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Edward Greenwood

At the close of the Second World War and in the years following, two key figures of modern French thought, Jean-Paul Sartre and Georges Bataille, became engaged in a debate concerning the status of literature. At stake in their argument was both a conception of the mode of being of the literary work of art and a projection of the purpose or end to which literature should be assigned.

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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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Lars Buur

This article explores the enmeshment of sovereignty, riots, and social contestation. Riots have continually marked out the thresholds allowed for exceptions to be declared. As such, they have been the sovereign entity par excellence that produces the moments of politics that need to be domesticated. Interestingly, expressions of sovereignty have always presented themselves in contexts of riots and social contestation. These issues will be explored ethnographically in relation to riots in Mozambique. The relationship between excess and domestication is explored through an analysis of two indices of sovereignty: riots and their close associates “mobs” as excess; and processes of domestication. The first index grapples with t he excesses of riots and mobs, and encompasses, I suggest, all the elements of sovereignty: exception, in- and exclusion, and excess. The second index explores the enmeshment of sovereignty and social contestation from the perspective of domestication, particularly the diff erent forms for control and violence that come into play when the quest for making life and creating order is at stake.

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Challenging the Absurd?

Sartre’s Article on Kafka and the Fantastic

Jo Bogaerts

displayed a confluence of literary criticism and politics. After a brief interval 4 during the first years of the Second World War, in 1943 Sartre again published several articles, dealing with Maurice Blanchot, Albert Camus and Georges Bataille. 5 At a

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The Theory of Play/Games and Sacrality in Popular Culture

The Relevance of Roger Caillois for Contemporary Neo-Durkheimian Cultural Theory

Alexander T. Riley

The question of the trajectory of Durkheimian thought after the death of Durkheim in 1917 is of great interest to many scholars. Increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the place of the Collége de Sociologie in that legacy (e.g., Hollier 1979; Kurasawa 1998; Richman 2002; Marroquin 2005). The focus of much of this scholarship, however, has been on one participant in the Collége, Georges Bataille. Both those who see the Collége as a legitimate inheritor of the Durkheimian mantle (e.g., Richman 2002) and those who do not (e.g., Marcel 2001) place central importance on the person and work of Bataille. There were however other members of the Collége, some of whom in fact had a much closer institutional connection to the Durkheimian group through Durkheim's nephew, Marcel Mauss, than Bataille did. Roger Caillois is perhaps the most important of these others. (1) The work of Caillois is still relatively little known outside the French-speaking world. Largely considered a figure of the literary avant-garde when he is known at all among English-speaking academics, (2) he was in fact a thinker of immensely broad interests, with intellectual connections spanning from surrealist circles to Durkheimian ethnography. Unlike Bataille, he actually studied under Marcel Mauss (and Georges Dumézil) and some of the most compelling work he authored took up themes he explicitly recognized as having to do with sociology and social theory.

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Simon Beck, Glen M. Segell, Derek Hook, and Jeanne Marie Kusina

Daniel Dennet by Matthew Elton Simon Beck

Globalization and Justice by Kai Nielsen Glen M. Segell

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker Deborah Roberts

Georges Bataille by Michel Surya Derek Hook

Thinking after Heidegger by David Wood Jeanne Marie Kusina

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Helena Rosenblatt A Virtue of Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748–1830 by Aurelian Craiutu

Michael S. Smith Les Batailles de l'impôt: Consentement et résistances de 1789 à nos jours by Nicolas Delalande

Daniel Lee Nazi Labour Camps in Paris: Austerlitz, Lévitan, Bassano, July 1943–August 1944 by Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Sarah Gensburger

Jessica Wardhaugh Defending National Treasures: French Art and Heritage under Vichy by Elizabeth Campbell Karlsgodt

Damien Mahiet Music and the Elusive Revolution: Cultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968–1981 by Eric Drott

Terri E. Givens Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe by David Art

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Mike Gane

In the spring and summer of 1938 two quite different seminars took place in Paris. One was the very well-known Collège de Sociologie, which included the participation of Caillois and Bataille – see ‘Sacred Sociology of the Contemporary World’, 2 April 1938, and the session ‘Festival’, 2 May 1939, in which Caillois indicates the importance of sacred games (in Hollier 1988: 157–159, 279–303). The other was the Walter Lippman Colloque, 26–30 August 1938 (in Rougier 1939). The former was the significant forerunner of French sociology and philosophy – from Derrida to Baudrillard – decisively influenced by Marcel Mauss.

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Bruce Baugh

The fiftieth anniversary issue of Les Temps modernes leads off with an article by Jacques Derrida, “‘Il courait mort’: Salut, salut. Notes pour un courrier aux Temps modernes,” a tribute both to Les Temps modernes and to its founder, Jean-Paul Sartre. For those who have followed what Derrida has said over the years, this “tribute” came as something of a surprise. Derrida, after all, had mocked Sartre as the “onto-phenomenologist of freedom,” always in search of a “fundamental project” that could explain an individual’s whole life; he called “daring” or “risky” Sartre’s criticism of Bataille for having a shaky understanding of German philosophical terms and concepts when Sartre himself had, in Derrida’s view, a very inadequate grasp of Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger.

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Imagining globalised fears

School shooting videos and circulation of violence on YouTube

Johanna Sumiala and Minttu Tikka

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the concept of circulation in the field of anthropology. This article aims at elaborating the idea of circulation, namely, in the context of media anthropology. We illuminate the workings of circulation by illustrating how violent media images travel on YouTube and how video clips contribute to the formation and reformation of globalised social imaginaries of violence. Special attention is given to the circulations of school shooting videos on YouTube. Through fieldwork on YouTube videos associated with the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Jokela and Kauhajoki massacres, the article draws on George Bataille's ideas on symbolic violence to claim that the school shootings as visual media spectacles of violence, death and terror can be seen as paradigmatic examples of deadly events that have a potential to stimulate social imaginaries of horror and anxiety through the cultural logic of circulation in the era of globalisation.