Table of contents: Authentically Socialist Techniques?-Transnational Practices for an International-Fraternity or Formality? Local Relationships between Communist Parties in the Soviet Bloc-Only One Way to Be a Communist?-"Sisterhood" Put to the Test-Charisma as an Emotional Resource of the Social Movement?-“Turmoil in the Local”... Read More
Authentically Socialist Techniques?
Telecommunications Transfers and Circulations between the USSR and Europe (1920s-60s)
In the interwar years, the "besieged fortress" paradigm did not prevent the Soviets from embarking on “prospecting” trips to the West and various forms of cooperation. By making it possible to directly transfer telecommunications equipment from Germany to the USSR, by contrast, the Second World War represented a break in the to-and-fro flow of techniques between the West and the USSR. This experience became decisive with the Cold War, when circulations were confined to the socialist bloc and Western Europe was no longer perceived as a source of transfers to the USSR. The Cold War and the creation of the two blocs thus changed practices of “prospecting”, models of cooperation in the telecommunications domain and the manner in which socialist techniques were perceived in the global communications network at the time of the Khrushchev Thaw. Indeed, the exploitation of the industrial potential of the people's democracies was supposed to allow the Soviet Union to overcome its former dependence on Western telecommunications equipment and allow socialist techniques of communication to be distinguished from capitalist productions.
Transnational Practices for an International
Struggle? German Communist Militants during the Second World War
During the Second World War, German Communist Party militants in exile in Belgium, France and Switzerland collaborated with their comrades from the communist parties of other nations. Can the practices they deployed in doing so be described as transnational? Answering this question presupposes a distinction between internationalist discourse and possibly transnational practices. An examination of several biographical trajectories and itineraries of exile shows that these practices were established via the training of cadres and the acquisition of common norms and references. It also reveals how this collaboration operated in practical terms, allowing communists of several different nationalities to work together in secret. German communist militants initially conceived of their engagement in internationalist terms. However, following the creation of Freies Deutschland organizations in 1943, they adopted the nation as the appropriate scale of mobilization.
Fraternity or Formality? Local Relationships between Communist Parties in the Soviet Bloc
In the wake of de-Stalinization, the regional leaderships of Eastern Bloc communist parties formed relationships with one another, exchanging delegations, documentary material, students, tourists and technicians. Some parties, such as those of the DDR and Czechoslovakia, established privileged relationships with one another that may be compared to those of sister cities. At once the result of diplomacy and more or less supervised local initiatives, these interactions were institutionalized as they became more widespread. While they were undeniably marked by curiosity, mutual observation and some degree of technical exchange, genuinely transnational practices did not play a prominent role in these relationships. No interpersonal networks truly emerged. While a priori unanticipated forms of re-appropriation occasionally existed in direct contacts between individuals, local political actors above all remained subject to the imperatives of the position they occupied in their national party apparatuses. Due to their extremely centralized mode of operation, communist parties thus reinforced the structure of already existing nation states. They were thus able to develop transnational discourses, values and perhaps even expectations while at the same time hampering their implementation.
Only One Way to Be a Communist?
How Biographical Trajectories Shaped Internationalism among COMECON Experts
Shifting away from the totalitarian paradigm of the Cold War to the history of everyday-life, the historiography of communism first denied the existence of a true unification process in the Eastern Bloc, before becoming indifferent to the question. Though they have received little attention, the international communist organizations of the Cold War era constituted laboratories for internationalism. In the field of economics, the socio-history of East German public servants working with and for the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) casts light on three different ways of being an internationalist. To various degrees, the diplomats, brokers and career experts of COMECON adopted the habitus of a new transnational community of communist economists. The construction of an identity as an Internationalist and the possibility to consider the Eastern Bloc as a relevant professional and symbolic frame of reference was determined by the biographical histories of COMECON experts.
“Sisterhood” Put to the Test: Practicing Feminist Internationalism in the Wake of the Cold War
The present article draws upon survey interviews and unclassified archives to examine the establishment of the Network of East-West Women in the early 1990s, a transatlantic network that provided the driving force for the emergence of gender expertise in the ex-socialist space. The founders’ trajectories are examined in terms of their subjective processes of identification – first, with women’s liberation movements in various national frameworks, then with global feminism and, finally, with processes of liberalization in ex-socialist countries. The NEWW’s creation and the strategies it adopted reflected a change in the scale of action and a shift in the activist engagement of earlier decades. Even as it made use of transatlantic activities and became involved in new fields of political action, the network contributed to reproducing the binary ideological distinction between “East” and “West”. In this way, it offered a resource for collective mobilization, tools for politicization and a context for affirming “East-European women” as a non-hegemonic actor within international feminism.
Charisma as an Emotional Resource of the Social Movement? Awareness-Raising Devices in a Pakistani Neo-Brotherhood
Taking a sociology of social movements approach, the present article focuses on charismatic authority and emotions in a Pakisani Sufi neobrotherhood, Minhaj-ul Quran. The brotherhood’s founder/leader is considered a Sufi saint by his followers and his movement can be analyzed as an emotional community that has gradually become politicized. Qadri’s charisma is understood as a resource that is refreshed and reinvigorated via awareness-raising devices (hagiographies, rituals, poems, videos, performances, etc.) that may partly explain the group’s emergence and capacity for mobilization. Minhaj-ul Quran seems to be an original reinvention of the South Asian brotherhood tradition, bringing various types of activism (social, religious, political) together within an NGO and a political party. Though the latter withdrew from the political scene in 2005, it continues to successfully participate in various political causes.
“Turmoil in the Local”: Transnational Migrations and Cultural Transformations in Java
In the context of the new labor migrations that first emerged in Asia in the 1970s, Indonesia has established itself as one of the leading exporters of labor to the countries of the region, the Near East and the Middle East. These transnationalisms disrupt ways of life across the archipelago. In the rural spaces of central Java’s Yogyakarta Special Region, where populations until recently tended to be sedentary, tensions have emerged between established forms of collective life and attitudes and practices developed in migration, often to the region’s major metropolises: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul. An ethnographic study of one of the region’s villages reveals that, by calling into question processes of social and cultural reproduction, these upheavals expose power relations formerly obscured by the self-evidence of traditional forms of interaction. This has opened up an unprecedented political space in which it is possible to renegotiate forms of “making community” on the basis of the plurality of transnational “ordeals”.
Benjamin Rubbers and Émilie Gallez
Reforming “Proximity Justice” in DR Congo: A Comparison between Customary and Justice of the Peace Courts in Lubumbashi
In the framework of a sponsors’ strategy to establish the “rule of law” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government of Joseph Kabila, elected in 2006, has undertaken a major reform of the judicial system. One of the main ambitions of this reform is to improve citizens’ access to “modern” justice by replacing customary courts with justice of the peace courts. Drawing upon collective research carried out in 2010, the present article evaluates the scope of this aspect of the reform by comparing the concrete manner in which customary courts operate in the outskirts of Lubumbashi with justice of the peace courts in the same town. In addition to supplying the materials for an empirically well-founded critique of the modernist presuppositions underlying reform, this approach offers an original analytical perspective for reconsidering the debate over formal and informal systems of justice that has arisen in the literature of law and development over the course of the past decade.