Local family historians in the north of England are not only intent on "finding" their ancestors but in adding "flesh" to the bones of genealogy. Many are as interested in the social life of their ancestors as they are in their family tree or pedigree and, through their research, they excavate particular social and classed histories which combine discourses of land, labor, love, and loss. As well as deepening a sense of the workings of class in England, their research renders class identity more contingent than other contemporary public and media-driven versions. This article argues that family history and genealogical research destabilizes readings of English class identities as fixed, bounded and inescapable by revealing the vagaries of fate and chance and by making explicit other relevant and overlapping social distinctions in the provenance of one's ancestors.
Pegida plays upon the intersectionality of popular discontent in its outrage against cosmopolitan political elites, by using the internet and social media as platforms for a repudiation of traditional parliamentary mechanisms. We may regard this conceit of a virtual polis as a form of antipolitics, expressing impatience with, and contempt for institutional democracy. Far right bloggers exhort followers to violent action across a transnational field of operations as a form of “legitimate” warfare against states they believe to be corrupt. They stage their own identity as a fluid performance of rebellious discontent with government and globalization. Although they invoke an autonomous subjectivity and direct political mandate, they in fact opt for a theatrical simulation of such engagement. The internet and social media allow for the creation of multiple niche markets for reactionary discontent across the lines of age and class. Pegida supporters present a paradox in that they are anti-modern identitarians pining for a mythic Central Europe, regressively protectionist towards the German economy in their demands to close the borders to international trade, exit the Eurozone, and expel refugees, even as they orchestrate a sophisticated event-based, highly modern post-democratic “New Politics 2.0.”
Globalization, Brain Drain, and the Postcolonial Condition in Nigeria
This essay examines the trajectories of skilled labor migrants within a global South-North migration matrix using an interdisciplinary framework. Focusing on Nigeria's huge brain drain phenomenon, the essay draws from the limited available data on the field, interpreting those data through theoretical perspectives from postcolonial studies, Marxism, cultural studies, and human geography. The study spotlights the example of the United States of America as a receptacle of skilled migrants and raises questions of social justice along the North-South divide. The research demonstrates that contrary to the dominant image promoted by some elements in the Western media of migrants as irritants or criminals who disturb well-cultivated, advanced World economies and social spaces, 1 those nations benefit highly from Africa's (and other migrant countries') labor diasporas, especially the highly skilled professionals.
Simmel, Space, and Urban Subjectivities
This article examines the growing scholarly interest in urban religion, situating the topic in relation to the contemporary analytical significance of cities as sites where processes of social change, such as globalization, transnationalism, and the influence of new media technologies, materialize in interrelated ways. I argue that Georg Simmel's writing on cities offers resources to draw out further the significance of “the urban” in this emerging field. I bring together Simmel's urban analysis with his approach to religion, focusing on Christianities and individuals' relations with sacred figures, and suggest this perspective opens up how forms of religious practice respond to experiences of cultural fragmentation in complex urban environments. Drawing on his analysis of individuals' engagement with the coherence of God, I explore conservative evangelicals' systems of religious intersubjectivity to show how attention to the social effects of relations with sacred figures can deepen understanding of the formation of urban religious subjectivities.
Malta’s Front Harsien ODZ
This article analyzes the interaction between the digital (online) and physical (offline) activism of Front Harsien ODZ, a Maltese environmental movement organization. It looks into how Front activists perceive these forms of activism and verifies how important each form is to the organization. Consequently, the research presented herein is operationalized through interviews with Front activists and through participant observation from an insider’s point of view. This article concludes that activists within Front Harsien ODZ feel that they are part of a social network. The organization’s recruitment, mobilization and activism techniques are at once digital and physical. Most Front activists were already part of preexisting social networks before joining the Front, and the new Front network made good use of Malta’s political opportunity structures, including the Zonqor controversy; Malta’s small size; and the country’s vibrant media landscape.
The Problems and Possibilities of US Women's Prison and Jail Writing Workshops
Through community-based literacy work, writing teachers can encourage the development of prison narratives that counter social and media-driven stereotypes of prisoner identity. Such work thus situates writing workshops and other literacy-inspired programming for women as part of the emergent US prison abolition movement. This is a complicated equation to work through, however, given the sometimes competing sponsors of such literacy work and its reception within and beyond institutional contexts. This essay suggests that a nuanced reading of prison literacy programmes and their sponsors is necessary for contemporary educators interested in contributing to both educational prison programmes and the abolition movement. In order to explore such challenges and to illustrate individual and public tactics for emergent social justice, this essay offers sample texts and commentaries from the SpeakOut! women's writing workshop in the western US as a starting point for a larger consideration of the complexities that literacy educators confront when designing and facilitating such programmes.
Destruction and Social Attachment in Timor-Leste
This article argues against reductive approaches to violence in Timor-Leste that treat house destruction as a ‘symbolic’ epiphenomenon of more consequential bodily injury and death. Timorese ideologies of kinship, understood through ancestral-origin houses, regard material destruction as a fate worse than death. Death does not end the sociality of the deceased but rather foregrounds their continued importance for the living. Building on scholars’ treatments of ‘house societies’ and post-Schneiderian studies that locate kin relatedness beyond biogenetic substance, I demonstrate how Timorese people construct iconic and indexical connections between quotidian and ancestral houses through transformative actions that involve material things, such as chewing betel nut and the preparation and co-consumption of food. The configuration of those connections through material media renders them subject to social and historical erasure.
Testimony and Solidarity in Egyptian Women's Blogs
Much has been written about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings of 2011, with particular attention paid to social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or blogging, and the extent to which it contributed to organizing the mass protests. Another recurring theme of the analysis of the uprisings was the role played by women, with Western media in particular emphasizing their contributions and debating whether this marked a pronounced increase in women’s agency. My article seeks to respond to these issues through an analysis of two Egyptian women’s blogs. Instead of contributing to the well-known debate about the internet’s capabilities for facilitating action, I examine how blogs observe resistance, exploring this through notions of digital testimony and autobiography. I then consider the issue of solidarity and whether this is gendered, which is an important issue to consider in light of the focus placed on women’s roles during the protests. Ultimately I aim to demonstrate that these Egyptian women’s blogs offer us new and productive ways of thinking about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings and the autobiographical act, leading us to acknowledge the complexities of both solidarity and articulations of selfhood.
Forgery as Politics in the Work of Thomas Chatterton
If Thomas Chatterton is remembered at all now, it is for his supposed suicide rather than for his work. He has become the all-but-forgotten 'poster boy' for tragic Romanticism, a talented but misunderstood teenager who killed himself in the face of social prejudice and poverty. This article attempts a revaluation of the work, both the forgeries of mediaeval manuscripts (the so-called 'Rowleyan' texts) and the 'acknowledged' writings. Recognising the importance of the Chatterton mythology in shaping narratives of interpretation, it also makes a case for understanding his creations as uniquely prescient of the current age of digital production. In this respect, Chatterton's apparently antiquarian manner and reputation are seen to be in complex tension with a formal critique of emergent mass media culture. Particular concerns of the piece are the essential materiality of Chatterton's forgeries and the dissenting animus of his non-Rowley works. Establishing a critical framework that encompasses critical and new media theory, the article suggests that Chatterton's collected works constitute a singularly political engagement with modernity.
Michael A. Peters
This special issue focused on ‘Digital Media and Contested Visions of Education’ provides an opportunity to examine the tendency to hypothesise a rupture in the history of the university. It does so by contrasting the traditional Humboldtian ideals of the university with a neoliberal marketised version and in order to ask questions concerning evaluations of the quality of higher education within a knowledge economy. Theorising the rupture has led to a variety of different accounts most of which start from an approach in political economy and differ according to how theorists picture this change in capitalism. Roughly speaking the question of whether to see the political economy of using social media in higher education from a state perspective or a network perspective is a critical issue. A state-centric approach is predisposed towards a reading that is based on a critical realist approach of Marxist political economy (Jessop 1993). By contrast an approach that decentres the state and focuses on global networked finance capitalism ironically grows out of a military-university research network created by the U.S. government. Arguably, networks, not states, now constitute the organising global structure (Castells 2009) and while state-centric theory with hierarchical structures are still significant, relational, selforganising and flexible market networks have become the new unit of analysis for understanding the circuits of global capital (Peters 2014; Peters 2009). However, states still have a role to play in norming the networks or providing the governing framework in international law.