retire, and the diffusion of female candidates across parties and neighboring Wahlkreise after one woman manages to win a direct mandate. I develop these conclusions by comparing candidate nominations and direct mandate winners in the 2009 and 2013 Bundestag elections.

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Anna Caffarena

In the early morning of 12 July 2006, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas

kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on border patrol and killed a further

eight. A similar episode had occurred on 25 June at the Kerem Shalom

kibbutz. Members of the radical wing of Hamas seized Corporal Gilad

Shalit, leading to the death of two fellow soldiers. The government of

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had responded by initiating a

vast military offensive in the Gaza Strip, leading to the arrest of, among

others, 9 members of the Palestinian government and 20 parliamentarians.

The two events were closely related: the Hezbollah leader, Hassan

Nasrallah, stated that the movement, with this gesture, had intended to

support the struggle of Hamas, as well as solicit an exchange of prisoners.

The reaction of Israel was once again expeditious: the “asymmetric”

war lasted 34 days, with over 1,500 dead. The risk of the conflict

spreading—with the indirect involvement of Syria and Iran, traditional

supporters and financiers of Hezbollah—and the diffusion in the Middle

East of a belief in terrorism as an indisputable instrument for the

defense of national causes were evident. In the background was Iraq,

by now subject to increasingly severe convulsions.

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Claire de Galembert/Belbah and Mustapha Belbah

S'il est difficile de se prononcer sur l'avenir du CFCM-CRCM, le processus est indéniablement devenu un objet transactionnel, et cela au moins à trois niveaux : entre les acteurs islamiques, entre les acteurs islamiques et les acteurs publics, et enfin entre les acteurs publics. À ces multiples transactions se superpose une négociation constante entre l'échelle nationale et l'échelle locale. Ainsi le processus—dont on ne peut exclure l'hypothèse qu'au-delà des forces centrifuges qu'il génère il parvienne à enclencher une dynamique vertueuse d'intégration de l'islam (au sens d'harmonisation du paysage islamique)—n'ail pas seulement des effets intégrateurs sur le champ islamique. Il implique aussi un recadrage de l'action publique avec davantage de décloisonnement et de transversalité. « On est passés d'une approche segmentée, des approches plus ou moins techniques, comme sur la question de l'Aïd-el-Kébir, à une logique de convergence […], de transversalité de l'approche et puis de diffusion de l'approche qui peut en être faite », observe tel référent islam en préfecture de région. Et de conclure : « La structuration qu'on attend des représentants et, audelà, de la communauté musulmane s'applique également à l'État en région.