Volume 13, Issue 1 (2022)

In Memory of Prof. Dr. Boike Rehbein

The Institute of Asian and African Studies and the Transcience team mourn the passing of Boike Rehbein, whose sudden death on June 11 leaves us grieving deeply.

Marx's quasi-Pragmatism in dialogue with an improved, Practical-Poietic Materialism
José Crisóstomo de Souza
This is an immanent critique of Marx's background philosophy, his historical transcendental materialism. It weighs up its basic assumptions and dilemmas against 'pragmatism' construed as a general practical-detranscendentalized turn in philosophy, and especially against elements of an alternative philosophical position to both pragmatism and historical materialism: a more historical, 'Hegelian' pragmatism, and a philosophy of praxis as poiesis, a reconstructed 'paradigm of production'. This philosophical position reveals its conceptual contours throughout the development of that particular, critical reading of Marx, in a double movement of approximation and appropriation at it on one side, and of immanent critique and divergence on the other. Our interpretation of Marxism will revolve around its virtues and vices, such as reality conceived as practical, material, historical vs. Marx's theorist depreciation of common practices and of social initiative for democratic transformation. Also, such as truth and knowledge conceived in connection with practice and power, and a pluralist social-material perspectivism in opposition to a transcendental, normative 'Perspective of all perspectives'. Finally, such as the idea of scission and dispersion between individuals in society bringing about a consequent 'religious' doubling of the world in our minds, and then Marx's own transcendental normativity/ideality, his idea of a human essence (in favor of his particular normative foundationalism) and of his communist 'categorical imperative'. In the end, our philosophical journey here will have offered a series of elements for the above-mentioned philosophical alternative as a productive, material, non-representationalist, non-relativistic position, also civil, transformative and favorable to material-democratic, political consequences - albeit only succinctly mentioned here.

Integrated Rubber Development Projects and Their Impact on Tribal Livelihoods: The Case of the Northeast Region with Special Reference to Tripura
Gadadhara Mohapatra
Few studies have investigated the adoption of rubber-integrating farming systems, rubber inter-cropping practices, and the impact of natural rubber cultivation on livelihood in the traditional and non-traditional rubber growing regions in India. This article attempts to provide a critical understanding of the role of the state and other stakeholders in livelihood promotion through sustainable rubber cultivation in the state of Tripura in Northeast India. The theoretical frame of the article largely draws from the ''social capital approach,'' where social capital is utilized as resource by the rubber producer societies in promoting tribal livelihoods in forested areas in Tripura. The article underscores best practices on rural job creation through corporations driven by rubber development projects in the selected four districts of Tripura through fieldwork. It analyses the impact of integrated rubber development projects on tribal beneficiaries in the study area through the Sustainable Livelihood Index (SLI). In doing so, the article juxtaposes the socioeconomic and ecological impact of rubber development projects with their sustainability, replicability, and convergence aspects in addition to suggesting policy recommendations.

Populist Attitudes in South Korea: Implications and Definitions
Sophia Katharine Harris
The study of populist attitudes has become increasingly relevant over the past decade, and researchers have struggled to find a model to study these political attitudes more accurately. In this paper, I investigate a strong tendency toward inclusive populist democracy in South Korea that seems to stray from the common black and white thinking associated with populism elsewhere. I find that this profile in Korea is most common among undergraduate educated individuals who are likely to protest and believe that South Korea does not run on meritocracy. I also find that there is virtually no difference in the level of populist attitudes in those who believed the Moon administration was successful in rooting out corruption compared with those who did not. My findings suggest that theories of the causes and consequences of populism, especially around the assumption that it rises from the uneducated masses and must bifurcate society, should be reexamined.

Consuming memory, legitimising power: the interplay of government and tourist narratives at Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Rosa Wild
Museums play a key role in the construction and presentation of state narratives about a country's past, often with the goal of legitimising authorities' own positions of power. As major tourist attractions, they also have a role in forming tourists' narratives about their destination countries. In the case of Cambodia's Tuol Sleng museum, the former security prison of the Khmer Rouge regime, the narrative displayed was, initially, in part aimed at a foreign audience in order to win international support for the country's new government. As such, examining tourists' reactions to the museum can shed light on the ways in which tourist and state narratives intersect at memorial sites, and on how the politics of memory interacts with the phenomenon of dark tourism. I have drawn on analysis of the state narrative presented at Tuol Sleng to identify three crucial elements: shock and repulsion at the Khmer Rouge's actions, pretention of repetition of such events, and the current Cambodian government as national saviors; these elements were then contrasted with the narratives presented in blog posts by international visitors to the museum. Drawing on this and on previous research by Rachel Hughes, I suggest that the combination of the state-presented narrative and the tourists' own narratives of self-construction and of visits to the museum as a moral act gives the site a new legitimising role, in which it supports not the political power of the state but the social power of a tourist in the global South.

Racial and Gendered Facets of Orientalism at stake in Integration Programmes: Case Studies of two Sex Education Projects for Newly Arrived Immigrants in Stockholm and Berlin
Coline Maignan
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the so-called refugee crisis in the summer 2015 in Europe, orientalist tropes around the figure of the Muslim migrants resurfaced acording to which Muslim men and women derail from the European norms and values: the supposed general consensus around gender equality, female emancipation, sexual consent and LGBTQIA+ friendliness. In the midst of debates and angst around the integration of the refugees, some initiatives appeared in Western Europe offering education programmes on gender and sexuality to newly arrived immigrants. In this article, I will focus on the studies of two of those projects, one in Stockholm and one in Berlin, and attempt to deconstruct their racial and gendered dimensions in three steps. I, first, seek to unveil the othering process of the participants of the courses observed empirically. I, then, add a gendered reading of orientalism and the nation to have more perspective on such an othering process. Finally, I argue that it demonstrates a paradox with the liberal projection of the countries of Germany and Sweden.

Inequality and Liberal Ideology: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Conservative White Opposition to Critical Race Theory in the United States
Esther Rachel Allen
Politics is the vessel in which inequality is negotiated. The theoretical base I begin with is that as ideological preferences either expand or restrict equality, these preferences implicate certain groups more than others. Previous research shows that right-wing conservative ideol-ogy prefers to resist societal change, is driven by dogmatic and existential motivations, and has a tendency to perpetuate hierarchical structures in society, thus perpetuating inequality. On this basis, I take the case study of the opposition to Critical Race Theory in the United States to illustrate how conservative whites use the language of liberal ideology to indirectly express racial views. This research aims to look at how the language of liberalism, what I refer to as 'abstract liberalism', is used to reject racial equity policies, in this case, CRT, to show that liberal cases for race neutrality are a form of hierarchical racial power. This contributes to the conclusion that conservative whites oppose CRT by using liberal arguments as an artificial view of racial equality to appear non-racial and fair in their opposition to CRT despite it reinforcing racial inequality.

Do I Understand What Witchcraft Is? Beyond assumptions and Federici's thoughts on witches, witchcraft and witch hunts in sub-Saharan Africa after qualitative research in Kigoma, Tanzania
Daniel Stich
Local realities might differ from the macro perspectives of theories. Moreover, applying theory to local contexts may well lead to wrong conclusions and render the researcher blind to experienced lived worlds. This paper sheds light on the limits of thought and assumptions by analysing qualitative interviews conducted in Kigoma, Tanzania on the topic of witches, witchcraft and witch hunts, and comparing the results with Silvia Federici's neomarxist feminist theory, according to which contemporary witch hunts are linked to the expansion of a capitalist, i.e. neoliberal, world order. As this paper will show, promoting phenomenologically oriented, field-based approaches to theory, Federici's perspective and my own assumptions fail to recognise the ambiguities of witchcraft and to understand the witch as having a moral function within society, rather than being the victim of a concerted attack on the female body; essentially, the witch is a human being that in the perception of the other embodies what an individual in society ought neither to do nor to be.