Critique Internationale, Pauline Brücker, Daniel Veron, Youri Lou Vertongen
Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.
avec la collaboration de Madhi Mehraeen et Ibrahim Tavalla
War since 1979 and the reconstruction of the state under Western tutelage since 2001 have led to a simplification of the identity of Afghan society, through an invention of ethnicity and tradition – a process behind which the control or the ownership of the political and economic resources of the country are at stake. Hazarajat is a remarkable observation site of this process. Its forced integration into the nascent Afghan state during the late nineteenth century has left a mark on its history. The people of Hazara, mainly Shi’ite, has been relegated to a subordinate position from which it got out of progressively, only by means of jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the US intervention in 2001, at the ost of an ethnicization of its social and political consciousness. Ethnicity, however, is based on a less communitarian than unequal moral and political economy. Post-war aid to state-building has polarized social relations, while strengthening their ethnicization: donors and NGOs remain prisoners of a cultural, if not orientalist approach to the country that they thereby contribute to “traditionalize”, while development aid destabilizes the “traditional” society by accelerating its monetization and commodification.
Since the Kuomintang returned to power in 2008, Beijing has adjusted its communication strategy towards Taiwan, while maintaining the same long-term goal of reunification. This strategy of rapprochement by seduction rather than by threat promotes the rapid growth of exchanges between the Chinese and Taiwanese populations at all levels: students, tourists, farmers, businessmen, academics, retired diplomats and military, politicians, etc. Especially, the multiplication of meetings between academics of both countries is creating new channels of communication over the Strait, allowing on the one hand to compensate for the lack of formal diplomacy between Beijing and Taipei, and on the other hand to compete with informal diplomatic links existing between Taiwan and several of its partners (US and Japan, mainly). These communication channels could ultimately reinforce Beijing’s strategy – and China keeps investing heavily in their development – but could also be used as a conduit to prevent and to manage crisis would tensions reappear in the Strait.
Naffet Keita *
Due to the growing importance of religion in post-Soviet Russia and the prevalent place of the Orthodox Church in Russian politics, certain analysts have argued that Russia is undergoing a process of desecularization today. While this phenomenon is also occurring in other parts of the world, Russia is different from these cases—notably because of its sociopolitical history and its particular religious context. Instead of opposing this trend toward desecularization to the earlier trend toward secularization at the time of the Soviet Union, the emphasis is put on the continuity of governemental practices. Religion today has become an essential part of a mode of governing that was made possible through a form of identity-building reinvented by the elites. This mode of governing reflects to a certain extent the continuity of the Soviet mode of governing characterized by a non pluralist ideology.
Micheline Labelle et Franklin Midy
John R. Bowen
Pakistan was created in 1947 by leaders of the Muslim minority of the British Raj in order to give them a separate
state. Islam was defined by its founder, Jinnah, in the frame of his “two-nation theory,” as an identity marker
(cultural and territorial). His ideology, therefore, contributed to an original form of secularization, a form that is
not taken into account by Charles Taylor in his theory of secularization – that the present text intends to test and
supplement. This trajectory of secularization went on a par with a certain form of secularism which, this time,
complies with Taylor’s definition. As a result, the first two Constitutions of Pakistan did not define Islam as an
official religion and recognized important rights to the minorities. However, Jinnah’s approach was not shared
by the Ulema and the fundamentalist leaders, who were in favor of an islamization policy. The pressures they
exerted on the political system made an impact in the 1970s, when Z.A. Bhutto was instrumentalizing Islam. Zia’s
islamization policy made an even bigger impact on the education system, the judicial system and the fiscal system,
at the expense of the minority rights. But Zia pursued a strategy of statization of Islam that had been initiated
by Jinnah and Ayub Khan on behalf of different ideologies, which is one more illustration of the existence of an
additional form of secularization that has been neglected by Taylor.
Multiculturalism is, among other things, a normative framework for addressing claims made by ethnic political actors in liberal democratic states. It offers principles for deciding which of these claims are acceptable, which unacceptable, and which imperative on grounds of justice. The practical application of such principles to particular cases is what is called here adjudication, whether or not it has a judicial character. The argument of the paper is that a tendency to frame adjudication solely in normative terms, with reference to idealised eth-nic claims and idealised political processes, has led many contributors to multicultural literature, including some of the most influential, to misstate the problems, and therefore to offer solutions of dubious re-le-vance. The reason for the normative focus is, understandably enough, to avoid conflating justice with a balance of interests in pluralist bargaining. What is lost by such an approach, however, is the thickness of the political so-ci-o-logy of ethnic claims, which goes hand in hand with the institutional thickness of their adjudication. A crucial aspect of this is the sociologically inadequate conception of culture characteristic of normative multiculturalism, as a result of which it is often difficult to apply empirically to the very con-texts multicultural theorists are mainly concerned with. The at-tempt to find substantive principles for the adjudication of ethnic claims that might be independent from prac-tical politics, in-clu-ding empirical power relations, is ultimately unsuccessful.
Rehana Ebrahim-Vally, Denis-Constant Martin
Apartheid was based on particular perceptions and hierarchical classifications of the human body. It aimed at separating people with different physical appearances in order to preserve the purity of the “white race” and its domination in South Africa. To understand the changes that have taken place in South Africa since 1990, to go beyond the surface of observable events and reach the social representations of these transformations that have developed among South Africans, the body, or more precisely images of the body, provide a good point of departure. The present study presents an experimental small scale survey aiming at uncovering social representations of the “new” South Africa shared by young South Africans at the dawn of the 21st Century. It argues that studies of social representations require, at least in their initial stage, the use of non-directive collective interviews; it shows that images of the body as displayed in TV commercials can be used as efficient prompts to start discussions about the present state of South African society. The survey used four commercials taped on South African TV in 2003; these clips were used as prompts in three non-directive collective interviews with young South Africans, to which was added a test group consisting of French students. TV commercials were analysed using methods inspired by the semiology of cinema; the transcripts of the interviews were analysed using methods borrowed from the French school of political sociology. The results of this experimental survey show that, if the transition from apartheid to a democratic non racial society is considered positive, it is perceived with ambivalences and sometimes contradictory feelings: the future of South Africa may at the same time be envisioned with great optimism and heavy anxieties; relations between South Africans can be described as harmonious and be lived amidst acute tensions. Ambivalences and tensions, which remain very often untold, are precisely the dimensions of the representations of the “new” South Africa among young South Africans that non-directive collective interviews help to apprehend more clearly.
Between 1984 and 1995, the Indian Punjab was the theatre for a separatist insurrectional movement led by Sikh irregular armed groups. Most Sikh militants who picked up the gun against the Indian state were male, but a handful of women also took part in this armed struggle, which also enjoyed some support from Pakistan. Rather than the motivations of the fighters, it is their individual trajectories that are explored here. Following a critical biographical approach, paying attention to the silences of the actors and to the distorting effects of their ex-post testimonies, this paper aims at unraveling the familial genealogies of these militant careers, before identifying their successive sequences. Through this exercise, it is possible to shed light on individual dispositions towards engagement. However, this preliminary exercise must be followed up by an in-depth study of the conditions of actualization of these dispositions into a sustained form of commitment. Therefore, this paper focuses on the modalities of recruitment into clandestine organizations, before turning to the practical and psychological dilemmas induced by the return of these combatants to civilian life, which remain understudied. By introducing gender into the scope of the study, this paper also aims at assessing the variations between masculine and feminine ways of being and having been in clandestinity.
During the first decade of the 21st century the Gulf States undertook reforms of their social policies based on the generous redistribution of hydrocarbon profits. One of the elements of the redistribution was to guarantee of employment. Beginning in the 1990s rising unemployment indicated that the traditional employment policies were ineffective, generating social tensions as evidenced in the "Arab spring". The goal of the reforms is to move nationals into salaried jobs in the private sector, currently held largely by foreign workers. The change is strongly opposed by business executives and local entrepreneurs. Having become accustomed to inexpensive foreign workers they object to the increased costs entailed by the reforms. The royal families are thus obliged to negotiate between the interests of the private sector, often aligned with their own, and the dissatisfaction of the young, the group most impacted by unemployment and the key players in the protests that erupted in 2011 in Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia and Oman.
The post-Soviet Russian army, having decided to maintain the draft, must address issues associated with the existence of ethnic and religious minorities; specifically the growing numbers of Muslims and the proselytizing by the Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church’s policy of blessing the troops is the source of growing discontent among the Muslim community. The two conflicts in Chechnya have further contributed to the difficulties faced by the army’s Muslim minority. However, protests by Muslim leaders have lost their legitimacy since 1999. The policies of reconciliation led by Vladimir Putin have born fruit. The Muslim religious authorities have become increasingly involved in the draft, army officers have been educated about the basic principles of Islam, and “stroibaty” have been dismantled. The management of the forces however remains a source of tension, most notably the official policy of using the reorganization of local and ethnic groups to eradicate the “dedovchtchina”. Given the growth of the Muslim population what can we expect from a move to a professional army? Will the armed forces mirror the diversity of the nation or will they be ethnically and religiously homogeneous?
Hostile, sometimes even xenophobic discourse towards migrants remains generally the norm in Russia. However, the Russian Federation’s migration policy appears relatively flexible, particularly in regards to the member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), whose nationals benefit from simplified procedures when it comes to entering Russian territory and obtaining a work permit. Russian authorities, reticent after the Western Europe experience, intend therefore to promote labor immigration and limit family immigration. At the same time, in order to encourage the cohesion of the Russian nation as a whole, the Russian Federation intends to undertake an ambitious policy to promote cultural diversity, including both the many different constituent groups among Russians and the immigrant communities in Russia. This multiculturalism “à la russe” recalls the “folklorization” during the Soviet period involving the cultures and traditions of the Soviet Union’s different populations. In the absence of a real political directive a the federal level, local authorities have been more active on the matter, notably in Moscow.
Burcu Gorak Giquel
Cross-border cooperation in the EU policy of regional development is crucial for three reasons: it reinforces partnerships between, on the one hand, central, regional and local agents, and on the other hand, public, private, and associative actors; it rests on the decentralized structure of states, assigning to each level of intervention a unique role in the development process. Finally, it supports local initiative. Cross-border cooperation becomes a vehicle for the “multi-level governance” that the EU intends to promote, by linking organization of regionalized action, cooperation between actors, and solid territorial establishment. For Turkey the task represents a challenge and an opportunity. A challenge, because regionalization directly affects the unitary structure of the state. An opportunity, because the EU does not impose any model of decentralization. On the contrary, the EU gives national actors the chance to create their own public structures in function of their historical path and the negotiation between the centre and the periphery. This is what this study ultimately attempts to show, stressing two aspects of Turkish transformations: decentralization is not a precondition for membership and that different forms of cooperation exist at the borders with Bulgaria and Syria, as a proof of the Europeanization of the Turkish public administrations.
With over 8 million Filipinos living overseas, it could be argued that people have become the country’s largest export commodity. With their remittances making up 13% of GDP, they are as well crucially important economic actors. Has the Philippine state been instrumental in this exodus and in harvesting its fruits? Addressing such a proposition requires further refinement of three basic concepts – state, diaspora and transnationalism – through the use of three structuring templates. As a preliminary, the dichotomy of state strength and weakness is grounded in an analysis of a particular sector, namely emigration. By drawing on the typologies of Robin Cohen, Filipino overseas communities are portrayed as possessing, to some extent, the characteristics of much more readily accepted diasporas. However, a sketch of the varied experience of a heterogeneous Filipino diaspora underlines the differences between permanent migrants, contract workers, sea-based workers and irregular migrants. The diverse lived experiences of these groups – and their relations with their “home” nation – call into question the salience of notions of “transnationalism”. This questioning is reinforced by an examination of the Filipino state’s role in creating a “self-serving” diaspora through a review of the three phases in Filipino emigration policy since 1974. The characteristics that come to the fore are rather forms of “long-distance nationalism” and “rooted cosmopolitanism”. Taking cognizance of the multiple identities and loyalties in the case of the Filipino diaspora, a process of “binary nationalisms” is posited as a more fruitful avenue for future research.
When the USSR collapsed, about 25 million Russians suddenly found themselves outside the Federation borders. This Russian diaspora has since then been defended by various lobbies based in Moscow. Some have simply the status of an association; others enjoy considerable institutional recognition in Parliament, various ministries or the executive in Moscow. The diaspora theme has undergone a profound evolution in the Russian political space: during the early 1990s it was first considered as a nationalist demand initiated within marginal circles, and since then has progressively been taken up by the state as a “politically correct” stance. In the space of 15 years, organizations defending the Russian diaspora’s rights have managed to become totally institutionalized and have gained influence on legislation regarding federal aid to the diaspora. The wide variety of terminology used to name this phenomenon, the use of the word ‘compatriot’ (judicially improper), the ethnicisation of the discourse, as well as the administrative efforts made to develop new and depoliticized conceptions of the Russian diaspora all show the underlying identity issues behind the diaspora question.
Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.
The sudden slump in oil production since 2001 has only heightened the question of an alternative to an economy based on oil revenues, whereas the sultanate had undergone exponential development over the three preceding decades. From this standpoint, the policy of Omanizing the labor force conditions all other issues, as it is not merely an economic matter, but instead deeply alters the social fabric that remained intact during the era of prosperity, thereby questioning the very legitimacy of Oman’s economic model. Omani society is currently experiencing a rise in frustrations reflected in a resurgence of particularist prejudices and demands. Alongside this phenomenon is an exacerbation of inequality, particularly due to the enmeshment of economic and decisionmaking powers in the hands of the oligarchy that has benefited from these revenues since 1970. To what extent do the changes Oman is going through today harbor a threat for the stability of a regime considered to be one of the most stable in the region?
The Burmese junta that came to power in 1962, and reaffirmed its domination by a second military coup d’état in September of 1988, has steadily increased its control over the nation’s institutions and over the running of the country (renamed Myanmar in 1989). In August of 2003, the decision taken by General Khin Nyunt, Prime Minister and head of military intelligence, to propose “a road map to democracy” suggested that a gradual “transition to democracy”, closely supervised by the military regime, was possible. But the ousting of Khin Nuyunt in October 2004 spelled the return of the regime’s hardliners and of the last of the army’s nationalist chiefs, adamantly opposed to any negotiations with the democratic civilian opposition led by Aung San Suu, held under house arrest since May 2003. Thus the regime, strengthened by a favorable strategic environment, has a good chance of remaining in power by setting its own rules for “democratic” procedures, its aim being to keep the country stable rather pursuing a process of liberalization. Such a policy will inevitably be detrimental to the interests of the opposition and the ethnic minorities.
With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.
Since May 1, 2004, the Ukraine and Belarus have become the European Union’s new neighbours. Moldova is bound to follow suit with Romania’s entrance, scheduled for 2007. Enlargement of the EU to the East has sparked debates on what relations the EU should have with its new border states that are not slated for membership in the near future. The discussion has led to the design of a European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that blends a regional approach based on shared values with a process of differentiation taking into account the specific characteristics of each country involved. Since their independence, the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova have developed different identity-based strategies that the new ENP hopes to address while avoiding the creation of new divisions. These strategies in fact oppose those who wish to incorporate European values into their country’s political model and those who, on the contrary, reject these values. The relationship between identity and politics is all the more crucial for the EU’s eastern neighbours since it involves practices with a low level of institutionalization, in the areas of nation-building, the political system as well as foreign policy. A comparative approach confirms the idea that the EU’s new neighbours constitute a regional specificity due to their common past as Soviet republics and their geostrategic position. It also points up the differences between these states as they gradually transform into discrete political spaces with nationalized modes of identification and politicization.
Emmanuelle Le Texier
Since the early nineteen-eighties, the new political visibility of Latinos has been referred to as the awakening of a “sleeping giant.” Their increased political expression, be it in the form of protest action during civil rights movements or electoral participation, marks a turning point in the integration of Hispanics in the American public sphere. With a growing number of voters, candidates and elected officials, Latinos have emerged on the political scene. The increasingly influential role of pan-ethnic interest groups and new opportunities for political participation created by the development of transnational networks have contributed to the elaboration of this new participative framework. Yet their electoral and political influence remains below the demographic, economic, social and cultural importance of these some 35 million individuals who make up over 12 percent of the U.S. population. Most of the minority groups still encounter major obstacles to political access. These are partly structural, but also internal to the group: not only is it divided over domestic or foreign issues, it is fragmented by national origin, status and generation. The singular nature of immigration from Latin America, the continuity of migratory flows and their diversity, all constantly rekindle divergences over what strategy Latinos should adopt for participating in the public debate. They also highlight the fictional, both functional and dysfunction, nature of ethnic categorization in the United States. The ethnic card may be an instrument of participation, but it can also prove to seriously fetter minorities’ entry into politics.
The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point
The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.
Bennetta Jules-Rosette et Denis-Constant Martin
Popular culture is a terrain on which social identity and collective representations are forged. Recently, scholars in the areas of anthropology, cultural studies, political science, and literature have approached the social and political implications of popular culture from contrasting perspectives. These approaches have opened up a number of important questions and debates. Is popular culture a product of resistance or a source of escape? Are the mixtures, fusions, and combinations that characterize popular culture today emblems of identity, signs of an inevitable process of globalization, or by-products of complex processes drawing upon the dialectics of universalization and discourses of contestation ? This paper addresses these questions by examining theories of the production, reception, and consumption of popular culture in comparative perspective. It explores the structures of signification that arise in the transmission of popular culture and the complexities and ambivalences involved in the cycle of communication. Popular culture is analyzed as a permeable system of significations based on memory, and providing material for the construction and expression of collective identity, and contrasting attitudes towards power. An overview of recent theoretical and methodological developments is followed by a comparative analysis of data drawn from popular art and music in Africa, the Antilles, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Unites States. In conclusion, new theoretical directions are suggested in order to reassess the implications of empirical studies in the field.
One of the causes of the weakness of the State in the Middle East is that prime allegiance goes to the "solidarity group" (açabiyya), a social network which is always founded on family and personal relationships. These solidarity groups either are committed to a national strategy in order to control the State or, on the contrary, become delocalised and internationalised within diasporas which create their own transnational networks. Solidarity groups are not the expression of the permanence of a traditional society within a modern State, but rather a recomposition of allegiance networks within a political space definitively modified by the existence of a State. This recomposition can take three main forms. Firstly territorial establishment and the development of a community within sub-ethnic groups competing for power: the Kulabis in Tajikistan for example. Secondly the delocalisation of power networks which fade away once their objective, the obtaining of State power, is achieved (the Samarkand faction in Uzbekistan). Finally it can be achieved by the linking to an international network, for example that of humanitarian aid. These different types of recomposition do not weaken the State as such, which remains the framework of any possible inscription in the political space. But they do hinder the transition towards an ethnic State which can function only when it is built from above: thus Uzbekistan exists - not Baluchistan.