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Journal articles National Global Imaginaries


Home: how the internet has changed our concept of what home is

The internet has changed the way we view our homes – and offers another virtual one online

The Observer Sunday October 2 2011

The cosmopolitan strikes back: a critical discussion of Miller on nationality and globa…


“According to David Miller, we have stronger obligations towards our co-nationals than we have towards non-nationals. While a principle of equality governs our obligations of justice within the nation-state, our obligations towards non-nationals are governed by a weaker principle of sufficiency. In this paper, I critically assess Miller’s objection to a traditional argument for global egalitarianism, according to which nationalist and other deviations from equality rely on factors that are arbitrary from a moral point of view. Then I critically discuss Miller’s claim that there is no culturally neutral currency with respect to which we may reasonably claim that people should be equally well off on a global scale. Furthermore, I critically discuss Miller’s claim that cosmopolitanism undermines national responsibility. And finally, I turn to Miller’s own sufficientarian account of global justice and argue that it exhibits too little concern for the plight of the globally worse off.”

Ali A. Mazrui, postcolonialism and the study of international relations

international relations,postcolonial

“First as intellectual ally and then as adversary, Kenyan political scientist Ali A. Mazrui was embraced by the North American discipline of international relations (IR) in the 1960s and 1970s; he was virtually neglected in the 1980s; and a measure of interest in his scholarship revived in the 1990s and beyond. But Mazrui has not found a place in postcolonialism ever since that school emerged in the critical margins of IR. This essay argues that the estrangement between Mazrui and IR was primarily due to the changing nature of the discipline and his unchanging approach to it. Mazrui became the methodological ‘Other’ in the mainstream discipline. The essay also claims that Mazrui’s marginalisation in postcolonialism is ultimately attributable to his image as the cultural and ideological ‘Other’.”

Mapping the Middle East from Within: (Counter-)Cartographies of an Imperialist Construc…


“The “Middle East” is a readily accepted geographical category throughout much of the world. However, within this ambiguous geographic entity, both the term and the idea of the “Middle East” are often rejected as western-imperialist constructs. Through a critical examination of an extensive sample of maps produced within several Arab states of the “Middle East”, I found that the regional designation “Middle East” is nearly nonexistent, while the Arab Homeland is unequivocally a more common regional category. However, the “Middle East” did occasionally appear in a few maps. This paper provides an explanatory examination of the normative cartographic discourses in this region, and more focused analysis of the atypical maps of the “Middle East”. My analyses render unique insights into how the “Middle East” is both contested and re-created from within a western-imperialist defined region”

A Legacy to Brazil and the World: Remembering Abdias do Nascimento


“He expressed a pride in his African origins and early on recognized the need to confront racial injustice when and where it reared its head. In his early twenties he would make his first foray into political activism when he joined with fellow black youth in the Afro-Campineiro Congress to protest racial discrimination in Campinas, São Paulo. He would subsequently participate in the Frente Negra Brasileira (Black Brazilian Front), which had been launched in 1931 and went on to become the first political party of black Brazil. The party would enjoy a brief life: in 1937, the Estado Novo (New State) imposed under the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas ordered ordered the party banned.”

The world turned upside down? Human rights and International Relations after 25 years -…

international relations,rights

“This article revisits the arguments of John Vincent’s influential 1986 book, Human rights and International Relations and situates them against the context both of the debates of his own time and the debates of the early twenty-first century. Vincent’s arguments are assessed and evaluated in their own terms and compared and contrasted with dominant positions today. The arguments are then assessed in the light of two leading critical perspectives on human rights before considering a final criticism of the possibility and desirability of the current human rights regime in International Relations.”

The Analytics of “Gendering” the Post-Neoliberal State


“”Post-neoliberalism” or “after neoliberalism”‘ is a term that is associated with forms of governance that emerged in the mid-late 1990s with the Third Way and social investment states in the UK, Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand. The post-neoliberal state combines features of both neoliberal and social-democratic welfare policies; significantly, it has introduced changes in areas conventionally noted by feminist scholars as having bearing on the lives of women, such as, in public-funded childcare, and women-centered approaches to governance. The core question posed in this paper is: is the post-neoliberal state also a feminist one? Based on a critical review of recent literature, the analysis focuses on the gender implications of post-neoliberal policies in four domains of society and polity: production-reproduction, the public-private, political participation, and the machinery of the state. The paper argues that whilst gains made by some women in these domains are noteworthy, the more fundamental ramifications of the post-neoliberal state are in the changing landscape of gender relations in these countries.”

Spatializing Difference beyond Cosmopolitanism: Rethinking Planetary Futures


“This paper develops a critical engagement with ‘cosmopolitanism’ and specifically the geographical imaginations it implicates. It does so in order to work through some of the geographical closures in the new cosmopolitanism literature and, further, to suggest alternative — more uncertain and speculative — spatial imaginations for modes of living together with radical alterity. The paper is written in the context of the wealth of recent literature that has sought to recuperate cosmopolitanism as a progressive political philosophy and imagination. Part of the paper’s intervention, however, is to suggest that mechanisms and political imaginations for living together might in fact gain much by stepping out from cosmopolitanism’s conceptual shadow. First, the paper argues that implicated within much of the new cosmopolitan literature is a planetary consciousness that has a long historical antecedence in western thought. The paper stresses the problematic textures of the planetary geographical imaginations embedded within avowedly cosmopolitan discourse, arguing that the ‘cosmos’ of cosmopolitanism is no geographically innocent signifier. It is in fact tethered to an imperial Apollonian gaze that cannot help but rekindle ancient Greek notions of formal order and beauty, Pythagorean beliefs in a universe of harmony, and their realization in western liberalism and particularly US Cold War imperialism. Second, drawing upon postcolonial re-readings of the planet and critical geographical mobilizations of place, the paper suggests alternative, less certain, and less avowedly ‘cosmopolitan’ imaginations that have the capacity to engage difference in non-assimilatory terms. Cumulatively, the paper is an attempt to answer one simple question: what difference does it make to think geographically about cosmopolitanism?”

Language and the postcolonial city: The case of Salman Rushdie


“This article examines the ways in which the fact of writing about the postcolonial city of Bombay inflects the language of Rushdie’s novels. With specific reference to Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, the article proposes that a productive analysis of language in Rushdie can be made by replacing the unwieldy and diffuse category of Indian English with the more meaningful contextualization provided by the category of Bombay English. It goes on to argue that while Rushdie’s “chutnified” language offers an enabling point of entry into the complex, multilayered and heterogeneous socio-economic fabric of the Third World postcolonial city, it fails to tease out the relations of power and privilege that are intimately tied to the ways in which language, even a “chutnified” one, is deployed.”

Local Residents’ Knowledge about Protected Areas: A Case Study in Dandeli Wildlife Sanc…


“A substantial body of research explores local residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward protected areas. However, less research focuses explicitly on different aspects of local residents’ knowledge about protected areas. To examine the local residents’ knowledge regarding the existence and regulations of a nearby protected area and some of the socioeconomic correlates of this knowledge, we surveyed 425 adults living in urban and rural settings around the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka (India). We found that knowledge of the existence of the protected area was low, especially among urban dwellers. We also found that socioeconomic characteristics of informants, such as sex, education, and place of residency, explain variation in awareness of the existence of a protected area. As information on protected areas only reaches selected groups of the population, our findings highlight the importance of reinforcing policies that promote public awareness of protected areas.”

Kingdoms, republics and people’s democracies: legitimacy and national identity in Europ…


“This article uses constitutional texts to explore the models of national identity which elites in European states have apparently wished to endorse. It analyses three types of constitutions – of constitutional monarchies, democratic republics, and former revolutionary communist states – to establish how the primary principle of legitimacy is identified, and how the concept of ‘the people’ is understood. It concludes that these issues evoke a different response in the three types of constitution, suggesting a surprising survival of the implications of the monarchical-republican distinction, and a brief flowering of at least the principle of international proletarian solidarity in communist constitutions.”

Foucault’s Critical (Yet Ambivalent) Affirmation: Three Figures of Rights


“Michel Foucault is not often read as a theorist of human rights. On the one hand, there is a tendency to read his works of the mid-1970s — his celebrated poststructuralist genealogies of subjectivity, of discipline, of bio-politics, and so forth — as proposing a critique of rights discourse which definitively rules out any political appeal to rights. On the other hand, somewhat curiously it has to be said, there is a tendency to read his works of the late 1970s and early 1980s — his perhaps less celebrated concern with ethics and with technologies of the self — as tacitly re-introducing a liberal humanist notion of subjectivity and, with that, an embrace of orthodox rights discourse. Beginning from this curious disjunction between the rejectionist Foucault and the liberal Foucault, this article attempts to articulate a Foucauldian politics of human rights along the lines of a critical affirmation. Neither a full embrace nor a total rejection of human rights, the Foucauldian politics of human rights developed here elaborates (and attempts to connect) several disparate figures in his thought: rights as ungrounded and illimitable, rights as the strategic instrument-effect of political struggle, and rights as a performative mechanism of community.”

Introduction: Mobilities and Forced Migration – Mobilities – Volume 6, Issue 3


“Whether precipitated by political or environmental factors, human displacement can be more fully understood by attending to the ways in which a set of bodily, material, imagined and virtual mobilities and immobilities interact to produce population movement. Very little work, however, has addressed the fertile middle ground between mobilities and forced migration. This article introduces the special issue by setting out the ways in which theories of mobilities can enrich forced migration studies as well as some of the insights into mobilities that forced migration research offers.”

The Darker Side of Transitional Justice: The Power Dynamics Behind Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts


“In this article, I argue that the praise of legal and political analysts who perceive Rwanda’s gacaca courts as a model of locally grounded and culturally relevant transitional justice is unfounded without consideration of the broader power dynamics in which justice is delivered. Drawing on life history interviews with 37 Rwandan peasants resident in the south-west of the country, I argue that the claims of the Rwandan government that its gacaca courts are promoting peace and reconciliation must also assess the impact of local justice mechanisms on those subject to its demands, namely ordinary people. In the case of Rwanda’s gacaca courts, local-level analysis illuminates a darker and largely unexamined aspect of transitional justice – the playing out of local power dynamics and the social and political inequalities masked by the pursuit of justice and reconciliation. My study cautions against a wholesale endorsement of the gacaca courts as an effective and legitimate form of transitional justice. Instead, it is a mechanism of state power than works to reinforce the political power of the ruling RPF and to ply international audiences with the idea that Rwanda is ‘a nation rehabilitated’ from ‘the scourge of genocide’.”



This essay elaborates upon some of the feminist legacies underwriting the work of Henry Jenkins, particularly the 2006 book, Convergence Culture, to develop a set of priorities for media and Cultural Studies research following in its wake. Focusing on critical uses of the term ‘subculture’, and its convenient fit with Internet scholarship to date, and moving to an analysis of the notion of ‘participatory culture’, we question how easily the practices of online media consumption can be separated from the wider structuring conditions of everyday life. Our recent research on fan communities and information workers highlights the labour and leisure conditions contributing to the experience of online community, fan-based or otherwise. These contrasting examples show the many non-voluntary dimensions that accompany participation in ‘convergence culture’, and how these are experienced in specific ways. The gendered intimacy of fan fiction communities and the coercive nature of technologically mediated white collar employment each reveal the stakes involved in allowing the practices of a minority to stand as the optimistic vision of the imminent media landscape.

Redesigning pedagogical practices: new designs for new landscapes – Pedagogies: An Inte…

critical literacy,globalization

“New educational landscapes have emerged in large systems of schooling around the globe. While these formations are shaped by local conditions and develop regional characteristics, they also bear the marks of neo-liberalism and are responsive to its devices, such as intensified local markets competing for students and the pressure of privatization. Not surprisingly, schools in favourable contexts where there are strong resonances between home and school cultures are more able to accommodate and benefit from these conditions than are schools in challenging contexts where inequitable effects tend to be amplified and more deeply entrenched. This article interrogates the pressures on schools to change implicit in educational policy landscapes that have developed in Australia, and compares these with some examples of design processes that make up the mix of how schools in England and the United States have responded to similar pressures. Long-term reform efforts in two Australian public secondary schools are described in detail. These cases illustrate two commonly adopted designs for improving the pedagogical practice of teachers. The tension between what is rendered possible through locally available resources and what is needed in schools characterized by high levels of poverty and difference is explored in this article through a discussion of a selection of design processes and products, as well as two specific case studies.”

Antigone’s Autonomy – Inquiry – Volume 54, Issue 5


“Sophocles’ Antigone contains the first recorded instance of the word α τ ό νομος, the source for our word “autonomous”. I argue that reflection upon the human aspiration toward autonomy is central to that work. I begin by focusing on the difficulty readers of the play have determining whether Antigone’s actions in the play should be considered autonomous and then suggest that recognizing this difficulty is crucial to a proper understanding of the play. The very aspects of Antigone’s character that seem to militate against understanding her actions within the play as autonomous—her rejection of life, her intimacy with death and the way she seems defined by her incestuous heritage— serve to illustrate the inherently problematic character of a moral ideal that we can provisionally call Antigone’s autonomy. I show how the movement of the play can be understood in terms of Antigone’s progress from what Kant would characterize as a heteronomous representation of her irremissible duty to bury her dead brother, to a self-conception defined by a recognition and embrace of her autonomy understood as, in Kant’s words, “a respect for something entirely different from life”. Antigone’s autonomy is exemplified by her choice to be dead, the choice to bear the burden of responsibility to her own. This choice, I argue, must be understood as the choice of herself as defined by her obligation to her own. Sophocles’ Antigone suggests that the moral ideal Antigone represents is unliveable, but that this ideal is nonetheless essential to human moral aspiration.”

‘It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re born’: re-theorizing diaspora …


“The concept of diaspora enjoys a significant currency in contemporary cultural theory. Its descriptive paradigm associates it with the shared experience of displacement, a sense of common origins, and a material or symbolic attachment to the ‘original’ homeland. This traditional framework overlooks diaspora as a narrative of national desire that enables contestation and disruption of dominant hierarchies and ideologies of nation from within the territorial, political, and cultural boundaries of the nation. It is this neglected aspect of diaspora as a narrative of national identification that is addressed in this paper, which examines the significance of contemporary diaspora cultural politics and formations vis-à-vis the exclusionary hegemonies and workings of the nation-state. In this sense, it seeks to re-orientate diaspora as a conceptual process that brings to the fore the ‘routed’ dimensions in the national affiliations and longings of marginalized minority communities. Focusing on the postcolonial nation-state of Malaysia and its literary productions, the paper’s point of anchorage and discussion, to paraphrase Paul Gilroy, is ‘where you’re born’, rather than ‘where you’re from’. This shift from a descriptive to a processual approach to diaspora enables more inclusive and emancipatory ways of reading both diaspora and homeland.”

Historical sociology, international relations and connected histories – Cambridge Revie…

international relations,globalization

“This article addresses three recent developments in historical sociology: (1) neo-Weberian historical sociology within International Relations; (2) the ‘civilizational analysis’ approach utilized by scholars of ‘multiple modernities’; and (3) the ‘third wave’ cultural turn in US historical sociology. These developments are responses to problems identified within earlier forms of historical sociology, but it is suggested each fails to resolve them precisely because each remains contained within the methodological framework of historical sociology as initially conceived. It is argued that their common problem lies in the utilization of ‘ideal types’ as the basis for sociohistorical analysis. This necessarily has the effect of abstracting a set of particular relations from their wider connections and has the further effect of suggesting sui generis endogenous processes as integral to these relations. In this way, each of the three developments continues the Eurocentrism typical of earlier approaches. The article concludes with a call for ‘connected histories’ to provide a more adequate methodological and substantive basis for an historical sociology appropriate to calls for a properly global historical sociology.”

Face A Chinese concept in a global sociology


“The concept of face, as it is developed by Goffman, has strong conceptual links with the notion of a ‘looking-glass’ self outlined by Adam Smith and developed sociologically by Cooley. It also has links with the Chinese concept of face, which relates to the transfer of social science concepts from one cultural setting to another. By discussing the specificity and universality of face the article indicates the significance of the Chinese concept of face in a global sociology. The article goes on to examine aspects of the treatment of the Chinese concept of face and in doing so presents a more comprehensive account of a sociological conceptualization of face. The article then considers the relationship between face and emotions in indicating the mechanisms that underlie face. Finally, a distinction is made between face as an embedded social process and as an object of social contestation”

Post-colonial perils: art and national impossibilities – World Art – Volume 1, Issue 1


“The paper reflects on the tension that the process of sensing a nation brings to the formation of a post-colony in Southeast Asia. The “aesthetic” in this context creates forms of sensibility of the “national,” rendering it present in the world and endowing it with certain identity-effects. On the other hand, it also posits an exceptional singularity, at once discriminating against subjectivities that resist to be contained within the national project and achieving the distinction of autonomy. This process foregrounds moments of finitude, improvisation, and intimacy, aspects of the aesthetic that are central to the crafting of the national and its art.”

‘In my Liverpool home’: an investigation into the institutionalised invisibil…


Reviewing the 22 years that have elapsed since Gifford’s 1989 report labelled Liverpool as racist, the authors focus on the fact that in a city which has had a British African Caribbean (BAC) community for over 400 years, there is minimum representation of that community in the city’s workforce. The authors investigate two major forms of employment in the city, i.e. the teaching workforce and the city’s Council workforce and one major route to employability, i.e. Higher Education Institutions in the city. They set out an evidenced argument which demonstrates the under-representation of the BAC community in two of the city’s major areas of employment. The authors hypothesise that this under-representation is grounded in institutional and structural racism.

The Recognition of Forest Rights in Latin America: Progress and Shortcomings of Forest …


Significant tenure reforms have taken place over public forestlands in the past 20 years in Latin America. These reforms differ from previous tenure reforms with respect to their origins and goals. In forest tenure reform, rights have being granted through a diversity of tenure arrangements, mainly to those already living in forests and to collectives rather than individuals, and with the potentially contradictory goals of promoting local well-being while conserving forests. These reforms face several challenges for achieving their goals and have resulted in ambiguous outcomes. We argue that outcomes for people and forests could be improved if, besides the simple recognition of rights to forests, greater attention is placed on aligning broader policy incentives to support community and smallholders efforts to manage their forests. We discuss the characteristics of forest tenure reform based on five cases, representing different tenure arrangements, in four countries in Latin America.

Upgrading the self: Technology and the self in the digital games perpetual innovation e…


This article explores the upgrade and perpetual innovation economy of digital gaming as it informs understandings and practices of the ‘self’. Upgrade is situated in terms of digital gaming as a globalized techno-cultural industry. Drawing on accounts of governmentality and cultural work, research with digital games design students is drawn on to explore the overlapping twin logics of technological upgrade and work-on-the-self. The games industry-focused higher education context is examined as an environment for becoming a games designer and involving processes of upgrading the self. Having examined processes and practices of upgrading the self in terms of technological skills and personal development/enterprise, the article turns to some of the critical issues around anxiety, industry conventions and working practices.

Telling different tales: Possible childhoods in children’s literature


This article draws on the insights/questions that emerged while putting together a set of stories for children published in a series named Different Tales. These stories, set in Dalit and other minority communities, problematize the normative grids through which we view ‘childhood’ as they depict the complex ways in which children negotiate and cope with the material conditions of their marginality, often drawing upon the resources and relationships within the community. What follows is a resistance to representing culture as a marker of essentialized difference.

Sub-state Nationalism in the Western World: Explaining Continued Appeal – Ethnopolitics –


What explains the appeal of sub-state nationalism in developed liberal democracies such as Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom and Canada? This article suggests six main reasons: the power of the notion of self-determination; the institutionalization of national identity and nationalist politics in decentralized arrangements featuring autonomous government; the presence of powerful nationalist narratives; institutional and constitutional questions that are either unresolved or have been addressed by a shaky compromise, which means they remain on the political agenda; the involvement of nationalist movements in debates of public policy; and processes of continental integration that help nationalist movements make the case for increased autonomy and, in certain circumstances, independence.

Idioms of Return: Homecoming and Heritage in the Rebuilding of Protea Village, Cape Tow…


This article analyses ‘heritage’ as a conceptual category among current and former residents affected by the proposed redevelopment of Protea Village, a neighbourhood in Cape Town razed during apartheid. Former residents, who were forcibly resettled in townships on the outskirts of the city on account of being coloured, won their land back through the Land Restitution Programme in 2006. Some 86 families were planning to return. Based on fieldwork conducted intermittently between 2005 and 2008, this article analyses three different idioms through which former and current residents made sense of the pending return of the community. While those who supported it hailed the proposed redevelopment as a chance to right the wrongs of the past, to reverse the spatial legacy of apartheid and to put the new democratic South Africa into practice, others feared declining property prices and the development of ‘shanty towns’ on their doorstep.

Willful Parts: Problem Characters or the Problem of Character


This paper addresses the question of character by thinking through how willfulness becomes a moral attribute, a way of making certain characters into problems. Reflecting on how an education in virtue became an education of the will, the paper explores how some characters become “willful parts” when they do not align their wills with the moral and general will. Drawing on readings of willfulness in novels by George Eliot, including Daniel Deronda, Mill on the Floss and Romola, the paper explores how feminist histories might involve the willful claiming of the attribite of willfulness. The paper suggests that when willfulness is reclaimed, it exceeds the very system of characterization, even when it appears to fulfill a set of expectations of what is behind an action.

Research, Collaboration, and Intelligence: When Governments Take an Interest in Feminis…


The discipline of anthropology has been wracked with controversy since the 2007 establishment of a new program within the United States military, which officially employs anthropologists and other social scientists to collect “ethnographic intelligence” on local populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program, the Human Terrain System (HTS), was created to help U.S. military personnel better understand local cultural contexts. As part of this program, experts throughout the academy are being contacted by State Department officials to provide information on topics of interest to those in the Pentagon. The politicization of ethnographic fieldwork has posed a series of moral dilemmas for anthropologists, particularly feminist anthropologists who work with already vulnerable populations. This article proposes to examine the question of collaboration with reference to the HTS and recent debates raging among anthropologists about whether or not to cooperate with the U.S. government or any foreign government. Drawing on the author’s own experiences conducting fieldwork among Slavic Muslims in Bulgaria, during which she was “invited” to share her findings with both the Bulgarian and American governments, the goal of the article is to openly discuss these dilemmas and offer some brief suggestions about how to navigate the murky waters of doing research in an increasingly fraught global context.

Asian African Literatures: Genealogies in the Making


This essay contextualizes the Special Issue on Asian African Literatures by first discussing the terminology of “Asian” in the context of African identities. It then presents a brief genealogy of Asian African literary production in East and South Africa in the first half of the twentieth century. While a number of scholars have increasingly paid attention to Asian writing in Africa since the 1960s, less is known about such literary activities in earlier decades. I present in this article some possible avenues for such research and highlight the theatrical and poetic engagements of Indians in those decades. The final part of the essay contextualizes the individual contributions to the volume and serves as a reading map for the volume.

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