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Seeking Recognition, Becoming Citizens

Achievements and Grievances among Former Combatants from Three Wars

Johanna Söderström

How do former combatants understand and make themselves into a citizen category? Through exploring the life narratives of former combatants from three different wars (Namibia, Colombia, and United States–Vietnam), this article locates similarities in the claims for recognition. The achievements or the grievances associated with the war and their homecoming made them deserving of special recognition from the state, the country, or other veterans. These claims situate these veterans in a political landscape, where they are called upon to mend and affirm the relation with the state, achieve recognition from society, and defend their fellows, which inform their citizenship practices, as it shaped their political mobilization and perceived political status. Through seeking recognition, they affirm their role as citizens.

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Introduction

Migrants, mobility, and mobilization

Pauline Gardiner Barber and Winnie Lem

This issue brings together the work of researchers who seek to illuminate the class configurations of contemporary global diasporas. Contributions proceed by problematizing the relationship between political mobilization and the class locations of women and men as they negotiate and renegotiate the social conditions under which they make a living as émigrés, people who are subject to and participants in the processes of global change. Although class and culture, as well as mobility and fixity, are often presented as oppositional lenses though which to view global transformations, articles in this issue explore the possibilities for translation of particularized local or cultural concerns into broader collective mobilizations of class activism, nationalist claims, or struggles for entitlement in the circumscribed political spaces migrants seek to create. The gender, ethnic, local, national, and other cultural components of identity and class formation are made explicit as contributors question how and why political struggles and activism may, or indeed may not, be carried forward in geographic and social border crossings as well as citizenship and migration scenarios. It is the contention of each contributor that any instance of activism, and also its absence, requires sustained critical examination of the politics and economics of its production and reproduction.

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Camilla Devitt

“Rosarno: Immigrant revolt, hundreds of cars damaged” was the

alarming headline in La Repubblica on 7 January 2010. An immigrant

protest and ensuing episodes of violence in the small town of Rosarno

in Calabria in southern Italy were followed with intense interest by the

national and international media and prompted a heated public debate

in Italy. Upcoming regional elections and shared political responsibility

for immigration resulted in politicians blaming their opponents

for the disorder. Minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni’s immediate

response was to maintain that the events were the result of too much

tolerance toward undocumented immigrants. Following the discovery

that the majority of migrants involved were legally resident in Italy,

the government subsequently emphasized the role of inadequate labor

market controls and organized crime.

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Lars Rensmann

German extreme Right parties have increased their political and electoral significance in recent years, in particular through some considerable regional successes in the East. However, in spite of noticeable nation-wide gains by the NPD in the Bundestag election, the extreme Right suffered from another defeat. Looking at the interplay of supply side and demand side factors, the article examines the transformations and continuities of extreme Right parties within the German party system, their performance in the 2005 general election, and the reasons for their ongoing national electoral failure. While extreme Right parties benefit from more favorable conditions related to increased voter volatility, new public issues and new cleavage structures, these parties also continuously face crucial difficulties, especially on the supply side: the cordon sanitaire is still intact, and new cleavages in relation to globalization are more convincingly and effectively utilized by left-wing competitors. The main obstacle, though, are the extreme Right agents themselves. Incorporating Zeitgeist issues, they nevertheless remain unable to actually modernize their agenda. The present and future challenge to liberal democracy may be a new level of cooperation between extreme Right parties and consolidated "informal" right-wing extremist subcultures in Eastern regional strongholds.

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Daniel M. Knight

The Greek economic crisis resonates across Europe as synonymous with corruption, poor government, austerity, financial bailouts, civil unrest, and social turmoil. The search for accountability on the local level is entangled with competing rhetorics of persuasion, fear, and complex historical consciousness. Internationally, the Greek crisis is employed as a trope to call for collective mobilization and political change. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Trikala, central Greece, this article outlines how accountability for the Greek economic crisis is understood in local and international arenas. Trikala can be considered a microcosm for the study of the pan-European economic turmoil as the “Greek crisis“ is heralded as a warning on national stages throughout the continent.

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'Inter-publics'

Hindu Mobilization beyond the Bourgeois Public Sphere

Ursula Rao

This article develops the notion of interconnected publics as a means to understand better both the escalation of Hindu political activism in the 1990s in India and its subsequent waning in the new millennium. I argue that the prime visibility of Hindu fundamentalism in the 1990s was a result of the effective—yet tenuous—connection between various spaces for public communication. The emerging 'inter-public' effectively imbricated the private viewing of religious soap operas with public ritual and political debate to produce, for a short historical moment, the image of a vibrant, forceful, and dominant Hindu nation. The aim of this article is to contribute to Indian studies by discussing the essential, yet in the literature mostly neglected, connections between devotional practices, media Hinduism, and political mobilization. At the broader conceptual level, I argue for a theory of inter-publics that interrogates how multiple 'micropublics' link up to create tangible political effects.

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Between Afropolitans and new Sankaras

Class mobility and the reproduction of academics in Burkina Faso

Michelle Engeler

Abstract

Using the notion of Afropolitanism, which refers to highly mobile and well-connected “Africans of the world,” this article examines the relative privileges of university graduates within Burkina Faso across generational divides. Comparisons emerge between cohorts graduating in the 1970s and the 2010s. While graduates of the 1970s enjoyed access to a privileged status through their local university education and a related network of global cosmopolitan qualifications and credentials, contemporary students have only limited access to this route of class mobility. The frustration engendered by this helps to explain the shape of the uprising that ousted the president of Burkina Faso in 2014, as the diminishing access to Afropolitan identities pitches the younger generation of students into different emerging constellations of political mobilization.

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Blood oil

The anatomy of a petro-insurgency in the Niger delta

Michael Watts

This article traces the emergence of an “oil insurgency” in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. A key concept deployed in the analysis is the oil complex, understood as a sort of corporate enclave economy and also a center of political and economic calculation expressed through the operations of a set of local, national, and transnational forces that can only be dubbed as imperial oil. The operations of the oil complex under conditions of U.S. military neoliberalism create the violent and unstable spaces that David Harvey identifies as “accumulation by dispossession”. The insurgency is understood in terms of a deep history of political and economic marginalization and deepening political mobilization and militancy within the Niger Delta. What the oil complex has thereby produced is a fragmented polity with parcellized sovereignty rather than a robust, modern oil nation.

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Emptiness and its futures

Staying and leaving as tactics of life in Latvia

Dace Dzenovska

Abstract

In the past 25 years, rural Latvia has become notably emptier. This emptying is the result of post-Soviet deindustrialization and large-scale outmigration, enabled by EU accession and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis. It is accompanied by lack of political protest, leading many to conclude that migration hinders political mobilization. Such conclusions derive from viewing leaving and staying as actions in relation to the state. Instead, leaving and staying should be viewed in relation to transnational forms of power. The people leaving the deindustrialized Latvian countryside to work in the English countryside are seeking futures past, namely, futures of stable employment and incremental prosperity. Those who stay in the emptying Latvian countryside create the future as a little bit more of the present.

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Afterword

After the commons—commoning!

Don Kalb

Abstract

Commoning over time generates customs in common and therefore commonalities. The political mobilizations of the past years may well be understood as a form of urban commoning. However, while such mobilizations may sometimes understand themselves as anticapitalist, one should resist the apparently logical idea (1) that the use values offered by an urban commons are inevitably the opposite of surplus value, (2) that the urban commons will not just in theory but in practice be “open for everyone,” (3) and that such commons are necessarily horizontalist and universalist, as the Left might claim. Historical fascism and the rise of the new Right in Europe and the United States show that there is an exclusivist and hierarchical commons against the market too.