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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

Abstract

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

Abstract

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.

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“Biggest Nationalist in the Country”

Self-Descriptive Uses of “Nationalist” in Contemporary Russia

Veera Laine

Abstract

Nationalism is an ism rarely used as self-description. This article suggests that nationalist discourses are on the move, meaning the concept may be used in novel ways. In Russia, for example, the president recently identified himself as a nationalist, claiming ownership of the concept in the long-standing struggle against manifestations of oppositional nationalism. The article asks who describes themselves as nationalists in contemporary Russia, how do they define the concept, and how did it change during the years 2008–2018 when nationalism as a political idea became increasingly important in Russian politics? Drawing from Russian newspaper sources, the article suggests that diverse, self-proclaimed nationalist actors rely on narrow ethnic understandings of the concept and do not embrace the president's interpretation of multinational nationalism.

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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Colonial Legacy

French Retirees in Nha Trang, Vietnam Today

Anne Raffin

Based on interviews with thirty-eight French retirees living in the seaside city of Nha Trang, Vietnam, this article queries their reasons for migrating and investigates how they make sense of their life abroad. I consider Vietnam’s historical connection with the French empire as a possible component of lifestyle migration and meaning. This small-scale study indicates that colonial memories and historical ties between France and Vietnam do influence many interviewees’ choice of place of retirement. However, for most, the personal and social amenities afforded by a tropical life in the present tend to eventually displace such memories.

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Nupur Patel

Abstract

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.

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Conceptual History of the Near East

The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity

Florian Zemmin and Henning Sievert

Abstract

Conceptual history holds tremendous potential to address a central issue in Near Eastern Studies, namely the formation of modernity in the Near East, provisionally located between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. The encounter with European powers, primarily Britain and France, was a decisive historical factor in this formation; and European hegemony is, in fact, inscribed into the very concept of “modernity,” which we take as an historical, rather than analytical, concept. The conceptual formation of modernity in Arabic and Turkish was, however, a multilayered process; involving both ruptures and continuities, intersecting various temporalities, and incorporating concepts from several languages. To interrogate this multilayered process, we suggest the metaphor of the Sattelzeit (Saddle Period) as a heuristic tool, precisely because of its being tied to modernity. Finally, the article will show what conceptual history of the Near East has to offer to conceptual history more broadly.

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Conceptualizing an Outside World

The Case of “Foreign” in Dutch Newspapers 1815–1914

Ruben Ros

Abstract

This article studies the concept of buitenland (the foreign) in a broad sample of Dutch newspapers in the period between 1815 and 1914. Buitenland emerged as a key concept in the nineteenth century. It referred to an “outside word” that was marked by semantic properties such as instability and closeness. As such, this apparently mundane spatial indicator bolstered the emergent “spatial regime” of globality and globalization. The article thus shows how a computational analysis of concepts that could be easily overlooked reveals structural transformations in the way past and present societies conceptualize (global) space.