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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In addition to states, a wide range of actors are involved in the performance of sovereignty today, including private security companies, civil society movements, militant groups, multinational corporations, international non-governmental organizations, and multilateral agencies. Terms such as popular, hybrid, public-private, graduated, shared, parallel and social sovereignty have been used to describe their state-like practices.

Photo: Michael @ Flickr

As people, citizens and consumers, we are more sovereign, though at the same time more dependent than ever before. The sovereignty trademark is being reinvented.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 28

Monday 10 July The United States’ position on, and continued support for South Sudan remains unclear amid proposed budget cuts and major restructuring of USAID operations. International Crisis Group: “China’s Foreign Policy Experiment in South Sudan”  Tuesday 11 July More than 20 people were killed in a cattle raid carried out by suspected armed youth… Read more »

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 »

Jihadi Brides or Female Foreign Fighters? Women in Da’esh

Da’esh has stunned the world with its gross human rights abuses, gendered violence, and practices of sexual slavery, and yet, the organization has attracted a large amount of female recruits. Women who have joined Da’esh have been met with a storm of disbelief and gendered commentary, and have even been designated their own term – ‘jihadi brides’.

A screen shot of an Islamic State propaganda showing the Al-Khansa, an all-female police squad.

A recent policy brief explores agency and women in Da’esh: why women join, their roles, and how women are treated if they return to the West. The brief illuminates how gendered understandings of Western female foreign fighters are affecting judicial processes and potentially creating gaps in our security structure.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 »