This issue of Durkheimian Studies presents the collective efforts of the participants of a workshop held in late 2017, the centenary anniversary of Émile Durkheim’s death, at the University of Oxford. The articles that emerged from it, published together in this special issue for the first time along with some new material, demonstrate a continuation of classic Durkheimian themes, but with contemporary approaches. First, they consider the role of action in the production of society. Second, they rely on authors’ own ethnographies: the contributors here engage with Durkheimian questions from the data of their own fieldsites. Third, effervescence, one of Durkheim’s most innovative contributions to sociology, is considered in depth, and in context: how do societies sustain themselves over time? Finally, what intellectual histories did Durkheim himself draw upon – and how can we better understand his conceptual contributions in light of these influences?
Tracing Durkheim's Legacy
Sondra L. Hausner
Long Live Césaire! Recuperations and Reparations
A. James Arnold
Events surrounding Aimé Césaire's funeral in Martinique (April 2008) brought to the fore a number of unresolved contradictions that have swirled around his literary production, as well as his political legacy, for decades. Did Césaire really mean to speak for a culturally and historically determined group of dispossessed colonials and former colonials, as he often stated from the 1960s onward? Or did he intend to appeal to a biologically determined collective unconscious, as he sometimes stated in less guarded moments? Finally, should Césaire's ambiguous statements about the movement to require reparations from the French state for centuries of enslavement in the Antilles be taken as an endorsement of such demands? None of these questions were resolved in the flood of writing about Césaire's importance and significance in the year of his death.
Grand Promises Meet Local Resistance
This article reviews recent scholarship on the urban politics of mega-events. Mega-events have long been promoted as drivers of urban development, based on their potential to generate beneficial legacies for host cities. Yet the mega-event industry is increasingly struggling to find cities willing to host. Political arguments that promote mega-events to host cities include narratives about mega-event legacy—the potential for events to generate long-term benefits—and mega-event leveraging—the idea that cities can strategically link event planning to other policy agendas. In contrast, the apparent decline in interest among potential host cities stems from two political shifts: skepticism toward the promises made by boosters, and the emergence of new kinds of protest movements. The article analyzes an example of largely successful opposition to mega-events, and evaluates parallels between the politics of mega-events and those of other urban megaprojects.
Dig Less, Catalog More
Julia A. King
Legacy collections are an increasingly valued source of information for researchers interested in the study and interpretation of colonialism in the Chesapeake Bay region of North America. Through the reexamination of 34 archaeological collections ranging in date from 1500 through 1720, researchers, including the author, have been able to document interactions among Europeans, Africans, and indigenous people in this part of the early modern Atlantic. We could do this only because we turned to existing collections; no single site could reveal this complex story. This article summarizes the major findings from this work and describes the pleasures and challenges of comparative analysis using existing collections. Collections-based research can also be used to inform fieldwork, so the legacy collections of tomorrow are in as good shape as possible. Indeed, collections-based work reveals the need for a critical dialogue concerning the methods, methodology, and ethics of both collections- and field-based research.
Francis Abiola Irele
This essay examines the centrality of Aimé Césaire's work in the emergence of a black poetic and intellectual discourse in French, and his influence, in terms both of theme and idiom, on generations of Francophone writers, an influence that can be discerned in the work of Tchikaya u Tamsi, Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard, Lamine Sall and Sylvie Kandé in Africa, and Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, René Depestre, and Daniel Maximin in the French Caribbean region. The relationship of Césaire's work to the Créolité movement is discussed, as is the impact of his work on Anglophone Caribbean writers, such as Kamau Brathwaite of Barbados and Lansana Sekou of St Martin, as evidence of the enduring legacy of his work.
Mark A. Wolfgram
Bill Niven, Facing the Nazi Past: United Germany and the Legacy of the Third Reich (London: Routledge, 2002)
Siobhan Kattago, Ambiguous Memory: The Nazi Past and German National Identity (Praeger: Westport, Conn., 2001)
Making Object Biographies
Margareta von Oswald and Verena Rodatus
In Germany, the new cultural center Humboldt Forum (to open in 2019) has become a major site of debate. It will include the contested collections of both the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art, which contributed to the negotiation of the role of colonial legacies and their reverberances on contemporary Germany. We took those contestations as a point of departure for the exhibition Object Biographies (2015), part of the program Humboldt Lab Dahlem designed to experiment with innovative displays for the Humboldt Forum. Here we reexamine our research collaboration with the Beninese art historian Romuald Tchibozo that was part of the exhibition. His call for the “decolonization of research” was the central guideline in our museum practice aiming for cosmo-optimistic futures. We argue that focusing on processes and questions engaged by the exhibition project can transform contested museum spaces to enable negotiations on ownership, representation, and memory politics.
Although a fluid concept, ‘psychogeography’ retains consistent themes from its Lettrist and Situationist beginnings to its present-day British vogue. Despite this commonality, some of psychogeography’s key elements are absent from From Hell’s fourth chapter, which dominates discussions of it with respect to Alan Moore’s comics. Psychogeography is better represented by several other elements in From Hell in light of its consistent semiotic and political themes. Furthermore, new ways of reading spatial relations in Moore’s other work, such as Watchmen, appear when one considers psychogeography in a manner consistent with its history. A preliminary analysis of the role of psychogeography, as constructed in light of its French legacy in these two graphic novels, reveals deep structural similarities between them. These similarities include a celebration of the everyday citizen, comparable to the Situationist psychogeographers’ own rejection of fine art as a specialised cultural category removed from the aesthetic practice of everyday urban life.
Engaging Anthropological Legacies toward Cosmo-optimistic Futures?
Sharon Macdonald, Henrietta Lidchi and Margareta von Oswald
How to deal with the legacies of colonial and other problematic pasts is a challenge shared by most museums of ethnography and ethnology. In this introduction to the following special section on the same topic, the section editors provide an overview and analysis of the burdens and potentials of the past in such museums. They set out different strategies that have been devised by ethnographic museums, identifying and assessing the most promising approaches. In doing so, they are especially concerned to consider the cosmopolitan potential of ethnographic museums and how this might be best realized. This entails explaining how the articles that they have brought together can collectively go beyond state-of-the-art approaches to provide new insight not only into the difficulties but also into the possibilities for redeploying ethnographic collections and formats toward more convivial and cosmo-optimistic futures.
Jeffrey Kopstein and Daniel Ziblatt
A core lesson of Germany's federal election of September 2005 is the enduring legacy of the communist past in East Germany, a legacy that substantially shapes politics in unified Germany. Fifteen years after unification, the crucial difference in German politics still lies in the East. The 2005 election demonstrated the enduring east-west divide in German party politics. The result is that Germany today has two coherent party systems, one in the East and one in the West. Combined, however, they produce incoherent outcomes. Any party that hopes to win at the federal level must perform well in the very different circumstances in the East.