Incarceration
Incarceration | Photo: graphik_h | Free use

Land of the Free and Incarcerated: Mass Incarceration of People of Color in the US

Over 2 million people are currently locked up either in a US jail or prison. When also including people on parole and probation this number shoots up to a staggering 6.84 million. To put this into perspective, the US population makes up only 5 percent of the world´s population but holds 25 percent of the global inmate population – no other country in the world puts this many people behind bars. Furthermore, it is disproportionately the black population that is locked into the system of mass incarceration. Examining the issue of black mass incarceration in more detail, a strong argument can be made that this system maintains and perpetuates a racialized social order severely marginalizing people of color.

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He will not divide us.
He will not divide us. | Photo: Alisdare Hickson | CC BY SA 2.0

“Othering” Across and Beyond the Pond

We should be aware of “othering” as a phenomenon increasingly influencing the way we think and talk about the transatlantic relationship. We need to ensure that mechanisms of “othering”—so convenient to us and so skillfully employed by populist actors—do not unduly distort and amplify the existing differences that we need to work out.

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Der Hauptsitz der FAO in Rom
Der Hauptsitz der FAO in Rom | Photo: Carolin Anthes, HSFK

Mainstreaming The Human Right To Food Within The Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations: The Rise And Decline Of An Agenda For Change

The international community has committed to achieve zero hunger by 2030. This year’s World Food Day message by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) rightly reminds us: “Our actions are our future!”-“A #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible.” At the same time, the latest assessments on global food and nutrition insecurity point to an aggravated situation for hunger, with currently around 821 million suffering from severe hunger, demonstrating a structural rather than temporary challenge.

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"Paint Your Voice" Event in Colombia
"Paint Your Voice" Event in Colombia | Photo: United Nations Photo | CC BY NC ND 2.0

Reducing the gender gap in the Colombian peace implementation: the participation of homemakers in the local peacebuilding

The peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been considered as one of the most inclusive peace agreements. However, in comparison to men, women are engaging less in participatory peace implementation mechanisms, such as community meetings that identify needs and projects to develop conflict-affected regions. An analysis of survey data reveals that not all women, but particularly those that self-identify as homemakers, tend to participate less in civic organizations that promote engagement in community meetings.

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Is there a chance for peace in Afghanistan? | Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia | CC BY 2.0

After the Afghan Eid Truce, Is There a Path for Peace?

The three day surprise and the unprecedented Eid-al-Fitar [1] truce (15-17 June, 2018) between the Afghan government and the Taliban was welcomed locally and internationally. The truce was offered by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after the condemnation of extremism and violence by religious scholars and clerics in Jakarta and Kabul. It was for the first time in the last 17 years that Afghans have celebrated the occasion with joy and without fears of war and violence. The Taliban fighters without fright of arrest or detention entered the cities, villages and towns to offer Eid-Prayers and met their fellow countrymen and family members. The internet and local media have captured scenes of Afghan soldiers and Taliban fighters embracing each other. The truce was welcomed with the hope that this might be the first important step towards a long enduring path of peace in the country.

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Stimmzettel der Wahlen 2018 | Photo: Hedda Gabler | CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

New Alliances and Old Traditions in Turkish Politics

For the first time in Turkey, political parties were allowed to build electoral alliances for parliamentary elections, and curious alliances did enter the political stage. Especially the “Nation Alliance” (Millet İttifakı) which was initiated by the centre-left main apposition CHP, the nationalist IYI Party and the small religious party SP constitute an interesting case. This ideologically hybrid alliance aimed to attract different segments of the society in order to overcome the AKP’s majority in parliament. The Nation Alliance, however, won only 33,94% whereas the so called “People’s Alliance (Cumhur İttifakı)” composed of the AKP and the MHP gained 53,66%. This contribution to the blog aims to analyse whether there is more behind the Nation Alliance than short-term election tactics.

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HDP supporters at a 2015 rally
HDP supporters at a 2015 rally | Photo: Salih Turan (VOA) | Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The HDP’s Performance in Turkey’s Authoritarian Electoral Campaign

Contrary to some predictions prior to the election, the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan comfortably succeeded in winning the Presidential election (52.6%) without the need of a second round of voting. His party, the AKP obtained a parliamentary majority (53.7%), in coalition with the far-right MHP. However, the elections were held in an electoral environment characterised by a number of inherently antidemocratic limitations on opposition parties’ campaigns and the widespread occurrence of intimidation and violence. The experiences of the HDP exemplify some of the most blatant features of state led authoritarian interference in the campaign.

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Anti-deportation protest in Göttingen, May 2018
Anti-deportation protest Göttingen, May 2018 | Photo: linksuntengoe | CC BY-SA 2.0

Protesting Deportations: On the Importance of Civil Disobedience

Deportations have always been a contested practice. Conservative and right-wing actors have insisted that carrying out deportations is essential for state sovereignty and application of authority. Simultaneously, by taking to the streets civil society, citizens and asylum seekers alike have practiced resistance against deportations in the form of demonstrations, petitions, blockages or hunger strikes. Their anti-deportation protests either claim the right to stay in general or focus exclusively on an acquainted person – like a neighbor or school mate – who is about to be deported. Protests against deportations are sometimes successful by stopping specific deportations; overall, they are also shaping the discourse.

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Narratives are tough to counter online
Narratives are tough to counter online | Photo: pxhere.com, CC0

The Challenges and Limitations of Online Counter-Narratives

Since 9/11, policymakers and practitioners in the West traditionally employ a mix of hard- and soft-power approaches to counterterrorism. While kinetic measures such as targeted killings and arrests comprise part of the government’s response to terrorism, officials use a range of mechanisms to engage and empower populations as a means to prevent mobilization to terrorist violence. Often under the banner of “Countering Violent Extremism,”(CVE) softer measures, like intervention programming and counter-messaging initiatives, are critical mechanisms for governments and civil society alike. The execution of influential counter-narrative campaigns represents a challenging but necessary tool for stakeholders tasked with preventing and confronting the adoption of extreme ideas and actions.

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Radweg in Schwarz-Rot-Gold bei Wasserstetten
Bicycle path with German national flag near Wasserstetten | Photo: Franzfoto | CC BY-SA 3.0

Germany’s Pluralistic Society and its Contested Religious Heritage

A new homeland ministry, further debates on Islam and Germany, new places for crucifixes in public buildings – all these political acts show that exclusive identity constructions are perceived as a way to be electorally successful. But they also blur the boundary between politics and almost satirical symbolism-oriented acts. The current politics are part of a political communication that seems to add fuel to the ongoing sociopolitical debate on religious and cultural diversity. However, in a pluralistic country like Germany, a calm and thoughtful political communication is required to increase societal cohesion and not let a presumed heritage determine the shared values of our society.

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