All posts by Focaal Web Editor

Joe Trapido: Breaking Rocks: Music, Ideology and Economic Collapse, from Paris to Kinshasa

Breaking Rocks is a volume of the Dislocations series published by Berghahn Books, a series closely associated with Focaal and FocaalBlog. The immense dislocations and suffering caused by neoliberal globalization the retreat of the welfare state in the last decades of the twentieth century, and the heightened military imperialism at the turn of the twenty-first century have raised urgent questions about the temporal and spatial dimensions of power. Through stimulating critical perspectives and new and cross-disciplinary frameworks, which reflect recent innovations in the social and human sciences, this series provides a forum for politically engaged, ethnographically informed, and theoretically incisive responses.

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Chris Hann: Hayek versus Polanyi in Montréal: Global society as markets, all the way across?

The workshop “Geographies of Markets”—hosted over three days in mid-June 2017 by the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy at Concordia University, Montréal—gave scholars from a wide range of countries and disciplines an opportunity to assess the continued relevance of the Polanyian critique of “market society.” Even if this critique lacks the formal rigor of neoclassical economics, even if Polanyi’s concept of market exchange fails to capture the institutional intricacies of contemporary markets, and even if the man himself was very much a European intellectual of his age, his approach still appears to provide the best scientific foundation on which to build global political and normative alternatives to neoliberal hegemony. Today, however, his geographic binary between East and West, like his ideal types of redistribution and market exchange, all need careful reappraisal.

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Petra Rethmann: The German question: Solidarity, Lexit, nation

On 14 May 2017, in North Rhine-Westphalia’s (NRW) state (Bundesland) election, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) won in emphatic fashion. Emphatic, here, does not express itself in numbers—33 percent for the CDU—but in the fact that the party won at all. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which from 1966 to 2005, and then from 2010 to 2017, had governed North Rhine-Westphalia, crashed with roughly 31 percent. Party leader Hannelore Kraft resigned within 30 minutes of the polls closing. After a lengthy hiatus, the anti-statist and centre-right right Free Democratic Party (FDP) reached more than 12 percent, and the xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) eased with more than 7 percent into NRW’s parliament. More left-leaning parties that ran on platforms arguing for greater social and economically distributive justice, including the Pirates and The Left, failed to clear the 5 percent threshold required by Germany’s electoral system. The one Land that in Germany had always been regarded as the center of Social Democracy went conservative.

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Focaal Volume 2017, Issue 78: Boredom after the global financial crisis

We are pleased to announce that the latest issue of Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology has recently published and is available online at its new home, www.berghahnjournals.com/focaal.

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World Refugee Day: Free articles from Berghahn Journals

The United Nations recognizes World Refugee Day annually on June 20 to raise awareness of and show support for the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes each year. This year, the UN Refugee Agency will also launch its #WithRefugees petition to send a message to governments that they must work together to ensure the rights and safety of refugees. Continue reading

Alessandro Zagato: “Spokesperson for the people and candidate for the media”: An indigenous woman for the 2018 presidential elections in Mexico

María de Jesús Patricio, known as Marichuy, is an indigenous Nahuatl woman born on 23 December 1963 in Tuxpan (“land of rabbits”), a small town located in the south of the state of Jalisco, where she grew up in a condition of extreme poverty. She is mother of three. As a child, she spent time observing older women from her family practicing traditional medicine. They were performing rituals and preparing oils and medicaments to heal people in their community. Over the years, she became a practitioner. In an interview of some years ago, (Tukari 2010: 12) she recalls that a mentor once warned her not to profit from her ancestral knowledge, because “the light protecting you would extinguish,” he argued, and she would no longer be effective as a healer. Her wisdom increased significantly as she started giving workshops around the region. Since 1995, María directs a health center in the Calli neighborhood of Tuxpam, where indigenous medicine is practiced and researched. Since then, she has received several public recognitions for her work, which focuses, she argues, in healing the community rather than just individual diseases. “Through the health center we defend traditional medicine, indigenous territories, and the mother earth based on an anti-capitalist approach and the libertarian struggle of the indigenous people” (University of Guadalajara 2015).

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Patrick Neveling: “Vote like humans”: Elections in a posthuman political economy

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

As I left Bournemouth train station this afternoon, a homeless man approached me and asked for some change. Shelters in Bournemouth and elsewhere in the United Kingdom charge money to rough sleepers on a per night basis. The going rate is currently four British pounds in Bournemouth, and it is certainly a common experience for commuters returning from Southampton and London to this southwestern English seaside town to be asked to for a contribution to those fees at the train station. In fact, the local council adds further pressure to an anyhow pressurized population of homeless in Bournemouth. As the current Tory government has cut several welfare packages, the number of homeless has risen dramatically across the United Kingdom in recent years.

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Michael Jennings: UK Election 2017 manifestos and international development: Common ground and clear water

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

With the election coming up today, I thought it would be interesting to look at the commitments to international development in the manifestos of the Labour PartyConservatives, and Liberal Democrats.

The day-to-day realities of election campaigns tend to soon undermine the carefully calibrated and plotted plans of campaign managers. So this election that was intended (by the Conservatives) to be the Brexit election has moved in new directions as the policies put forward in the manifestos came under scrutiny and attack.

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John Gledhill: It’s Corbyn’s critics who need the history lesson

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

In his very carefully argued speech of 26 May 2017 on the relationship between contemporary terrorism and foreign policy, Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn observed: “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.” Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians immediately accused him of bad timing and muddled and dangerous thinking. Some critics, exemplified by Conservative Security Minister Ben Wallace, argued that Corbyn needed a history lesson, since it was obvious that the roots of “Islamic” terrorism predated 9/11 and then US President George W. Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan. “These people hate our values, not our foreign policy,” Wallace insisted in a radio interview that I listened to this morning.

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Alan Bradshaw: On the prospect of a Tory majority!

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

As an Irishman living in England, I am struck by the total difference between how Brexit is discussed in both countries. In Ireland, it is clear that Brexit will bring economic disaster, but this can be mitigated against by significant planning and coordinated response by government and business. That even at this late stage, the form of Brexit is unknown is a source of great anxiety in Ireland. By contrast, in Britain to have any discourse of Brexit as impending economic ruination is simply unacceptable. Those who dare to utter prophecies of economic trouble are bullied into silence by a raging right-wing media. Brexit can only be allowed to be framed in the positive.

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