Politics

Ernesto C. Sferrazza Papa

The “Wall”: Ontology, Politics, Culture

“In my presentation I’ve shared with colleagues and participants the current stages of my research project. I divided the presentation into three parts, namely the three point of views of my approach to the issue of the wall.
The first one is an ontological point, and I consider it the very theoretical grounding of the entire research. The wall is something that exists in the world, so it concerns with the ontology, the science of the being. But at the same time the wall is an artifact, an object existing in a social world, and its existence depends from the human hand that modifies a natural object. Thus, one of the privileged points of view for better understanding the issue of the wall is the social ontology. Therefore, I’d like to provide a clear definition of “political wall” based on the concept of “artifact”, discussing arguments and positions of authors such as Maurizio Ferraris, Diego Marconi, John Searle, Barry Smith.
In the second part of the presentation, I showed how and why such a research should deal with the political issue of the wall. Indeed, the increasingly growing of material borders all over the world shows us that walls are a global phenomenon that merit a careful and deep analysis. For this reason, french scholars Florine Ballif and Stephane Rosiere coined a neologism, teichopolitics (from the ancient greek teichos, the wall of the city) in order to define the politics of building walls at the statal borders for various security purposes. In this part of the presentation I’ve focused on the fundamental working principles of contemporary teichopolitics, namely the materialization of borders as a visible persistence of statal power (as Wendy Brown argues in his famous book Walled States, Waning Sovereignty), and the problem of the “regime of mobility”, which is a new global hierarchy based of different mobility potentialities.
In the third part, I have argued that a teichopolitical regime can work only through a specific cultural discourse on the “other” as a dangerous figure. Indeed, the teichopolitical logic is complementary to what, for instance, Ronen Shamir has defined the “paradigm of suspicion” and Ulrich Beck a “risk society”. In order to deconstruct the teichopolitical logics and its cultural “condition of possibility”, we need to rethink our political categories, and especially the fundamental figure of our time: the migrant.
At the end of the presentation, I have sketched out some possible next stages and developments of the research.”

NURI ALI TAHIR

Controlling the Borders of “Borderless” Europe in the Age of Migration

Recent international developments and the flow of people towards Europe made borders again a strong component of the European integration. Different reactions by European Institutions and EU member states showed that the classical idea of borders being marker of a territory and special identity became underlined through series of systematic implementations. The idea of European integration and its very basic principle “free movement” is facing a massive challenge amid the crisis of refugees and the flow of migration from the Middle East towards Western Europe. During the summer of 2015, Dublin convention and the way it was implemented by different member states, created new discussions on the shared responsibility of the free movement in Europe. While Eastern European countries were accused with discrimination and being hostile towards refugees, Western European countries tried to accept them while pushing for certain conditions and quotas. Nevertheless, distribution of refugees among the EU member states resulted with the disintegration of European solidarity in difficult times. Eventually, the initial stress was on the external borders of the EU and the role of agencies such as FRONTEX which were created to protect the borders of EU. “Controlling the borders” or “border management” became the common ground for the discussion of migrant crisis. Dr. Tahir discusses the refugee flow towards European Union along with EU’s “border management” policies by examining the situation in the Greek-Turkish border, where the flow of refugees from Syria is the highest. He shares his fieldwork experiences from the Aegean Coast of Turkey and the Greek-Turkish land border in Trace where the flow of irregular migrants is still going on. Having observed the situation before and after signing the acceptance agreement between Turkey and the EU in March 2016, Dr. Tahir also discusses the immediate results of the implementation of this agreement.

DANE TALESKI

From Armed Boots to Polished Suits:  A Precarious Predicament for Peacebuilding and Democratization?

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”

– Gerald Seymour, Harry’s Game, 1975

In many of contemporary intrastate conflicts, armed groups transit to politics when the conflict ends. For example, Shin Feinn in Northern Ireland, UCK in Kosovo, NLA in Macedonia, Communist in Nepal, Renamo in Mozambique, FMLN in El Salvador, just to name a few. This phenomenon is noted in peacebuilding literature; however, there are diverging views whether it is justified or not.

The “liberal peace” theory advocates that liberal norms, institutions and practices should be exported in conflict affected societies to build sustainable peace. External frameworks of understanding are seen as being superior to local ones, which need to be amended accordingly. From that perspective the inclusion of rebels is criticized because it can lead to a “war lord democracy”. The argument is that if dubious actors are able to influence the post-conflict agenda, then it can have negative consequences for peacebuilding in the long term. Others argue that peacebuilding has to rest on the “unique, social, cultural, economic, political and religious context of each country”. Studies find that if potential “peace spoilers” are included in peace processes, then they do not return to fight, but support peacebuilding. Policy approaches are pragmatic. For example, the US Department of Defense Strategic Guidance document (2012) proposes a modest approach to peacebuilding by supporting development of local institutions. Policy studies welcome inclusive peacebuilding and open leeway for inclusion of rebels, and put primacy to “’what works’ at the local level rather than ‘who ought to’ provide services”.

Couples of decades after the inter-ethnic conflicts in Southeast Europe, many of the war-time structures are politically active and relevant. For example, Ali Ahmeti and DUI in Macedonia, Hashim Thaci and PDK and Ramush Haradinaj and AAK in Kosovo, Vojislav Stanimirovic and SDSS in Croatia, and different actors and parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is puzzling to see that parties from war-time networks dominate the minority competition in Croatia and Macedonia, and that such parties are among the main competitors in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. However, it is unclear what consequences did their inclusion in politics had on peace-building and democratization? In the paper, I present tentative results from my field work done in Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. I find that parties from war-time networks contributed to peace-building; however, they impeded democratization processes. For example, they utilized conflict’s symbolic legacies as symbolic capital and convert it into electoral capital. In addition, they support social practices to sustain their symbolic capital and contribute toward divergent understanding of the past conflict. These results point out to the dilemma whether inclusion of rebels in politics is morally justified. The ramifications of rebels’ inclusion in politics have implications for the moral culture in the society.