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Being Baha'i in Contemporary Egypt

An Ethnographic Analysis of Everyday Challenges

Daniele Cantini

Following the 2003 reform and the Supreme Court ruling of 16 December 2006, Baha'is of Egypt find it increasingly difficult to have their citizenship rights recognised. This article draws on personal observation and analysis carried out in the context of broader research on Egyptian citizenship. I will introduce the condition of Baha'is in this country, from a historical and legal perspective, before starting an overall analysis of what being an oppressed minority means, in concrete terms, in the practice of everyday living. The article will then delineate how the ambiguities of state policies towards Baha'is are reflected in their daily lives.

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Shahnoza O. Madaeva

This article examines the impact of social and political factors on the spiritual transformation of society. Analysing sources and field research, the study aims to present an objective picture of the spiritual and mental transformation of the Uzbek people based on the oral history method of the 1920-1930s. Using the integration method, the author seeks to explain historic facts through the prism of philosophical reflection. At the same time, the research provides an overview on the processes of self-identification and integration, as well as on the development of state policies, in post-Soviet countries.

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A geography of debauchery

State-building and the mobilization of labor versus leisure on a European Union border

Gustav Peebles

By comparing the spatial organization of Swedish labor and leisure practices today with the movements and stereotypes tied to previous generations of Sweden's sizeable population of so-called "vagrants," this article studies the impact of state policy on the spatial imagination of both citizens and other sojourners within its bounds. Because the ethnographic research for the article took place in a new transnational city that is being created by the European Union and various local proponents, the article then considers the same issue at the EU level, to pursue the question of the EU's "state-ness" and the status of migrant laborers within that emerging polity.

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The Feeling for Gray

Aesthetics, Politics, and Shifting German Regimes

Inger-Elin Øye

Building on 25 months of fieldwork in eastern Germany from 1991 to 2003, this article explores the interpenetration of aesthetics and politics, and questions them as theoretical categories. A multilayered description depicts aesthetic perception and action, guided by an imagery of façade, as constituted and reproduced by state policies, positioned experiences, and subversive responses. Moving beyond the Cold War legacy, aesthetics' potency and politicization is dated back to early nation building and Protestant and Romantic influences. Being essential to and controlled by shifting, largely authoritarian regimes, aesthetics simultaneously provided a 'shadow life' and a 'lingua franca', cross-cutting verbal and non-verbal mediums and everyday and high culture, as people juggled with, distrusted, and decoded surfaces, expressing and in search of deeper, hidden truths. I argue that historically generated aesthetic perceptions and praxis not only mark east German political culture but also emerge in Habermas's public sphere theory and, moreover, offer arguments to revise it.

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Konstantin B. Klokov and Sergey A. Khrushchev

This article surveys the population dynamics of twenty-six indigenous small-numbered peoples of the Russian North, using the data from eight General Censuses of Russia (1897-2002), and the Polar Census of 1926/27. The article demonstrates that each of these peoples responded to central state policies in diverse ways, and that often different populations of the same group showed differing trends in different regions. During the Soviet period there was strong assimilative pressure on the indigenous small-numbered peoples. The opposite tendency is evident in the post-Soviet period—a process referred to in this article as "ethnic re-identification."Because there was little inter-regional migration of the indigenous peoples, we conclude that the population dynamics of each nationality in each region is the result of the interplay among fertility, mortality, assimilation, and ethnic re-identification.

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The Living Land

Ecological Ethics of the Evenks and Evens

Anna Sirina

This article investigates people's relationships to the natural environment, or ecological ethics, in two closely related minority ethnic groups—Evenki and Eveny in Siberia. It is based on the oral histories and the experience of people living "traditionally" on the land, and also those who have settled permanently in villages and towns. The article explains what role nature plays in their lives, the cultural rules of interrelation with it, and their transformations in the contemporary world. Indigenous moral laws have not been able to protect the land and nature from destruction common in wider Russian society. Therefore, appropriate state policy is needed to protect the rights of the minority indigenous peoples of the Russian North for use of natural resources.

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Sandhya Ganapathy

This article draws attention to the ways that Alaskan Native sovereignties and economies are increasingly driven by market-rational logics. I examine a proposed land exchange between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Native Doyon Corporation that would enable Doyon to pursue oil development ventures on lands exchanged out of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. This plan was made possible due to uneven political and structural relationships created through Native land claims legislation in Alaska, as well as shifts in federal land management policies that have made land more easily exchangeable and developable. These structural inequalities and shifts in state policy have laid the groundwork for neo-liberal development schemes that are pursued in the name of Alaskan Native communities and economies but are also often at their expense.

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When wolves harm private property

Decision making on state compensation

Annelie Sjölander-Lindqvist and Serena Cinque

According to Swedish environmental policy, harm to private property (mainly livestock, farm, and companion animals) caused by attacks from protected large carnivores is compensated by the state. In a case of suspected harm, a formal investigation process to assess the damage and its cause is initiated by the government. Inspections of damage on living private property are carried out by officials authorized by the regional County Administrative Board (CAB). By focusing on judgment in the making of property compensation decisions, this article demonstrates what occurs in frontline policy enactments, when the inspectors (as deliverers of political decisions) collapse organizational requirements and ideas with personal, yet socially and culturally framed commitments. It concludes that organizational decision making is neither fixed nor stable: organizations operate interactively, generating practices that enhance the agency and authority of particular actors in order to facilitate state policy implementation.

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Desired formality

Labor migration, black markets, and the state in Chile

Sofía Ugarte

Formal work is essential to gain legal residence in Chile and the reason why Latin American and Caribbean migrants purchase fake contracts on the black market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with migrant Haitian women applying for work visas in Santiago, this article explores the effects of desired formality and its promises of a good life on contemporary statehood in Chile. The analysis shows how Haitian women’s efforts to become formal workers transform their experiences as racialized and gendered migrants in Chile, and impact how state institutions manage and control migration. Desired formality reveals the paradoxical character of state policies that help create a racialized and precarious labor force within its legal frameworks and explain why migrants attach themselves to fragile good-life projects in new countries.

Open access

Stuart Kirsch

Abstract

This special issue addresses the role of law in corporate accountability. Case studies reference people affected by asbestos in Italy, a coal company anticipating closure in Colombia, and both activists and human rights lawyers concerned with the impacts of mining in Ecuador. The afterword considers the significance of temporality in the law, including limits on retrospective claims and efforts to expand the prospective reach of both the law and state policy. It describes the perspectival character of the law in which the forum determines how the underlying facts are seen. It examines how responsibility, against a backdrop of distributed agency, is conceptualized by shortening or expanding chains of liability. It also points to the need for stronger connections between the anthropology of suffering and the discipline's ethical turn. Finally, it suggests that the legal claims discussed here are aspirational in the sense of describing how the world ought to be.