What a ride this has been. Continue reading
Absolute pleasure to co-author the penultimate contribution to the #Yugosplaining symposium with my frolleague Larisa Kurtović. Larisa is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Ottawa. She is a political anthropologist who conducts research on activist politics, postsocialist transformation and the aftermath of international intervention in postwar Bosnia. Her ethnographic analyses of popular mobilizations, political satire, and nationalist politics have appeared on the pages of the American Ethnologist, Focaal, History and Anthropology and Critique of Anthropology among others. She is currently writing a book entitled Future as Predicament: Political Life After Catastrophe based on her long-term research in postwar-Bosnia, as well as working on a future graphic ethnography about workers’ struggles and political possibilities with anthropologist Andrew Gilbert and graphic artist Boris Stapić.
I’ve been doing Disorder of Things things for a decade and “Yugosplaining the World” is my favourite thing to date. It is a symposium of sorts, one with many beginnings, most of which have everything to do with war, dispossession, displacement, and exile. A panel and dinner at the Millennium Conference in London, which took place right between the Brexit and Trump votes, was significant, as was a series of “smrt fašizmu” tweets and e-mails Aida and Jelena sent out around the time of the Peter Handke Nobel Prize fiasco. I came up with the working title, which inevitably (got) stuck. Adi Džumhur’s generous offer to host us at the UNC’s Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies came next, but Covid-19 messed this plan up. Huge thanks go to Milomir Kovačević Strašni for giving us permission to use some of his legendary photographs (from the 2018 exhibition ‘Il était une fois la Yougoslavie’ in Paris).
Thirty people are involved with eighteen posts in total. Below you will find a short intro to the series and your full July 2020 #Yugosplaining schedule/table of contents.
In recent years, we’ve seen a number of depressing political shifts in the Euro-Atlantic area — but the rise of feminist foreign policies is not among them.
The trend was set in 2014 when Margot Wallström was named foreign minister in Sweden’s new centre-left coalition government. First came the sound bites: Helping provide women everywhere with 3 Rs —resources, representation and rights, for example. Four years later, there is an actual policy in place, one that is being closely watched, analyzed and in some cases imitated — one that contains lessons for Canada in its own efforts to enact feminist foreign policies. The policy reads:
Equality between women and men is a fundamental aim of Swedish foreign policy. Ensuring that women and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights is both an obligation within the framework of our international commitments, and a prerequisite for reaching Sweden’s broader foreign policy goals on peace, and security and sustainable development.
The Hague campus of Leiden University today hosted the “Final Reflections” symposium of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Everyone from the institution showed up: current and past presidents, current and past judges as well as ad hoc judges, current and past prosecutors, media officers and archivists, plus a bunch of guests—gender advisors, professors, judges from other courts, and so on. Even the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) spoke at the last panel. This was not a mere stock-taking exercise “between a variety of stakeholders,” says the agenda. Rather, it was an opportunity for said stakeholders to reflect on the ICTY’s legacy, ideally via a set of “short but emphatic statement[s] on the importance of international criminal courts and tribunals – particularly in today’s political climate.”
Based on a paper I am co-authoring with Bryan Mabee. See Part I here.
Nation-statist militarism is the default (‘normal’) setting for militarism in international and global life. Following Mann, this manifestation of militarism is characterized by some form of civilian control over the armed forces and a state-led economic and social mobilization of ‘destructive’ forces. (Alternative labels are ‘Westphalian militarism’ and even ‘Keynesian militarism’). In claiming the monopoly of legitimate violence, the nation-state prioritized territorial defence; planned, built and consumed from its own arsenals; and engaged in military recruitment practices that reflected and reinforced the prevailing social structures of the nation (whether professionalized or constricted).
This type subsumes what Mann refers to ‘authoritarian militarism’ and ‘liberal militarism’, his main examples coming from Europe–the absolutist polities and their twentieth century authoritarian descendants (e.g. Germany, Russia) versus the polities deriving from the constitutional regimes (e.g. Britain, France). It even subsumes the militarisms of the post-1945 nuclear age, which include, in Mann’s terminology, sub-types like ‘deterrence-science militarism’ (‘techno-scientific militarism’) and ‘spectator sport militarism.’
Part I of a post based on a paper I am co-authoring with Bryan Mabee, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. Bryan is the author of Understanding American Power (Palgrave, 2013), The Globalization of Security (Palgrave, 2009) and co-editor with Alejandro Colás, Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits and Empires (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2010). The paper is being prepared for “Militarism and Security,” a workshop organized later this month at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg by Anna Stravianakis (for her latest appearance on this blog see The Dissonance of Things No 3) & Maria Stern.
Update: Part II added on 18/03/17.
With Donald Trump as the president of the United States, militarism is once again becoming a hot topic. Trump’s appointment of right-wing generals to senior posts in both the White House and his cabinet legitimate militaristic policy discourses and positions, as do the president’s pronouncements about the need to “modernize” the country’s nuclear capability, put America’s enemies “on notice,” massively “rebuild” the military, hold “more military parades” in American cities, deploy the national guard to “restore order” (and possibly “hunt illegal immigrants”) and “streamline” U.S. defence exports.
And all of this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. For one thing, the Trump presidency merely empowers an already deeply militaristic and militarized American culture, one that is forever in love with guns and prisons and forever reticent to acknowledge the inherently racialized dimensions of both. For another thing, Trump’s top advisor is the “ethnonationalist” Steven Bannon, who is so influential in the White House that some describe him, tongue only halfway in cheek, as the actual president of the United States. Apparently, Bannon reasons that war between the U.S. and China is likely, given the thorny nature of international disputes in the South China Sea. One could in fact say that beneath the visible iceberg lie powerful and long-standing militarized realities—most of which have been ignored, temporized or marginalized in the earlier, ‘normal’ periods.
Can Critical Security Studies (CSS) help us illuminate militarism in the age of Trump? On one level, yes. Militarism is central to the field’s go-to framework on securitization—meaning, the scrutiny of the ways in which constitutional or ‘normal’ politics are transformed, via speech acts, into ‘exceptions’. The above image, Trump signing the Executive Order banning immigrants, dual nationals and US residents with citizenships from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country, suspend refugee admission and bar all Syrian refugees indefinitely, can be said to capture ‘exceptionalist militarism’ at work. Yet, beyond theorizing this one form of militarism, CSS has mostly been silent on the ‘classic’ concern of the literature on militarism—its sources, consequences, and the changing character.
In this two-part post we build on insights from historical sociology to develop a typology of militarism that CSS schools could consider as they try to make sense of political violence today.
Donald Trump has a thing for rebuking America’s democratic allies and their leaders—his latest target being Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The UK appears to be an exception to this trend. In his first interview with the British press as president-elect, Trump explained that the UK has a “special place” in his half-Scottish heart and pledged to support a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal. Reportedly a big fan of Winston Churchill—and of Boris Johnson’s Churchill Factor—he also asked the UK government to loan him a Churchill bust that his Republican predecessor George W. Bush kept in the Oval Office.
This is the fourth post in our symposium on Vitalis’ White World Order, Black Power Politics. Naeem’s post is here, and Nivi’s is here. Further responses, including from the author are to follow…
It was a party for DAAD-funded scholars from all over Germany and our hosts at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg invited to us a historical costume play. It was childish, and therefore well-suited for us international Stipendiat/inn/en, many of whom still struggled with basic German: some students and faculty dressed up as famous scholars from various periods in the university’s 500-year history and said a few things about themselves. I have now forgotten all of the names but one: Anton Wilhelm Amo. A West African slave of a German duke who in 1734 successfully defended a dissertation in Halle’s philosophy department. The (black) guy who played Amo spoke loudly and clearly, but I recall turning to the (black) DAADer sitting next to me, a fellow poli sci student from France: “1734?” “That’s what I heard, too”, she said, “1734.”
Since this was in the era of the (dial-up) Internet, a few days later I was able to learn more about this Amo fellow, including the details eluded in the university play. Vitalis’ latest book, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Cornell, 2015) is a powerful reminder of another lesson I learned then: that work by non-white scholars tends to be “denied”–that is, ignored, temporized, ornamentalized and outright purged . How many students of international law or of the German Enlightenment today know anything about Amo’s “On the Right of Moors in Europe” (1729)? Not many given that the essay has been lost to history, probably because its copies were deemed unworthy of those meticulously maintained rare book collections. And this is a huge loss given the relevance of historical “rights of Moors” debates for the constitution of “Europe.”