Alexis Rider’s contribution to the “Ways of Water” series argues for the utility of imaging ice as a rock, and…
As part of the annual “Democratic Erosion” student series, Edcel John Ibarra examines the deterioration of the judicial independence of the Philippine Supreme Court in recent history, especially under Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. Pointing to the relationship between judicial independence and democratic consolidation, he argues that the Philippine judiciary has historically been a crucial bulwark against democratic erosion. However, presidential and congressional efforts to reshape the Supreme Court in recent years have undermined its independence, and so the country may have to rely on other safeguards.
In this contribution to the “Ways of Water” series, Debjani Bhattacharyya examines how the tides of the Hooghly River in Kolkata have been visually represented historically. In doing so, she makes a larger point about how cartographic images of the intermingling of rivers and cities fix this relationship in time and space. Bhattacharyya contrasts representations of the Hooghly in maps with those in almanacs, which capture both the temporal and cosmological meanings and practices as experienced by Kolkata’s residents under colonial rule.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential election, the SSRC convened the National Research Commission on Elections and Voting after being approached by social scientists and election observers concerned about the lack of a resource for nonpartisan scholarship on electoral process controversies in the United States. The Commission published its final report in March 2005 highlighting ten key topics in need of continuing social science research, many of which remain relevant in 2020.
Christy Spackman’s contribution to the “Ways of Water” series tells the story of a chemical leak into Charleston, West Virginia’s water supply. While municipal authorities instructed residents on how to remove the chemical from their homes, and found no trace of it afterwards, many (but not all) residents identified a strong smell, with some taking ill. Spackman argues that the scientific mode of treating the problem without considering residents' embodied and affective experiences enhanced rather than ameliorated its impact.
Complicating the social theory that presumes increased urbanization means greater political progress and inclusion, Simeon J. Newman’s analysis of working-class political participation in twentieth-century Mexico City unveils how rapid urban concentration can lead to political clientelism. While many rural migrants to the city brought revolutionary ideals, these were stymied by their increased dependency on local leaders to mediate between poor urban dwellers and elected officials and government bureaucrats for services and land security.
In this contribution to “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, John Sides interrogates the common assumption that Americans’ love of freedom and anti-authoritarian streak is behind resistance to enacting public health measures to fight Covid-19. Beyond the fact that significant majorities of Americans support and follow these measures, Sides also examines the role that political leaders play in shaping the views of those who resist behavior change. This is especially the case among some (but not all) Republicans given the messages from President Trump and party leaders.
The roots of the information disorder are multiple, but Steven Livingston and Lance Bennett argue that a disproportionate amount of attention—and critique—have been directed at technology. Although social media platforms rightly share blame for the circulation of mis- and disinformation, the authors suggest that a prior and more consequential source of information disorder may be traced to sustained attacks on “authoritative institutions,” which have worked, historically, to foster a sense of shared reality and to mitigate against the threat of disinformation.
In his contribution to the “Ways of Water” series, Etienne Benson traces the history and impact of the quantification of water, especially bringing to light the visibility of the “water sciences,” and the invisibility of water’s many other, nonquantifiable, lives. Here, Benson suggests an approach to water that is not solely drawn on a binary, qualitative/quantitative divide, but rather proposes that a multiple and fluid water means that scientists and nonscientists alike may not be able to agree on first principles or a “basic set of facts” that define it, but that does not mean that we cannot understand water in all its many forms and meanings.
As part of the annual “Democratic Erosion” undergraduate series, Justin Kopek traces the complex impact of Evo Morales’ presidency for Bolivian democracy. Morales, Kopek argues, deepened Bolivian democracy through socioeconomic reforms for previously marginalized groups. At the same time, Morales disrupted democratic processes and check and balances by interfering with the judiciary and the media. His dramatic removal as head of state now raises questions about whether Bolivia will be able to maintain progress toward broader social inclusion and whether the constraints on liberal democratic institutions will be reversed or continue.