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6 Endogamists

Gender, Nation and a Selective Taboo

Series:

Joanne Smith Finley

7 Hybrids

Identity Negotiations among the Urban Youth

Series:

Joanne Smith Finley

Series:

Joanne Smith Finley

DANIEL AYANA

ABSTRACT

Scholars have suggested the importance of integrating African democratization process with grassroots institutions for longterm consolidation. However, the major problem remained the inadequacy of secularism in disentangling the religious from the non-religious intertwined in indigenous African institutions. This essay reconsiders the Burckhardtian notion of secularism for a recalibrated definition that embraces a trajectory of transposed values. Debunking the Burckhardtian notion opens up an analytic terrain relegated to the "religious." Thus indigenous African religions are re-conceptualized as civic religions to shed light on their public aspects. The essay then identifies collective ceremonies and the attendant secular/civic rituals as the grassroots institutions "housed" in indigenous African religions. The analysis also locates the disjuncture between independent African states and the grassroots institutions at this level of collective ceremonies, perceived as "sacral" or "irrational." The objective is to harness them as African building blocks for democratic consolidation.

HERMAN WASSERMAN

ABSTRACT

This article addresses some of the potential of the Internet in building a new South African nationhood, especially through language. However, before the Internet can really promote multilingualism and multiculturalism in South Africa, the severe inequalities that mark access to the medium need to be overcome, possibly by sharing resources between minority languages, of which Afrikaans is economically in the strongest position. Within the globalised world order, English is at the top of the hierarchy of dominance. It is the most commonly spoken second language and the lingua franca in the international business, media, scientific and academic worlds. While some welcome English as a means of communication with the potential of overcoming the global tower of Babel, others argue that minority languages might become threatened by 'language death'. For instrumental purposes, English has become the lingua franca in South African public life. While this means that the use of Afrikaans has been dramatically scaled down to occupy the position of a minority language, the other nine indigenous languages are at an even bigger disadvantage. Probably the greatest barrier in the way of indigenous languages gaining a presence on the Internet remains the problem that has come to be known as the digital divide. Access to the Internet is still marred by severe inequalities.

ANDY MASON

ABSTRACT

This author contends that cartooning in its various forms in South Africa played an important role in crystallising issues of allegiance and identity, introducing revolutionary concepts into public discourse, undermining the ideological hegemony of the apartheid state and legitimating the political struggle against apartheid. However, in spite of the fact that numerous black newspapers have subsisted to this day, there remains a dearth of black cartoonists in South Africa. The vexing question of why so few black cartoonists have emerged demands an answer. The villains of the piece appear to be the editors of the socalled 'liberal' newspapers who did nothing (and continue to do very little) to identify indigenous cartooning talent or promote the development of black South African cartooning, choosing rather to share the services of a few white cartoonists and to buy syndicated comic strips. Mason analyses this situation and offers a remedy for solving the problem.

JOHN MUKUM MBAKU

ABSTRACT

Cameroon's stalled transition to democracy is examined. It is argued that most of Cameroon's present political and economic problems can be traced to non-democratic constitutionalism at independence. Elite-driven, top-down, non-participatory constitutionalism left the country with institutional arrangements that discouraged entrepreneurship but enhanced political opportunism (e.g., rent seeking and corruption). In addition, it is shown that the inability of the country's main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), to successfully lead the country's transformation has been due to many factors. Some of them include poor and fractured leadership, political miscalculations, rivalry within the party and between the party and other opposition parties, Biya's political acumen, and strong French support for the incumbent government. The most important first step toward successful institutionalization of democracy is state reconstruction through people-driven, participatory and inclusive constitution making. Unless such a process is undertaken, Cameroon will not be able to provide itself with the enabling environment to deepen, consolidate and institutionalize democracy, as well as deal effectively with pressing issues such as the desire by the Anglophone minority for greater levels of political and economic autonomy.

MOHAMMAD HEMMASI and CAROLYN V. PROROK

ABSTRACT

Besides Islam, Iran is home to adherents of three of the world's oldest religions: Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity, and to one of the youngest, Baha'i. Significant changes have occurred in the size, composition, and spatial distribution of Iran's officially recognized religious minority populations since the 1970s. This study analyzes these demographic changes with a particular emphasis on their characteristics relative to the preand post-1979 Revolution. Overall, religious minority populations of Iran have drastically declined in number, and they have become increasingly concentrated in several urban areas during the last two decades. In comparison to Muslims, they have lower fertility, mortality, gender and dependency ratios, greater emigration, and a greater proportion of their populations is elderly. Both historic and contemporary socio-political and economic circumstances at the national level are the root causes of these demographic changes.