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Andrew Ward

The nature of health care, a multifaceted system of reimbursements, subsidies, levels of care, and trade-offs between economics, values and social goods, makes it both a problematic area of policy and critical to the well-being of society. In the United States, provision of health care is not a right as in some countries, but occurs as a function of a complex set of cross-subsidized mechanisms that, according to some analysts, exclude from coverage those who may be in the most need of it. Accordingly, this article examines some of the issues involved in making decisions on how to justly expand health insurance.

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‘You Have Car Insurance, We Have Tribes’

Negotiating Everyday Life in Basra and the Re-emergence of Tribalism

Hayder Al-Mohammad

This article explores the ways in which Basrans make their way in the world and examines how they negotiate certain situations that they encounter. One important means by which problems are dealt with in Basra is through recourse to one's tribe to mediate and resolve issues and sometimes even to protect an individual or family. I turn to ethnographic instances to highlight both the importance and capriciousness of tribes with respect to extending help when it is required. I then aim to show why tribalism has re-emerged within Iraq as a potent social and political force by reference to the shifting historical situation of the last 50 years.

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Les Assurances Sociales

une contribution à la modernisation de la société française dans l'entre-deux-guerres?

Bruno Valat

The 1930 law creating social insurance was the Third Republic's great achievement in the social arena. However, the historiography of contemporary France contains barely a trace of this achievement. Victim of the regime's discredit as well as of the lack of any reformist political efforts in its favor, social insurance of the 1930s has also suffered by comparison to later achievements, particularly the creation of Social Security in 1945. However, if we study social insurance in its own historical context—and not in reference to the postwar period—, it can constitute an original source for the study of the modernization of French society. This article proposes three approaches: social insurance constitutes a vector for the acculturation of the working class to retirement and to the medicalization of health, contributing to the history of working class uses and representations of consumption and social rights. On a more institutional level, the experience of social insurance reveals the first legal experiments with co-gestion involving employers, workers, and insurance organizations. Finally, a prosopographical study of the militant trajectories linked to social insurance could contribute to the history of the working-class movement between 1930 and the end of the Thirty Glorious Years: is there a "social insurance generation" within French syndicalism?

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Gerald D. Feldman, Allianz and the German Insurance Business 1933-1945 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Review by Harold James

Mark Allinson, Politics and popular opinion in East Germany 1945-68 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)

Review by Catherine Epstein

Thomas Elsaesser, Weimar Cinema and After: Germany’s Historical Imaginary (London and New York: Routledge, 2000)

Review by Christian Rogowski

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Fragile Transfers

Index Insurance and the Global Circuits of Climate Risks in Senegal

Sara Angeli Aguiton

In recent years, Senegal’s developed a program of index insurance to cover farmers from economic losses due to drought. I investigate this emerging market in light of Jane Guyer’s question: “What is a ‘risk’ as a transacted ‘thing’?” To grasp the social practices required to make “rainfall deficit” a transferable risk, I explore the climate and market infrastructure that brings it into existence and follows actors who function as brokers allowing the risk to circulate from Senegalese fields to the global reinsurance industry. I show that the strategies set up to convince farmers to integrate a green and rational capitalist management of climate risks are very fragile, and the index insurance program only endures because it is embedded in the broader political economy of rural development based on debt and international aid.

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Thomas Hartmann

Why are recent attempts to give space to the rivers so unsuccessful? Floodplain management is a complex social process with many stakeholders, who pursue different rationalities before, during, and after floods. The resulting patterns of activities of the stakeholders have led to a technological lock-in. This article uses Cultural Theory to analyze the stakeholders' different framing of floodplain management. The concept of Large Areas for Temporary Emergency Retention (LATER) is then introduced as a way to create space for the rivers. Its implementation can be facilitated if the different rationalities, framing the patterns of activity in the floodplains are taken into account. Therefore, based on interviews with landowners, water managers, land use planners, and policymakers the rationalities are uncovered and different proposals for land policies are presented. The result is a land policy based on an obligatory insurance against natural hazards.

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Pamela Camerra-Rowe

In March 2003, Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

announced a series of reforms that his government plans to undertake

in order to deal with Germany’s pressing economic problems.

These reform proposals, known as Agenda 2010, include cutting

unemployment benefits, making it easier to hire and fire workers,

reducing health insurance coverage, and raising the retirement age.

The reforms mark a change in the direction of the German Social

Democratic Party’s (SPD) economic policy. Rather than promoting

traditional social democratic values such as collective responsibility,

workers’ rights, and the expansion of state benefits, Schröder declared

that “We will have to curtail the work of the state, encourage more

individual responsibility, and require greater individual performance

from each person. Every group in the society will have to contribute

its share.”1 Despite opposition to these reforms by labor unions and

leftist members of the party, Agenda 2010 was approved by nearly 90

percent of SPD party delegates at a special party conference in June

2003.2 Several of the reforms, including health care and job protection

reforms, were passed by the legislature at the end of 2003 and

took effect on 1 January 2004.

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Editorial

Today, Is 'Ethnicity' the Most Important Topic in the Middle East?

Soheila Shahshahani

It was decided by the editorial board of AME that some issues of the journal should be open-themed so that new topics of interest to researchers could have a place to be presented, and, in this way, perhaps new horizons of scholarship could be opened up. This issue was an open-theme issue but, amazingly, all the articles are concerned in one way or other with ethnicity. Would it be incorrect to call this the most important concern in the Middle East today? I think there is some truth to it, as our articles show: from concern with nation formation through enculturation in mahallah’s of Uzbekistan; to linguistic behaviour in two regions in Uzbekistan; to ethnic conflict and violence in Kyrgyzstan; the Turkish diaspora returning to Turkey and trying to set a superior example; and last but not least the emblem of a prosperous nation, Qatar, claiming not only tribal origins but also acting democratically through tribal delineation at times of voting. This is exactly what I have observed in southern Iran where people vote according to tribal lines. The same topic was evoked in ‘You Have Car Insurance, We Have Tribes’ (AME 6 no. 1, 2011).

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Jutta A. Helm

For more than a century, Germany has had a well-balanced system

of cities showcasing considerable variety in their social and physical

make-up. It has lacked spectacular global cities like New York,

Tokyo, or London. Instead, western cities include industrial cities

like those in the Rhine-Ruhr Valley and cities shaped by universities

and research (Göttingen or Freiburg), media and publishing (Hamburg),

culture and high-technology sectors (Munich), banking and

finance (Frankfurt/Main), wholesale trade and insurance (Cologne

and Düsseldorf), as well as government and administration (Berlin,

Bonn, and most state capitals). Dramatic social or economic crises

that generate debates about urban decline have not happened.

Thanks in part to effective urban governments, no German city has

come close to the near-collapse of American rustbelt cities during

the early 1980s, or the fiscal meltdown of New York City in the

1970s. Crime has been consistently lower and less violent, and the

American racial divide has no equivalent in German cities. East German

cities, while more unevenly developed, have been no less stable.

East Berlin was the dominant center, linked to the industrial

cities in the North (Rostock) and South (Leipzig, Halle, Dresden) by

a rather creaky infrastructure.

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Temperature and Capital

Measuring the Future with Quantified Heat

Scott W. Schwartz

East Indian trading companies, and the quantification of vulnerability by insurance companies in the form of valuated risk (commoditized exposure to future harm)—all are implicated in cementing the idea that wealth is kinetic, the idea that if wealth is