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Spiritually Enmeshed, Socially Enmeshed

Shamanism and Belonging in Ulaanbaatar

Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko

This article examines how shamanic practices can, through the generation of a spiritualized narrative past, relocate individual subjectivities in an extensive web of relationships that include and extend beyond living relatives. The analysis describes the transition from collective to individual responsibility and concurrent feelings of dislocation that occurred in Mongolia at the end of the socialist period. Referring to the biography of a young Mongolian woman, the article looks at how the vertical ontologies present in Mongolian shamanic practice have relocated Enkhjargal in extended kinship connections, building cosmologically enmeshed relationships that reach back into the pre-socialist past. In the increasingly fluid and unpredictable urban environment of Ulaanbaatar, it explores a living instance of re-engagement and attendant growth in both obligation and capacity.

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Ian H. Birchall

Linda Bell’s article “Different Oppressions”1 makes a useful contribution to the study of Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946).2 She raises the difficult question of the comparability and specificity of different forms of oppression, and in particular she recounts how the text encouraged her in challenging her own oppression as a woman. Surely Sartre himself would have asked for nothing better of the works that survived him than that they should inspire others struggling against oppression in all its forms.

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Mathijs Pelkmans

The renewed relevance of religion in post-Soviet public spheres has been accompanied by conspicuous and controversial conversion processes. This article compares cases of conversion on the Muslim-Christian frontier in Kyrgyzstan and in Georgia. It argues that the notions of boundary and frontier are essential to construct a more dynamic model for understanding 'spiritual' movement in social contexts that are rapidly changing. This approach in turn sheds light on the roles and the nature of social and cultural boundaries in the contemporary world.

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Authentically socialist

Czech heritage management at the former Liechtenstein estate of Lednice-Valtice

Veronica E. Aplenc

The Lednice-Valtice area, Southern Moravia, represents over 220 square kilometers of vast architectural and landscape heritage. As the former Liechtenstein ducal seat nationalized in 1945 and a major tourist attraction throughout the twentieth century, this site embodies the complex issues of heritage and authenticity. Post-war Czech preservationists incorporated pre-socialist legislative systems and beliefs into their socialist-era professional praxis, in a striking use of Habsburg-era, modernist cultural capital. Central to this borrowing was preservationists' casting themselves as state-legislated experts in heritage management, using an almost exclusively aesthetics-focused presentation in messy ideological situations.

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Mathijs Pelkmans

This essay reviews the revolutionary situations that recently emerged in the post-Soviet world, focusing on the 'Tulip Revolution' in Kyrgyzstan. Observers were quick to explain this revolution in terms of democratic resistance to authoritarianism. This view is particularly problematic given that Kyrgyzstan was among the 'fast reformers' in the region and made its name as an 'island of democracy'. Instead of assuming that problems started when the country digressed from the ideals of liberal democracy, this essay argues that democratic reform and market-led development generated both the space and motivations for revolutionary action. Democratic reforms created the possibility of political dissent, while neo-liberal policies resulted in economic decline and social dislocations in which a temporary coalition between rural poor and dissenting political leaders was born.

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“Comrades in Battle”

Women Workers and the 1906 Finnish Suffrage Victory

Eric Blanc

This article examines how working-class women helped transform Finland in 1906 into the world’s first nation to grant full women’s suffrage. Activists organized into the League of Working Women fought for full suff rage in the context of an anti-imperial upsurge in Finland and a revolution across the tsarist empire. These women workers simultaneously allied with their male peers and took autonomous action to prevent their exclusion from the vote during the political upheaval of late 1905 and early 1906. In the process they challenged traditional gender norms and articulated a political perspective that tied together the fight against class, gender, and national domination.

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The 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland

Articulation of Political Subjectivities among Workers

Wictor Marzec

The article examines the political mobilisation and construction of modern political identities among workers during the 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland. Political process, creation and alternation of the political subjectivities of workers are explained in terms of hegemonic articulations as presented by the political discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau. While social claims merged with resistance against the national oppression of the Tsarist regime and the struggle for social and political recognition, political subjectivities took various contingent and competitive forms; thus the same demands could be integrated into different political narratives and collective identities. Combining discourse theory and process tracing makes alternations of the political field in time intelligible.

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Ronald Aronson

When published, Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason appeared to be a major intellectual and political event, no less than a Kantian effort to found Marxism, with far-reaching theoretical and political consequences. Claude Levi-Strauss devoted a course to studying it, and debated Sartre's main points in The Savage Mind; Andre Gorz devoted a major article to explaining its importance and key concepts in New Left Review. Many analysts of the May, 1968 events in Paris claimed that they were anticipated by the Critique. But the book has had a very quiet 50th anniversary: it is now clear that the project has had little lasting effect beyond a narrow band of specialists. It has not entered the wider culture, has not been picked up beyond Sartre scholars except by one or two philosophically interested social scientists and feminist thinkers; and after the energy of 1968 wore off the Critique faded as well from the radar of political activists. This article asks and attempts to answer the perplexing question: Why? What became of the great promise of Sartre's project?

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The Vanishing Power Plant

Infrastructure and Ignorance in Peri-urban Ulaanbaatar

Morten Axel Pedersen

In a neglected corner of peri-urban Ulaanbaatar’s sprawling post-socialist slums, the livelihood of dozens of households has over recent years been affected by a large infrastructure project that will never be built. ‘Power Plant #5’ was originally tendered to a Chinese construction firm in 2008 as part of a national strategy to develop Mongolia’s energy production to meet new needs. Taking its departure in the story of a poverty-stricken woman long employed as a caretaker by a mysterious organization allegedly in charge of Power Plant #5, this article explores the peculiar dynamics by which lacking knowledge about this and other infrastructural projects in contemporary Mongolia feeds into dispossessed people’s dreams about and plans for the future. Indeed, it suggests that ignorance itself may be conceived of as an infrastructure in its own right, insofar as it constitutes a ground from which certainty as well as uncertainty emerge.

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Mapping Time, Living Space

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Stephan Feuchtwang and Susan Bayly

The Bad, Fear and Blame? Comment on Bayly’s Mapping Time, Living Space Stephan Feuchtwang

Reply Susan Bayly