Sociology

Open Access (free)
Changing meanings of the countryside in northern Italy

Jaro Stacul investigates the consequences of an Italian party’s discourse about the countryside, and how it has dovetailed with local concerns. He discusses the rise of the Lega Nord (Northern League) in the 1990s, a time of national disenchantment with established parties, then widely seen as deeply corrupt. Leaders of the populist Lega called for the recreation of a lost ‘authenticity’ and a traditional sense of community, propagating an idea of a northern Italian culture, denigrating southerners as lazy and parasitic, and criticizing the state as the distant imposer of an alienating ‘civilization’. To these rhetoricians, it was the northern countryside which was the repository of laudatory values, in particular an ethic of hard work. To the Trentino villagers, with whom he did fieldwork and whose area had not been incorporated into Italy until the end of the First World War, the Lega was attractive because they regarded the state as remote, if not indeed foreign, and as responsible for creating a National Park in their area. The state saw the park as a wild, public space; locals saw it as a restrictive practice which curtailed the exercise of their traditional practices, such as hunting, which they had carried out on land they regarded as cultivated, in effect private property.

in Alternative countrysides
Craft professions, cultural policies, and identity

In contemporary EU political discourses of rurality, rural zones are no longer regarded primarily as zones for the production of food. Instead, they are viewed in multifunctional terms: as partly aesthetic resources, areas for the conservation of biodiversity and the management (if not invention) of heritage, to be exploited for the boosting of agro- and eco-tourism and other leisure industries. Thus the Galician anthropologist Elena Freire shows how in the 1990s the Galician Autonomous Community (GAC), working in league with the EC, stimulated the revival of autochthonous pottery and paid for the unemployed to train as potters. After detailing the customary mode of pottery production in the area, which fell into abeyance in the 1960s, she discusses its differences with the revitalized form: the new potters do not come from the ranks of the traditional, long-established potter-families of the area; they do not enter extended apprenticeships but undergo brief accredited courses; their production is not oriented to everyday items of domestic use, but to mainly decorative items branded as ‘heritage’ in Galician nationalist terms.

in Alternative countrysides
Open Access (free)
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Overriding politics and injustices

In October 2011, twenty skulls of the Herero and Nama people were repatriated from Germany to Namibia. So far, fifty-five skulls and two human skeletons have been repatriated to Namibia and preparations for the return of more skulls from Germany were at an advanced stage at the time of writing this article. Nonetheless, the skulls and skeletons that were returned from Germany in the past have been disappointingly laden with complexities and politics, to such an extent that they have not yet been handed over to their respective communities for mourning and burials. In this context, this article seeks to investigate the practice of ‘anonymising’ the presence of human remains in society by exploring the art and politics of the Namibian state’s memory production and sanctioning in enforcing restrictions on the affected communities not to perform, as they wish, their cultural and ritual practices for the remains of their ancestors.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Transnational dynamics in post-genocidal restitutions

Taking its starting point from a socio-anthropological study combining biographical interviews, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observations collected between 2016 and 2018 in Germany, France and the United States among Ovaherero and Nama activists, and also members of different institutions and associations, this article focuses on the question of human remains in the current struggle for recognition and reparation of the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama from a transnational perspective. First, the text shows the ways in which the memory of human remains can be considered as a driving force in the struggle of the affected communities. Second, it outlines the main points of mismatches of perspective between descendants of the survivors and the responsible museums during past restitutions of human remains from German anthropological collections. Third, the article more closely examines the resources of Ovaherero in the United States in the struggle for recognition and reparation, the recent discovery of Namibian human remains in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the questions that it raises.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Colonialism, grave robbery and intellectual history

In 1885, the Berlin pathologist Rudolf Virchow presented three human skeletons from the colony of German South West Africa to the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory. The remains had been looted from a grave by a young German scientist, Waldemar Belck, who was a member of the second Lüderitz expedition and took part in the occupation of colonial territory. In an attempt to re-individualise and re-humanise these human remains, which were anonymised in the course of their appropriation by Western science, the authors consult not only the colonial archive, but also contemporary oral history in Namibia. This allows for a detailed reconstruction of the social and political contexts of the deaths of the three men, named Jacobus Hendrick, Jacobus !Garisib and Oantab, and of Belck’s grave robbery, for an analysis of how the remains were turned into scientific objects by German science and institutions, as well as for an establishment of topographical and genealogical links with the Namibian present. Based on these findings, claims for the restitution of African human remains from German institutions cannot any longer be regarded as a contemporary phenomenon only but must be understood as part of an African tradition of resistance against Western colonial and scientific practices.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Results of the Charité Human Remains Project

From 2010 to 2013 the Charité Human Remains Project researched the provenance of the remains of fifty-seven men and women from the then colony of German South West Africa. They were collected during German colonial rule, especially but not only during the colonial war 1904–8. The remains were identified in anthropological collections of academic institutions in Berlin. The article describes the history of these collections, the aims, methods and interdisciplinary format of provenance research as well as its results and finally the restitutions of the remains to Namibia in 2011 and 2014.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Social welfare for the twenty-first century

Social democracy has made a political comeback in recent years, especially under the influence of the ‘Third Way’. Not everyone is convinced, however, that ‘Third Way’ social democracy is the best means of reviving the Left's project. This book considers this dissent and offers an alternative approach. Bringing together a range of social and political theories, it engages with some contemporary debates regarding the present direction and future of the Left. Drawing upon egalitarian, feminist and environmental ideas, the book proposes that the social democratic tradition can be renewed but only if the dominance of conservative ideas is challenged more effectively. It explores a number of issues with this aim in mind, including justice, the state, democracy, new technologies, future generations and the advances in genetics.