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Circling around the really Real in Iran

Ethnography of Muharram laments among Shi’i volunteer militants in the Middle East

Younes Saramifar

Iranian Shi’i believers claim that capturing sorrow and lamentation in their fullest sense falls beyond language and reason. They constantly refer to their inability to articulate in order to explain martyrdom and highlight a form of unsaid that explains all that appears impalpable for them. I undertake a journey among Iranian Shi’i youth to trace the unarticulated and the sense of wonder generated via religious experiences. By way of an ethnography of Muharram lamentation ceremonies, this article highlights how the unarticulated and the un said are socially and politically used in service of Shi’i militancy. I explore those uncharted terrains in the darkness of the Lacanian Real and in terms of how the Real is authenticated in order to address how realities are craft ed and religious subjectivities are enacted in the realm of militancy.

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Re-imagining

Kudzai P. Matereke

This paper urges readers to rethink the notions "mobility" and "travel" with an eye to how they may help us craft a more supple discourse of cosmopolitanism. The majority of cosmopolitanism discourses privilege mobility and travel experiences of subjects in the metropolis and sideline and downplay those of the postcolonial (and especially rural) subjects. The paper attempts to broaden the discourses of cosmopolitanism by a critical interrogation of Kant's cosmopolitan ideal and its implications for postcolonial societies. It identifies a "postcolonial moment" of cosmopolitanism that is largely ignored in mainstream analyses. This moment can be glimpsed by exploring two narratives of rural villagers who break free from their epistemic enclosures. This moment can only be fully appreciated by deploying broader conceptions of "mobility" and "travel" which capture not only these concepts' corporeal connotations, but their imaginative and virtual connotations as well.

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Road against Rail

The Debate on Transport Policy in Belgium, 1920-1940

Donald Weber

When new motorized means of transport, such as buses, vans, and lorries, captured part of the transport market in Belgium in the interwar period, the rail companies engaged in a political fight to restrict the new modes of road transport. Attempts were made to introduce fiscal and administrative measures aimed at limiting road transport. This coincided with an intense debate on transport policy, both in the press and in parliament. The article focuses on the discourse driving this debate. It is argued that the positions taken were motivated by economic issues, but that there were underlying cultural motivations, different perceptions of what transport should represent in the lives of the users and the whole of society. The focus on the so-called coordination debate is widened beyond the conflict between trains and vans in the 1930s, to include the conflict between automobiles, buses, and trams in the 1920s.

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"Constantly in Motion

Appropriation and Hans Christian andersen's Texts

Frederike Felcht

In the nineteenth century, a significant change in the modern infrastructures of travel and communications took place. Hans Christian Andersen's (1805-1875) literary career reflected these developments. Social and geographical mobility influenced Andersen's aesthetic strategies and autobiographical concepts of identity. This article traces Andersen's movements toward success and investigates how concepts of identity are related to changes in the material world. The movements of the author and his texts set in motion processes of appropriation: on the one hand, Andersen's texts are evidence of the appropriation of ideas and the way they change by transgressing social spheres. On the other hand, his autobiographies and travelogues reflect how Andersen developed foreign markets by traveling and selling the story of a mobile life. Capturing foreign markets brought about translation and different appropriations of his texts, which the last part of this essay investigates.

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Gatherings of Mobility and Immobility

Itinerant “Criminal Tribes” and Their Containment by the Salvation Army in Colonial South India

Saurabh Arora

In retelling the history of “criminal tribe” settlements managed by the Salvation Army in Madras Presidency (colonial India) from 1911, I argue that neither the mobility–immobility relationship nor the compositional heterogeneity of (im)mobility practices can be adequately captured by relational dialecticism espoused by leading mobilities scholars. Rather than emerging as an opposition through dialectics, the relationship between (relative) mobility and containment may be characterized by overlapping hybridity and difference. This differential hybridity becomes apparent in two ways if mobility and containment are viewed as immanent gatherings of humans and nonhumans. First, the same entities may participate in gatherings of mobility and of containment, while producing different effects in each gathering. Here, nonhumans enter a gathering, and constitute (im)mobility practices, as actors that make history irreducibly differently from other actors that they may be entangled with. Second, modern technologies and amodern “institutions” may be indiscriminately drawn together in all gatherings.

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Gerrit K. Roessler

This article examines Ulrich Horstmann's science fiction radio play Die Bunkermann-Kassette (The Bunker Man Cassette, 1979), in which the author frames fears and anxieties surrounding a potential nuclear conflict during the Cold War as apocalyptic self-annihilation of the human race. Radio, especially radio drama, had a unique role in capturing the historical imaginaries and traumatic experiences surrounding this non-event. Horstmann's radio drama and the titular cassette tape become sound artifacts that speak to the technological contexts of their time, while their acoustic content carries the past sounds into the present. In the world of the play, these artifacts are presented in a museum of the future, which uses the possibilities of science fictional imagination and speculation to create prosthetic memories of the Cold War. The article suggests that these memories are cyborg memories, because the listener is a fully integrated component of radio technology that makes these memories and recollections of imagined events possible in the first place.

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Chris Hanretty and Stefania Profeti

In the summer of 2010, in an interview given to the newspaper La Repubblica, the then little-known mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, erupted onto the political scene by claiming that it was time for the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) to take a large number of the party’s leading figures to task—or, to use the phrase that would

soon become a battle cry, to “bulldoze” (rottamare) them from the picture. The interview was considered by many in the party to be arrogant and excessively self-aggrandizing—or at least incautious. Yet from that moment on, and probably thanks to this message, Renzi has been able to capture to an ever-greater degree the dissatisfaction and frustrations of a large number of center-left activists and sympathizers, while attracting the curiosity of a large number of Italians of all political persuasions.

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From Durkheim to Hocart

Sacred Resources and the Quest for 'Life'

Roland Hardenberg

In this article, I argue that the word ‘resource’ can be used to denote what is considered to be of high value in a given society. These values may relate either to society as a whole or to its parts. In the former case, resources often acquire the characteristics of the sacred as identified by Émile Durkheim and others. It is here argued that the Durkheimian approach captures the symbolic dimension of the collective sacred but ignores the social effects of people’s attempts to obtain access to the highest value. To understand how concrete social forms evolve, one may rather turn to the writings of Arthur Maurice Hocart. His approach draws our attention to values (of ‘life’) and the social processes deriving from people’s engagement with the sacred. To illustrate this approach, an ethnographic example from Odisha, India is provided.

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Governing the Sun

The Challenges of Geoengineering

Klaus Radunsky and Tim Cadman

Governments have previously sought to reduce climate-change-inducing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere through mitigation and adaptation activities, with limited success. New approaches are being explored, such as negative emissions technologies, including carbon dioxide removal, as well as solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation management, or modification. This article outlines these emerging technologies focusing on bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, and stratospheric aerosol injection, and explores some of the challenges they pose. Prevention of emissions and their reliable, safe, and environmentally benign removal remain the best options. Robust governance systems and a careful, unbiased, and knowledge-driven assessment of the risks of these emerging technologies are required before they are implemented any further.

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David F. Patton

In the 2009 German federal election, the small parties together captured 43.2 percent of the vote; three small parties boasted a result in the double digits. Four years later, none of the small parties finished above 8.6 percent and only two reentered the Bundestag. Notably, the FDP, one of the original West German parties, dropped out of the federal parliament for the first time. Yet, any talk of catch-all party revival and party system concentration needs qualification. As a group, the small parties received nearly a third of all votes cast—the second highest share in six decades. Those that did not make it into the Bundestag won 15.7 percent, a higher share than in any other federal election. This article examines the positioning of the leading small parties in the 2013 Bundestag election campaign and their respective electoral results; highlights party systemic as well as internal party factors to explain small party performance; reassesses the commonplace classification of small parties by whether there is an established legislative presence or not; and considers the positioning and performance of small parties in the years to come.