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Lars Rensmann

Despite several breakthroughs that indicate radical right parties' significant electoral potential, they remain highly volatile players in both Poland and eastern Germany. This is puzzling because radical right competitors can benefit from favorable politico-cultural conditions shaped by postcommunist legacies. The electoral markets in Poland and the eastern German Länder show low levels of affective party identification and low levels of political trust in mainstream parties and government institutions. Most importantly, there is a sizeable, yet largely unrepresented segment of voters who share salient counter-cosmopolitan preferences. They point to a “silent counterrevolution“ against globalization and cosmopolitan value change that displays substantive affinities to radical right ideology. Offering a transborder regional comparison of the four most relevant radical right parties and their conditions for electoral mobilization in Poland and eastern Germany, this article argues that the radical right's crossnational volatility-and often underperformance-in elections is mainly caused by internal supply side factors. They range from organizational deficiencies, leadership issues, and internal feuds, to strategic failures and a lack of democratic responsiveness. In turn, the disequilibrium between counter-cosmopolitan demand and its political representation is likely to be reduced if radical right competitors become more effective agents of electoral mobilization-or new, better organized ones emerge.

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Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Reloaded?

Writing the Conceptual History of the Twentieth Century

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Kathrin Kollmeier, Willibald Steinmetz, Philipp Sarasin, Alf Lüdtke, and Christian Geulen

Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Reloaded? Writing the Conceptual History of the Twentieth Century Guest editors: Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann and Kathrin Kollmeier

Introduction Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann and Kathrin Kollmeier

Some Thoughts on the History of Twentieth-Century German Basic Concepts Willibald Steinmetz

Is a “History of Basic Concepts of the Twentieth Century“ Possible? A Polemic Philipp Sarasin

History of Concepts, New Edition: Suitable for a Better Understanding of Modern Times? Alf Lüdtke

Reply Christian Geulen

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Beyond the American culture wars

A call for environmental leadership and strengthening networks

Kate A. Berry

The culture wars are diminishing social cohesion. By culture wars, I mean the increases in volatility, expansion of polarization, and obvious conflicts in various parts of the world between, on the one hand, those who are passionate about

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Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo

Abstract

The 2008 crisis and economic transformations (globalisation and financialisation) fuelled significant political phenomena, such as a deep distrust of politics, electoral volatility and the decline of bipolarity and/or bipartisanship in the face of growing outsider party affirmation. In this context, the dialectical model of the Gramscian ‘social totality’ provides an analytical tool capable of analysing those ‘transition’ phases characterised by a fracturing ‘dominant historical bloc’, in itself a precursor to an organic crisis of traditional political parties’ separation of social classes.

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The Mule Caravans of Western Yunnan

An Oral History of the Muleteers of Zhaozhou

Ma Jianxiong and Ma Cunzhao

Mule caravans established a network across physical, political, and ethnic boundaries that integrated Southwest China, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. This article is a first exploration of this little-known mobile network. Based mainly on oral history, it focuses on the mule caravans based in Zhaozhou in western Yunnan from the late Qing to the 1940s, when the first motor roads were constructed. The investigation assembles horse and mule technologies and trade organization in detail in order to reconstruct the role and standing of transporters and their networks in local society, in the regional setting, in a volatile political environment, and in the face of challenging natural conditions.

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Vyacheslav Nikolayevitch Bobkov, Olesya Veredyuk, and Ulvi Aliyev

This article exposes criterial bases of the development of social quality in the USSR and Russia. The causes of the increased volatility of the state-monopoly capitalism emerging in Russia from the 1990s and in the first decade of the twenty-first century are analyzed. Characteristics of social quality such as a high proportion of low-paid employees, a low standard of living and a high economic inequality are considered. The impact of the precarity of employment on these processes is demonstrated. Risk factors of precarity of employment such as type of labor contract, form of employment, working conditions and wages (in particular, volatility and discreteness of payments) are analyzed. The evaluation of scale of the precarity of employment in the formal sector in Russia is made; the distribution of workers in precarity of employment by kinds of economic activity and the deviation of their average wages are introduced. Overcoming the instability of development is linked to the transition to a society of people-humanistic socialism.

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Lesley Gill

Low-intensity conflicts, counter-insurgencies, and the so-called war on terror blur the boundaries between war and peace and, in doing so, collapse the distinctions between combatants and non-combatants. Scholars have used concepts such as `routinization of terror', `culture of fear', and `banalization of violence' to describe how fear regulates social life in places of extreme instability. These concepts often paint an overgeneralized portrait of violence that fails to examine the social relationships and institutional forms that give rise to terror and insecurity. This article examines the shifting qualities of war and peace in Colombia and argues that daily life in Barrancabermeja—a working-class city nominally `at peace' after a government-backed, paramilitary demobilization process—is a volatile arena of uncertainty in which some people are more vulnerable than others.

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David P. Conradt

This article develops the thesis that the past quarter-century of electoral volatility in Germany reached a critical tipping point at the 2005 election. The two major parties of the Bonn Republic are now at their lowest combined share of the popular vote since the Federal Republic's founding in 1949. Electoral necessity and not, as in 1966, elite choice forced them into a grand coalition with little programmatic consensus. Their respective demographic cores-church-going Catholics for the CDU and unionized industrial workers for the SPD-have eroded as has the proportion of the electorate identifying with them. Institutional factors such as the electoral system have neither helped nor hindered these changes. The current grand coalition also faces a larger and more focused opposition than in 1966. The article concludes with some comparisons between the current German party system and its Italian counterpart of the late 1980s.

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Beatriz Manz

In the 1980s, Guatemala's state-sponsored violence reached genocidal proportions and led to community ruptures, endemic fear, deepened distrust, and unprecedented levels of daily violence that have continued into the post-war period. Tragically, the war's resolution has not ended the country's volatility and insecurity. Reconciliation is challenging and requires a much deeper structural overhaul. It is problematical for a society that has been created on a rigid, ethnic-based, and highly divisive foundation now to take steps toward reclaiming a non-existent pre-war period of concord. An inclusive and just society, which respects the fundamental human rights of all, is essential yet sorely lacking. Moving in this direction is hindered by the historic impunity enjoyed by the military and the powerful, as well as a dysfunctional judicial system in need of reform.

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Introduction

Contested Narratives of Storied Places—the Holy Lands

Jackie Feldman

The articles in this special section on pilgrimage and the Holy Lands provide a wide range of perspectives on the practice, representation, and production of sacred space as expressions of knowledge and power. The experience of space of the pilgrim and the politically committed tourist is characterized by distance, impermanence, desire, contestation, and the entwinement of the material and the spiritual. The wealth of historical Christian and Western narratives/images of the Holy Land, the short duration of pilgrimage, the encounter with otherness, the entextualization of sites, and the semiotic nature of tourism all open a gap between the perceptions of pilgrims and those of 'natives'. Although the intertwining of symbolic condensation, legitimation, and power makes these Holy Land sites extremely volatile, many pilgrimages sidestep confrontation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as inimical to the spirit of pilgrimage. A comparative view of the practices of contemporary Holy Land pilgrims demonstrates how communitas and conflict, openness and isolation are constantly being negotiated.