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.
What can Transnational Studies offer the analysis of localized conflict and protest?
Nina Glick Schiller
After reviewing the strengths and limitations of Transnational Studies, including its methodological nationalism, this article calls for the field to develop a theory of power. A transnational theory of power allows us to set aside binaries such as internal/external, global/local, or structure/agency, when analyzing historical and contemporary social processes and conflicts. Previous and current scholarship on imperialism can contribute to this project by facilitating the examination of the role of finance capitalists and of states of unequal financial and military power. However, Transnational Studies also must assess the contestatory possibilities of transnational social movements. The articles in this special section contribute to the development of Transnational Studies by examining past and present transnational constructions of locality, identity, authenticity, and voice, within social fields of uneven power. The articles also illuminate the types of transnational practices, conflict, and struggle that emerge. v
Austro-German Filmmaker, Bestselling Author and Journalist Colin Ross Discovers Australia
In 1929 prominent Austro-German filmmaker and author Colin Ross visited Australia with his family for several months. In his literary and cinematic work on Australia Ross establishes a perplexing argument: Australia’s “nordic myth” (the White Australia policy) exposes the continent to the peril of an Asian invasion. In accordance with concepts of cultural hegemony within the framework of the so-called German liberal imperialism and driven by Germany’s ambition to reestablish a presence in its former colonial realm, he advocates for the forced immigration of South European laborers to the continent to populate the vast “empty space” of Australia and guard against the menacing consequences of a British-Japanese pact. This article discusses the visual and literary strategies employed by Ross to popularize geo-political thinking in Germany, thereby inducing a shift in the travelogue genre from appealing to “colonial desire” to promoting the politics of an emerging imperialism.
Theory and Interpretation in the Justification of Colonialism
In this article I want to draw upon examples from European settlement in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa in order to argue that modern colonisation and imperialism, despite considerable variation, drew upon a range of justificatory principles which constituted a background theory, or worldview, that was invoked in part or in its entirety in justifying the civilising mission which was viewed by its proponents as both a right and a duty. I begin by showing how the infamous ‘Requirement’ (‘Requerimiento’) of 1513 becomes intelligible as a performative utterance when connected to the constellation of ideas which makes it warrantably assertible, to use John Dewey’s terminology. It is not so much about the land or its use in conceptual terms but instead about the larger value judgements the colonists were applying. It is contended that despite the variation in emphases and conclusions, and the different levels of discourse at which justifications are offered, the efficacy and veracity of colonial and imperialist justifications invoke the authority of the world of ideas in which the assertions alone have intelligibility.
Oil, Empire, and Patrimonialism in Contemporary Chad
Stephen P. Reyna
This article concerns a type of change involving implementation of 'traveling models'—procedural cultural plans of how to do some-thing done somewhere elsewhere. Specifically, it concerns the World Bank's traveling model of oil revenue distribution in support of Chadian development. It finds that this model is failing and that dystopia is developing in its stead. A contrasting explanation, which examines the contradictions and consequences of Chadian patrimonialism and US imperialism, is proposed to account for this state of affairs. Finally, the analysis is shown to have implications for conceptualizing patrimonialism and planning development.
Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900
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.
Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi
What vision directs pan-Africanism and which developmental model does it support and promote? To answer this question, the article evaluates pan-Africanism within the demands of African modernity and locates the extent to which pan-Africanism meets the aspiration of African modernity. It argues that pan- Africanism has what amounts to a north-bound gaze and supports development imperialism, and shows that for this reason it is not properly grounded on African realities, the consequence of which is the weakness of African modernity. The article suggests a rearticulation of pan-Africanism through the ideology of pro- Africanism, which holds that autonomy and self-will are two cardinal principles that are fundamental to African self-definition but which pan-Africanism is not in a position to provide because it amounts to a subordination of African difference. It concludes that a redirection of the African vision in this direction is a worthier ideological alternative to pan-Africanism.
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.
The Empire Built
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.
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.