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Under the Sign of the Gun

Welcome to the Postmodern Melancholy of Gordimer's Post-Apartheid World

Simon Lewis

Raymond Chandler used to say that whenever he got stuck writing a novel he would get going again by having a character come through the door with a gun in hand. Reading the opening pages of Nadine Gordimer’s new novel with its account of a sensational murder, one might wonder whether South Africa’s 1991 Nobel laureate, faced with the end of apartheid and the consequent lack of a subject, was operating according to Chandler’s principle. The House Gun, however, indicates not so much the lack of a subject as a new way of looking at an old subject facing new circumstances – the old subject being the psychological and material effects of white racism on whites, the new circumstances being those of post-apartheid South Africa. Moreover, the apparent narrowing of focus from the macropolitics of Gordimer’s three most recent preceding novels, None to Accompany Me (1994), My Son’s Story (1990), and A Sport of Nature (1987), to the micro-politics of The House Gun suggests that we can read South Africa’s transition to full democracy as a paradigmatic change from a modern to a postmodern condition. Gordimer’s post- 1994 publications, and The House Gun in particular, lend themselves to being read as illustrative of two of Michel Foucault’s central insights: the ubiquity of power, and the consequent idea that given that ubiquity, care of one’s self (‘souci de soi’) becomes a new kind of political obligation.

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Adolescence in Action

Screening Narratives of Girl Killers

Eva Lupold

The term girl heroine is an ambiguous signifier in discourses surrounding action-adventure cinema. Film scholars occasionally refer to adult action heroines as girls, while adolescent warriors remain largely overlooked in the literature. Research on women warriors focuses primarily on “musculinity” films of the 1980s or on more recent “action babe” movies featuring adult women. However, movies like Kick-Ass, Hanna, Violet & Daisy, Hard Candy, True Grit, and The Hunger Games demonstrate that films with adolescent action heroines are increasingly popular. This article argues that contemporary depictions of girl warriors emerge as a result of recent shifts in cultural attitudes towards girlhood sexuality and girlhood aggression. It also argues that the rise of the adolescent action heroine points to anxieties about changes in nuclear family structures, and that contemporary action films imply that young girls should be responsible for maintaining moral order. Ultimately, such films thus contain regressive as well as progressive messages.

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The Cine-Fist

Eisenstein’s Attractions, Mirror Neurons, and Contemporary Action Cinema

Maria Belodubrovskaya

Gunning’s “cinema of attractions,” a mode of filmmaking that, according to Gunning, was prevalent in the first decade of motion pictures. Since Gunning’s conception, developed in the 1980s, contrasts the cinema of attractions with the cinema of narrative

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Sticking to Her Guns or Going with the Flow

Assessing Rigidity and Flexibility in Angela Merkel’s Political Decision Making

Christian Schnee

This paper investigates levels of rigidity and flexibility in Angela Merkel’s decision making during her first three governments from 2005 to 2017. The study is a contribution to understanding German politics in the era of Merkel who has regularly been criticized for allegedly lacking a transformative agenda and ideological consistency. Methodologically this study draws on Jonathan Keller’s framework that differentiates between internally and externally validated leaders, with the latter seeking to appease and curry favor with stakeholders and the former committed to their personal believes. The study assesses Merkel’s decisions on fiscal and economic policies, zooms in on her u-turn on nuclear energy, touches upon her dithering during the Euro crisis and discusses at some length her protracted coming to terms with the refugee crisis. Findings suggest her flexibility to be predominantly a reflection of political expediencies and intended to preserve her party’s political compatibility with potentially supportive stakeholders. Her approach thus is in line with the agenda to manage coalition governments successfully, moderate and conciliate divergent interests and thus secure their position in power.

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US–México border states and the US military–industrial complex

A Global Space for expanding transnational capital

Juan Manuel Sandoval Palacios

Base Program (DRIB) are developed, linked to the Gun Belt, 5 and to the US military–industrial complex. In this process, migration and border security policies have been developed into a migration industry complex and a border security industrial

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Yoram Peri

the Gun: Israeli Soldiers’ Folk Songs (Tel Aviv: Open University, 2017). Academic studies published in Hebrew in Israel during the last few years present a troubling view of Israeli society. The authors view war as the primary force shaping Israel

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Reinhart Koselleck, Translated By Margrit Pernau, and Sébastien Tremblay

wounded soldier on my back, I laid down my gun. At that point, we didn't know yet that the Americans would hand all the prisoners that had reached the redemptive West from Bohemia and Moravia back to the Russians. So this fight had been futile and every

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Hidden Scripts

The Social Evolution of Alterman's “Don't You Give Them Guns”

Efrat Ben-Ze'ev

Nathan Alterman's poem “Don't You Give Them Guns” echoed European post–World War I anti-war literature. Curiously, the poem turned into a key text in a ritual instituted by members of the elite Jewish underground fighting force, the Palmach, which was established during World War II. This article is an attempt to understand how a pacifist poem came to be used by Jewish-Israeli soldiers at the heart of the 1948 War of Independence. In terms of theory, the analysis dwells on the relations between text and social context, arguing that alternative social ideas conceal themselves in poetry and other literary forms. These texts can be likened to undercurrents that preserve hidden social concerns. To follow the changing role of such texts, the article considers the fate of “Don't You Give Them Guns” from its birth in 1934 to its later manifestations in the early twenty-first century.

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Damien Smith Pfister

In the wake of the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, the Trump Administration floated the creation of a new governmental agency named HARPA, the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, modeled after DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, that could explore novel ways of curtailing gun violence. For an administration unwilling to entertain serious legislation to address the problem of gun violence in the United States, HARPA offered a way to appear to be doing something about gun violence. HARPA, advocates maintained, could house a project called SAFEHOME, an acronym for “Stopping Aberrant Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes.” SAFEHOME would use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence”; the proposal would draw on data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo, and Google Home to predict when someone might be on the cusp of mass violence (Alemany 2019). The guiding assumption of SAFEHOME is that surveillance of this biophysical data, combined with extant surveillance of textual messaging, search patterns, social networking sites, and discussion boards would alert law enforcement officials to a prospective shooter. Think Minority Report (2002, Steven Spielberg) with digital surveillance technology playing the role of psychic precogs. SAFEHOME is probably (hopefully) a nonstarter in serious conversations about gun violence, given the tenuous link between mental health, physical disposition, and violence; the inevitability of data-profiling being articulated to minoritized subjects and false positives (imagine the first time SAFEHOME flags a SWAT team on someone having sex) and obvious concerns about such an invasive surveillance regime. But the very fact that a program like SAFEHOME is posed as a potentially credible solution points to a dimension of surveillance that complements this forum’s discussion of ubiquity: granularity.

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William Scammell

A is for Matthew ARNOLD, bringer of sweetness and light, upholder of the best that has been thought and said. (Notions much derided of late. All the more reason to defend them.) A poet-polemicist Oxford dandy turned Schools Inspector who didn’t just emit steam but suited action to word out in the big wide world. My favourite Victorian prophet, along with Mill, better company than Ruskin and bellicose Carlyle. Also for AL ALVAREZ, top gun of the sixties, who tried to shoot down English gentility. Good nose for a certain kind of poem, bad reasons for promoting it. Also for ACADEMIC. Pause. ‘Nuff said.