This overview of Sartre's theater within the context of the symposium focuses on the inherent ambiguities of his theory and practice. His plays, as committed literature, are not always successful in their pedagogical intention of changing the minds of his audiences. On the one hand, he seeks to provide universal situations with which everyone can collectively identify, and on the other he wishes to convince them of the value of freedom and confront them with problems and conflicts they must resolve for themselves. These spectators then exercise that freedom by taking ideological viewpoints that are in conflict with those of the plays. Moreover, the plays are often complex and ambiguous, and set far from a contemporary French context, thus demanding a certain sophistication of interpretation. Sartre's skill as a dramatist is to write plays that engage the public in debates about the key questions of the day, even though, because of his open approach, he does not always succeed in changing their minds.
For Sartre, shame is not an ethical but an ontological experience. With this in mind, the article examines the philosophical connection between shame and ambiguity through analysis of the experiences of abortion and the Nazi Occupation. The article demonstrates how Beauvoir develops Sartre's ontological notion of shame into an ethical philosophy of ambiguity as a result of wartime experiences. It demonstrates how encounters with shame, abortion, ambiguity and Occupation life in Beauvoir's 1945 novel Le sang des autres elucidate and are developed by Sartre and Beauvoir's philosophies of shame and ambiguity. The paper proposes that Sartre's and Beauvoir's thought was shaped by living through the Nazi Occupation and reveals how the memory of wartime shame is activated in contemporary ethical dilemmas in later literary works of both writers.
Mockery, Egalitarianism, and Uncertainty in Northeastern Namibia
The trickster has held a prominent place in the study of folklore, as much as it has been central to anthropological understandings of egalitarianism. In both, the trickster embodies an insoluble tension between the repressed, amoral desires of the individual and the moral demands of social life. This tension, so it goes, is visible in the ambiguity of the figure—a protean indeterminate being, neither good nor bad. Among the Jú|’hoànsi of northeastern Namibia, the trickster is similarly ambiguous. The figure conveys not a clash of values, but rather the doubt and uncertainty people feel toward those with whom they share resources, or about different ways of sharing and how they might relate to one another. This article approaches such uncertainty through a focus on the mocking phrase “you’re a trickster” and the moral discourses that accompany it.
Documents, Infrastructure and Political Experimentation in Highland Peru
This article tracks the political effects of documents produced in relation to a public infrastructure project in the Peruvian Andes. By contrast with the recent focus on bureaucratic documents as aesthetic artefacts and instances of institutional form, I attend to the political processes enacted through project papers, exploring how their relational, material, affective and referential dimensions opened up spaces of political experimentation. In particular, I suggest that the power of documents to mediate the regulatory ambiguities incurred by Peru's ongoing decentralization lies partly in their capacity to espouse normative formality whilst always hinting at the possibility of its undoing.
Ambivalent Situations and Human Resource Embarrassment
The Manchester School brought with it a fundamental methodological heritage that continues to be generally relevant today and may be particularly pertinent to the study of business organizations, a field often described by narrow instrumentalism and an implicitly management-centric perspective. In this article, through an ethnography of the Human Resource Department of the Danish firm Bang & Olufsen, I argue that the legacy of the Manchester School can be used as an analytical vantage point to open up a rich field of inquiry. I further suggest that we need to move beyond both managerialism and Manchester in order to analyze adequately the pervasive ambiguity in the experience of consultants working as middlemen in value-based corporations.
This article takes as its starting point a peculiar land claim within the ongoing South African land restitution process – more specifically, the legal and administrative technicalities that allowed for the implosion of the accompanying court case in the Land Claims Court – to open up a space for reflection on the ambiguous nature of state bureaucracies as ambiguity-reducing machines. Tracing the specificities of bureaucratic attempts at foreclosing ambiguities and insufficiencies in state practice, I show how a reorientation towards the new public goods of 'service delivery', 'transparency' and 'accountability' brought about a pronounced regime of performance indicators and de-judicialized bureaucratic flexibility. Demonstrating how these attempts to reduce ambiguities created new zones of ambiguity and unaccountability of their own, I argue for a post-Weberian analysis of the path-dependent realities of 'bureaucratic authority' to help us understand the seemingly arbitrary structural violence that state bureaucracies often enact.
This article argues that Israel's policy of nuclear ambiguity, which has recently come under fire due to unfolding events in the Middle East, has played a critical role in the Arab world's strategic calculus vis-à-vis Israel. It has convinced Arab leaders of Israel's military superiority, putting an end to their efforts to annihilate the Jewish state. At the same time, it has shielded them from public pressure to become nuclear powers themselves. Indeed, Arab leaders have, in practice, reconciled themselves to Israel's existence, creating the possibility for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict through peace diplomacy. Israel would be mistaken, I argue, to abandon its doctrine of nuclear ambiguity, a move that could accelerate nuclear proliferation in the region, bring about a pre-emptive attack on Israel's nuclear facilities, and harm US-Israeli relations.
Heritage Narratives of Russian Old Believers in Romania
This article questions notions of belonging in the case of displaced communities’ descendants and discusses such groups’ efforts to preserve their heritage. It examines the instrumental use of nostalgia in heritage discourses that drive preservation efforts. The case study presented is focused on the Russian Old Believers in Romania. Their creativity in reforming heritage practices is considered in relation to heritage discourses that emphasise continuity. The ethnographic data presented in this article, derived from my doctoral research project, is focused on three major themes: language preservation, the singing tradition and the use of heritage for touristic purposes.
Fieldwork with a Dog as Research Assistant
My research seeks out muted narratives that struggle to be heard in the contested city of Belfast. My dog is one of my ethnographic methods: dog-walking is rarely a direct journey from A to B and she can 'authenticate' my lingering presence in unfamiliar places; she is a gateway to dog-focused communal activities; and her categorisation of people is based on smell, not politics, religion or country of origin. When encountering random strangers with an attractive and friendly dog, her role is obvious: introduction enacted, anthropologist takes over. But does she simply mediate the encounter or does she shape what happens? The relationship between dog and person is reciprocal and the extent to which each actor responds to the other prolongs and moulds the encounter. Can she elicit stories that may not otherwise be told, do more than 'only connect'? This article draws on actor-network theory and cosmopolitanism.
The Lottery of Babylon, or, the Logic of Happenstance in Melanesia and Beyond
Are such things as luck, chance, and fortune 'given' or original proper ties of the natural order of things, or are they perverse consequences of some misguided attempt to find out whether they exist or not? Does God play dice, or do the dice merely play God? How is that a sense of supernatural power, which often accompanies 'uncannily' good luck, is discovered, known about, or activated in a society that may not have precise equivalents for our ideas of chance and fortune? This article cites examples drawn from Mesopotamian notions of creation, from the Daribi of interior Papua and the Barok of New Ireland, that explain how this process might unfold. Luck and fortune have to do with any kind of strategy that destroys the opposition, most often through the underdetermination of thought.