Policies have their own lives, and these lives are not “a-cultural, rational, and straightforwardly technical,” puts forth Catherine Kingfisher in her volume, A Policy Travelogue: Tracing Welfare Reform in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Canada, published in September. Following is an excerpt from the monograph’s Introduction in which the author sets the scene for her discussion of how policy lives within welfare reform in two distinct countries.
I use the frames of translation and assemblage to gain insight into a range of policy-related phenomena in particular spaces and contexts of occurrence. First, I explore the transformation of objects as they are translated from one philosophical and political framework—Keynesianism—into another—neoliberalism. Brodie (2002:100) points out in this regard that the privatization characteristic of neoliberalism: “[i]nvolves much more than simply removing things from one sector and placing them in another….the thing moved is itself transformed into something quite different. Objects become differently understood and regulated.”
If the search for self was a game, migrants would be more than a few chips down. Having to overcome physical and cultural displacement in addition to psychological uncertainty makes the search, for those who are transient, a complicated quest. Below, in an excerpt from the Introduction of Being Human, Being Migrant: Senses of Self and Well-Being, published in October, editor Anne Sigfrid Grønseth addresses the difficulties of migration and asserts that these hardships are of larger breadth than simply issues of movement.
This volume is as much about being human as it is about being a migrant. It takes as its starting point from the proposition that migrant experiences tell us about the human condition, on the basis that senses of well-being, self, other and humanity are challenged when people move between shifting social and cultural contexts. Our contemporary world is characterised by an increasing degree of movement that highlights how societies and cultural units are never separate but overlapping, rapid changing and engaged in repeated processes of fission and fusion.
Celebrities today can perform political functions by sponsoring causes, supporting or opposing governments and shaping opinion. In Fascist Italy, celebrities also played an important role and the regime was well aware of the possible uses and dangers of their popularity. This important connection has been overlooked by scholars of both film and of Italian political history. Focusing on a period from the 1920s through 1945, Mussolini’s Dream Factory: Film Stardom in Fascist Italy, to be published this month, looks at the star power of these often-overlooked celebrities and the fate of their careers after WWII. Author Stephen Gundle expands on these ideas and shares his thoughts on the subject, below.
Berghahn Books: What drew you to the study of film and film stardom in Fascist Italy?
Stephen Gundle: There are lots of books written about fascist Italy and it seems to be a topic that endlessly fascinates. In the last few years books have appeared on topics such as the police force, diplomacy, road-building, women’s fashions and everyday life. Yet there are few books on fascist cinema – which is largely ignored by historians and neglected by film scholars who tend to concentrate on neorealism or other aspects of postwar cinema.
Achievement is commonly defined as a successful completion of a given undertaking, but what it means to “achieve” is not a static idea the world over. Contributors to The Social Life of Achievement, published last month, examine meanings of achievement in countries and cultures throughout the world. Below, co-editor Nicholas J. Long addresses the term and provides insight into the background of the volume, from its inception to its subjects to its methodology.
Berghahn Books: What drew you to the study of achievement? And what inspired you to research and write about it?
Nicholas J. Long: Fieldwork! In the Riau Islands – the region of Indonesia where I’ve conducted most my research – people talk and think about achievement all the time. It’s become an integral component of the citizenship syllabus: students are taught that a good Indonesian should try to seize any opportunities for ‘achievement’ that they can. And it’s an incredibly widespread trope in public culture. I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be able to write a good ethnography of the region without engaging in some way with this achievement discourse and how it was shaping people’s lives.
Carolin Funck and Malcolm Cooper’s Japanese Tourism: Spaces, Places and Structures, published this month, explains the nuances of Japanese tourism, both by the Japanese and within Japan by tourists from around the world. Below, the editors recall what drew them to this fascinating field of study, how the field has changed since they started writing, and how they predict it will continue to change in the future.
Berghahn Books: When were you drawn to the study of Japanese tourism? What inspired your love of your subject?
Malcolm Cooper: The lack of a readily available text that brought together the several elements of Japanese tourism and chronicled its form and function over the years when I first started to teach this subject more than 10 years ago.
Who migrates, when they migrate, where they migrate, and why they migrate has a huge effect on cultural identity, acceptance and belonging. This is a hot current topic on news cycles worldwide, but it is certainly not a new phenomenon. Looking from a European perspective, editors Steven King and Anne Winter add an important contribution to this discussion with Migration, Settlement and Belonging in Europe, 1500-1930s: Comparative Perspectives, to be published this month. Below, the editors discuss the volume and their aim to make sense of these experiences across borders of place and time.
The British print and online media has for the last year been awash with compelling stories about abuses of the welfare system: the mother who has 11 children and feels the state should fund her life choices; the recent immigrants who are entitled to welfare benefits notwithstanding a lack of accumulated contribution; the ‘disabled’ welfare claimants who are exposed as professional dancers or scuba divers.
The cyclical course of history comes into sharp focus when one looks at Greek political uprisings. The widely publicized youth dissent in recent years is nothing new, but actually has earlier roots in 1973 — with different players, but with the same activist vigor. This 1970s group — later to be known as the Polytechnic Generation — comes into clear focus in newly published Children of the Dictatorship: Student Resistance, Cultural Politics and the “Long 1960s” in Greece, by Kostis Kornetis. Following is the opening to the volume’s introduction.
In 2010 the well-known British Pakistani writer and political activist Tariq Ali commented that “were there a Michelin Great Protest guide, France would still be top with three stars, with Greece a close second with two stars.” Ali did not only refer to the 2005 riots in France and the 2008 civil disturbances in Greece, but to a longue durée structure of civil disobedience in the two countries that dates back to the 1960s and 1970s.
In Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: German Visions of Europe, 1926-1950, published last month, author Christian Bailey seeks to understand how Germans became such “good Europeans” after 1945. Whereas many histories of European integration tend to largely focus on the diplomatic goings-on between elites, this book focuses on how support for a united Europe was cultivated in civil society. Below, the author and his colleague Benno Gammerl share a dialogue about Bailey’s recent volume.
Benno Gammerl: Your book convincingly challenges what one could call the negative founding myth of post-1945 European integration. According to this well-established narrative the European Union ultimately resulted from the wish to once and for all prevent falling back into the perils of fascism and total war. You highlight earlier visions of Europe instead that date back to the interwar period and that have at times commanded much wider popular support than the let-us-avoid-our-earlier-mistakes-rhetoric. Which positive aims and motivations sustained these European projects?
In her book Capricious Borders: Minority, Population, and Counter-conduct between Greece and Turkey, published earlier this year, Olga Demetriou examines the mechanisms through which particular groups of people are turned into “minorities.” At the center of these processes she identifies naming, genealogy and state care, as key modes of governmentality. Discussing a recent incident of biopolitical policing, the author shows here how “state care” continues to have more relevance as a repressive rather than an empowering mechanism in the minoritization context.
In Greece, the “management of population” (in the sense of a Foucauldian biopolitics of demography, spatial order, classification, and knowledge production) has long been racialized.
This racialism has fluctuated through different political conjunctures yielding differing policies of birth rate monitoring and incentivization. Last month “care” emerged as a tool of biopolitical policing in a discussion that went well beyond the bounds of Greece, after authorities arrested a couple raising a child who was “not their own.” The couple was Roma, the child at first assumed not, and much of the racialized presentation of the incident turned on the stereotypical discourse about “Gypsies stealing children.”
If there is extra-terrestrial life in the Universe, how might it communicate? In Science, SETI, and Mathematics, to be published this month, author Carl DeVito seeks to answer this question in a conversational way, explaining the role of mathematics in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). DeVito explores the science and history behind the search, and shares the many questions associated with it, especially those regarding language and communication.
The early workers in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence were concerned with the technical problems of sending and receiving radio signals across inter-stellar distances.
Slowly, however, the deeper questions inherent in this endeavor rose to prominence: questions about the nature of intelligence, the nature of language, and the philosophical/psychological motivation behind this search.