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The Curious Trajectory of Caste in West Bengal Politics: Chronicling Continuity and Change critically engages with the dynamics of caste in the politics of West Bengal which unlike other parts of India has remained relatively free from large scale caste based political mobilisation. The insignificance of caste in West Bengal politics has remained an enigma. Yet Caste question in West Bengal politics has remained under-researched. However, there has been a growing interest in the politics of caste in West Bengal in recent years and this interest has grown due to the end of the world’s longest serving democratically elected Communist government (1977-2011) that followed a class centric non-identitarian politics. It is in this backdrop that this book explores the reasons for the relative insignificance of caste in post-colonial West Bengal’s politics and also assesses the future possibilities of caste-based identity politics in the state.
Volume Editors: and
Sociology for Durkheim was by no means a knowledge closed in its specificity. It was rather an open science, permeable to contributions coming from other disciplines. For him, the task of sociology was to study what held societies together, giving place to reflective change and progressive development. This is an epistemological and political model that still retains all its relevance today: an example to be rediscovered against any reductionist conception of the vocation and object of social sciences; an encouragement to see sociology as an indispensable protagonist for an authentic interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of humanities. It is one of the best legacies Durkheim left us, that this book attempts to illustrate.
Volume Editors: and
Much ink has been spilled on poverty measurements and trends, at the expense of revealing causality. Assembling multi-disciplinary and international contributions, this book shows that a causal understanding of poverty in rich and poor countries is essential. That understanding must be based on a critical interrogation of the wider social relations which set up the mechanisms producing poverty as an outcome. Processes that widen/strengthen crisis-ridden market relations, that increase income/wealth inequality, and that ‘enhance’ the policy-biases of nation-states and international institutions toward the affluent-propertied strata cause global poverty and undermine poor people’s political power. The processes concentrating wealth-creation are poverty-causing processes. Through theoretical and empirical analyses this volume offers important insights and political prescriptions to address global poverty.

Contributors are:Raju J. Das, Deepak K. Mishra, Steven Pressman, Michael Roberts, Jamie Gough, Aram Eisenschitz, Anjan Chakravarty, Mizhar Mikati, Marcelo Milan, Tarique Niazi, John Marangos, Eirini Triarchi, Themis Anthrakidis, Macayla Kisten and Brij Maharaj, David Michael M. San Juan, and Thaddeus Hwong.
Brill’s Islam in Africa is designed to present the results of scholarly research into the many aspects of the history and present-day features of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The series will take up issues of religious and intellectual traditions, social significance and organization, and other aspects of the Islamic presence in Africa. It includes monographs, collaborative volumes and reference works by researchers from all relevant disciplines.

Obituary

John Hunwick (1936-2015)

Professor John Owen Hunwick, a leading scholarly authority on the history of Islam in West Africa, passed away on 1 April 2015, after a lengthy illness.

Born in 1936 in Somerset, England, John Hunwick came into contact with Africa as a conscript soldier in British Somaliland from 1955. Back in Britain, he studied Arabic and Islamic history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, graduating in Arabic in 1959. He then went to Ibadan in Nigeria to teach Arabic and the University College there. After several years in Nigeria, he became Associate Professor of History at the University of Ghana, before finally coming to Northwestern University in Evanston, USA (from 1991), where he taught African history and Islamic studies until his retirement in 2004.

Professor Hunwick was an authority of a wide variety of topics and periods of the history of Islam in Africa, in particular in the medieval and early modern periods. He will perhaps be most remembered for his relentless efforts to show that Africa’s past was replete with written sources, and not just the “oral history” that earlier generations of historians assumed. He worked both to collect manuscripts but not least to catalogue and disseminate knowledge about them. In Timbuktu, which came to be at the centre of his attention from the mid-1990s onwards, he will in particular be remembered as the instigator for the UNESCO-initiated Centre de Documentation et de Recherches Ahmed Baba. The centre, now Institute for Studies and Research (IHERI), is a repository of locally produced Arabic manuscripts of a wide variety of topics. Hunwick committed himself to disseminating knowledge of the rich literary heritage in Arabic from Africa, not least through the multi-volume bio-biographical dictionary Arabic Literature of Africa (Leiden: Brill from 1990, edited together with R.S. O’Fahey). He also initiated several journals for this purpose, from Research Bulletin of the Centre of Arabic Documentation in his Ibadan period, through the Fontes Historiae Africanae bulletin, to Sudanic Africa: A Journal of Historical Sources, where he published a large number of documents and biographical studies on important Muslim scholars.

Professor Hunwick published several monographs, the most important being a study of the sixteenth-century Moroccan scholar al-Maghili’s influence on Songhay and Hausaland, Shari’a in Songhay (his Ph.D. Oxford University Press 1985), and a commented translation of al-Saʿdī’s Taʾrīkh al-sūdān: Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire (Brill 1999). However, already from the early 1960s he produced a series of important articles that set the pattern for the study of Islam in West Africa from the medieval to the modern, including an important discussion on the early history of Gao in the Almoravid period, on Islamic law in Songhay, and on issues pertaining to Sufism and slavery. He emphasized the importance of Africa’s contacts across the Sahara, and coined the phrase that “Arabic is the Latin of Africa.” In 2005, the African Studies Association recognized his extraordinary achievements by endowing him with the Distinguished Africanist Award.

Professor Hunwick’s lasting contribution to the study of Islam and Africa includes the establishment of the first academic centre exclusively devoted to the Islamic intellectual tradition in Africa: the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), founded in 1999 under the umbrella of Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies (PAS). He was able to attract significant grants for ISITA and built an impressive scholarly network around its activities. Always fond of puns, Hunwick used to say, “IS IT A good program? Yes, it is!” Indeed, the role of ISITA in promoting the study of Islam in Africa cannot be overestimated. For Brill Academic Publishers, Hunwick will—in addition to his publications mentioned above—be noted as the founder of the book series Islam in Africa (ISAF).

Professor Hunwick was an generous, welcoming and compassionate scholar, who made all effort to support scholars working in West African Islamic history, and in particular his many students, from Africa and elsewhere. He was for many of us the ultimate authority on any question relating to the use of Arabic in Africa, to issues of Shari’a in the African Maliki tradition, and to scholarliness in general. A veritable pioneer and trailblazer has left us, and those who used to stand on the shoulders of this giant will miss him dearly.

Professor Knut S. Vikør, University of Bergen, Norway
Professor Rüdiger Seesemann, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Since the end of the late twentieth century, religion in all its varied forms has come to play an increasingly visible and dynamic role in the transformation of Chinese societies. This vitality of religious practice challenges the secularization theories that are at the heart of modern social science and it directs renewed attention to the role of religion throughout Chinese history. This series features monographs and edited volumes investigating the full range of religious practices in all Chinese societies, including Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia and elsewhere. It includes research from all disciplines in the social sciences and humanities that describes, documents, and interprets religious practices, beliefs, and the many forms of religious community in Chinese societies.

Series Editor:
For a long time, historiography was the sum of national efforts. Historians automatically thought and wrote within the framework of nation states – even when discussing “foreign policy” and “inter-national” topics. “Globalization” is beginning to change their approach. Now that borders have become more fluid in contemporary society, and interest in transnational processes is increasing, the principles of the methodological nationalism of the past are undergoing a critical review. A different view of global cohesion parallels this trend. Until recently, the North Atlantic perspective dominated the mental world order: the “modern” period was believed to have started in Europe and North America and to have spread gradually throughout the rest of the world; the temporality of the core area was considered to have defined developmental periods elsewhere as well. This Eurocentrism is now under fire, and many attempts to circumvent it are in progress. The peer-reviewed book series Studies in Global Social History figures within these new trends. Each volume in this series addresses (the connections between) macro-regions and aims to visualize contrasts and similarities, to demonstrate how our present global society has materialized from uneven and combined developments and from interaction between acts “from above” and “from below”: from rulers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and administrators on the one hand and from slaves, peasants, indentured labourers, wage-earners, and housewives on the other hand.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts to either the series editor Marcel van der Linden or the publisher at BRILL, Wendel Scholma.

The series includes the subseries Studies in Global Migration History and Studies in the Social History of the Global South.

Brill Open offers you the choice to make your research freely accessible online in exchange for a Publication Charge. This can be by choice or to comply with funding mandates or university requirements. Brill offers various options of Open Access; for more information please go to the Brill Open webpage.

The series published an average of 3,5 volumes per year over the last 5 years.
Thamyris seeks to initiate alternative forms of criticism by analysing the ways in which cultural and theoretical discourses intervene in the contemporary world. This criticism should pursue a re-politicizing and remobilizing of theoretical perspectives and cultural practices, preferably through case studies. Thamyris hopes to contribute to the productive interaction between art, activism, and theory. We understand cultural practices to include those of literary, visual, digital, and performance arts, but also social practices related to gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. In short, Thamyris aims at exploring the ways in which varying cultural practices, separately or in interaction, can be effective as agents of social and cultural change.
Author:
Abolitionist Cosmopolitanism redefines the potential of American antislavery literature as a cultural and political imaginary by situating antislavery literature in specific transnational contexts and highlighting the role of women as producers, subjects, and audiences of antislavery literature. Pia Wiegmink draws attention to locales, authors, and webs of entanglement between texts, ideas, and people. Perceived through the lens of gender and transnationalism, American antislavery literature emerges as a body of writing that presents profoundly reconfigured literary imaginations of freedom and equality in the United States prior to the Civil War.
The Cognition and Culture Book Series provides a forum for the field of cognitive accounts of cultural phenomena and investigations that reveal cognitive regularities. The series will include contributions from experimental psychology, developmental psychology, social cognition, neuroscience, human evolution, cognitive anthropology, and cognitive comparative religion as well as cross-cultural studies that emphasize regularities. The primary focus will be on explanations of cultural phenomena in terms of acquisition, representation and transmission involving common cognitive regularities without excluding the study of cultural differences.