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The Practice of Changing the Rules of Practice: An Agonistic View on Food Sovereignty

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Abstract

What does it mean to "do politics"? On the one hand, political practices have to be considered as part of the large mesh of interrelated everyday practices. On the other hand, they are reflective "practices of freedom" that aim at changing the rules of practice. We will make a case for agonistic theory that takes democracy to be a constant struggle over the setting up and the different interpretations of rules and use practice theory as our entrance point to empirically address the tension between the constituted power that rules exert on our practice and the constituent power, i. e. the power to set up or change the rules. Empirically, we will have a closer look at the paradoxes and the practice of food sovereignty, a political concept that emerged as a counterpart to the dominant neoliberal paradigm of globalist food production and was taken up by leftist Latin American governments and social movements alike. By analyzing two concrete situations that emerged during our field work in Bolivia we will show that actual "practices of freedom" can appear to be quite ordinary and mundane.

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... We will therefore recall in brief the main assumptions of Theodore Schatzki's practice theory -the 'site ontology' -that explicitly focuses on the internal organization of social practices and their spatiality (Everts et al. 2011). However, since Schatzki's theory is relatively silent about the political dimension of social life, we will open his theory to the ideas of the agonistic thinker James Tully (see also Dünckmann and Fladvad 2016). ...
... On the contrary, we are convinced that there is a fundamental difference in the large variety of social practices, not in ontological terms, but rather in regard to the question how these practices are being organized. This becomes especially evident as soon as one tries to comprehend the 'teleo-affective structures' of certain social practices (Dünckmann and Fladvad 2016), which means asking why and with which objectives and affectivities they are being carried out: Do they merely serve to sustain life or to satisfy needs (labor)? Are they carried out in order to produce enduring things such as tools or other objects of utility (work)? ...
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... Rooted in economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies (Granovetter 1985;Callon 1998;Callon 2009, 2010) and the broader 'practice turn in contemporary theory' (Schatzki, Knorr Cetina, and von Savigny 2001), geographers (Everts, Lahr-Kurten, and Watson 2011;Everts 2016b;Schäfer and Everts 2019) have focused on practices in order to tackle 'the problem of interactions and dependencies between sites' (Everts 2016a). This allows addressing large notions such as food sovereignty from the 'interrelated everyday processes' in which they are enacted (Dünckmann and Fladvad 2016). Geographies of marketization thus explicitly inquire into what has not received attention in telecoupling research, namely the 'how' of 'the emergence of market orders and their continuous expansion' Boeckler 2011, 1058). ...
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... In other words, politics express the (deliberate) interference with practices' broader alignments. Dünckmann and Fladvad (2016) describe politics as "the practice of changing the rules of practice". This entails two moments: first that of reflexivity and second that of relatedness. ...
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... On the one hand, they may be characterized as 'labor', i.e., as practices that serve to sustain life and that fulfil basic needs. On the other, they represent 'action' or rather 'speech and action', which Tully interprets as 'practices of freedom', and which aim, in a self-referential manner, i.e., in virtue of their exercise, at modifying their own rules (Dünckmann and Fladvad 2016;Fladvad and Glöckler forthcoming). The exercise of these 'prefigurative practices' (Swain 2019, p. 48), however, should not to be understood as single events that are detached from overarching, in Schatzki's words, 'general understandings' or 'teleo-affective-regimes'. On the contrary, they always are connected to other social or political practices such as, e.g., campaigning or engaging in negotiations for FS, as exemplified in Schwäbisch Hall. ...
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... Rooted in economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies (Granovetter 1985;Callon 1998;Callon 2009, 2010) and the broader 'practice turn in contemporary theory' (Schatzki, Knorr Cetina, and von Savigny 2001), geographers (Everts, Lahr-Kurten, and Watson 2011;Everts 2016b;Schäfer and Everts 2019) have focused on practices in order to tackle 'the problem of interactions and dependencies between sites' (Everts 2016a). This allows addressing large notions such as food sovereignty from the 'interrelated everyday processes' in which they are enacted (Dünckmann and Fladvad 2016). Geographies of marketization thus explicitly inquire into what has not received attention in telecoupling research, namely the 'how' of 'the emergence of market orders and their continuous expansion' Boeckler 2011, 1058). ...
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Since the 1970s the government of Burkina Faso together with international donor organizations has pushed for increasing national rice production to cope with the country's food import dependency. This paper traces this development and illustrates that rice production in Burkina Faso is the outcome of interrelated global and local processes. Drawing on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in Burkina Faso the paper sketches the historical, legal and socioeconomic conditions, challenges and practices behind the increasing rice production. Focusing on the Bagré Growth Pole Project, we describe how particular configurations of local, national and global connections and disconnections around the creation of a Burkinabe rice market are brought into being. A major point of the paper is to illustrate that combining systemic and processual theoretical perspectives is highly illuminating in this respect. Concretely, the paper achieves this by bringing into dialogue the telecoupling literature concerned with the globalization of land-use change and the geographies of marketization literature focusing on market-making practices. This allows understanding the rice market described as an ongoing and grounded process within a global systemic configuration.
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There is significant interest in democracy in contemporary human geography. Theoretically, this interest has been most strongly influenced by poststructuralist theories of radical democracy and associated ontologies of relational spatiality. These emphasize a priori understandings of the spaces of democratic politics, ones that focus on marginal spaces and the destabilization of established patterns. This article develops an alternative account of the spaces of democratic politics that seeks to move beyond the stylized contrast of poststructuralist agonism and liberal consensualism. This alternative draws into focus the spatial dimensions of philosophical pragmatism and the relevance of this tradition for thinking about the geographies of democracy. In particular, the geographical relevance of pragmatism lies in the distinctive inflection of the all-affected principle and of the rationalities of problem solving. Drawing on John Dewey's work, a conceptualization of transactional space is developed to reconfigure understandings of the agonistics of participation as well as the experimental institutionalization of democratic will. The difference that a pragmatist approach makes to understandings of the geographies of democracy is explored in relation to transnational and urban politics.
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Communication in the intercultural context of geographical (development) research is defined by a specific intersubjective relation between the researcher and the researched. It always faces the danger of misinterpretation concerning the actions of the 'other'. Without the cultural and social differences that affect understanding and thus limit comprehension, the interpretation of research findings remains dubious. The article draws attention to this issue, which, so far, has not received sufficient recognition in human geography It is a 'self-experiment', in the sense of Bourdieu, regarding the asymmetric relation between two subjects from specific and highly dissimilar backgrounds, found in a peculiar situation defined as 'field research'. With this self-experiment, the possibilities and limits of intercultural hermeneutics are evaluated. Central to the argument is die critical discussion of the socio-philosophical conceptual foundation on which intersubjectivity and interculturality are based. This critique follows a perspective of the theory of recognition that understands the practices and perceptions of the other in the particular context of everyday life, in order to base the analysis of rationalities underlying social action on their understanding.
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Food regime analysis emerged to explain the strategic role of agriculture and food in the construction of the world capitalist economy. It identifies stable periods of capital accumulation associated with particular configurations of geopolitical power, conditioned by forms of agricultural production and consumption relations within and across national spaces. Contradictory relations within food regimes produce crisis, transformation, and transition to successor regimes. This ‘genealogy’ traces the development of food regime analysis in relation to historical and intellectual trends over the past two decades, arguing that food regime analysis underlines agriculture's foundational role in political economy/ecology.
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This paper provides an overview of what we call ‘agroecological revolution’ in Latin America. As the expansion of agroexports and biofuels continues unfolding in Latin America and warming the planet, the concepts of food sovereignty and agroecology-based agricultural production gain increasing attention. New approaches and technologies involving the application of blended agroecological science and indigenous knowledge systems are being spearheaded by a significant number of peasants, NGOs and some government and academic institutions, and they are proving to enhance food security while conserving natural resources, and empowering local, regional and national peasant organizations and movements. An assessment of various grassroots initiatives in Latin America reveals that the application of the agroecological paradigm can bring significant environmental, economic and political benefits to small farmers and rural communities as well as urban populations in the region. The trajectory of the agroecological movements in Brazil, the Andean region, Mexico, Central America and Cuba and their potential to promote broad-based and sustainable agrarian and social change is briefly presented and examined. We argue that an emerging threefold ‘agroecological revolution’, namely, epistemological, technical and social, is creating new and unexpected changes directed at restoring local self-reliance, conserving and regenerating natural resource agrobiodiversity, producing healthy foods with low inputs, and empowering peasant organizations. These changes directly challenge neoliberal modernization policies based on agribusiness and agroexports while opening new political roads for Latin American agrarian societies.
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Book
The political make-up of the contemporary world changes with such rapidity that few attempts have been made to consider with adequate care, the nature and value of the concept of sovereignty. What exactly is meant when one speaks about the acquisition, preservation, infringement or loss of sovereignty? This book revisits the assumptions underlying the applications of this fundamental category, as well as studying the political discourses in which it has been embedded. Bringing together historians, constitutional lawyers, political philosophers and experts in international relations, Sovereignty in Fragments seeks to dispel the illusion that there is a unitary concept of sovereignty of which one could offer a clear definition. This book will appeal to scholars and advanced students of international relations, international law and the history of political thought.
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To deal with the relationship between freedom and political government in the space of a single, short treatise is not possible. Indeed, a whole book would hardly suffice to deal adequately with the subject. For freedom, which is only very seldom — in times of crisis or revolution — the direct aim of political action, is, in reality, the reason why such a thing as politics exists at all in human affairs. In this connection, by freedom I do not mean that heritage of humanity which philosophers define in a variety of ways and isolate, to their own satisfaction, as one of the inherent attributes of man. Still less do I mean that so-called inner freedom, in which man seeks refuge when under external pressure; it is historically a later, and objectively a secondary, phenomenon. It has its origins in a withdrawal from the world, whereby certain experiences and aspirations are transferred to the inner, sub-conscious self, which originally were part and parcel of the outer world, and of which we should have known nothing, had we not previously encountered them as tangible, mundane realities. Basically, whether I enjoy freedom or suffer the reverse depends upon my intercourse with my fellow men and not on my intercourse with myself.
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Having read the preceding chapters, one will have no problem in concluding that the time of sovereignty is hardly over and that, whatever changes our political or juridical languages may undergo in the foreseeable future, 'sovereignty' will remain part of them. Whether this be in terms of naming a good we desire, attacking the inadequacy of some of its institutional realizations, or in other ways trying to make sense of our experience, 'sovereignty' will continue to structure and direct our legal and political imagination, hovering, as many of the chapters in this volume highlight, obscurely in the frontier between the two. It is, as Kalmo and Lipping write, precisely this 'limit' aspect of sovereignty that intrigues us, the way it points to the insufficiency of 'law' or 'politics' if considered in their own terms as autonomous languages or self-regulating systems of thought. My sense is that sovereignty's continued attraction - despite the many ways in which we have learned to be critical of its manifestations - depends precisely on the way it points across that boundary into some 'fundamental' aspect of the world that we are vaguely aware of but is never quite captured by the normal vocabularies we use to address our political or legal experience. The word 'transcendental' might not be out of place here, if only to remember Hans Kelsen's brilliant attempts to resolve the sovereignty puzzle at a time of incipient legal and political collapse.
Article
The ways citizen participation and democracy are changing are poorly understood due to the dominance of theories inherited from the eighteenth century. Democratic citizenship can be better understood if critical reflection is re-oriented around the games of concrete freedom here and now as recommended by Hannah Arendt, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michael Foucault and Quentin Skinner. This orientation brings to light two distinctive types of citizen freedom in the present: diverse forms of citizen participation and diverse practices of governance in which citizens participate.
Book
This book intervenes in contemporary debates about the threat posed to democratic life by political emergencies. Must emergency necessarily enhance and centralize top-down forms of sovereignty? Those who oppose executive branch enhancement often turn instead to law, insisting on the sovereignty of the rule of law or demanding that law rather than force be used to resolve conflicts with enemies. But are these the only options? Or are there more democratic ways to respond to invocations of emergency politics? Looking at how emergencies in the past and present have shaped the development of democracy, Bonnie Honig argues that democracies must resist emergency's pull to focus on life's necessities (food, security, and bare essentials) because these tend to privatize and isolate citizens rather than bring us together on behalf of hopeful futures. Emphasizing the connections between mere life and more life, emergence and emergency, Honig argues that emergencies call us to attend anew to a neglected paradox of democratic politics: that we need good citizens with aspirational ideals to make good politics while we need good politics to infuse citizens with idealism. Honig takes a broad approach to emergency, considering immigration politics, new rights claims, contemporary food politics and the infrastructure of consumption, and the limits of law during the Red Scare of the early twentieth century. Taking its bearings from Moses Mendelssohn, Franz Rosenzweig, and other Jewish thinkers, this is a major contribution to modern thought about the challenges and risks of democratic orientation and action in response to emergency.
Article
What should we do about foreigners? Should we try to make them more like us or keep them at bay to protect our democracy, our culture, our well-being? This dilemma underlies age-old debates about immigration, citizenship, and national identity that are strikingly relevant today. In Democracy and the Foreigner, Bonnie Honig reverses the question: What problems might foreigners solve for us? Hers is not a conventional approach. Instead of lauding the achievements of individual foreigners, she probes a much larger issue--the symbolic politics of foreignness. In doing so she shows not only how our debates over foreignness help shore up our national or democratic identities, but how anxieties endemic to liberal democracy themselves animate ambivalence toward foreignness. Central to Honig's arguments are stories featuring "foreign-founders," in which the origins or revitalization of a people depend upon a foreigner's energy, virtue, insight, or law. From such popular movies as The Wizard of Oz, Shane, and Strictly Ballroom to the biblical stories of Moses and Ruth to the myth of an immigrant America, from Rousseau to Freud, foreignness is represented not just as a threat but as a supplement for communities periodically requiring renewal. Why? Why do people tell stories in which their societies are dependent on strangers? One of Honig's most surprising conclusions is that an appreciation of the role of foreigners in (re)founding peoples works neither solely as a cosmopolitan nor a nationalist resource. For example, in America, nationalists see one archetypal foreign-founder--the naturalized immigrant--as reconfirming the allure of deeply held American values, whereas to cosmopolitans this immigrant represents the deeply transnational character of American democracy. Scholars and students of political theory, and all those concerned with the dilemmas democracy faces in accommodating difference, will find this book rich with valuable and stimulating insights.
Article
Across the whole of our modern world, territory is directly linked to sovereignty to mould politics into a fundamentally state-centric social process, so much so that conflicts not involving the state are often seen as outside politics as generally conceived. The State's "capture' of politics, and much else besides, in the modern world is premissed upon territoriality. When we look at the 20th-century state in the core of the modern world-system we are immediately impressed by the sheer magnitude of functions it has acquired. They can be reduced to just four basic tasks: states wage war, they manage the economy, they give national identity, and they provide social services. As strategies of territoriality these amount to containment of power, wealth, culture and society. -from Author
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Constructing more inclusive political spaces has been a central concern of social movements in postcolonial societies. This book engages with Ecuador’s recent processes of political transformation by questioning to what extent these contribute to a decolonization of Ecuador’s democracy. Based on visual ethnographic research in Ecuadorian local politics, it interrogates the effect of women’s and indigenous people’s political participation on building more inclusive, intercultural political spaces. The volume develops a poststructuralist electoral geography capturing the embodied, emotional, and intersectional performances that produce political spaces. In doing so, it breaks new empirical ground and expands the field of electoral geography, connecting it to current conceptual debates in human geography.
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This paper puts forward a retheorisation of urban agonistic politics, using the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty to reground Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's theories of agonism in a more explicitly spatial register. The author theorises the city, in terms of its potential, in a utopian or 'humane' fashion. Social scientists and philosophers both explore how the ontological and the political are coconstitutive. An ontopolitical perspective can be found in the works of many of the poststructuralists, and this paper forwards another such approach to the ontology of the political by taking together the agonistic politics of Laclau and Mouffe with the intersubjective and inter-corporeal framework of Merleau-Ponty to create a novel perspective on the functioning of democracy and the democratic city. The city is conceived of both literally and figuratively as a system for the proliferation of multiple publics, or multiple spaces and modes of appearance, in the Arendtian sense. By taking agonism and intersubjectivity together, the paper attempts to resist some of the individualising tendencies within liberal democracy whilst retaining its commitment to freedom.
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Building on feminist geopolitics and emotional geography, this paper calls for an emotional electoral geography that understands electoral practices as grounded, embodied and intertwined with the time-spatial context in which electioneering takes 'place'. I argue that a performative understanding of emotions not only facilitates linking emotions to certain places, histories and (collective) bodies, but also helps to think of emotions as expressed both through body and speech acts. Empirically, the paper draws on visual ethnographic fieldwork of a local electoral campaign in an Amazon town in Ecuador. The observed emotional performances of female and indigenous local politicians are compared with the emotional performances of national populists who are mainly mestizo men and have dominated Ecuadorian politics throughout the past decades. The research identifies similar emotional patterns turning around a Manichean rhetoric of rabia (rage) and amor (love). The comparison shows, however, that the emotional performances of different candidates performatively generate the gendered, racialized and classed boundaries of el pueblo in different ways in particular times and places. The empirical case study illustrates the claim that electoral geographies need to be more attentive to the emotional dimension of electoral spaces to understand the affective dimension of contemporary populist politics.
Article
This paper argues for a closer inspection of how tolerance and politics interact. Within geography and beyond there is rising concern about post-political situations, whereby potential disagreements are foreclosed and situated beyond the remit of political debate. This is conceptualised as a process of de-politicisation that operates ‘much more effectively’ than alternative ways in which politics can be and has been disavowed (Žižek, 1999: 198). While Žižek associates liberal tolerance with the post-political condition, however, theories of tolerance are at odds over whether it represents an everyday enactment of the political. Although some authors have indeed associated tolerance with a depoliticising tendency (Brown, 2006), others insist that certain types of tolerance are capable of nurturing simultaneous recognition and disagreement, which directly contradicts the conditions of post-politics (Forst, 2003). We therefore ask, contra Žižek, whether certain forms of tolerance can be an antidote to the post-political practice of foreclosing politics, and offer a set of considerations pertinent to the geographical analysis of this issue.
Book
This book addresses key topics in social theory such as the basic structures of social life, the character of human activity, and the nature of individuality. Drawing on the work of Wittgenstein, the author develops an account of social existence that argues that social practices are the fundamental phenomenon in social life. This approach offers insight into the social formation of individuals, surpassing and critiquing the existing practice theories of Bourdieu, Giddens, Lyotard and Oakeshott. In bringing Wittgenstein's work to bear on issues of social theory the book shows the relevance of his work to a body of thought to which it has never been applied. The book will be of particular interest to philosophers of the social sciences, a wide range of social theorists in political science and sociology, as well as some literary theorists.
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This paper introduces the notion of ‘state affects’ to describe the errancies that often characterize everyday statist relations. Where structured conditions and intelligibilities, such as the government of populations, engender state effects that veil the state's non-existence, state affects, I argue, enroll bodies and differentiate masses through what Secor has called ‘unrecognizable conditions.’ Particularly where such conditions are bungled and baffling, they constitute a field of problems that enable the formulation of an affective ‘politics of confusion.’ Several models of affect and emotion provide a glimpse at the possible biological–methodological and epistemological–ontological stakes of such negotiations of affective uncertainty in state errancies. I anchor these to Spinoza's notion of ‘inadequate ideas,’ a mode of embodied not-knowing that has important political consequences for describing the opacity of affect in everyday encounters. Finally, the New York City Police Department's bungled management of protest during the 2004 Republican National Convention offers multiple lenses for reading the spectrum of ways in which deployments of the state's monopoly on violence and the work of its ostensibly dissociated materialities sustain the political tensions between a state's non-existence and its affectiva-emotive power.
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This article challenges the predominant occupation with documents as text in international relations theory and critical geopolitics and advances a new understanding of documents. First, it unpacks the manifold practical and material entanglements of documents that are crucial for their production. Second, it discloses the political dimensions of routinised action and its supporting infrastructures by shedding light on the conflicting practices behind agreed documents. Third, it reconsiders the role of documents as neutral media in politics by paying tribute to the performative role they play in organisational action. By regarding documents as ‘effects of organisational practice’ and as having ‘effects in organisational practice’, the article grounds international politics at its site of production, points to the mundane practices and tacit politics of policy-making, and thus goes beyond explanations referring to realpolitik based on manifest interests or poststructuralist constructivism. The empirical background that illustrates the argument derives from the 2012 Doha Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with a special focus on the National Adaptation Plans. The paper concludes by arguing that documents are not only the necessary condition for international politics but might also inform a social ontology called ‘documentality’, as developed by the new realism philosopher, Maurizio Ferraris.
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This article examines the relationship between space and politics though an exploration of the political theories of Arendt, Laclau, Mouffe and Rancière. It starts with an engagement with ideas about spatial metaphors and space, and argues that space may be considered as a mode of political thinking. It then provides an examination of the theories of these thinkers, paying close attention to the role space and spatiality plays in their conceptualisations of politics and the political. The article concludes with some observations on the relationship between space and politics.
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Practice, Spatiality and Embodied Emotions: An Outline of a Geography of Practice The paper outlines an approach to social analysis/human geography taking off from a social ontology of practice. This means a focus of attention to embodied or practical knowledges and their formation in people's everyday lives, to the world of experiences and emotions, and to the infinitude of encounters through which we make the world and are made by it in turn. The paper proceeds in three parts. First, considering the way in which subjectivity and identity are created in and through practices sets the ground. The two following sections are extensions from that discussing "embodiment and spatiality" and "affectivity and emotion" respectively. The purpose is threefold; to develop the sensuous character of practice, to consider the spatialities involved in that character, and to discuss possible developments including power and the social differentiation of bodies. The paper is concluded by a short discussion of the geographies following from the suggested account.
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Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition is often understood as an attempt to protect authentic politics by identifying a domain of "action" that can be kept pure of contamination by "labor" and "work." This essay shows that Arendt's conceptual triad is best understood, instead, as an uneasy joining-together of two functionally different distinctions: between labor and work (which she mainly wishes to distinguish) and between work and action (which she mainly wishes to understand in their interdependence). By attending to the neglected complexity of the concept that lies at the intersection of these two pairs—the concept of work—this essay undermines the dominant picture of Arendt as a purifying drawer of boundaries; sheds new light on the significance of the production of worldly objects, including but not only works of art, in her political thought; and explores hermeneutically important resonances between the substance and form of her own writing.
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I propose a concept of effective sovereignty to argue that states participate in sovereignty regimes that exhibit distinctive combinations of central state authority and political territoriality. Two basic conclusions, drawing from recent research in political geography and other fields, are that sovereignty is neither inherently territorial nor is it exclusively organized on a state-by-state basis. This matters because so much political energy has been invested in organizing politics in general and democracy in particular in relation to states. Typically, writing about sovereignty regards sovereignty as providing a norm that legitimizes central state authority. Unfortunately, little or no attention is given as to why this should always entail a territorial definition of political authority and to why states are thereby its sole proprietors. The dominant approach continues to privilege the state as the singular font of authority even when a state's sovereignty may be decried as hypocrisy and seen as divisible or issue-specific rather than “real” or absolute. I put forward a model of sovereignty alternative to the dominant one by identifying four “sovereignty regimes” that result from distinctive combinations of central state authority (legitimate despotic power) on the one hand, and degree of political territoriality (the administration of infrastructural power) on the other. By “regime” I mean a system of rule, not merely some sort of international protocol or agreement between putatively equal states. I then examine the general trajectory of the combination of sovereignty regimes from the early nineteenth century to the present. The contemporary geography of currencies (specifically exchange-rate arrangements) serves to empirically illustrate the general argument about sovereignty regimes. Finally, a brief conclusion suggests that the dominant Westphalian model of state sovereignty in political geography and international relations theory, deficient as it has long been for understanding the realities of world politics, is even more inadequate today, not only for its ignoring the hierarchy of states and sources of authority other than states, but also because of its mistaken emphasis on the geographical expression of authority (particularly under the ambiguous sign of “sovereignty”) as invariably and inevitably territorial.
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2. Aufl, 6.-10. Tausend Bibliogr. s. 731-748
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'Jan Douwe van der Ploeg combines long engagement in the empirical study of farming and farmers, and of alternative agricultures, in very different parts of the world, with a sophisticated analytical acumen and capacity to provoke in fruitful ways.' Henry Bernstein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK 'This book makes a timely and original contribution. The author revitalizes our interest in peasant societies through an in-depth examination of how rural populations in state systems respond to neo-liberal globalization.' Robert E. Rhoades, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia, US 'There is an increasing interest in this topic, especially as the author links the debate on the peasantry with Empire and Globalization. He has an excellent reputation in the field and is highly qualified to write this book, which draws on his extensive worldwide experience with the issues he discusses.' Crist?bal Kay, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands This book explores the position, role and significance of the peasantry in an era of globalization, particularly of the agrarian markets and food industries. It argues that the peasant condition is characterized by a struggle for autonomy that finds expression in the creation and development of a self-governed resource base and associated forms of sustainable development. In this respect the peasant mode of farming fundamentally differs from entrepreneurial and corporate ways of farming. The author demonstrates that the peasantries are far from waning. Instead, both industrialized and developing countries are witnessing complex and richly chequered processes of 're-peasantization', with peasants now numbering over a billion worldwide. The author's arguments are based on three longitudinal studies (in Peru, Italy and The Netherlands) that span 30 years and provide original and thought-provoking insights into rural and agrarian development processes. The book combines and integrates different bodies of literature: the rich traditions of peasant studies, development sociology, rural sociology, neo-institutional economics and the recently emerging debates on Empire.
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"This is a book that any fan of Foucault, Deleuze, or Bourdieu, or for that matter Giddens, and anyone interested in the problem of the relevance of Heidegger to social theory, will find challenging--and essential. Schatzki makes an impressive case for a social ontology centered on practices, and in the course of it rethinks and convincingly critiques the thought of many of the contributors to 'practice theory' while showing its centrality to twentieth-century thought. But this book is not merely a book about books: Schatzki deals with real human material in a novel way."--Stephen Turner, University of South Florida Inspired by Heidegger's concept of the clearing of being and by Wittgenstein's ideas on human practice, Theodore Schatzki offers a novel approach to understanding the constitution and transformation of social life. Key to the account he develops here is the context in which social life unfolds--the "site of the social"--as a contingent and constantly metamorphosing mesh of practices and material orders. Schatzki's analysis reveals the advantages of this site ontology over the traditional individualist, wholistic, and structuralist accounts that have dominated social theory since the mid-nineteenth century. A special feature of the book is its development of the theoretical argument by sustained reference to two historical examples: the medicinal herb business of a Shaker village in the 1850s and contemporary day trading on the Nasdaq market. First focusing on the relative simplicity of Shaker life to illuminate basic ontological characteristics of the social site, Schatzki then uses the sharp contrast with the complex and dynamic practice of day trading to reveal what makes this approach useful as a general account of social existence. Along the way he provides new insights into many major issues in social theory, including the nature of social order, the significance of agency, the distinction between society and nature, the forms of social change, and how the social present affects its future. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Theodore R. Schatzki is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. Among his previous books is Social Practices: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Human Activity and the Social (1996).