Performing Grief

As we discuss the relationship between public and private mourning and grief, consider the emotional handling of the Newtown school shooting in 2012, where twenty children were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school.

Such a traumatic event destabilizes people, creating a felt deficit in emotional support. When President Obama visited the community, his role was clear: he needed to voice strongly the entire nation’s support for the affected community.

President Obama with women who lost family in the School shootings in Newtown. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Newspapers reported factually on the visit, quoting parts of the speech, but leaving it up to the reader to respond emotionally. Television, by contrast, revealed itself to be a far more potent medium for evoking emotions.Read More

Private Loss and Public Mourning

After dehumanizing events – such as the 2011 Norway terror attacks – emotions play a significant role in the public sphere.

Let me offer a couple of examples:

On August 21, only one month after Anders Behring Breivik killed a total of 77 people, Norway’s King Harald held a deeply emotional speech at the national memorial ceremony. Here, and on behalf of the survivors, the bereaved and society at large, the King expressed such emotions as grief and loss.

And during the trial against Breivik in 2012, the proceedings were interrupted as a victim’s brother threw a shoe at the perpetrator, emotionally expressing anger in the midst of institutionalized, legal procedures.

What these incidents have in common are the ways in which they contribute to a dynamic between the private and the public sphere. By this I mean that politics, in such moments, is being conceived as based on both rational argumentation and emotions. Hence, the location of private loss and public mourning coincides. This stands as a contrast to most mainstream political thought, which presupposes a division between the private and the public. Therefore, these examples force us to think again about this dichotomy.Read More

Rudy Rummel – a Many-Faceted Scholar

Self-portrait of RJ Rummel, from his website

From mathematics to democide

Rudolph J Rummel always published just as RJ Rummel but was well known in the profession as Rudy. He was a man of many talents, and to some of his readers he may also have seemed to present many different faces.

  • He came from a broken home, yet became a devoted husband and father.
  • He had an extensive academic publication record, but he also wrote six novels.
  • He was an academic loner, but acquired a wide following, which has continued to expand after he withdrew from the academic scene and promises to continue to grow even after his death.
  • He interacted with many leading scholars in international relations, but developed troubled relations with several.
  • He started out as a socialist but became a libertarian or, as he himself eventually phrased it, a ‘freedomist’.
  • He became a pioneer among liberal international relations scholars in his pursuit of the democratic peace, but he joined the neoconservative wing of the realists in his work on the nuclear arms race in the mid-1970s and in his support for the Iraq War in 2003.
  • His work on democide was embraced by liberals and realists alike, but also harshly criticized by writers of varying backgrounds.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 27

Monday 3 July Al Jazeera: “South Sudan’s Wau: Fear and displacement one year on” Tuesday 4 July A new report by Amnesty International, focused on the escalating conflict in the Equatoria region, describes grave human rights violations, including using hunger as a weapon of war, against the civilian population. Wednesday 5 July Unidentified gunmen abducted… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 26

Wednesday 28 June The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) denies closure of embassies abroad, saying it has routinely recalled the heads of diplomatic missions in seven countries as the period of their assignments have ended. Thursday 29 June GoSS said it could deny humanitarian aid workers access to rebel-held areas due to security concerns. The… Read more »

Archetypal Enemies Exist in All Religions

Some religious leaders use language which others use to justify terror. These leaders should instead take responsibility for teaching people how to critically interpret religious texts.

Photo: Stephen Radford / Unsplash

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will shout: ‘O Muslims, Allah’s servants, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was quoting a hadith, a saying from early Muslim traditions. The Grand Mufti was speaking at a Fatah conference in 2012. His words provoked strong reactions, both from Israeli political and religious leaders and from international politicians, including the Norwegian foreign minister. All these leaders considered the Grand Mufti’s words to be encouraging terrorism.
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This Week in South Sudan – Week 25

Tuesday 20 June David Shearer, UN Special Representative for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS says fragmentation of the conflict makes sustainable peace more elusive. Meanwhile the UN calls on South Sudan’s leaders to take greater responsibility for their people. The former SPLA chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan said he would not… Read more »

Why Don’t All Migrants Return in Times of Crisis?

In the early 2000s, numerous migrants arrived in Spain, attracted by the prospects of finding a job in the country’s booming economy. They quickly grew to represent 11% of the total population in 2008, from 2% in 2000.

But when the financial crisis hit and Spain topped Europe’s unemployment rates, immigrants became disproportionately affected – 35% were jobless, compared to 22% among people with Spanish or double nationality.

Posters advertising the services of the Concerted Immigration Company, from Canada. They offer the opportunity to continue one’s studies in “France, Europe and Canada”. They claim to be the “leader in the industry of permanent and student migration.” It was taken on the campus of the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. Photo: María Hernández Carretero

Years earlier their labour had been needed and welcome, but as discontent set in some Spaniards started calling for unemployed (especially if also paperless) migrants to “go back” to their countries of origin, now that no jobs were to be found. Some did leave Spain, whether to return to their country of origin or seek better luck elsewhere. Yet many others stayed.

Faced with an economically bleak and politically hostile landscape in Spain, why did so many immigrants choose to stay all the same?

This question was part of the starting point for my chapter in Hope and Uncertainty in Contemporary African Migration where, focusing on the case of Senegalese migration to Spain, I look into why for some, deciding to emigrate can be easier than returning home.
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A PhD by Publication Allows You to Write for Real and Varied Audiences, Inviting Intellectual Exchanges that Benefit your Research

A PhD by publication requires doctoral candidates to submit a set of papers for peer-reviewed journals plus an integrating chapter, rather than the more traditional doctoral dissertation. This remains a less common, sometimes frowned-upon model, but Jørgen Carling outlines eight reasons why a PhD by publication might be a good option. It allows you to write for real, varied audiences, with differing levels of ambition, and can help you build a name for yourself in academia, which is important not only for your career but also as it affords you opportunities for vital intellectual exchanges that may benefit your research.

As a doctoral candidate you may have a choice between submitting a traditional doctoral dissertation and submitting a set of papers for peer-reviewed journals plus an integrating chapter. The latter option, known as a “PhD by publication” or an “article dissertation”, has become the norm in some contexts and is resented in others. I can’t decide for you, but I can give you eight reasons why I think the PhD by publication is often a good model.

Image credit: journals by Barry Silver. This work is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

First, writing journal articles constitutes professional training. It is what academics primarily do, and by writing your dissertation in the form of articles, you learn the craft. (If you abandon academia after completing a PhD it is even more important to know that your work is out there, potentially benefiting others, and not just stored in a dusty library.)

Second, writing journal articles ensures valuable feedback. Regardless of the quality of the supervision you get, the review process in a journal can be a valuable supplement. Having your article accepted in a journal also provides a tangible source of independent recognition, different from your supervisor’s assurances that your work is fine. The peer review process can be filled with disappointments and frustration too but living through that is, for better or worse, part of being an academic. Just make sure that you are not handling it all alone.

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