Author Archives: David Soucek

Particularity and Exception: Ethnographic Commitments and Moral Exemplars

This paper takes up the idea of exception from the perspective of anthropology. For a discipline with sustained commitments to ethnographic particularism as well as to the generation of theoretical models, the exception appears not as a taken-for-granted status of certain cases with respect to pre-given rules. Rather, exceptions are actively made and unmade through the interpretive and social practices in which both anthropologists and their interlocutors in the field engage. The people of Hunza, Northern Pakistan engage the tropes of geographic, political and religious exceptionalism that have defined them in the eyes of outsiders in efforts to create social boundaries and exclusions regionally while simultaneously forging bonds of relatedness with valued others. The paper concludes that the designation of exceptional cases is a form of social action that takes place against the background of rules and expectations that are pervasively, rather than occasionally, normative, and that its implications are always at least potentially moral.
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From Ordinary Exception to Exemplary Exclusion: Arendt-Jaspers Epistolary Exchange on Jewishness and Nationality

This text relates to the philosophical dissent between Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers from the 1930s, when they were bitterly discussing the question of national rootedness and human groundlessness on the basis of a nascent biography of Rahel Varnhagen (a German Jewess from Romantic epoch) that Arendt was writing at that time. When it comes to method, it is particularly important to stress that the text examines the concepts used by Jaspers and Arendt in their private correspondence: since the status of these concepts was unstable, in a process of establishing distinctions, an emphasis is put more on the context of their appearance than on their supposed meaning. In effect, concepts uncover their strategic, polemical dimension, which is in that case their only initial, unstable meaning, which usually remains invisible.
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Exceptions as Possibilities

The world is an unjust place. What sustain these injustices are the norms people follow in their day to day interactions, especially – but by no means exclusively – as these relate to consumption and production. Therefore, if justice – and morality more widely – are things with more than merely aesthetic or theoretical value the exceptions to these norms, as and when they occur, are the moments by which justice/morality are to be enacted. I attempt a survey of this thought via the work of the American political scientist/activist Frances Fox Piven.
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Precarious Work: Norm or Exception of Capitalism? Historicizing a Contemporary Debate: A Global Gendered Perspective

Is precarious work the product of specific historical circumstances, such as Post-Fordism and neoliberalism, or is it the real norm of capitalism, while the so-called “standard employment model” is actually the historical exception? This paper compares and contrasts the different interpretations of the role of precarious work in the history of capitalism provided in the past two decades by socio-economic and legal scholars and, more recently, by historians, feminist and post-colonial scholars. Such a debate aims to prove the relativity of the concepts of norm and exception, defined as such according to specific and competitive theoretical frameworks discussed in the paper. Exploring the invention of a norm (i.e. the standard employment relationship) and its more recent subversion, the paper intends to show the shift occurring in knowledge systems as a result of the global and gender turn spreading since the edge of the New Millennium in social and historical sciences. Conceiving the role of precarious work in the history of capitalism as a norm has, therefore, challenged the hegemonic model of understanding the social world, revealing the multiple facets and variations of an enduring phenomenon, no longer recognizable as an exception.
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Introduction
The Power of the Norm: Fragile Rules and Significant Exceptions

Certain exceptions, it is said, prove the rule. This has sometimes been understood to mean that identifying a given instance of a phenomenon as exceptional implies the existence of a rule to which it does not conform. The exception may then direct our attention to special circumstances under which the rule does not apply. Alternatively, under an older meaning of the word ‘prove,’ the phrase suggests that exceptional cases test or call into question taken-for-granted rules or expectations. …
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IWMpost 119

Contents From the Fellows Intellectuals in the Age of Right-Wing Insurgency / by Andrew Brandel We Need to Talk: Fostering Dialogue Between Russia and the West / by Walter Kemp The Long Shadows of the Free Market / by Annemieke Hendriks Structures of Feeling After Yugoslavia / by Chiara Bonfiglioli Russia in Global Dialogue Russia: …
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IWMpost 118

Contents From the Fellows The Shipwrecked Mind / by Mark Lilla A Majority of ‘Deplorables’? / by Jan-Werner Müller China is Ready to Build Putin’s Firewall / by Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov International Law and Multinormativity I Wanna Hold Your Hand / by Miloš Vec Women’s Day 2016 A Backlash Against Women’s Rights? / …
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IWMpost 117

Contents Democracy in Question Utopian Dreams of Life Beyond the Border / by Ivan Krastev From the Fellows Can Journalism Survive? Digital Media and the Future of Democracy / Comments by Vlad Odobescu, Sašo Ordanoski, Gemma Pörzgen, Maria Stepanova and Güney Yildiz The Future of the State and the State of the Future / by …
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Governance Without Hierarchy

The world is full of areas of limited statehood where central state institutions are too weak to implement and enforce central decisions and/or lack the monopoly over the means of violence. We argue, however, that the absence of hierarchical governance by the state does not equal anarchy and chaos. Areas of limited statehood are neither ungoverned nor ungovernable. We find huge variation in the extent to which rules and regulations are being implemented and/or public services are being provided in areas of limited statehood. We explain this variation by focusing a) on legitimacy as a social relationship between those being governed and the “governors” providing the latter with a “license to govern;” b) social trust as the social glue among members of relevant communities enabling them to govern and to solve collective action problems.
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The Backlash Against Women’s Rights

Women throughout the world continue to face discrimination, are denied equal access to participation in public and political life and suffer sexual and gender-based violence and abuse in public places and at home. The aim of the discussion ‘The Backlash Against Women’s Rights’ was to highlight the rise in violence against women in current conflict zones around the world as well as to bring attention to the ‘watering down’ of international agreements on the protection of women’s rights signed by governments of the countries which are not necessarily torn by military conflicts, but undergo a politically orchestrated revival of ‘traditional values’.
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