181-200 of 237 Results  for:

  • History and Politics x
Clear all

Article

The Rise of Transgender Social Movements: Narrative Symbolism and History  

B. Lee Aultman

Trans is both an umbrella term for heterogeneous identities and a discrete collective identity type unto itself. It now encompasses a wide range of binary and nonbinary identifications like transsexual and transgender. Social movements arising that take up trans issues do so with certain caveats. Many make the important distinction that “trans” describes human practices and social identities preceding the construction of its modern name and meaning. Furthermore, social movements and activism advance the argument that trans embodiments are not confined to Western or medical imaginaries. Indeed, what is expressed within trans identity narratives have gone by other cultural names, with diverse histories all their own. The rise and ongoing role of American trans activism within social and political domains are careful to consider the narrative histories being summoned. Trans social movements are generally aware of the risks that analytic terms like movement or protest might imply. For better or worse, scholars often associate the rise of social and political protest movements of the 20th century in broadly fantastic terms. The emergence of trans communities, however, unfolded over the course of a century. The episodic ruptures that mark historical events (Compton’s Cafeteria or the Stonewall riots) tend to spur organizational consolidation. Indeed, many of the most recent trends in trans activism then consolidated into organized interests. On that many scholars can agree. But the historical process that led to this point of trans politics is not clear-cut. Often eclipsed by the twin narrative of queer liberation, trans social movements linger among a number of narrative histories. Three periodizations help identify how trans narratives of identity and social justice are deployed, by whom, and for what purpose. The nominal period marks the rise of transsexual identities as they emerged within the space of medical currents in the early 20th century. Trans people in mid-century America may have participated in the power of medical discourse in their own lives. For example, autobiographical texts describe psychic pain, depression, and suicidal ideation that were alleviated only through transition. Naming provides intelligibility to an otherwise opaque set of phenomena. The symbolic period moves away from privileging the medical archive to highlight the connections made between radical identity groups and the growth of organized resources by and for trans activists. Narratives here are socially symbolic and detail how terms like transsexual and transgender(ist) entered a complex cultural milieu. Many activists would permanently shape the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and agender (LGBTIA) communities for decades. The symbolic emphasizes a politics of narrative origins. Identifying the events and voices that shaped the mainstream conception of trans issues is critical to contemporary movements for social justice. The pluralist period reflects upon the various institutional interventions that shaped popular discourse around sex and gender in everyday life for trans people. It typically recasts the last three decades of the 20th century as a crucial epoch in trans activism (for both social and political forces). Between 1980 and 1990, new energy emerged that ran on the heels of a new posttranssexual politics. What emerged in the early 2000s was a rapid growth of organized advocacy and interest-group formation. Many of the organizations are still active and continue to shape national, state, and local policies. They represent one form of a blend of movement-related strategies for participating in the construction and durability of trans politics.

Article

Romania: Civil-Military Relations in the Modern Age  

Marian Zulean

Romania has no tradition in militarism despite its history of authoritarian regimes in 20th century. The process of modernization and democratization that started in the middle of 19th century was interrupted for about half a century by the authoritarian regime of King Carol II (1938), followed by a military dictatorship during World War II, and continued with a Communist dictatorship until 1989. The transition to democracy started in 1990 from a very low level, Ceausescu’s regime being one of the fiercest dictatorial regimes. However, Romania succeeded in building up a functional democracy and market economy with Western assistance that transformed it into a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). One basic conditionality to the admission into NATO and the EU was putting the military under civilian control and building up democratic civil–military relations. Thus, Romania has no history of military involvement in politics. After three decades of transition, Romania implemented a complex mechanism of democratic control of the military. However, issues regarding the incomplete internalization of democratic norms of control of the military, resistance to change through the system of military education, an obsolete national security legislation, and some legacy practices related to rights abuses perpetrated by intelligence services need to be addressed in order to consider Romania a consolidated democracy.

Article

Russian Populism  

Neil Robinson

Russia has a long history of populism. Russia’s 19th-century populist movement is often seen as one of the founding moments of modern populism, and the movement and its successors were among the main revolutionary forces against Tsarism. More recently, parties like the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation have been labeled populist, and President Vladimir Putin has been called a populist. This article looks at these different strands of Russian populism. It reviews the development of 19th-century populism—narodnichestvo—and how it developed ideas about the possibility of constructing a Russian socialism based on peasant communes. It examines how narodnichestvo veered between propaganda work and terrorist activity and how this set the pattern for the revolutionary activity of the first populists’ successors, the Social Revolutionary Party, which was formed in the early 20th century. The article then looks at the different forms that post-Soviet populizm (as populism is labeled in modern Russian) has taken. It looks at the ideas of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and then looks at why Putin has been called a populist, focusing on the ideas that he put forward from 2011 onward about Russia as a particular form of civilization and state. These ideas, it is argued, formed the core of an “official” populism that, while effective as a means of arguing for Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, is politically sterile.

Article

Rwanda: Civil–Military Relations  

Marco Jowell

The army has been a central part of Rwanda’s political system from the precolonial period until the early 21st century and is intrinsically part of the construction and politics of the state. Civil–military relations in Rwanda demonstrate not only the central features of transitioning a rebel group to a national defense sector but also how some states construct their armed forces after a period of mass violence. Since the civil war and genocide in the early 1990s, the Rwandan military has been the primary actor in politics, the economy, and state building as well as in regional wars in central Africa and the Great Lakes region. Practical experiences of guerrilla insurgency and conflict in Uganda and Rwanda, postconflict military integration, and the intertwining of political and economic agendas with the ruling party have shaped civil–military relations in Rwanda and have been central to how the Rwandan defense sector functions. Contemporary Rwandan civil–military relations center around the two elements of service delivery and control, which has resulted in the development of an effective and technocratic military in terms of remit and responsibilities on the one hand, and the creation of a politicized force of coercion on the other hand. The military in Rwanda therefore reflects the pressures and dynamics of the wider state and cannot be separated from it. The Rwandan army is thus a “political army” and is part and parcel of the political structures that oversee and govern the Rwandan state.

Article

The Sahel: Regional Politics and Dynamics  

Sebastian Elischer

Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Chad are some of least researched countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Since independence from France in 1960 these four countries have experienced two distinct yet interrelated struggles: the struggle for statehood and the struggle for democracy. Each country has experienced violent conflict between the central authorities in the capitals and security challengers on the peripheries. Prominent examples are the Tuareg uprisings in Niger and Mali, the various rebel insurgencies in Chad, and the conflict between black Africans and Arabs in Mauritania. The emergence of jihadi-Salafi groups in the West African sub-region affects all four countries and poses a particularly strong security challenge to Mali. All these conflicts are unresolved. The liberalization of the political sphere in the late 1980s and early 1990s has led to considerable political diversity across the Sahel. In Niger and Mali meaningful multiparty competition and basic civil liberties have taken root despite many setbacks. Civil society is strong and in the past has successfully mobilized against autocratic tendencies. In Mauritania and Chad, democratic institutions exist on paper as autocratic rulers have managed to stay in office. The national armed forces remain the preeminent political actors. Civil society is not strong enough to achieve political change for the better. Stagnant living conditions, social immobility, the ongoing war against Islamic terrorism, and weak accountability mechanisms remain the most important political challenges for the Sahel.

Article

Saudi Arabia: The Role of the Military in Politics  

Ayman Al-Yassini

More than any other time in Saudi Arabia’s history, Saudi nationalism and the role of the military in society are becoming a major source of regime legitimacy. Military expenditure is exceeding allocations to other ministries, and Saudi Arabia surpassed its past spending on the military to become one of the world’s main importers of arms, particularly from the United States. The process of increased militarization corresponded with the concentration of power in the hands of Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad Ibn Salman. It ushered in a period of drastic restructuring of military and security agencies to consolidate his rule. On the regional level, Saudi Arabia increasingly projects itself as the leader of the Arab world, including the Gulf region, in fighting terrorism and in direct challenge to Iran’s positioning to assume regional dominance. However, the surge in spending on equipment and training has never translated into an effective fighting force that would enable the kingdom to protect itself internally or engage in military ventures abroad. Consequently, and in the process of consolidating his power, Ibn Salman initiated a number of changes. He secured the support of the younger generation of royals but sidelined the more senior members of the royal family. He pacified the religious establishment and restructured the military leadership. He became deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, Chairman of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, and Minister of Defense. Ibn Salman’s role as Minister of Defense enabled him to assert full control over the military and national security agencies. Throughout this process, Wahabbism, tribalism, economic rewards, and the steady flow of advanced armaments ensured the military’s continued allegiance to al-Saud and Ibn Salman’s vision for Saudi Arabia. Ibn Salman introduced a top-down plan (Vision 2030) intended to create employment, to diversify the economy, and to reshape the social and cultural life of the kingdom. The kingdom adopted a more aggressive foreign policy, and the military became an important instrument of this policy. In departure from long-standing practices, the kingdom deployed air and ground forces outside its borders. It joined the U.S.-led air raids against the Islamic State (ISIS), and air and ground forces have been deployed in the campaign in Yemen. It also resorted to traditional means of influencing regional politics through financing local allies and the promotion of the kingdom as the guardian of Sunni Islam. The rentier base of the Saudi economy enabled the kingdom to spend billions of dollars to purchase an impressive array of military hardware from the United States, Britain, France, and other countries, making Saudi Arabia among the top nations in the world in terms of spending for the military. However, the military’s performance on the battlefield, such as in the Yemen war, have shown that heavy spending is not translated into an effective fighting force that would protect the kingdom internally or externally. Restructuring the military organization did not produce a modern fighting force. Tribalism, lack of transparency, and discrepancy between ambition and reality continue to prevail. It remains to be seen if Ibn Salman’s national modernization process, including a push to build a domestic armament industry and to reform the military establishment as a whole, will succeed. The challenge for Saudi Arabia today is how to balance its development initiatives with maintaining the traditional bases of regime legitimacy.

Article

The Schuman Plan and the Start of Supranational European Integration  

Piers Ludlow

France turned to European integration out of an awareness of the weakness of its international position in 1950. In particular it was conscious of the way in which it had been marginalized in the debate about the treatment of postwar Germany, forced to watch as a much stronger Federal Republic re-emerged than the French were comfortable with. But it was this defeat that spurred the radicalism of the Schuman Plan—the bold announcement by the French foreign minister in May 1950 that his country was willing jointly to operate its coal and steel sectors with Germany and whichever other European states felt able to join. The idea of building a strong European structure to control both French and German heavy industry was not an idealistic move, but something that would help avoid the likely triumph of German industry and the damage it could do to French recovery. In the process it would save the Monnet Plan, the economic blueprint for French postwar reconstruction put together by the author of the Schuman Plan, Jean Monnet. But it also would advance the wider goal of establishing a European framework within which Germany’s re-emergence could be controlled. That same framework, furthermore, appealed to Adenauer’s Germany as one that would both facilitate the new state’s international rehabilitation and bind the country securely to the Western bloc. To this central Franco-German bargain four other European countries would rally, partly out of enthusiasm for the wider goal of European unity, partly through fear of exclusion from a Europe built exclusively by their two largest neighbors. But crucially for future developments the United Kingdom would choose to abstain principally because it was too content with the European status quo of 1950 to need to embark on institutional experiments. This constituted a choice, the repercussions of which have endured into the early 21st century. The Schuman Plan thus constitutes a vital formative episode in the European integration process: it inaugurated a key French tactic and German response, it determined the cast list of the early integration story, and it introduced an institutional structure and modus operandi that, significantly modified, still lie at the heart of the 21st-century European Union.

Article

Serbia and the European Union  

Matteo Bonomi and Milica Uvalic

Serbia is negotiating European Union (EU) membership, a process that started in 2014 after the Brussels-mediated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia was signed in April 2013. Although the Federal Republic (FR) of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was officially included into the EU’s Stabilization and Association Process soon after the fall of the Milošević regime in October 2000, complex political issues have prevented its faster progress toward the EU. EU measures after 2001 in the areas of financial assistance, trade, and legal harmonization have sustained in a major way the country’s political and economic reforms, facilitating fast economic integration with the EU economy, financial and banking integration, the adoption of many laws in conformity with the acquis communuataire, new business opportunities, and increasing foreign direct investment. However, the Serbia–EU integration process has also been accompanied by strict political conditionality that has greatly delayed the establishment of contractual relations. Despite major efforts of various governments to comply with EU conditions, it was only in late April 2008 that Serbia concluded a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which has paved the way for obtaining candidate status in 2012 and the opening of EU accession negotiations in 2014. In the meantime, EU’s enlargement negotiations framework has been strengthened further, making the negotiation talks much more complex and demanding. In addition to Serbia’s insufficient compliance with accession criteria, particularly reforms of the judiciary and public administration, the contested issue of Kosovo’s independence continues to pose a major threat to Serbia’s entry into the EU. Despite the absence of a common position on the part of the EU, given that Kosovo has still not been recognized by five EU member states, the limited progress in the Belgrade–Priština EU-facilitated dialogue represents one of the major obstacles for Serbia’s EU membership. Serbia’s entry into the EU, which could possibly take place in 2025, is likely to bring many benefits to the country and its population, but also to the EU, as this is a region of not only risks but also opportunities.

Article

The Single European Act  

Desmond Dinan

The Single European Act (SEA) of 1986 was the first major reform of the founding treaties of the three original European Communities, the forerunners of the European Union (EU). The main purpose of the SEA was to facilitate implementation of the Single Market Program by the end of 1992, notably by making it possible for national governments to enact the necessary legislation in the Council of Ministers by means of qualified-majority voting (QMV). To complement the shift of decision-making from unanimity to QMV, the SEA also increased the legislative authority of the European Parliament by introducing the cooperation procedure. This was intended to help close the EC’s perceived democratic deficit, or at least to prevent it from widening. The SEA included changes in other policy areas as well as the single market, such as cohesion policy, environmental policy, research and technology policy, and intergovernmental cooperation on foreign policy (European Political Cooperation). The SEA, and the Single Market Program with which it is closely associated, became synonymous with the acceleration of European integration in the late 1980s. Procedurally and substantively, the SEA set a precedent for other, far-reaching treaty reforms, especially the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Jacques Delors, who became commission president in 1985, is widely credited with having engineered the SEA. The leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom may have played a more important role, especially as the SEA emerged out of a complicated intergovernmental conference, which culminated in a meeting of the European Council in December 1985. From the perspective of more than three decades later, with the EU facing serious setbacks, the SEA looks like a shining light in the history of European integration.

Article

Slum Politics in Africa  

Jacqueline M. Klopp and Jeffrey W. Paller

Africa’s growing slums are complex, diverse neighborhoods with their own histories. Currently, these places, characterized by spatially concentrated poverty and human rights abuses, are where large proportions and, in many cases, the majority of Africa’s growing urban populations live. These slums often have a politics characterized by clientelism and repression, but also cooperation, accountability, and political mobilization. Importantly, they must be understood within a wider political context as products of larger historical processes that generate severe inequalities in standards of living, rights, and service provision. Varied approaches (modernization vs. more critical historical and political economy approaches) attempt to explain the emergence, dynamics, and persistence of slums and the politics that often produces, characterizes, and shapes them in Africa. While raising important questions about the link between urbanization and democracy, modernization theories, which are typically ahistorical, do not fully explain the persistence and actual growth of slums in African cities. More historically grounded political economy approaches better explain the formation and dynamics of slums in African cities, including the complex, uneven, and inadequate service delivery to these areas. Whether the conditions of Africa’s slums and the social injustice that undergirds them will give birth to greater democratization in Africa, which, in turn, will deliver radical improvements to the majority, is a critical unanswered question. Will social movements, populist opposition parties, and stronger citizenship claims for the poor ultimately emerge from slum—and wider city—politics? If so, will they address the political problem of inequality that the slum represents? A focus on cities, slums, and their politics is thus a core part of growing concern for the future of African cities and democratic politics on the continent.

Article

Southern Africa: Regional Politics and Dynamics  

Stephen Chan

Southern Africa is a region marked by huge tensions caused by the longevity of colonial rule and racial discrimination. Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa all achieved independence only years after most of Africa, and only with protracted militarized struggle. Even those countries that did enter independence in the 1960s, alongside most of Africa, were marked by the struggles of their neighbors—Zambia, host to exile liberation movements, was a frequent military target; and wars, sponsored or supported by apartheid South Africa, continued to rage in Angola and Mozambique even after they achieved independence. This has marked the post-independence politics of most countries of the region, almost all of whom have gone through, or remain within, an era of one-party politics or dominant party rule. In part, this can be read as a residual longing for stability. In other part it can be read as a “liberation generation” using its history as a lever by which to hang onto power. Having said that, the politics of each country has distinctive characteristics—although one has certainly been protracted effort to adhere to forms of ethics, such as “Humanism” in Zambia, and truth and reconciliation in South Africa. The contemporary politics of the region, however, is one with forms of authoritarianism and corruption and, in many cases, economic decline or turmoil. The rise of Chinese influence is also a new marker of politics in the region as all of Southern Africa, with many different former colonial powers, enters a new era of problematic cosmopolitanism—with the international jostling with already sometimes-volatile elements of ethnic diversity, balancing, and conflict.

Article

South Korea and the European Union  

Sunghoon Park

Since the inauguration of the official diplomatic relationship between Korea and the European Union (EU) in 1963, the bilateral relations have continuously upgraded, to reach the status of a Strategic Partnership in 2010, which is supported by three key agreements—the Framework Agreement, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Framework Participation Agreement. The bilateral relationship has undergone profound changes around the mid-1980s, transforming it from an economy-focused and one-sided preferential relationship to a comprehensive and more equal partnership. Among others, the 2000s have been most dynamic and productive in upgrading the Korea–EU bilateral relationship. Not only EU’s policy initiatives such as the “Global Europe” strategy, but also Korea’s aspiration to play an increasingly important leadership role in regional and global arena have been instrumental in instituting the strategic partnership between Korea and the EU. Considering the past trajectory and recent development, the Korea–EU relationship appears to have a bright future. Stronger policy dialogues and common efforts, especially in climate change and energy, education and culture, and international development cooperation, are needed to make the bilateral relationship more meaningful and commensurate to the weight of the two parties in the global politics and economy.

Article

South Korea: The Journey Toward Civilian and Democratic Control Over the Military  

Carl J. Saxer

Many have seen the establishment of civilian and democratic control over the military as a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for the consolidation of a nascent democracy. The establishment of civilian and democratic control over the military in South Korea was a long and, some would argue, uncompleted process. A coup in 1961 led by Park Chung-hee, a major-general, led to the establishment of an authoritarian regime that, while going civilian, was based on the control of the military and the intelligence services. Park was assassinated by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in October 1979; however, the hopes of moving in the direction of democracy were soon squashed when Chun Doo-hwan, and his comrades in arms from the secret Hanahoe (One Mind) club of Korean Military Academy graduates, first took power over the military through an internal coup, and then took control over the government. Under significant internal, and external, pressure Chun Doo-hwan agreed to step down from the presidency in 1987 and allow the writing of a new constitution that led to free elections to the presidency in December 1987. The opposition lost the 1987 election due to its inability to agree upon a united candidate. The winner was Roh Tae-woo, a participant in the 1979–1990 coup, who would during his presidency take important steps when it came to establishing civilian control over the military. However, it was first with the inauguration of the Kim Young-sam in 1993 that the establishment of firm civilian control was achieved. He engaged in a significant reorganization of, and moved against the power of the secret societies within, the army. He also promoted the idea of a politically neutral military. This most likely played a significant role when Kim Dae-jung, the first opposition candidate, won the presidency in December 1997, as the military remained neutral and accepted the outcome of the electoral process. There has since been a strengthening of civilian control over the military in South Korea. However, there are a number of important issues that need to be dealt with in order to ensure full democratic control over the military and the intelligence services. While the military, as an institution, has stayed neutral in politics, military and intelligence resources have been used in attempts at influencing public opinion in the lead-up to elections. In addition, comprehensive oversight by the legislature continues to be weak and the National Security Law remains on the books.

Article

Spain and the European Union  

Arantza Gomez Arana

The development of political and economic relations between Spain and the European Union commenced in 1970 with their first agreement and demonstrated the clear interest on the Spanish side to engage with this new Community. The full membership to the then European Community that took place in 1986, was previously supported by the Spanish political class when the country returned to democracy. In the more than three decades of membership, Spain has become the border of Europe in a key geopolitical part of the continent. It has contributed to the development of several Justice and Home Affairs measures and it has helped to the development of European external relations with other countries. Thirty-four years after joining the Community, history has demonstrated that Europhilia is still more important than any unintended consequences developed with the membership, including the Eurocrisis. Its roots could be found in Spain’s recent political and economic history, where isolationism and impoverishment dominated the country for most of the 20th century and the option of joining the Community was seen as a positive move against their political and economic problems. The membership has provided stability in some Spanish political and economic matters, but has not fully resolved the long-term and structural problems that this Iberian country suffers from. However, throughout this journey, Spain has held to a pro-EU sentiment, even in recent times, while other EU countries suffer from high levels of Euroscepticism. This chapter argues that despite some of the negative consequences of joining the European Union, Spain’s recent history has been too significant to transform its Europhilia into Europhobia.

Article

Spain’s LGBT Movement  

Kerman Calvo and J. Ignacio Pichardo

The LGBT movement has been successful in improving the legal and social standing of sexual minorities in Spain; this includes the recognition of same-sex marriages, joint adoption, and the right to change identification in public registers. The movement has also contributed to a wider acceptance of LGBT diversity at the societal level. LGBT mobilizations in Spain started in the 1970s, with the transition toward democracy. The first political generation of activists believed in gay liberation, supported revolutionary ideas, and defended street protesting. This did not prevent activists from seeking collaboration with the state, as urgent legal action was required to end the criminalization of homosexual relations. After a decade of demobilization, a new generation of activists revamped LGBT activism in Spain during the 1990s, again with a well-defined political agenda: reacting to the devastation caused by AIDS, and also to the changes taking place in the international stage, the new “proud” generation demanded not only individual rights, but also family rights. The legalization of same-sex marriage (and joint adoption) in 2005 was the outcome of a vibrant cycle of mobilization. Contrary to some expectations, the Spanish LGBT movement has not become the victim of its own success. By shifting its attention toward the goal of substantive equality and by reaching out to new communities, the movement remains influential and vigilant against threats posed by the consolidation of new forms of conservative countermobilization.

Article

Spain: The Long Road from an Interventionist Army to Democratic and Modern Armed Forces  

Rafa Martínez and Fernando J. Padilla Angulo

During the transition from ancien régime to liberalism that took place in Spain during the first third of the 19th century, the military became a prominent political actor. Many soldiers were members of the country’s first liberal parliament, which in 1812 passed one of the world’s oldest liberal charters, the so-called Constitution of Cádiz. Furthermore, the armed forces fought against the Napoleonic Army’s occupation and, once the Bourbon monarchy was restored, often took arms against the established power. Nineteenth-century Spain was prey to instability due to the struggle between conservative, progressive, liberal, monarchical, and republican factions. It was also a century full of missed opportunities by governments, constitutions, and political regimes, in which the military always played an active role, often a paramount one. Army and navy officers became ministers and heads of government during the central decades of the 19th century, often after a coup. This changed with the establishment of a parliamentary monarchy based on a bipartisan system known as the Restoration (1874–1923). The armed forces were kept away from politics. They focused on their professional activities, thus developing a corporate attitude and an ideological cohesion around a predominantly conservative political stance. Ruling the empire gave the armed forces a huge sphere of influence. Only chief officers were appointed as governors of the Spanish territories in America, Africa, and Asia throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This went unchanged until 1976, when Spain withdrew from Western Sahara, deemed the country’s last colony. The power accumulated in the overseas territories was often used by the governors to build a political career in metropolitan Spain. Following the end of the Restoration in 1923, the armed forces engaged with the political struggle in full again. After a military-led dictatorship, a frustrated republic, and a fratricidal civil war, a dictatorship was established in 1939 that lasted for almost 40 years: the Francoist regime. Francisco Franco leaned on the military as a repressive force and a legitimacy source for a regime established as a result of a war. After the dictator passed away in 1975, Spain underwent a transition to democracy which was accepted by the armed forces somehow reluctantly, as the coup attempt of 1981 made clear. At that time, the military was the institution that Spanish society trusted the least. It was considered a poorly trained and equipped force. Even its troops’ volume and budget were regarded as excessive. However, the armed forces have undergone an intense process of modernization since the end of 1980s. They have become fully professional, their budget and numbers have been reduced, and they have successfully taken part in European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and United Nations (UN)-led international missions. In the early 21st century, the armed forces are Spain’s second-best valued institution. Far from its formerly interventionist role throughout the 19th century and a good deal of the 20th, Spain’s armed forces in the 21st century have become a state tool and a public administration controlled by democratically elected governments.

Article

Sport and Politics in Africa  

Michelle Sikes

African politics have always had a significant effect on sport, despite cherished mantras that sport and politics are mutually exclusive. Conversely, sport has played a meaningful role in the politics of African nations, from nation-building to widening foreign policy options, to making national alliances of countries that may not have otherwise supported each other, particularly with respect to the anti-apartheid struggle. Twentieth-century African politics have been a laboratory for the testing and ultimate debunking of the long-standing notion that African sport (or any human activity) exists in a vacuum, apart from the political realities of the culture within which it exists.

Article

State Formation and Conflict in Africa  

Didier Péclard

Dominant narratives and theories developed at the turn of the 21st century to account for the links between state formation and civil wars in Africa converged around two main ideas. First was the contention that the increase in civil wars across the continent—like that in many parts of the globe, including South Asia and Central Europe—was linked to state failure or decay. Violent conflict thus came to be seen as the expression of the weakness, disintegration, and collapse of political institutions in the postcolonial world. Second, guerrilla movements, once viewed as the ideological armed wings of Cold War contenders, then came to be seen as roving bandits interested in plundering the spoils left by decaying states, and their motives as primarily, if not only, economic or personal, rather than political. However, recent research has challenged the reductionism that underlay such accounts by looking into the day-to-day politics of civil war, thus moving beyond the search for the motives that bring rebels and rebel movements to wage war against the established order. Drawing on this literature, this article argues that violent conflict is part and parcel of historical processes of state formation. Thus, in order to understand how stable political institutions can be built in the aftermath of civil war, it is essential to study the institutions that regulate political life during conflict. This implies a need not only to look at how (and if) state institutions survive once war has broken out, but also to take into account the institutions put in place in areas beyond the control of the state.

Article

The State of Hezbollah? Sovereignty as a Potentiality in Global South Contexts  

Imad Mansour

The understanding of the differences in what a state and nonstate actors are and do in the Global South is augmented if we historicize these categories. In particular, the category of the nonstate actor is best understood when contextualized in the project of the state in which such actors operate. Building on established critical approaches, it is necessary to interrogate the a priori assumption that distinctions that frame as exclusively distinct categories of state and nonstate actors hold blanket validity for understanding politics in the Global South. A meaningful understanding of how an actor’s influence—regardless of category—is enhanced when placed in a context, and where analysis addresses strategies and actions and their effects. To this end, an actor is defined as an entity with two characteristics: it is able to develop preferences and goals, and it is able to mobilize individuals and material resources in their pursuit. Presenting the benefits of contextual analysis shows how a focus on actors’ “sovereign potentialities” (i.e., attributes such as control over territory, service provision, generation of markers of identity, and the international recognition that an actor has and through which it can impose change on its context and environment) allows for a clearer understanding of what constrains or enables actors qua actors. One way to explain the analytical purchase of this argument is via a novel reading of Hezbollah and of Lebanon’s politics, which is the party’s anchoring context. This makes it possible to analyze the profound effects of Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon and regionally through its alliance with Syria (and Iran), its appeal to a wider Arab audience, and its confrontation with Israel. Special attention is given to Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon, its involvement in the 2012–2013 Qusayr battle in support of the Syrian government, and its decision-making during the 2006 Israel War. This discussion will highlight Hezbollah’s state-like and non-state-like sovereign potentialities, and the factors that limit or enable its strategies in different contexts.

Article

Storytelling and Narrative Research in Crisis and Disaster Studies  

Alessandra Jerolleman

Storytelling is a common and pervasive practice across human history, which some have argued is a fundamental part of human understanding. Storytelling and narratives are a very human way of understanding the world, as well as events, and can serve as key tools for crisis and disaster studies and practice. They play a tremendously important role in planning, policy, education, the public sphere, advocacy, training, and community recovery. In the context of crises and disasters, stories are a means by which information is transmitted across generations, a key strategy for survival from non-routine and infrequent events. In fact, the field of disaster studies has long relied on narratives as primary source material, as a means of understanding individual experiences of phenomena as well as critiquing policies and understanding the role of history in 21st-century levels of vulnerability. Over the past several decades, practitioners and educators in the field have sought to use stories and narratives more purposefully to build resilience and pass on tacit knowledge.