Moving Beyond Movements: Exploring Paths of Everyday Citizenship in Urban South Africa

Sociology of citizenshipBy Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock

In the rich literature that has emerged on social movements in post-apartheid South Africa, there have been many analyses that explore the degree to which particular social movements cooperate with the state or adopt a more antagonistic stance. Some break this picture down further, exploring the degree to which movements are able to cultivate or capitalise upon unique relationships with specific state actors or departments. Those kinds of accounts remind us that the state is, in reality, a collection of individuals and institutions that are often heterogeneous and fragmented, if not in active conflict with each other. This work has helped us to gain a more nuanced understanding of South Africa’s political landscape and the nature of statehood and citizenship within it. Continue reading

Military Madness in the Med

By Jeff CrispJeff Crisp

According to the United Nations, some 60,000 people, many of them from war-torn and poorly governed countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and Syria, have travelled across the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of 2015 in an attempt to reach safety in Europe. Around 1,800 of them have drowned while making the voyage, while those who have survived remain exhausted and traumatized by the arduous journeys they have taken from their countries of origin.

Panicked by these events, the European Union (EU) has introduced what it describes as a ‘new migration agenda’. But the plan set out in that document contains elements that are unethical, impracticable and of questionable legality. Continue reading

Tough Boys and Docile Girls? Questioning the Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools

By Virginia Morrow Ginny cropped_low-res

Globally, corporal punishment is widely used in schools despite international concern about the effects on children and the implications for their capacity to benefit from school.  And yet it persists. Changing social policies send clear messages about practices that are not acceptable, but the eradication of corporal punishment in schools globally is proving difficult, and India is no exception.

Violence against girls is now high on the Indian political agenda, after the horrific fatal gang rape of a female student in Delhi in 2012 led to widespread demonstrations demanding an end to sexual violence against girls and women. However,  more ‘normal’ forms of violence may go unnoticed or unquestioned, and limited academic attention has focussed on the gender differences in the way punishment is meted out to boys and girls at home, school and society at large. Continue reading

Let Their People Drown: How EU Politicians Have Become Tragic Actors in a Self-inflicted Migration Drama

image_miniBy Hein de Haas

In recent months, a record number of refugees and migrants have drowned in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea. According to recent UN estimates, in 2014 almost 220,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean, and at least 3,500 died during their journey. Over 30,000 have already made the crossing so far this year, with around1500 reported dead or missing  – more than 50 times greater than at the same point in the previous record year 2014.

And, again, we hear the familiar appeals from European politicians to stop this tragedy by ‘fighting’ or ‘combating’ smuggling (and trafficking) in order to stop the suffering of migrants on the European borders. Although this all may sound very lofty, blaming the smugglers is a convenient scapegoating strategy that conceals politicians’ own responsibility for this humanitarian tragedy. Continue reading

Between Nation-State and Ummah’s Appeal: The Contradictions of Islamism in Contemporary India and Bangladesh

Sociology of citizenshipBy Maidul Islam

Generally, Islamists believe in the Universalist concept of Ummah (Islamic community of believers), a supranational or transnational union. The Islamists’ call for unity of the Ummah is based on the belief that Muslims throughout the world should have a sense of solidarity that cuts across the borders of the nation-state. In this respect, Islamism has justifications to oppose the concept of the nation-state. The Islamist ideologue Maududi (1993) was opposed to the idea of the nation-state, and citizenship based on nationality, considering nationalism to be divisive and as such incompatible with Islam (Maududi 1992). Continue reading

HIP Meet Resettled Refugees in Dallas

The HIP team outside a refugee-owned Ethiopian restaurant in Dallas

The HIP team outside a refugee-owned Ethiopian restaurant in Dallas

By Louise Bloom

It is not often that we think about what life is like for refugees who have been resettled to a new country. Considered to be one of the three durable solutions offered to refugees, resettlement to a country like the US is a goal for many refugees living in the global south. However the ‘American dream’ is not always what it is thought to be.

Continue reading

Statisticians as Global Change Makers

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

First, a confession.  When I was 9 years old, I almost had to repeat third grade because I was still doing math by counting on my fingers. And it was the same story later on. Algebra – forget it; calculus – illiterate beyond doing budgets, cash flows and punching a calculator to have it perform magic.  As for statistics, they were avoided at all costs. But I made a virtue out of my limitations—I turned to qualitative research—talking to people, getting their stories.

So, what was a pure non-numbers boy like me doing in the vicinity of an elite meeting of statisticians from all over the world in New York City in March — a meeting of the UN Commission on Statistics? Statisticians live and breathe numbers and equations; clearly I would be bored to tears.

Continue reading

Afropolitanism: Global Citizenship with African Routes

Sociology of citizenshipBy Alpha Abebe

Diasporas and other transnational communities have become particularly useful case studies for scholars interested in stretching and challenging mainstream conceptions of citizenship. It is now widely accepted that for many people around the world, physical location and formal legal citizenship may not be the most salient forms of social, political or economic affiliation. As the process of globalization continues to expand, more and more people find themselves in one place, while their lives are structured and oriented by connections to one or several other places. Some of these ‘places’ are other nation states, such as an ancestral country of origin. However, many such ‘places’ exist extraterritorially as abstract yet powerful expressions of identity, community, and belonging. Continue reading

Questioning Traditional Citizenship: Memory, Identity and Collective Action in Chile

Sociology of citizenshipBy Simón Escoffier

In this post I contest traditional liberal conceptions of citizenship rooted in the nation-state and consider the role played by memory in the ways in which Santiago de Chile’s disenfranchised produce contentious politics.

I suggest that, by referring to the past in their meetings and conversations, local neighbourhood organisations in Santiago de Chile’s poor settlements (poblaciones) assert a particular, anti-hegemonic interpretation of history. Through stories, historical anecdotes, and different types of memorials, poor residents produce a neighbourhood identity, giving rise to innovative forms of community membership. Continue reading

The Future is Not What It Used to Be

­JF---FutureThe Future is Not What It Used to Be: Climate Change and Energy Scarcity, by ODID Associate Professor Joerg Friedrichs, was published by MIT Press in 2013 and received an honourable mention in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ (www.sej.org) 2014 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award category. SEJ is the world’s largest group of environmental writers and academic researchers who specialise in environmental communications.

Joerg spoke to Tom Henry, who edits the book section of SEJournal, SEJ’s quarterly magazine:

How did you identify the theme of the book and what motivated you to write it?

With all the knowledge around, and with all the arguments made back and forth in the climate controversy, I felt that there was a lack of serious thinking about what it all means for our way of life. True, there are apocalyptic scenarios about environmental mayhem, and others have taken a historical approach before me. But much of that literature is either purely academic or plainly alarmist, and I wanted to provide a sober evaluation of what we can say about future climate transformations based on analytical thinking and historical evidence. Continue reading