Criminalizing Dissent in Post-Democratic Societies

Since his election in late 2018, commentators have expressed deep concern at the threat posed to democracy by Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, including how his presidency will affect environmentalists, indigenous people and workers’ movements in Brazil and across Latin America. Among other things, Bolsonaro promised during his campaign for the presidency to banish political rivals from Brazil. Branding them ‘red outlaws’, he said that “Either they go overseas, or they go to jail”. The background to Bolsonaro’s election is now familiar. Promises to purge the state of a corrupt political class, to tackle violent crime, and fix a faltering economy are hallmarks of conservative-right rhetoric in the current conjuncture. Indeed, these issues featured in the Trump campaign in the United States, and to some degree in the run-up to Brexit in the United Kingdom. Both the Trump and Brexit campaigns also had antagonism to migrants as their centrepiece. Continue reading

Climate Change, Migration and ‘Disappearing States’: The Case of Pacific Island Countries

Climate change is a material reality as much as it is a discursive one – and an extremely powerful one at that. Following the major scare story of global terrorism at the turn of this century, climate change seems to have become the new “Big Story”.1 The Pacific island countries (PICs), which face the threat of becoming entirely uninhabitable, have been positioned at the frontline of this discourse, as evidence of a changing climate and omen of a dystopian future of mass displacement. Indeed, the big story of climate change and mobility in the Pacific has been articulated through a narrative of climate refugees in need of legal recognition by the international community as they flee their sinking islands slowly swallowed up by unforgivable rising seas. Continue reading

Impeaching Remnants of the Authoritarian Past: A Constitutional Moment in South Korea

Last Friday, effective March 10 at exactly 11:21 a.m., the sitting President Park Geun-hye was removed from her office by a unanimous decision of the South Korean Constitutional Court. With public life coming to a standstill as eyes focused on TV and internet live broadcasting, the acting Chief Justice delivered the court decision. The conclusion of the constitutional impeachment procedure marked the climax of a transformative ongoing constitutional moment in South Korea. Continue reading