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L'Existentialisme de Sartre est-il un antiracisme ?

Elhadji Fallou Samb

Abstract

This article will examine Sartre's fight against racism in the light of the most basic concepts of existentialism. From its very first articulations, the notion of freedom is connected to existentialism's founding tenet: existence precedes essence. My article demonstrates that just as in his fight against anti-Semitism and the Bad Faith of racist thinking, Sartre holds that every human being is free to determine herself and that race must never be constructed as a determinism constraining that freedom.

Résumé

Cet article propose de comprendre la lutte contre le racisme dans laquelle Sartre s'est inlassablement engagé à partir des concepts clés de son existentialisme. Dès les premières formulations de la pensée de Sartre, la notion de liberté est à mettre en rapport avec la formule même qui résume l'existentialisme : l'existence précède l'essence. Je démontre dans cet article qu'à l'instar de son combat contre l'antisémitisme et contre la mauvaise foi de la pensée raciste, le combat de Sartre contre le racisme est construit sur l'idée que l'homme est libre de se définir et que sa race même ne saurait être un déterminisme contraignant cette liberté.

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Mala consuetudo

Un excursus romain autour d'une expression médiévale

Soazick Kerneis

Résumé/Abstract

Le concept de coutume est une création des juristes occidentaux permettant de convertir les usages autochtones dans les termes de l'ordre juridique dominant. Si la contrainte de l'État est décisive dans la formulation de la coutume, faut-il penser qu'en Europe aussi elle fut une création étatique, les peuples ne participant guère à son épanouissement ? La mala consuetudo médiévale témoigne d'un rapport de force si bien qu'il faut restituer la pratique des usages, l'action du peuple dans la redéfinition des coutumes. L'article considère le contenu de l'expression médiévale comme une catégorie de pensée et la transpose dans l'Antiquité romaine afin de revenir sur le processus de création des consuetudines. Si la consuetudo romaine est bien une création du pouvoir, les communautés auxquelles elle s'applique parviennent aussi à contenir son périmètre. Sa pérennité tient sans doute en partie au fait qu'elle a été perçue ensuite comme un privilège communautaire.

The concept of custom is a creation of Western lawyers allowing for the conversion of indigenous uses into the terms of the dominant legal order. If the State's constraint is ultimately decisive in the formulation of custom, does that mean in Europe too it was essentially a State creation, with the peoples hardly participating in its existence? The mala consuetudo is a matter of power relations, so that it is necessary to emphasize the impact of practices, of popular action on the shaping of customs. This article considers the content of the medieval expression as a category of thought and transposes it to Roman antiquity in order to reconsider the development of consuetudines. If the Roman consuetudo was indeed a creation of power, the communities to which it applied managed to contain its perimeter. Its durability is probably due in part to the fact that it was perceived as a community privilege.

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Mobility and Identity in Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss

Vandana Sukheeja and JapPreet Kaur Bhangu

Abstract

This article explores the interconnections between mobility and identity as portrayed in Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss (2006). In the past, mobility, especially forced or diasporic, was perceived as enveloping the migrant's identity with a sense of alienation and nostalgia. In the present, however, it is often viewed as facilitating flexibility and a pluralistic worldview entailing intermingled cultures. While examining the interrelation between mobility and identity, this article evaluates the way in which Desai portrays conflicts and tension between two worlds, inhabited by legal natives and illegal migrants, as well as illegal natives and legal migrants.

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The Opposite of Custom

Fashion, Sumptuary Law, and Consuetudo in Fifteenth-Century Northern Italy

M. Christina Bruno

Abstract

Fifteenth-century Italian urban and ecclesiastical authorities sought to regulate the laity's conspicuous consumption of dress, sometimes resulting in canon law petitions for exemption on the grounds of custom. By exploiting an ambivalent definition of custom according to status, wealthy men and especially women successfully sidestepped regulation. Critics of luxury such as the Franciscan Observants, who encountered similar arguments in confession, countered this permissive understanding of custom with alternate criteria for determining proper dress tied to the morality of the economic behavior that made luxurious dress possible. Overlapping definitions of custom drawn from canon law and moral theology thus provided both fashionable people and their confessors a way to negotiate and contest their status.

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The Poverty and Richness of the Imaginary

Sartre on (Anti-)racist Ways of Seeing

Laura McMahon

Abstract

There is an ambiguity in Jean-Paul Sartre's The Imaginary (1940). On the one hand, Sartre describes mental images as impoverished in contrast to the fullness and depth of the world of perception. On the other hand, Sartre identifies the imagination with human freedom, and in this sense the imaginary can be seen as an enrichment of the real. This paper explores this ambiguity and its import for understanding both racist and antiracist ways of relating to others. Part One explores Sartre's argument for the “essential poverty” of the image through examples of racist images. Part Two discusses the enriching power of the imaginary for cultivating more just social and political arrangements in the context of racial oppression. Part Three argues that bad faith can take the form either of fleeing from reality into the impoverished world of the imaginary, or of failing to see the imaginary possibilities implicitly enriching the real.

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Sartre

The Civil Code and the Rights of Arabs

Nathalie Nya

Abstract

This article addresses an area of French colonialism, specifically French Algeria, through the critical lens of Jean-Paul Sartre's theories on race and colonialism developed in Colonialism and Neocolonialism. I focus in particular on two key components of Sartre's critical commentary: first, the way in which French colonialism established practices that assigned full humanity only to the European colonizers; indigenous Muslim Arabs were systematically confined to the category of “sub-humans.” Second, my article examines in detail how promised reforms to colonial rule were consistently thwarted by practices mired in deception and fraud. Finally, I suggest that the application of liberal humanist principles in this colonial context was designed to create further inequality between Arabs and Europeans.

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Sartre, Bad Faith and Authentic Decolonial Interventions

Leshaba Lechaba

Abstract

This article explores the concept of bad faith as conceptualized by Sartre within the context of the existential lived experiences of those Fanon (1965) refers to as the condemned, the racialized, and the dehumanized subjects of the world. I explore the logic of authenticity as a liberatory intervention in relation to decolonial interventions and anti-racist movements such as Black Lives Matter in the USA and across the globe and recently, the #EndSars movement in Nigeria. I will therefore argue that the repudiation of the entrenched universal logic of Euro-American modernity requires one to be authentic in their praxis in order to escape bad faith.

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Scandal of the Church, Prison of the Soul

The Problem of Bad Custom in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Canon Law and Practice

Anthony Perron

Abstract

This article explores “bad custom” (prava consuetudo) in Latin-Christian church law of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Drawing chiefly on papal decretal letters and the statutes of local and regional synods, it discusses the theoretical debates over bad custom, how customs came to be regarded as evil, and what prava consuetudo meant in practice. While many usages were labeled “bad,” especially troubling were those that threatened clerical status by implying lay claims to authority in the church, blurring the distinction between laity and clergy, or humiliating the professed religious. The article also asks whether legal concerns over such collective behavior that brought scandal upon the church may have been provoked by a moral discourse over prava consuetudo as sinful conduct endangering the individual soul.

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Sipping Whiskey in Memphis

A Conversation Between Robert Bernasconi and Jonathan Judaken on Racism and Existentialism

Robert Bernasconi and Jonathan Judaken

Robert Bernasconi (RB): Jonathan, to get us started, tell me about your background and what brought you to focus on the intersections of existentialism and racism?

Jonathan Judaken (JJ): Well, I grew up in a Jewish family in Johannesburg in Apartheid South Africa. And I think all of those very specific facets of my upbringing are important to the trajectory of my work. My work has been a process of unthinking and dismantling and coming to terms with a past, a family, a legacy that very much defines who I am. I'm attempting to understand myself within the broader frameworks within which I grew up. I left South Africa permanently when I was twelve. This was in the immediate aftermath of the Soweto Riots that were steered by the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa, under the leadership of Steve Biko, a thinker whose framework is so clearly influenced by existentialism.

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Worth the Meddle

How Community and Literary Engagement Derailed Colonial Exploitation

Danielle Cervantes Stephens

Abstract

This article presents a (post)colonial literary analysis of Ousmane Sembène's God's Bits of Wood [1960, Les bouts de bois de Dieu], vis-à-vis Jean-Paul Sartre's “hexagonal cadre” for littérature engagée outlined in “What is Literature?” and “Black Orpheus.” Sembène's novel evinces both a model of African committed writing and a nuanced (post)colonial embellishment and extension of Sartrean orthodoxy, whose requisites include: [1] genre and style; [2] audience; [3] risk; [4] situational critique; [5] ontological inquiry; and [6] existential themes. This article identifies these features in Sembène's novel in general, and in the stand-alone chapter on the character Sounkare specifically.