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Steve Reyna

This essay is concerned with where the current of global political and economic events runs. It addresses this concern by erecting an argument in three stages. First, a string being theory (SBT) is outlined. Second, this theory is used to formulate an SBT approach to imperialism, one that might be imagined as Lenin by alternative (theoretical) means, emphasizing the role of violent force. The 'seven deadly sirens'—generalizations that predict the exercise of violent force under different conditions in imperial systems—are introduced. Third, certain post-1945 US government uses of violence are analyzed in terms of their fit with the seven sirens' predictions. Oil depletion is considered as contributing to systemic crisis in capital accumulation, and its role in Gulf War II is explored. It is concluded that US government violence is consistent with the sirens' predictions. The essay terminates with speculation about where the current runs.

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Traveling “Back” to India

Globalization as Imperialism in Pico Iyer's Video Night in Kathmandu

Malini Johar Schueller

This article teases out the complex intersections between Pico Iyer's Video Night in Kathmandu as an Orientalist travel narrative and as a treatise on the cultural flows of globalization by analyzing the politics of Iyer's adoption of a migrant, cosmopolitan persona as well as his conscious attempt to rewrite the gendered hierarchies of imperialism. It examines the unspoken privileges of whiteness and Westernness in Iyer's adoption of a decentered persona that struggles to overcome (particularly in his chapter on India) being interpellated as “Indian.” The larger purpose of the essay is to interrogate the rhetoric of cultural globalization as beyond the hierarchies of imperialism.

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Veiled Strangers

Rabindranath Tagore's America, in Letters and Lectures

Amardeep Singh

The Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore visited the United States several times, though his second trip in 1916-1917 seems to have generated the most excitement. On the verge of American entry into World War I, the Nobel prize-winning writer embarked on an extensive lecture tour critiquing the excesses of nationalism and imperialism. The visit generated a number of remarkable texts, including a series of important letters to family and friends written on the trip and the four long lectures collected and published in 1917 as Nationalism. I argue that the lectures on “Nationalism,” can and should be read as a form of “reverse Orientalist” travel writing, where Tagore aimed to show Americans how their own political and economic system could be seen as rather similar to the European powers. Tagore uses the lectures to develop a series of metaphors for the modern, instrumentalist deployment of power in the nation-state and the colonial world, against which he posited an ideal of modern man cultivated and “perfected,” rather like a work of art.

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Richard Wright and the 1955 Bandung Conference

A Re-Evaluation of The Color Curtain

Babacar M'Baye

The Color Curtain reflects Richard Wright's problematical assessment of the 1955 Bandung Conference and his difficult attempts to reconcile his sincere denunciation of the consequences of colonialism and racism on people of Asian and African descent with his condescending representation of Third World nationalism during the middle of the twentieth century. The book reveals striking paradoxes in Wright's evaluation of a nationalism that he occasionally vilifies as an ideology that was grounded on impassioned and essentialist cultural or religious affiliations and feelings. Yet Wright's demeaning, elitist, and patronizing attitudes about Third World nationalism and cultures did not prevent him from identifying with the core spirit of the Bandung Conference. In his assessment of the summit, Wright occasionally reveals his admiration for a Third World nationalism that echoed his disparagement of Western racism and imperialism.

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Karima Kadi-Hanifi

This interdisciplinary paper is about applying Adult Education methods of learning and teaching to higher education. I argue that higher education students need to be stimulated via interactive methods that improve their motivation and lead them to question the value system/s that exist around them. A Freirean approach as used in the teaching of Adult Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) was applied to a group of 'elite' students at the University of Birmingham who were taking a language foundation course. As a sociolinguist and ESOL practitioner from a black perspective, I argue that the understanding of concepts of language and racism, imperialism and social class can best be facilitated using such an approach. Taking groups of students through this learning journey is challenging for higher education practitioners and the results add a relatively new dimension to the collective reflection on learning and teaching in higher education today.

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Republican Imperialisms

Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900

Christina Carroll

In the 1880s and 1890s, a wave of histories of colonial empire appeared in France. But even though they were produced by members of similar republican colonial advocacy groups, these accounts narrated the history of empire in contradictory ways. Some positioned “colonial empire” as an enterprise with ancient roots, while others treated modern colonization as distinct. Some argued that French colonial empire was a unique enterprise in line with republican ideals, but others insisted that it was a European-wide project that transcended domestic political questions. By tracing the differences between these accounts, this article highlights the flexibility that characterized late nineteenth-century republican understandings of empire. It also points to the ways republican advocates for colonial expansion during this period looked both historically and comparatively to legitimize their visions for empire’s future in France.

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Roger Deacon

Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, by Michael Ignatieff. Edited and introduced by Amy Gutmann, with comments by K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur and Diane F. Orentlicher, and a response by Ignatieff. Princeton University Press: Princeton and Oxford, 2001. ISBN: 0691114749.

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Christian Egander Skov

The article explores the concept of empire, or rige, in the context of a small nation-state with no immediate claim to imperial greatness and with a rooted self-understanding as anything but an empire. It does this by exploring the concept of empire in the far right movement Young Denmark on the basis of a close reading of their imperialist program in the pamphlet Danmark udslettes! from 1918. Rige had been a vague term for the larger Danish polity that originated in a pre-national conceptualization of the polity as a realm. The article suggests that rige-as-realm was translated by the radical right into a concept of empire. In the process it dramatically changed its emphasis, reorienting itself toward a "horizon of expectation". It became a politically loaded battle concept that then entailed a critique against the dominant liberal conceptualization of the polity and nation. Rige came to signify the ambition of being a great power, the spiritual elevation of the nation through the transcendence of the decaying liberal modernity. The program addressed the tension between a conservative political attitude and modernity and thus signified a kind of reactionary modernism that rejected liberal values while at the same time celebrating technology, industrialization, and the process of modernization.

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Empire by Example?

Deportees in France and Algeria and the Re-Making of a Modern Empire, 1846-1854

Allyson Jaye Delnore

In 1847–1848, two well-publicized events ended in colonial and metropolitan deportees crisscrossing the Mediterranean between France and Algeria. In the first, Abd al-Qadir surrendered to French forces in the colony after a protracted resistance and was deported to the metropole in January 1848. Then, after the bloody reprisals of the June Days months later, the National Convention sentenced thousands of Parisian insurgents to “transportation,” eventually settling on Algeria as their destination. In both cases, the sentence of deportation seemed to satisfy both the penal and imperial goals of post-Revolutionary France: political stability, public order, and imperial expansion. But in practice, both episodes of deportation also heralded a new era. After 1854, the French government began consolidating punishment at the colonial peripheries while at the same time subjecting more individuals to deportation, signaling a shift in the relationship between colony and metropole that complemented emerging theories of crime and punishment.

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Jason Johnson

This article centers on the League of People’s Friendship of the German Democratic Republic. The League, composed of a main organization in East Berlin and national partner societies scattered around the globe, served as a tool of nontraditional diplomacy for East Germany’s ruling communist party across much of the Cold War. This article sketches out the activities of the League’s partner organizations in the U.S.—the first analysis to do so—arguing first that given the variety of challenges and problems the League and its partner organizations faced, the limited success of these groups in the U.S. is, in the end, rather remarkable. Second, this essay argues that these organizations offer further evidence that East Germany was not exactly a puppet state.