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The Ambiguity of Subversion

Resistance through Radio Broadcasting

Gisli Vogler

Abstract

This article explores subversion as a practice of resistance and draws on the example of subversive radio for illustration. Radio became an important site of power struggles in the twentieth century, often placed in the service of both resistance and oppression. An examination of subversive acts in radio broadcasting, I argue, helps shift the focus away from the myths of heroic resistance, directing attention to the uncertainties encountered by the subversive actor. To make this argument, I build on Frantz Fanon's influential work on the resistant potential of radio and engage with literature on subversion and everyday resistance. The article illustrates the ambiguity of subversion on the case study of Radio Bantu, a broadcaster of ethnic-specific radio programmes established by the South African apartheid regime.

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Beyond Metaphor

Corporeal Sociability and the Language of Commerce in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France

Joseph D. Bryan

Abstract

Body-politic metaphors served historically as figurative vehicles to transmit assorted socio-political messages. Through an examination of the metaphors la mollesse (softness) and Adam Smith's impartial spectator, this article will show that the language of eighteenth-century French and British writers was not simply heuristic or metaphorical. Contemporaries reacted to the growth of commerce and luxury, and the concomitant creation of new public spaces and forms of social interaction, by arguing that the corporeal mediated the social. I want to introduce the concept of corporeal sociability: cognitive physiology and the network of the senses, contemporaries argued, contained the information necessary to assess novel forms of commerce and revealed that sociability was congenitally embodied.

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Cecilia Schultz

Lawrence Hamilton. Amartya Sen. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2019. ISBN-13:978-1-5095-1984-2.

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Dealing with an Ocean of Meaninglessness

Reinhart Koselleck's Lava Memories and Conceptual History

Margrit Pernau and Sébastien Tremblay

Abstract

During his prolific career, Reinhart Koselleck left his mark on a myriad of topics beyond the history of concepts: iconology, memory, and temporality. The first part of this piece is a never before published English translation of one of Koselleck's numerous public interventions. Second, taking as a starting point his reflection about the end of the war and the impossibility to collectivize certain memories, this article links his considerations about the unsayable with his work on images and political sensuality. Going beyond a simple analysis of Koselleck's writings, the article opens a dialogue between the history of concepts and affective memories, offering news ways to link experiences, emotions, and practices while underlining the limits of communication and collective memory.

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Reinhart Koselleck, Translated By Margrit Pernau, and Sébastien Tremblay

The bells tolling on 9 May 1945 were heralding peace. The question remained: what kind of peace and for whom? Thousands of us marched on a trail for many kilometers, from Mährish-Ostrau eastward, like a silent accordion, sometimes extended, sometimes compressed, chased, not knowing where we were going. The voices of the bells echoed over our column and raised hopes from whose nonfulfillment countless people would perish, not being able to bear the disappointments of the new forthcoming peace. However, it was all unknown to us, we did not even know where we were going. Yet we knew where we were coming from, from the cauldron that had continuously tightened over four weeks, and from which we had definitely failed to escape on 1 May. With a wounded soldier on my back, I laid down my gun. At that point, we didn't know yet that the Americans would hand all the prisoners that had reached the redemptive West from Bohemia and Moravia back to the Russians. So this fight had been futile and every death in vain. The dead were still lying around in countless numbers.

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Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick

Of late, resistance has become a central notion in political theory, standing at the heart of attempts to respond to the dilemmas of contemporary times. However, many accounts tend to ascribe to an idealised, heroic view. In this view, resistance represents a clear-cut action against injustice and stems from individuals’ conscious choice and their unwavering ethical commitment to the cause. Some liberal scholars, most notably Candice Delmas and Jason Brennan, have argued that citizens of democratic societies have a moral duty to resist state-sanctioned injustice. This resistance occurs either through ‘principled – civil or uncivil – disobedience’ or through ‘defensive actions’ (Delmas 2018: 5; Brennan 2019: 15). While acknowledging that pervasive injustice can compromise our cognitive and moral capacities, however, their articulation of our political obligation to resist refrains from a sustained examination of the moral dilemmas, uncertainties and risks that arise when fighting systemic oppression (Delmas 2018: 198–222; Brennan 2019: 28–59, 210–14).

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Tal Correm

Abstract

This article addresses the ambivalent role of violence in liberation struggles by staging a mutually enriching dialogue between Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon. It challenges the binary distinction between justifiable resistance that allows for only short-term, instrumental use of violence, and unwarranted resistance where violence is intrinsically justified as a creative, organic life-force of the oppressed. Instead, it discusses the constitutive role of violence as a condition of possibility of politics – highlighting the impossibility of separating the bloody moments of revolution from the constitution of the political community as a space of public freedom. The reconstructed debate on the relation between violence and freedom presents a fresh perspective on the justifiability and costs of violent resistance in circumstances of radical inequality and the extent to which liberation may remain an ongoing project to sustain the fragile achievement of freedom.

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Le moment Lamennais

Modern Slavery and the Re-description of People (and Democracy) in Spain and Chile

Gonzalo Capellán

Abstract

Upon his controversial and successful publication of Words of a Believer (1834), Lamennais became one of the most influential thinkers in Europe and America. Lamennais's other works, such as Modern Slavery, have received surprisingly less attention, considering that with it he made a re-description of the concept people and consequently of democracy. Lamennais's presentation of the antagonism between liberty and tyranny, between a few oppressors (privileged classes) and the majority of the oppressed (the people) turned him into a key reference for the democratic, republican, and socialist political cultures. We can then speak of a “Lamennais moment” as opposed to the “Guizot moment,” which offered conflicting world views. This article combines an analysis of the translations and circulation of Modern Slavery in Spain and Latin America with the study of the new meanings of the concept people.

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Reviews

The Environment as an Umbrella Concept; From Word to Historical Concept

Risto-Matti Matero and Juan Alejandro Pautasso

Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin, The Environment: A History of the Idea (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2018), 244 pp.

Fabio Wasserman, ed., El mundo en movimiento: El concepto de revolución en Iberoamérica y el Atlántico norte (siglos XVII–XX) [The world in motion: The concept of revolution in Iberian America and the North Atlantic (seventeenth–twentieth centuries)] (Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila editores, 2019), 293 pp.

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Something Gleaming

Exemplary Resistance and the Shadows of Complicity

Bronwyn Leebaw

Abstract

What kinds of lessons can be learned from stories of those who resisted past abuses and injustices? How should such stories be recovered, and what do they have to teach us about present day struggles for justice and accountability? This paper investigates how Levi, Broz, and Arendt formulate the political role of storytelling as response to distinctive challenges associated with efforts to resist systematic forms of abuse and injustice. It focuses on how these thinkers reflected on such themes as witnesses, who were personally affected, to varying degrees, by atrocities under investigation. Despite their differences, these thinkers share a common concern with the way that organised atrocities are associated with systemic logics and grey zones that make people feel that it would be meaningless or futile to resist. To confront such challenges, Levi, Arendt and Broz all suggest, it is important to recover stories of resistance that are not usually heard or told in ways that defy the expectations of public audiences. Their distinctive storytelling strategies are not rooted in clashing theories of resistance, but rather reflect different perspectives on what is needed to make resistance meaningful in contexts where the failure of resistance is intolerable.