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Graham Holderness

This general issue of Critical Survey ranges from mediaeval to modern literature and drama.

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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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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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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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Emma McNicol

The analogy Simone de Beauvoir draws between “les femmes” and “des Noirs d’Amérique” is a key part of the intersectional critique of The Second Sex. Intersectional critics persuasively argue that Beauvoir’s analogy reveals the white, middle-class identity of The Second Sex's ostensibly universal “woman”, emphasizing the fact that the text does not account for the experiences of black, Jewish, proletariat or indigenous women. In this essay, I point to multiple instances in The Second Sex in which Beauvoir endorses a coalition between workers black and white, male and female. When Beauvoir writes on economic injustice, she advocates for an inclusive workers party where racial and sexual differences become immaterial as workers come together in a collective struggle. I thus propose that Beauvoir’s Marxism is an overlooked, yet important, counterpoint to the intersectional critique of The Second Sex.

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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.

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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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T Storm Heter

This special issue explores how existential thinking can be a living, global force that opposes racist praxis and thought. We are used to hearing that the “heyday” of existentialism was the middle of the twentieth century. In truth, because existential thought is future-oriented, the heyday of existentialism may be yet to come.

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The Prospects for Socialist Politics in South Africa

Global and Domestic Trends Following the Failed SRWP Experiment

Giovanni Poggi and Ongama Mtimka

Our article endeavours to critically examine the prospects for socialist parties and socialist policy reform in South Africa. Firstly, we seek to provide an appraisal of modern socialist politics and policies globally. Secondly, we attempt to diagnose why South Africa has been as yet unable to fashion a suitable socialist workers’ party during the democratic epoch. In this, the article discusses the prospects of socialist parties and policy reform in South Africa after examining the failure of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party (SRWP) to make an impact at the 2019 polls. Using a combination of comparative methodology and critical inquiry, our study presents not only that socialist politics and policies are valuable to democratic systems, but also that socialist politics should have a more viable vehicle in South Africa. The prospects for deepened ideological development, particularly the formation of a successful socialist or workers’ party, remains quite weak in South Africa but there is considerable evidence to suggest that civil society both requires and desires a more vibrant relationship with modern socialism.

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Ndumiso Dladla

Even though the Pan Africanist Congress was formed in 1959 after departing from the African National Congress at a point marking out the irreconcilability of the Azanian ‘faith’ with the other interpretations of the struggle within the ‘broad church’ of the Congress Movement, it was only six years later, in 1965, that it modified its name to the PAC of Azania. The name Azania is supposed to have been suggested by Nkrumah at the All-African Peoples’ Conference in 1958 attended by the Africanists even before the inauguration of the PAC (Diaz 2009: 239; Hilton 1993: 5). The Azanian tendency in ‘South African’ history can arguably be said to have existed from the earliest times of resistance by the indigenous people against the unjust wars of colonisation (see Dladla 2020: 71–108).