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Actualising History

Responsibilities with Regard to the Future in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Aamir Aziz and Frans Willem Korsten

Whereas prior studies have focused on Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible in relation to the Puritan past of the United States of America, this article looks at the play’s present in relation to a future. If, as is the case, the play is an intervention in its contemporary circumstances, this is obviously with the aim of moving towards a better future. The question then becomes: how does the play deal with the past in the way that the Salem trials (1692) relate, by means of a theatrical intervention, to a future? In the twentieth century the relation of theatre, and of theatricality in general, with the future was paradigmatically explored in the work of Bertolt Brecht. In his view, the role of theatre was to produce a distance, not an unreflexive and emotional involvement in a plot. This distance or alienation was necessary to make people see behind the scenes of the socio-political and economic system, as a result of which they would start to think and become able to act in order to change the course of history. This appears to be an essential strategy as well if we think about the powers of spectacle, as they have been dealt with in previous studies in performance research, and a possible theatrical response to them.

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Ada Rapoport-Albert

(26 October 1945–18 June 2020)

Joanna Weinberg

Open access

Afterword

The Sensory Revolution Comes of Age

David Howes

The sensory turn and the affective turn in contemporary scholarship both crystalised at roughly the same time but then diverged. This special issue reintegrates them. Conjointly, these twin approaches direct attention to the multiplicity, agency, and interactivity of the full spectrum of human faculties (i.e., how the senses and affects intersect with and may also disrupt the rule of reason) in addition to highlighting the extent to which ‘the perceptual is political.’ The resulting paradigm has precipitated a shift from the study of communities as ‘imagined’ to how they are sensed and/or felt, and from a focus on ‘the human condition’ to the intensive investigation of the multiple ‘national post-revolutionary conditions’ that define the current conjuncture. By foregrounding the aesthetics of politics, and tracking the eruption of dis-sensus (laughter, graffiti, dissent) within the con-sensus that states seek to foster in their citizenry, this special issue sounds a much-needed wake-up call.

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Yasser K. R. Aman

The monstrous image created by William Blake in ‘The Tyger’ left the world wrapped in an apocalyptic vision that creates an epiphany of unknown Romantic potentials symbolised in ‘The Tyger’. The apocalyptic vision, deeply rooted in Christian religion, develops into an ominous harbinger of the destruction of the modern world portrayed in W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’. The image of the beast marks the difference between two ages, one with strong potentials and the other with fear and resident evil unexplained. I argue that the apocalyptic theory in Christianity has an impact on the development of the image of the beast in both poems, an impact that highlights man’s retreat from Nature into the modern world which may fall apart because of beastly practices.

Open access

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).

Open access

Joel Modiri

This article sets out a few key questions, themes, and problems animating an Azanian social and political philosophy, with specific reference to the radical promise of undoing South African disciplinary knowledges. The article is made up of two parts: The first part discusses the epistemic and political forces arrayed against black radical thought in South Africa and beyond. A few current trends of anti-black thinking – liberal racism, Left Eurocentrism, and postcolonial post-racialism – which pose challenges for the legibility of Azanian critique are outlined. Part two constructs an exposition and synthesis of key tenets of Azanian thinking elaborated upon under three signs: ‘South Africa’, ‘race and racism’, and ‘Africa’. The aim of the discussion is to illustrate the critical, emancipatory potential of Azanian thought and its radical incommensurability with dominant strands of scholarship in the human and social sciences today. The article ultimately defends the reassertion of black radical thought in the South African academy today and underscores in particular the abolitionist drive of Azanian political thought.

Open access

Néstor L. Silva

Literature on petroleum and its toxicities understands both as simultaneously social and ecological. Beginning with scholarship on petroleum and its toxicity that captures that simultaneity and mutual constitution, this review defines petrotoxicity as the socioecological toxicity inherent in petroleum commodification. The term signals that petroleum’s social and ecological toxicities are not merely related, but always/already interdependent and inherent in petroleum commodification. Thinking about petrotoxicity this way frames it as something similar to repressive and ideological apparatuses. Althusserian apparatuses shape subjects and spaces in violent and bureaucratic ways. Generating and resisting petrotoxic apparatuses are consistent themes of literature on petrotoxicity. Thinking with Stuart Hall’s critique of Louis Althusser, this review concludes by highlighting scholarship showing the limits of this popular framing of power, ecology, and intervention vis-à-vis petroleum. Long-term fieldwork in North Dakota’s Bakken region informs this article at various points.

Open access

Christos Lynteris and Joe Ellis

Frédéric Keck. Avian Reservoirs: Virus Hunters and Birdwatchers in Chinese Sentinel Posts. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 245. 2020.

Lars Højer and Morten Axel Pedersen. Urban Hunters: Dealing and Dreaming in Times of Transition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, pp. 270. 2019.

Open access

Natalie Bump Vena, Paige Dawson, Thomas De Pree, Sarah Hitchner, George Holmes, Sudarshan R Kottai, Daniel J Murphy, Susan Paulson, Victoria C. Ramenzoni, and Kathleen Smythe

Langston, Nancy. 2017. Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 292 pp. ISBN 978-0-300-21298-3.

Moore, Margaret. 2019. Who Should Own Natural Resources? Cambridge, MA: Polity Press. 140 pp. ISBN 978-1-509-52916-2.

Middleton Manning, Beth Rose. 2018. Upstream: Trust Lands and Power on the Feather River. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 244 pp. ISBN 978-0-8165-3514-9.

Van de Graaf, Thijs, and Benjamin K. Sovacool. 2020. Global Energy Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 978-1-5095-3048-9.

Wapner, Paul. 2020. Is Wildness Over? Cambridge, MA: Polity Press. ISBN 978-1-5095-3212-4.

DeSombre, Elizabeth R. 2020. What Is Environmental Politics? Cambridge: Polity Press. 202 pp. ISBN 978-1-5095-3413-5.

Ptáčková, Jarmila. 2020. Exile from Grasslands: Tibetan Herders and Chinese Development Projects. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN: 9 78-0-295-74819-1.

Liegey, Vincent, and Anitra Nelson. 2020. Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide. London: Pluto Press. 224 pp. ISBN 978-0-7453-4201-6.

Behringer, Wolfgang. 2019. Tambora and the Year without a Summer: How a Volcano Plunged the World into Crisis. Medford, MA: Polity Press. 334 pp. ISBN 978-1-509-52549-2.

Duvall, Chris S. 2019. The African Roots of Marijuana. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 351 pp. ISBN 978-1-4780-0394-6.

Open access

Liza Grandia

Alongside the melting of glaciers, human bodies warn of another petrochemically driven planetary crisis. Much as climate science ignored the early warning observations of Indigenous peoples, the medical establishment has oft en dismissed the canaries struggling to survive in the mineshaft of modernity. In an aleatory Anthropocene, we know not for whom the toxicity will toll. While case studies of environmental justice remain essential, the privileged must also be jolted into understanding their own ontological precariousness (i.e., vulnerability) from toxicants pervasive in everyday life. Moving beyond “citizen science” with inspiration from feminist ethics of care and relational Indigenous epistemologies, I make a case for the extrasensory value of “canary science.” If managerial “risk” was the keyword of the profiteering twentieth century, a sense of shared vulnerability in the coronavirus era could help usher in the transitions needed for survival in this polluted world.