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Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio
As if in direct response to The New Yorker's question of “The Power of the Pen: Does Literature Change Anything?” Kimberly Nance takes up the relationship between ethics and literature. With the 40th anniversary of the testimonio occurring in 2006, there has never been a better time to reconsider its role in achieving social justice. The advent of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, through the telling of her life story, to bring about change--was met with a great deal of excitement by scholars who posited it as a radical new form of literature. Those accolades were almost immediately followed by a series of critical problems. In what sense were testimonios "true"? What right did privileged scholars in the U.S. have to engage accounts of suffering with traditional modes of criticism? Were questions of veracity or aesthetics more important? Were these texts autobiography or political screeds? It seemed critics didn't know quite what to make of the testimonio and so, after a brief bout of engagement, disregarded it. Nance, however, argues that any form as prolific as the testimonio is well worth examining and that these questions, rather than being insurmountable, are exactly the questions with which scholars ought to be wrestling. If, as critics claim, that the testimonio is one of the most pervasive contemporary Latin American cultural genres, then it is high time for a comprehensive study of the genre such as Nance's.
Democracy is overrated. Capitalism, on the other hand, doesn't get enough credit. In this provocative and engaging book, John Mueller argues that these mismatches between image and reality create significant political and economic problems--inspiring instability, inefficiency, and widespread cynicism. We would be far better off, he writes, if we recognized that neither system is ideal or disastrous and accepted instead the humdrum truth that both are "pretty good." And, to Mueller, that means good enough. He declares that what is true of Garrison Keillor's fictional store "Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery" is also true of democracy and capitalism: if you can't get what you want there, "you can probably get along without it."
Mueller begins by noting that capitalism is commonly thought to celebrate greed and to require discourtesy, deceit, and callousness. However, with examples that range from car dealerships and corporate boardrooms to the shop of an eighteenth-century silk merchant, Mueller shows that capitalism in fact tends to reward behavior that is honest, fair, civil, and compassionate. He argues that this gap between image and reality hampers economic development by encouraging people to behave dishonestly, unfairly, and discourteously to try to get ahead and to neglect the virtuous behavior that is an important source of efficiency and gain.
The problem with democracy's image, by contrast, is that our expectations are too high. We are too often led by theorists, reformers, and romantics to believe that democracy should consist of egalitarianism and avid civic participation. In fact, democracy will always be chaotic, unequal, and marked by apathy. It offers reasonable freedom and security, but not political paradise. To idealize democracy, Mueller writes, is to undermine it, since the inevitable contrast with reality creates public cynicism and can hamper democracy's growth and development.
Mueller presents these arguments with sophistication, wit, and erudition. He combines mastery of current political and economic literature with references to figures ranging from Plato to P. T. Barnum, from Immanuel Kant to Ronald Reagan, from Shakespeare to Frank Capra. Broad in scope and rich in detail, the book will provoke debate among economists, political scientists, and anyone interested in the problems (or non-problems) of modern democracy and capitalism.
Law, Politics, and the Humanitarian Impulse
From 9/11 to Katrina, from Darfur to the Minnesota bridge collapse, ours is an “age of catastrophe.” In this era, catastrophic events seem to have a revelatory quality: they offer powerful reminders of the fragility of our social and institutional architectures, making painfully evident vulnerabilities in our social organization that were otherwise invisible. By disrupting the operation of fundamental mechanisms and infrastructures of the social order, they lay bare the conditions that make our sense of normalcy possible. At a time when societies are directing an unprecedented level of resources and ingenuity to anticipating and mitigating catastrophic events, Catastrophe: Law, Politics, and the Humanitarian Impulse examines the tests that catastrophe poses to politics and humanitarianism as well as to the law. It explores legal, political, and humanitarian responses during times when the sudden, discontinuous, and disastrous event has become, perhaps paradoxically, a structural component of our political imagination. It asks whether law, politics, and humanitarianism live up to the tests posed by disaster, and the role all of them play in creating a more resilient world. Taken together the essays in this book ask us to see through and beyond the myths that surround catastrophe and our responses to it. They ask us to rethink our understanding of catastrophe and to imagine new legal, political, and humanitarian responses. In addition to the editors, contributors include Thomas Birkland, Michele Landis Dauber, Kim Fortun, Edward Rackley, Peter Redfield, Peter H. Schuck, and Susan Sterett.
An Asian Journey
Europe's mythical origins lie in Zeus' abduction of the Asian princess Europa. Down the real centuries, Asia has played a crucial role in the making of Europe - as an object of Orientalist fantasy and colonial desire, but also of the spread of the liberating values and humane letters associated with the continent. In this book, a lifelong admirer of Europe casts a critical yet loving eye on the continent to ask what it means to him. The book revolves around a series of personal encounters. These range from following his father to Cambridge, and meeting two Bengali lovers in Calcutta who cherish Eros with classical Greek purity, to watching his wife recover in a Polish hospital that lavishes care on her for almost free.These encounters are intertwined with passionately argued essays on the Holocaust, the Soviet ideal and the Berlin Wall as keenly-contested sites of the European imagination. A chapter on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's historical novel, The Leopard, combines literary and political analysis to peer into the heart of Italy, while an essay on champagne in France discovers the France in champagne. An analysis of secularism in the post-9/11 world defends one of the abiding legacies of Europe. Finally, a chapter on postmodern Europe upholds the European Union as perhaps the most exciting international project on offer today.The literary flair of this scholarly book captures the vividness of the intellectual engagement between Asia and Europe.
The Global Rise of State Institutions for Human Rights
National human rights institutions—state agencies charged with protecting and promoting human rights domestically—have proliferated dramatically since the 1990s; today more than a hundred countries have NHRIs, with dozens more seeking to join the global trend. These institutions are found in states of all sizes—from the Maldives and Barbados to South Africa, Mexico, and India; they exist in conflict zones and comparatively stable democracies alike. In Chains of Justice, Sonia Cardenas offers a sweeping historical and global account of the emergence of NHRIs, linking their growing prominence to the contradictions and possibilities of the modern state.
As human rights norms gained visibility at the end of the twentieth century, states began creating NHRIs based on the idea that if international human rights standards were ever to take root, they had to be firmly implanted within countries—impacting domestic laws and administrative practices and even systems of education. However, this very position within a complex state makes it particularly challenging to assess the design and influence of NHRIs: some observers are inclined to associate NHRIs with ideals of restraint and accountability, whereas others are suspicious of these institutions as "pretenders" in democratic disguise. In her theoretically and politically grounded examination, Cardenas tackles the role of NHRIs, asking how we can understand the global diffusion of these institutions, including why individual states decide to create an NHRI at a particular time while others resist the trend. She explores the influence of these institutions in states seeking mostly to appease international audiences as well as their value in places where respect for human rights is already strong.
The most comprehensive account of the NHRI phenomenon to date, Chains of Justice analyzes many institutions never studied before and draws from new data released from the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council. With its global scope and fresh insights into the origins and influence of NHRIs, Chains of Justice promises to become a standard reference that will appeal to scholars immersed in the workings of these understudied institutions as well as nonspecialists curious about the role of the state in human rights.
Moving towards consolidation years after independence?
Tanzania has been independent in 2011 for 50 years. While most neighbouring states have gone through violent conflicts, Tanzania has managed to implement extensive reforms without armed political conflicts, Hence, Tanzania is an interesting case for Peace and Development research. This dissertation analyses the political development in Tanzania since the introduction of the multiparty system in 1992, with a focus on the challenges for the democratisation process in connection with the 2000 and 2005 elections. The question of to what extent Tanzania had moved towards a consolidation of democracy, is analysed by looking at nine different institutions of importance for democratisation grouped in four spheres: the state, the political, civil and economic society. Focus is on the development of the political society, and the role of the opposition in particular. The analysis is based on secondary and primary material collected between September 2000 to April 2010. The main conclusion is that even if the institutions of liberal democracy have gradually developed, in practice single-party rule has continued, manifested in the 2005 election when the CCM won 92% of seats. Despite impressive economic growth, poverty remains deep and has not been substantially reduced. On a theoretical level this brings the old debate between liberal and substantive democracy back to the fore. Neither the economic nor the political reforms have brought about a transformation of the political and economic system resulting in the poor majority gaining substantially more political influence and improved economic conditions. Hence, it is argued that the interface between the economic, political and administrative reforms has not been sufficiently considered in the liberal democratic tradition. Liberal democracy is necessary for a democratic development, but not sufficient for democracy to be consolidated. For that a substantive democratic development is necessary.
From Jim Crow to Affirmative Action
In this book, Gwyneth Mellinger explores the complex history of the decades-long ASNE diversity initiative, which culminated in the failed Goal 2000 effort to match newsroom demographics with those of the U.S. population. Drawing upon exhaustive reviews of ASNE archival materials, Mellinger examines the democratic paradox through the lens of the ASNE, an elite organization that arguably did more than any other during the twentieth century to institutionalize professional standards in journalism and expand the concepts of government accountability and the free press. The ASNE would emerge in the 1970s as the leader in the newsroom integration movement, but its effort would be frustrated by structures of exclusion the organization had embedded into its own professional standards. Explaining why a project so promising failed so profoundly, Chasing Newsroom Diversity expands our understanding of the intransigence of institutional racism, gender discrimination, and homophobia within democracy.
Political Legitimacy in Post-Apartheid South Africa
As South Africa consolidates its democracy, chieftaincy has remained a controversial and influential institution that has adapted to recent changes. J. Michael Williams examines the chieftaincy and how it has sought to assert its power since the end of apartheid. By taking local-level politics seriously and looking closely at how chiefs negotiate the new political order, Williams takes a position between those who see the chieftaincy as an indigenous democratic form deserving recognition and protection, and those who view it as incompatible with democracy. Williams describes a network of formal and informal accommodations that have influenced the ways state and local authorities interact. By focusing on local perceptions of the chieftaincy and its interactions with the state, Williams reveals an ongoing struggle for democratization at the local and national levels in South Africa.
The Movement, International Law, and Opposition
Over twenty years after the 1989 UN General Assembly vote to open the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for signature and ratification by UN member states, the United States remains one of only two UN members not to have ratified it. The other is Somalia. Child Rights: The Movement, International Law, and Opposition explores the reasons for this resistance. It details the objections that have arisen to accepting this legally binding international instrument, which presupposes indivisible universal civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, and gives children special protection due to their vulnerability. The resistance ranges from isolationist attitudes toward international law and concerns over the fiscal impact of implementation, to the value attached to education in a faith tradition and fears about the academic deterioration of public education. The contributors to the book reveal the significant positive influence that the CRC has had, despite not being ratified, on subjects such as educational research, child psychology, development ethics, normative ethics, and anthropology. The book also explores the growing homeschooling trend, which is often evangelically led in the US, but which is at loggerheads with an equally growing social science-based movement of experts and ethicists pressing for greater autonomy and freedom of expression for children. Looking beyond the US, the book also addresses some of the practical obstacles that have emerged to implementing the CRC in both developed countries (for example, Canada and the United Kingdom) and in poorer nations. This book, polemical and yet balanced, helps the reader evaluate both positive and the negative implications of this influential piece of international legislation from a variety of ethical, legal, and social science perspectives.
Current global estimates of children engaged in warfare range from 200,000 to 300,000. Children's roles in conflict range from armed and active participants to spies, cooks, messengers, and sex slaves.This volume examines the factors that contribute to the use of children in war, the effects of war upon children, and the perpetual cycle of warfare that engulfs many of the world's poorest nations.The contributors seek to eliminate myths of historic or culture-based violence, and instead look to common traits of chronic poverty and vulnerable populations. Individual essays examine topics such as: the legal and ethical aspects of child soldiering; internal UN debates over enforcement of child protection policies; economic factors; increased access to small arms; displaced populations; resource endowments; forced government conscription; rebel-enforced quota systems; motivational techniques employed in recruiting children; and the role of girls in conflict.The contributors also offer viable policies to reduce the recruitment of child soldiers such as the protection of refugee camps by outside forces, “naming and shaming,” and criminal prosecution by international tribunals. Finally, they focus on ways to reintegrate former child soldiers into civil society in the aftermath of war.