humanitarian lighting devices to agencies responding to protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as, prospectively, future crisis created by disease epidemics or climate change. The month before I met him, Virgil had been in Niamey
Solar Power and Humanitarian Energy Markets in Africa
Reflections on an Overburdened Word
Two references to crisis are familiar to many historians. Reacting to British Prime Minister James Callaghan’s abject failure to deal with the notorious, “winter of discontent” of 1979, the tabloid Sun ran a headline mockingly declaiming, “Crisis
Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo
theory can therefore become a useful method for comprehending and ‘re-ordering’ a reality that often appears difficult to grasp in its complexity. This article uses the lens of Gramscian theory to interrogate the effects of the 2008 economic crisis (and
James G. Carrier
Recently anthropology has experienced an intellectual crisis of confidence, a sense that the discipline has lost its way, and an institutional crisis, a loss of resources following the financial crisis. Together, these crises provide a perspective that helps us to make sense of what preceded them. This article argues that both crises are signs of the failure of the neoliberalism that rose to prominence in the 1980s, both as a foundation for public policy and as an important, though unrecognized, influence on elements in anthropological thought. It focuses on that influence. It does so by describing some of the changes in anthropological orientation since the 1980s. Prime among these are the loss of disciplinary authority, the solidification of the focus on culture at the expense of a focus on society, and the rejection of systemic theories of social and cultural order. It is argued that, together, these changes have left anthropologists with no critical perspective on the world, just as the ascendance of neoclassical economics left economists with no such critical perspective.
Interrupting Arendt's Radical Critique
Although Hannah Arendt is often described as a radical thinker, this article argues that such a characterisation has occluded the question of what 'radicality' might mean within the particular horizon of Arendt's thought. While the battle over Arendt's legacy is fought on terms that oppose the radical to the conservative, Arendt herself is engaged in a different struggle, namely the opposition of the radical and the banal as it emerges in Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963). This article will investigate this tension and Arendt's response to its emergence. Beginning with an account of radicality in relation to Arendt's work on crisis in Between Past and Future (1961) before turning towards the interruption of Eichmann and 'the banality of evil', this article will end by articulating a trajectory towards The Life of the Mind, Arendt's unfinished attempt, demanded by the particular crisis of Eichmann, to think unradicality radically.
This article looks closely at the “crisis of representative democracy,” noting that this crisis is evident across the main variables of interest to political scientists (voting, party membership, trust in politicians, and interest in mainstream politics). The argument here is that the crisis is located not only in short term or contingent factors such as financial crisis, the decadence of the current generation of politicians or the emergence of New Public Management—which often appear as the villains of the piece. It is also located in long term and structural factors linked to the types of social and political interaction associated with “first modernity.” With the displacement of this temporality under post-Fordist, reflexive or “second” modernity, we are witnessing a different set of dynamics shape the terrain of politics. Globalization, individualization, and the proliferation of communicative platforms is taking us away from “vertical” interactions in which representative politics is typical, toward more distributed, flatter, or “horizontal” modes of sociality, working, and organizing—leaving us in a “post-representative” political moment.
The Investigation of Refugees’ Mental Distress
This article analyses the challenges posed by carrying out ethnography with migrants experiencing mental distress and living in conditions of multiple marginality (social and existential). Drawing on the notion of crisis, I consider the experience of disorder as an ethnographic object reflecting the intersection between the individual and the collective. This article examines how ethnographic practice can be applied to, and is altered by, the study of these experiences, asking: How are we, especially as first-time fieldworkers, affected by unsettling encounters? How do we react and respond to the crises of others? What use can we make of our own experiences of crises by developing new ways of practising fieldwork?
The Case of Greece
Konstantinos G. Kougias
Chronic deficiencies of the Greek welfare state and the introduction of austerity measures as part of the international financial bailout agreements have created an explosive cocktail of poverty and social exclusion that severely tested the resilience of the frail social safety net and the demands of equity. The score on the indicators of social quality has worsened considerably as the Greek welfare system was overhauled. This article examines the four conditional factors of social quality from the viewpoint of socio-economic policies and everyday experiences in Greece during the crisis.
This article suggests that a “crisis of democracy” can be understood not simply as a deterioration of specific representative institutions but as a repositioning of democratic politics vis-à-vis other principles of social coordination, most notably the capitalist market, and the attendant decline of democratic subjectivity—people’s attunement to claims appealing to the common good. I trace this process to the post–World War II era. I show that the crisis of democracy was shaped by the substantive imperative of fusing democracy with free-market capitalism. Many postwar democratic theorists believed that the welfare state could manage the tension latent in this fusion. But an analysis of Friedrich Hayek’s theory of neoliberal democracy, which recognizes that tension more acutely, reveals that the incorporation of free-market capitalism creates tendencies that undermine democracy from within.
Political subjectivities and the imagination of Iceland after the economic crash
handled the global financial crisis and the breathtaking democratic reforms conducted in the aftermath of the crash. I smile politely, because I don’t want to argue, yet again, that this observation does not fully reflect reality. Iceland’s economic crash