Amidst a global turn towards authoritarianism and populism, there are few contemporary examples of state-led democratization. This article discusses how Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (FA) party has drawn on a unique national democratic cultural heritage to encourage a coupling of participatory and representative institutions in “a politics of closeness.” The FA has reinvigorated Batllismo, a discourse associated with social justice, civic republicanism, and the rise of Uruguayan social democracy in the early twentieth century. At the same time, the FA’s emphasis on egalitarian participation is inspired by the thought of Uruguay’s independence hero José Artigas. I argue that the cross-weave of party and movement, and of democratic citizenship and national heritage, encourages the emergence of new figures of the citizen and new permutations for connecting citizens with representative institutions. The FA’s “politics of closeness” is an example of how state-driven democratization remains possible in an age described by some as “post-democratic.”
In the ongoing debate on immigrant integration policies, the Sinus study on migrant milieus has attracted much attention for its clear stance as a proponent of a multicultural society. Brushing aside arguments about an ethnic-religious divide in the German social fabric, the study argues that social milieus constitute much stronger markers of difference than ethnicity. This paper provides a critical appraisal of the postethnic vision articulated by Sinus. However, it also raises some methodological issues concerning the collection and analysis of data on immigrant populations. The concluding section discusses the limits of a politics of difference based on milieus. It questions the potential of the Sinus study to move the German immigration debate forward towards a more democratic vision of citizenship, given its de-emphasis of social inequalities rooted in relations of gender, "race" and class.
Memorialization, War, and Democracy in the United States
Stephen J. Rosow
Contestation over war memorialization can help democratic theory respond to the current attenuation of citizenship in war in liberal democratic states, especially the United States. As war involves more advanced technologies and fewer soldiers, the relation of citizenship to war changes. In this context war memorialization plays a particular role in refiguring the relation. Current practices of remembering and memorializing war in contemporary neoliberal states respond to a dilemma: the state needs to justify and garner support for continual wars while distancing citizenship from participation. The result is a consumer culture of memorialization that seeks to effect a unity of the political community while it fights wars with few citizens and devalues the public. Neoliberal wars fought with few soldiers and an economic logic reveals the vulnerability to otherness that leads to more active and critical democratic citizenship.
The Weakness of Diversity as a Civic Argument (and How to Make It Stronger)
In this article, I use Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) work on “logics of justification” to make the case that diversity, defined broadly as engagement with otherness, has limited worth as a “civic argument” in the United States. I argue that “diversity talk” has not been effective in civic spheres because it does not challenge the underlying pluralist architecture of the US political system. Instead, diversity in the civic sphere is regarded as producing conflict or an apolitical “improvement in manners” (Rorty 1999) rather than as a mechanism for citizenship development. This diminishes the ability for diversity to enhance democratic citizenship by fostering the development of a type of civic wisdom necessary for effective decision making in a democratic society.
“L'Affaire des Quotas” and the Shattered “Image of 1998” in Twenty-First-Century France
Christopher S. Thompson
Since the mid-1990s, France's national soccer team has been given considerable significance in French debates about post-colonial immigration, national identity, republican citizenship, and the enduring legacies of French imperialism. This article explores the role played by representations of the team in those debates with a particular focus on the so-called “affaire des quotas” of 2010–2011. It argues that those representations reveal that the boundary between the purportedly inclusive civic nationalism of French republicanism according to which any person willing to embrace the duties and rights of democratic citizenship may theoretically become French, and the exclusionary ethnic nationalism of the xenophobic Front national is far less impermeable than is generally assumed in France. Indeed, race and ethnicity inform notions of French citizenship even among persons who reject the essentialist views of the Far Right.
Religion and Education in Kerala, India
The anthropology of caste in India has conventionally rendered caste as a category of traditional religion, something that has been challenged by a historical anthropology of caste and its transformations under colonialism. Given this deconstruction of caste as tradition, how are we to approach its highly charged and contested presence within contemporary democratic politics in India? Examining the everyday institutional workings of secularism and democratic citizenship through the key institution of education, the article situates caste in relationship to secular modernity. In an analysis of the cultural politics of caste, religion, and secularism in a low-caste college in Kerala, India, that caters to the Ezhava caste community, the article argues for an understanding of caste as a fault line for the contested negotiations of tradition and modernity, the private and the public, the religious and the secular that mark contemporary cultural politics in India.
Soon after the collapse of communism, women's rights and gender equality became hotly debated issues in Poland, particularly as they were linked to different interpretations of what the transition to democracy ought to mean. In the context of conservative arguments linking Poland's “return to normalcy” with a return to traditional gender roles and relating feminism to the “foreign” socialist order, women's NGOs and networks in Warsaw started to creatively re-frame their arguments within the terms of Polish tradition. At the same time EUropeanization of gender discourses provided another contested register in which women's rights activists had to negotiate their claims. This article explores how concepts of gender and feminism in Poland have become objects, as much as effects, of powerful political debates, describing a discursive field where national self-understandings and values are negotiated in the context of transition and EU accession. It provides an ethnographic account of the central role played by notions of gender and feminism in imaging democratic citizenship and in producing new subject positions in postsocialist Poland.