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The Making of Modern Afghanistan

Reconstruction, Transnational Governance and Gender Politics in the New Islamic Republic

Julie Billaud

This article seeks to characterise the nature of the post-Taliban 'reconstruction' project in Afghanistan through an analysis of observations and interviews collected in the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) in 2007. Based on a case study of a 'gender empowerment' training programme administered by the MoWA and funded by an international aid agency, I underline some intricacies in the relationships that are built in development encounters. I argue that the current efforts to include gender issues in politics are part of a broader cultural project aimed at setting up the conditions of possibility for the creation of a modern Afghan state. I show how reconstruction does not simply consist in the formation of a bureaucratic apparatus based on Western models of liberal democracies but primarily involves cultural and symbolic production.

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Anne Fairweather, Borut Rončević, Maj Rydbjerg, Marie Valentová and Mojca Zajc

Social quality was first conceptualised and developed in the book ‘The Social Quality of Europe’ (Beck et al, 1997). This book, through a series of articles, develops the background to the concept and then produces a theoretical framework of social quality. Finally it critically assesses the possibilities for and problems with the concept. In the present paper, we first look at the concept of social quality itself. We then go on to examine the four components of social quality: socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion and empowerment. In each section on individual components the general conceptualisation of this component is discussed, and this is followed by a discussion of how it fits into the social quality quadrant. A number of issues are then identified, that will require further research.

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Capacity Building as Instrument and Empowerment

Training Health Workers for Community-Based Roles in Ghana

Harriet Boulding

This article examines the concept of health worker capacity building as it is used to facilitate the integration of social and clinical community health services. Focusing on the Community-based Health Planning and Services initiative in Ghana, this article calls into question the efficacy of approaches to capacity building which emphasize technical requirements over empowering health workers to actively engage with their communities on matters of health and wellbeing. Instrumental conceptualizations of health worker capacity building generate blueprints for social mobilization that only partially address community health needs, and produce new relationships of brokerage between health workers. These phenomena facilitate a discussion as to how transformative versions of health worker capacity building might be integrated into health sector bureaucracies.

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The Corpus Christi Devotion

Gender, Liturgy, and Authority among Dominican Nuns in Castile in the Middle Ages

Mercedes Pérez Vidal

Although well known in the case of Poor Clares or Cistercian nuns, the development of Corpus Christi devotion and liturgy in the Dominican nunneries has not been hitherto studied. This article analyzes these issues in the particular case of Dominican nuns in medieval Castile. The article discusses the role of these women in the development of devotional and liturgical performance, the artistic and architectonic consequences and peculiarities of the devotion of Corpus Christi, the changes in monastic spaces that resulted from it, and, finally, the use of Corpus Christi as a means of empowerment by some aristocratic nuns and foundresses.

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Transforming Museums and Heritage in Postcolonial and Post-Apartheid South Africa

The Impact of Processes of Policy Formulation and New

Gerard Corsane

In post-apartheid South Africa, the traditional understandings of museums and heritage have been challenged in terms of how meaning making, heritage construction, and knowledge production were conducted in the colonial past. In a series of processes of transformation, new approaches to museum action and heritage management have begun to take shape and develop in South Africa. Central to all of this have been the processes of policy formulation and new legislation that have provided the impetus for change. The aim of this article is to briefly chart some of these processes and the subsequent legislation that have begun to affect the ways in which South African heritage and museums are being reconfigured in a postcolonial and post-apartheid era. This policy formulation and the new legislation have focused on extending what is considered to be heritage by including intangible cultural heritage. It has also looked at empowering local communities, with an emphasis on sustainable development.

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The Precarious Center

Religious Leadership among African Christians

Thomas G. Kirsch

This article addresses a long-standing conundrum in the anthropology of religion concerning the ambiguous status of religious leaders: they are subjects of power in that they are able to exert power over others, yet they are objects of power in that they rely on empowerment through others. Taking African-initiated Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity in Zambia as my example, I argue that church leaders' strategies to stabilize their authority have unintended consequences since these strategies can contribute to the precariousness of their positions. By drawing fundamental distinctions between themselves and members of the laity as regards their own extraordinariness, church leaders raise high expectations about their own capacities that may turn out to be impossible to fulfill. Yet even the opposite strategy of strengthening one's authority by embedding oneself in socio-religious networks can eventually lead to a destabilization of church leaders' authority because it increases their dependence on factors that are beyond their control.

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Claire Wallace

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) open up the possibility of new forms of relationship and engagement, which form part of the sociality of modern society, leading some to characterize this as a transition to an "information society", a "network society", or a "third industrial revolution". This has implications for Social Quality, especially in terms of social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. Drawing upon recent research we find that ICTs have added new dimensions to social life in ways that go beyond the original formulations of the digital divide. Conversely, Social Quality can also add important insights into our understanding of the relationship between society and technology. The article argues that discussions of Social Quality should take these dimensions into account.

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Introduction

Empowering the Body and 'Noble Death'

Michael Roberts and Arthur Saniotis

Facing death with equanimity and with a honed, trained body is an expression of sheer power. When a group of like-minded individuals confronts an oppositional force with equal mental and bodily capacities, whether on a sports field or in a warring conflict, the result is power compounded. Each article in this special section ‘confronts’ such powers. Together they explore several regionally specific projects in Asia in which dying for a cause is seen as a virtue.

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Reclaiming Feminism

A Qualitative Investigation of Language Usage by Girls in a High School Women's Studies Course

Jennifer L. Martin

This article examines the impact of women's studies on at-risk high school girls. This analysis was conducted within a larger intervention study examining the effect of women's studies on levels of sexual harassment within the school. As a teacher researcher, I observed that students were embracing terms traditionally degrading to women so I then began to study the language usage of the students in the course as a separate study. I assessed changes in the language usage of students and observed the evolution of their language. It became, as the course progressed, more egalitarian and em powered as they embraced feminist principles.

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Rutger Henneman

In the past, land agitations have had a clear spiritual and theological dimension. The morality of ownership over land itself is often questioned. Many see land as a community resource, and community ownership is an emergent 'model' of land tenure, both in word and in practice. This project on the role of spirituality and theology in Scotland's modern land reform is linked to research into the spirituality of community regeneration, supported by WWF International in Geneva. The findings show that for contemporary Scottish land reformers spiritual and theological dimensions are very important.