Category Archives: Blog

Michaela Schäuble: Ecstasy: A review of two recent exhibitions on consciousness-expanding experience

In his classic Ecstatic Religion: A Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession, I. M. Lewis (1971) contends that ritual, belief, and spiritual experience are the three cornerstones of religion, with the third certainly being the most important. Although disputed, this thesis strongly resonates with trends and themes currently taken up by gallerists and exhibition curators. Last year saw the launch of two major exhibitions on the topic of ecstasy: one at the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG) in Switzerland entitled Afrique: Les religions de l’extase (Africa: The ecstatic religions) and the other one simply called EKSTASE (Ecstasy) at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in Germany.

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Luisa Steur: A Women’s Wall against the fascist menace in Kerala? Some less-comfortable observations

On New Year’s Day, the world was treated to the spectacle of a 640-kilometer-long “Women’s Wall” in Kerala (South India). This human chain of more than five million women stretched the length of the state, making a spectacular statement for the “renaissance values” of women’s equity and rational thinking. Progressive organizations linked to Kerala’s Communist government organized the demonstration to counter the hate-filled Hindu protests that had been ongoing since 28 September 2018, when the Supreme Court of India ruled that the Sabarimala temple’s ban on women of menstruating age was unconstitutional and had to be lifted. Implementation of this court order had so far been sabotaged by the militant protests of orthodox Hindus, fueled by the BJP (the Hindu nationalist party).

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Kristóf Szombati: Protesting the “slave law” in Hungary: The erosion of illiberal hegemony?

In recent weeks, Hungary has again made international headlines. This time, it was a popular movement born out of resistance to the latest rewriting of the labor code—which the ruling Fidesz party had already modified in 2011 to the benefit of employers—that made the news. On 12 December, amid chaotic scenes in the National Assembly (where opposition MPs sought to obstruct the voting procedure), Fidesz passed a law that raises the maximum amount of overtime employees can work from 250 to 400 hours a year, and gives employers the freedom to delay payment for overtime work by up to three years. A similar amendment had already been proposed last year but was quickly withdrawn after the government realized the unpopular measure could dent Fidesz’s popularity in the run-up to this spring’s parliamentary election. Off-the-cuff comments made by Fidesz representatives have revealed that the law was reintroduced to satisfy German carmakers who are facing an increasingly acute labor shortage in a low-wage economy that a sizeable segment of the labor force has left behind to take up better-paid work in Austria, Germany, and other Western European countries.

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Agnieszka Pasieka: Who is afraid of fascists? The Polish independence march and the rise of the (far?) right

“Polish leaders marched with the far right” was perhaps the most common description of the massive demonstration that took place in Warsaw on National Independence Day, 11 November. Press worldwide expressed astonishment and indignation over the fact that the Polish president, accompanied by politicians from the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, decided to partake in a highly controversial, and explicitly nationalist, event.

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Victor Albert: Brazil’s Homeless Workers’ Movement is an assertive social work organization

On 21 October, Jair Bolsonaro, the now president-elect of Brazil, made an announcement via his smartphone that was transmitted to crowds of supporters gathered in São Paulo: “Criminals of the MST [Landless Workers’ Movement], criminals of the MTST [Homeless Workers’ Movement], your actions will be classified as terrorism.” This was delivered as part of a broader threat made to the Left (Mollona 2018)—singling out Fernando Haddad, his Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) opponent in the presidential race, who he promised could “rot in jail” together with the currently imprisoned former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva—which would be “cleansed” after he assumed presidential office.

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Cemile Gizem Dinçer and Eda Sevinin: Migration, activist research, and the politics of location: An interview with Nicholas De Genova (part 2)

The second part of this interview with Nicholas De Genova moves into an analysis of the so-called refugee crisis since 2015 and possibilities for militant academic research that challenges the increasingly hard-right consensus in Europe and beyond.

The first part is published here and traces De Genova’s intellectual biography, the question of militant research, his work on migration in the United States, and his recent shift to research in Europe and collaborations with the European, especially Italian, school of autonomy of migration research.

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Cemile Gizem Dinçer and Eda Sevinin: Migration, activist research, and the politics of location: An interview with Nicholas De Genova (part 1)

In Turkey, especially after the Syrians’ arrival following 2011, the field of migration studies has more or less confined itself to mainstream discussions such as integration, social cohesion, data collection, and so on. At this point, the work of Nicholas De Genova and the wider literature on the autonomy of migration open up a new horizon for discussing migration. De Genova has had a decisive influence in shaping our approach to migration and borders. We hope that this interview, conducted in Istanbul when Nicholas attended the conference “Migration, Social Transformation and Differential Inclusion in Turkey,” will be read across Turkey and make his work accessible to students, activists, and everyone interested in migration. We had a long conversation on topics ranging from the recent “refugee crisis” and alternative ways to think about migration and politics, activism, and academia in general.

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Flávio Eiró: On Bolsonaro: Brazilian democracy at risk

Picture a street handcraft market in a touristic village called Porto de Galinhas in Pernambuco, Northeast Region of Brazil. A few days before the second round of the 2018 presidential elections on 28 October, I observed the following conversation on the market.

“You can vote for him, don’t worry, he won’t kill gay people,” says a local 50-year-old addressing a couple of openly gay, young, black men wearing tight shorts and colorful shirts. They reply: “Yes, he will, Bolsonaro will kill gay people.” While the young men walk away, the Bolsonaro supporter keeps trying to convince them, half-laughing, half-serious, stating that his candidate is not as bad as some people have been arguing. “No, he won’t . . .” he says, “and don’t worry, because if he does kill gays, the environmental agency will come after him—after all, they are animals under risk of extinction!”

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Oana Mateescu: The Romanian family referendum: Or, how I became a sexo-Marxist

“By the way, Russia had the first sexual revolution. Lenin was a big homosexual; as for Karl and Marx, I think they were together. But they realized on their own it was going nowhere.”
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On 6 and 7 October 2018, in what has become known as the family referendum, some Romanians voted on changing the definition of marriage in the Constitution, from the union between two spouses to that between man and woman. Many more Romanians abstained or actively boycotted the referendum with the felicitous result of only 21.1 percent participation, not even close to the 30 percent threshold required for validation. What are the stakes? As Cristian Lungu, senator and president of the center-right PMP Cluj (People’s Movement Party) summarizes tendentiously, the referendum is all about “reclaiming our country from the grip of the neo-Marxist–progressive–anarchist revolution that promotes moral, cultural relativism and gender ideology.”[2] His is only one of many voices on the Right identifying the referendum with a bid for independence, national sovereignty, and desirable distance from an EU steeped into the sins of liberalism and relativism. It’s no wonder that this referendum provided a domestic opening for the first public grumblings about a possible ROEXIT.

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