Tag Archives: Europe

David Loher: Complicity or pragmatism? A labor movement and its fight against the asbestos industry

This post is part of a feature on “How Capitalists Think,” moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) and Tijo Salverda (University of Cologne).

This contribution focuses on the decades-long struggle of workers and citizens in an industrial town in Northern Italy against the hazardous asbestos cement industry. It analyses the dividing lines that emerged in these social struggles at two particular moments. First, it examines the trade unions’ struggles for improved safety measures and the subsequent demand to shut down the entire asbestos cement factory because of the environmental risk it represented for the whole region. Second, it analyses the legal struggle that followed, when the social movement brought the claim for justice to the courts, demanding punishment for the former main investors.

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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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Sian Lazar: Learning to live with crisis: How Brexit brought Latin America home to me

The European Union is a free trade area that enables multinational corporations to take advantage of low tax regimes for their head offices and of low labor costs for their manufacturing, caller center, and human resources operations. It forces countries to pay off the debt owed to private banks at the cost of democracy, jobs, pensions, welfare benefits, and economic stability (let alone growth), enabling public subsidy of private risk. It blocks entry to migrants risking their lives to come and work in Europe, or to escape war and poverty in their countries of origin. Why would anyone support a vote for Britain to Remain?

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Elissa Helms: Men at the borders: Gender, victimhood, and war in Europe’s refugee crisis

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

Even for the kind of conservative politics that argues for keeping asylum seekers out of the European Union or the United States, a variety of social roles and behavior are deemed acceptable for men and women. Why then, when issues revolve around war and bare survival, do debates fall back on such rigid assumptions about men as soldiers and political actors and women as victims or objects of protection? Why is it taken as a given that men traveling alone cannot be legitimate refugees? That empathy and victimhood should be naturally and only associated with women and children?
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Céline Cantat: Migration struggles and the crisis of the European project

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

In April 2015, when four boats carrying almost two thousand people consecutively sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200, the idea that Europe was experiencing a “migrant crisis” came into currency. Over the next few months, a series of border disasters captured the attention of the European public, sometimes successfully if temporarily reversing the increasingly dehumanizing rhetoric of a “migrant crisis” by giving way to the notion of a “refugee crisis.”

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Prem Kumar Rajaram: Beyond crisis: Rethinking the population movements at Europe’s border

This post is part of a series on migration and the refugee crisis moderated and edited by Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University).

Crisis
The refugee crisis in Europe is fabricated. Like most “crises,” the recent onset of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan trying to cross into the European Union is a representation. Anxiety and specific readings of law and humanitarianism frame this issue. This framing works inward as well as outward. Inward, it establishes a dominant regulating norm—an idea of “the refugee”—that allows for internal comparison and inequalities (people are said to have varying rights to protection). Outward, the framing helps create an understanding of a complex situation—an abstracted understanding—and allows for policy makers and commentators to treat “the refugee crisis” as an exceptional condition. As exception, that crisis appears to be regarded and treated as an “event” distinct from the political “norm,” and it enables a vertical form of politics. The crisis is the state acting as it tends to, as a protection racket in Charles Tilly’s memorable take, defining a danger or threat that strengthens its force and its hold over territory.
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Chris Hann: The new Völkerwanderungen: Hungary and Germany, Europe and Eurasia

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I spent the last weeks of August and the first days of September in Hungary, close to the European Union’s border with Serbia. Never before had a routine field trip catapulted me into an engagement with issues dominating daily headlines, both in Hungary and elsewhere. What light can social anthropology throw on the current “migrant crisis”?
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