EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P052)
Conflicted citizenships: ethnographies of power, memory and belonging
Location U6-27
Date and Start Time 20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Hana Cervinkova (University of Lower Silesia) email
  • Thea Abu El-Haj (Rutgers University) email

Mail All Convenors

Chair Ellen Skilton
Discussant Beth Rubin

Short Abstract

Building on longstanding anthropological legacies that track the production of national imaginaries, our panel explores how the boundaries of belonging that define these imaginaries are being reshaped in this era of globalization, mass migration, and political conflict.

Long Abstract

Building on the longstanding anthropological legacy that tracks the construction of historical memory in the production of national imaginaries, this panel calls for papers that explore how the boundaries of belonging defining these imaginaries are being reshaped and rearticulated in the present context of a world characterized by globalization, mass migration, and political conflict. This panel will consider how contemporary bids for citizenship embed historic memory and silence in ways that reinscribe, or challenge, normative narratives about the nation, belonging, and citizenship. We seek to address the role of human agency and memory in contexts of violence, conflict, and new dislocations brought about by neoliberal policies and globalization.

The panel considers the power of ethnography to illustrate unequal power relations that influence who gets to belong to nations, and how individuals and communities challenge the normative terms through which citizenship is regulated. The convenors invite ethnographic research that addresses how discourses and practices are used by social actors to claim a legitimate place in the public sphere, challenging or reinforcing the normative conditions through which states grant citizenship rights. We propose to explore various forms of dominance: those built on silences about the relationships among people, those characterized by clear demarcations of who is us and who is them, or those involving the denial of violence and inequity embedded in the "benevolent" treatment of the less valued other.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"They don't tell it": memory and citizenship in postconflict Guatemala

Author: Beth Rubin (Rutgers University)  email

Short Abstract

Education is seen as central to civic reconstruction efforts in postconflict settings. This presentation engages the ways that, in postconflict Guatemala, historical memory and the "coloniality of power" shape teachers' and students' joint consideration of Guatemala's past and present.

Long Abstract

In 1996, the extended armed conflict in Guatemala between army and guerilla forces, an unequal struggle more than three decades long, ended with the signing of the Firm and Lasting Peace Accords. These UN-brokered accords included a promise by the government to "design and implement a national civic education programme for democracy and peace, promoting the protection of human rights, the renewal of political culture and the peaceful resolution of conflicts" (United Nations General Assembly, 1997, p. 11). As in many postconflict settings, both internal and external actors viewed the educational system as central to this effort, creating a new national curriculum to achieve this end.

But the past "is not preserved but it is reconstructed on the basis of the present" (Halbwachs, 1950/1992, 40). Students' and their teachers' notions of history and belonging, situated amid starkly differing relationships with the country's history of conquest, colonization, exploitation, and repression, compete with national education policy that trusts in the healing powers of tolerance and democracy. Postconflict Guatemala is a fertile site from which to consider the ways that historical memory, belonging, and structural inequalities shape present day constructions of civic identity. This presentation engages the ways that historical memory and the "coloniality of power" (Quijano, 2000) shape teachers' and students' joint consideration of Guatemala's past and present, with implications for civic learning and identity.

Intercultural education and the Bolivarian Revolution's permitted Indian

Author: Natalia Garcia-Bonet (University of Kent)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how intercultural education programmes sponsored by the Venezuelan government function as spaces of contestation for the construction of a new ‘permitted Indian’ (Hale, 2006). Delineating thus, an image of indigeneity that fits the national narrative of the Bolivarian revolution.

Long Abstract

This paper explores how intercultural education programmes sponsored by the Venezuelan government function as spaces of contestation for the construction of a new 'permitted Indian' (Hale, 2006). Delineating thus, an image of indigeneity that fits the national narrative of the Bolivarian revolution.

The active incorporation of previously neglected indigenous populations into the Venezuelan nation has represented one of the discursive pillars of the Bolivarian Revolution. The 1999 CBRV (Constitution of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela) was the first to include a host of rights for indigenous people. It also prompted the expansion of a bilingual intercultural education programme in indigenous communities all around the country (EIB). I will argue that this incorporation of indigenous people into the Venezuelan nation is mediated by a specific image of indigeneity, which is largely constructed in the intercultural schools (in the actual space of the schools, as well as in conferences and other official acts).

Intercultural education programmes (EIB) are supposed to represent a compromise between 'indigenous' and state education. Therefore, they represent a stage in which both identities, that of indigenous people and the state, are played out and negotiated. This process of negotiation determines which forms of indigeneity are legitimised and formalised through the education apparatus. Intercultural education programmes, thus, serve as spaces for determining which forms of indigeneity are to be incorporated into the nation and which are to be silenced or excluded.

The Citizen: crafting the sense of cizienship and engagement in Ukraine

Author: Justyna Szymanska (University of Warsaw)  email

Short Abstract

In my presentation I would like to focus on affective and emotional dimensions of social reality of Ukrainian state and look closer on practices of various social actors aimed at crafting the sense of citizenship and egagements with state.

Long Abstract

Recent dramatic events in Ukraine left its mark not only on researches on social transformation in post-socialist context, but also on a question of affective dimension of citizenship and engagement with state. Many very different narratives followed the question of what does it mean to be both Ukrainian and citizen. In a tangle of discourses of democratization, nationality, modernity and westerness/easterness, many people struggle to find their own sense of belonging to the state in which they experienced often very abrupt shifts of meanings in components of national imaginary they feel they could not follow. This relate in particulary to inhabitants of eastern parts of the country, where political and military conflict has been reshaping the senses of 'being a citizen' in both political and nationalistic terms very roughly. In my presentation I would like to look on this affective and emotional dimensions of social reality of state and how different social actors - such as NGO, civil society activists and also people not engaged in civic activities - try to influence and challenge the boundaries of belonging to and engagement with state through practices based on discourses mentioned above. This process, often mentioned as 'citizen-crafting' focused on (re)creation of 'new' civil society and a 'new' citizen in the context of eastern Ukraine, will be my main point of interest during the presentation.

Belonging and the high culture in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011

Author: Liina Mustonen (EUI)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I explore national belonging and the mechanisms of distinctions that the belonging requires in the post-2011 revolution Egypt among the agents of Egyptian high culture.

Long Abstract

In this paper, I explore national belonging and the mechanisms of distinctions that the belonging requires in the post-2011 revolution Egypt among the agents of Egyptian high culture. A particular focus is on the ruling period of the Muslim Brotherhood and president Mohammed Morsi 2012, when the cultural actors expressed their accumulated antagonism towards the Muslim Brotherhood. During that period the idea of Egyptian nation became evident through frequent calls and outwardly expressed longings for "the lost Egyptian identity" and "Egyptian cultural heritage". In light of my ethnographic fieldwork from that same period, I discuss how the milieu of high culture responded to the political changes and defended their established positions. To demonstrate the exclusionary idea of the nation, I examine how the broader field of Egyptian cultural actors contrasted their own imaginary of Egypt - based on their understanding of tolerance and diversity, with the "other" imaginary of Egypt -based on intolerance and lack of diversity. The other imaginary was imposed on the Muslim Brotherhood and its wider considered-ignorant constituency. Moreover, while focusing on one of the state's major cultural institution, I analyze the cultural actors appropriation of civilizational discourses.

Power, memory and belonging in New Zealand: Māori women and their agency

Author: Chiara Carbone (University Roma Tre)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyses the different narratives about the idea of rebuilding a Māori women power, memory and belonging in New Zealand. This process of claiming back leadership roles connecting to the ancestral mana is at the base of a theoretical construction of an indigenous and globalized citizenship.

Long Abstract

Cultural memory, like constructions of an indigenous and a national identity, can be viewed as a product of social and cultural processes. Since it is culturally constructed, cultural memory shifts over time with changing historical circumstances and social contexts.

An example is given by the re-articulation of the historical native memory through the century in New Zealand. Maori women have played a significant role in formulating identity and memory, sometime defining and redefining Māori culture through the fostering of Māori concepts, sometimes merging Māori and Pakeha (European descendants) cultures, and sometimes rethinking traditional Maori gender conceptions. Maori women reshaped the boundaries and constructed a new space for their complex and changing citizenship.

Māori identities are signified and constructed through various codes and everyday practices, so what it means to be Māori varies across space and time. In this context national imaginaries are renewed, modified and remade in generation to generation. Far from being self- perpetuating, they require creative effort; in doing so Māori women and their agency are central in the construction of a common belonging to Māori culture. Māori women claim back their mana and their roles in the public sphere, challenging the western dominance but reinforcing who they are by power, memory and belonging. Connecting their realities to what they were according to the tradition and to the Māori genealogy, they rebuild a globalized and conflicted citizenship.

Women's rights for equal citizens or cultural rights for a particular people? Gender and conflict on the Basque border

Author: Margaret Bullen (University of the Basque Country, Donostia-San Sebastián)  email

Short Abstract

Twenty years ago a conflict arose in two towns on the French-Spanish border over the right of women to take part on an equal footing with men in the annual parade central to their summer festivals, a conflict setting citizenship and equal rights against cultural specificity and Basqueness.

Long Abstract

Based on an ethnographic study of the conflict arising over the demand of a group of women and men for the right of women to take part on equal terms with men in the annual parade which constitutes the central act of the local festivals, this paper looks at issues of national and cultural identity which have been fought over for the past two decades in two neighbouring towns on the Spanish-French border of the Basque Country: Irun and Hondarribia.

It is a conflict which has become not only a reference for the Basque and Spanish feminist movement seeking equality at all levels of social and cultural life, including fiestas, but has also become a talking point in local town halls where cultural celebrations have been reviewed in the light of the Irun-Hondarribia conflict with a view to working towards a citizenship based on human civil rights which include gender equality.

However, in a stateless nation such as the Basque Country, the concept of citizenship can clash with the notion of "the people" and the defence of cultural specificity. This is further complicated by the location of the towns on the French-Spanish state border which makes it a fascinating ethnographical site for exploring how national imaginaries are produced and questioned by feminism in an era of globalization and with a backdrop of political conflict.

In search of the antagonistic other: nationalism and the politics of memorising partition in Pakistan

Author: Philipp Zehmisch (Center for Advanced Studies, Munich)  email

Short Abstract

In Pakistan, the politics of memorizing partition have become efficaciously entangled with the process of nation-building. Setting the nationalist narrative in dialogue with

activist voices, oral history and field data, the paper investigates Pakistan’s antagonistic relations to its minorities and India.

Long Abstract

The partition of British India was accompanied by extremely cruel, organized violence between Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, which claimed between 400,000 and 2,000,000 lives. In postcolonial Pakistan, the politics of memorizing partition have become efficaciously entangled with the discourse of nation-building. As a result, the nationalist narrative has been framed by reifying and projecting antagonistic relations to various imagined Others. Setting such hegemonic narrations of the nation in dialogue with activist voices, oral history accounts and fieldwork data from several sites, my paper aims to investigate two antagonistic fields of politics:

First, I will show that representations of "Hindu" India as threat to Pakistan are linked to dominant framings of Muslims as "victims" and Hindus and Sikhs as "perpetrators" of partition. This one-sided discourse does not only homogenize and silence subaltern voices in an otherwise fragmented historical narrative but also effectively hinder politics of peace and reconciliation with India. Second, I will concentrate on how national identity was forged on the basis of an imagined Muslim unity aiming to encompass multiple sects, linguistic and ethnic groups. This monolithic version of nationalism hascontributed to ethnic politicization and militant challenges to state legitimacy. Further, the crafting of a homeland for the minority of South Asian Muslims ironically entailed constructing a majority nationalism that implicitly excludes religious minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Ahmedis). While citizenship has been formally granted to non-Muslims, minorities have to a large extent neither been acknowledged by others nor identified themselves as citizens with equal rights.

The national struggle in memory and activism: engaging with Palestinian political narratives in Vienna, Amman, and Ramallah

Author: Eva Kössner (University of Vienna)  email

Short Abstract

Building on an intersectional approach, this paper discusses how young transnationally acting Palestinians living in the Middle East and Europe reproduce, challenge and revise competitive Palestinian national narratives through memory work and activism.

Long Abstract

This paper discusses how young transnationally connected Palestinian adults moving between different locations in the Middle East and Europe engage with competitive Palestinian national narratives circulating today. First, I elaborate how Palestinians in Vienna, Amman, and Ramallah delineate and assess social groups that emerged or were fostered in the course of the controversial Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in the 1990s. The social demarcations my interlocutors reproduce within their memory work related to "Oslo" strongly depend on their locations and dislocations in relation to social hierarchies such as legal status, class, political socialisation, migration, or experiences of political violence. To address the often conflicting articulations and practices, an intersectional approach such as Floya Anthias' concept of translocational positionality is needed. Second, I demonstrate that contemporary knots of memory such as memorial days or expressions of solidarity allow for counteracting boundaries of belonging by changing the intersubjective and organisational conditions of people's positionality. Two initiatives of solidarity in Vienna and Amman exemplify that throughout Israel's Gaza incursions in 2014 the Gaza strip and this particular assault emerged as mutually dependent temporal and spatial points of reference for enhanced activism. Yet limited possibilities to raise Palestinian issues in their respective national surroundings and the translation of the Palestinian political split to Austria and Jordan compelled activists to manoeuver between local and transnational networks and power structures. Oscillating between the vernacularisation of human rights discourses and long-distance nationalism, they managed to temporarily reshape polyvalent imaginaries of Palestine and Palestinians.

Sides of a coin: colonial amnesia and the conflicted global citizenships of Arab American and mainstream American youth

Authors: Ellen Skilton (Arcadia University)  email
Thea Abu El-Haj (Rutgers University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper addresses two ethnographic contexts -- the experiences of Arab American Muslim youth in a U.S. high school and mainstream American college students studying abroad -- to consider the ways that the construction of what it means to be “American.”

Long Abstract

This paper illustrates how a view of America as "value protector of the world" (Gregory, 2002) shapes both the ways that Arab youth are constructed as "other" and not American, and the ways that mainstream U.S. college students are able to view their international study in terms that are apolitical, ahistorical, and disconnected from the United States' ongoing role as a colonial power. Contemporary normative discourses of citizenship position "Americans" as global citizens whose dispositions (liberal, multicultural, tolerant) are held up as models for people everywhere (Brown, 2006' Melamed, 2006). The term "global citizenship" is often discussed in glowing and vague terms that highlight primarily benevolent and consumerist participation by Americans in the global economy (Zemach-Bersin, 2007).

In this paper, we look at two very different ethnographic studies -- one focusing on the experiences of Arab American Muslim youth in a U.S. high school and the other on mainstream American college students studying abroad, to consider the ways that the construction of what it means to be "American" depends on the workings of "colonial amnesia" (Gregory, 2002). This amnesia--an erasure of the United States's neocolonial role in leveraging economic, political, and military power in its own interest--is fundamental to the production of Americans as the liberal subjects of a benevolent, multicultural democracy. The paper addresses the authentic kinds of transnational belonging available to some Arab American youth as well as the limitations of an uncritical form global citizenship for American college students who study abroad.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.