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Annika Zorn, Jeff Haywood and Jean-Michel Glachant

The cases discussed in the book illustrate the breadth and depths of opportunities digital strategies offer to the academy: to academics to create supportive networks; to educators to re-design seminars or entire curricula; to departments and centres to transform their education, research and knowledge-sharing strategies; and to universities to manifest their role within the sector. A common thread in the various contributions is how roles (i.e. learners, educators, expert, peers, researcher) as well as boundaries (i.e. what is inside and what outside higher education) have become blurred – and how beneficial this is for advancing the creation and sharing of high-quality, relevant and timely knowledge. It is indeed the typical characteristics of digital practices (being open, accessible, collaborative and timely) that finally outplay the isolated academic of the ivory tower. Digital practices are still far from being mainstream in the higher education sector. How to lead this change? The authors summarize those factors that are thought to be critical, across the various examples discussed in the book, about how to lead digital change. These are: an institutional vision and digital strategy endorsed by top-level management; the importance of ownership of this change by academic and administrative units; room for experimentation and support of digital initiatives that might serve as showcases; debates and the nurturing of a culture of sharing best practices; a team of ‘knowledge workers’ who provide concrete support to academics; and last but not least a skilled team leading people through this change, being responsive and flexible.

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Paul Rabinow and Anthony Stavrianakis

This chapter claims the need for a contemporary ethos that helps us respond to a confusing and inchoate present. With the decline of meta-narratives and post-modernism, the authors identify the contemporary ethos in a new, ‘third’ movement of Kant’s original question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’ We must still ‘dare to think’, but need to go beyond Kant’s pact with the reigning powers with its separation of spheres of the public and the private or Foucault’s History of the Present, designed to undermine the seeming solidity of prior formations. In the current political conjuncture, ‘to dare to know’ can be identified in the need for different publics to emerge. Such publics can only emerge in relation to specific problems, which in turn require inquiry and concept work. Political anthropology must therefore proceed by inquiry and concept work in order to conceive of the relation between anthropology and the political stakes of practices.

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Alvin Birdi

This chapter provides a case study of creating a new online economics course at the incoming undergraduate level. The production of CORE was not a matter of simply transferring material found in traditional textbooks into an interactive and hyperlinked resource with rich media. The online course fundamentally reconceived the content of introductory economics, the sequencing and modularity of the material and the pedagogies and methods that can be used to teach the subject starting with undergraduate students. CORE also provides an example of a novel authorial model which harnesses the power of distributed international online production where over 20 authors and numerous teachers and students collaborated to produce resources which retain the cohesive feel and vision of a single-authored text and where the time from conception to publication was considerably shorter than a comparable print publication.

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Patrick Moriarty and Damon Honnery

Given cities’ acknowledged global impact on resource use and the environment, many city governments are attempting to become more sustainable, for example by participating in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Further, several cities, either planned or under construction, describe themselves as eco-cities or green cities. Even the definition of the term ‘smart city’ (and what city aspires to be a non-smart city?) usually includes ‘ecological sustainability’ as a necessary component. This chapter examines what is really needed for a city to be considered ecologically sustainable, and includes a critique of existing eco-cities. Two aspects are important: the local and the global. The local includes the physical environment of the city itself – the quality of its air, water and soils, and even of its flora and fauna. But because cities receive inputs of energy, water and raw materials (all of which, after processing and use, finish up as waste products) from often distant regions, they are also responsible for much pollution, including carbon emissions, elsewhere. In brief, for true eco-cities, their carbon, water, resource and general environmental ‘footprint’ all have to be sustainable. We also discuss the actions cities must adopt to approach ecological sustainability. For some problems, such as urban air or water pollution, mitigation is the only feasible strategy, but for global climate change, both mitigation and adaptation will now be needed. The limitations of climate adaptation in an urban context are discussed. We also show that climate mitigation will need more than technical fixes such as energy efficiency and shifting to non-carbon sources of energy. Instead, profound social changes will be needed for cities to become truly ecologically sustainable.

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Udoy Saikia

Timor-Leste, the newest nation in Asia, stands out demographically specially in the context of fertility rate. The fertility rate was exceptionally high during the time of independence, which resulted in unprecedented population growth in Timor-Leste. Although there have been signs of fertility decline in recent years, amidst the worrying socio-economic conditions in this new nation, it is of great concern that if the current fertility rate and its implied population growth continues, it will create enormous challenges to the country’s nation building process. This chapter offers an insight into the historical and current context of high fertility in Timor-Leste. The analysis is largely based on secondary data from two consecutive Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in Timor-Leste during the period between 2003 and 2010. The chapter also draws on the broader literature and qualitative research already carried out by the author into the reasons behind high fertility in Timor-Leste.

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Michael Herzfeld

This chapter focuses on the performative and affective foundations of the informal ways in which social actors defend the inner spaces of institutional life. States and societies cannot consistently conform to the formal standards required by their institutions, norms, and laws; consequently, their citizens practice and experiment with locally recognizable political styles. An anthropology of politics must therefore recognize that collusion depends heavily on the intimate winks and nods that signal shared recognition of long-familiar but well-concealed possibilities for what may ultimately prove to be transformative action. Concepts such as phatic communion and cultural intimacy, conjoined in a comparative framework resting on several different cultural spheres (especially those of Thailand, Italy, Greece, and the US), allow us to tease out the multiple ways, some of them at odds with the prescriptions of the bureaucratic nation-state, in which social actors play with the conventions of civility, and to explore the effects they thereby achieve.

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Monica M. Brannon

‘Smart Cities’ initiatives have been lauded as offering new approaches and mechanisms to manage, plan, and enhance urban spaces and citizen experiences within them. Relying on new technologies, the ‘smart’ descriptor refers to utilizing new tools of efficiency as counter to traditional means of understanding and gathering information about cities and their residents. New technological development is often marketed as civic solutions, yet there is little discourse analyzing how digital and material projects relate to existing racial inequality and what data collection practices mean at the community level. This chapter seeks to fill a gap in literature in how technologies operate as social structures, in particular, how new technological infrastructures in urban spaces exacerbate, alter, or alleviate racial divides. The case under consideration here is Kansas City, Missouri, which represents an intersection between new technology and data-driven initiatives, and is also starkly racially segregated. This chapter examines the effects as parts of the city that are differently measured, and the variances between those that are within and those outside of new data collection practices, modes and definitions of surveillance, and smart initiatives. In short, it addresses technological inequality as it relates to geographical spaces. Specifically, it addresses the ideological intentions that shape the technological outcomes of space that result in a divided landscape. Therefore, taking as the foundation the inequality in the existing space, this research explains how technological ambitions affect it.

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Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden

This book looks at democratic empowerment via institutional designs that extend the political rights of European citizens. It focuses on three themes: first, the positive and negative effects of the European Union institutional design on the political rights of its citizens; second, challenges for democratic regimes across the world in the 21st century in the context of regionalism and globalization; third, the constraints of neoliberalism and capitalist markets on the ability of citizens to effectively achieve their political rights within the Union.
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David Levi-Faur, Nir Kosti and Frans van Waarden

Democratic empowerment via institutional designs that extend the political rights of European citizens to participate in policy making stands at the centre of this book. We move beyond the concept of the democratic deficit within the European Union (EU), paying attention to the possibilities and barriers for democratic empowerment of European citizens. We focus especially on three major and more general themes: first, the positive and negative effects of the EU institutional design on the political rights of its citizens. Second, challenges for democratic regimes over the world in the twenty-first century in the context of regionalism and globalization. Third, the constraints of neoliberalism and capitalist markets on the ability of citizens to effectively achieve their political rights in order to shape policies, politics, social choices as well as in the economic and financial spheres.

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Suraya Scheba and Andreas Scheba

Desalination is being adopted in South Africa as an emergency ‘quick fix’ to drought crisis. Despite public opposition over potential social and ecological negative effects, small- and large-scale desalination plants are growing in numbers across the country. In this chapter we use a relational Marxist ontology and draw on the case of desalination adoption in the Knysna Local Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa, to argue that proponents’ representation of the drought as nature-induced, urgent and devoid of history created the political space for desalination technology to emerge as the best solution. Powerful actors used a range of communication and legal tools to discursively produce the drought–desalination assemblage, which resulted in the material manifestation of the technology. We then trace the historical materiality of the drought–desalination assemblage to counter the dominant narrative, providing instead an alternative explanation of how human and non-human actors produced the crisis materially.