Hector Fellow Academy
  • Karlsruhe, Germany
Recent publications
In this paper, I revisit a series of debates in American political theory that began in the early 1950s and focused on the meaning of apathy in democratic politics. As I show, these debates were also about the role of theory and theorists in politics. One group of scholars accepted apathy as a social fact and claimed that classical ideas about political participation should be re-examined as part of a broader realist turn in political theory. Another group rejected this view and suggested that apathy only represents political and social inequalities that prevent citizens from participating. Political theory, they believed, should help individuals transcend reality instead of accepting it. In this article, I offer a new interpretation of these debates and show their significance for the development of political thought during the second half of the Twentieth-Century.
This article examines how racialized concepts of the labouring body shaped the division of labour in British-ruled Palestine’s construction industry between 1918–1948. In contending with Palestine’s “labour question”, Zionist Jews, British authorities and Palestinian Arabs engaged in competing and overlapping racial and anti-racist projects embedded in global and imperial racial thought and politics. Israel/Palestine’s racial division of labour and the land’s twentieth-century social structures were an expression of the continuous evolution of the encounter between such racial projects and between changing material, political and social conditions. Narrating this encounter allows us to move beyond treatments of race and racial politics as abstractions, demonstrating how they marked and classified bodies, and shaped experiences, lives and landscapes.
The article examines the doctrine of lapse, which was actively used in the 1840-1850s by the British authorities in India. The status of princely state could be abolished and the land was transferred to the East India Company if the ruler was either manifestly incompetent or died without a male heir. In 1854, this was the fate of the Nagpur princely state, one of the largest political formations in the South Asian subcontinent. The liquidation of the court and princely privileges took several years and was accompanied by an exchange between Bhosle family and the British officials of memoranda, notes and letters, which reveal in detail the “kitchen” – practices and theoretical justifications – of this kind territorial annexations. Methodologically, the proposed analysis is localized in the field of Emotion Studies and is specifically devoted to imperial feelings that developed in the zone of interaction between different levels of the power hierarchy formed by the colonial situation. The Sepoy uprising of 1857-1858, which became one of the consequences of the “doctrine of lapse” policy and endangered the very existence of the British Raj, forced the British authorities to abandon the further territorial expansion and pay more attention to the sentiments of local rulers, many of whom sided with the rebels. Later establishing ties with local traditional elites, building emotionally trusting relationships with them became an important area of activity of the colonial administration, in which a lot of funds and efforts were invested.
There have recently been a number of important advances in the philosophy of causation, which impact our understanding of both the nature of causation and of causal reasoning. Two stand out in particular: First, a large body of work on the way that normative factors can influence causal judgement casts doubt on the intuitive idea that causation is a purely natural relation, independent of human interests and values. Second, the so-called ‘causal modelling framework’—developed by computer scientists and statisticians as a formalism for discovering causal relations—has turned out to be a powerful and extremely fruitful method for representing causal systems. It has also been incorporated into the philosophy of causation as the basis of James Woodward’s influential interventionist (or manipulability) theory (Woodward 2003). The aim of this paper is to provide an introduction to these recent developments, to show how they are related, and to comment on their relevance to linguistics.
The legend of St. Sisynnios has been widespread in both Christian and popular Ethiopian tradition up to the present time. It exists in the form of written texts in the Ge’ez language, inserted in so-called magic scrolls among other closely connected texts of both magical and religious character. These scrolls have a protective function, and St. Sisynnios is venerated by the Ethiopian Church. There are two versions of his life. The shorter one comprises part of the Synaxarion whilethe longer one is included in a corpus of hagiographical compilations entitled “The Lives of the Martyrs”. Both of these were translated from the Arabic prototype, borrowed from the mother Coptic Church of Alexandria. There is a notable interconnection between the legend in the amulets and the religious texts. It is unknown whether the text of the legend once existed in form of verbal charm or not. In any case, different elements of the saint’s life passed to the legend. Some have remained unchanged while others have undergone transformations or lost some elements. It is important to study different elements of the legend using the examples conserved in the available manuscript scrolls. Analysis of these interconnections and the evolution of the text constitutes the basis of the present research.
Asymmetries in bilateral organisms attract a lot of curiosity given that they are conspicuous departures from the norm. They allow the investigation of the integration at different levels of biological organization. Here we study whether and how behavioral and asymmetrical anatomical traits co-evolved and work together. We ask if asymmetry is determined locally for each trait or at a whole individual level in a species bearing conspicuous asymmetrical genitalia. Asymmetric genitalia evolved in many species, however, in most cases the direction of asymmetry is fixed. Therefore, it has been rarely determined if there is an association between the direction of asymmetry in genitalia and other traits. In onesided livebearer fish of the genus Jenynsia (Cyprinodontiformes, Anablepidae) the anal fin of males is modified into a gonopodium, an intromittent organ that serves to inseminate females. The gonopodium shows a conspicuous assymmetry, with its tip bending either to the left or the right. By surveying thirteen natural populations of Jenynsia lineata, we found that both genital morphs are equally common in wild populations. In a series of experiments in a laboratory population, we discovered asymmetry and lateralization for multiple other traits; yet, the degree of integration varied highly among them. Lateralization in exploratory behavior in response to different stimuli was not associated with genital morphology. Interestingly, the direction of genital asymmetry was positively correlated with sidedness of mating preference and the number of neuromasts in the lateral line. This suggests integration in functionally linked asymmetric traits; however, there is no evidence that asymmetry is determined at the whole individual level in our study species.
This paper focuses on the role solitude played in John Stuart Mill’s political thought. By doing so, it challenges contemporary appropriations of Mill’s thought by participatory, deliberative and epistemic theories of democracy. Mill considered solitude to be contrary to political participation and public debate, but nonetheless regarded it as essential for democracy and for intellectual progress. Since the early 1830s Mill began developing an idea of solitude while simultaneously forming a particular kind of a democratic model which I refer to as ‘imperfect democracy’. According to this model, democracy is restrained by non-democratic elements which offer a contrary spirit and are not incorporated by democracy. At first Mill believed the ‘leisured class’ would fulfil this task, but later considered solitude as a possible solution. This paper follows the way in which these ideas were crystallised in Mill’s thought, and by doing so offers a novel interpretation of Mill’s political thought and his nuanced understanding of solitude, political participation and democracy.
A familiar part of debates about supererogatory actions concerns the role that cost should play. Two camps have emerged: one claiming that extreme cost is a necessary condition for when (and why) an action is supererogatory, while the other denies that it should be part of our definition of supererogation. In this paper, I propose an alternative position. I argue that it is comparative cost that is central to the supererogatory and that it is needed to explain a feature that all accounts agree is central to the very notion of supererogation: optionality. Perhaps because of this agreement on its importance, few attempts have been made to clarify and explain the notion of optionality. I argue that giving an account of the optionality of supererogatory requires drawing a line between doing the bare minimum permissible and going beyond the bare minimum and that this line ought to be drawn based on comparative cost of alternative permissible acts. Having outlined my account and motivated it, I discuss and reject two concerns that might be raised: firstly, that it is extreme cost, not comparative cost, that matters and, secondly, that in fact no cost is needed for an act to be supererogatory.
Mansour Nasasra, The Naqab Bedouins: A Century of Politics and Resistance (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017). Pp. 288. $60.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780231175302 - Volume 50 Special Issue - Ahmad Amara
We search for high-energy gamma-ray emission from the binary neutron star merger GW170817 with the H.E.S.S. Imaging Air Cherenkov Telescopes. The observations presented here have been obtained starting only 5.3 hr after GW170817. The H.E.S.S. target selection identified regions of high probability to find a counterpart of the gravitational-wave event. The first of these regions contained the counterpart SSS17a that has been identified in the optical range several hours after our observations. We can therefore present the first data obtained by a ground-based pointing instrument on this object. A subsequent monitoring campaign with the H.E.S.S. telescopes extended over several days, covering timescales from 0.22 to 5.2 days and energy ranges between to . No significant gamma-ray emission has been found. The derived upper limits on the very-high-energy gamma-ray flux for the first time constrain non-thermal, high-energy emission following the merger of a confirmed binary neutron star system.
In this paper I will argue that the gender properties expressed by human voices are part of auditory phenomenology. I will support this claim by investigating auditory adaptational effects on such properties and contrasting auditory experiences, before and after the adaptational effects take place. In light of this investigation, I will conclude that auditory experience is not limited to low-level properties. Perception appears to be much more informative about the auditory landscape than is commonly thought.
We present the second catalog of flaring gamma-ray sources (2FAV) detected with the Fermi All-sky Variability Analysis (FAVA), a tool that blindly searches for transients over the entire sky observed by the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on board the \textit{Fermi} Gamma-ray Space Telescope. With respect to the first FAVA catalog, this catalog benefits from a larger data set, the latest LAT data release (Pass 8), as well as from an improved analysis that includes likelihood techniques for a more precise localization of the transients. Applying this analysis on the first 7.4 years of \textit{Fermi} observations, and in two separate energy bands 0.1$-$0.8 GeV and 0.8$-$300 GeV, a total of 4547 flares has been detected with a significance greater than $6\sigma$ (before trials), on the time scale of one week. Through spatial clustering of these flares, 518 variable gamma-ray sources are identified. Likely counterparts, based on positional coincidence, have been found for 441 sources, mostly among the blazar class of active galactic nuclei. For 77 2FAV sources, no likely gamma-ray counterpart has been found. For each source in the catalog, we provide the time, location, and spectrum of each flaring episode. Studying the spectra of the flares, we observe a harder-when-brighter behavior for flares associated with blazars, with the exception of BL Lac flares detected in the low-energy band. The photon indexes of the flares are never significantly smaller than 1.5. For a leptonic model, and under the assumption of isotropy, this limit suggests that the spectrum of the freshly accelerated electrons is never harder than $p\sim$2.
We report on the discovery of a new fast radio burst, FRB 150215, with the Parkes radio telescope on 2015 February 15. The burst was detected in real time with a dispersion measure (DM) of 1105.6±0.8 pc cm⁻³, a pulse duration of 2.8$$^{+1.2}_{-0.5}$$ ms, and a measured peak flux density assuming the burst was at beam center of 0.7$$^{+0.2}_{-0.1}$$ Jy. The FRB originated at a Galactic longitude and latitude of 24.66°, 5.28°, 25 degrees away from the Galactic Center. The burst was found to be 43±5% linearly polarized with a rotation measure (RM) in the range −9 < RM < 12 rad m⁻² (95% confidence level), consistent with zero. The burst was followed-up with 11 telescopes to search for radio, optical, X-ray, γ-ray and neutrino emission. Neither transient nor variable emission was found to be associated with the burst and no repeat pulses have been observed in 17.25 hours of observing. The sightline to the burst is close to the Galactic plane and the observed physical properties of FRB 150215 demonstrate the existence of sight lines of anomalously low RM for a given electron column density. The Galactic RM foreground may approach a null value due to magnetic field reversals along the line of sight, a decreased total electron column density from the Milky Way, or some combination of these effects. A lower Galactic DM contribution might explain why this burst was detectable whereas previous searches at low latitude have had lower detection rates than those out of the plane.
Searches for unknown physics and decisions between competing astrophysical models to explain data both rely on statistical hypothesis testing. The usual approach in searches for new physical phenomena is based on the statistical Likelihood Ratio Test (LRT) and its asymptotic properties. In the common situation, when neither of the two models under comparison is a special case of the other i.e., when the hypotheses are non-nested, this test is not applicable. In astrophysics, this problem occurs when two models that reside in different parameter spaces are to be compared. An important example is the recently reported excess emission in astrophysical γ-rays and the question whether its origin is known astrophysics or dark matter. We develop and study a new, simple, generally applicable, frequentist method and validate its statistical properties using a suite of simulations studies. We exemplify it on realistic simulated data of the Fermi-LAT γ-ray satellite, where non-nested hypotheses testing appears in the search for particle dark matter.
Galaxy clusters are one of the prime sites to search for dark matter (DM) annihilation signals. Depending on the substructure of the DM halo of a galaxy cluster and the cross sections for DM annihilation channels, these signals might be detectable by the latest generation of $\gamma$-ray telescopes. Here we use three years of Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) data, which are the most suitable for searching for very extended emission in the vicinity of nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. Our analysis reveals statistically significant extended emission which can be well characterized by a uniformly emitting disk profile with a radius of 3\deg that moreover is offset from the cluster center. We demonstrate that the significance of this extended emission strongly depends on the adopted interstellar emission model (IEM) and is most likely an artifact of our incomplete description of the IEM in this region. We also search for and find new point source candidates in the region. We then derive conservative upper limits on the velocity-averaged DM pair annihilation cross section from Virgo. We take into account the potential $\gamma$-ray flux enhancement due to DM sub-halos and its complex morphology as a merging cluster. For DM annihilating into $b\overline{b}$, assuming a conservative sub-halo model setup, we find limits that are between 1 and 1.5 orders of magnitude above the expectation from the thermal cross section for $m_{\mathrm{DM}}\lesssim100\,\mathrm{GeV}$. In a more optimistic scenario, we exclude $\langle \sigma v \rangle\sim3\times10^{-26}\,\mathrm{cm^{3}\,s^{-1}}$ for $m_{\mathrm{DM}}\lesssim40\,\mathrm{GeV}$ for the same channel. Finally, we derive upper limits on the $\gamma$-ray-flux produced by hadronic cosmic-ray interactions in the inter cluster medium. We find that the volume-averaged cosmic-ray-to-thermal pressure ratio is less than $\sim6\%$.
This letter reports the discovery of a remarkably hard spectrum source, HESS J1641-463, by the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in the very-high energy (VHE) domain. HESS J1641-463 remained unnoticed by the usual analysis techniques due to confusion with the bright nearby source HESS J1640-465. It emerged at a significance level of 8.5 standard deviations after restricting the analysis to events with energies above 4 TeV. It shows a moderate flux level of F(E > 1 TeV) = (3.64 +/- 0.44_stat +/- 0.73_sys) x 10^-13 cm^-2s-1, corresponding to 1.8% of the Crab Nebula flux above the same energy, and a hard spectrum with a photon index of Gamma = 2.07 +/- 0.11_stat +/- 0.20_sys. It is a point-like source, although an extension up to Gaussian width of sigma = 0.05 deg cannot be discounted due to uncertainties in the H.E.S.S. PSF. The VHE gamma-ray flux of HESS J1641-463 is found to be constant over the observed period when checking time binnings from year-by-year to the 28 min exposures timescales. HESS J1641-463 is positionally coincident with the radio supernova remnant SNR G338.5+0.1. No X-ray candidate stands out as a clear association, however Chandra and XMM-Newton data reveal some potential weak counterparts. Various VHE gamma-ray production scenarios are discussed. If the emission from HESS J1641-463 is produced by cosmic ray protons colliding with the ambient gas, then their spectrum must extend up to at least a few hundred TeV. The energy released in accelerating these particles could account for the entire energy budget of the galactic cosmic ray population above a few TeV.
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