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Infrastructures of progress and dispossession

Collective responses to shrinking water access among farmers in Arequipa, Peru

Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen

This article examines what economic growth and state versions of progress have done to small and medium-scale farmers in an urban setting, in Arequipa in southern Peru. The general reorganization of production, resources, and labor in the Peruvian economy has generated a discursive move to reposition small and medium-scale farmers as backward. This article analyzes how farmers struggle to find their place within a neoliberal urban ecology where different conceptions of what constitutes progress in contemporary Peru influence the landscape. Using an analytical lens that takes material and organizational infrastructures and practices into account, and situates these in specific historical processes, the article argues that farmers within the urban landscape of Arequipa struggle to reclaim land and water, and reassert a status that they experience to be losing. Such a historical focus on material and organizational infrastructural arrangements, it is argued, can open up for understanding how local and beyond-local processes tangle in complex ways and are productive of new subjectivities; how relations are reconfigured in neoliberal landscapes of progress and dispossession. Such an approach makes evident how state and nonstate actors invest affects, interests, and desires differently within a given landscape.

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Paula Kabalo

Attempts to explain the achievements of the Jewish side in the 1948 War of Independence have focused thus far on the military and political dimension and on the domestic social, economic, and ideological dimension, as reflected in the collective mobilization of the Yishuv society. This article reveals the role of additional players in the war, including institutions, organizations, and associations that provided social services; the individuals who headed them; the members who took part in operating them; and the recipients of their services. The article's underlying premise is that Jewish society largely owed its resilience during the war, and in its aftermath, to the functioning of these organizations.

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This Is the Time of Tension

Collective Action and Subjective Power in the Greek Anti-Austerity Movement

Atalanti Evripidou and John Drury

Greece has been one of the countries which most severely suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis during the past two years. It has also been a country with a long tradition of protest. The present paper reports a study in which we examined the ways in which people talk about subjective power and deal with the outcome of collective action in the context of defeat. Subjective power has recently become a prominent field of research and its link to collective action has been studied mainly through the concept of collective efficacy. The current study explored questions based on recent social identity accounts of subjective power in collective action. We examined participants’ experiences of subjective power before and after Mayday 2012, in Greece. Two different collective action events took place: a demonstration against austerity and a demonstration to support steel workers who were on strike. In total, 19 people were interviewed, 9 before the demonstrations and 10 after. Thematic analysis was carried out. Protest participants talked about power in terms of five first-order themes: the necessity of building power, unity, emotional effects, effects of (dis)organization, and support as success. The steel workers we spoke to experienced the events more positively than the other interviewees and had different criteria for success. Theories of collective action need to take account of the fact that subjective power has important emotional as well as cognitive dimensions, and that definitions of success depend on definitions of identity.

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Space of Hope for Lebanon’s Missing

Promoting Transitional Justice through a Digital Memorial

Erik Van Ommering and Reem el Soussi

This article explores how a digital memorial for forcibly disappeared persons contributes to transitional justice in Lebanon. It presents the joint establishment of an interactive digital memorial by a collective of nongovernmental organizations, relatives of missing persons, and youth volunteers. The case study is situated in debates on transitional justice, calls for democratization of collective memories and archives, and discussions on new information and communication technologies. The article demonstrates how the development and launch of Fushat Amal (Space for Hope) is shaped and confined by postwar sociopolitical realities that are all but favorable to memorialization or justice-seeking initiatives. It highlights how digitalized memories can open up spaces that remain closed in the offline world, enabling survivors to share their stories, build collectives, demand recognition, and advocate for justice. At the same time, the authors discuss the limitations of digital memorials in relation to questions of access, ownership, and sustainability.

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Cameron Bassiri

The present article provides an account of the chapter of volume one of the Critique of Dialectical Reason entitled “The Organization.” It is guided by the following questions: In what ways is the organization an advancement over the group in fusion and the statutory group? How does the organization contribute to the progressive dimension of Sartre’s progressive-regressive method? What is the status of the future within organized groups? It develops Sartre’s theory of power, rights, and duties, and shows that these concepts exist independently of the Polis. This makes possible a contrast with Plato and allows us to develop the implicit Sartrean concepts of moderation and justice in this chapter. I further show the internal structures and functioning of the organized group, Sartre’s concept of personal identity in such action, and the manner in which the future becomes concrete in such articulated action orientated toward an ultimate, collective aim.

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Stacy M. K. George

culture on collective action, recognizing that it is not only the organizational infrastructure that leads particular groups to mobilize. The internalization of faith commitments can also result in political behaviors that are able, in turn, to shape a

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“Because we are the only ones in the community!”

Protest and daily life in poor South African neighborhoods

Jérôme Tournadre

This article is based on research conducted in various South African cities, in contact with organizations involved in demonstrating against poor living conditions. It aims to grasp these collectives outside of their interactions with the political sphere, by moving away from the traditional definitions of a “social movement.” The protesters are here examined in terms of their relationships with their immediate surroundings: the neighborhoods. The point is thus to emphasize the continuities that may exist between protest and daily life. Indeed, one may find elements in the ordinary and the everyday that shed light on some of the logics that structure mobilization and certain practices of protest.

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Wolfgang Schroeder and Rainer Weinert

The approach of the new millennium appears to signal the demise

of traditional models of social organization. The political core of

this process of change—the restructuring of the welfare state—and

the related crisis of the industrywide collective bargaining agreement

have been subjects of much debate. For some years now in

specialist literature, this debate has been conducted between the

proponents of a neo-liberal (minimally regulated) welfare state and

the supporters of a social democratic model (highly regulated). The

alternatives are variously expressed as “exit vs. voice,” “comparative

austerity vs. progressive competitiveness,” or “deregulation vs.

cooperative re-regulation.”

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"The aboriginal people of England"

The culture of class politics in contemporary Britain

Gillian Evans

This article explores the legal precedent of the case of Mandla versus Dowell-Lee (Mandla v Dowell-Lee 1983) to explain how the far right British National Party mobilizes ethnic strategies and specifically the category of “indigenous Britons,“ to turn post-colonial multiculturalism on its head and thereby disavow the realities of a post-industrial, multiracial working class in Britain. The article argues that the historical moment in contemporary Britain is characterized by a shift away from the politics of social class toward collective organization and sentiment based on ethnicity and cultural nationalism. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research, conducted between 1998 and 2000 on the post-industrial Docklands of Southeast London, the article explains an exceptional local area case study, which proves the rule about the growth in influence in the first decade of the twenty-first century of far-right politics in post-industrial urban areas of Britain.

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Capacity as Aggregation

Promises, Water and a Form of Collective Care in Northeast Brazil

Andrea Ballestero

As the twenty-first century gets underway, people have been experimenting with many forms of political organization. In Northeast Brazil, that experimental spirit led to the creation of the Water Pact, a process involving more than eight thousand participants through a series of public promise-making rituals in which they made pledges to care for water, attending to the specificities of their own context. The Pact gathered those promises into a multi-scalar formation that, the organizers believed, would yield the necessary resources to address the state’s water problems. The Pact would break with an unsuccessful history of infrastructural and legal reforms concerning deep-water access in the state of Ceará. This article examines how that collective was produced, what its constituent units were and how the logic of aggregation guided practices leading to its coalescence. My purpose is to re-examine the aggregate as a quantitative form of capacity that should be qualitatively reconsidered.