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Emptiness and its futures

Staying and leaving as tactics of life in Latvia

Dace Dzenovska

In the past 25 years, rural Latvia has become notably emptier. This emptying is the result of post-Soviet deindustrialization and large-scale outmigration, enabled by EU accession and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis. It is accompanied by lack of political protest, leading many to conclude that migration hinders political mobilization. Such conclusions derive from viewing leaving and staying as actions in relation to the state. Instead, leaving and staying should be viewed in relation to transnational forms of power. The people leaving the deindustrialized Latvian countryside to work in the English countryside are seeking futures past, namely, futures of stable employment and incremental prosperity. Those who stay in the emptying Latvian countryside create the future as a little bit more of the present.

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Keith Hart

This note revisits Weber (especially his General Economic History) and Knight on risk and calculation, while adding commentary based on some other authors, notably Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Some recent ethnographies of finance are considered, as well as popular literature on making money. The future is unknowable, but modern societies train their members to expect to pin down future time. Precise calculation of future outcomes is a chimera, one of the principal causes of the recent financial collapse. Reasoning works best backwards as rationalization and this is scientific method. Extrapolation from the past to the future is where it all breaks down.

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Well-faring towards Uncertain Futures

A Comparative Perspective on Youth in Marginalized Positions

Susanne Højlund, Lotte Meinert, Martin Demant Frederiksen and Anne Line Dalsgaard

The article explores how societal contexts create different possibilities for faring well towards the future for young marginalized people. Based on a comparative project including ethnographies from Brazil, Uganda, Georgia and Denmark the authors discuss well-faring as a time-oriented process based on individual as well as societal conditions. The article argues that in order to understand well-faring it is important to analyse how visions and strategies for the future are shaped in relation to local circumstances. Whether it is possible to envision the future as hopeless or hopeful, as concrete or abstract or as dependent on family or state is a ma er of context. Well-faring is thus neither an individual nor a state project but must be analysed in a double perspective as an interplay between the two.

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Cameron Bassiri

The present article provides an account of the chapter of volume one of the Critique of Dialectical Reason entitled “The Organization.” It is guided by the following questions: In what ways is the organization an advancement over the group in fusion and the statutory group? How does the organization contribute to the progressive dimension of Sartre’s progressive-regressive method? What is the status of the future within organized groups? It develops Sartre’s theory of power, rights, and duties, and shows that these concepts exist independently of the Polis. This makes possible a contrast with Plato and allows us to develop the implicit Sartrean concepts of moderation and justice in this chapter. I further show the internal structures and functioning of the organized group, Sartre’s concept of personal identity in such action, and the manner in which the future becomes concrete in such articulated action orientated toward an ultimate, collective aim.

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Differences in temporal reasoning

Temporal complexity and generational clashes in an East German city

Felix Ringel

Hoyerswerda, Germany's fastest-shrinking city, faces problems with the future that seem initially unrelated to the past and yet excite manifold conflicting accounts of it. The multiple and conflicting temporal references employed by Hoyerswerdians indicate that the temporal regime of postsocialism is accompanied, if not overcome, by the temporal framework of shrinkage. By reintroducing the analytical domain of the future, I show that local temporal knowledge practices are not historically predetermined by a homogenous postsocialist culture or by particular generational experiences. Rather, they exhibit what I call temporal complexity and temporal flexibility-creative uses of a variety of coexisting temporal references. My ethnographic material illustrates how such expressions of different forms of temporal reasoning structure social relations within and between different generations. Corresponding social groups are not simply divided by age, but are united through shared and heavily disputed negotiations of the post-Cold War era's contemporary crisis.

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Introduction

Assessing France as a Model of Societal Success

Éloi Laurent and Michèle Lamont

In this article, we propose a definition of the elusive "French model" of societal success and explore its usefulness for understanding the forces shaping France's future. This model, we suggest, remains "statist-republicanist": its democracy revolves around the idea of republicanism, while its economy continues to rely heavily on market regulation and public intervention. We assess France's model of societal success, which requires exploring the country's long-term assets and liabilities for human development. We argue, first of all, that France relies on a combination of a high fertility rate, an excellent health care system, a low level of income inequalities, and "de-carbonized growth"; second, that it continues to have a major liability, namely, a shadow French model of cultural membership that sustains segregation and discrimination; and third, that it experiences an important decoupling between its profound socio-economic transformations, on the one hand, and its political discourse and representations of the polity, on the other.

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Introduction

Subjects of Luck—Contingency, Morality, and the Anticipation of Everyday Life

Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey

This introduction illustrates the modalities in which different societies imagine the tension between the impersonal and individual- ized aspects of fortune and fate. After briefly discussing the role of contingency, fortune, and gambling in the formation of subjectivities, we outline how different societies confront the moral conundrums arising from fortune's unequal distribution in the world. We highlight how luck orientations presentify the future by the deployment of what we name 'technologies of anticipation'. Luck and fortune can be seen as conceptual techniques for short-circuiting temporal subjectivities by creating a crack in time-a space of 'compossibility'-where events deemed to be fatal and inevitable become negotiable. We conclude with a reflection on dice, randomness, and acts of gambling in which not merely subjectivities but the fate or fortune of larger social aggrega- tions-including the cosmos-is deemed at stake.

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Postscript

Future directions for global prison research

Lorna A. Rhodes

Although the modern prison was one aspect of colonial control, the literature on penality centers almost entirely on the ways in which control of populations has played out in advanced, industrial democracies. Each of the articles in this thematic section, on the other hand, describes a prison in one of the countries of the global South. The authors have given us beautifully fine-grained descriptions of the internal world of these prisons and much to think about in terms of possible directions for future work.

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Can Time Be Tricked?

A Theoretical Introduction

Felix Ringel

This theoretical introduction develops a conceptual argument stemming from the concept of ‘time-tricking’. Whilst most theories of time in anthropology develop a coherent definition of the nature of time – for instance, as ‘cyclical’ or ‘linear’ – I draw attention to a seemingly common metaphysical distinction in our temporal ontologies, that between the past and the future. This distinction allows me to do two things: first, I present two different versions of time-tricking, one focusing on references to time and particularly to the past, the other conceptualizing effects on the future; and then, second, I present the future as the main object of temporal agency. By developing the notion of ‘future-tricking’, I point to a specific kind of temporal agency which is based on metaphysical commitments heavily embedded in the present in politics, interests and possibilities.

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Uriel Abulof

Israeli Arabs' "future vision" documents are an ethical-political manifesto, contextualized in academic discourse and informed by socio-historical parallels. Hence, this article examines their political ethics in a comparative perspective, by referencing the case of Israeli Arabs along with two other distinct intra-state conflicts: the strife between Anglophones and Francophones in Canada and the struggle between Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia. These cases illuminate two main ethical-political alternatives to the present pattern of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Although the Canadian case indicates a renunciation of ethno-nationalism in favor of civic and linguistic patriotism, the Macedonian case presents an attempt to reconcile ethno-national affiliation with democratic principles. Projecting the ethical discussion of the Canadian and Macedonian cases onto Israel, I contend that normative acceptance of the mutual and dual right of self-determination, regarding both the individual's collective identity and the collective's polity, is a precondition for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.