The Zimbabwean elections in 2008 arrived during total economic disrepair and a peak moment of national frustration with the government, which had been controlled by Robert Mugabe and his party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) since the country’s independence in 1980. This nominally socialist party that won the right to Black-majority rule decades prior was faced in the 2000’s with resistance to the violent strong-arm tactics Mugabe used to establish single party rule, conduct unsuccessful land reforms, and retain power. Electoral resistance to the regime had been raised before, with a contested election in 2002. At that time, however, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party remained in power with the support of the African Union (AU), despite condemnations of misconduct from international observers and the opposition party: the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was founded in 1999 by members of Zimbabwe’s trade union alliances in opposition to a constitutional referendum giving powers to the government to conduct land reforms. The AU’s support in 2002 is one of several markers showing that at the start of the decade, despite corroborated reports of political violence and social upheaval, Mugabe’s hold on the presidency was strong enough that challenges to its legitimacy—however valid—could be easily put aside (especially by other national leaders whose power may have been more or less democratically established). However, by 2007, with the environment of corruption, the growing inflation escalating from 8,000% to 100,000% by early 2008, and unemployment reaching throughout the country, the citizens of Zimbabwe were increasingly desperate for a change in regime. Continue reading “election : zimbabwe 2008”
In June 1986, in a run-off election, former UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim was elected president of Austria—amid accusations of war crimes. Waldheim’s campaign precipitated a long-delayed reckoning by the Austrian people with their role in the murder of millions during WWII. This is the story of the events leading up to that election.
1985 : Kurt Waldheim declares his intention to run for president of Austria, as a representative of the right-leaning Austrian People’s Party. In January of this year, his memoirs are published, in German and English translation. The book details his 40-year career in the diplomatic service since 1945, spent variously as Austrian Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador to Canada, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and two terms as UN General Secretary (1972–1981). The memoirs touch only briefly on his military service during WWII, stating that he was drafted into the Germany army in 1938 and served on the Eastern Front, where he was wounded and then dismissed from service in 1942. He alleges to have spent 1942 to 1945 studying law in Vienna.Continue reading “election : austria 1986”
election : is a new series that will post weekly from election through the united states’ presidential inauguration. in it, we will be spotlighting notable past and present election scenarios from around the world. these descriptions are intended to contextualize election : united states 2020 and to unexceptionalize the state of democracy in the united states. each post will elaborate seeming irregularities and exceptionalities that can and do take place in and around democratic electoral procedures. against blind faith in the power of institutional procedure, the aim is to illustrate the opportunistic ways that ambivalences inherent in such systems are seized and exploited.
series editors : lauren k. wolfe & zach rivers
contributors to the series:
Amrita De is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at SUNY Binghamton. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of South Asian literature and masculinity studies. Her dissertation explores the idea of fragility in literary articulations of postcolonial Indian masculinities across different registers such as virility, stoicism, and entrepreneurship. She recently published an article on Indian and American right-wing populisms in Boyhood Studies. She is also a creative writer and is presently working on her first novel, which also explores Indian masculinities.
Amy Obermeyer is a founding member of the Barricade Editorial Collective and a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at New York University. Her research focuses on subjectivity, gender, and race in early twentieth-century literatures of Latin America and Japan.
Lauren K. Wolfe is a translator and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her translations have been published by Dalkey Archive Press, MIT Press, and University of Minnesota Press. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois Center for Translation Studies, New York University, and is currently Second Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She is a founding Editorial Collective member of Barricade.
Mirta Jurilj is a freelance translator and writer specialized in the humanities and social sciences. She lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.
Murage Macharia is a writer based in Kerugoya, Kenya. He is passionate about psychology, literature, and technology. He is interested in exploring how storytelling can be used to dismantle the colonial debris entrenched in all colonized cultures, as well as a tool for self-awareness and empowerment. He enjoys shallow debates on pretentious philosophy, listening to music, and playing the guitar.
Santiago Ospina Celis is a writer, translator, and editor from Colombia. He is currently a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University.
Siarhei Biareishyk is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, working in the materialist tradition of Spinoza and Marx. His writing on Belarus has also appeared in Viewpoint Magazine, Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, and No Borders.
Sultan Doughan is a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University. An anthropologist by training, her scholarship is at the intersection of secularism, migration, and critical race and gender studies, approached through theories of citizenship, minority rights, and memory studies and located in contemporary Europe. She conducted research in the domain of civic education in Berlin within state-funded projects to combat Islamic extremism in working class and immigrant neighborhoods. These projects operate through the frame of Holocaust memory and the figure of the Jew in Germany, targeting former Middle Eastern immigrants through a racially gendered logic to be “tolerant” secular citizens.
Yana Makuwawas raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved to the United States to obtain her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University. Afterwards she worked as an assistant editor at Graywolf Press, an independent publisher of contemporary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, and currently takes on freelance editing and bilingual proofreading projects. She attends New York University, where she is working towards a PhD in Comparative Literature.
Yarri Kamarais a policy researcher, writer, and translator based in Burkina Faso.
Zach Riversis a PhD candidate in New York University’s Department of Comparative Literature, whose research focuses on ancient textiles, gendered labor, and inheritance. He is a founding Editorial Collective member of Barricade, and former steward for GSOC, NYU’s graduate worker union.
In a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism, published over the summer, Turkish journalist and translator Ayşe Düzkan offers an anecdote: At a conference in Istanbul in 2014, she was tasked with providing a consecutive Turkish interpretation for one of the speakers, a British Marxian anthropologist. His comments centered on the Gezi Park uprisings that had captured the world’s attention just a year before. Though it was only his second visit to the city, he did not seem to recognize the irony in speaking to a Turkish audience, many of whom were directly involved in the protests, about an event in which he was not himself involved, and in a language they do not speak. Would a Turkish-speaking writer living in London be invited to comment on Occupy London, she wonders? That such a scenario seems unlikely is no coincidence. The absurd performance Düzkan observes illustrates how the politics of translation affect not only the distribution of linguistic access (so that desired information may be limited for speakers of a certain language), but also the distribution of intellectual authority (so that speakers of a certain language may be ‘taught’ their own history through an interpreter).
The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism is a collection of thirty-one contributions, spread vastly across geographies and time periods, published in June of this year. The contributors address the theme of the handbook by deploying methods ranging from literary analysis, historiography, linguistics, and legal studies, and with styles ranging from the personal and essayistic to the rigorously academic. In the introduction the editors, Rebecca Ruth Gould and Kayvan Tahmasebian, invite and guide readers through the staggering and eclectic contributions by focusing on the nuances of the term “activism,” while Paul Bandia’s afterword draws attention to the fact that “the postcolonial condition is highly conducive to situations of activism,” and the undercurrents through the book that address regions and peoples under conditions of subalternity, (post)coloniality, and globalization. In addition to these two broad theoretical umbrellas, the contributors also share influences by a handful of key thinkers who are cited often throughout the individual pieces, most notably Mona Baker, to whom the book is dedicated, as well as Maria Tymoczko and Lawrence Venuti. Continue reading “Review: The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism”
The year 2019 marked the centennial anniversary of the beginning of a period in Vienna’s municipal history commonly referred to as “Red Vienna.” During this brief period, from 1919 to 1934, the Social Democratic Workers’ Party dominated both the political and the cultural scene. Its initiatives—in housing, education, health and welfare, leisure and culture—laid the groundwork for an equitably and justly organized modern urban metropolis. That lasting groundwork is in part why the city of Vienna is today consistently ranked one of the “most livable” cities in the world.
Transit Books is a young press—it was founded in 2015 with the aim of bringing an open-minded and international sensibility to an industry that is notorious for its insularity and resistance to the unknown. The risk of starting a new business and choosing to focus on the areas that conventional wisdom describes as the most challenging (translations, novellas, literary and narrative nonfiction) paid off for Transit Books. The fiction and nonfiction that they publish all display a powerful intimacy that perhaps is one explanation for their unlikely successes. One of their first books, Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and several others had prominent critical acclaim and sales success.
David Renton, The New Authoritarians: Convergence on the Right, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2019, $10.84 USD.
Broadly speaking, there are a group of political scientists and historians making the case that we may be experiencing a newfound convergence between what were formerly starkly different authoritarian and democratic national forms of governance. In The New Authoritarians: Convergence on the Right, David Renton weaves a scenography of mainstream conservatism’s lapse, wherein histories of war and colonial power—particularly as it concerns global institutions such as the United Nations, the IMF or World Bank—allowed for the uptake of far right politics beyond the West’s own borders. The victories of Donald Trump in the US and Boris Johnson in the UK have boosted not only an already confident right but a fringe ideology within it. From General Sisi in Egypt and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and Recep Erdoğan in Turkey, we are privy to growing far-right patriotism, where right-wing parties have radicalized and then normalized politics once restricted to the margins.
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department last week has galvanized the American public. What distinguishes this catalytic event from the long history of the racist murder of persons of color by the police is not that it is extraordinary, but that it has taken place during a pandemic and in the midst of public outcry surrounding the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and racist incidents in Central Park. These moments make horrifically clear the everydayness of white supremacy as well as the systemic and individual ways whiteness is used as a weapon against persons of color. Organizers and activists have been working for decades to theorize systemic racist violence and ways to dismantle the police and carceral state. Our direct and remote participation is required to abolish white supremacy.
We have gathered the accompanying list of links that address the exigencies of the present moment from a range of concrete and practical perspectives. You’ll find information here that will point you to forms of anti-racist response, including organizations to support, ways to promote local political reform, and resources for educating yourself and others. We further encourage you to engage with your local grassroots organizations and to get involved to best serve the needs of your own communities.