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The Beur uprising

Poverty and Muslim atheists in France

During the riots in France in November 2005, much was made of the increasing religious radicalism of the Muslim youth. But it is not so much cultural difference and Islamism that is taking young Muslims to the street, says Turkish sociologist Ayhan Kaya, as a mass reaction to two centuries of colonialism and racism, compounded by recent poverty and exclusion. Does the bell toll for French Republicanism?

The social is not abstract

Josef Schützenhöfer's "Social Painting" and the provocation of the figurative

Residual authoritarianism and social inequality, be it in his native Austria or in the US, are both target and spur in Josef Schützenhöfer’s painting. Literary critic Klaus Zeyringer describes the artist’s development of a painterly aesthetic in keeping with his social-political commitment, first in the political paintings executed in the US in the 1980s and 1990s, and later in the work at the Steyr-Daimler-Puch and Semperit plants in Austria. Now, with the hegemony of abstraction losing its hold, Schützenhöfer’s “Social Painting” is having its day.

British feminist and psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell talks to Cogito about her role in the British New Left in the 1960s. Mitchell was at the centre of the movement: as editorial board member of the New Left Review, as participant in Third World and anti-psychiatry movements, and as co-organizer of grassroots initiatives, including the “Anti-University”, founded on the steps of Shoreditch Church in East London. Here, Mitchell outlines her intellectual trajectory from her early Marxism, to feminism of the mid-1960s, and to psychoanalysis in the 1970s.

The cosmopolite’s notion of justice does not cease to exist at the national border. She dreams of the world city, filled with opportunity and potential for change; the labyrinthine commotion of the marketplace and the pluralism of human existence. But fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, and others despise the “world city”. Political cosmopolitanism was born out of an analysis of globalization – it is critical both of the neoliberal globalization of the market and the fundamentalist or nationalistic backlash. Questions concerning world citizenship, dual citizenship, and multiple loyalties make their presence felt as it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between inner and outer, foreign and domestic politics, citizen and foreigner, friend and foe.

The formal laws constituting freedom of expression in democratic societies are only the tip of the iceberg of unwritten agreements between citizens about what they can express publicly in one context or another, says Göran Rosenberg. These agreements differ from society to society: in the case of Denmark, the agreement to allow expressions of anti-Muslim prejudice has served to produce conflict instead of dealing with it. With communications technology enabling the proliferation of parallel public spheres, the need for common agreements on freedom of expression are all the more necessary if conflicts such as the latest controversy over the Mohammed cartoons are not to intensify.

Marie Kathleen Jeffreys, an archivist who lived in early apartheid South Africa, wrote extensively about the social origins of the South African nation, specifically about slavery in the colonial Cape, as part of a project to resist the increasingly ossified racist legal and social structures of South Africa. In a series of articles for the political magazine Drum, she wrote about Krotoa-Eva, the first indigenous Khoikhoi woman to marry into colonial settler society. Jeffreys’ use of Krotoa-Eva as a “mother of the nation” figure can be compared to the resurgence of writing about her in post-apartheid South Africa. Discourses of “racial difference” and “racial mixing” in the formation of “the nation” need to be seen in an historical perspective that takes account of gender as an axis of experience with relation to “race”, and as a tool for discursive identity construction.

"Resting" by Attila Bartis

An introduction

Resting, the acclaimed third novel by Romanian-Hungarian author Attila Bartis, published in Hungarian in 2001 and in German in 2005, is simultaneously private psychodrama and portrait of the end of the Communist era. Reading it, “we arrive at ourselves, at our own obsessions, in our own silence”, writes Ilma Rakusa.

Roses, oranges... and coca

What remains of revolutions in the globalized world?

Why has no one called the victory of Bolivian president Evo Morales a “revolution”, despite it sharing some of the characteristics of the “coloured revolutions” in post-Soviet countries? Because unlike the politics of the coloured revolutionaries, which has been about complying with Western norms and values, the leftist nationalism of Morales challenges the established hierarchy of the global order, says Tatiana Zhurzhenko. Is Morales’s victory an anachronism, the last socialist revolution of the twentieth century, or a new type of response to social injustice from outside globalization’s charmed circle?

After almost half a century of socialist state policy replacing rights by privileges and making migration from village to city a powerful instrument of domination, countries like Bulgaria have found themselves in the complex geometry of the EU. Around two million persons a year of a population of seven million are in permanent motion, working abroad, studying, coming back, investing, leaving again. This trend towards overcoming arbitrary socio-political spaces is most evident in the Internet’s utopian horizon of absolute mobility. But is the downside to this utopia a loss of public spirit?

Forget marrying a rich American: for the Russian middle-class woman, a better life means aerobics and Benetton. Foreigners may bewail the power of international capital, but elegance and the money with which to purchase it were precisely what was not available under dull utilitarian communism.

Eastern European feminist discourse is confronted with a dual exclusion: from the Western feminist discourse from which it borrows its terms, and from its own societies, where its foreignness is distrusted. Here, one eastern European feminist describes how her discourse becomes a parody of Western feminism, and how the alienation this produces is compounded by a perceived lack of societal normalcy. In this respect, parody becomes a subversive response to a reality felt to be absurd. But whose interests does this subversion serve?

Cover for: November nights 2005: The geography of violence

Nicolas Sarkozy, with his reference to suburban French youth as “scum”, did more than anyone else to stoke the flames of the 2005 riots. Now, his presidential victory is likely to cause continuing resentment in France’s suburbs. In a discussion published at the time, French urban geographers, sociologists, and political scientists discuss the causes and effects of the rioting and offer solutions to the conditions responsible for it. While the unrest had precedents in the 1980s and 1990s, they argue, this time it involved new actors, new areas, and new targets. Unemployment, ghettoization, unsympathetic policing: the causes are familiar enough. Only this time, young people were unable to find any more political means of expression than violent implosion. What can policy offer? Social mixing looks good on paper but depends on people having control of the process; redistributive taxation can be equally self-defeating. Now that place struggle has replaced class struggle, can the riots be understood as a new attempt to force solidarity from the middle classes?

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