This article argues that democracy is on life support in the United States. Throughout the social order, the forces of predatory capitalism are on the march—dismantling the welfare state, corrupting politics with outside money, defunding higher education, expanding the corporate-surveillance-military state, widening inequalities in wealth and income, and waging a war on low income and poor minorities. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from higher education to health care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This article argues that given this current crisis, educators, artists, intellectuals, youth, and workers need a new political and pedagogical language centered around the notion of radical democracy in order to address the changing contexts and issues facing a world in which capital draws upon an unprecedented convergence of resources—financial, cultural, political, economic, scientific, military, and technological—to exercise powerful and diverse forms of control.
This article examines current debates for and against Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) in Myanmar. The analysis, based on interviews with key local, national, and international actors involved in HMA, reveals why so many of them regard the mapping and removal of “nuisance” landmines as posing a security threat to the peace process. (Landmines deny people access to territory; when conflict ends, these landmines no longer serve a strategic purpose and thus become a dangerous nuisance.) These same debates also shed light on the growing role risk management approaches now take in Myanmar as a response to decades of authoritarian misrule by a succession of military regimes. The landmines, although buried in the ground, actively unsettle such good governance initiatives and the neoliberal development projects to which they are often linked, most often by reterritorializing military, humanitarian, political, and economic authority in overlapping and conflicting ways at multiple scales. The findings reveal why HMA actors resist labeling the crisis landmine contamination poses to civilians as a “crisis” that requires immediate humanitarian action.
Lamenting and Photographing the Dead in Serbia, 1914–1941
This article is part of a larger research project on the political, cultural, and social implications of interwar Yugoslavia’s remembrance and mourning of its war dead. Es- chewing a focus on state-centered commemorative practices, this article focuses on two types of sources, laments of Serbian women and photographs by Serbian military photographers, as entry points into understanding the private, cultural, and religious arenas of Serbian wartime and interwar remembrances. Drawing on research examining the political uses of lament and grief, the article considers the role Serbian women played in controlling and directing the “passion of grief and anger” within their communities as they remembered the dead. The photographic evidence reveals that traditional death rituals and laments were performed and that these rituals were significant socio-political spaces where women, families, and communities of soldiers advanced claims for recognition of their wartime experiences and memories. However, the photographs themselves are sites of memory and this article examines how military photographers, acting on behalf of the state, sought to control the representation of grief and by doing so politicized and secularized the way grief was expressed. Placing these sources side by side illustrates the intermingling of forms of mourning and remembrance that existed not only in the Balkans, but also in many other communities throughout Europe, especially among its rural inhabitants.
Siberia and New France to 1760
David N. Collins
Eminent historians in Canada have contended that pioneer societies often experience marked sexual imbalance in their early stages, having far fewer women than men. Certain Soviet historians tended to deny the existence of such a problem in Siberia. Since the two regions match each other in many ways (they enjoy similar geographical conditions, were settled by European peoples at roughly the same historical period for analogous purposes and were both governed in a centralised military/bureaucratic fashion), an investigation was undertaken into the reasons for Canadian and Soviet disagreements over the issue. Concentrating on the period of earliest exploration and settlement, before large-scale British immigration, the study predominantly compares Russian settlement in Siberia with its French equivalent in New France. Data from both sides make it quite clear that in the early stages there were fewer women than there were men, that the imbalances were overcome during a century or more in regions where agriculture was possible, but persisted in more northerly territories or unstable military zones. The sources from which women came were: interbreeding with indigenous peoples, government attempts to provide women for male settlers and rapid natural increase, with the probability that more female than male offspring survived. Clear parallels exist between the Siberian and Canadian experience, despite the cultural, economic and political differences. Soviet denials of an early imbalance seem to have been dictated by a need to prove that the USSR had never experienced colonialism of the type characteristic of the European empires.
First Communion Clothing in Post-war Spanish Culture and Society
The tradition of religious clothing for children is relatively unexplored: this article develops the premise that debates about the links between the sacred and the market go deeper than concern about consumption, and bring to the surface issues of identity. Through exploring the historical development of the First Communion, not as religious ritual but as Catholic consumer culture, the article turns to analyse girls' communicant dress in Spain between the 1940s and 1960s which were the early decades of a dictatorial Regime (1939 to 1975) marked by an ideology of National-Catholicism. General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde, leader of the military rebellion against the elected government in 1936, ruled Spain until his death. One of my aims is to correct a tendency to make the little girl dressed in bridal wear the most visible sign because to do so disregards the cultural practice of wearing clothing to perform piety, signal a vocation or express gratitude for religious intercession.
The anatomy of a petro-insurgency in the Niger delta
This article traces the emergence of an “oil insurgency” in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. A key concept deployed in the analysis is the oil complex, understood as a sort of corporate enclave economy and also a center of political and economic calculation expressed through the operations of a set of local, national, and transnational forces that can only be dubbed as imperial oil. The operations of the oil complex under conditions of U.S. military neoliberalism create the violent and unstable spaces that David Harvey identifies as “accumulation by dispossession”. The insurgency is understood in terms of a deep history of political and economic marginalization and deepening political mobilization and militancy within the Niger Delta. What the oil complex has thereby produced is a fragmented polity with parcellized sovereignty rather than a robust, modern oil nation.
Alon Confino, Paul Betts and Dirk Schumann (eds.) Between Mass Death and Individual Loss: the Place of the Dead in Twentieth-Century Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008)
Reviewed by Ran Zwigenberg
Hanna Papanek, Elly und Alexander: Revolution, Rotes Berlin, Flucht, Exil—eine Sozialistische Familiengeschichte, trans. Joachim Helfer and Hannah C, Wettig (Berlin: Vorwärts Buch, 2006).
Reviewed by Gerard Braunthal
Dolores L. Augustine, Red Prometheus: Engineering and Dictatorship in East Germany, 1945-1950 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007)
Reviewed by Thomas A. Baylis
Tom Dyson, The Politics of German Defense and Security: Policy Leadership and Military Reform in the Post-Cold War Era (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007)
Reviewed by Gale A. Mattox
Rolf Steininger, Austria, Germany and the Cold War: From the Anschluss to the State Treaty, 1938–1955 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008)
Reviewed by Barbara Stelzl-Marx
Bordered nation-state approaches are increasingly challenged and they rarely hold up under critical questioning. In this essay I discuss the cultural interactions across Central Europe that preceded the nineteenth-century development of national consciousness and—for many only after 1918—independent states. I argue that identities based on religion, profession or craft, administrative or military expertise characterized people more than those founded on ethnocultural/regional origin during the various migrations of the period. A dual outward-inward perspective focuses on the influence of German-speakers in other parts of Europe and on men and women from other cultures in the core German-language regions. I carry the story up to the 1930s and I argue that transregional and transcultural approaches are empirically sounder than transnational ones. It follows that migrant destinations also need to be addressed as micro- or macro-regions—the several distinct locations in Eastern, East Central, and Southeastern Europe, for example—rather than in terms of states.
This article provides an interpretation of Josef Vilsmaier's two-part television feature film, Die Gustloff (2008), which depicts the sinking of that ship in January 1945. It argues that Vilsmaier, at the expense of historical fact, pins blame for the fateful decisions that led to the ship being vulnerable to attack on the Navy, while simultaneously seeking to exculpate and even glorify the Merchant Navy representatives on board. Die Gustloff seeks to distinguish between a “bad” captain and a “good” one, between hard-hearted military indifference and uncorrupted civilian decency in the face of the plight of German refugees. Generally, in its portrayal of the civilian as a realm untainted by Nazism, it seeks to resist trends in contemporary historiography that show such distinctions to be untenable. It is thus deeply revisionist in character, and, in many ways, represents the nadir of the “Germans as victims” trend in contemporary German culture.
This article looks back at the 2011 Arab Spring where the movements that brought hope to the region and beyond seem to have gone astray. The military has taken over in Egypt, while Libya, Syria and Yemen have descended into civil strife with tremendous human costs. Bahrain has witnessed repression that has overwhelmed the opposition, and while Tunisia, the country where Arab Spring began, has avoided the violence characterizing the aforementioned states, change has remained rather limited. As for other countries that rode on the same wave of mobilizations, hopes for democratic transformation have been subdued in somewhat less violent contexts but with varying degrees of pressure from the state. This article examines what has happened to the Arab Spring countries, why and what is required to democratically transform the region.