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Shades of Darkness

Silence, Risk and Fear among Tourists and Nepalis during Nepal's Civil War

Sharon Hepburn

The conflict between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepalese state, from 1996 until 2006, resulted in thousands of "disappeared" and dead Nepalis, and, especially after 9/11, a sharp decline in tourism in Nepal. Yet the tourists who came had good journeys. Based on ethnographic research, this article explores how these two worlds—of tourism, and the darkness of war, variously experienced—coexisted in the winter of 2002 in the lakeside resort of Pokhara. The article describes how the culture of silence that emerged during the war permeated interactions between Nepalis and visitors, and that there are shades of darkness as well as shades of fear. Situations are not black and white and people's experiences are contingent on contexts and backgrounds that are diverse and complex. Complementing studies of dark tourism, that is tourism about darkness, this is a study of tourism in darkness.

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Matteo Salvini's Northern League in 2016

Between Stasis and New Opportunities

Davide Vampa

Under Matteo Salvini’s leadership, the Northern League has sought to move away from its status of regionalist party to become a truly national (even nationalist) party, following the example of the National Front in France. For the new leader, the issues of federalism and devolution seem to play a less relevant role than opposition to the European Union and, more generally, to the so-called political establishment. This chapter shows that 2016 has been a transition year for the party. After two years of significant electoral expansion, the 2016 local elections seemed to mark a moment of stagnation. Salvini’s popularity ceased to grow and even started to decline. This posed some challenges to his right-wing populist project. Yet the concluding section of the chapter highlights the new political opportunities arising from Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election and from Renzi’s constitutional referendum defeat at the end of 2016.

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History from Down Under

E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class and Australia

Ann Curthoys

E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class was influential in Australia as it was throughout the Anglophone world. The focus of interest changed over time, starting with the fate of those of The Making's radical protesters who were transported to the Australian colonies, and then focusing on questions of class formation and the relationship between agency and structure. The peak of influence was in the 1980s, especially in the rising field of social history, and a little later in the burgeoning field of cultural history. Yet The Making's own limitations on questions of gender, race, and colonialism meant that feminist and indigenous histories, which were transforming the discipline, engaged with it only indirectly. In recent years, as the turn to transnational, imperial, and Indigenous histories has taken hold, Thompson's influence has somewhat declined.

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Whitewashing History

Pinker’s (Mis)Representation of the Enlightenment and Violence

Philip Dwyer

In Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, there is a before and an after. Before the Enlightenment, the world was superstitious, cruel, and violent; after the Enlightenment, the world was rational and more peaceful. Pinker thus reduces violence to a fairly simplistic concept: all violence can be equated with irrationality, unreason, and ignorance. History is never as straightforward as Pinker would have his readers believe, and violence is a much more complex notion that is often driven not by superstition or unreason, but perfectly “rational” motives. This article argues that there is little causal connection between Enlightenment values and the decline in violence and that changes came about as a result of a complex series of reasons, some of them less than edifying. It raises the interesting question of whether ideas drive history, or whether they are simply the “ideological” bedrock on which change is grounded.

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Participatory budgeting in Peru

Democratization, state control, or community autonomy?

Susan Vincent

Touted as a means to extend democracy to previously disenfranchised people, participatory budgeting actually covers a variety of motivations and effects. This article explores diverse reactions and meanings through a case study of the Peruvian peasant community of Allpalumichico. Although the economic system embedded in the legal requirements of the Peruvian participatory budgeting process derives from the global neoliberal agenda, the actual practices also reflect the personal and political strategies of local and national politicians. At the same time, the citizen participants and beneficiaries of the process understand it on their own terms. Despite both the decline of the peasant community as an institution and the increasing heterogeneity of the residents, collective norms of resource distribution continue to inform how allpalumichiqueños engage in participatory budgeting decisions. This collective sense of community could be the basis for much more organic and relevant forms of participatory budgeting.

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Jakob Rigi

The protest movement that emerged in Iran in the wake of the presidential election of 2009 has seen a subsequent decline due to the combined effects of repression and the timidity of the reformist leadership. The growing conflict between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad around the upcoming parliamentary election of March 2012 has created a new political crisis. The radical section of the movement tries to use this split to launch a subversive strategy against the Islamic regime. Alternatively, Khamenei tries to rid himself of the last vestiges of the autonomy of any elected institution and establish a full theocratic dictatorship. Iranian society has two choices—either to subvert the Khamenei regime or to be subjugated by it.

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Kinga Pozniak

This article examines memories of socialism among different generations in Nowa Huta, Poland. Initially built as an industrial “model socialist town“, since 1989 Nowa Huta experienced economic decline and marginalization. Its socialist legacy is now being reinterpreted in ways that reflect changed political, economic, and social conditions. This article describes contemporary public representations of the town's history and considers how they resonate with the experiences and understandings of different generations of residents, from the town's builders to the youngest generation, who have no firsthand memories of the socialist period. It demonstrates how generational categories are both reflected and constructed through different accounts of the past, while also revealing overlaps between them. Throughout, specific attention is paid to the relationship between narratives of the past, present, and future, and present-day political and economic realities.

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'Meteor Wreaths'

Harriet Martineau, 'L.E.L', Fame and Fraser's Magazine

Valerie Sanders

‘How ought women to be treated in controversy?’ asked John Robertson in the London and Westminster Review of April 1839.2 It was a good moment to be asking. The 1830s – in many ways a peculiar decade of the nineteenth century, marking the decline of Romanticism and only a gradual emergence of something not yet definable as ‘Victorianism’ (if such a complex cultural phenomenon can be defined) – saw the intensification of an interest in personalities, not unlike that which we see in today’s gossip columns and Sunday supplements. This was the decade of what came to be known as ‘Crokerism’, after John Wilson Croker (1780- 1857) who boasted of ‘tomahawking Miss Martineau in the Quarterly’.

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L'âge du bronze en Asie centrale

La civilisation de l'Oxus

Henri-Paul Francfort

The Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia developed during the second half of the third millennium BC. Besides elements resembling Middle Eastern contemporary civilisations (e.g. economy, art), it displays also some peculiarities resembling earlier periods (e.g. importance of hunting), as well as specific steppe relations (e.g. pottery, horses) and purely local traits (e.g. animal burials, camel domestication, lapis lazuli, tin trade). This original 'Oxus civilisation' raises a number of issues related to environmental (arid period), ethno-linguistic (Indo-Iranian), historical (chronology, origin, decline) and methodological problems, such as its place in a neo-evolutionist scheme as a manifestation of a proto-urban phenomenon. The longue durée, revisited as a system in the Middle Asian interaction sphere, seems a promising way of understanding this civilisation.

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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.