Weekly updates in Group National Global Imaginaries
Abstract The political theorist Michael Walzer has usually been taken as an opponent of global distributive justice, on the basis that it is incompatible with collective autonomy, would endanger cultural diversity, or simply on the basis that principles of global distributive justice cannot be coherently envisaged, given cross-cultural disagreement about the nature and value of the social goods that might be distributed. However in his recent work, Walzer demonstrates a surprising degree of sympathy for the claims of global distributive justice, even of the egalitarian variety. But the precise contours of his current position on global equality are not yet clearly developed. The paper, therefore, attempts to reconstruct what that position might be, paying particular attention to the conclusions we could draw firstly for our understanding of the opposition between global equality and national self-determination (which is more complex than has sometimes been thought), and secondly for the relationship between global equality and shared understandings.
‘Bringing Capital Back In’ is the title I have chosen for my article. The reference to a quite famous and successful book edited by Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol in 1985 is justified in my eyes by some formal similarities between their research project and the one I would like to outline here. As Theda Skocpol wrote in her introduction to that book (Bringing the State Back In), ‘society-centered theories’ in comparative social sciences and history were giving way in the early 1980s to a ‘new interest for the state’ (Evans et al. 1985: 4f). The ‘new theoretical understanding of states in relation to social structures’ she and her co-editors were looking for could not nevertheless emerge from a step back with regard to ‘society-centered theories’ (Evans et al. 1985: 4f).
Convention suggests that multicultural areas tend to exhibit high levels of residential and educational segregation, high degrees of poverty and deprivation and low rates of contact between culturally distinct individuals and groups. By contrast, with the help of a case study of a fast growing English new town, this paper reflects on the experience of multicultural settlement in what might be described as an ordinary city: one in which that experience is relatively recent and whose identity is constantly in the process of being made and remade. It draws on qualitative research, based around semi-structured interviews, participant observation and the use of focus groups, to develop its conclusions. Moving beyond any notion that minority ethnic communities live ‘parallel lives’, the paper identifies and explores some of the ways in which the new city spaces of Milton Keynes are actively lived, negotiated and understood by the Ghanaian and Somali communities (and particularly by young people from those communities). It highlights the tensions between the ways in which difference is negotiated in practice and attempts to define communities through processes of governance.
Amara Lakhous, born and raised in Algeria, has had a significant impact on the changing landscape of contemporary Italian letters and cultural production. He is the author of three novels, all of which he has written in both Arabic and Italian. His best known work is the much-acclaimed Scontro di civilt per un ascensore a piazza Vittorio (2006)/Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), now translated into numerous languages, including French, German and Dutch. Lakhous draws on his position as cultural mediator to elucidate the importance of fiction in today’s contentious debates over national identities. In the following interview, he speaks about his relationship to Arabic, Berber and Italian and the place these languages occupy in the conceptualization of his works. He also discusses the craft of writing, irony, politics, his views on Italy and Algeria today, and his latest novel, published in 2010.
This article explores how the powerful mechanisms of nation-state discourse in the news media obscure emerging constructions of transnational political thought and action. With the aid of empirical examples from qualitative media studies on critical events extensively covered by the news media, the article demonstrates how national identity in the news media represses transnational political identities of the intentional as well as the unintentional kind.
While Europe is unifying, it is also becoming more diverse, making multiculturalism one of the most hotly debated political issues in Western Europe. Minority citizens occupy an important place in the landscape of this challenging issue. Using the Eurobarometer 53 survey of European citizens, I look at the gap between Europeans who claim minority heritage and those who do not in support for multiculturalism in fifteen European Union member nations, taking into account percentage of extreme right-wing vote. This contextual factor has a persistent significant effect on the difference between minority and non-minority attitudes. High levels of support for extreme right-wing parties may have a polarizing effect, heightening awareness of personal heritage and making ethnic identity more salient in attitudes towards multiculturalism. This suggests an extension of group threat theory in which conceptions of what constitutes both a group and a threat can be created at the level of discourse
Indigenous peoples have been used and imagined as guardians of the Brazilian frontier since at least the mid-nineteenth century. This association was central to the foundation of the Indian Protection Service (Serviço de Proteção aos Índios, or SPI) during the early 1900s and culminated with the Amazonian Vigilance System (Sistema de Vigelância da Amazônia, or SIVAM) at the turn of the millennium. Throughout the period, the abiding desire to establish defensive dominion over disputed national territory subjected individuals and groups identified as “Indians” to the power of overlapping discourses of scientific progress, national security, and economic development. A trinity of Brazilian modernity, these goals interpellated native peoples primarily through the practice and rhetoric of education, which grounds their historical relationship with dominant national society. Drawing on SPI records, government documents, journalism, personal testimonies, and visual media, this article traces the impact of this modernist trinity on indigenist policy and in the lives of those who have been affected by its tutelary power. By transforming private indigenous spaces into public domain, Brazil’s politics of anti-imperialist imperialism propagated a colonialist, metonymic relationship between “our Indians” and “our America” into the twenty-first century.
Drawing upon recent literature on what has been called “epistemologies of ignorance” in relation to race, this paper examines an audit of a research project on equality and diversity in a UK university. It argues the audit functioned as a technology of ignorance. This paper suggests that the audit drew upon the cultural associations between white male academic masculinity with notions of quantification, detachment, and disembodied aggression. In this way, ignorance is seen as a form of labor. In particular, this paper suggests that current forms of neoliberal audit in UK universities could be understood in terms of Haraway’s notion of scientific gentlemanly modest witnessing. But rather than the scientific gentlemanly masculinity, neoliberal audit legitimates a hyper-rational audit masculinity which casts women and racialized minorities as subjective, interested, and emotional and in so doing performs epistemic violence which maintains whiteness.