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Book Reviews

On 20th Century Revolutionary Socialism, from Poland to Peru and beyond

Jean-Numa Ducange, Camila Vergara, Talat Ahmed and Christian Høgsbjerg

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Volume III. Political Writings, 1: On Revolution 1893–1905, by Peter Hudis, Axel Fair-Schulz and William A. Pelz (eds). London: Verso, 2019. 592 pp.

In the Red Corner: The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui by Mike Gonzalez. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019. 231 pp.

Indigenous Vanguards: Education, National Liberation and the Limits of Modernism, by Ben Conisbee Baer. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 384 pp.

Here to Stay – Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology, by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock (eds). London: Pluto Press, 2019. 304 pp.

Open access

Heidi Hakkarainen

Abstract

This article explores the ways the emerging concept of humanism was circulated and defined in early nineteenth-century German-language press. By analyzing a digitized corpus of German-language newspapers and periodicals published between 1808 and 1850, this article looks into the ways the concept of humanism was employed in book reviews, news, political reports, and feuilleton texts. Newspapers and periodicals had a significant role in transmitting the concept of humanism from educational debates into general political language in the 1840s. Furthermore, in an era of growing social problems and political unrest, humanism became increasingly associated with moral sentiments. Accordingly, this article suggests that its new political meanings and emotional underpinnings made humanism culturally contagious, particularly immediately before and during the 1848/49 revolutions.

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

This paper seeks to address the problem of strangeness within the context of migration in Africa. I draw on historical realities that inform existing international and African discourses on migration. I hope to show that most African countries have unconsciously bought into international arguments that drive the legitimacy of building walls, visible and invisible, and the promotion of stringent migration policies that minimise the influx of African immigrants. I draw on political and philosophical positions of African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, among others, in my theorisation of strangeness and the need to dispel the potential negative conception of strangeness within Africa’s migration policies. I juxtapose these positions with Western political theories with the hope of emphasizing African humanism as a key conception worth considering when decolonising borders.

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Decolonizing “La Brousse

Rural Medicine and Colonial Authority in Cameroon

Sarah C. Runcie

This article examines French responses to transnational influences on medical education and rural health in Cameroon in the era of decolonization. As international organizations became increasingly involved in Cameroon in the postwar period, French military doctors claimed authority through specific expertise on medicine in the African “bush.” After Cameroon became independent, however, the building of new medical school became a focus of French anxieties about maintaining power in new African institutions of technical expertise and knowledge production. While scholars have begun to foreground the international context of Franco-African relations after independence, this article reveals how the distinct politics of Cameroon’s decolonization, growing out of its history as a United Nations (UN) trust territory, shaped French approaches to medical institutions there. Moreover, negotiations over the future of rural medicine in Cameroon highlighted the ways in which the approaches championed by French doctors relied on colonial authority itself.

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Eternity and Print

How Medieval Ideas of Time Influenced the Development of Mechanical Reproduction of Texts and Images

Bennett Gilbert

Abstract

The methods of intellectual history have not yet been applied to studying the invention of technology for printing texts and images ca. 1375–ca. 1450. One of the several conceptual developments in this period reflecting the possibility of mechanical replication is a view of the relationship of eternity to durational time based on Gregory of Nyssa's philosophy of time and William of Ockham's. The article considers how changes in these ideas helped enable the conceptual possibilities of the dissemination of ideas. It describes a direct connection of human perceptual knowledge to divine knowledge that enhanced the authority of printed production to transfer and reproduce the true and the good.

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Frédéric Viguier

Since independence in 1956, Morocco has actively promoted Arabic and Arab culture through successive waves of “Arabization” policies in its educational system. Yet, French educational diplomas continue to be crucial resources in Morocco, while national Moroccan degrees retain little social and economic currency. Relying on ethnographic fieldwork in Morocco carried out in 2018, this article looks at students from various socioeconomic backgrounds, asks how the grip of French education seventy years after Moroccan independence is experienced on the ground, and provides historical context to account for this situation. It argues that Morocco is an extreme but representative example of how former French colonies—and countries in the Global South—have created new forms of dependence due to their attempts to expand access to education on limited budgets.

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The French Empire Goes to San Francisco

The Founding of the United Nations and the Limits of Colonial Reform

Jessica Lynne Pearson

This article explores the French delegation’s approach to debates about colonial oversight and accountability that took place at the Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945, where delegates from fifty nations gathered to draft the United Nations (UN) Charter. Drawing on documents from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN, and the American press, it argues that while French officials at home and in the empire were eagerly negotiating a new French Union that would put metropolitan France and the colonies on unprecedently equal footing, French delegates to the San Francisco conference were unwilling to take a stand for these reforms-in-progress. Ultimately, French delegates to the conference lacked confidence that the incipient French Union would stand up to international scrutiny as these delegates worked to establish new international standards for what constituted “self-government.”

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From “De Facto King” to Peasants’ Communes

A Struggle for Representation in the Discourse of the Polish Great Emigration, 1832–1846/48

Piotr Kuligowski

Abstract

This article presents a conceptual history of representation in the political debates of the Polish émigré community in the period 1832–1846/48. As I argue, while the concept was present in the output of all political environments of the Polish Great Emigration, there were more discrepancies than similarities about how to understand it. As a result of debates about what the Polish diaspora in exile actually was and who had the right to represent it, the concept became a part and parcel of political frays. In this way, the right to use it—and consequently to represent the whole Polish community and Polish nation as well—occupied a central place in the evolution of the concept of representation.

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Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo

The 2008 crisis and economic transformations (globalisation and financialisation) fuelled significant political phenomena, such as a deep distrust of politics, electoral volatility and the decline of bipolarity and/or bipartisanship in the face of growing outsider party affirmation. In this context, the dialectical model of the Gramscian ‘social totality’ provides an analytical tool capable of analysing those ‘transition’ phases characterised by a fracturing ‘dominant historical bloc’, in itself a precursor to an organic crisis of traditional political parties’ separation of social classes.

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An Indochinese Dominion

L’Effort indochinois and Autonomy in a Global Context, 1936–1939

M. Kathryn Edwards

Across the French Empire, the interwar period was critical to the political mobilization that would come to drive the struggles for independence in the post-1945 era. In French Indochina, and especially in its three Vietnamese regions, dynamic debates over reform, modernization, and the colonial relationship with France marked this period. Reformers included integrationists seeking a closer rapport with France, separatists seeking complete independence, and autonomists seeking a middle ground between the two. The advent of the Popular Front in June 1936 acted as a catalyst for reformers of all stripes, who hoped that the new regime would live up to its progressive credentials. This article explores the case for Indochinese autonomy through an analysis of the French-language Vietnamese newspaper L’Effort indochinois, which was founded in October 1936. It explores the domestic and global frameworks of this campaign, and it demonstrates how foreign models of autonomous states like Canada and foreign threats to Indochinese security fundamentally shaped L’Effort’s demands for Indochinese autonomy. It further seeks to contribute to the existing scholarship on the diversity of the Vietnamese reformist landscape on the eve of decolonization.