The late 20th century brought the dawn of global population aging, the culmination of decades-long shifts to lower fertility and longer life expectancy. These novel age distributions—larger proportions of older persons relative to working-age or youth—bring with them a plethora of questions about the political, economic, and social causes and consequences of such aging. There are multiple theoretical perspectives and ways to measure population aging, and decisions about approaches, definitions, and measurements can make a dramatic difference on the results of studies of its impact. Some scholars approach the study of aging through a generational lens, others through chronological age, dependency ratios, or other measures of age structure. Studies of the implications of population aging fall into three major categories: political, economic, and social. Political demography studies often focus on the political power of various age groups and attempt to assess the degree to which intergenerational conflict is emerging as the sizes of age groups change and their demands on services like entitlements shift alongside. Political demography studies also look at voter behavior and preferences to assess possibilities for reform of age-related policies, like retirement, healthcare, and education. A separate branch of political demography examines the military implications of population aging, particularly its effect on the willingness and ability of a state to use force. Of the few studies that show a link between aging and war, empirical results are inconclusive, meaning that it is just as likely a state with a high median age will be belligerent as not. Studies on the economic implications of population aging look at the changing nature of the labor market itself and on the possibility of macroeconomic growth in the face of demographic change. Finally, research on the social impact of population aging is mostly concerned with individual- and family-level well-being, as the care demands of an aging population create pressures on individuals, families, and social safety nets. There are many controversies and debates over the impact of aging, including debates over the relative weight of demographic factors and whether population aging is a trend warranting celebration or alarm. In all, there are far more questions about the implications of aging than there are answers, and the projected development of this trend means that more questions constantly arise. Lingering questions surround historically rapid demographic aging, new sets of aging states at different speeds, shrinking populations, the intersection between migration and aging, and the intersection between aging and climate change. The field is ripe for more comparative aging work in general.
Jennifer D. Sciubba
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—FARC) was an insurgent group that emerged in the 1960s as a consequence of struggles between the Conservatives and the Liberals, as well as the consolidation of a Communist party that promoted an armed insurrection. A relative absence of state institutions in farther regions, the uneven distribution of land, and an impoverished peasant class were elements fueling rebellious movements. By the 1980s, however, FARC had become something more complex than an insurgent organization. After initially opposing the idea, the group accepted the generation of income through the taxation of activities in the cocaine-illicit economy. An unprecedented process of growth experienced by the insurgency, with this income, allowed a remarkable offensive against the security forces, in specific regions, by the end of the 1990s. Since then, an explanation of the organization as a “pure” political insurgency would be inaccurate; the motivation and purpose of some fighters within the group was profit. Although an explanation radically separating political and criminal (economic) agendas may be flawed, at least a concept which portrays the organization as something more than just an insurgency seems helpful. The concept of hybrid group, in which armed, political, and criminal dimensions coexist, invites exploring different types of motivations, purposes, and tasks that fighters might have. The observation of these dimensions also contributes to an understanding of the evolution of FARC after the Havana Agreement. A strong military offensive during the 2000s was one of the factors motivating the group to engage in peace negotiations with the Colombian government. With the Agreement, FARC as an armed insurgency ceased to exist, but the continuation of factors which motivated the existence of a hybrid group have triggered the emergence of a myriad of smaller groups, several of which claim to be the real successors of FARC, mixing in diverse ways the political and criminal agendas.
There is an increase in extreme weather conditions due to human-induced climate change. Their impacts are most severely felt by the marginalized and the poor in the Global South. Increasingly, study of international relations focuses on the varied forms of disasters and the global politics that emerge around them. Disaster studies scholarship actively challenges the myth of existence of “natural disasters.” Instead of defining them as being “natural,” disasters are conceived as serious disruptions to the functioning of a community or a society with human, material, economic, or environmental losses. The disaster concept is thus separated, first, from hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, and floods, and “disaters” are not limited to events resulting from natural hazards. Disasters emerge also as a result of major economic and political instabilities due to the nature of the contemporary global political economy and global financial crises. Disasters also include those that often go unnoticed such as violent conflicts or famines, and also include global pandemics such as Ebola and COVID-19. Disasters understood in this way also include aftermaths of resource extractivism and settler coloniality. The intersection of disasters and visual methodologies offers insights into theorizing International Relations nature, the everyday, and the politics of disasters. This article focuses on such visual and audiovisual scholarship that has predominantly emerged from, and actively engages with, collaborative visual methodologies and a rethinking of research processes. Such works offer insights into critical exploration of academic knowledge production processes and praxis, suggesting that visual is not a method, but a methodological and ethical choice. Research processes adopting photo-elicitation, graphic novels and comics, and films in specific disaster contexts challenge text-dominated scholarship and offer reflection on the roles between the researcher and researched, and on the question of authorship. Turning to visuals also brings to the fore questions of representations and the strategic use of the visual in the overall scholarly storytelling practice. Further, scholars have suggested that instead of focusing on the visual devices, or the visual products, visual methodologies as a process orientation allow questions related to democratizing and accessibility to the research process to be addressed, weighing up whose priorities matter, that is, making research useful for (Indigenous) communities and resisting legacies of the imperial shutter.