In the opening of this special issue, we invite readers to consider, through the articles presented, how various modes of artistic expression and creative acts of resistance can lead to a better understanding of the nature and implications of political and social revolt, and how a focus on creative practices can be part of the wider debate in a time of uncertainty and unrest. The issue examines the important intersection between creative practices and acts of resistance from an interdisciplinary perspective with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Mediterranean regions. The introduction aims to frame the problems presented by the sphere of creative practices of resistance and clarify what is at stake with a view to providing impetus for further research into this critical aspect of contentious politics. It concludes by tracing how the general framing of the problems operates within and through the different articles.
Creative Practices/Resistant Acts
Nesreen Hussein and Iain MacKenzie
For more than four years during the First World War Belgium was almost completely occupied. In response to the brutal occupation of the country, while many Belgian Jews were in the army, some played a more or less important role by various kinds of effective or spiritual resistance. A few others collaborated with the enemy. 'The soul of the moral resistance' was Chief Rabbi Armand Bloch (1861–1923), a man who was quiet by nature, but who put himself in danger; among other things, he delivered a sermon on the first day of Passover 1916 that would bring him, in May, in front of the War Council, which sentenced him 'for insult' to a six-month prison term. By describing his career and analysing his published works, this article will try to understand his reasons for resistance.
Dialogues with Deportation
Faced with a troubled past, national collectivities can negotiate identities through iconic figures. Prescient hero Charles de Gaulle and later Resistance martyr Jean Moulin played this role in France in the decades after World War II. More recently, other individuals from the same generation have come to the fore as exemplary actors through whom the French enact reconciliation with their nation’s wartime history. Marc Bloch, a Jew executed for his Resistance activity, has become a figure who allows French republicans to work their way out of what Henry Rousso terms the obsessive phase of the Vichy Syndrome.
Sartre's Resistance myth, The Flies (1943), and Camus's contemporaneous modern tragedy, The Misunderstanding (1944), show remarkable similarities in conception, composition, themes, characters, relationships and intrigue. However, from the moment when the plots converge—each protagonist choosing to remain in his precarious new situation—they also diverge diametrically: Camus's Jan is doomed to reified passivity and death; Sartre's Oreste is galvanised into decisive action and new life. Does Camus's orientation toward nihilistic despair translate a negative assessment of his war-time role as an intellectual, and Sartre's much more positive disposition equally represent his affirmation of writing as a valid resistance activity?
Jennifer Pitts, William Poulin-Deltour and Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas
Jennifer Pitts De Tocqueville by Cheryl B. Welch
William Poulin-Deltour French Resistance: The French-American Culture Wars by Jean-Philippe Mathy
Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology: Repertoires of Evaluation in France and the United States Edited by Michèle Lamont and Laurent Thévenot
Israeli Orthodox Women Filmmakers
Valeria Seigelsheifer and Tova Hartman
Over the past two decades, Israeli Orthodox Jewish women filmmakers have used film to speak in a public voice about various subjects that were previously taboo. Although there are aspects of Orthodoxy to which these filmmakers object, they do so as ‘devoted resisters’. Rather than expressing heretical opposition, the women stay committed to Orthodoxy precisely because they are able to use filmmaking to resist. In their negotiations of voice used to ‘justify’ their decision to become filmmakers, the women position themselves as ‘accidental’ filmmakers, thereby remaining within Orthodoxy while critiquing it through their films. Cultural resistance in this case is not carried out as defiance to Orthodox Judaism but rather out of a relationship with it, featuring a form of resistance that insists upon devotion to multiple commitments.
This article provides a reassessment of the Berlin socialist women's movement of the mid-1890s as a historically significant attempt to establish a new kind of gender politics. The article shows how the movement provides an entry point to a broader, richer, more complicated feminist resistance than previously recognized. The historiographical processes that have narrowed interpretations of the movement are explored through a feminist-Foucauldian lens, which reveals the more collaborative activities and fluid alliances both among the women's groups and between them and a wider circle of social democratic men. A feminist-Foucauldian approach shifts attention to the movement's formation as an effect of power, highlighting its innovative organizational style, leadership, theorists, ideas, and resistance activities.
In this article, I examine how second generation South Asian Canadian girls negotiate their racialized position in peer culture, through various strategies of accommodation, denial and resistance. I use feminist post-structuralist theories of discourse and positioning with feminist and narrative methods to analyze my interviews with ten subjects about their racialized adolescence. I argue that girls use certain strategies of accommodation—'passing', wannabe-ism, and strategic Otherness—to fit in without abandoning their ethnicized identities. Strategies of denial surface through girls' internalizing of dominant discourses of racism; this leads them to rationalize racism or invoke assimilationist narratives that hold minorities responsible for their own experiences of exclusion. Girls also use strategies of resistance in which they identify hegemonic discourses of belonging, speak openly about racism or criticize aspects of white culture in the context of South Asian community and family norms.
Neoliberal restructuring, racial politics, and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans
Mathilde Lind Gustavussen
This article presents a study of state-imposed neoliberal education reform and resistance in post-Katrina New Orleans. In Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, the city’s school system was dramatically reformed with most of its public schools replaced by privately administered “charter schools.” The article examines the social contradictions created by this reform and characterizes how the city’s education activists articulate their resistance to education privatization. Situating the reform within New Orleans’s post-Katrina neoliberal reconfiguration, it analyzes how simultaneous processes of education privatization and racial dispossession have made the reform lack popular legitimacy. The article concludes by considering how the neoliberal policies implemented after the storm were conditioned by race, arguing that racial politics should be considered fundamental, rather than adjacent, to the study of neoliberalization in US cities.
Germaine Tillion's Operetta of Resistance at Ravensbrück
Pierre Vidal-Naquet called the three studies resister Germaine Tillion had published in 1946, 1973, and 1988, on the concentration camp to which she had been sent, her “three Ravensbrücks.”4 Although resistance is important in each, these works focus primarily on the relation of exploitation to extermination in the camps. There is, however, a first, or perhaps a fourth, “Ravensbrück,” which is neither a memoir nor a history like the other three. In it, the state of resistance in which Tillion lived her deportation comes to the fore. Inspired by Jacques Offenbach’s L’Orphée aux Enfers, Tillion wrote Le Verfügbar aux Enfers in late 1944 at Ravenbrück, after having spent a year incarcerated there. Like David Rousset’s frequent reference to Père Ubu in L’Univers concentrationnaire (1946), his essay on Buchenwald, Tillion’s operetta reminds us that the genres we usually call on to present the horrific in the normal world may be lacking when the horrific is the norm.