This introduction outlines Ivan Jablonka’s theory and practice of writing the social sciences as foregrounded in three of his most noted, recent books, A History of the Grandparents I Never Had, History is a Contemorary Literature, and Laëtitia. As he outlines in his own contribution here, Jablonka advances rigorous, methodical research that nevertheless details the subjective investment of the researcher while at the same time utilizing creative “literary” techniques to engage a wide spectrum of readers well beyond the habitual circles of academic specialists. The essays contributed by Julie Fette, Sarah Fishman, Melanie Hawthorne, Don Reid, and Nathan Bracher explore various facets of Jablonka’s approach, including, respectively: writing history with family stories, resisting the erosion of factual reasoning in the Trump years, pursuing biographies of supposedly non-descript lives, appreciating the importance of Communist cultural networks in postwar France, and revisiting the role of the subject in the social sciences.
Writing History and the Social Sciences with Ivan Jablonka
Davydd J. Greenwood and Morten Levin
The core argument is that social science must re-examine its mission and praxis in order to be a significant player in future higher education. This article reviews the results and prospects arising from a four-year international project. Originating in Greenwood and Levin's concern about the social sciences, the project, funded by the Ford Foundation, was organised as an action research network of social scientists. Meeting several times over four years, the assembled group of scholars shifted focus from the future of the social sciences to broader questions of the future of higher education as a whole and the possible role of the social sciences. Four issues emerged as vital future challenges:
• Collective denial among academics that knowledge production (research and teaching) is a collaborative effort and that individual academics depend on and are responsible for contributing to the health of the academic collectivity.
• Academic freedom, conceived as an individual right is under siege and will have to be reconstructed to include both individual rights and collective and institutional responsibilities and rights in higher education.
• An appreciation of the multiplicity of teaching, research and organisational factors that interact to constitute healthy universities is lacking in most quarters.
• Technologies of accountability now drive the development of higher education towards a focus on an artificially narrow metrics of knowledge-generation and away from inquiry into what constitutes relevant and sustainable knowledge-generation practices.
“Casteism”, Communalism, and Regionalism in Indian Social Science Textbooks
Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber
Three societal lines of conflict, “casteism”, communalism, and regionalism, are regarded as severe challenges in present-day India. This article discusses and compares differences between presentations of these lines of conflict in six textbook series for social sciences prepared by the Indian states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, and by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi. The variations in perspective, scope, and approach are related to changing educational approaches and to specific discourses of identity politics, which may be explained in terms of the impact of different positions adopted by states and the union towards the issues, and in terms of the discursive dominance of specific sociopolitical viewpoints.
Emory Morrison, Elizabeth Rudd and Maresi Nerad
In this article, we analyse findings of the largest, most comprehensive survey of the career paths of social science PhD graduates to date, Social Science PhDs - Five+Years Out (SS5). SS5 surveyed more than 3,000 graduates of U.S. PhD programmes in six social science fields six to ten years after earning their PhD. The survey collected data on family, career and graduate school experiences. Like previous studies in Australia, the U.K., the U.S.A. and Germany, SS5 found that graduates several years after completing their education had mostly positive labour market experiences, but only after undergoing a transitional period of insecurity and uncertainty. Most SS5 doctoral students wanted to become professors, despite the difficult academic job market and the existence of a non-academic market for PhD labour. Many respondents' career pathways included a delayed move into a faculty tenure-track position, but exceptionally few moved from a faculty tenure-track position into another labour market sector. Respondents reported that their PhD programmes had not trained them well in several skills important for academic and non-academic jobs. Men's and women's career paths were remarkably similar, but, we argue, women 'subsidised' gender equality in careers by paying higher personal costs than men. We conclude with recommendations.
Judith Burnett and Erika Cudworth
This article explores the critical pedagogical issues that emerge when attempting to develop active citizenship among undergraduates as an integral part of the student experience. It presents part of the findings from a C-SAP-funded project (Gifford et al. 2006) that we undertook with a partner higher education institution. This article explores our particular contribution carried out in a post-1992 London higher education institution. Our innovations in the social sciences undergraduate curriculum aimed at creating situations in which students would explore the diversity of citizenship in educational settings, namely, a local school, a further education college, and Summerhill School (founded by A.S. Neill). The research leads us to conclude that citizenship is a problem of praxis influenced and shaped by the local-global contexts of communities with diverse heritages of meaning, stratified social settings, and specific local and historical characteristics. This challenges the notions underpinning the Crick curriculum with its national orientation, and demonstrates the need to sensitise citizenship learning experiences to the needs of students and staff embedded in their social contexts. Such an approach can be understood as a form of situated citizenship characterised by active engagement with an assumption of heterogeneity which is positively sensitive to diversity.
Project Camelot and the post–World War II operationalization of social science
Philip Y. Kao
This article is a historical examination of several watershed episodes in the militarization of US social science. It off ers an assessment of the actual “science” underpinning such initiatives as Project Camelot, and traces how American anthropology in its reaction to Project Camelot and Cold War studies moved from certain kinds of scientific/knowledge production toward others. By critiquing the intellectual foundations of Project Camelot alongside other examples of action-oriented social science, this article examines the connections between functionalism and the conceptual bias toward social order. What linked development, militarism, and imperialism was a more often than not oversimplified view of human behavior. In order to comprehend how models of development and modernization continue to shape American hegemony, this article scrutinizes a particular history of “military modernity.”
Considering Social Science and the Production of Island Vulnerability and Opportunity
This article argues that climate change has influenced the way in which small island nations are viewed and understood by the international climate community. Climate change has become an internationally recognized and specific language of vulnerability that is deployed in requests for international aid to fund adaptation and mitigation measures in some small islands, for population relocation plans and human rights advocacy in other islands, and for overhauling the 'tourism product' and creating new markets for travel in others. Vulnerability is a powerful idiom, especially in the contemporary climate context that has come to imply crisis, change, uncertainty, and immediacy. Importantly, vulnerability also gestures unambiguously toward seemingly limitless scientific and even commercial opportunity. These developments come with new forms of expertise in the natural and social sciences and the travel industry, as well as with new or reinstated forms of inequity. As the areas of small island expertise increasingly overlap, they come to reproduce the very context and form of small islands themselves.
Le cas de Laëtitia ou la fin des hommes
With its compelling portrait of a young woman who was savagely murdered after having endured various forms of male violence throughout her life, Ivan Jablonka’s Laëtitia ou la fin des hommes also provides a stark depiction of French society and politics in the second decade of the twentyfirst century. In deconstructing the sensationalism of the conventional crime story, the researcher-narrator seeks to draw as near as possible to the vivacious, yet fragile young woman while at the same time viewing her life in relation to various sociological and historical contexts defining its parameters. Jablonka’s own singular investment in the investigation and narration of Laëtitia thus poses the question of subjectivity in the social sciences. Recalling the landmark stances of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Emmanuel Lévinas, this article argues that Jablonka’s insistence on the explicit intervention of the researcher-narrator offers an epistemological gain and more precise knowledge.
A Dialogue between Brazilian Social Sciences and the Anthropology of Christianity
Cecília L. Mariz and Roberta B.C. Campos
This article aims to show how the hegemonic interpretation of Pentecos- talism in Brazil has difficulty recognizing changes caused by these churches to 'local' cultures. We argue that this tendency can be explained by a widespread adherence to structuralist theories of society combined with an unwillingness to accept the reimag- ining of a national culture historically built up by Brazilian social science. We suggest that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has been the Pentecostal church most studied by Brazilian researchers because it provides a powerful means to indicate the strength of 'Brazilian culture'. Through our analysis of more recent studies, we point out the salience of these debates to wider questions relating to the emergent anthropology of Christianity, concluding that since neither discontinuities nor continuities can be denied in the field, the focus on one or the other dimension should be seen as a methodological choice rather than an orientation specifically arising from empirical observation.
Reflexions and Questions on the Condition of the Human and Social Sciences in South Africa and Beyond
This aim of this article is to contribute to the debates regarding the condition and reform of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). First, focussing on South Africa and the Humanities Charter in particular, the tensions and theoretical problems in this road map are explored through an analysis of three important themes: (1) the use of the word 'Africa(n)' in the Charter, (2) the articulation between basic and higher education and (3) the Charter's catalytic projects. The analysis explores the risks posed by precipitate recommendations for intervention in the HSS. Second, taking a step back to reflect on theoretical issues involved in institutional reforms of the HSS, three central issues in the practice of the HSS are highlighted. Clarity on these issues is essential to undertake responsible HSS reform anywhere in the world. These issues are: (1) the nature of academic liberty, (2) the organic link between the HSS and other disciplines and (3) the capability of the HSS to produce crises. The detour via these fundamental questions is an indispensible part of an approach to reforms which would be prepared in continuity with the major theoretical concerns of these disciplines and that would thus remain true to the practice of these disciplines.