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Peter C. Meilaender

Among the challenges of today's globalizing world is the disruption that local communities experience, in developed and developing countries alike, in the face of economic and political modernization. Yet, such problems are not unprecedented. To the contrary, communities across nineteenth-century Europe faced similar difficulties as a result of the Industrial Revolution and political upheaval. For insights into such challenges, I turn to a perhaps unlikely resource for coming to grips with globalization: Jeremias Gotthelf, whose novel Die Käserei in der Vehfreude has been described by Hanns Peter Holl as an “examination of European developments of the 1840s.“ Through his portrayal of a Swiss village's attempt to form a cheese-making cooperative and sell its wares, with all the difficulties it encounters in the process, Gotthelf reveals himself as an important political thinker, whose treatment of democracy, community, and modernity remains relevant for us today.

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Plural Modernity

Changing Modern Institutional Forms—Disciplines and Nation-States

Filipe Carreira da Silva and Mónica Brito Vieira

The article begins with the assumption that modernity is undergoing a profound change. The focus is on the structural transformation of two typical modern institutional regimes: the academic discipline and the territorial nation-state. Their demise as the predominant institutional forms in the realms of science and politics signals the end of the modern project—or at least the need for its profound redefinition. It is suggested that such a redefinition entails a radical conceptual shift in the social sciences and that the meta-theoretical expression of this shift can be designated as 'dialogical pluralism'. At a theoretical level, both modernization theories and the recent program of 'multiple modernities' are rejected. A plural modernity, with several distinct varieties, seems a more promising perspective.

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Bruno Latour

This article reflects on the traditional distinction between scientific laboratories experimenting on theories and phenomena and a political outside where non-experts make do with human values, opinions, and passions. Since today all people are engaged in emerging collective experiments on matters as varied as climate, food, landscape, health, urban design, and technical communication as consumers, militants, and citizens, they can all be considered co-researchers. Co-researching has consequences for our understanding of nature and demands a renewed attention to “multinaturalist” politics. It also questions the division of labor between experts and nonexperts. The article finishes with a call to “dis-invent” modernity so that we “moderns” can finally become ordinary humans again.

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Rosemary Wakeman

This article considers the site and space of Les Halles as an ongoing intellectualfascination. It specifically looks at how architects have historically approachedLes Halles as a “site of modernity” and puts into context the most recent renovationand the architectural competition to design Les Halles in 2004-2005.It will consider the projects and their viability from a cultural perspective andopen the question of the site and the city's future form.

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Mobility in the Margins

Hand-pulled Rickshaws in Kolkata

Gopa Samanta and Sumita Roy

This article examines the marginal mobilities of hand-pulled rickshaws and rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata, India. It traces the politics of rickshaw mobilities, showing how debates about modernity and the informal economy frequently overshadow the experience of the marginalized community of hand-rickshaw pullers. It shows how the hand-pulled rickshaw rarely becomes the focus of research or debate because of its marginal status—technologically (being more primitive than the cycle rickshaw); geographically (operating only in Kolkata city); and in terms of the social status of the operators (the majority being Bihari migrants in Kolkata). Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative research, this study focuses on the backgrounds of the rickshaw-pullers, their strategies for earning livelihoods, the role of social networks in their life and work, and their perceptions of the profession—including their views of the state government's policy of seeking to abolish hand-pulled rickshaws. The article concludes by addressing the question of subalternity.

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Françoise Gollain

The last four years have seen the rise of a movement on the French radical left positing a fundamental conflict between economic growth and ecological sustainability and calling for a reversal of growth (décroissance) against the current consensus around the concept of sustainable development. This challenge to the growth imperative and, more widely, of the ideology of progress, represents a return to the explicitly antiproductivist approaches that emerged in the early 1970s with the rise of radical political ecology. This article charts the birth of the décroissance movement, which is comprised of two components: anticonsumerist and antidevelopment. It also contrasts the movement with other closely-related ideological elements of the French antiglobalization and anticapitalist movements, elements that belong to the dominant, mainly Marxist tradition, whose anticapitalist struggle builds on the legacy of the Enlightenment period. The article concludes that, by placing antieconomicist and antiutilitarian thought drawn from social sciences on the agenda of the French radical Left, the décroissance movement could potentially generate a major paradigm shift founded on a critical evaluation of the heritage of modernity.

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Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi

order to sharpen and deepen the thoughts on pan-Africanism by looking at a particular form of the project known as sub-Saharan pan-Africanism to evaluate its gains in relation to African modernity. My focus is sub-Saharan pan-Africanism because this is

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Cotten Seiler

” of South Asian truck drivers in Amie McLean’s contribution—that evidence their spiritual and psychic infantility. For Hegel, as well as Immanuel Kant and other builders of the philosophical substructure of modernity, 2 blackness signified that which

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Mobility on the Move

Rickshaws in Asia

M. William Steele

The rickshaw initiated an explosion in personal mobility in Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Invented in Japan in 1869, by 1872 there were forty thousand and by 1875 over one hundred thousand of the new two-wheel vehicles on the streets of Tokyo. The number reached a peak in 1896 with 210,000 countrywide. The rickshaw (in Japanese, jinrikisha) quickly spread to Asia, to Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1874, to Singapore and Calcutta in 1880. By 1900, the rickshaw had spread throughout the continent, bringing with it new mobility to an emerging urban middle class. Moreover, for many people in Asia, the rickshaw alongside the locomotive, came to symbolize modernity. This article will explore routes of diffusion, focusing on the role played by Akiha Daisuke and his adopted son, Akiha Daisuke II, Japan's largest exporters of rickshaws, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Mark Johnson and Suzanne Clisby

Cosmopolitans are frequently characterized as living and perceiving the world and their environment from a distance. Drawing on ethnographic work among a small group of Western migrants in Costa Rica, we complicate this portrayal in a number of ways. First, we demonstrate that these people think in similar kinds of ways as social theorists: they too are worried about living at a distance from place and are seeking what is, in their way of reckoning, a more engaged relationship with their surroundings. Second, however, we explore the social context and corollaries of these migrants' attempts to bring together a putatively "modern/cosmopolitan" way of relating to place and a "traditional/place-based" way of relating to surroundings. Specifically, we demonstrate how migrant claims to transcend the differences between "tradition" and "modernity" create new forms of social exclusion as they, both literally and figuratively, come to claim the place of "the other."