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Republican Imperialisms

Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900

Christina Carroll

Abstract

In the 1880s and 1890s, a wave of histories of colonial empire appeared in France. But even though they were produced by members of similar republican colonial advocacy groups, these accounts narrated the history of empire in contradictory ways. Some positioned “colonial empire” as an enterprise with ancient roots, while others treated modern colonization as distinct. Some argued that French colonial empire was a unique enterprise in line with republican ideals, but others insisted that it was a European-wide project that transcended domestic political questions. By tracing the differences between these accounts, this article highlights the flexibility that characterized late nineteenth-century republican understandings of empire. It also points to the ways republican advocates for colonial expansion during this period looked both historically and comparatively to legitimize their visions for empire’s future in France.

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Paul Gyllenhammer

Abstract

The age of the Anthropocene is arguably upon us. Heidegger’s famous discussion of technology helps us understand the attitude that put us in this crisis. Although Sartre’s work in the Critique of Dialectical Reason seems to be distinct from Heidegger’s, I show how his concern with the socially alienating phenomenon of seriality explains why this technological attitude is so persistent. And by studying Heidegger and Sartre together, we get a better sense of how our environmental destitution is correlated to a social-political one. Relational respect is offered as an existential norm that helps us move beyond our violent tendency to objectify beings, both human and other than human.

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David Schweikart

Abstract

In 1952 Albert Camus wrote a caustic letter to Les Temps Modernes in response to the journal’s negative review of The Rebel, addressed, not to the author of the review, but to “M. Le Directeur,” i.e. to Sartre. Sartre’s response published in the journal ended their friendship. This article examines the deep cause of this rupture, Camus’s political views moving rightward, Sartre’s moving left. I examine Camus’s critique of Marx and Marxism, then ask the question, “What is Marxism, Anyway?” I defend a version of Sartrean “existential Marxism” as appropriate for our time.

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Searching for What Is Already Found

Ivan Jablonka and the Life of a Nobody

Melanie Hawthorne

Abstract

This article assesses the work of best-selling French historian Ivan Jablonka by setting his work in the context of biographies of ordinary people and by evaluating the success of his stated goal of reconciling lifewriting with social sciences. The article attempts to explicate his methodology of “searching for what is already found,” and considers the relevance of the critique of historicism in general articulated by some branches of the social sciences. It concludes that there is more to restorative biography than merely an explanation of causality.

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To Bear Witness After the Era of the Witness

The Projects of Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka

Donald Reid

Abstract

This essay examines how two French individuals in the third generation of Holocaust victims/survivors, Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka, research and present their grandparents and how they challenge contemporary memory culture. Their works differ in their ambitions and the strategies used to achieve them, but both Boltanski and Jablonka take the most disrespected of historical genres, the history of the author’s family, and reveal its potential in an arena where the duty to remember what was done to Jews as a group can obscure the complex individuals who were victims. These forgotten selves and what they reveal about the societies in which they lived are the subject of Boltanski’s and Jablonka’s work. Particular attention is devoted to the Communist parties in Poland and France and the relations of their grandparents to them.

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Too Much of Nothing

Analytic and Sartrean Phenomenological Perspectives

John Graham Wilson

Abstract

This article draws parallels between analytical and continental approaches to ontology. It begins with a summary of nothingness from the standpoint of analytical philosophy. It then expands towards the Sartrean notion of nothingness and our own experiential intuitions of absence, extending then into what is missing in our lives as existentially distressing; concerning, in this instance, what is missing through the protracted absence of a dead loved one. Finally, disturbing and possibly traumatic encounters with absence are seen to have major consequences for our existential sense of being-in-the-world, where the for-itself manifests as a being of lacks, often eschewing thetic knowledge, where encounters through human consciousness may anticipate pathological withdrawal from the world. This is a situation that Anglo-American proponents of logico-linguistic analysis cannot adequately account for.

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Two Failures of Left Internationalism

Political Mimesis at French University Counter-Summits, 2010–2011

Eli Thorkelson

Abstract

After the unsuccessful end of the spring 2009 French university movement, faculty and student activists searched for new political strategies. One promising option was an internationalist project that sought to unite anti-Bologna Project movements across Europe. Yet an ethnographic study of two international counter-summits in Brussels (March 2010) and Dijon (May 2011) shows that this strategy was unsuccessful. This article explores the causes of these failures, arguing that activist internationalism became caught in a trap of political mimesis, and that the form of official international summits was incompatible with activists’ temporal, representational, and reflexive needs.

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Clare Mac Cumhaill

Abstract

When Sartre arrives late to meet Pierre at a local establishment, he discovers not merely that Pierre is absent, but also Pierre’s absence, where this depends, or so Sartre notoriously supposes, on a frustrated expectation that Pierre would be seen at that place. Many philosophers have railed against this view, taking it to entail a treatment of the ontology of absence that Richard Gale describes as ‘attitudinal’ – one whereby absences are thought to ontologically depend on psychological attitudes. In this article, I aim to make Sartre’s intuition respectable. What Sartre perceives is an ‘absential location’, only the ‘boundaries’ of which are circumscribed by what Sartre is doing at that place: meeting Pierre. I explain how this Sartrean view, though not specifically attributable to Sartre, nonetheless honours some of the phenomenological data described, if a little opaquely, in Being and Nothingness.

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Between Resistance and the State

Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France

Itay Lotem

Abstract

Between 1998 and 2006, the memory of slavery in France developed from a marginalized issue into a priority of the state. This article examines the process in which community activists and state actors interacted with and against one another to integrate remembrance and the commemoration of slavery and its abolitions into a Republican national narrative. It focuses on a series of actions from the protests against the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 to the creation of the 10 May National Memorial Day to Slavery and Its Abolitions in 2006. Basing its analysis on oral history interviews and various publications, this article argues that “memory activists”—and particularly new anti-racist groups—mobilized the memory of slavery to address issues of community identity and resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. In so doing, they articulated a new kind of black identity in France.

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John H. Gillespie, Marcos Norris, and Nik Farrell Fox