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Finding a place in the world

Political subjectivities and the imagination of Iceland after the economic crash

Kristín Loftsdóttir

sources, new political subjectivities emerged in Iceland, almost like a mythological phoenix from the flames. As phrased by one international online journal, the Icelandic people “refus[ed] to bow to foreign interests,” and thus the “small country stated

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Niklas Hultin

This article examines the voter registration card and the social context of voter registrations in the Gambia, West Africa. Drawing on recent ethnographies of documents and using data on worries over foreigners’ efforts to fraudulently obtain voter registration cards, a public information campaign on the Gambian electoral process, international legal material on the Gambian democracy, and observations at voter registration stations, the article argues that the voter registration card delineates not only a national subject but also a generic political subject. This subject is characterized by a commitment to a bureaucratic process and an appreciation of the card as an official identification document inseparable from the person it identifies. The article also considers how the voter registration process allows Gambians to compare their experiences to citizens of other countries. In a political context of an authoritarian government and a weak rule of law, this comparison offers an ideal of a modern democratic state that both enables criticism of the Gambia’s present situation and confirms the centrality of a generic political subject to the realization of that ideal.

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Militant collectivity

Building solidarities in the Maoist movement in Nepal

Dan V. Hirslund

A stubborn, anticapitalist movement, Maoism has persisted in the global periphery for the many past decades despite its tainted image as a progressive alterpolitical platform. This article seeks to ponder why this is the case by looking at a recent and popular example of leftist radical politics in the MLM tradition. I argue that contemporary Nepali Maoism is offering a militant, collectivist, antiliberal model for confronting capitalist and state hegemony in an effort to forge new class solidarities. Responding to a changed political environment for continuing its program of socialist revolution, I trace how the Maoist party's efforts at building a mass movement become centered on the question of organization, and in particular the requirements of what I term an ethical organization. Through an analysis of how caste and gender equalities are institutionalized within the movement, and the various ways in which collectivity becomes linked to concrete practices, the article offers an ethnographic analysis of contested egalitarian agency within a movement undergoing rapid change.

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Humor, Amnesia, and Making Place

Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul

Christopher Houston and Banu Senay

-subjects constituted the phenomenal world for themselves, that the creation in history of new perceiving subjects transpired. In sum, analysis of political subjectivity and its transformation—as revealed in the event of Gezi Park and as illustrated in our example of

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The 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland

Articulation of Political Subjectivities among Workers

Wictor Marzec

The article examines the political mobilisation and construction of modern political identities among workers during the 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland. Political process, creation and alternation of the political subjectivities of workers are explained in terms of hegemonic articulations as presented by the political discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau. While social claims merged with resistance against the national oppression of the Tsarist regime and the struggle for social and political recognition, political subjectivities took various contingent and competitive forms; thus the same demands could be integrated into different political narratives and collective identities. Combining discourse theory and process tracing makes alternations of the political field in time intelligible.

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Beyond citizenship

Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India

Nicolas Jaoul and Alpa Shah

Abstract

Does the dominant, statist conception of citizenship offer a satisfying framework to study the politicization of subaltern classes? This dialectical exploration of the political movements that emerge from the suppressed margins of Indian society questions their relationship to the state and its outcomes from the point of view of emancipation. As this special section shows, political ethnographers of “insurgent citizenship” among Dalits and Adivasis offer a view from below. The articles illustrate the way political subjectivities are being produced on the ground by confronting, negotiating, but also exceeding the state and its policed frameworks.

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Contingent Statehood

Clientelism and Civic Engagement as Relational Modalities in Contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina

Larissa Vetters

This article analyzes clientelism and civic engagement as two relational modalities adopted by the residents of Mostar to obtain state-funded housing assistance in the face of rapid political transformation, economic insecurity, and post-conflict reconstruction. Couched in historical and contemporary discourses of deservingness and harking back to spatial imaginaries that evolved during the socialist era, both modalities converge in the notion of raseljeni, a post-war administrative category denoting an internally displaced person. Despite their apparent differences, the ultimate goal of both modalities is to establish sustainable channels of communication and productive relations with state authorities. Such relational modalities not only facilitate citizens' access to public resources, but also lend continuity and coherence to a fragmented state apparatus. In the process, they give rise to distinct political subjectivities and notions of political community.

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"Communist" dispossession meets "reactionary" resistance

The ironies of the parliamentary Left in West Bengal

Projit Bihari Mukharji

The reflections in this article were instigated by the repeated and brutal clashes since 2007 between peasants and the state government’s militias—both official and unofficial—over the issue of industrialization. A communist government engaging peasants violently in order to acquire and transfer their lands to big business houses to set up capitalist enterprises seemed dramatically ironic. De- spite the presence of many immediate causes for the conflict, subtle long-term change to the nature of communist politics in the state was also responsible for the present situation. This article identifies two trends that, though significant, are by themselves not enough to explain what is happening in West Bengal today. First, the growth of a culture of governance where the Communist Party actively seeks to manage rather than politicize social conflicts; second, the recasting of radical political subjectivity as a matter of identity rather than an instigation for critical self-reflection and self-transformation.

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Federica Tarabusi

Despite considerable analysis of development policies in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, local–internationals encounters have received less attention. In an attempt to fill this gap, this article traces the discursive processes through which development professionals frame their narratives about Bosnian society, and in turn, how its inhabitants experience the internationals staying in the country. Applying Maria Todorova’s framework, I show how Western “expatriates” tend to incorporate the Balkans’ liminality into their social constructs to depoliticize development practices. On the other hand, I approach emic understandings of Europeanness and Balkanism as a situationally embedded and contested process that comes into play to (re)draw social and moral boundaries in Bosnian society. I conclude by considering local–international encounters as a privileged site for exploring the postsocialist state but also new political subjectivities in contemporary Bosnia.

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Kirk Simpson and Hastings Donnan

In this article we focus on Protestant and Catholic relationships in the borderlands of south Armagh in Northern Ireland and north Monaghan in the Irish Republic. Studies that emphasise Protestant and Catholic relationships at the urban or macro level have done little to unravel the complex processes of relationship-building that operate along the border, where Catholic and Protestant not only live in close proximity to one another and cooperate in a range of everyday activities, but where in the recent past each 'side' has used ethnic identity to select targets for assassination. The complexities of intercommunal dynamics in rural border areas and the ways in which they impact upon relationships between border Protestants and Catholics are discussed, with particular reference to moments that have significantly shaped their political subjectivity, most notably the sectarian violence that erupted in 1969 and which was formally brought to a close by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Such complexities, we suggest, muddy the over-dichotomised view of the Irish borderlands that often informs public policy making.