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The Bible, Hayden White, and the Settlements

Teaching Religious Zionist History in the Postmodern Era

Roy Weintraub

In recent decades, the impact of postmodern approaches to history teaching has triggered an extensive worldwide debate that accommodates diverse and contrasting voices. This article examines how the education system of Religious Zionism, one of the most important ideological movements in Israel, copes with this issue. This inquiry, which is based on Peter Seixas’s conceptualization, analyzes the system’s history curriculum, its latest textbooks, and an array of lesson plans. The analysis reveals a complex method of coping with postmodernism, including the adoption of clearly postmodern attitudes at the declarative level and the neutralization of their influence in practice.

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Peter Brooker

‘And how should I begin?’ Naturally, or post-naturally enough, at the end. We have been hearing for some time recently of the end of things and this paradoxically, is where we must start. Book titles have warned us of the End of the Nation and Nation State, the End of Print, the End of Architecture, The End of Work, the End of Man, the End of Economic Man, the End of Time, the End of the Future, the End of History and yes, the End of the World. It doesn’t take a salaried cultural critic to see here the symptom of an encroaching mood, the expression on the part of marooned journalists and intellectuals of what Raymond Williams termed a ‘structure of feeling’. It expresses not so much conviction – though these scenarios of the end could not in one way be more final – as the waning of common beliefs and values. Hence the appearance world-wide of millennial sects, outcrops of New Age mysticism, the thrill of out of body experiences and the paranormal; even if, thanks to postmodernism, these tend to be more normal than para, and to come at you via the X Files or the Virgin multiplex than anywhere more distant. New media combine oddly with the new mysticism, advanced technologies with advancing teleologies. This is the way then that we are seeing in the fin de siècle, the beckoning end of century when Bakhtinian carnival will at last take to the streets, fleeing its confinement in works of cultural theory, and we shall all go belly up and dance our heads off. Or when half the world will fall into poverty, disease, and starvation and the other half wear itself out in vainglorious in-fighting, leaving a sybaritic residue to enter upon a computer-aided decadence of virtual existence. Or when we shall go up in smoke in a bang and whimper all at once.

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What Would I Do with Lacan Today?

Thoughts on Sartre, Lacan, and Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Betty Cannon

This article is a reply to Blake Scott’s discussion of the Sartrean critique of Lacan that I present in three chapters of Sartre and Psychoanalysis. Here I revisit those chapters, written 25 years ago, with questions about how I might approach Lacan today. I also discuss how I might approach recent developments in psychoanalysis, some of which are influenced by both Lacan and postmodernism. While I still think Lacan does not give an adequate account of agency and responsibility, there are definitely parallels between Sartre and Lacan and even a significant, though ambiguous, debt that Lacan owes to Sartre, similar to the often-neglected influence of Sartre on postmodern philosophy. The rest of the article considers the influence of postmodernism and existential phenomenology on contemporary psychoanalysis. Despite certain theoretical difficulties, the relational and intersubjective emphasis in much of contemporary psychoanalysis, combined with a rejection of drive theory, is in some ways surprisingly compatible with Sartre’s requirements for an existential psychoanalysis.

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Gideon Calder

Much recent theory of an anti-foundationalist or ‘post-ist’ hue has made a point of returning us to historicity. If modern theory sought the universal, then postmodern theory has favoured the particular, the situated, and the historically contextual: the little narrative, the silenced voice, the marginalised other. This is, to be sure, a simplification of both sides of the comparison. But it opens up a pressing question. What kinds of relationship to historicity are opened up by postmodern theory? In an age when relations with the past have taken on a particular kind of resonance—through truth commissions, retrievals of underplayed or silenced events, commemorative projects, and in a more general sense, a concern for the historical contexts of group and individual identities—what help does such theory offer us in seeking a grasp of such relations?

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James G. Carrier

Recently anthropology has experienced an intellectual crisis of confidence, a sense that the discipline has lost its way, and an institutional crisis, a loss of resources following the financial crisis. Together, these crises provide a perspective that helps us to make sense of what preceded them. This article argues that both crises are signs of the failure of the neoliberalism that rose to prominence in the 1980s, both as a foundation for public policy and as an important, though unrecognized, influence on elements in anthropological thought. It focuses on that influence. It does so by describing some of the changes in anthropological orientation since the 1980s. Prime among these are the loss of disciplinary authority, the solidification of the focus on culture at the expense of a focus on society, and the rejection of systemic theories of social and cultural order. It is argued that, together, these changes have left anthropologists with no critical perspective on the world, just as the ascendance of neoclassical economics left economists with no such critical perspective.

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Postmodern Southern Vacations

Vacation Advertising, Globalization, and Southern Regionalism

Amy J. Elias

On January 5, 1999, the evening news programmes in Birmingham, Alabama reported that the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day might be marred by civic unrest. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had spent the 1998 King holiday inciting riots in Memphis, Tennessee, and this year, they were apparently going to focus on downtown Birmingham. Newscasters such as the urbane African American female anchor from Channel 13, Malena Cunningham, featured clips of Birmingham’s five-term, African American mayor, Richard Arrington, saying gracefully and with a hint of condescension that constitutionally the Klan had the right of public protest but that Birmingham’s best strategy would be to pay them no mind. The Klan was coming to Birmingham, Alabama.

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A Secular Alchemy of Social Science

The Denial of Jewish Messianism in Freud and Durkheim

Philip Wexler

This essay presents a reading of the work of two central figures of modern social theory that locates their work within not simply mainstream Jewish thought, but a particular Hasidic tradition. Further, I argue that lying behind this, in a repressed form, is an even older tradition of Jewish alchemy. I make no claim to have evidence that either Freud or Durkheim were directly influenced by Hasidism or alchemy, but I examine the parallels between the structure of their thoughts and those of the two traditions. Both Freud and Durkheim display a social psychology that is analytically similar to the dualism of Hasidism's Tanya and the general transformational models of alchemy. This formal model is in opposition to the messianic tradition in Jewish thought and analyzes Freud and Durkheim as anti messianic social psychologists. Hasidism offers a template for modern theories of social psychology, social interaction and the relation between the social and the individual, that is, collective identity. This essay also considers more generally how modern social theory might make sense of contemporary social phenomena by opening itself to the messianic and mystical traditions in Jewish thought. I suggest that the social and structural transformation associated with the information or network society requires new analytic tools that allow us to explain social energy differently to the way Freud and Durkheim have guided social theory. Contemporary analyses of individualization, social movements and sacralization as forms of and reactions to alienation are inadequate. Instead, I ask whether we should not 'restore a messianic, truly utopian "lost unity", which the alchemical, secular gnosis of modern social science displaced, and so renew social theory?'

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Navigating through contradictory rationalities

Experiences of development in Mexico

Martin J. Larsson

English abstract: This article discusses the idea of policy coherence for development, and its relation to the experience of development along the Grijalva River in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Through an analysis of different understandings of the garbage in the river, and of the attempts to deal with the garbage, I highlight tensions between different generations of policies, between different levels of government, and between implementing the goals of governmental representatives and a meaningful participation by citizens. To understand these tensions, the article draws attention to the coexistence of experience-based rationalities, which are important to take into account when formulating policies, and when moving from policies to concrete projects.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo discute la idea de la coherencia en las políticas públicas para el desarrollo, y su relación con la experiencia de desarrollo sobre el Río Grijalva, en el estado de Chiapas, México. A través de un análisis de diversos entendimientos de la basura en el Río, subrayo las tensiones entre diferentes generaciones de políticas públicas; entre diferentes niveles de gobierno; y las tensiones entre la implementación de metas de los representantes gubernamentales y una participación significativa por parte de los ciudadanos. Para entender estas tensiones, el artículo enfatiza la co-existencia de racionalidades basadas en la experiencia práctica, que son importantes considerar al formular políticas públicas, y al moverse de las políticas públicas a proyectos concretos.

French abstract: Cet article examine l’idée de cohérence dans les stratégies politiques pour le développement et sa relation avec l’expérience du développement autour du fleuve Grijalva, dans l’état du Chiapas, au Mexique. À travers l’analyse des multiples significations des déchets dans le fleuve, je souligne les tensions entre différentes générations de politiques publiques, entre différents niveaux de gouvernement, et entre la mise en oeuvre des objectifs par les représentants gouvernementaux et la participation significative des citoyens. Pour comprendre ces tensions, l’article insiste sur la coexistence de rationalités fondées sur l’expérience pratique, qu’il est important de prendre en compte dans l’élaboration des politiques publiques, et lors du passage de ces politiques publiques aux projets concrets.

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Transformation, Post-Modernism, and Community

The Case of Sakha (Iakutiia)

Tatiana Argounova-Low

This issue of Sibirica focuses on one of the Siberian regions—The Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia). This in-depth presentation has two main goals: we hope to provide the readers with a more detailed look into the current situation in the republic and to start a new initiative of the journal to take close-up looks at various Siberian regions. For Siberian studies Sakha represents an interesting case: on the one hand, its experience and developments are unique, its recent political and economic changes are setting an example of potential way to devolution; on the other hand, the republic’s experiences are typical of those in any other Siberian peripheral region.

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Steve Martinot

It is said that Sartre maintained a certain opposition to post-structuralism, for which his focus on a dialectical understanding of historical praxis is considered evidence. Yet he rarely discussed post-structuralism, nor engaged it in debate; which is odd, since it formed part of his philosophical milieu. After all, he took on Marxism and Christianity. But to debate post-structuralism would mean addressing its view of the world, thereby assuming it actually had one. Perhaps he saw that to address it as an ideology, a view of the world, rather than a critique of discursivity itself, would be to transform it into what it was not, against itself.