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Resistance, Rebirth, and Redemption

The Rhetoric of White Supremacy in Post-Civil War Louisiana

Marek D. Steedman

Did white supremacists successfully appeal to a right of resistance in Louisiana in the 1870s? I argue that they did. White supremacists self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing fellow (white) citizens. Can we deny them the cover of legitimacy this tradition affords? We might suggest that a right to resist is rendered void by the fact that white supremacists were resisting constitutional democracy itself. I argue against this strategy (or, more precisely, for a right to resist constitutional democratic government), and suggest that the problem is not what white supremacists were fighting against. The right to resist is bound up with a defense of the just demands of the people, and this claim, as articulated by white supremacists, rests on decidedly shaky ground. Deciding the issue, however, is a matter of political contestation.

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Dennis McEnnerney

Recognition of a right of resistance to oppression clearly helped modern Western polities accept constitutional forms of order. Drawing on Locke's canonical discussion in the Second Treatise, influential Anglo-American political theorists also suggest that the establishment of modern constitutional states required outlawing resistance practices. A francophone perspective, however, raises a problem for such generalizations about modern Western political philosophy and practice: the French “résistance” differs in meaning from the English “resistance” in important ways. Reconstructing the histories of the cognate concepts, I show that “résistance” emerged out of feminized discourses concerning moral conscience and that, as a result, excluding résistance from politics seems implausible, a conclusion that sheds light on the discussion of résistance in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. The article closes with the suggestion that, following the Second World War, French understandings of “résistance” may have influenced American politics and thought in unrecognized ways.

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Dennis McEnnerney

Resistance is troubling. In an ideal community, all parts fit together, with citizens and government smoothly and agreeably regulating each other. To resist such an ideal community would appear perverse. Of course, most communities are not ideally constructed, in which case adding some “friction” may do “enough good to counterbalance the evil” inherent in communal machines, as Henry David Thoreau thought—unless the machine in question were so evil, as Thoreau believed was the case in slaveholding America, that the maximal friction of revolt and rebellion was demanded.

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Gendered Models of Resistance

Jansenist Nuns and Unigenitus

Mita Choudhury

In the decades following the promulgation of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus, scores of nuns and convents resisted the efforts of authorities to make them acquiesce to the Bull. Male Jansenist authors writing from a figurist perspective transformed this female dissent into the model for all forms of spiritual resistance against Unigenitus. Their gendered constructions represented a challenge to the church hierarchy, forging nuns into a political weapon against the ultramontane episcopacy. The controversy over the Religieuses Hospitalières during the 1750s reveals how Jansenist lawyers and magistrates deployed the controversies over these “model” nuns to censure episcopal despotism and to legitimate parliamentary intervention in religious affairs, thereby opening the way to prescribing constitutional limits on the monarchy itself.

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The Limitations of a Somatics of Resistance

Sexual Performativity and Gender Dissidence in Dickens's Dombey and Son

Anne Schwan

This essay considers some of the implications of a critical turn from a concern with a 'political technology of the body' in the Foucauldian sense to one with embodied micropractices. I will contend here that a critique of social experiences that is conceptualised through attention to individualised, or intersubjective, corporeal practices, is necessarily limited. A critical focus on the affective or performative self potentially colludes with a political agenda that privileges the bourgeois concept of individuality over that of collectivity, and performative micropractices over the transformation of social relationships on a structural level. This article approaches these issues by investigating two forms of sexual deviance, enacted by the figures of Paul and Edith Dombey, in Dombey and Son - a text that explores the problematic of nineteenthcentury gender-specific discipline and resistance, but also a narrative that points to the conceptual limitations resulting from individualised notions of embodiment and embodied resistance. I will suggest that this novel codes Paul and Edith's resistance to Dombey's regime of gender-discipline as specifically physical and sexualised forms of deviance.

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Jean-Paul Sartre

Les Temps modernes is publishing here for the first time a film script written by Sartre during the winter of 1943-1944. We thank Daniel Accursi for generously passing it along and Michel Contat for preparing it for publication. Sartre’s article entitled “A film for the postwar period,” which appeared [unsigned] in L’Ecran français and was incorporated into the Lettres françaises [clandestine], no. 15, April 1944, clearly indicates the purpose of this project: “On screen—and only on screen—is there place for a panic-stricken, a furious or a serene crowd. The novelist can evoke the masses; if the dramatist wants to represent them on stage, he must symbolize them by using half a dozen characters who assume the name and function of the chorus; only films show them. And it is to the masses themselves that they do so: to fifteen million or twenty million spectators. It is in this manner that film can speak about the crowd to the crowd. That is what the great pioneers of film, such as Griffith, Cecil B. de Mille and King Vidor understood so well. This does not mean that films cannot show love stories or conflicts between individuals. Far from it. But they must reinsert them into their social setting. The speed with which the camera can move from place to place also permits it to situate a story in the whole universe. The wellknown rule of theatrical unity in French classical drama does not apply at all to film. One can even introduce several plots simultaneously, have them unfold in different settings and have their very diversity contribute to the creation of a complete social situation. The film’s unity therefore emanates from its profound meaning, from the epoch it restores, and not from the concatenation of the circumstances that make up a minuscule and unique anecdote.

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Sue Kossew

One of the most fraught and, possibly, most tricky issues, both in theory and in practice, for current literary criticism in post-apartheid South Africa is how to read and reread the texts of those now-canonical white South African writers whose reputations were made, both nationally and internationally, by their ‘writing against apartheid’, now that this particular kind of literature of resistance could be seen as passé. What is at stake here is not just a critical re-evaluation of such writers as J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and André Brink, whose voices may now be seen to be marginalised in favour of those ‘subaltern’ voices freed to speak in a post-apartheid state, but a re-situating of the very nature of their literary resistance. Inextricably tied to any such discussion is the complex nature of literary resistance itself and the debates surrounding the categorisation of ‘South African literature’ within ‘world literatures’. These debates have evolved around such questions as whether post-colonial theory and criticism have any relevance to such texts; whether ‘white’ South African literature should be regarded as part of other settler literatures (despite its obvious differences in not having just one ‘imperial centre’ and in the neo-colonial structures of apartheid); and whether even locating such a division between ‘white’ and ‘black’ writing in South Africa imposes a retrospective form of apartheid within critical practice itself. This article addresses some of these issues and considers them as part of a process of reconciling differences and moving beyond the fixed binaries that characterise both the apartheid mentality and colonialism itself.

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Accommodating Vichy

The Politics of Marcel Pagnol's La Fille du puisatier

Brett Bowles

From late 1940 through mid-1942 Marcel Pagnol accommodated to varying degrees the demands of the Vichy regime and the German occupiers in order to ensure the survival of his film production business. In so doing, he placed himself in the ambiguous grey zone of thought and action that stretched between the poles of proactive collaboration and proactive resistance. Pagnol's wartime activities, especially the history of his film La Fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger's Daughter, 1940), offer insight into how material interest, ideology, and necessity shaped French industrialists' reactions to the Occupation. Pagnol's itinerary also reveals the compromise and conflict that often lay below the surface of Franco-German politics, while highlighting the importance that both regimes attached to cinema as a tool of economics, cultural policy, and propaganda.

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Silvie Lindeperg

Unanimously celebrated as an authentic representation of French railroad workers' resistance against the Germans during the Occupation, René Clément's La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails, 1945) was a valuable piece of ideological capital in the wake of France's liberation. Through a close reading of the film's production and reception, this article shows that the film's heroic blueprinting of the Resistance was the result of mediation between two opposing points of view: that of the Marxist Left, which sought to portray the Resistance as belonging to the working class, and that of the Gaullists, who were intent on promoting the myth of an idealized "True France" without class or ideological divisions and united in its opposition to the Germans.

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Mater Litigans

Mothering Resistance in Early Eighteenth-Century Rome

Caroline Castiglione

This microhistory analyzes the efforts of a widowed mother, Teresa Boncompagni, to maintain custody of her only daughter, Cornelia. Teresa protested her brother-in-law's legal right to Cornelia's custody. The mother's resistance combined a savvy understanding of the Roman judicial system with an insistence upon the centrality of motherly affection and maternal daily care to the child's well-being. She argued that the concept of free will necessitated a period of childhood exempt from family pressure to marry the man her brother-in-law had chosen. Although Teresa's adversaries pronounced her views outrageous, and maternal affection and advocacy would later be sanitized to include affection but to exclude women's resistance, Teresa's efforts succeeded in convincing even her enemies that a good mother knew how to fight legally and that the emotional bond epitomized by affective mothering was paramount to the healthy development of the child.