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Since the mid-1980s, generations of displaced people have sought refuge in the ramshackle buildings that were once the Gaza-Ramallah Hospital, a multi-story hospital complex built by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (plo). Damaged during the civil war, today the buildings blend in with the run-down Sabra-Shatila neighbourhood in Beirut’s “misery belt.” This paper charts the buildings’ history and main characters: the lodgers, landlords, and gatekeepers who respectively lease, rent, and control the dilapidated buildings’ dark corridors, cramped flats, and garbage-strewn stairways. The multi-story buildings are examples of emergency urbanism whereby displaced people seek refuge in cities, and their story can be read as a vertical migration history of people escaping conflict, displacement, and destitution. Examining the buildings as archives of spatial and political histories provides a genealogy of displacement and emplacement that can inform the study of emergency urbanism and point to solutions in cities for refugees lacking access to affordable housing.

In: Public Anthropologist

Pictures of women eking out a living at open-air markets in conflict zones are often used worldwide to elicit sympathy and outrage. Their chilies, synecdoche here for the commodities they sell at the open-air markets, constitutes another stereotypical image of these women living on the margins of the economy. However, what remains missing in most analyses is the focus on the lives and livelihoods of these women who bear the hardships of maintaining family life in precarious circumstances. This article focuses on the effects of the latest insurgency in Thailand’s far south on a group of women food vendors (mak pasar) as they engage with the difficulty of reality. It also touches on their cynical subjectivities towards how the government has been handling the conflict and their ambivalence towards the insurgency.

In: Public Anthropologist

This essay critically reviews Jan-Werner Müller’s What is Populism and its application in the Indian debate to show the efficacy and limits of his exposition. It focuses on three points: elision of subjectivity of those who are targets of populism, neglect of religion as a key factor in populist mobilizations, and the near desertion of International Relations in accounting for populism. These points are discussed by drawing, inter alia, on contemporary Indian populism, especially related to pluralism, a concept that Müller insightfully foregrounds as central to populism. It is hoped that a political-anthropological approach to populism will enrich its theoretical understanding beyond disciplinary and spatial grooves.

In: Public Anthropologist

According to mainstream media and political discourse, human smugglers are among the cruellest figures of our time, individuals who prey on migrants’ need for assistance. Motivated by the circulation of this pejorative view in media and political discourse, I carried out ethnographic research with Syrian refugees and smugglers in Turkey, Greece, Jordan, and Lebanon with the ultimate goal of documenting what being a smuggler entails for the very actors of this unfolding drama. Fieldwork showed me how human smuggling was rooted in patterns of cooperation and support. And yet, most if not all my interlocutors, including the “smugglers” themselves, spoke of smuggling in negative terms. What I argue in this paper is that the smuggler, a category functional to the security apparatus, is not only manufactured within law enforcement circles and mainstream media, but even by those very people who are discriminated or targeted by states’ migration policies.

In: Public Anthropologist
Editors: Lon Olson and Stuart Molloy
This volume offers diverse insights on how the practice of torture has impacted society and how we view human nature. After the Second World War, it was hoped that torture had been permanently vanquished among modern liberal states, and was only practiced by brutal totalitarian regimes. However, events after 9/11 revealed that the re-emergence of torture is an ever-present threat, even among leading democracies. Drawing from their knowledge of the humanities and social sciences, the contributors offer their expertise on the deleterious effects of torture and reveal that its trauma is interwoven into the fabric of modern society, requiring constant diligence to be rooted out and kept at bay. Contributors are William Fitzhugh Brundage, Federico Ciavattone, Noora Virjamo, Toni Koivulahti, Diana Medlicott, Stuart Molloy, Lon Olson, Martin Previsic, David Senesh and Hedi Viterbo.
Cities are defined by their complex network of busy streets and the multitudes of people that animate them through physical presence and bodily actions that often differ dramatically: elegant window-shoppers and homeless beggars, protesting crowds and patrolling police. As bodies shape city life, so the city’s spaces, structures, economies, politics, rhythms, and atmospheres reciprocally shape the urban soma. This collection of original essays explores the somaesthetic qualities and challenges of city life (in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas) from a variety of perspectives ranging from philosophy, urban theory, political theory, and gender studies to visual art, criminology, and the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics. Together these essays illustrate the aesthetic, cultural, and political roles and trials of bodies in the city streets.
Now and Next
Editors: Jan Melissen and Jian Wang
This book is a much-needed update on our understanding of public diplomacy. It intends to stimulate new thinking on what is one of the most remarkable recent developments in diplomatic practice that has challenged practitioners as much as scholars. Thought-leaders and up-and-coming authors in Debating Public Diplomacy agree that official efforts to create and maintain relationships with publics in other societies encounter unprecedented and often unexpected difficulties. Resurgent geo-strategic rivalry and technological change affecting state-society relations are among the factors complicating international relationships in a much more citizen-centric world. This book discusses today’s most pressing public diplomacy challenges, including recent sharp power campaigns, the rise of populism, the politicization of diaspora relations, deep-rooted nation-state-based perspectives on culture, and public diplomacy’s contribution to counterterrorism. With influential academic voices exploring policy implications for tomorrow, this collection of essays is also forward-looking by examining unfolding trends in public diplomacy strategies and practices.

Originally published as Volume 14, Nos. 1-2 (2019) pp. 1-197 in Brill’s journal The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.
From Religion to Geopolitics
Interreligious Dialogue: From Religion to Geopolitics discusses how interreligious dialogue takes place within, and is influenced by, important sociological categories and theories, such as modernity, secularization, deprivatization, social movements, and pluralism. Starting from the study of interreligious coexistence, sacred spaces, and multi-religious rituals, the book explores the patterns of interreligious governance and politics and forms of interreligious social action in European, North American, and West and South Asian contexts. The contributors to this volume apply broader theories of organizational change and planning, communication, urban neighborhood and community studies, functionalist perspectives, and symbolic interactionism, thus presenting a wide range of possibilities for sociological engagement with studies on interreligious dialogue.