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Vytis Čiubrinskas

The Centre of Social Anthropology (CSA) at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) in Kaunas has coordinated projects on this, including a current project on 'Retention of Lithuanian Identity under Conditions of Europeanisation and Globalisation: Patterns of Lithuanian-ness in Response to Identity Politics in Ireland, Norway, Spain, the UK and the US'. This has been designed as a multidisciplinary project. The actual expressions of identity politics of migrant, 'diasporic' or displaced identity of Lithuanian immigrants in their respective host country are being examined alongside with the national identity politics of those countries.

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Muhammad Ayaz Naseem and Georg Stöber

The concept of identity has evolved from an essentialist notion of a dominant group (which largely disregards the existence of plural identities or “patchwork identities” and their contextuality)2 into a notion that recognizes the discursive and fluid constitution of identities that are “constantly in the process of change and transformation.”3 Beyond academic debate about definitions, identity remains a relevant category in politics and society. Identity politics mobilize followers and supporters and may foster nation building. They are seldom unchallenged, for different discourses of identity often struggle for supremacy.

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After dispossession

Ethnographic approaches to neoliberalization

Oscar Salemink and Mattias Borg Rasmussen

Since the 1980s globalization has taken on increasingly neoliberalizing forms in the form of commoditization of objects, resources, or even human bodies, their reduction to financial values, and their enclosure or other forms of dispossession. “After dispossession” provides ethnographic accounts of the diverse ways to deal with dispossessions by attempts at repossessing values in connection to what has been lost in neoliberal assemblages of people and resources and thus how material loss might be compensated for in terms of subjective experiences of restoring value beyond the financial. The analytical challenge we pursue is one of bridging between a political economy concerned with the uneven distribution of wealth and resources, and the profound changes in identity politics and subject formation that are connected to these. We therefore argue that any dispossession may trigger acts of repossession of values beyond the financial realm, and consequently that suffering, too, entails forms of agency predicated on altered subjectivities. This move beyond the suffering subject reconnects the study of subjectivities with the analysis of alienation, disempowerment, and impoverishment through dispossession and attempts at recapturing value in altered circumstances.

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Living in Harmony?

“Casteism”, Communalism, and Regionalism in Indian Social Science Textbooks

Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber

Three societal lines of conflict, “casteism”, communalism, and regionalism, are regarded as severe challenges in present-day India. This article discusses and compares differences between presentations of these lines of conflict in six textbook series for social sciences prepared by the Indian states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, and by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi. The variations in perspective, scope, and approach are related to changing educational approaches and to specific discourses of identity politics, which may be explained in terms of the impact of different positions adopted by states and the union towards the issues, and in terms of the discursive dominance of specific sociopolitical viewpoints.

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Events and Effects

Intensive Transnationalism among Pakistanis in Denmark

Mikkel Rytter

Analyzing the period of 'intensive transnationalism' among Pakistani migrants in Denmark precipitated by the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, this article explores the relationship between events and effects on a global scale. One significant initiative after the disaster was the founding of an ad hoc association, Medical Doctors in Assistance to the Earthquake Victims in Pakistan, which consisted mainly of medical workers with a Pakistani background. The article discusses the wax and wane of this association and its impact in three interconnected contexts: family objectives, community dynamics, and national identity politics in Denmark. Despite the medical doctors' efforts and intentions, the outcome was framed by 9/11, which has become the major critical event of the decade—one that has supported a developing cleavage between the Danish majority and Denmark's Muslim immigrant minority.

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Bridging the Heterogeneity of Civilisations

Reviving the Grammar of Islamic Humanism

Bassam Tibi

This article states an intercivilisational conflict between Europe and Islam and argues that it can be resolved through cross-cultural bridging and sharing grammars of humanism in the pursuit of an international morality. The plea for a revival of the suppressed tradition of Islamic humanism, and of the rationalist thought of al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd among others, acknowledges that today there is no one uniform Islam. Today, the global competition between humanism and absolutism in Islam is also pertinent to the future of European identity, given Europe's proximity to the Islamic neighbourhood and the global migration emanating therefrom. While greater civilisational identity politics can be a source of conflict, such conflict can be overcome through a dialogue based on a common humanist heritage, and by bridging the international system of states to an international society, people of different civilisations can be brought closer to one another.

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Roger Sansi and Luis Nicolau Parés

The debates on identity politics and the invention of tradition led the study of Afro-Brazilian religions to a certain impasse in the 1990s. However, in the last several years, the field has been totally renewed, although in different directions. In this article we will consider some of these new trends, from a wider historical engagement with the Atlantic world, through the religious field and the public sphere, to new approaches to spirit possession and cosmology. Our objective is to assess the extent to which these new debates have managed to overcome this impasse.

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Judith E. Vichniac

Much has been written about the scarf affairs in France and the subsequent legislation banning large religious symbols from the classroom. Less has been written about the major religious leaderships' responses from 1989 when the first affair took place until the debates surrounding the Stasi Commission in 2003. This article traces the evolution of their thinking with special emphasis on the splits within the Jewish leadership within the context of a rise of anti-Semitic acts.

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Shreya Ghosh

If nations are “imagined communities”, as many theorists like to define them, then they need an ideology to create a cohesive imagination. In modern times, the project of writing “history” has been an important instrument in the service of this ideological purpose of justifying and reproducing the modern nation-state as the predestined and legitimate container of collective consciousness. School textbooks, at least in South Asia, have long been among the most exploited media for the presentation of the history of the national collective. This essay is a study of school textbooks in Bangladesh. It looks at narrative representations of selected episodes from the past, both pre- and postindependence, in order to reflect on how they construct “history”. Through this work I endeavor to relate textual images to issues of community relations and identity by identifying and sharing the ways in which the audience for nationalist discourse is created, nurtured, and secured through symbolic means.

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Ian H. Birchall

Linda Bell’s article “Different Oppressions”1 makes a useful contribution to the study of Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946).2 She raises the difficult question of the comparability and specificity of different forms of oppression, and in particular she recounts how the text encouraged her in challenging her own oppression as a woman. Surely Sartre himself would have asked for nothing better of the works that survived him than that they should inspire others struggling against oppression in all its forms.