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Hegemony

Critical interpretations in anthropology and beyond

Gavin Smith

The popularity of the notion of hegemony in anthropology and cognate disciplines has waxed and waned. The self-censorship of Gramsci's most accessible writings (Selections from the prison notebooks) and the multi-layered nature of his thinking have led to a variety of understandings of the term. Easier to reflect on historically, after the events, than to use for analyses of the present, hegemony is both attractive to intellectuals insofar as it establishes their role in politics and yet prone to vagueness in its application to real life situations. For these reasons perhaps, the notion is now on the wane. Yet before we throw out the baby with the bath water, we need to reflect on precisely how it has been used in social analysis and praxis. This article takes a critical view of those people who have most influenced anthropologists in their understanding of the term and argues that the fetishization of 'culture' has probably done more to mystify the concept than anything else.

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Luke B. Wood

Germany’s increased power capabilities in foreign affairs since reunification have prompted scholars to argue that the country should be viewed as a regional hegemonic power, exercising significant influence not only over smaller countries in Eastern and Southern Europe, but also over the institutions of the European Union. After providing a critical assessment of the literature on hegemony in Europe, this article outlines three main trends in the scholarship on German power in European affairs. First, scholars tend to exaggerate Berlin’s power capabilities relative to other major European states such as France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Research shows that Europe is best understood as a multipolar regional order, not a hegemonic system dominated by one powerful state. Second, German leadership in Europe is contested and often delegitimized. Since 1949, German political elites have not been able to exercise influence in Europe without the support of other European states. This remains true even after the collapse of the Franco-German “tandem” in the wake of the European debt crisis. Third, scholars fail to adequately address how American power in the North Atlantic impacts regional polarity. Since reunification, the role of the United States in Europe has only increased and American influence over Eastern Europe, in particular, surpasses that of other European powers, including Germany.

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Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo

The 2008 crisis and economic transformations (globalisation and financialisation) fuelled significant political phenomena, such as a deep distrust of politics, electoral volatility and the decline of bipolarity and/or bipartisanship in the face of growing outsider party affirmation. In this context, the dialectical model of the Gramscian ‘social totality’ provides an analytical tool capable of analysing those ‘transition’ phases characterised by a fracturing ‘dominant historical bloc’, in itself a precursor to an organic crisis of traditional political parties’ separation of social classes.

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From the “state-idea” to “politically organized subjection”

Revisiting Abrams in times of crisis in Turkey and EU-Europe

Katharina Bodirsky

anthropology wants to gain a deeper understanding of the contradictions of statehood and inequalities today. My first suggestion here is that we pay closer attention to current dynamics in hegemony-building strategies, and thus to concretize Abrams’s interest

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First as Tragedy, Then as Teleology

The Politics/People Dichotomy in the Ethnography of Post-Yugoslav Nationalization

Stef Jansen

an even worse fate, and on the other hand, teleologically, as catalysts for the unfolding of History. What could have been told as personal tragedy, was cast as national teleology. Hegemony and the Politics/People Dichotomy as Etic Framework These

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Free from State Violence or Free to Comply?

A Revised Typology of Coercion and Repression in Liberal Democracies

Barbora Capinska

argue, the elimination of violence should not be regarded as freedom from coercion. Drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory, the study further introduces a concept of hegemonic coercion and repression providing support for an argument that all

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America's Quest for Global Hegemony

Offensive Realism, the Bush Doctrine, and the 2003 Iraq War

Carlos L. Yordán

Research in the discipline of international relations finds that the great democratic powers are less likely to pursue revisionist policies. This investigation challenges this argument by showing that the United States' decision to oust Saddam Hussein's regime in March 2003 was consistent with a modified version of John Mearsheimer's theory of offensive realism, which finds that great powers' motivation is global hegemony. This article is divided into three sections. The first section considers the value of Mearsheimer's theory and reworks it by adding domestic variables to explain why states abandon defensive strategies for offensive ones. The second section shows how pre-9/11 American foreign policy strategy was, for the most part, status quo oriented, and section three explains why and how the Bush administration introduced a revisionist foreign policy strategy after the 9/11 attacks. This investigation concludes by showing how the 2003 Iraq War is the first step in the United States' quest for global hegemony.

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Johannes Fabian

These comments—made originally in my role as discussant for the panel in Ljubljana—address the recent history of the question of world anthropologies and identify three issues for further critical debate: (1) hegemonic claims concerning our discipline (including the issue of hegemony within our discipline), (2) the difference between power and authority, and (3) reasons that alterity continues to be a crucial concept in post-colonial anthropology.

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"Urban renewal with dancing and music"?

The renewal machine's struggle to organize hegemony in Turkey

Cansu Civelek

In 2012, an urban renewal project in Eskişehir, Turkey, was initiated with claims of “festive renewal,” challenging the theories of critical urban studies that emphasize the disruptive effects of such projects. Built on a discussion about hegemony, which deploys consent and dissent in its organization, this article ethnographically investigates the tactics and strategies of the renewal machine that mobilized and co-opted parts of the locals into the project while invoking layers of dissent, distrust, and discomfort. The article discusses how historically built political, socioeconomic, and gender inequalities were efficiently detected, reconstituted, and put into the service of the renewal machine while revealing tension and dynamism behind the “festive renewal.” It shows a fragility of hegemony that is neither a given nor a completed template.

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Paula MacDowell

. Characterized by tween fieldwork, design works, and Doris Allhutter’s (2012) work on mind scripting, TEAM encouraged and supported the coresearchers to find their voice and make it heard as a counter-narrative to hegemonic media texts and discourses. Using