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Open access

Matthias Pauwels

This article discusses the persistent deployment of racial stereotypes in contemporary stand-up comedy and its potential hegemonic or counter-hegemonic effects. It asks whether racial stereotypes should be avoided or condemned altogether, considering the risks of interpretative ambiguity and offensiveness, or, alternatively, whether there are specific performative strategies and conditions that might make racial stereotype humour a powerful weapon in the anti-racist toolbox. As regards the first, several critiques are considered and it is shown that racial stereotype humour, and its reception, may harbour multiple, subtle forms of racism. In terms of defences, racial stereotype humour’s role of discharging stubborn psycho-affective investments is highlighted, as well as its function as ‘subversive play’. The article further pays special attention to aspects of audience reception (such as issues of missed subtlety and ‘clever’ laughter) and the importance of the comic’s racial positionality in performing racial stereotypes.

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Apprenticeship and Learning by Doing

The Role of Privileged Enclaves in Early Modern French Cities

Jeff Horn

In France, formal guild training was not as ubiquitous a means of socializing young people into a trade as it has been portrayed by scholars. Guilds were limited geographically, and in many French cities privileged enclaves controlled by clerical or noble seigneurs curbed the sway of corporate structures, or even created their own. Eighteenth-century Bordeaux provides an extreme example of how limited guild training was in France’s fastest-growing city. The clerical reserves of Saint-Seurin and Saint-André that housed much of the region’s industrial production had quasi-corporate structures with far more open access and fewer training requirements. In Bordeaux, journeymen contested masters’ control over labor and masters trained almost no apprentices themselves. Formal apprenticeship mattered exceptionally little when it came to training people to perform a trade in Bordeaux.

Free access

Bad Custom

The Meanings and Uses of a Legal Concept in Premodern Europe

Anthony Perron

The place and function of custom as a species of law—distinguished from custom as simply polite manners or cherished cultural traditions—has long been a source of research and debate among legal theorists and historians. One school of thought, reflecting the authority of written statute in modern jurisprudence, has relegated custom in a juridical sense to “primitive” societies, whereas proper law belongs to a world of state sovereignty. Other scholars have revisited the continuing validity of custom, including a trenchant body of work on the use (and manipulation) of custom in modern colonial regimes. At the same time, some have seen benefits in the acknowledgment of custom as a source of norms. A 2006 collection of articles, for instance, explored ways in which customary law might serve as a better foundation for the sustainable development of natural resources. As David Bederman has written, “Custom can be a signal strength for any legal system—preliterate or literate, primitive or modern.”

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Esther Liberman Cuenca

This article examines 45 preambles in collections of urban customary law (called custumals) from 32 premodern towns in England between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. Urban custom was the local law of English towns, and constituted traditions and privileges that gained legal force over time. How lawmakers conceived of “bad” custom—that is, the desuetude or corruption of custom—was crucial to the intellectual framework of urban law. Evidence from preambles shows that lawmakers rooted the legitimacy of their laws in “customary time,” which was the period from the supposed origins of their customs to their formalization in text. Lawmakers’ efforts to reinforce, ratify, and revise urban customs by making new custumals and passing ordinances were attempts to broaden their autonomy and respond to the possibility of “bad” custom.

Open access

Stephen Louw, Michiel Meijer, and Tom Angier

Brian J. Peterson, Thomas Sankara: A Revolutionary in Cold War Africa, Bloomington, IN., Indiana University Press, 2021, 304pp, ISBN 0253053765 (pbk)

Hermann, J., Hopster, J., Kalf, W. and Klenk, M. (eds.) 2020. Philosophy in the Age of Science? Inquiries into Philosophical Progress, Method, and Societal Relevance, 284pp, ISBN 978-1-5381-4282-0 (hbk)

Thaddeus Metz, 2022. A Relational Moral Theory: African Ethics in and Beyond the Continent, Oxford University Press, 272pp, ISBN: 9780198748960 (hbk)

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Nupur Patel

This article analyzes the different selves operating in Madame de Lafayette’s La Princesse de Montpensier. Contrary to scholarship, which tends to position the text as a mere precursor of La Princesse de Clèves, it is in La Princesse de Montpensier where one first locates the interior. Lafayette presented a princess coming to terms with her identity, debating with different selves against a backdrop of social, historical, and political ideals. The nouvelle historique was central to the development of selves; it was an important medium through which Lafayette could perceive, explore, and contest a woman’s identity in relation to society. The genre also enabled writers to examine themselves. Lafayette used it to test out her own authorial self and locate her place in the literary sphere.

Open access

Abel B.S. Gaiya

The article places Nigeria’s political and economic challenges in historical and global context. As opposed to viewing democracy or development emerging simply as the ‘will of the people’ or ‘political will’, it encourages a historical and structural view of the phenomena. Sustained democratic institutions and intensive economic growth emerge under particular conditions where the continued maintenance of hegemony and gate-keeping extractive states are no longer viable. A diversified capitalist class and economic power among a strong middle class are needed to demand greater democratic accountability. Industrial policy is essential to creating the structural change required for their emergence. Yet the dispersed and ethno-religiously fragmented distribution of power makes industrial policy implementation difficult. Given the salience of such historical and structural forces, postcolonial Nigerians should be seen as formative generations. Students and practitioners of development economics, policy and politics should be more creative in producing politically informed policies for the country.

Open access

Jason Dockstader and Rojîn Mûkrîyan

We do two things in this article: develop a novel conception of domination and show how the Kurdish people are dominated in this novel sense. Conceptions of domination are usually distinguished in terms of paradigm cases and whether they are moralised and/or normdependent accounts, or neither. By contrast, we argue there is a way of understanding domination in terms of distinct social kinds. Among kinds of domination, like economic or racial or sexual domination, there must be a specifically political kind of domination. Borrowing from Carl Schmitt’s framework of differing degrees of political enmity, we argue political domination is best understood as an existential form of domination whereby one people aim to prevent the independent existence of another people mainly through the uncontrolled power and extreme violence involved in absolute enmity. This conception of existential domination is offered as an example of a non-moralised, normindependent account of domination. We then argue that the Kurdish people, who are the largest stateless people in the world, suffer existential domination from the absolute enmity expressed towards them by the four nation-states they find themselves dominated within: Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

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Mala consuetudo

Un excursus romain autour d’une expression médiévale

Soazick Kerneis

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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The Opposite of Custom

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

M. Christina Bruno

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.