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Vladimír Naxera and Petr Krčál

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the academic debate on populism and Islamophobia in contemporary Europe. Its goal is to analyze Czech President Miloš Zeman’s strategy in using the term “security” in his first term of office. Methodologically speaking, the text is established as a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) of a data set created from all of Zeman’s speeches, interviews, statements, and so on, which were processed using MAXQDA11+. This paper shows that the dominant treatment of the phenomenon of security expressed by the President is primarily linked to the creation of the vision of Islam and immigration as the absolute largest threat to contemporary Europe. Another important finding lies in the fact that Zeman instrumentally utilizes rhetoric such as “not Russia, but Islam”, which stems from Zeman’s relationship to Putin’s authoritarian regime. Zeman’s conceptualization of Islam and migration follows the typical principles of contemporary right-wing populism in Europe.

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Vilém Řehák

Abstract

Economic cooperation between the US and Kenya has reflected the ups and downs in the relations between the two countries. Since independence, both countries have converged on security issues and diverged on questions of democracy and human rights. When Barack Obama was elected as the President of the US, Kenya expected to get an “Obama bonus” in the form of closer trade and investment cooperation. This article analyzes what is the image of US–Kenya economic relations in the news discourse. The analysis reveals that three different and competing narratives are present in the news discourse in Kenya. The US disseminates a narrative that economy, security, good governance and human resources are four interconnected and mutually reinforcing pillars of African development; Kenya must make progress in all these four pillars, and the US is ready to help Kenya. Kenyan leaders seem to internalize the economic part of the narrative and accept the nexus between economy and security, but they reject the nexus between economy and political issues. Finally, the Kenyan society internalizes both these narratives, albeit to a different degree, with the latter prevailing over the former. However, it also produces its own narrative, which presents current US–Kenya economic relations in a different perspective. The whole US engagement in Kenya hardly goes beyond the symbolical level. It is driven by US economic interests and competition with China, while there is no “Obama bonus” for Kenya.

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Tereza Juhászová

Abstract

In the 20th century, the two world wars reshaped the map of Central Europe as well as the status of Central Europe’s diverse societies. In my article, I focus on the Hungarian and German minorities in Slovakia and the representation of their problematic historical past in contemporary Slovak museums. More specifically, I zoom in on the exhibition Exchanged Homes displayed in Bratislava, which aims to commemorate the fate of Hungarians, Germans, and Slovaks, all of whom were affected by the population transfers after World War II. Based on the concept of memorial museums theorized by Paul Williams, I aim to show how the different exhibitions engage with the traumatic past of forceful resettlement. By offering multifaceted memories of a troubled past, these exhibitions avoid categorizing “victims” and “perpetrators” along national or ethnic lines. My paper thus analyzes the concepts and components of the exhibitions—the context of the postwar events, oral history interviews, and objects of everyday use that should bring the visitor closer to the experience of the people who were forced to leave. I argue that exhibitions of this sort have the ability to challenge the dominant historical narrative focusing on a national “Slovak” history and help the process of reconciliation between the Slovak majority society, and the Hungarian and German minorities.

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Jiří Gazda

Abstract

This study presents a content and qualitative discourse analysis of readers’ comments made on Czech journalism on sociopolitical topics published in Russian translation at InoSMI.ru. Following the tradition of ethnomethodology, which examines the formation of subjective views of the world from the viewpoint of the general population, the interpretation of the examined discourse focuses on analyzing the verbal attitudes of regular Russian readers of political journalism toward the opinions of the Czech public on the current-day Russia and toward Czechs and the Czech Republic in general. Specifically, the study examined the expressions of intolerance toward the opinions of others and linguistic aggression on the part of the Russian-speaking commenters toward the authors of critical Czech journalism as natural and instinctive dismissive reactions to “different” or hostile language and cultural and ideological expressions. The study is based on language data acquired by analyzing readers’ comments left on a total of 45 Russian translations of Czech journalistic writings published between January and September 2016 on 12 different Czech websites. The qualitative, critical analysis of the linguistic material is based on a sociocognitive approach, which assumes a dialectical relationship between the discourse and society operating through cognitive structures (knowledge and ideology). The aim of this study was to highlight the negative aspects of unsanctioned public sociopolitical discourse, which is currently made possible and accelerated by technology advances of the Internet network and, at a time of a de facto information war, contributes to the spread of negativistic and hostile attitudes and sentiments, rather than to a genuine intercultural dialog.

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Elisabeth Kovtiak

Abstract

This paper deals with the politics of memory in contemporary Georgia’s public space. It explores the relations between official and vernacular commemorations of the Soviet past in Tbilisi. In this paper, I have studied the forms of materialization of vernacular memories in the public space and provided a frame in which they exist, including the ideological background of decommunization in Georgia and peculiarities of the Soviet era museumizing in state museums. The official discourse demonizes the previous epoque and neglects all its benefits, whereas the ordinary people are quite nuanced in their memories of their past – this contradiction leads to manifestations of vernacular memories. Therefore, this paper focuses mostly on Tbilisi’s Dry Bridge, a famous flea market where the memory of the recent Soviet past is negotiated. The main argument is that this particular flea market and its artifacts might be regarded as a “vernacular memorial” and “lieu de memoire” where nostalgia for an officially demonized era can be expressed and materialized. This paper explores the items that are on sale, explaining their meaning for the post-Soviet people, and describes the intangible practices that can be observed there. In addition, this paper unpacks that these nostalgic practices should not be considered as “unhealthy” or “retrospective” as it helps people to adapt to modernity and develop by considering more than one hegemonic version of their past.

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Sandra Kreisslová and Lukáš Novotný

Abstract

Language preservation is considered to be one of the central missions of ethnic groups. For the German minority in the Czech Republic too, language plays an important role in group identity. Its current language situation is a result of the negative historic developments after World War II and under the communist regime. Due to the forced resettlement of most German-speaking inhabitants and the subsequent assimilation policies of the communist regime, the German community underwent strong cultural and language assimilation, which is also attested by the steady decline of its membership. The study focuses on issues of the language situation of the German minority and the revitalization efforts that have been undertaken by its elite in cooperation with other relevant institutions. A research survey of the main representatives of the minority and its regional associations demonstrates their evaluations of the ways in which German language is currently used and promoted in the Czech Republic, and it also points to the different strategies they have been striving to implement to reverse the language shift.

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Michaela Strapáčová and Vít Hloušek

Abstract

The paper deals with the way that the Czech extremist – as well as the mainstream – politicians use to frame the issues related to Moslem migration. The paper seeks to find the answer to a situation of successful use of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant campaigning in the country, which is neither a destination country nor an important transit country for the migrants. The paper approaches the topic through the conceptual lenses of the concept of cognitive frames. By discursive analysis of selected Czech politicians’ rhetoric in the period of 2015–2016, the authors show how politicians are constructing the cognitive frameworks on migrants and refugees, connecting these groups with radical Islam and the construct of danger, thus shifting the migration issue from the framework of international assistance and aid to securitized frameworks.

Open access

Tatiana Podolinská

Abstract

This paper deals with the ways of reconceptualization and negotiation of a new ethnicity and identity within the Pentecostal and Charismatic pastoral discourse among the Gypsies/Roma of Slovakia. The analysis is based on three denominations: the Word of Life movement in Plavecký Štvrtok, the Maranata Christian Mission in Spišská Nová Ves and the St. Paul’s Community within the Greek-Catholic Church in Čičava. The comparative analysis of pastoral and converts’ narratives has shown that the “New Roma” category is constructed as an ahistorical category of practice, which is intentionally largely ethnically emptied and creatively filled with specific content according to the life goals and paths of particular users either at the individual level or at the community level in line with the creed of good, moral, useful and decent life (of a Christian = Human = Rom). Research has revealed that in spite of the strong trans-social and trans-ethnic discourse, according to which believers should lose the reason for taking into account the inter-group stratifications, they still remain ethnically and socially sensitive. An important change in this context is, however, that the previous paradigm Gypsies versus “Whites” turns, after conversion, into the paradigm Roma alongside other nations. This fundamentally changes the basic classificatory schemes and positional way of defining themselves in relation to others. The New Rom is primarily the negation of the Old Rom, not of the White/Gadjo. The way in which Pentecostal and Charismatic pastors positively reconstruct, reconceptualize and negotiate the “New Roma” identity at the individual, group, collective and national levels goes largely beyond the traditional (modern) perception of ethnic identities and does not take into account historical origin, country, language, culture, etc. as constitutive elements. From this viewpoint, the Pentecostal and Charismatic pastors operating among Gypsies/Roma in contemporary Slovakia would be considered to be engineers, mentors and tutors of ethnoreligious innovation based on the concept of relocation and accommodation of Gypsies into the new and positively reconceptualized label Rom/a.

Open access

Simone Benazzo

Abstract

Since the 2010 elections, the current Hungarian government has proven to be a very active and restless “memory warrior” (Bernard and Kubik 2014). The ruling party, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, shows both a neat understanding of national history and the ability to transmit it by the adoption of different tools. This politics of memory is instrumental in granting the government political legitimacy. By ruling out oppositional actors and their historical narratives from the public sphere, Fidesz presents itself as the primary champion of Hungarian national sovereignty. Hungarians is, then, portrayed as a nation that has long suffered from the yoke of external oppression in which the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, the Soviets and eventually the Europeans figure as the enemies of the Hungarians. Specific collective memories, including the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Nazi occupation (1944–5) and socialist period (1948–90), are targeted so as to enact a sense of national belonging and pride, as well as resentment against foreigners. Moreover, in its rejection of the pluralism of memories and yearn for the homogenization of national history by marginalizing unfitting elements, this politics of memory is consistent with the System of National Cooperation (Batory 2016) that Fidesz’s administration has tried to establish in Hungary. This paper carries out an in-depth analysis of Fidesz’s multilayered politics of memory by investigating both its internal and external dimensions separately. In the final section, conclusions are drawn up to summarize its key tenets. Official speeches, legislative acts, and four interviews with key historians of Hungary have been used as sources.