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Afghanistan in Victorian Literature  

Zarena Aslami

Afghanistan appears infrequently in Victorian literature. However, when it does appear, whether as detail or as the setting of stories that characters tell within the framing story, it is highly charged with affect and meaning. For Victorian writers, references to Afghanistan had to be carefully managed because of the conflicted feelings the public had toward two wars that the British empire conducted in Afghanistan, wars that were unprovoked, traumatic, and did not definitively gain their stated objectives. The ideological necessity of viewing Afghans as both sovereign allies, preventing the incursions of other empires on British holdings in India, and savage others, to be dominated, led not only to powerfully charged references to this country in Victorian literature. It also finds expression in 20th- and 21st-century postcolonial scholarship, including the formidable work of Edward Said. Within this field, scholarship also tends to reference Afghanistan as mere detail and to evacuate it of historical content. Returning to Victorian literature allows us to fill in the content, that is, to understand this generic quality of Afghanistan—detail or narrated, but not direct, setting—as the result not of historical insignificance but of powerful Victorian ambivalence.

Article

African Music in the Global African Diaspora  

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje

When researching music in the African diaspora, most scholars concentrate on the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade, which has been a trend since inquiries began during the mid twentieth century. Only since the late twentieth century have researchers started to consider musical repercussions from the involuntary and voluntary migration of Africans in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean. Using historical and musical secondary sources, the essay, African Music in the Global African Diaspora, devotes special attention to musicking during the enslavement of Black people in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic Ocean worlds. In addition to a concise history of slavery and the enslaved, a description of instruments, musical traditions, performance practices, and meaning is presented for each diaspora. The degree that musical elements identified with Africa were retained and/or transformed, resulting in a fusion or blending of performance practices, is also explored. Because no single publication, heretofore, has focused on African music in the global African diaspora, the study fills a significant void in the literature and presents a more comprehensive view of the dispersion of African music inworld culture. The outcome provides a broader analysis and understanding of the power and impact of African music globally.

Article

Alignment and Word Order in the Romance Languages  

Francesco Rovai

The term “alignment” refers to the formal realization of the argument structure of the clause, that is, the ways in which the core arguments of the predicate are encoded by means of three main morphosyntactic devices: nominal case marking (morphological case, adpositions), verb marking systems (verbal agreement, pronominal affixes, auxiliaries, voice distinctions, etc.), and word order. The relative importance of these mechanisms of argument coding may considerably vary from language to language. In the Romance family, a major role is played by finite verb agreement and, to a lesser extent, auxiliary selection, participial agreement, voice distinctions, and word order, depending on the language/variety. Most typically, both transitive and intransitive subjects share the same formal coding (they control finite verb agreement and precede the verb in the basic word order) and are distinguished from direct objects (which do not control finite verb agreement and follow the verb in the basic word order). This arrangement of the argument structure is traditionally known as “nominative/accusative” alignment and can be easily identified as the main alignment of the Romance languages. Note that, with very few exceptions, nominal case marking is instead “neutral,” since no overt morphological distinction is made between subject and object arguments after the loss of the Latin case system. However, although the Romance languages can legitimately be associated with an accusative alignment, it must be borne in mind that, whatever the property selected, natural languages speak against an all-encompassing, holistic typology. A language “belongs” to an alignment type only insofar as it displays a significantly above-average frequency of clause structures with that kind of argument coding, but this does not exclude the existence of several grammatical domains that partake of different alignments. In the Romance family, minor patterns are attested that are not consistent with an accusative alignment. In part, they depend on robust crosslinguistic tendencies in the distribution of the different alignment types when they coexist in the same language. In part, they reflect phenomena of morphosyntactic realignment that can be traced back to the transition from Latin to Romance, when, alongside the dominant accusative alignment of the classical language, Late Latin developed an active alignment in some domains of the grammar—a development that has its roots in Classical and Early Latin. Today, the Romance languages preserve traces of this intermediate stage, but in large part, the signs of it have been replaced with novel accusative structures. In particular, at the level of the sentence, there emerges an accusative-aligned word order, with the preverbal position realizing the default “subject” position and the postverbal position instantiating the default “object” position.

Article

The Allocation of Groundwater: From Superstition to Science  

Burke W. Griggs

Groundwater is a critical natural resource, but the law has always struggled with it. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the common law developed several doctrines to allocate groundwater among competing users. The groundwater revolution of the mid-20th century produced an explosive growth in pumping worldwide—and quickly exposed the flaws of these doctrines. Legal rules predicated on land and on surface waters could not meet the challenges posed by the common-pool groundwater resource: those of understanding groundwater dynamics, quantifying the impacts of pumping on other water rights, and devising satisfactory remedies. Unfettered by received property restraints, pumping on an industrial, aquifer-wide scale depleted and contaminated aquifers, regardless of doctrine. The groundwater revolution motivated significant legal developments. Starting in the 1970s, the Supreme Court of the United States adapted its methods for resolving interstate water disputes to include the effects of groundwater pumping. This jurisprudence has fundamentally influenced international groundwater law, including the negotiation of trans-boundary aquifer agreements. Advances in hydrogeology and computer groundwater modeling have enabled states and parties to evaluate the effects of basin-wide pumping. Nonetheless, difficult legal and governance problems remain. Which level of government—local, state, or national—should exercise jurisdiction over groundwater? What level of pumping qualifies as “safe yield,” especially when the aquifer is overdrawn? How do the demands of modern environmental law and the public trust doctrine affect groundwater rights? How can governments satisfy long-neglected claims to water justice made by Indigenous and minority communities? Innovations in groundwater management provide promising answers. The conjunctive management of surface and groundwater can stabilize water supplies, improve water quality, and protect ecosystems. Integrated water resources management seeks to holistically manage groundwater to achieve social and economic equity. Water markets can reward water conservation, attract new market participants, and encourage the migration of groundwater allocations to more valuable uses, including environmental uses. The modern law of groundwater allocation combines older property doctrines with 21st-century regulatory ideals, but the mixture can be unstable. In nations with long-established water codes such as the United States, common-law Anglophone nations, and various European nations, groundwater law has evolved, if haltingly, to incorporate permitting systems, environmental regulation, and water markets. Elsewhere, the challenges are extreme. Long-standing calls for groundwater reform in India remain unheeded as tens of millions of unregulated tube wells pump away. In China, chronic groundwater mismanagement and aquifer contamination belie the roseate claims of national water law. Sub-Saharan nations have enacted progressive groundwater laws, but poverty, racism, and corruption have maintained grim groundwater realities. Across the field, experts have long identified the central problems and reached a rough consensus about the most effective solutions; there is also a common commitment to secure environmental justice and protect groundwater-dependent ecosystems. The most pressing legal work thus requires building practical pathways to reach these solutions and, most importantly, to connect the public with the groundwater on which it increasingly depends.

Article

Apache Peoples before 1850  

Matthew Babcock

Apache history before 1850 is poorly understood because of the long-standing mistaken assumption that Apaches were inherently violent raiders and warriors from time immemorial. Although Athapaskans fought surrounding Indigenous groups for control of the southern plains prior to European contact, their initial contacts with Puebloans and Spaniards were peaceful. Apaches began obtaining Spanish horses in the early 1600s, and, angered by Spanish enslavement of their people, began conducting equestrian raids on their enemies by at least the 1670s. Fighting for their freedom and the return of their kinsmen, Apaches played an active role in both the Pueblo and Great Southwestern Revolts, while expanding their territory southward, eastward, and westward. By 1686, eastern Apaches controlled the southern and central plains, and in the 1690s, Spaniards identified western groups in the Chiricahua and Pinaleño Mountains and along the Gila and Verde Rivers. Embroiled in war with Comanches, Utes, and Caddoan Norteños during the 18th century, Jicarilla and Lipan Apaches sought Spanish military aid and protection while utilizing the Catholic missions Spaniards established for them as supply posts. In the late 1760s, the Spanish military took an expanded role in trying to control Apaches and intensified their offensives against them during the 1770s and 1780s. After 1786, the Spanish military combined peace and war, attempting either to pacify Apaches by turning them into sedentary farmers, destroy them with the help of Indigenous allies, or extradite them to interior Mexico and Cuba. Thwarting these efforts, Apaches de paz (peaceful Apaches) largely shaped the system of Spanish-run reservations that extended from Laredo to Tucson by relying on well-established strategies of movement, trading, and small-scale raiding. The system declined unevenly, with Apache raiding escalating more quickly east of the Rio Grande than west of it. Because of political and economic instability in interior Mexico, competition from US traders, and a regional smallpox epidemic most Apaches left their reservations by 1832. Mexican–Apache relations subsequently deteriorated as northern Mexican states hired contract killers, implemented scalp bounties, and presidios and towns disintegrated into arenas of treacherous violence. Apaches, however, still managed to occupy and control the vast majority of their homeland.

Article

Archaeology of Bénin  

Inga Merkyte

The archaeology of Bénin, despite being a young discipline, presents a history of research and historical circumstances that have shaped the country. Reviewing the highly varied climatic and natural conditions casts light on human adaptation and management of the resources in the past, current preservation conditions, and potential pitfalls for archaeological practice in the country. Yet unresolved issues, such as research anomalies rather than objectively conditioned historical realities, remain. Using information from three “weather stations”—the most substantial archaeological research projects carried out by the international teams in northern, northwestern, and southern Bénin—an attempt of a short yet comprehensive reconstruction of Bénin’s past can be delivered.

Article

Archaeology of Madagascar  

Sean Hixon

Off the east coast of Africa lies the “Great Red Island” of Madagascar, with a history that has left the island rich in superlatives: It is Earth’s oldest island and among the hottest of the biodiversity hotspots. Definitive European accounts of the island extend over five hundred years into the past, but our knowledge of the island’s human history extends further via the archaeological record. Basic questions on the earliest human settlement of the island remain unresolved. However, archaeological traces of how people subsisted on endemic taxa in the island’s diverse environments are relatively clear, and traces of introduced plants and animals reflect connections across the Indian Ocean. How past people thrived on the island is closely tied with century-old environmental history narratives regarding extinction and deforestation, which remain relevant during ongoing attempts to conserve the island’s biological and cultural diversity. Durable elements of the archaeological record also reflect past resource extraction, connections with far-reaching trade networks, and the rise of an empire that ruled much of the island by the late 19th century. Though the Portuguese captain Diogo Dias visited Madagascar in 1500, the island’s recent history stands out due to its limited period of colonial control (French: 1895–1960). The fantastical stories of Madagascar’s man-eating trees and elephant-hunting birds no longer capture the Western imagination, yet the island’s diverse cultural heritage and human-environment interactions draw the attention of researchers and the curious public both within Madagascar and abroad.

Article

The Archaeology of Northern Slavery and Freedom  

James Delle

The archaeology of northern slavery and freedom began with the excavations of Lucy Foster’s Garden in the 1940s. Following trends then current, in the 1970s, researchers began to consider evidence for the retention of African cultural traits in the archaeological record. Attention to the dynamics of northern slavery exploded following the excavation of the African Burial Ground site in New York during the early 1990s. As the paradigm on African American sites shifted following this project, archaeologists began to consider unsubstantiated assumptions on the nature and scope of slavery in the northern states. Multiple projects were conducted on sites best considered to be northern plantations, and although archaeological evidence for the condition of slavery is sometimes elusive, archaeologists have been able to locate and document northern plantations throughout the greater Northeast. Projects exploring the archaeology of freedom have considered sites associated with veterans of the American Revolution, who were emancipated following their service, as well as sites related to the clandestine and sometimes violent struggle against enslavement. Conditions for freed populations, both before and after the legal abolition of slavery, have also been explored archaeologically, from the gravesites of free communities to the archaeological signature of sanctuary settlements where people fleeing enslavement in the South were able to establish meaningful and free lives in both urban and rural contexts.

Article

Assessing Gender Leadership and the Cultural Aspect of Disaster Response in Developing Context Focusing on the Case of the Beirut Explosion  

Fatima Nasser, Tania Haddad, and Hala Mezher

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) addresses social equity, environmental protection, and economic growth risks. It is defined as the conceptual framework that involves carefully examined elements for their potential to reduce vulnerabilities and mitigate disaster risks across a society. The primary goals are to prevent or, alternatively, to minimize the adverse impacts of hazards through mitigation and preparedness measures, all within the overarching context of promoting sustainable development. DRR should be a significant component of policies and development strategies for governments since it minimizes vulnerabilities; hence, it is important to build a culture of prevention to identify daily hazards and reduce the effects of disasters. Due to gender inequalities, women are disproportionately affected by disasters, as they are more vulnerable to losing their livelihoods and houses, gender-based violence, and loss of life pre- and post-disaster. Disaster response and risk reduction policies and practices often replicate existing social structures that sideline and de-prioritize marginalized groups. However, women are showing their capability to respond to and recover from crises by building community resilience and participating in DRR at the forefront of the recovery response. Women contribute firsthand insights and solutions, possessing a nuanced understanding of their vulnerabilities and recognizing disasters’ distinct impact on both women and girls. This is evident as women within a patriarchal system actively assumed leadership roles, challenging the established norms. Their engagement reflects a steadfast commitment to promoting a more equitable approach to disaster response. There is a lack of empirical research that indicates how gender leadership can lead to risk disaster reduction and social changes in Lebanon. In order to expand the existing literature on women’s leadership in disaster management and to ascertain the substantial contribution of women in fostering resilience for DRR, thereby instigating societal change in developing contexts, there is a need to tackle two core inquiries: What is the role of women’s leadership in disaster management in Lebanon? How does women’s leadership lead to DRR and social changes in the context of disasters in developing countries?

Article

Astrocytes  

Alexei Verkhratsky

Astrocytes belong to an extended class of astroglia, a class of neural cells of ectodermal, neuroepithelial origin that sustain homeostasis and provide for defense of the brain and the spinal cord. Astroglial cells support homeostasis of the central nervous system at all levels of organization from molecular to organ-wide. Astrocytes cannot generate action potentials, being thus electrically nonexcitable cells. Astrocytic excitability is intracellular, being mediated by associations with spatiotemporal fluctuations of cytoplasmic ions and second messengers in response to chemical or mechanical stimulation. Astrocytes express an extended complement of receptors to neurotransmitters and neurohormones that allow them to coordinate their homeostatic function with neuronal activity. Astrocytic homeostatic responses are primarily mediated by plasmalemmal transporters, which in turn are regulated by cytoplasmic concentration of Na+ ions. Peripheral astrocytic processes, known as leaflets, establish intimate contacts with synapses forming an astroglial synaptic cradle. Astrocytes regulate synaptogenesis, synaptic isolation, synaptic maintenance, and synaptic extinction, thus being fundamental for neuronal plasticity. Loss of astrocytic homeostatic function leads to neuronal damage and is a universal part of pathogenesis of many neurological diseases.