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Volume VIII

Preface

Susanne Kelley, Editor-in-Chief, Kennesaw State University

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La Corrupción en Venezuela: “Una Pérdida Total de La Moralidad”

Sahara Khan, University of Texas at Austin 

Acknowledging the rampant political corruption that has persisted in Venezuela for decades, this paper contrasts two theories of its source: the “elite” culture of the Venezuelan populace and the “democratic socialist” government structure through a literature review supplemented by an interview with Venezuelan refugees. By analyzing political theories by various authors and compiling historical information, this paper concludes that the political theory of populism (also known as functionalist theory) accurately combines cultural and governmental perspectives, providing the most comprehensive reason for Venezuelan corruption. Furthermore, the theory of populism also explains the dynamics of social psychology that contributed to the moral corruption and ironic complacency of the vocal Venezuelan people. This phenomenon re-conceptualizes political corruption to not only consider the immoral actions of governmental figures, but those of everyday citizens as well. In other words, societal corruption can spread top-down, bottom-up, and laterally in any class of society by infecting a country’s cultural fiber.

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El Titiritero

Emma Oliver, Christopher Newport University

In many Hispanic countries, there is a Catholic custom called “la quema de Judas,” or “the burning of Judas.” On Easter, Sunday, life-size replicas of Judas are made and burned with Fireworks or bonfires for the betrayal of Christ, a ritual to cleanse the soul. In recent decades the ritual has grown to encompass other aspects of the community, and it is now natural to see dolls in the likeness of corrupt political figures publically set on fire. In the 16th century, the Spanish brought the “gift” of Catholicism, from which this ritual stems, to Mexico’s indigenous peoples. With the introduction of this new belief system, the indigenous peoples struggled to understand their relationship with God. Once rewarded for ritual sacrifice and punished for neglect, native Mexicans were forced to rectify the illustration of Catholicism’s God with the capriciousness of reality. The negative effects of this change are still evident today. In his short play, “Los Fantoches,” Carlos Solórzano creates characters based on “la quema de Judas.” In doing so, he establishes a metaphor to communicate the ongoing sentiments of indigenous peoples, criticizing Catholicism from their perspective.

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Flucht oder Widerstand? Der mittlere Weg in Martin Walsers Ein fliehendes Pferd

Drew Schultz, Wheaton College, Illinois

German author Martin Walser paints a thrilling story of human identity in his 1978 novel, Ein fliehendes Pferd (Runaway Horse).  Nothing in the story is completely black or white, even in the personalities of the dichotomous characters Helmut Halm and Klaus Buch.  But the novel does offer an implicit opportunity for both characters, should they risk the first step towards change in their lives.  My analysis compares the similarities and differences between these two main characters’ “escape attempts,” investigates the meaning of the main theme (the runaway horse), and interprets the intentional ambiguity of the novel’s ending.  Finally, I come to the conclusion that all these factors point toward the implicit opportunity structured into the whole story.  I argue that the middle way between the two characters’ polarizing lifestyles is the right solution for them both, as was Walser’s masked intention with an epigraph from Søren Kierkegaard.

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Die Münzen des Fortschritts: Eine Analyse der Währungsunion 25 Jahre später

Jaime Staengel, Murray State University

In this article, I challenge the notion that the Währungsunion, or currency union between East and West Germany, was unsuccessful. Through synthesizing sources from the 90s, research from the 25th anniversary year of German unity, and concepts from microeconomic theory, a more holistic view of the rushed Währungsunion arises, with respect to both its social costs and economic benefits. Despite the human costs of the Währungsunion, such as higher unemployment rates and social discontent, the argument I subsequently raise is that the rushed Währungsunion offered the best alternative for Germany in 1990, especially in consideration of the poor economic situation in the German Democratic Republic at the time and the intense social pressure for currency union.

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Geschichte beeinflusst Außenpolitik: der Holocaust, Weltkriege und die syrische Flüchtlingskrise

Alexandra Steinkraus, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Human rights are viewed and upheld differently by different cultures and countries. The Syrian refugee crisis is a growing and pressing international crisis. Although they are neighboring countries that have intertwined histories and share some common cultural characteristics, Austria and Germany have demonstrated very different responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. Austria’s acceptance rate of asylum applications is almost half of Germany’s. To understand why this difference and others exist, an understanding of the history of human rights, national memory, and regional geopolitics is necessary. The period after the Holocaust and WWII is particularly important to the modern human rights movement. The Holocaust and the events that took place during WWII served as a trigger for the creation of the United Nations and the implementation of human rights standards and transitional justice mechanisms. Austria and Germany have different discourses surrounding the Holocaust and crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Geopolitics after WWII also heavily influences each country’s discourse surrounding the Holocaust. I argue that these roots of the modern human rights movement influence current policy, national remembrance, and treatment towards Syrian refugees in both countries.

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