Institute for Social Justice



Racialised Gang Rape and the Reinforcement of Dominant Order

By Dr Kiran Kaur Grewal, Routledge, 2016kiran-book2

This path-breaking book provides a comparative analysis of public discourses in France and Australia on a series of highly mediatised racialised gang rapes that occurred during the early to mid-2000s. These rapes led to intense public debate in both countries regarding an apparent ‘gang rape phenomenon’ associated with young men of Muslim background. By comparing the responses to similar instances of sexual violence in two very different Western liberal democracies, this book explores the relationship between constructions of national, gender and ethnic identity in modern, developed nations of the West. The impact of immigration and cultural diversity on communities has become an issue of central concern to Western liberal democracies in recent years. With greater movements of people than ever before, and large temporary migrant populations who have not ‘gone home’, the discourse of a ‘crisis of national identity’ is a feature of many democracies in the West. At the same time, in a supposedly ‘post-feminist’ age, the focus of debates around women’s rights in these democracies has increasingly been the extent to which the cultural values of immigrant and ethnic minority populations are compatible with the espoused gender equality of the West. Through an analysis of these rapes, Kiran Kaur Grewal identifies certain commonalities as well as interesting points of divergence within the two nations’ public discourses. In doing so she identifies the limitations of current debates and proposes alternative ways of understanding the tensions at play when trying to respond to acts of extreme sexism and violence committed by members of ethnic minority communities.

The Socio-Political Practice of Human Rights : Between the Universal and the Particular

By Dr Kiran Kaur Grewal, Routledge, 2016kiran-book1

This book examines discourses of rights and practices of resistance in post-conflict societies, exploring the interaction between the international human rights framework and different actors seeking political and social change. Presenting detailed new case studies from Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Kosovo, it reveals the necessity of social scientific interventions in the field of human rights. The author shows how a shift away from the realm of normative political or legal theory towards a more sociological analysis promises a better understanding of both the limits of current human rights approaches and possible sites of potential. Considering the diverse ways in which human rights are enacted and mobilised, The Socio-Political Practice of Human Rights engages with major sites of tension and debate, examining the question of whether human rights are universal or culturally relative; their relationship to forms of economic and political domination; the role of law as a mechanism for social change and the ways in which the language of human rights facilitates or closes sites of radical resistance. By situating these debates in specific contexts, this book concludes by proposing new ways of theorizing human rights. Empirically grounded and offering an alternate framework for understanding the fluid and ambiguous operation of power within the theory and practice of human rights, this volume will appeal to scholars of sociology, law and politics with interests in gender, resistance, international law, human rights and socio-legal discourse.

Visionary Pragmatism: Radical and Ecological Democracy in Neoliberal Times

By Professor Romand Coles, Duke University Press, 201651fnZUUpqUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

As neoliberal capitalism destroys democracy, commonwealth, and planetary ecology, the need for radically rethinking and generating transformative responses to these catastrophes is greater than ever. Given that, Romand Coles presents an invigorating new mode of scholarship and political practice he calls “visionary pragmatism.” Coles explores the profound interrelationships among everyday micropractices of grassroots politics and pedagogy, institutional transformation, and political protest through polyfocal lenses of political and social theory, neuroscience research, complex systems theory, and narratives of his cutting-edge action research. Visionary Pragmatismoffers a theory of revolutionary cooptation that, in part, selectively employs practices and strategies of the dominant order to radically alter the coordinates of power and possibility. Underscoring the potential, vitality, and power of emerging democratic practices to change the world,Visionary Pragmatism‘s simultaneous theoretical rigor and grounding in actual political and ecological practices provokes and inspires new ways of cocreating knowledge and action in dark times.

book-cover-emilian-2Encounters with World Affairs: An Introduction to International Relations

Edited by Associate Professor Emilian Kavalski, Routledge, 2016

This book is designed to familiarise students with leading International Relations (IR) theories and their explanation of political events, phenomena, and processes which cross the territorial boundaries of the state. Thus, students will be exposed to the interplay between power, interest, ideas, identity, and resistance, in explaining continuity and change in international relations. Developed to provide students with the analytical tools and intellectual frameworks needed to understand the behaviour of different international actors in contemporary global affairs. This textbook responds to the challenges of a dynamic job market by assisting students to gain both thorough theoretical knowledge and training them to apply this knowledge to real world problems. In short, this textbook delivers: A comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the examination of national, regional and global trends in politics, economics and socio-cultural developments allowing students to understand: ⢠the practice and theory of contemporary international relations ⢠the politics, culture, history, and economies of different regions around the world ⢠the role played by international interactions, culture, and government in local, national, and global settings. Equipping students with the proficiency: ⢠to understand and interpret the dynamics, patterns, and issues of global affairs ⢠to know how to get more information about particular questions ⢠to evaluate that information independently and effectively. To these ends, the textbook provides a number of features that will appeal to students and avoids overwhelming students with chapters on topics which (in practice) are rarely on courses, while nonetheless providing a comprehensive overview of the field. Introduces students to the main debates, topics, and terms in the field and allows them to decide which they would like to focus on in their further studies.

book-cover-lindaThe Future of Whiteness

By Professor Linda Martin Alcoff, Polity, 2015

White identity is in ferment. White, European Americans living in the United States will soon share an unprecedented experience of slipping below 50% of the population. The impending demographic shifts are already felt in most urban centers and the effect is a national backlash of hyper-mobilized political, and sometimes violent, activism with a stated aim that is simultaneously vague and deadly clear: ‘to take our country back.’ Meanwhile the spectre of ‘minority status’ draws closer, and the material advantages of being born white are eroding.
This is the political and cultural reality tackled by Linda Martín Alcoff in The Future of Whiteness. She argues that whiteness is here to stay, at least for a while, but that half of whites have given up on ideas of white supremacy, and the shared public, material culture is more integrated than ever. More and more, whites are becoming aware of how they appear to non-whites, both at home and abroad, and this is having profound effects on white identity in North America. The young generation of whites today, as well as all those who follow, will have never known a country in which they could take white identity as the unchallenged default that dominates the political, economic and cultural leadership. Change is on the horizon, and the most important battleground is among white people themselves.
The Future of Whiteness makes no predictions but astutely analyzes the present reaction and evaluates the current signs of turmoil. Beautifully written and cogently argued, the book looks set to spark debate in the field and to illuminate an important area of racial politics.

Critical Childhood Studies and the Practice of Interdisciplinarity: Disciplining the Child (Children and Youth in Popular Culture)

Edited by Dr Joanne Faulkner & Dr Magdalena Zolkos, Lexington Books, 2015book-cover-magdalena

This book analyzes different figurations of childhood in contemporary culture and politics with a particular focus on interdisciplinary methodologies of critical childhood studies. It argues that while the figure of the child has been traditionally located at the peripheries of academic disciplines, perhaps most notably in history, sociology and literature, the proposed critical discussions of the ideological, symbolic and affective roles that children play in contemporary societies suggest that they are often the locus of larger societal crises, collective psychic tensions, and unspoken prohibitions and taboos. As such, this book brings into focus the prejudices against childhood embedded in our standard approaches to organizing knowledge, and asks: is there a natural disciplinary home for the study of childhood? Or is this field fundamentally interdisciplinary, peripheral or problematic to notions of disciplinary identity? In this respect, does childhood force innovation in thinking about disciplinarity? For instance, how does the analysis of childhood affect how we think about methodology? What role do understandings of childhood play in delimiting how we conceive of our society, our future, and ourselves? How does thinking about childhood affect how we think about culture, history, and politics?

This book brings together researchers working broadly in critical child studies, but from various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (including philosophy, literary studies, sociology, cultural studies and history), in order to stage a conversation between these diverse perspectives on the disciplinary or (interdisciplinary) character of ‘the child’ as an object of research. Such conversation builds on the assumption that childhood, far from being marginal, is a topic that is hidden in plain sight. That is to say, while the child is always a presence in culture, history, literature and philosophy—and is often even a highly charged figure within those fields—its operation and effects are rarely theoretically scrutinized, but rather are more likely drawn upon, surreptitiously, for another purpose.

book-cover-emilianWorld Politics at the Edge of Chaos: Reflections on Complexity and Global Life

Edited by Associate Professor Emilian Kavalski, SUNY Press, 2015

Comprehensive overview of the inroads made by Complexity Thinking approaches and ideas in the study and practice of world politics.
Why are policymakers, scholars, and the general public so surprised when the world turns out to be unpredictable? World Politics at the Edge of Chaos suggests that the study of international politics needs new forms of knowledge to respond to emerging challenges such as the interconnectedness between local and transnational realities; between markets, migration, and social movements; and between pandemics, a looming energy crisis, and climate change. Asserting that Complexity Thinking (CT) provides a much-needed lens for interpreting these challenges, the contributors offer a parallel assessment of the impact of CT to anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric (post-human) International Relations. Using this perspective, the result should be less surprise when confronting the dynamism of a fragile and unpredictable global life.

Identities and Freedom: Feminist Theory Between Power and Connection

By Professor Allison Weir, Oxford University Press, 2013

book-cover-allisonHow can we think about identities in the wake of feminist critiques of identity and identity politics? In Identities and Freedom, Allison Weir rethinks conceptions of identity – both individual identity and the collective identity of “women” – in relation to freedom. Drawing on Taylor and Foucault, Butler, Zerilli, Mahmood, Mohanty, Young, and others, Weir develops a complex and nuanced account of identities that takes seriously the ways in which identity categories are bound up with power relations, with processes of subjection and exclusion, yet argues that identities are also sources of important values, and of freedom, for they are shaped and sustained by relations of interdependence and solidarity. Moving out of the paradox of identity and freedom requires understanding identities as effects of multiple contesting relations of power and relations of interdependence. Weir argues that our identities are best understood as our connections: to each other, to ourselves, and to ideals. And she argues that our freedom is found in these connections. If the question of identity is “to whom and to what am I importantly connected?” the question of freedom is about the nature of those connections: how do the relationships that hold us together constitute not just shackles but sources of freedom? Identities are sources of freedom if they are understood not as static categories but as practices: hence Weir leads us from a notion of identity as a fixed epistemological category to identity as an ongoing, dynamically unfolding practical-political process of identification. And she envisions a politics of transformative identifications: practices that risk the difficult work of connection through conflict, openness and change. Her account of transformative identity politics as a politics of identification thus moves beyond mere strategic essentialism to articulate a more coherent basis for feminist politics.

book-cover-naserReligious Secularity: A Theological Challenge to the Islamic State

By Dr Naser Ghobadzadeh, Oxford University Press, 2015

In the latter decades of the 20th century, secularism and Muslim politics appeared to be on a collision course. Although 9/11 arguably marked the peak of militant Islam, it also spurred many Muslims to speak up for moderate versions of political Islam. The new millennium has also witnessed the emergence of a more robust debate on secularism and its many approaches and practices. As a result, the Islamism/secularism dichotomy has come under rigorous scrutiny as Muslim thinkers reconceptualize state–religion relations. This book examines the ways by which Iranian Shiite scholars have re-articulated state–religion–society relations beyond the Islamic state paradigm. Despite its promises, the Islamic state has systematically prioritized political considerations over religious precepts, inadvertently generating a reformist religious discourse that questions the very foundations of the Islamic state. This book investigates this counter-discourse by developing the seemingly oxymoronic term “religious secularity” to highlight the paradoxes inherent in the Islamic state ideal.