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Just recently the renowned Göttinger Institute for Democratic Research has published a remarkable study on the motives of protest movements in Germany (“The new power of citizens”). While the book reveals interesting insights about who protests and why in 2012, it itself triggered public criticism – not for its content, but for who financed the study – the international petrol company BP. This triggered a larger debate about the role of transnational companies as financiers of research particularly into activism, which is occasionally also directed against such companies. Are research results used by companies to democratize economic projects or rather to further the economization of democratic concerns of citizens?

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I have always found it difficult to understand how nationalists can identify with each other across borders. But of course the oxymoron of “transnational fascism” is not just empty rhetoric, but real. Just recently, for example, German media reported on the Greek party Chrysi Avgi’s contact with German right-wing groups like the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany – for articles in German click here or here.

The open access Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies has issued a call for papers on fascism as a transnational phenomenon. Both theoretical and empirical contributions are welcomed. The editor-in-chief Madelon de Keizer is a historian, but the call explicitly invites social and political scientists to contribute to the volume to be published in October. The deadline is June 1, 2013.


Rosenmontagszug 2013_Köln_Zuckerhut Wagen

“Rose Monday” parade, Cologne 2013

Photo by courtesy of the author

Carnival, though celebrated in many places around the world, is a deeply local affair, a matter of local civic pride, including jokes about those who are not locals (in Cologne, such jokes are likely to be about the inhabitants of the nearby town of Düsseldorf). This year, however, Cologne, the capital of German carnival, themed its celebrations “Fastelovend em Blot, he un am Zuckerhot“ which in local dialect means „Carnival in our blood, here and at the Sugar Loaf Mountain“ – a reference to Rio de Janeiro, with whom Cologne was twinned in 2011. On the other side of the Atlantic, Unidos da Tijuca, one of the most successful samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, appeared as „Samba da Alemanha“ at the annual samba contest in the Sambodromo.


Samba School Parade at the Sambodromo in Rio di Janeiro in 2012

Photo: Fotos_Gartis, Creative Commons  Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Is carnival going cosmopolitan? Or has it never been as local as my Cologne experience made be believe? I think neither of the two is the case. From the 18th century onwards, civic localism was an essential part of modern carnival and still is today. What has changed, though, is the reach of the cosmopolitan outlook in which this localism is articulated.

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The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
February 2013

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