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Bordering Intimacy

The Fight against Marriages of Convenience in Brussels

Maïté Maskens

Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between January 2012 and June 2013 in eight civil registry offices in Brussels, this article explores how assumptions about intimacy intersect with the moral standards of bureaucrats evaluating the authenticity of conjugal life in order to prevent 'marriages of convenience'. From the 'intimate conviction' of the agents of the state to the co-production of intimate narratives, this article tries to understand the intrusion of states in contemporary intimacies. I look at how the bureaucratic application of a civilizational ideology affects the subjectivities of those engaging in partnerships across two different nationalities (bi-national couples) – and blurs an historic distinction between what is public and what is private.

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Anthony Holiday

John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University speaks to the concerns of African educationalists, not despite, but because of the circumstance that his fidelity to the ideal of a university as a seat of universal knowledge is tied to his argument for the inclusion of theology as an indispensable part of any university syllabus. It is not the case, moreover, that his idealism resonates with us purely because it is carried by a magnificent prose style. Rather, Newman’s thoughts about the universality of higher learning touch us across a considerable culturo-temporal divide, because Africans in their quest for a form of university education which will harmonize with their Africanness are driven by an innate conviction, too seldom made explicit, that such education would have to be inseparable from their own spirituality and religious commitments. If the conviction remains largely unspoken, this has much to do with the global climate of scientism and secularism in which humanity’s aspirations – religious and educational – must seek expression. It is, perhaps, because we are denizens of this climate that we can scarcely suppress a smile at Newman’s claim that theology is a factual science much as, say, physics is a factual science and why his assertion in the Fourth Discourse that “the preservation of our race in Noah’s Ark is an historical fact which history never would arrive at without revelation”1 strikes us (quite rightly) as being something of a howler.

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Caterina Paolucci

The success of the Five Star Movement, with its anti-political and populist challenge to the establishment, did not lead to multipolar competition. Rather, it furthered a moderate bipolar party system dynamic between the center-left and center-right. Although it lost millions of votes, the center-right fared relatively well, allowing Silvio Berlusconi to regain a relevant position in the party-political game. Although stripped of his seat and expelled from the Chamber following a tax fraud conviction, Berlusconi realized, thanks also to the election of centrist Matteo Renzi as the new secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), that it would suit him better to moderate his claims. This new development may lead to an unexpected alliance between the PD and Berlusconi's revived personal party, Forza Italia, and may perhaps result in regaining the electorate lost to the M5S.

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L’ordre et le bonheur

Langues, nations, et territoires dans la réorganisation de l’Europe après la Première guerre mondiale

Sébastien Moret

English abstract (full article is in French):

Even before the end of World War I, conversations attempting to imagine a post-war Europe were taking place. In this article we will focus on a particular aspect of these conversations in regard to a new Europe: the desire expressed in many texts to achieve a natural and scientific reorganization of the continent, with the underlying conviction that with each state in its legitimate place, such a reorganization would necessarily lead to a lasting peace. In order to bring about this perfect map of Europe, many looked initially to earlier romantic and naturalist conceptions of linguistics. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, romantic and naturalist ideas of language were contradicted and supplanted by a social conception of language. It is therefore necessary to examine why these outmoded ideas made their return at this particular moment in European history.

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Clive James

When I first read him more than forty years ago, I thought Peter Porter was the same age as he is now. Impressed by his evident conviction that the modern world was essentially a Technicolor version of one of those Dürer woodcuts in which the knightly rider was flanked by death and the Devil in his journey through a landscape ravaged by war and plague, I pictured the agonised artist as a gaunt, white-bearded figure hunched under a velvet cap, setting down his long-pondered apocalyptic visions by candlelight. Not that his poems creaked: indeed they hurtled. But, however long their rhythmic breath and legato their line, they still sounded like the last gasps of a sage, and all the sages I had ever heard of had whiskers on them.

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“Moi quand on dit qu’une femme ment, eh bien, elle ment”

The Administration of Rape in Twenty-First Century France and England & Wales

Nicole Fayard and Yvette Rocheron

In France and England & Wales rape is now understood as a diverse social phenomenon. It is reported, counted, categorized, and dealt with by the authorities as a serious crime. Yet, despite notable initiatives intended to improve the conviction of alleged perpetrators, major hurdles for alleged victims remain. We show how rape is defined and prosecuted in France and England & Wales, and we use statistical analyzes to understand the scale of the problem, still largely unknown. We also discuss recent controversies (attrition rate;loicadre), exploring a culture of scepticism among police and judiciary that causes complaints to be dropped or downgraded to lesser crimes. Our interview material from France explores two difficulties: When is rape not rape? Did the alleged victim consent to the penetration? Finally we analyze the paradoxical role played by voluntary victim support groups that resist but also collude with a complex regulatory system that fails those who do not speak in legitimate codes.

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Believed Belief

Science/Religion versus Sukuma Magic

Koen Stroeken

Typically, magic takes no stance against the socialized beliefs that determine it, in contrast with both science and modern religion, which, in the face of doubt, assert the truth-value of their propositions against such determination. In other words, science and religion engage in 'believed belief'. Their aversion to magical belief is the one thing they can agree on. Believed beliefs produce convictions of truth sufficiently intense to base actions on, such as the killing of someone identified as a witch. Ethnography on Sukuma healing allows us to distinguish this experience of the witch from that of oracles and magical remedies. While research in terms of belief(s) tends to oppose cultures, an approach based on experiential structures links up seemingly distinct practices from different cultures, while differentiating seemingly similar practices within a culture.

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Zvi Jonathan Kaplan

The Dreyfus Affair evolved into a vital symbol for the proponents of the separation of church and state. While the clerical anti-Dreyfusards turned the arrest and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus into an attack on both Jews and the Republic, the anticlerical Dreyfusards successfully used the Dreyfus Affair to achieve their political objectives. While for practical purposes Jewish leaders were more aligned with the anticlerical camp, they did not enthusiastically welcome the law on separation. If one applies the label “Dreyfusard” to those who cloaked their anticlericalism in their battle to rehabilitate Dreyfus, then the representatives of French Jewry, who did not have a radical position to cloak, were not genuine Dreyfusards. They were not driven by ideology but rather by pragmatic political and social considerations resulting from the rise of anti-Semitism emanating from clerical corners. For Jewish leaders, separation was a byproduct of the Affair. For the anticlerical Dreyfusards, separation was the goal.

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Pierre Lascoumes

Unlike Anglo-Saxon countries, France, along with other Mediterranean democracies (Italy, Spain)1 has waited until the end of the twentieth century to publicly identify the various forms “public misconduct” can take2 and to begin to address them politically. Two convictions mark a breach in the national tradition of impunity for public corruption: that of the treasurer of the Socialist Party, deputy and former minister Henri Emmanuelli, in March 1996 for concealment of trading on his influence (earning him an18-month suspended jail sentence and, more notably, two years of attainder and political ineligibility); and that of the mayor of Grenoble, RPR deputy and minister Alain Carignon, in July 1996 for corruption (earning him four years imprisonment).

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Camus et la “littérature algérienne”

Une notion stratégique dans l’espace littéraire francophone

Tristan Leperlier

*Full article is in French

This article offers a socio-historical approach to analyzing the genesis of the notion of “Algerian literature” and its structural relationship to “French literature”— unstable notions that have been subject to fierce debate. I show how “Algerian literature” has been nationalized and ethnicized during the twentieth century. These transformations are linked to Algerian writers’ literary and political struggles with one another. Their approaches to affirming or denying the very existence of “Algerian literature” during the colonial era, or its ethnic character after Algerian independence, depended on their political convictions, but also on their recognition within the French-Algerian literary space. A structural analysis of the kind offered here allows us to see new historical continuities and ruptures between French colonial literature and the literature of post-independence Algeria. It reveals too that the figure of Albert Camus has remained in the heart of the debates even to this day.