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Strange Fruit

The South African Truth Commission and the Demonic Economies of Violence

Allen Feldman

At no other time more than in the present day has individual, social and institutional memory come under such concerted pressure, critique and exposure as a fragile foundation for truth and facticity. This current reluctance to authenticate social memory is intimately tied to well-known postmodernist depredations, which profoundly disenchanted the authority of tradition and authenticity, and emptied core institutionalised myths of their temporal and semantic continuity. As institutionalised memory fails to provide overarching master narratives that can win cultural consent, it has also become increasingly disjunctive with previously unnarratable history and experience. Consider the synchronic fictions of recent ethno-histories, the historians’ debate in Germany on the facticity of the Holocaust, or even the critique of post-traumatic stress disorder and other recuperations of traumatic memory whose fictive psycho-medical legitimacy has been challenged by Alan Young and Ian Hacking.

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Allen Feldman

Loader concludes his analysis of the trend in Britain and elsewhere toward private security systems by suggesting that “the value of other more deliberative ways of addressing the crime question and structuring the relationship between the police and the ‘publics’ they serve; ways that seek to subject ‘consumer’ demands for particular kinds of policing and security to the test of public discourse oriented to the common good, and so temper with democratic reason the passions that consumer culture threatens to unleash” (1999: 389). The privatization of public services and the undermining of professionalism have taken hold in many countries on the advice of international monetary agencies. In New Zealand, a provincial reading of new right philosophy within the close-knit circle of the New Zealand Business Roundtable generated a power lobby group that served as a conduit for free market libertarian ideas. This article traces the response to these trends as a measure of the strength of civil society and public life in Auckland City, with a specific focus on the resistance by the New Zealand firefighters to restructuring and downsizing the fire service.

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Rohan Bastin, Marit Brendbekken, René Devisch, Allen Feldman, Ørnulf Gulbrandsen, Bruce Kapferer, Michael Lambek, Knut Rio and Kari G. Telle

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The World Trade Center and Global Crisis

Some Critical Perspectives

Bruce Kapferer, Marshall Sahlins, Keith Hart, Jonathan Friedman, Allen Feldman, Michael Humphrey, Ibrahim Aoude, Michael Rowlands, John Gledhill and Leif Manger

The World Trade Center disaster is an event of such significance that it exhausts interpretation. This is not because of the enormity of the event itself. Numerous humanly caused destructed of just the last hundred years dwarf it in scale, and the attention now addressed to it may over the next year appear disproportionate. But events are never significant in the imagination of human beings independently of the way they are socially constructed into significance in the context of the social, political and cultural forces that somehow are articulated through a particular event, and thrown into relief by its occurrence. Undoubtedly, much of the significance that attaches to the World Trade Center catastrophe relates to the character of the conflict it defines, and the several paradoxes the event gathers up in its prism: of the strong against the weak, the powerful as victims, the cycle of revenge, the generalization of suffering, the vulnerability of technological potency, and so on.

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Ibrahim G. Aoude, Sandra Bamford, Mark T. Berger, Doug Dalton, Allen Feldman, Jonathan Friedman, John Gledhill, Richard Handler, Keith Hart, Michael Humphrey, Dan Jorgensen, Bruce Kapferer, Clive Kessler, Leif Manger, David A. B. Murray, Joel Robbins, Michael Rowlands, Marshall Sahlins, Elizabeth Stassinos, Marilyn Strathern, Karen Sykes and Souchou Yao

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Glenn Bowman, Charles W. Brown, Gerard Corsane, Ian Fairweather, Allen Feldman, Amiria Henare, Caroline Ifeka, Bruce Kapferer, Anne Krogstad, Sandra Langley, Yngve Lithman, Staffan Löfving, Leif Manger, Heidi Moksnes, Carolyn Nordstrom, Peter Probst, K. Ravi Raman, Jakob Rigi, Eleanor Rimoldi and Christopher C. Taylor

Notes on Contributors