The ethnographies presented in this article point to the ways in which members of oppressed communities imagine emancipation. Instead of analyzing emancipation as stemming from statist precepts of citizenship, I want to direct attention—along with other articles in this special section—to the “arcadian” spaces in which exploited, marginalized, and discriminated populations forge membership in the political community in contentious engagement with both state and society. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork with Musahar landless laborers in the Indian state of Bihar during the winter and spring of 2009–2010, with follow-up visits in September 2013 and July 2014. I focus on their engagement with two organizations, one a leftist political party and the other a cultural organization, to advance my claims. The ethnography reveals that, for the Musahar laborers, ideas of emancipation are anchored in reclamations of social equality rather than a telos of state-centered citizenship.
Subaltern politics in contemporary India
Devin Zane Shaw
In this essay, I propose a mutually constructive reading of the work of Jacques Rancière and Jean-Paul Sartre. On the one hand, I argue that Rancière's egalitarian political thought owes several important conceptual debts to Sartre's Being and Nothingness, especially in his use of the concepts of freedom, contingency and facticity. These concepts play a dual role in Rancière's thought. First, he appropriates them to show how the formation of subjectivity through freedom is a dynamic that introduces new ways of speaking, being and doing, instead of being a mode of assuming an established identity. Second, Rancière uses these concepts to demonstrate the contingency of any situation or social order, a contingency that is the possibility of egalitarian praxis. On the other hand, I also argue that reading Sartre with Rancière makes possible the reconstruction of Sartre's project within the horizon of freedom and equality rather than that of authenticity.
Corporatism is being reinvented in current theories about global democracy. As I see it, corporatism can be regarded as a practical way out of democracy’s intensity problem: whether those more involved in an issue should have greater say. By the same token, corporatism can be perceived as a response to the all-affected principle: whether those especially affected by a decision should have more influence. In nation-states, corporatism was to a large extent dismantled during the 1980s. In world politics, by contrast, NGOs are now called upon to play an important role in not only articulating intense and affected interests but also, in so doing, realizing a global democracy. The weakness of this argument is that today’s NGOs do not reflect the will of most people—as national organizations once managed to do—and, consequently, cannot fulfill the integrative and representative function associated with this form of interest politics.
This article examines several obstacles to the deliberative inclusion of women where traditional cultural-political authority exist alongside national democratic institutions. Drawing on the example of land reform in post-apartheid South Africa, the article argues that introducing deliberative democratic procedures to local cultural-political institutions may fail to achieve the inclusion and/or empowerment of subordinated members, such as rural women. I discuss three ways that deliberative interventions might be made more inclusive in such contexts: first, by using strategic exclusion to amplify the voices of disenfranchised community members and/or to make possible parallel deliberation by them; second, by legitimizing and supporting the informal political practices of more disempowered group members (e.g., informal protests, political activism); and third, by fostering the political capacities of disempowered citizens in both formal and informal political life.
Diversity, equality, and the politics of knowledge
Thomas A. Reuter
Over the last century anthropological studies have served as a testimony to human cultural diversity, as well as highlighting the existential challenges we all share, but the discipline has failed to provide an undistorted mirror of this unity in diversity. Critics from postcolonial studies and within anthropology have argued that anthropological knowledge cannot be universal so long as representatives of only a few privileged nations participate in the process of its construction, and so long as there are significant power differentials among those who do participate. From the perspective of a performance theory of truth, there are two necessary conditions if we wish for anthropology to genuinely reflect the human condition. The first step is to improve global participation in the social production of anthropological knowledge by creating equality within the discipline. The second is to help create a more level playing field in the world at large by challenging abuses of power in contemporary societies. In this article I discuss recent efforts by international organizations in anthropology to satisfy some of these conditions.
This article suggests ways of demarcating a liberal-egalitarian family of conceptions within political philosophy. It seeks to accommodate diverse conceptions while nevertheless demarcating liberal egalitarianism in a way that is coherent, distinctive and attractive. Liberal egalitarianism (the article argues) is about the simultaneous strong defence of individual liberty and substantive equality. But because there are real tensions and sometimes contradictions between certain liberties and substantive equalities, liberal egalitarianism is also necessarily a set of theories about how to address these. Liberal egalitarians differ in their accounts of equality and in their proposals for addressing liberty-equality tensions. Even so, I argue, any attractive and distinctively liberal-egalitarian resolution of these tensions must require a strong but morally individualist account of substantive equality, protection of political and civil liberties from trade-offs with equality or welfare, weak protection of property rights and respect for a proceduralist-democratic minimum.
This essay explores two largely distinct discussions about equality: the 'luck egalitarian' debate concerning the appropriate metric of equality and the 'equality and difference' debate which has focused on the need for egalitarianism to consider the underlying norms in light of which the abstract principle to 'treat equals equally' operates. In the end, both of these discussions point to the importance of political equality for egalitarianism more generally and, in the concluding section, an attempt is made to show how the ideal of 'equal concern and respect' might best be pursued given the results of these important discussions.
In the French polemics over the Islamic headscarf, the relationship betweensecularism and sexual equality has sometimes been made out to be an artificialone. The articulation between politics, religion, secularism, and women'srights is examined here over the longue durée. Since the beginning of the secularizationprocess during the French Revolution, a minority has championedan egalitarian conception of secularization. Rivalries between or convergencesof political and religious authorities have driven an ambivalent and not veryequal secularization, creating secular pacts that rely on gender pacts to thedetriment of equality. This dynamic reversed itself beginning in the 1960swith the battle for legal contraception and abortion, which shook one of thevery bases of French Catholicism to its foundation. The headscarf affairsrevealed the egalitarian effects of secularism and favored the elaboration ofthought about secularism in conjunction with sexual equality, which, whateverthe various interpretations of that thought may be, could prove to be anon-negligible benefit.
Mihaela Miroiu argues that there was/is ‘a deep incompatibility between feminism and communism’ and that the proclaimed communist measures of gender equality were not feminist in intention and meaning. She insists also that one should differentiate between feminism as an ideal and feminism as ideology. Miroiu further claims that, even if there were some individual feminist gestures under ‘communism’, they didn’t have political consequences.
Biljana Kašić, Jelena Petrović, Sandra Prlenda, and Svetlana Slapšak, eds., Feminist Critical Interventions: Thinking Heritage, Decolonising, Crossings, Zagreb: Red Athena University Press and Centre for Women’s Studies, 2013, 197 pp., €16 (hardback), ISBN 978-9-536-95544-2.
Christine M. Hassenstab and Sabrina P. Ramet, eds., Gender (In)equality and Gender Politics in Southeastern Europe: A Question of Justice, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 380 pp., $115 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-137-46238-1.