La Distinción Mosaica

El ser humano ha sido siempre religioso. La pregunta sobre lo infinito ha sido fundamental en el desarrollo de las distintas sociedades y pensamientos del hombre; lo ha sido hasta tal punto de condicionar el bien y el mal, entendidos como los bienes comunes y fundamentales de las distintas sociedades. De hecho, la distinción entre bien y mal y su configuración histórica constituyen el punto central de este estudio.

Africans Investing in Africa

It is not foreign investment or importation of knowledge and capacity from the outside what Africa needs, but to unleash its own potential. As Paul Collier mentions in the introduction of Africans Investing in Africa, “although for Africa, the past decade has been economically benign, attention in the international business media has been narrowly focused” (p. 1). International investors have largely concentrated on the natural resources sector, but Africa has a lot more to offer. Africa’s economies have huge potential for growth diffused across many sectors. 

Africans Investing in Africa is the result of a project conceived in 2011 by the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation and the Lagos-based Tony Elumelu Foundation. The book has sixteen different contributors hailing from respected universities and research institutions in Africa, Europe and North America; all of them with deep knowledge of the issues under consideration as well as a thorough mastery and experience in African affairs.

Sobre la Revolución

Hannah Arendt escribió en Sobre la Revolución hace ya más de cuarenta años que: «Fue la Revolución francesa, no la americana, la que pegó fuego al mundo y, en consecuencia, fue del curso de la revolución francesa, no del de la americana, ni de los actos de los Padres Fundadores, de donde el uso actual de la palabra ‘revolución’ recibió sus connotaciones y resonancias a través de todo el mundo, sin excluir los Estados Unidos».

Understanding the UN Security Council

Understanding the United Nations Security Council (UNSC): Coercion or Consent is a book written by Neil Fenton and published by Ashgate Publishing Limited in 2004. The target audiences for the book are the readers interested to grasp the workings of the UNSC. Fenton examines in particular the recent history of the decision making of the UNSC in the early 1990s regarding state sovereignty and the permissibility of the use of force. In order to understand the challenges of consent-based peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention and the debates on sovereignty and the shifts to UNSC actions in terms of its member’s responses as well as the fall-out of their actions for sovereignty, the author illustrates his arguments by studying the following cases: northern Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda and Bosnia.

Salt in the Sand

Chile faces heavy doses of state violence that reconstruct collective memory.  In Lessie Jo Frazier’s Salt in the Sand: Memory, Violence, and the Nation-State in Chile, 1890 to the Present, the author traces and explains the evolving history of state violence and the melancholic memory morphology associated with state brutality in the process of Chilean nation-state formation. Salt in the Sand does not only refer to the extraction of mineral wealth and the sodium-nitrate mining in the Chilean Tarapaca desert, it also represents the blood, tears and the sweat of human beings that make their history significant.

Sacrifice as Terror

Genocide is a challenging subject since it encourages scholars to contribute to its elimination. There are much-studied aspects of the genocide that has proliferated across various genres such as in Gérard Prunier’s The Rwandan Genocide, Linda Melvern’s A People Betrayed: the Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide, Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families and Roméo Dallaire’s Shake Hands With the Devil.  By confronting the complexity of the subject, the shift of structures of empathy, history and politics are becoming complicated. We are still struggling to comprehend the trauma that took place in Rwanda in 1994. The Rwanda genocide is one of the malevolent patches of the garden of evil in the conflictive and complex state of our world and discipline. The peculiar type of violence; the accomplishment of killing with grenades, machetes and nail-studded, makes this carnage more terrifying. In Christopher C. Taylor’s Sacrifice as Terror: The Rwandan Genocide of 1994, he analyses the cri de coeur of the people in Rwanda during the genocide where more than one seventh of the nation’s population were brutally massacred. Taylor was an ethnographer of the genocide and was a witness of Rwanda’s slow descent into chaos.  In this paper, I will focus on Taylor’s ethnographic research, the use of the political and historical background of Rwanda, the Hamitic hypothesis, the cosmology of terror and human bodies and the role of gender.

El Nuevo Desorden Mundial

Tzvetan Todorov es capaz de transmitir de manera sencilla y clara su visión acerca de la guerra de Irak. A su vez, hace un análisis de la situación de Europa en este escenario bélico.

El  Nuevo Desorden Mundial se enmarca dentro de la polémica que surge después del atentado del 11-s, tras el cual Estados Unidos declara la guerra a Irak en 2003. Se ha especulado en numerosas ocasiones acerca de los motivos que llevaron a Bush a tomar dicha decisión. Él mismo da dos motivos fundamentales: Irak está en posesión de armas de destrucción masiva y además ofrece su apoyo a Al-Qaeda. Sin embargo, ambos argumentos carecen de pruebas concluyentes, y por tanto, la decisión de Bush de tomar parte en el conflicto iraquí ha suscitado gran polémica en la  sociedad. Todorov concluye que lo que le lleva a un gobierno a tomar una decisión determinada es tanto el interés nacional como la protección de sus habitantes. El mismo Bush hablaba de la necesidad de llevar la libertad a otras personas (en este caso, a Irak), para favorecer a su vez la seguridad interior de su propio país. Esto le lleva a uno a preguntarse hasta qué punto una Irak ‘liberada’ de su dictador favorece la protección de EEUU. Este ha sido, sin lugar a dudas, un tema altamente polémico.

Power, Post-Colonialism and International Relations

In the post-Cold War era, global infatuation with neo-liberal economics has intensified the cultural, socio-economic, political and economic peripheralization of the South. The neo-liberal paradigm does not only shape the field of International Relations, but also both the national and international policies and policy. 

Killing Neighbors

Twenty-two years, after the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, this organized mass violence still loom in both the world and Rwandan conscious and heart. This genocide was not only a physical act but also the destruction of bonds and an act of social violation. Over the past decade, scholars have begun taking a different angle in order to bring further clarity to the debates on what explains and why and how thousands of Rwandans participated in the 1994 wholesale slaughter of their neighbors, the other thousands of Rwandans. What can be the range of motives behind what is seen as senseless killing, genocide? In Lee Ann Fujii’s Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda, the author analyzes the 1994 Rwandan genocide at the community level and tries to understand how can neighbors commit genocide against their own neighbors, family and friends? There are numerous scholars such as Richard Paul who emphasizes the importance of an ethnographic approach in order to uncover both the meaning behind and motives for individuals to either succeed or fail to commit genocide. Other scholars argue that genocide is an inevitable consequence of ethnic tensions. However, Fujii completely rejects the solely ethnic lens to understand and examine the events of the genocide.  Fujii does not only craft both a succinct and smart piece of literature but also provide a sophisticated analysis of genocide by posing tough questions that contain implications for re-thinking about genocide. In this paper, I will focus on the micro-sociological approach, the Joiners, the “lowest-level participants in the genocide,”[1] complex relationship between violence and ethnicity and the concept of a script.

Understanding Comparative Politics

Over time, The field of comparative politics has undergone “wide oscillations in search of an adequate paradigm” (Kamrava, 2008). The initial focus on the State as the major actor -and of comparative politics as a descriptive science of its institutions and organization- led to an approach emphasizing the role of society. Early revolutions across Europe favored a conception of political outputs from societal inputs. Among recent scholar literature the importance of state regained a central role. Kamrava argues that these cycle brought important insights for further political analysis.

Ibn Khaldun, Al-Muqaddimah

Ibn Khaldun’s Al-Muqadimah, prolegomena to the study of history is a “narrative of human aggregation”.  Ibn Khaldun is regarded as the founder of sociology and Al-Muqaddima is considered as one of the most important monographs in general sociology. The question is: what makes the work of Ibn Khaldun unique and relevant in the study of both politics and society in today’s world? My study focuses more specifically on the concept of asabiyya and its relationship with religion, which is one of the core thoughts of Ibn Khaldun regarding the rise and fall of civilization, the basis form of human political and social organization, and the source for economic development as well as political stability.

Hiroshima's Shadows

One of the main battles of the cultural wars is the controversy that engulfed the proposed exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museums in 1995 commemorating the fuselages that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the Enola Gay. The script for the exhibit turned out to be a tangled bitter display that attempted to celebrate the deaths of millions of Japanese civilians. The impressive volume of Hiroshima’s Shadow by Kai Bird and Lawerence Lifschultz is an anthology and it originated in the most terrifying as well as the central event of the twentieth century, the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

How South Africa Works

It is common knowledge that South Africa is in a critical point; some sort of crossroads where a misstep may determine a rapid recovery or a drawback from where it would take decades to recover. A number of factors have made the South African economy vulnerable. But not only is the economy in a bad shape. That is also the case of the political and social spheres. And even though How South Africa Works perfectly illustrates all these topics, it is especially concerned about the economic perspective. Because of that, I would also like to point out here another liberal analysis published recently tackling these issues. R.W. Johnson’s How long will South Africa survive? The looming crisis is a good complement for How South Africa Works, since it comes at the same issues from a political angle.

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters

Jason Stearns’ Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa discusses a number of topics related to the conflict in Congo. The author is a political activist and a journalist who had been worked on the conflict for the past ten years as well as working with a Congolese human rights group. Later he worked for both, the International Crisis Group and the United Nations peacekeeping operation.

The author traces the evolution of the conflict, which began in 1996, has continued intermittently until today. Stearns provides a clear theoretical analysis of the causes that led the heart of Africa, Congo, to bleed. Also, he used powerful stories from real life to keep things revival and interesting for the reader. He wrote this book in order to grasp the roots of the brutal war and violence that has engulfed in Congo. At least nine governments and twenty various rebel groups have been involved in this conflict. It has cost a staggering five million lives. Nevertheless, this enormous war has received little media coverage, particularly in the Western press. The author attempts to answer why, for example, the conflict in Darfur has received more than four times the conflict in Congo, though the death rate in Congo is more than ten times that in Darfur.

Collective Memory: France and the Algerian War (1954-1962)

There were difficulties and “Memory battles” in transmitting the memory of the Algerian war of independence (1954-62) in contemporary France. Jo McCormack’s Collective Memory: France and the Algerian War (1954-1962) discusses a number of topics related to the analysis of the French collective memory of the Algerian War (1954-62), one of the most iconic, hardest and bloodiest wars of decolonization. France wanted to sweep this traumatic period under the carpet and to engage in a policy of forgetting by referring to the Algerian War as peacekeeping operations to maintain order. Also, the “work of memory” on the Algerian War in France was very insufficient.  Nevertheless, the memory of this war without a name was never forgotten but repressed since France wanted to turn the page on the divisive and painful Algerian war episode in French history.

Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi's Political Discourse

Bhikhu Parekh’s Colonialism, Tradition and Reform An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse discusses a number of topics related to Gandhi’s political and social activity, and the emergence of independent India. His primary argument is that Ghandi utilized both the resources of Hindu tradition such as sati (widow burning in order to ashes on her dead husband’s pyre) and a unique moral and political authority to formulate his political discourse. His approach also borrowed from Western political philosophy, but adapted to the local social-political context. Finally, it is clear that Gandhi’s approach drew from a long line of eminent Indian thinkers who influenced Gandhi’s views on the essence and causes of India’s apparent decline. These disparate influences combined to give Ghandi a new view, based on a form of self-criticism and moral philosophy. Together, he used his understanding of Hinduism with these other approaches to create a compelling and new approach to political activism.

Bananas, Beaches and Bases

Some scholars claim that the field of international relations is still remaining as a male-dominated field. As a result, there is little attention given to women’s roles in creating international politics. In Cynthia Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (1989), the author, a professor at Clark University, asks crucial questions: “where are the women?”[1] and how international politics shapes and manipulates ideas about femininity? There are two main reasons that explain how Enloe arrived at where she got to thinking about international relations. Firstly, her students have an impact on her, as they bring both assumptions and puzzles that are new to her and she learns from their own investigations.[2] Secondly, Hannah Arendt inspired her. Enloe said, in one of her interviews, that listening to Arendt was “intellectually exciting.”[3] Hence, through a feminist perspective, Enloe uncovers both masculinity as well as femininity dichotomies that are concealed by mainstream international relations. The author argues that woman’s political and socioeconomic lives, knowledge and experiences of trade, travel, war, diplomacy, and factory work shape international politics. In this paper, I will focus on how women play a crucial role in shaping international politics in the economic, tourism and diplomacy sectors.  I will also shed light on how gender and politics go hand in hand.

Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

Is America ready to rule the world? Probably not. But the author argues that it has –or has had– better gear for the task. British historian Niall Ferguson states that the U.S. is an empire de facto. He is right to argue that, since its foundation through anti-colonial rebellion against British rule, the U.S. has been in denial of its imperialistic features, which seems logical having been forged in a war against imperial Britain. Nowadays, a vast majority of U.S. citizens are reluctant to accept this theory, refusing to see their country as something different that the standard-bearer of liberties and ultimate guarantor of freedom in the world. It is certainly uncomfortable to be linked to eighteenth century Britain or Ancient Rome, to name a few.