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Empowering or impoverishing through credit

Small-scale producers and the Plan Chontalpa in Tabasco, Mexico

Gisela Lanzas and Matthew Whittle

This article examines the evolution of the credit market for small-scale sugarcane producers in the Plan Chontalpa development program in Tabasco, Mexico. The plan promoted neoliberal policies that transformed the existing credit market available to small-scale producers. The availability of credit was supposed to lead to increased efficiency. However, making credit available to low-income farmers can result in unintended outcomes. We found that many households had high discount rates and used the credit to supplement their household income. Thus, farmers are getting caught in a cycle of debt that often culminates in losing their land. We use a life history to consider the strategies the program has adopted to control credit as well as the counterstrategies the families have developed.

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Bill Maurer

Credit. From the Latin, credere, to trust or to believe. Crisis, from the Greek κρίσις, crisis, but also decision, judgment. Judgment day. I had imagined this article as a series of epistles, short missives with didactic aphorisms—postcards, really—from the credit crisis. Yet the effort foundered on two shores. First, my abilities are simply not up to the task, for this genre with its ancient history boasts so many predecessors and models that selection for the purposes of mimicry—or embodiment—became impossible. Second, and more important, I began to realize, in the effort, that the genre demands an analytical engagement with its material that this article in many respects stands athwart. How it does so will become apparent in due course. The credit crisis began in 2008 and continues to the time of my writing, in May 2010. In naming the credit crisis and its religion, I acknowledge I afford them a degree of reality they may not possess. I also acknowledge that this article comes with temporal limits, the limits of the time of its writing. My debts are many and cannot be fully acknowledged. Reality, time and debt are very much at issue in credit crisis religion. Worldly constraints narrow my inquiry to Anglophone and primarily United States examples. Christianity is, by necessity and design, over-represented.

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“Amazing Rapidity”

Time, Public Credit, and David Hume’s Political Discourses

Edward Jones Corredera

This article explores David Hume’s views on public credit, the state, and geopolitics as outlined in his Political Discourses. By drawing attention to Hume’s analysis of the speed of political economic dynamics, the article suggests the philosopher feared that public credit, a crucial source of eighteenth-century European economic growth, fundamentally revolutionized the pace of social relations, the mechanics of the state, and European geopolitics at large. Hume’s study of public credit highlighted its role in reshaping eighteenth-century visions of time, and the philosopher’s disappointment with his own solution, in turn, reinforces the need to consider the multifaceted effects of public credit in the modern world.

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Israeli Ultra-Orthodoxy

Credit and Credibility

Hadas Weiss

In recent decades, members of Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy have been exhibiting self-denial, stringency, and unwillingness to enter the workforce despite material hardships. Public discourse has long considered theirs an 'intentional poverty', yet the parsimoniousness attributed to them and its presumed intentionality are losing credibility. I use the concept of credit—in both its economic and its normative sense—to analyze social regulation among Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy. I look at the community's efficiency in redistributing its members' resources through interconversion of social and material goods. I go on to identify the limits that self-regulation comes up against under capitalist pressures and show how these pressures express themselves in ultra-Orthodox norms and practices. Finally, I relate credit and credibility to the larger issue of excess in the present day.

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Paul Jankowski, Clifford Rosenberg and Rebecca Pulju

France 1940: Defending the Republic by Philip Nord Paul Jankowski

Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France by Naomi Davidson Clifford Rosenberg

Consumer Lending in France and America: Credit and Welfare by Gunnar Trumbull Rebecca Pulju

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Celestino Deleyto

‘I wrote the script and directed it. My name is Orson Welles.’ These words, spoken by the director over a shot of a microphone at the end of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), resonate far beyond their ostensible function of a delayed credit sequence. In the first place, to connoisseurs of Welles’s opus, this is highly ironic: the film for which the director claims entire credit was the first and, to many, the worst case of an endless series of studio cuts, recuts and various tamperings with Welles’s films that was to continue nagging the director throughout his career. The voice-over, therefore, becomes the signifier of a ghost, a voice claiming authorship for a text that no longer exists – the original, unmutilated Ambersons – , or the almost real signature of a fictional author. The real Orson Welles was not the director of this film. But then, who is this ‘Orson Welles’ who addresses the spectator from the fringes of the film?

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Eric L. Friedland

Though ever preferring to give credit to others, the late Rabbi John Desmond Rayner (1924-2005), born Hans Sigismund Rahmer, played an indisputably monumental role in changing the face of contemporary non-orthodox1 Jewish liturgy. In collaboration with American Reform rabbi and coeval Chaim [Herman] Stern, Rayner produced for the Liberal Jewish movement in Britain the landmark Service of the Heart (Hebrew: Avodat ha-Lev) and Gate of Repentance (Hebrew: Petach Teshuvah). Both works set the trend of a whole generation by bringing about an overdue revitalization and leading to the creation of a whole slew of prayerbooks on virtually every continent.

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Debra Bergoffen

Jean Pierre Boulé's Sartre, Self Formation and Masculinities argues that we cannot adequately understand Sartre without taking account of the unique ways in which he negotiated the gender mandates of patriarchy. Taking Boulé's cue, I call on Lacan, Cixous and Beauvoir to interrogate Sartre's relationship to women, to his body and to writing. I argue for Boulé's approach but against several of his conclusions. Further, I credit Boulé with providing ammunition for challenging Lacan's universal account of the mirror stage, and for pushing me to read Beauvoir's "Must we Burn Sade?" as a critique of Sartre's betrayal of the erotic's ethical demands.

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Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel

The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate, and its cities are transformed by technology and distributed computing. With every photograph, Twitter post, public transit ride, and credit card swipe, we leave digital traces in physical space. The enormous quantity of information, or Urban Big Data, that humanity generates each day is beginning to off er new possibilities for research, design, and systems optimization on the city scale, but the first step toward our urban future is finding new ways of understanding and visualizing Big Data—revealing invisible dimensions of the city.

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Remembering the "Forgotten Zone"

Recasting the Image of the Post-1945 French Occupation of Germany

Corey Campion

In much of the English-language scholarship on the post-1945 Allied occupation of Germany, French officials appear as little more than late arrivals to the victors’ table, in need of and destined to follow Anglo-American leadership in the emerging Cold War. However, French occupation policies were unique within the western camp and helped lay the foundations of postwar Franco-German reconciliation that are often credited to the 1963 Elysée Treaty. Exploring how the French occupation has been neglected, this article traces the memory of the zone across the often-disconnected work of French-, German-, and English-speaking scholars since the 1950s. Moreover, it outlines new avenues of research that could help historians resurrect the unique experience of the French zone and enrich our appreciation of the Franco-German “motor” on which Europe still relies.