Although the Seville Fair is part of a lively tradition of popular festivals, it clearly distinguishes itself from others of its kind on account of its very exclusive nature. The festival is organised around casetas, small traditional-style fabric houses, the vast majority of which are private (only 1.7% of the 1,052 casetas are open to the public). Because it is a site of social exclusivity par excellence, a place for upholding family social capital (sometimes across several generations), the fair challenges the democratic society and triggers controversy and debate, especially when it comes to its management by the municipality. Its model of a sold-out party has also given birth to the phenomenon of a counter-feria, which developed during the moment of democratic transition around organisations of political opposition. Offering a history of the feria that splits up the group, that strips away its illusion and reinscribes it in the social and political trajectories of the individuals and groups that participate in it transforms this prominent object of local chronicles and tourist brochures into an object of social science that enables the examination of social and political networks.
The history of industrial capitalism and its modes of domination is intimately linked to that of violent entrepreneurs deploying their coercive resources at the service of workplace discipline, the extraction of surplus value and the securitization of the accumulation cycle. The relationship between capital and coercion is always fraught with tensions, though, and sustains new vulnerabilities among security-consuming elites. The manufacturing economy of Karachi is a particularly fertile ground for studying this endogenous production of insecurity by security devices. The relations between Karachi’s factory owners and their guards have generated their own economy of suspicion. Various attempts to conjure this shaky domination have generated new uncertainties, calling for new methods of control to keep the guards themselves under watch.
Armed combatant and leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian Army in July 2016. This killing triggered a new phase of insurgency in Kashmir. In the Valley, the local populace started mobilizing against the Indian State in the name of azadi, (freedom). In such volatile context, the production of the national sentiment of the Kashmiris is documented from a distanciated perspective. Frontiers of the national group are explored from New Delhi, as well as the logics of differentiation and otherification of the Kashmiri group towards the Indian one. Kashmiri nationalism therefore more clearly appears in a negative definition (what a Kashmiri is not) than in a positive definition (what a Kashmiri is). The slight and incremental slip of the meaning of azadi demands is at the heart of Kashmiri nationalism. From an original demand for greater autonomy within the Indian Republic, demands of azadi now refer to the independence of the Valley – yet there are nuances that will be studied. They also convey an utter rejection of “Indianess” whether national or citizen. In that respect, New Delhi’s negating the political aspect of the mobilizations that are taking place in the Kashmir Valley has dramatically fuelled the national sentiment of the Kashmiris. The current insurgency that started in July 2016 has sped up the pace of the process. Despite the escalating tensions in the Valley, New Delhi keeps refusing to consider the political dimension of the local social movements, be they violent or peaceful. That is the reason why, beyond Kashmir and Kashmiris themselves, studying the political demands of the Kashmiri population does shed a light on the functioning of the Indian nation and the Indian state.
In this study, we try to apply the genealogical methodology to the analysis of French, British and American military discourse on the « pacification of populations » from the xixth century until today. The objective is indeed to analyse and problematise the colonial continuities that the leitmotiv of the « hearts and minds » reveals. We do this by focusing on the « moments » that have framed and reframed the social uses and significations of this leitmotiv: firstly, the « moment » of colonial conquest ; then, the « moment » of the wars of decolonization ; finally, the « moment » of western interventionism in postcolonial states. While highlighting the colonial continuities of military practice, our main conclusion is that the meanings of the leitmotiv are extremely variable and always subjected to contradictory interpretations. The genealogy of the « hearts and minds » hence draws attention to its many discontinuities. It particularly shows how the postcolonial « moment » has subverted its colonial meanings.
Carnivals are a type of rite of renewal where mask and laughter spur the invention of highly symbolic modes of expression. They offer opportunities for the study of social representations and, since they are both recurring and changing, they constitute a ground where not only social change can be assessed, but where the meanings of social change can be best understood. The first part of this paper reviews and discusses theories of carnival, in particular those related to its relationship to power and social hierarchies. The second part proposes a few methodological suggestions for the study of carnival from a political perspective, emphasizing semiotic analysis and surveys using non-directive methods.
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.
Bennetta Jules-Rosette, 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.
The state in Africa and in Asia is often conceived of as a "purely imported product" to use the accepted expression of Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum. However rather than limit ourselves to accounts of some kind of "failed universalisation", questions should rather be raised concerning state creation as a historical process, one which is conflictual, unintentional, generally unconscious and, as a result, often paradoxical. Indeed the argument that the state is fundamentally extraneous cannot be maintained in the light of recent historical and anthropological research. From this research it would seem that institutions of European origin have acquired their own social roots and have become culturally appropriated. They thus must be examined within the "long term" time framework suggested by Braudel, on condition that certain methodological precautions are taken into account.Three ways can be envisaged for reconstituting the historical trajectories of the state in Africa and Asia: as a continuous civilisational process, as expressions of social inequality or cultural configurations of politics. However while an understanding of cultural historicity is a precondition for understanding political historicity it should not, with all due respect to intellectual trendmakers, lead to culturalist explanations. Foucault's concept of gouvernementalité provides a more promising problematic, one which places the creation of the state in relationship to the process of ascribing it with a subjective quality as well as the imaginary dimension of politics. Both of these have to be grasped within their connection to the material.
Eric Anglès, Chris Hensley et Denis-Constant Martin
During the 70s three somewhat extraordinary phenomena occurred at the same time in Jamaica: the rise of rastafarianism, a syncretic sect, the establishment of reggae as a new style of popular music and the emergence of a political movement headed by one of the two strongest parties on the island, the People's National Party. While these three movements expressed themselves in different ways - and were never exclusively linked - they together came to represent an intense aspiration for change whether it be cultural, social, economic or political.Today Jamaicans have a different attitude to their history: for many dignity and pride have replaced a sense of alienation and self denigration. Yet the political system has not changed and the same social inequalities persist as twenty five years ago. Jamaica still wonders what its future could be. These collected papers analyze the factors that enabled the coming together of rastafarianism, reggae and political forces within Jamaica and examine recent developments in popular music in an attempt to better understand the extent of social transformation within Jamaica.
The emergence of political movements, which have recently taken the centre stage in Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharian Africa, has raised once again the question of the preconditions for, and the forms of, political change. In particular it draws attention to the relationship between lasting phenomena -those which, at least in certain respects, indicate social continuity - and phenomena which fundamentally disturb the social order bringing in their wake immediate change. One two-fold interpretation of these developments has been particularly persuasive. On the one hand, as far as Europe is concerned, it is suggested that there has been a "return to a previously flouted identity" or "refinding of the past". As for Africa, these changes are described in terms of "tribalism" or "clanish reactions". Unfortunately such an interpretation does not help us to fully understand the interactions between long-lasting and short-lived phenomena. The paper proposes several ways to go beyond this dichotomy and to avoid over or underestimating phenomena of one kind to the detriment of those of the other. It suggests that the cultural impregnation of political systems, practices and representations can be analytically reconstructed within the concept of "political culture". This concept both embraces the idea of dynamism (giving impetus to political innovation) while taking into account the complexity of the means of transmission (assuring continuity). Arguing from the assumption that continuity feeds innovation, this paper examines three types of duality: the dialectic between external and internal dynamics; the emotional/rational dichotomy and the opposition between tradition and innovation. All of these must be observed both within the "official" political arena as well as in contexts that, while ostensibly non-political, can be "invested" by political thought and action.