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Narrow margins, stern sovereignty

Juxtaposing transnational and local features of Bolivia's crisis

Ton Salman

This article argues that the current Bolivian political crisis is ‘made’ both internally and abroad. Yet it is much more than a simple adding up of the two constituent factors: external influences are always mediated by local actors. Local actors turn these influences into meaningful issues and demands in the Bolivian political context. These actors, in turn, are co-constituted by external forces, as is the case with the prominent indigenous movements in the country: their self- awareness and identity politics in part depend upon support and discourses of a transnational nature. The fact that these indigenous movements insist on sovereignty and self-determination with regard to the use of Bolivia’s natural resources is a case in point. This demand, at the same time, is articulated in a setting in which this sovereignty suffers from tightening margins due to the external obligation to restructure both the state and the economy.

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Regards croisés

La presse frontiste face aux mouvements des « sans » dans les années 1990

Frédéric Royall

This article considers the ways that elements of the far-right press in France have dealt with the emergence of groups representing marginalized people—the unemployed, undocumented workers, the badly housed—during the 1990s. The first part considers the ideological leanings of the main far-right political group—the National Front—and of its press. The final part of the article analyzes the press's discourse on marginalized people and considers the political significance of such discourse.

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Comic, Tragic, and Burlesque Burkean Responses to Hate

Notes from Counterprotests of Antigay Pickets

Rebecca Barrett-Fox

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has effectively roused public anger for its pickets of military funerals, sites of national tragedy, and LGBTQ+ cultural events. Counterprotests, some mournful and some festive, are sites where scholars can investigate the ambivalence of public response to homophobia. This article draws from ethnographic observations of 107 WBC pickets and interviews with 183 counterprotesters to create a profile of a typical large counterprotest of WBC. The article then considers how the comic, tragic, and burlesque frames of Kenneth Burke can be applied to analyze counterprotest activity, illuminating how WBC is used by communities as a foil for their own hurtful treatment of vulnerable members. Finally, it argues, based on observation of counterprotests and consulting work with organizations planning counterprotests, for the adoption of the comic frame, not for the good of WBC but for the good of communities seeking better care of targets of homophobia.

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Bo Zhao

Conflicts over rural land expropriation, which have intensified over the past decade in China, pose a significant threat to the country's social stability and the sustainability of its economic development. This article argues that such conflicts are inevitable under China's current political and legal system. After a brief introduction of the present situation in China and an overview of China's land regime, the article first analyzes reasons for the escalation of land conflicts, including the vague definition of public interest, the inadequate compensation, and the ambiguous nature of collective land ownership. It then argues that even the few existing rights of rural peasants under the present land regime are not adequately protected due to China's poor law enforcement. The article further elucidates that impunity with regard to illegal land grabbing is common in China for a variety of reasons that all have roots in the Communist Party's monopoly over Chinese society. With no fundamental reform to China's party politics, the article concludes, there will be no effective measure to prevent further conflicts over land in the near future.

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Chiara Saraceno

On 13 February 2011, more than a million women (and many men)

took to the streets of Italy’s major cities to “make themselves seen and

heard,” in response to an appeal by an informal network of associations

as well as individual women called Se Non Ora Quando? (If Not

Now, When?). The demonstrations came about as a result of the latest

sex scandal (and abuse of authority) involving Prime Minister Silvio

Berlusconi, which had erupted a few months previously. This was

due to the revelation that Berlusconi had telephoned the Milan police

headquarters in the middle of the night, asking them to hand over to a

“trusted person”— Nicole Minetti, a Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People

of Liberty) regional councilor—a young foreign girl not yet 18 years

old, known as Ruby, who had been accused of theft by a friend

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Volunteering as Protest

Against State Failure or the State Itself?

Jan Křeček

Although the Czech Republic (CR) is not a favorite destination nor even a transit country for migrants through Europe, the refugee crisis has materialized into a strict state policy of rejection. The CR rejects proposals for European solutions and detains and imprisons immigrants, most of whom are inadvertently arrived there. This preliminary refusal strategy is peculiar to both the political and media spheres (and public opinion) and is described in the opening sections of this work. However, the CR, is also a country in which the tally of immigrants is less than the number of Czechs citizens traveling beyond their national borders to help refugees congregating along the “Balkan Route”, where they frequently outnumber volunteers from other countries. This paper goes on to describe the development of these grassroots Czech volunteer organizations and activities in 2015. From the beginning it was characterized by spontaneity and a lack of hierarchy, with the Internet and social media playing a vital role during mobilization and organization. The methodological section defines how this sample was analyzed and the manner in which it was dealt. Section five summarizes the most important findings of the case study: (1) the results of a questionnaire survey among volunteers, (2) the results of a qualitative content analysis of their communication in social networks. Besides basic mapping steps (features of volunteer’s participation), the analysis attempts to capture motivations for volunteer’s participation. Comparison with selected motivation typologies emphasizes the protective (later the normative) motivation, on which the hypotheses are based regarding the dispute about the national identity of volunteering as an ideological, and therefore foreseeable, dispute.

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Re-conceptualising Political Alienation

On Spectators, Spectacles and Public Protests

Anthony Lawrence A. Borja

Politics usually takes the form of brawls ranging from the verbal and civilised, to the physical and savage, if not deadly encounters. These public engagements are political spectacles projecting narratives that are attractive to people who share the sentiments made public in these spectacles, and a following of spectators that, in sustaining their spectatorship, keeps the spectacle in its status. I note that spectators are attached and concerned with the narratives (i.e.from the causes and actors involved to the eventual results) behind and projected by such spectacles, and that this attachment in turn defines and sustains their spectatorship. Political alienation is a condition shared by both the apathetic and spectators. However the case of spectators is more complex and merits closer analysis in order to attain an encompassing understanding of political alienation. In this article, I will argue and illustrate that political alienation must be understood as a sustainable process constituted and driven by sustained spectatorship (i.e.sustained relationship between spectators and a political spectacle) made possible by a habitus of disempowerment in everyday life.

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People's Mic and democratic charisma

Occupy Wall Street's frontier assemblies

Chris Garces

The People's Mic is a new genre of political speech. In Occupy Wall Street (OWS) general assemblies, this tactile media for public deliberation was integral to embodying new political community across American cities in a globally oriented movement of the squares. Whether or not OWS has exemplified direct democracy per se, the People's Mic has cultivated new forms of democratic charisma between previously disaggregated constituencies-a “leaderful charisma“, with historical roots in pious American oratorical traditions (“hallowed speech“) and more recent movements for intercultural solidarity building (global justice, horizontalist, feminist, etc.). In this article, I signal how the People's Mic atavistically conjured and resembled the American town hall meeting in a contemporary and heterogeneous US frontier assembly. Before its strategic incapacitation, the Occupy movement's widespread use of People's Mic served to undermine the authority of private-public monopolies and to place a check on mounting police repression of urban space.

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Demonstrating resistance

Politics and participation in the marches of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

Victoria Ana Goddardl

This article explores ways in which the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo confronted the state on the violence perpetrated during Argentina's "dirty war" during the 1970s and early 1980s. Focusing particularly on the Marches of Resistance initiated during the last years of the military regime in 1981, the article argues that their resistance had an important effect on political culture, encouraging participation and innovative forms of political action. At the same time, shifts in political conditions also caused internal changes in the Mothers' movement. A discussion of the circumstances that resulted in a schism within the movement and current divergences in conducting the marches leads to reflections on different interpretations of the political.

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Violence, Global Unrest and Advanced Capitalism

(And Why Wile E. Coyote Never Catches Roadrunner)

Daniel Briggs

Over the last five years or so, we have witnessed increasing forms of violence and unrest across the world. In the media, these depictions are presented as actions of resistance to oppressive regimes and corrupt politics, yet are, at the same time, deliberately detached from a global politik which is collapsing in numerous ways: the manifestations evident in market instability, and increasing austerity, unemployment and social inequality; a sign perhaps that the orgy of globalisation is reaching its climax. Some of all this was reflected in what we saw across English cities during the summer of 2011 and in this article, I discuss these riots and why they might have happened and the State response. Perhaps more importantly, I show how they should be reconsidered alongside other forms of violence and dissatisfaction against oppressive regimes and corrupt politics as a collective response to a global system on the brink of collapse as a result of its never-ending pursuit of rampant profit at the expense of millions of people. I relate this fruitless quest of profit to Wile E. Coyote’s incessant pursuit of Roadrunner.