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Reclaiming the Actress's Authority over Theatre Creation

The Autobiography of Polish Actress Irena Solska (1875–1958)

Natalia Yakubova

This article considers the autobiography of the famous Polish actress Irena Solska (1875-1958) as a response to the masculinisation of creativity in twentieth-century theatre, which was a result of the affirmation of the director-centred model. In her autobiography, Solska constructs the image of her creativity with the help of characteristics traditionally marked as 'feminine'. Taking into consideration the theatrical context of the 1930s to the 1950s, the period in which she wrote her text, I regard such a construction as subversive. Solska refused to conform to the new aesthetic norms of the period, which insisted on the dissociation of women's creativity from their embodiment and sexuality. She expressed nostalgia for the full creative status women artists enjoyed under the actor-centred paradigm, but which was lost as a result of the introduction of the director-centred model. Solska questioned the pejorative connotation of the actor-centred theatre as 'feminised' and, by purely literary means, reaffirmed such characteristics as embodiment, impulsiveness and disruptiveness.

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What's in a Scarf?

The Debate on Laïcité in France

Nicolas Weill

The issue of the Islamic headscarf has troubled French society since the end of the 1980s and led to legislation, enacted on 15 March 2004, proscribing the wearing of headscarves or any other "conspicuous" religious symbol in schools. But what strained relationship between the state and religions, and more generally minorities, is hidden by this long controversy that preceded the centennial of the 1905 law separating church and state? This article aims to summarize for American readers the stakes involved in this long debate while putting it into historical perspective by trying to clear up misunderstandings that may crop up in discussions (on both sides of the Atlantic) of a subject where the famous "French exception" seems to be crystallized, that is, the practice of laïcité. Underlying these discussions, one must locate the treatment of religious minorities as put into place during the Napoleonic era in the case of the Jews, which has remained, mutatis mutandis, a model for the organization of Islam in the Hexagon at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Such a model is one of an assignment community, organized with the goal, inherited from the Revolution, of emancipating its members and responding to questions of public order.

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Carol Hager

The energy revolution poses a fundamental challenge to the German corporatist institutional model. The push for renewables in Germany arose almost entirely outside the prevailing channels of institutional power. Eventually, federal legislation helped support the boom in local energy production that was already underway, and it encouraged the further development of new forms of community investment and citizen participation in energy supply. Recently, the federal government has tried to put the genie back in the bottle by shifting support to large energy producers. But, as this article shows, the energy transition has provided a base for local power that cannot easily be assailed. The debate over German energy policy is becoming a contest between centralized and decentralized models of political and economic power. Prevailing institutionalist theories have difficulty accounting for these developments. I analyze the local development of renewable energy by means of a case study of the Freiburg area in southwestern Germany, which has evolved from a planned nuclear power and fossil fuel center to Germany's “solar region”. Incorporating insights from ecological modernization theory, I show how the locally based push for renewables has grown into a challenge to the direction of German democracy itself.

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Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther and Jonathan Michael Kaplan

All eyes are turned towards genomic data and models as the source of knowledge about whether human races exist or not. Will genomic science make the final decision about whether racial realism (e.g. racial population naturalism) or anti-realism (e.g. racial scepticism) is correct? We think not. The results of even our best and most impressive genomic technologies under-determine whether biogenomic races exist, or not. First, different sub-disciplines of biology interested in population structure employ distinct concepts, aims, measures and models, producing cross-cutting categorisations of population subdivisions rather than a single, universal biogenomic concept of 'race.' Second, within each sub-discipline (e.g. phylogenetics, conservation biology), genomic results are consistent with, and map multiply to, racial realism and anti-realism. Indeed, racial ontologies are constructed conventionally, rather than discovered. We thus defend a constructivist conventionalism about biogenomic racial ontology. Choices and conventions must always be made in identifying particular kinds of groups. Political agendas, social programmes, and moral questions premised on the existence of naturalistic race should accept that no scientifically grounded racial ontology is forthcoming, and adjust presumptions, practices and projects accordingly.

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Laurence Piper

That democracy has won is common cause. The vast majority of states of the world today are termed ‘democratic’, a fact that stands in some contrast to the global order just some fifty years ago. Even more importantly, there is no competing alternative model of political rule, other than perhaps forms of radical Islam. Yet at the very moment of its triumph, democracy finds itself in trouble. Recent survey evidence from the United States suggests both political disengagement and a growing cynicism towards parties and elites, and similar trends are evident in Europe. Moreover, democracy faces substantial problems in the developing world, whether a tangible fragility among newly democratic states in Africa, or serious discontent at the responsiveness of government in many middle-income countries. Hence, at the very moment of hegemony we have increasing talk of democratic deficit.

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Margaret McCarthy

German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.

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Alexandra Kaiser

The article sketches the ruptures in today's German memory culture, concentrating on the Volkstrauertag (People's Day of Mourning) and the Gedenktag für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Remembrance Day for the Victims of National Socialism) on 27 January. It starts with an overview of the history of the Volkstrauertag with its (outward) transformation from a commemoration day for dead German soldiers into one for “all victims of war and violence.” The inclusive model of commemoration that was typical for the Bonn Republic is disintegrating today. In united Germany, the Volkstrauertag and 27 January reflect antagonistic memory strands, that is a memory focussed on the war dead and German suffering or on the Holocaust and German guilt. In light of discussions about commemorating Bundeswehr dead, the article ends by describing a re-heroicizing of the Volkstrauertag and, in a more general way, tries to outline the shifting construction of German national identity.

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Regulating Multiplexes

The French State between Corporatism and Globalization

Graeme Hayes

Since the mid-1980s, the growth of multiplex cinemas has transformed the social, industrial, and spatial logics of film exhibition across western Europe. Pioneered in the United States, where they were developed in the mid-1970s as “destination anchors” in suburban retail centers, multiplexes first appeared in Europe in Belgium (as early as 1975), Sweden (1980), and the United Kingdom (1985). In France, multiplex development started comparatively late; a first wave of comprehensive theater modernization and rationalization, launched in the 1960s, had already created a distinctive national model of multiscreen complexes (such that one observer was moved to argue that, by the late 1980s, “without false modesty, France’s film theaters are the most attractive in Europe and among the best in the world”).

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George Ross

The "events" around Dominique de Villepin's abortive promotion of the CPE in spring 2006 were seen by many as a great popular victory in the defense of France's social model and another, albeit modest, version of May 1968. Others, particularly Anglophone neoliberals, saw them as proof that the French were incapable of reform. Both conclusions were wrong. The events and defeat of the CPE may have been enjoyable for many involved, but they resolved none of France's underlying and debilitating economic problems. On the other hand, the neoliberal view that the French are averse to real social policy reform is incorrect. Instead, the unresolved dilemmas surrounding the CPE episode are in large part the product of a particular strategy of reform, the "social management of unemployment," that has nourished and intensified dangerous—unavowed—social dualism in France. The present problem, illustrated indirectly by the events, is that political actors and social partners are unable to cooperate sufficiently to confront this dualism.

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Astrid Segert

How can one best investigate the mental attitudes and patterns of

behavior of eastern Germans eight years after political unification?

Since 1990, the method dominating this discussion has been based

on measuring the degree to which easterners have “caught up” with

the supposedly more modern western Germans. However, empirical

studies and surveys have shown that this model is an ineffective, even

inappropriate means of describing how unification has impacted the

lives of eastern Germans. In this article, I argue that a more appropriate

approach is to consider the enduring differences in the opportunity

structures among eastern and western Germans, as well as the

differences in their respective behavioral patterns. In this context,

“opportunity structure” refers to the opportunities provided and limitations

imposed by social structures. For the analysis of opportunity

structures, I focus on what I call “contradictory adaptation” and

“problematic normalization.” My analysis of behavioral patterns

emphasizes the logic internal to the subjects themselves (Eigenlogik).

This internal logic differs significantly from outsiders’ interpretations

of easterners’ behavior, as the following example illustrates.