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Democracy, Community, and Modernity: Lessons from Jeremias Gotthelf's Die Käserei in der Vehfreude

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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From Multiculturalism to Multinaturalism: What Rules of Method for the New Socio-Scientific Experiments?

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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Modernity, Ḥadātha, and Modernité in the Works of Abdallah Laroui

Conceptual Translation and the Politics of Historicity

Nils Riecken

translate themselves into certain categories, then the question arises of what pushes people toward translating themselves into some categories—such as modernity —but not others. Studying claims made about modernity in non-Euro-American settings, one thus

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Fascinating Les Halles

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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Les débats autour du mouvement pour la décroissance

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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‘Excesses’ of modernity

Mundane mobilities, politics and the remaking of the urban

Alice Stefanelli

Cars are celebrated as the technical and symbolic epitome of modernity but are also heavily implicated in the making of climate change, imbricated within a seemingly all‐powerful global capitalist system. What can an anthropological analysis of traffic in urban areas tell us about the enduring strength of this system? While cars in Beirut are both desired and necessary to move about, strong feelings of frustration are taking shape among residents and commuters who face the ever‐congested roads of the capital city daily. This mounting frustration indexes an emerging ‘structure of feeling’ towards everyday automobility that has created explicit and concrete desire for alternative mobilities, particularly public transport, which scholars of automobility had pronounced dead. In this light, while cars remain objects of desire, in Beirut as elsewhere, an ‘excess’ of automobility – of modernity, we might say – is in fact weakening the dominance of cars, exposing a potential brittleness previously undetected. Acknowledging this process forces us to reconsider our modernist assumptions about the inevitable predominance of cars and offers hope for alternative mobility futures.

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Critiquing Sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism through an Appraisal of Postcolonial African Modernity

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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Representation without Emulation: German Cultural Diplomacy in Search of Integration and Self-Assurance during the Adenauer Era

Johannes Paulmann

The article investigates an essential characteristic of the Federal Republic of Germany's search for self-assurance in foreign cultural representations after World War II. A normative behavioral pattern, described here as an “attitude of restraint,” emerged during the Adenauer era, resulting in representations without emulation. The article focuses on German participation in world fairs-an example that reveals the multi-layered mechanisms linking diplomacy with culture, political attitudes with individual experiences and memories, and foreign relations with social conditions. The formation of an attitude of restraint constituted part of the long-term process of West German self-education and shaped cultural identities in the Federal Republic. The self-assurance re-found during the Adenauer era is placed in the context of political debates about the break with the Nazi past, defense against communist East Germany, and the selective turn toward an international modernity. Furthermore, the article offers an explanation regarding the diffusion of certain behavioral norms through everyday experience and practice.