Persevering in the new European climate of hate by Kathrin Hörschelmann – Echoes of Cologne Forum

This article is part of the Echoes of Cologne forum. Click here to read the introduction and the other contributions.

Fortress Europe: the transgression of its borders by refugees, who call upon Europe’s much proclaimed ‘responsibility to protect’, has revealed a crisis at the heart of the Fortress – terrifying for the rifts, contradictions and hypocrisies it is laying bare. Instead of tackling those contradictions in the interest of the safety and security of refugees, Fortress Europe is currently pulling up the drawbridges. Fences up, problem ‘solved’? Can the violence of drawing borders be so easily ignored?

For those now stranded in Greece or elsewhere, on multiple global refugee routes and in many refugee camps, or for those providing humanitarian aid that the ‘global community’ of states has (for many years) so insufficiently delivered, accepting the increasing erosion of asylum rights and the normalisation of Europe’s failure to uphold them, will not be easily possible. It will also not be easily possible for those journalists, activists, artists, scholars and others who seek to give voice to those stranded and drowning along Europe’s shores, to retain a critical consciousness of our connectedness to the devastation caused not just, but to a significant extent, by European (and NATO) politics.

It is difficult to know where to go from here. The scale of the problem can seem overwhelming, especially when our concerns extend beyond issues directly on our doorstep. Volunteers cannot make up for the lack of a coordinated, international humanitarian response and, even as states fail to deliver such a response, some forms of volunteer support have become criminalised.

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‘Welcome culture’ has ended in Europe. It never started in the U.S. by Caroline Nagel – Echoes of Cologne Forum

This article is part of the Echoes of Cologne forum. Click here to read the introduction and the other contributions.

New Year’s Day, 2016, brought news that hundreds of female New Year’s revelers in Cologne, Germany, had been encircled, robbed, and sexually assaulted by groups of ‘North African’ and ‘Arab’ looking men.  The news was a blow to the advocates of Willkommenskultur –an ethos of openness and care that took hold in Germany in the summer of 2015 as thousands of Syrians made their way through Europe in search of asylum.  Drawing parallels between the Syrian refugee crisis and the displacement of millions of Europeans after World War II, voluntary organizations (and some government officials) pushed back against anti-immigrant sentiment, positing refugees as deserving victims and as potential contributors to the German economy. Discourses of deservingness, however, have proven fragile in the wake of events in Cologne.  Opponents of refugee resettlement throughout Europe have seized upon this episode, and the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015, as evidence of the great perils that await Europe if refugee flows continue.

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Colonial Myths, Border Technologies by Kathryn Medien – Echoes of Cologne Forum

This article is part of the Echoes of Cologne forum. Click here to read the introduction and the other contributions.

In March 2010 a landmark study, ‘Violence Against Women: An EU-Wide Survey’, was published by the European Union. The study found that violence against women was endemic across Europe, reporting that one in three women had experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15, while one in twenty women across the EU had been raped. This pattern of mass sexual violence is met with low prosecution rates; every year in the UK, for example, an average of 15,670 rapes are reported to the police, yet only 1,070 rapists are convicted of their crimes.

When news of the events that took place on New Years Eve in Cologne, Germany – reports of over 1,000 men of “North African and Arab origin” carrying out a mass sexual assault – reached me on New Years Day, I was filled with dread. Dread not only at the acts of sexual violence, but at the racist response that I knew would unfold. Having grown up in Europe’s Maghrebi diaspora, I am all too aware that rather than situating these events within the figures outlined above, the assaults would be attributed to the supposedly inherent barbaric and violent masculinity of northern African and Arab Muslims.

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Policing the Norm by Jessica S. Lehman and Bruce P. Braun – Echoes of Cologne Forum

This article is part of the Echoes of Cologne forum. Click here to read the introduction and the other contributions.

The streets of Cologne, Germany seem far from the windswept plains of North Dakota. Yet surprising parallels can be drawn. In our work, we’ve been exploring a sex panic that has unfolded in rural Western North Dakota, in the context of the biggest oil boom in the region’s history. While the circumstances are very different than those of Cologne, both became occasions for the ordering of social and political life, and opportunities to see societal anxieties laid bare.

In North Dakota, workers, mainly men, have flocked to oilfield jobs, which tend to be well-paying but risky. Many lost their previous jobs or homes in the 2008 economic recession, part of the shifting up of economic precarity to include more and more workers and families. Crew camps housed migrant workers by the thousands, while an even larger number crowded into existing housing stock in Williston and surrounding communities, enduring extortionist rents higher even than those found in Manhattan. There are many stories to tell about about the oil boom, but local, national and international media have focused almost obsessively on the strip clubs, prostitution, and sex trafficking that is presumed to have arisen in response to this influx of ‘unruly’ working-class men, far from families and friends, with time and money to spend.North Dakota’s Sex Panic in the News

North Dakota’s Sex Panic in the News

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Echoes of Cologne [Forum], Introduction by Angela Last

Photo by Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

Photo by Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

The echoes of the mass sexual assaults during the New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Cologne and other German cities continue to reverberate through international public, political and academic debates. In Germany, they represented a testing ground for the country’s refugee politics and ‘Willkommenskultur’, the much promoted welcoming attitude to refugees. For many Germans who swayed between skepticism about the chancellor’s ‘we can do it’ mentality and empathy with people fleeing war and inhuman conditions, the assaults tended to tip the balance towards outright rejection. For others, however, it became an incentive to step up and become more active in addressing both refugee issues and sexism—not refugee sexism, but sexism in general. Campaigns such as ‘ausnahmslos’ or an impassioned video by the Berlin based ‘satire califate’ Datteltäter attracted not only thousands of viewers and signatories but led to further public debate about the incidents’ implications.

The aim of the forum is to explore the meaning of the Cologne sexual assaults in relation to the diversity of topics that resonate with them: issues of patriarchy, racism, economic and geopolitical hierarchies, policing of borders and sexuality, and nationalism.

Continue reading the Introduction by Angela Last here

Forum Contributions

Policing the Norm by Jessica Lehman and Bruce Braun

Colonial Myths, Border Technologies by Kathryn Medien

‘Welcome Culture’ Has Ended in Europe by Caroline Nagel

Persevering in the new European climate of hate by Kathrin Hörschelmann

Necessary Pause and Axiomatic Slippages by Jason Lim

Race, Sex, and the Other by Amade M’charek [to be posted soon]

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Saba Mahmood 2016 AAG Society and Space plenary lecture now online

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.47.05 AMProfessor Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley) delivered the Society and Space plenary lecture at the Association of American Geographers meeting on March 31, 2016. A video of her excellent talk, titled “Secularism, Sovereignty, and Religious Difference: A Global Genealogy?”, is now available on our publisher Sage’s website. A written version will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal.

Geographies of international criminal law: the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Rachel Hughes

The following essay is a supplement to Rachel HughesOrdinary Theatre and Extraordinary Law at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal of the 2015 volume of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and has been made free to access for the next month.
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Before the blessing ceremony, ECCC grounds, 31 March 2006. Photograph courtesy of ECCC Public Affairs Section.

March 31 this year marked ten years since the ceremony pictured above, a Khmer Buddhist blessing of the courtroom and compound of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This event is one of many starting points of the tribunal, more correctly known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The ECCC is an internationalised effort to bring to account ‘senior leaders and those most responsible’ for crimes committed in Cambodia during Khmer Rouge rule between April 1975 and January 1979. It is widely held that these crimes contributed to the death of around two million people, or one in five Cambodians, with millions more who suffered and survived. Three individuals, across two ECCC cases, have so far been found guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention.

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Derek Congram on “Digging for the Disappeared; Forensic Science After Atrocity” by Adam Rosenblatt

Adam Rosenblatt Digging for the Disappeared; Forensic Science after Atrocity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2015, 304 pages. $24.95, paperback, ISBN: 9780804794916.

rosenblatt_digging for the disappeared_795_1200In Digging for the Disappeared, Adam Rosenblatt examines the work of forensic anthropology teams in the context of criminal and humanitarian investigations of mass killings. His stated goal is to relate and scrutinize the politics and ethics of the forensic investigation of mass graves. Until very recently, this fairly young practice has mostly been represented by trope-heavy media stories that laud the good, but refrain from exposing potential problems in the process. The facile, lop-sided representation presumably stems from a taboo over finding flaw in an overall noble and also uncomfortable process: the exhumation of bodies, victims of atrocity crimes, from clandestine graves.

As a participant observer and humanity scholar, Rosenblatt gives us a rigorous, engaging, and edifying review of forensic investigations of these graves, the bodies within, and the community of stakeholders. With the exception of the multi-authored Necropolitics, by Francisco Ferrándiz and Antonius Robben, which was published two months after Rosenblatt’s book, previous work on the same subject is context-specific (e.g., Wagner, 2008 on Bosnia; Ferrándiz, 2013 on Spain). Digging for the Disappeared covers the development of a burgeoning movement and discipline across several continents. In the introduction Rosenblatt quotes from one of his interviews with the founding father of international forensic anthropology investigations, Clyde Snow: “I’m not a human rights activist. I’m a scientist. I’m an expert. If I have a philosophy, it’s that I’m anti-homicide” (page 18). Rosenblatt challenges these deflections in an exploratory, rather than interrogatory way and throughout the book he convincingly demonstrates how his subjects’ actions demonstrate a victim family-centred, activist-minded scientific practice that borders on betrayal of the cold, unemotional, and politically dis-engaged persona projected by many forensic anthropologists themselves.

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Withdrawing from Atmosphere – Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos

The following essay is a supplement to Withdrawing from atmosphere: An ontology of air partitioning and affective engineering, by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos.  The article is from volume 34, issue 1 of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and has been made free to access for the next month.

Tomas Saraceno: Cloud Cities at Hamburger Bahnhof. berlin 2011

All images copyright Studio Tomas Saraceno

There has been a surge in the research on atmosphere as a phenomenological emergence (Borch, 2014). These atmospheres are mostly architectural (Zumthor, 2012) but also philosophical (Böhme, 1995), sociological (Sloterdijk, 2013), financial (McCormack, 2015), and socioenvironmental (Choy, 2011). Ever since Anderson’s 2009 article on “Affective Atmospheres,” atmospheres are understood as affective emergences, situated between the subject and the object, apprehended phenomenologically and, especially if appropriately constructed, contributing to human well being. Atmospherics, in other words, have managed to generate their own comfortable atmosphere around them.

I would like to warn against this atmospheric comfort and especially the proliferation of benign atmospheric constructions, smoothly establishing a measurability (of well-being, belonging, social cohesion, integration, and so on) that only serves the perpetuation of the very atmosphere. In the companion piece “Withdrawing from atmosphere: An ontology of air partitioning and affective engineering” published in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34(1): 150-167, I engage in a critique of atmospheres by, first, moving deeper into atmosphere and specifically its main element, that of air and how it is regularly conditioned and partitioned for the preservation of an atmosphere; second, by critiquing the standard phenomenological construction of atmosphere as complicit to the all-containing atmospheric comfort, and introducing instead an atmospheric ontology; and, third, by engaging with international artist Tomás Saraceno’s art practice in order to render the atmospheric ontology tangible and to indicate ways out of the atmosphere. In this text here, I would like to focus on the latter, by expanding on the subtle ways in which Saraceno’s atmospheric installations can shift from the claustrophobic to the exhilaratingly open.

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Lisandro E. Claudio on “Metroimperial Intimacies” by Victor Román Mendoza

mendoza_metroimperial intimacies_1200_1800In the conclusion of Metroimperial Intimacies, Victor Roman Mendoza narrates the remarkable story of Jack Bee Garland. Garland, born Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta, was a female-to-male crossdresser from San Francisco, who became a reporter for the Evening Mail. Jack, “to be vulgarly presentist” (emphasis Mendoza’s), was something of “a gay mixed-race Chicano transman” (206)—a seemingly radical figure, especially in the context of queer historiography’s search for pioneers.

And yet Bean’s desire for adventure and male companionship landed him a job as a nurse and interpreter for the U.S. imperial army during the Filipino-American War in 1899. That war, as is now increasingly acknowledged, was genocidal, and Bean’s involvement in it complicates archival quests for sexual forebears. Who are Bean’s legatees? Queer activists? Or militarist advocates of American exceptionalism?

Bean’s contradictions, indeed, drive home the need for “tracing histories of sexuality in the United States” “that take into account the messiness of racial formations at the fin de siècle…” (3). This messiness was evident in the various ways American colonialism interpreted the sexualities of the insurgent natives they were colonizing. On the one hand, they were “brute male insurrectos,” but, on the other, they were “the passive feminine partner” in the marriage of William McKinley’s “benevolent assimilation” (25).

Mendoza’s historiography unfolds the ambiguities of sexuality in the colony. It is a process that requires deftness, and the author uses all the tools at his disposal to find the queer in the colonial: rereading of the archive, parsing insinuation, and, of course, bloc-quoting the psychoanalytic Zizek. By and large, the author is successful.

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