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Zygmunt Bauman

A bizarre adventure happened to space on the road to globalisation: it lost its importance while gaining in significance. On the one hand, as Paul Virilio insists,1 territorial sovereignty has lost almost all substance and a good deal of its former attraction; if every spot can be reached and abandoned instantaneously, a permanent hold over a territory with the usual accompaniment of long-term duties and commitments turns from an asset into a liability and becomes a burden rather than a resource in power struggle. On the other hand, as Richard Sennett points out, ‘as the shifting institutions of the economy diminish the experience of belonging somewhere special … people’s commitments increase to geographic places like nations, cities and localities’.2 On the one hand, everything can be done to far away places of other peoples without going anywhere. On the other, little can be prevented from being done to one’s own place however stubbornly one holds to it.

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Susan L. Smith

This project reveals the false conceptual space within which the contemporary debate about the nature of race is taking place. There is an implied spectrum within philosophical discussions of the nature of race that ranges from purely biological accounts of race to purely socially constructed accounts of race. In reality, no account of race can be given which exists at either extreme of the spectrum. The same discussion also applies to accounts of ethnicity. Ethnicity, though typically thought of as a non-biological entity, can be shown to be the result of a combination of nature and nurture or biological and social effects. In this project I examine six contemporary positions on race and ethnicity and illustrate how each makes the assumption that race and ethnicity are two distinct concepts. These positions include those proposed by Naomi Zack, Sally Haslanger, Joshua Glasgow, Linda Martin Alcoff, Robin Andreasen and Jorge J. E. Gracia.

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The Roots of Crisis

Interrupting Arendt's Radical Critique

Nica Siegel

Although Hannah Arendt is often described as a radical thinker, this article argues that such a characterisation has occluded the question of what 'radicality' might mean within the particular horizon of Arendt's thought. While the battle over Arendt's legacy is fought on terms that oppose the radical to the conservative, Arendt herself is engaged in a different struggle, namely the opposition of the radical and the banal as it emerges in Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963). This article will investigate this tension and Arendt's response to its emergence. Beginning with an account of radicality in relation to Arendt's work on crisis in Between Past and Future (1961) before turning towards the interruption of Eichmann and 'the banality of evil', this article will end by articulating a trajectory towards The Life of the Mind, Arendt's unfinished attempt, demanded by the particular crisis of Eichmann, to think unradicality radically.

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Gustavo H. Dalaqua

the following caveat: if democratic representation is to come to fruition, it is indispensable that citizens who were not elected representatives gain access to spaces where their discussions and exchange of judgements have the power to decide

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Racial or Spatial Categorisations?

A Focus on the French Setting

Magali Bessone

The hypothesis developed in the paper is that the relation between race and space, under-explored in philosophy, is a powerful theoretical instrument for understanding racial injustices and can be used to renew racial categorisation in a more critical, transformative manner. It argues that only constructivism, in its 'interactive constructionism' version (Hacking 1999), can make sense of both concepts in a relevant way for political theory, and provide a general critical frame to study the relation between both concepts, thereby replying to the powerful arguments of racial scepticism. After specifying what such a position entails for the 'race' concept, the paper argues that 'space', itself conceived in a constructionist perspective, is a core element of current referents of 'race' in our folk conceptions. It shows that France, despite its pretence of racial blindness, is not a counter-example, but rather reinforces the hypothesis. Hence, space should be more thoroughly reinvestigated at an epistemological and theoretical level in exploring our racial thinking.

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Civil Societies and Democratization

Assumptions, Dilemmas and the South African Experience

Lorenzo Fioramonti

During the past 20 years, the term ‘civil society’ has acquired a specific space within political and social discourse. Journalists have written extensively about this term, political leaders have employed it ever more frequently, and scholarly research has been equally fascinated by the idea of civil society. Paradoxically, the notion of civil society constructed its space within socio-political research as it remained largely unexamined, especially in its relation to democracy and democratization theory. Indeed, most academic literature on democratization has assumed the democratizing power of civil society, based largely on the wake of events occurring in Eastern Europe and some parts of Africa during the late 1980s and early 1990s, rather than on firmly-grounded empirical research.

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Alex Lichtenstein

Abstract

This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the work-place as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. During the early 1970s, Turner’s philosophical writings, teaching at the University of Natal, and political activism in Durban helped galvanise a cohort of radical white students who joined in support of protesting black workers in the 1973 Durban mass strikes. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.

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To Punish or to Forgive?

Responding to Dirty Hands in Politics

Cristina Roadevin

How should citizens respond to dirty-hands acts? This issue has been neglected in the theoretical literature, which has focused on the dilemma facing the politician and not on the appropriate responses of citizens. Nevertheless, dirty-hands scenarios pose a serious dilemma for the democratic citizens as well: we cannot simply condone the dirtyhanded act but should instead express our moral condemnation and disapproval. One way of doing this is through blame and punishment. However, this proposal is unsatisfactory, as dirty-hands agents commit wrongdoing through no fault of their own. I argue that we ought to make conceptual space for an idea of no-fault responsibility – and a corresponding notion of no-fault forgiveness – according to which we can hold agents to obligations without blaming them.

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Towards the Garden of the Mothers

Relocating the Capacity to Narrate in J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

Erin Mitchell

In Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee, K stays on the plot of land on which he believes his grandmother raised his mother. His appropriation of this land affords him control of space, a control he could not have acquired in apartheid-riven Cape Town. His sojourn in the garden, however, takes him out of historical time, and stunts his capacity to narrate his story and thus to take control over historical time. In the garden of his foremothers, K inhabits time measured by the growth of plants. Isolated on his pumpkin-patch, K learns to cultivate and protect his plants; when he is hauled to the medical clinic, he retains this knowledge, while he also begins to learn that narrative skills can permit him to inhabit human history.

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'A Punishment More Bitter Than Death'

Dirck Coornhert's Boeven-tucht and the Rise of Discipline

Roger Deacon

Dirck Coornhert (1522-90) was a Dutch humanist whose seminal 1587 book, Boeven-tucht, redefined issues of poverty, charity, development and crime. A transitionary document, Boeven-tucht lies on the cusp of what Michel Foucault called the 'great confinement', which took place between about 1600 and 1750 and which was the common response by local and national authorities to the social disorder concomitant upon population expansion, a widening gap between rich and poor, religious discord and war. Inspired by Boeventucht, the Amsterdam Rasphuis and Spinhuis were the European prototypes of houses of correction which sprang up all over Europe, intended to apply 'a punishment more bitter than death' to all 'criminal idlers'. This introduction to the first-ever English translation of Boeven-tucht situates Coornhert's text in the space between unmediated absolutist sovereignty and full-blown modern discipline, when disciplinary techniques were as yet only gradually emerging from the monasteries and lay fraternities in which they had been incubated, and before they spread into all facets of modern society.