Nelson Maldonado-Torres argues that European modernity has become inextricable from the experience of the warrior and conqueror. In Against War, he develops a powerful critique of modernity, and he offers a critical response combining ethics, political theory, and ideas rooted in Christian and Jewish thought. Maldonado-Torres focuses on the perspectives of those who inhabit the underside of western modernity, particularly Jewish, black, and Latin American theorists. He analyzes the works of the Jewish Lithuanian-French philosopher and religious thinker Emmanuel Levinas, the Martiniquean psychiatrist and political thinker Frantz Fanon, and the Catholic Argentinean-Mexican philosopher, historian, and theologian Enrique Dussel.
Considering Levinas’s critique of French liberalism and Nazi racial politics, and the links between them, Maldonado-Torres identifies a “master morality” of dominion and control at the heart of western modernity. This master morality constitutes the center of a warring paradigm that inspires and legitimizes racial policies, imperial projects, and wars of invasion. Maldonado-Torres refines the description of modernity’s war paradigm and the Levinasian critique through Fanon’s phenomenology of the colonized and racial self and the politics of decolonization, which he reinterprets in light of the Levinasian conception of ethics. Drawing on Dussel’s genealogy of the modern imperial and warring self, Maldonado-Torres theorizes race as the naturalization of war’s death ethic. He offers decolonial ethics and politics as an antidote to modernity’s master morality and the paradigm of war. Against War advances the de-colonial turn, showing how theory and ethics cannot be conceived without politics, and how they all need to be oriented by the imperative of decolonization in the modern/colonial and postmodern world.
Focusing on cemetery burials in late-eighteenth-century Mexico, Alone Before God provides a window onto the contested origins of modernity in Mexico. By investigating the religious and political debates surrounding the initiative to transfer the burials of prominent citizens from urban to suburban cemeteries, Pamela Voekel challenges the characterization of Catholicism in Mexico as an intractable and monolithic institution that had to be forcibly dragged into the modern world. Drawing on the archival research of wills, public documents, and other texts from late-colonial and early-republican Mexico, Voekel describes the marked scaling-down of the pomp and display that had characterized baroque Catholic burials and the various devices through which citizens sought to safeguard their souls in the afterlife. In lieu of these baroque practices, the new enlightened Catholics, claims Voekel, expressed a spiritually and hygienically motivated preference for extremely simple burial ceremonies, for burial outside the confines of the church building, and for leaving their earthly goods to charity. Claiming that these changes mirrored a larger shift from an external, corporate Catholicism to a more interior piety, she demonstrates how this new form of Catholicism helped to initiate a cultural and epistemic shift that placed the individual at the center of knowledge. Breaking with the traditional historiography to argue that Mexican liberalism had deeply religious roots, Alone Before God will be of interest to specialists in Latin American history, modernity, and religion.
In The Andes Imagined, Jorge Coronado not only examines but also recasts the indigenismo movement of the early 1900s. Coronado departs from the common critical conception of indigenismo as rooted in novels and short stories, and instead analyzes an expansive range of work in poetry, essays, letters, newspaper writing, and photography. He uses this evidence to show how the movement's artists and intellectuals mobilize the figure of the Indian to address larger questions about becoming modern, and he focuses on the contradictions at the heart of indigenismo as a cultural, social, and political movement.
By breaking down these different perspectives, Coronado reveals an underlying current in which intellectuals and artists frequently deployed their indigenous subject in order to imagine new forms of political inclusion. He suggests that these deployments rendered particular variants of modernity and make indigenismo representational practices a privileged site for the examination of the region's cultural negotiation of modernization. His analysis reveals a paradox whereby the un-modern indio becomes the symbol for the modern itself.
The Andes Imagined offers an original and broadly based engagement with indigenismo and its intellectual contributions, both in relation to early twentieth-century Andean thought and to larger questions of theorizing modernity.
In this landmark collection, world-renowned theorists, artists, critics, and curators explore new ways of conceiving the present and understanding art and culture in relation to it. They revisit from fresh perspectives key issues regarding modernity and postmodernity, including the relationship between art and broader social and political currents, as well as important questions about temporality and change. They also reflect on whether or not broad categories and terms such as modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and decolonization are still relevant or useful. Including twenty essays and seventy-seven images, Antinomies of Art and Culture is a wide-ranging yet incisive inquiry into how to understand, describe, and represent what it is to live in the contemporary moment.
In the volume’s introduction the theorist Terry Smith argues that predictions that postmodernity would emerge as a global successor to modernity have not materialized as anticipated. Smith suggests that the various situations of decolonized Africa, post-Soviet Europe, contemporary China, the conflicted Middle East, and an uncertain United States might be better characterized in terms of their “contemporaneity,” a concept which captures the frictions of the present while denying the inevitability of all currently competing universalisms. Essays range from Antonio Negri’s analysis of contemporaneity in light of the concept of multitude to Okwui Enwezor’s argument that the entire world is now in a postcolonial constellation, and from Rosalind Krauss’s defense of artistic modernism to Jonathan Hay’s characterization of contemporary developments in terms of doubled and even para-modernities. The volume’s centerpiece is a sequence of photographs from Zoe Leonard’s Analogue project. Depicting used clothing, both as it is bundled for shipment in Brooklyn and as it is displayed for sale on the streets of Uganda, the sequence is part of a striking visual record of new cultural forms and economies emerging as others are left behind.
Contributors: Monica Amor, Nancy Condee, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung, Geeta Kapur, Rosalind Krauss, Bruno Latour, Zoe Leonard, Lev Manovich, James Meyer, Gao Minglu, Helen Molesworth, Antonio Negri, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Nikos Papastergiadis, Colin Richards, Suely Rolnik, Terry Smith, McKenzie Wark
Antinomies of Modernity asserts that concepts of race, Orient, and nation have been crucial to efforts across the world to create a sense of place, belonging, and solidarity in the midst of the radical discontinuities wrought by global capitalism. Emphasizing the continued salience at the beginning of the twenty-first century of these supposedly nineteenth-century ideas, the essays in this volume stress the importance of tracking the dynamic ways that race, Orient, and nation have been reworked and used over time and in particular geographic locations.
Drawing on archival sources and fieldwork, the contributors explore aspects of modernity within societies of South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Whether considering how European ideas of Orientalism became foundational myths of Indian nationalism; how racial caste systems between blacks, South Asians, and whites operate in post-apartheid South Africa; or how Indian immigrants to the United States negotiate their identities, these essays demonstrate that the contours of cultural and identity politics did not simply originate in metropolitan centers and get adopted wholesale in the colonies. Colonial and postcolonial modernisms have emerged via the active appropriation of, or resistance to, far-reaching European ideas. Over time, Orientalism and nationalist and racialized knowledges become indigenized and acquire, for all practical purposes, a completely "Third World" patina. Antinomies of Modernity shows that people do make history, constrained in part by political-economic realities and in part by the categories they marshal in doing so. Contributors. Neville Alexander, Andrew Barnes, Vasant Kaiwar, Sucheta Mazumdar, Minoo Moallem, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, A. R. Venkatachalapathy, Michael O. West
Philip Holden reveals deeply gendered connections between the writing of individual lives and of the narratives of nations emerging from colonialism. Autobiography and Decolonization is the first book to give serious academic attention to autobiographies of nationalist leaders in the process of decolonization, attending to them not simply as partial historical documents, but as texts involved in remaking the world views of their readers.
Holden examines Mohandas K. Gandhi’s An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Marcus Garvey’s fragmentary Autobiography,Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford’s Ethiopia Unbound, Lee Kuan Yew’s The Singapore Story, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru’s An Autobiography, and Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana:The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah.
Holden argues that these examples of life writing have had significant influence on the formation of new, and often profoundly gendered, national identities. These narratives constitute the nation less as an imagined community than as an imagined individual. Moving from the past to the promise of the future, they mediate relationships between public and private, and between individual and collective stories. Ultimately, they show how the construction of modern selfhood is inextricably linked to the construction of a postcolonial polity.
Adelheid von Saldern is one of the most productive, thoughtful, and innovative researchers in the field of twentieth-century German history. Her already long career has been distinguished by a willingness to take intellectual risks by participating in new historiographical movements, borrowing from cultural anthropology, focusing on the social and cultural history of everyday life, and demonstrating the importance of gender history. In this volume, she expressly focuses on the various challenges modernity posed to German society between 1900 and 1960. Throughout, von Saldern is particularly concerned with public perceptions, debates, and attitudes.
The essays contained in The Challenge of Modernity cover three distinct subject areas: the history of the Social Democratic labor movement, housing, and popular and mass culture. More specifically, von Saldern addresses the self-modernizing Social Democratic Party; Social Democrats' and Communists' opposing views of modernization; social rationalization in the private sphere (particularly with regard to women and hygiene); sport; the arrival of "trashy" literature, movies, and radio in Germany; and cultural conservatives' attempts to enhance a national and Volks-culture in opposition to mass-culture, Americanization, and the avant-garde. The variety of responses to the modernization process, as well as von Saldern's focus on social agents, makes this book unique.
Required reading for scholars of social, cultural, and gender history, The Challenge of Modernity will also find an audience among urban anthropologists, political scientists, and sociologists. Von Saldern's ability to combine a strong theoretical framework with concrete historical examples will also make this outstanding reading for undergraduate and graduate students seeking to familiarize themselves with the history of German society and culture.
Adelheid von Saldern is Professor of Modern History and Director, Historisches Seminar, Universität Hanover.
Conjuring the Folk addresses the dynamic relation between metropolitan artistic culture and its popular referents during the Harlem Renaissance period. From Jean Toomer's conclusion that "the Negro of the folk-song has all but passed away" to Zora Neale Hurston's discovery of "a rich field for folk-lore" in a Florida lumber camp, Harlem Renaissance writers made competing claims about the vitality of the African-American "folk." These competing claims, David Nicholls explains, form the basis of a discordant conversation on the question of modernity in African America.
In a series of revisionary readings, Nicholls studies how the "folk" is shaped by the ideology of form. He examines the presence of a spectral "folk" in Toomer's modernist pastiche, Cane. He explores how Hurston presents folklore as a contemporary language of resistance in her ethnography, Mules and Men. In Claude McKay's naturalistic romance, Banana Bottom, Nicholls discovers the figuration of an alternative modernity in the heroine's recovery of her lost "folk" identity. He unearths the individualist ethos of Booker T. Washington in two novels by George Wylie Henderson. And he reveals how Richard Wright's photo-documentary history, 12 Million BlackVoices, places the "folk" in a Marxian narrative of modernization toward class-consciousness.
A provocative rereading of the cultural politics of the Harlem Renaissance, Conjuring the Folk offers a new way of understanding literary responses to migration, modernization, and the concept of the "folk" itself.
David G. Nicholls is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago.
At this stalled and disillusioned juncture in postcolonial history—when many anticolonial utopias have withered into a morass of exhaustion, corruption, and authoritarianism—David Scott argues the need to reconceptualize the past in order to reimagine a more usable future. He describes how, prior to independence, anticolonialists narrated the transition from colonialism to postcolonialism as romance—as a story of overcoming and vindication, of salvation and redemption. Scott contends that postcolonial scholarship assumes the same trajectory, and that this imposes conceptual limitations. He suggests that tragedy may be a more useful narrative frame than romance. In tragedy, the future does not appear as an uninterrupted movement forward, but instead as a slow and sometimes reversible series of ups and downs.
Scott explores the political and epistemological implications of how the past is conceived in relation to the present and future through a reconsideration of C. L. R. James’s masterpiece of anticolonial history, The Black Jacobins, first published in 1938. In that book, James told the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture and the making of the Haitian Revolution as one of romantic vindication. In the second edition, published in the United States in 1963, James inserted new material suggesting that that story might usefully be told as tragedy. Scott uses James’s recasting of The Black Jacobins to compare the relative yields of romance and tragedy. In an epilogue, he juxtaposes James’s thinking about tragedy, history, and revolution with Hannah Arendt’s in On Revolution. He contrasts their uses of tragedy as a means of situating the past in relation to the present in order to derive a politics for a possible future.
In the seventeenth century, a vision arose which was to captivate the Western imagination for the next three hundred years: the vision of Cosmopolis, a society as rationally ordered as the Newtonian view of nature. While fueling extraordinary advances in all fields of human endeavor, this vision perpetuated a hidden yet persistent agenda: the delusion that human nature and society could be fitted into precise and manageable rational categories. Stephen Toulmin confronts that agenda—its illusions and its consequences for our present and future world.
"By showing how different the last three centuries would have been if Montaigne, rather than Descartes, had been taken as a starting point, Toulmin helps destroy the illusion that the Cartesian quest for certainty is intrinsic to the nature of science or philosophy."—Richard M. Rorty, University of Virginia
"[Toulmin] has now tackled perhaps his most ambitious theme of all. . . . His aim is nothing less than to lay before us an account of both the origins and the prospects of our distinctively modern world. By charting the evolution of modernity, he hopes to show us what intellectual posture we ought to adopt as we confront the coming millennium."—Quentin Skinner, New York Review of Books
The argument of Delirious Milton is that Milton's creative power is drawn from a rift at the center of his consciousness over the question of creation itself. This rift forces the poet to oscillate deliriously between two incompatible perspectives, at once affirming and denying the presence of spirit in what he creates. From one perspective, the act of creation is centered in God and the purpose of art is to imitate and praise the Creator. From the other perspective, the act of creation is centered in the human, in the built environment of the modern world.
Japan today is haunted by the ghosts its spectacular modernity has generated. Deep anxieties about the potential loss of national identity and continuity disturb many in Japan, despite widespread insistence that it has remained culturally intact. In this provocative conjoining of ethnography, history, and cultural criticism, Marilyn Ivy discloses these anxieties—and the attempts to contain them—as she tracks what she calls the vanishing: marginalized events, sites, and cultural practices suspended at moments of impending disappearance.
Ivy shows how a fascination with cultural margins accompanied the emergence of Japan as a modern nation-state. This fascination culminated in the early twentieth-century establishment of Japanese folklore studies and its attempts to record the spectral, sometimes violent, narratives of those margins. She then traces the obsession with the vanishing through a range of contemporary reconfigurations: efforts by remote communities to promote themselves as nostalgic sites of authenticity, storytelling practices as signs of premodern presence, mass travel campaigns, recallings of the dead by blind mediums, and itinerant, kabuki-inspired populist theater.
An engaging, beautifully written account by an ethnographer who lived in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Encompassing Others is at once a history of the encounter of two cultures and an attempt to challenge theoretically the main concepts that have informed the study of modernity. Going beyond accounts that grasp modernity solely in terms of domination, imperialism, and local resistance, it explores how capitalism, Christianity, and mass commercial culture enchant the senses, create a carnival of new goods, and open up new possibilities for thought and action.
Focusing on the Maring people of Highland New Guinea and on the Westerners who interacted with them, Edward LiPuma presents issues from the perspectives of both sides. We hear the voice of the Anglican priest from San Francisco as well as the most powerful Maring shamans. Further, the book seeks to develop a theory of generations that helps explain how change accelerates and societies take on new directions across generations.
Theoretical, descriptive, but almost entirely free of jargon, this book is intended for all those who are interested in how the West's encompassment of other peoples influences how these others conceive of their past, imagine their future, and experience the present. It will have wide appeal for anthropologists and others concerned with colonialism, globalization, and the formation of the nation-state.
Edward LiPuma is Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Miami.
Over the course of the past four decades Stephen J. Tonsor, professor emeritus of European intellectual history at the University of Michigan, has made a reputation within the conservative intellectual movement as a trenchant thinker, forceful writer, and witty, sometimes caustic, lecturer. But without a book to introduce his thought to the wider public, Tonsor has remained largely unknown outside conservative circles. For many readers, then, this generous collection, edited by historian Gregory Schneider, will serve as an enlightening introduction to the work of a man who is among the most penetrating of conservative thinkers. Equality, Decadence, and Modernity features substantial excerpts from Tonsor?s two book-length unpublished manuscripts, "Decadence" and "Equality," as well as insightful essays on conservative thought and politics. Among other pieces, this volume includes Tonsor?s controversial polemic, "Why I Too Am Not a Neoconservative." "Halfway from modernity is not far enough" , asserted Tonsor in this essay. Yet Tonsor?s critique of modernity, and much else, is complex and always intelligent. With the publication of Equality, Decadence, and Modernity, readers may now share in, and profit from, that intelligence.
Autobiography of the first half of the twentieth century was used variously by different groups of writers to interrogate, negotiate, and even to program the social and political progress of China. However, despite the popularity and success of this genre, it has also been the most forgotten in literary and historical discussions. Personal stories and individual expressions seem to have had no place in 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s China, smothered instead by the grander rhetoric of nationalism. For this reason, autobiography's popularity during the era is an odd phenomenon and also an important genre for study.
The May Fourth Era (1917-40) began as a movement to make the classical literary language accessible to the common people and became a broader political movement against imperialism. The writing of autobiography was influenced by the idea of literature's social and political mission, yet at the same time autobiography was a uniquely potent venue for individual expression. Janet Ng examines this notion in The Experience of Modernity within the framework of autobiographical writings by Chen Hengzhe, Lu Xun, Hu Shi, Xie Bingying, Xiao Hong, Eileen Chang, Yu Dafu, and Shen Congwen.
Janet Ng is Assistant Professor of Asian Literature, the College of Staten.
Conventional wisdom holds that globalization has made the world more modern, not less. But how has modernity been conceived of in colonial, postcolonial, and post-revolutionary worlds? In Figurations of Modernity, an international team of scholars probe how non-European worlds have become modern ones, from the perspective of a broad range of societies around the globe.
From vocational education in Argentina to secular morality in Tibet, from the construction of heroes in Central Asia to historical memory in Nigeria, this comprehensive volume reckons with the legacy of empire in a globalizing world. Enhanced by the perspectives of historians, anthropologists, and scholars of comparative education, Figurations of Modernity will be an essential book for those studying post-colonial nations across disciplines.
In Habitations of Modernity, Dipesh Chakrabarty explores the complexities of modernism in India and seeks principles of humaneness grounded in everyday life that may elude grand political theories. The questions that motivate Chakrabarty are shared by all postcolonial historians and anthropologists: How do we think about the legacy of the European Enlightenment in lands far from Europe in geography or history? How can we envision ways of being modern that speak to what is shared around the world, as well as to cultural diversity? How do we resist the tendency to justify the violence accompanying triumphalist moments of modernity?
Chakrabarty pursues these issues in a series of closely linked essays, ranging from a history of the influential Indian series Subaltern Studies to examinations of specific cultural practices in modern India, such as the use of khadi—Gandhian style of dress—by male politicians and the politics of civic consciousness in public spaces. He concludes with considerations of the ethical dilemmas that arise when one writes on behalf of social justice projects.
In this groundbreaking volume, Krzysztof Ziarek rethinks modern experience by bringing together philosophical critiques of modernity and avant-garde poetry. Ziarek explores, through selective readings of avant-garde poetry, the key aspects of the radical critique of experience: technology, everydayness, event, and sexual difference. To that extent, The Historicity of Experience is less a book about the avant-garde than a critique of experience through the avant-garde. Ziarek reads the avant-garde in dialogue with the work of some of the major critics of modernity (Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Jean-François Lyotard, and Luce Irigaray) to show how avant-garde experiments bear critically on the issue of modern experience and its technological organization.
The four poets Ziarek considers-Gertrude Stein, Velimir Khlebnikov, Miron Biaoszewski, and Susan Howe-demonstrate the broad reach of and variety of forms taken by the avant-garde revision of experience and aesthetics. Moreover, this quartet illustrates how the main operative concepts and strategies of the avant-garde underpinned the practices of canonical writers. A profound philosophical meditation on language, modernity, and the everyday, The Historicity of Experience offers a fundamental reconceptualization of the avant-garde in relation to experience.
"As Professor Fazlur Rahman shows in the latest of a series of important contributions to Islamic intellectual history, the characteristic problems of the Muslim modernists—the adaptation to the needs of the contemporary situation of a holy book which draws its specific examples from the conditions of the seventh century and earlier—are by no means new. . . . In Professor Rahman's view the intellectual and therefore the social development of Islam has been impeded and distorted by two interrelated errors. The first was committed by those who, in reading the Koran, failed to recognize the differences between general principles and specific responses to 'concrete and particular historical situations.' . . . This very rigidity gave rise to the second major error, that of the secularists. By teaching and interpreting the Koran in such a way as to admit of no change or development, the dogmatists had created a situation in which Muslim societies, faced with the imperative need to educate their people for life in the modern world, were forced to make a painful and self-defeating choice—either to abandon Koranic Islam, or to turn their backs on the modern world."—Bernard Lewis, New York Review of Books
"In this work, Professor Fazlur Rahman presents a positively ambitious blueprint for the transformation of the intellectual tradition of Islam: theology, ethics, philosophy and jurisprudence. Over the voices advocating a return to Islam or the reestablishment of the Sharia, the guide for action, he astutely and soberly asks: What and which Islam? More importantly, how does one get to 'normative' Islam? The author counsels, and passionately demonstrates, that for Islam to be actually what Muslims claim it to be—comprehensive in scope and efficacious for every age and place—Muslim scholars and educationists must reevaluate their methodology and hermeneutics. In spelling out the necessary and sound methodology, he is at once courageous, serious and profound."—Wadi Z. Haddad, American-Arab Affairs
This provocative account of the origins, influences, and legacy of Jungian psychology is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when first published in 1979. By delineating the social, personal, religious, and cultural contexts of Jung's system of psychology, Homans identifies the central role of depth psychology in the culture of modernity. In this new edition, Homans has added an extensive foreword linking the core of Jungian psychology to contemporary works it has shaped—such as those of M. Scott Peck and Clarissa Pinkola Estes—that proclaim the power of Jungian concepts and theories to heal the alienated and isolated self in today's world.
"Jung in Context is an intellectual triumph. . . . Utilizes the resources of biography, psychology, sociology, and theology to probe the genesis of a psychological system which is currently enjoying a wide following. . . . A splendid job."—Lewis R. Rambo, Psychiatry
"Anyone seeking an introduction to Jung's thought will find a masterful précis here."—Jan Goldstein, Journal of Sociology
"An unusually perceptive and clearly written book. . . . An important advance in the understanding of Jung, and Homans's methodology sets the stage for all future efforts to understand psychological innovators."—Herbert H. Stroup, Christian Century
Coping with the practical problems of bureaucracy is hampered by the limited self-conception and the constricted mindsets of mainstream public administration thinking. Modernist public administration theory, although valuable and capable of producing ever more remarkable results, is limiting as an explanatory and catalytic force in resolving fundamental problems about the nature, size, scope, and functioning of public bureaucracy and in transforming public bureaucracy into a more positive force.
This original study specifies a reflexive language paradigm for public administration thinking and shows how a postmodern perspective permits a revolution in the character of thinking about public bureaucracy. The author considers imagination, deconstruction, deterritorialization, and alterity. Farmer's work emphasizes the need for an expansion in the character and scope of public administration's disciplinary concerns and shows clearly how the study and practice of public administration can be reinvigorated.
Modernizing and colonizing forces brought nineteenth-century Sri Lankan Buddhists both challenges and opportunities. How did Buddhists deal with social and economic change; new forms of political, religious, and educational discourse; and Christianity? And how did Sri Lankan Buddhists, collaborating with other Asian Buddhists, respond to colonial rule? To answer these questions, Anne M. Blackburn focuses on the life of leading monk and educator Hikkaduve Sumangala (1827–1911) to examine more broadly Buddhist life under foreign rule.
In Locations of Buddhism, Blackburn reveals that during Sri Lanka’s crucial decades of deepening colonial control and modernization, there was a surprising stability in the central religious activities of Hikkaduve and the Buddhists among whom he worked. At the same time, they developed new institutions and forms of association, drawing on pre-colonial intellectual heritage as well as colonial-period technologies and discourse. Advocating a new way of studying the impact of colonialism on colonized societies, Blackburn is particularly attuned here to human experience, paying attention to the habits of thought and modes of affiliation that characterized individuals and smaller scale groups. Locations of Buddhism is a wholly original contribution to the study of Sri Lanka and the history of Buddhism more generally.
In 1935, after the death of dictator General Juan Vicente Gómez, Venezuela consolidated its position as the world's major oil exporter and began to establish what today is South America's longest-lasting democratic regime. Endowed with the power of state oil wealth, successive presidents appeared as transcendent figures who could magically transform Venezuela into a modern nation. During the 1974-78 oil boom, dazzling development projects promised finally to effect this transformation. Yet now the state must struggle to appease its foreign creditors, counter a declining economy, and contain a discontented citizenry. In critical dialogue with contemporary social theory, Fernando Coronil examines key transformations in Venezuela's polity, culture, and economy, recasting theories of development and highlighting the relevance of these processes for other postcolonial nations. The result is a timely and compelling historical ethnography of political power at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary reflections on modernity and the state.
An innovative cultural history of the evolution of modern marriage practices in Bengal, Marriage and Modernity challenges the assumption that arranged marriage is an antiquated practice. Rochona Majumdar demonstrates that in the late colonial period Bengali marriage practices underwent changes that led to a valorization of the larger, intergenerational family as a revered, “ancient” social institution, with arranged marriage as the apotheosis of an “Indian” tradition. She meticulously documents the ways that these newly embraced “traditions”—the extended family and arranged marriage—entered into competition and conversation with other emerging forms of kinship such as the modern unit of the couple, with both models participating promiscuously in the new “marketplace” for marriages, where matrimonial advertisements in the print media and the payment of dowry played central roles. Majumdar argues that together the kinship structures newly asserted as distinctively Indian and the emergence of the marriage market constituted what was and still is modern about marriages in India.
Majumdar examines three broad developments related to the modernity of arranged marriage: the growth of a marriage market, concomitant debates about consumption and vulgarity in the conduct of weddings, and the legal regulation of family property and marriages. Drawing on matrimonial advertisements, wedding invitations, poems, photographs, legal debates, and a vast periodical literature, she shows that the modernization of families does not necessarily imply a transition from extended kinship to nuclear family structures, or from matrimonial agreements negotiated between families to marriage contracts between individuals. Colonial Bengal tells a very different story.
A familiar cultural presence for people the world over, “the whiteman” has come to personify the legacy of colonialism, the face of Western modernity, and the force of globalization. Focusing on the cultural meanings of whitemen in the Orokaiva society of Papua New Guinea, this book provides a fresh approach to understanding how race is symbolically constructed and why racial stereotypes endure in the face of counterevidence.
While Papua New Guinea’s resident white population has been severely reduced due to postcolonial white flight, the whiteman remains a significant racial and cultural other here—not only as an archetype of power and wealth in the modern arena, but also as a foil for people’s evaluations of themselves within vernacular frames of meaning. As Ira Bashkow explains, ideas of self versus other need not always be anti-humanistic or deprecatory, but can be a creative and potentially constructive part of all cultures.
A brilliant analysis of whiteness and race in a non-Western society, The Meaning of Whitemen turns traditional ethnography to the purpose of understanding how others see us.
During the 1920s and 1930s, in cities from Beijing to Bombay, Tokyo to Berlin, Johannesburg to New York, the Modern Girl made her sometimes flashy, always fashionable appearance in city streets and cafes, in films, advertisements, and illustrated magazines. Modern Girls wore sexy clothes and high heels; they applied lipstick and other cosmetics. Dressed in provocative attire and in hot pursuit of romantic love, Modern Girls appeared on the surface to disregard the prescribed roles of dutiful daughter, wife, and mother. Contemporaries debated whether the Modern Girl was looking for sexual, economic, or political emancipation, or whether she was little more than an image, a hollow product of the emerging global commodity culture. The contributors to this collection track the Modern Girl as she emerged as a global phenomenon in the interwar period.
Scholars of history, women’s studies, literature, and cultural studies follow the Modern Girl around the world, analyzing her manifestations in Germany, Australia, China, Japan, France, India, the United States, Russia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Along the way, they demonstrate how the economic structures and cultural flows that shaped a particular form of modern femininity crossed national and imperial boundaries. In so doing, they highlight the gendered dynamics of interwar processes of racial formation, showing how images and ideas of the Modern Girl were used to shore up or critique nationalist and imperial agendas. A mix of collaborative and individually authored chapters, the volume concludes with commentaries by Kathy Peiss, Miriam Silverberg, and Timothy Burke.
Contributors: Davarian L. Baldwin, Tani E. Barlow, Timothy Burke, Liz Conor, Madeleine Yue Dong, Anne E. Gorsuch, Ruri Ito, Kathy Peiss, Uta G. Poiger, Priti Ramamurthy, Mary Louise Roberts, Barbara Sato, Miriam Silverberg, Lynn M. Thomas, Alys Eve Weinbaum
What role does ritual play in the everyday lives of modern Africans? How are so-called "traditional" cultural forms deployed by people seeking empowerment in a world where "modernity" has failed to deliver on its promises?
Some of the essays in Modernity and Its Malcontents address familiar anthropological issues—like witchcraft, myth, and the politics of reproduction—but treat them in fresh ways, situating them amidst the polyphonies of contemporary Africa. Others explore distinctly nontraditional subjects—among them the Nigerian popular press and soul-eating in Niger—in such a way as to confront the conceptual limits of Western social science. Together they demonstrate how ritual may be powerfuly mobilized in the making of history, present, and future.
Addressing challenges posed by contemporary African realities, the authors subject such concepts as modernity, ritual, power, and history to renewed critical scrutiny. Writing about a variety of phenomena, they are united by a wish to preserve the diversity and historical specificity of local signs and practices, voices and perspectives. Their work makes a substantial and original contribution toward the historical anthropology of Africa.
The contributors, all from the Africanist circle at the University of Chicago, are Adeline Masquelier, Deborah Kaspin, J. Lorand Matory, Ralph A. Austen, Andrew Apter, Misty L. Bastian, Mark Auslander, and Pamela G. Schmoll.
Modernity and Power provides a fresh conceptual overview of twentieth-century United States foreign policy, from the Roosevelt and Taft administrations through the presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson. Beginning with Woodrow Wilson, American leaders gradually abandoned the idea of international relations as a game of geopolitical interplays, basing their diplomacy instead on a symbolic opposition between "world public opinion" and the forces of destruction and chaos. Frank Ninkovich provocatively links this policy shift to the rise of a distinctly modernist view of history.
To emphasize the central role of symbolism and ideological assumptions in twentieth-century American statesmanship, Ninkovich focuses on the domino theory—a theory that departed radically from classic principles of political realism by sanctioning intervention in world regions with few financial or geographic claims on the national interest. Ninkovich insightfully traces the development of this global strategy from its first appearance early in the century through the Vietnam war.
Throughout the book, Ninkovich draws on primary sources to recover the worldview of the policy makers. He carefully assesses the coherence of their views rather than judge their actions against "objective" realities. Offering a new alternative to realpolitic and economic explanations of foreign policy, Modernity and Power will change the way we think about the history of U.S. international relations.
Breaks new critical ground by exploring philosophical and aesthetic issues germane to the writings of three major modern literary figures.
In the 1920s and ‘30s, understandings of time, place, and civilization were subjected to a barrage of new conceptions. Ronald Berman probes the work of three writers who wrestled with one or more of these issues in ways of lasting significance.
Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Orwell all grappled with fluid notions of time: Hemingway’s absolute present, Fitzgerald’s obsession with what might be and what might have been, and Orwell’s concerns with progress. For these authors, progress is also tied to competing senses of place--for Fitzgerald, the North versus the South; for Hemingway, America versus Europe. At stake for each is an understanding of what constitutes true civilization in a post-war world. Berman discusses Hemingway’s deployment of language in tackling the problems of thinking and knowing. Berman follows this notion further in examining the indisputable impact upon Hemingway’s prose of Paul Cézanne’s painting and the nature of perception.
Finally, Berman considers the influence on Orwell of Aristotle and Freud’s ideas of civilization, translated by Orwell into the fabric of 1984 and other writings.
Ronald Berman is Professor of English at the University of California at San Diego and past chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is author of six books, including “The Great Gatsby” and Fitzgerald’s World of Ideas and Fitzgerald-Wilson-Hemingway: Language and Experience.
What would an Islamic modernism look like? The question is a pressing one, as cultures rebel against modernity in its almost exclusively European forms. Alev Cinar's groundbreaking examination of contemporary Turkey, which stands at the threshold of East and West, of religious and secular nationalism, explores modernity through daily practices and the social construction of identity and political agency in relation to nationalism, secularism, and Islam. Focusing on developments of the 1990s, Modernity, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey argues that Islamist ideology generated an alternative modernization project, which applied the same strategies and techniques as that of the modernizing state to produce and institutionalize its own version of an equally thorough nationalist program. Using local details and debates - including a fascinating discussion of veiling as symbolic of both the "liberation" of Western appearance and the Islamists' struggle to rescue their nation's culture - Cinar reveals modernity as a transformative intervention in bodies, places, and times.Bringing a much-needed critical theory approach to bear on the politics of an Islamic nation, Cinar's work introduces a new way of conceptualizing modernity based on the analysis of a non-Western context.
Stressing the variations in meaning of modernity and tradition, this work shows how in India traditional structures and norms have been adapted or transformed to serve the needs of a modernizing society. The persistence of traditional features within modernity, it suggests, answers a need of the human condition.
Three areas of Indian life are analyzed: social stratification, charismatic leadership, and law. The authors question whether objective historical conditions, such as advanced industrialization, urbanization, or literacy, are requisites for political modernization.
Modernity on Endless Trial
Leszek Kolakowski University of Chicago Press, 1990 Library of Congress CB430.K64 1990 | Dewey Decimal 909.82
Leszek Kolakowski delves into some of the most intellectually vigorous questions of our time in this remarkable collection of essays garnished with his characteristic wit. Ten of the essays have never appeared before in English.
"Exemplary. . . . It should be celebrated." —Arthur C. Danto, New York Times Book Review
"This book . . . express[es] Kolakowski's thought on God, man, reason, history, moral truth and original sin, prompted by observation of the dramatic struggle among Christianity, the Enlightenment and modern totalitarianism. It is a wonderful collection of topics." —Thomas Nagel, Times Literary Supplement
"No better antidote to bumper-sticker thinking exists than this collection of 24 'appeals for moderation in consistency,' and never has such an antidote been needed more than it is now." —Joseph Coates, Chicago Tribune
"Whether learned or humorous, these essays offer gems in prose of diamond hardness, precision, and brilliance." —Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor
A "Notable Books of the Year 1991" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Noted with Pleasure" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Summer Reading 1991" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Books of the Year" selection, The Times.
The late-Victorian discovery of the music hall by English intellectuals marks a crucial moment in the history of popular culture. Music Hall and Modernity demonstrates how such pioneering cultural critics as Arthur Symons and Elizabeth Robins Pennell used the music hall to secure and promote their professional identity as guardians of taste and national welfare. These social arbiters were, at the same time, devotees of the spontaneous culture of “the people.”
In examining fiction from Walter Besant, Hall Caine, and Henry Nevinson, performance criticism from William Archer and Max Beerbohm, and late-Victorian controversies over philanthropy and moral reform, scholar Barry Faulk argues that discourse on music-hall entertainment helped consolidate the identity and tastes of an emergent professional class. Critics and writers legitimized and cleaned up the music hall, at the same time allowing issues of class, respect, and empowerment to be negotiated.
Music Hall and Modernity offers a complex view of the new middle-class, middlebrow mass culture of late-Victorian London and contributes to a body of scholarship on nineteenth-century urbanism. The book will also interest scholars concerned with the emergence of a professional managerial class and the genealogy of cultural studies.
In Myths of Modernity, Elizabeth Dore rethinks Nicaragua’s transition to capitalism. Arguing against the idea that the country’s capitalist transformation was ushered in by the coffee boom that extended from 1870 to 1930, she maintains that coffee growing gave rise to systems of landowning and labor exploitation that impeded rather than promoted capitalist development. Dore places gender at the forefront of her analysis, which demonstrates that patriarchy was the organizing principle of the coffee economy’s debt-peonage system until the 1950s. She examines the gendered dynamics of daily life in Diriomo, a township in Nicaragua’s Granada region, tracing the history of the town’s Indian community from its inception in the colonial era to its demise in the early twentieth century.
Dore seamlessly combines archival research, oral history, and an innovative theoretical approach that unites political economy with social history. She recovers the bygone voices of peons, planters, and local officials within documents such as labor contracts, court records, and official correspondence. She juxtaposes these historical perspectives with those of contemporary peasants, landowners, activists, and politicians who share memories passed down to the present. The reconceptualization of the coffee economy that Dore elaborates has far-reaching implications. The Sandinistas mistakenly believed, she contends, that Nicaraguan capitalism was mature and ripe for socialist revolution, and after their victory in 1979 that belief led them to alienate many peasants by ignoring their demands for land. Thus, the Sandinistas’ myths of modernity contributed to their downfall.
Presenting a vivid social history of “the new woman” who emerged in Japanese culture between the world wars, The New Japanese Woman shows how images of modern women burst into Japanese life in the midst of the urbanization, growth of the middle class, and explosion of consumerism resulting from the postwar economic boom, particularly in the 1920s. Barbara Sato analyzes the icons that came to represent the new urban femininity—the “modern girl,” the housewife, and the professional working woman. She describes how these images portrayed in the media shaped and were shaped by women’s desires. Although the figures of the modern woman by no means represented all Japanese women, they did challenge the myth of a fixed definition of femininity—particularly the stereotype emphasizing gentleness and meekness—and generate a new set of possibilities for middle-class women within the context of consumer culture. The New Japanese Woman is rich in descriptive detail and full of fascinating vignettes from Japan’s interwar media and consumer industries—department stores, film, radio, popular music and the publishing industry. Sato pays particular attention to the enormously influential role of the women’s magazines, which proliferated during this period. She describes the different kinds of magazines, their stories and readerships, and the new genres the emerged at the time, including confessional pieces, articles about family and popular trends, and advice columns. Examining reactions to the images of the modern girl, the housewife, and the professional woman, Sato shows that while these were not revolutionary figures, they caused anxiety among male intellectuals, government officials, and much of the public at large, and they contributed to the significant changes in gender relations in Japan following the Second World War.
In the second of a proposed three-volume study, John and Jean Comaroff continue their exploration of colonial evangelism and modernity in South Africa. Moving beyond the opening moments of the encounter between the British Nonconformist missions and the Southern Tswana peoples, Of Revelation and Revolution, Volume II, explores the complex transactions—both epic and ordinary—among the various dramatis personae along this colonial frontier.
The Comaroffs trace many of the major themes of twentieth-century South African history back to these formative encounters. The relationship between the British evangelists and the Southern Tswana engendered complex exchanges of goods, signs, and cultural markers that shaped not only African existence but also bourgeois modernity "back home" in England. We see, in this volume, how the colonial attempt to "civilize" Africa set in motion a dialectical process that refashioned the everyday lives of all those drawn into its purview, creating hybrid cultural forms and potent global forces which persist in the postcolonial age.
This fascinating study shows how the initiatives of the colonial missions collided with local traditions, giving rise to new cultural practices, new patterns of production and consumption, new senses of style and beauty, and new forms of class distinction and ethnicity. As noted by reviewers of the first volume, the Comaroffs have succeeded in providing a model for the study of colonial encounters. By insisting on its dialectical nature, they demonstrate that colonialism can no longer be seen as a one-sided relationship between the conquering and the conquered. It is, rather, a complex system of reciprocal determinations, one whose legacy is very much with us today.
River of Tears is the first ethnography of Brazilian country music, one of the most popular genres in Brazil yet least-known outside it. Beginning in the mid-1980s, commercial musical duos practicing música sertaneja reached beyond their home in Brazil’s central-southern region to become national bestsellers. Rodeo events revolving around country music came to rival soccer matches in attendance. A revival of folkloric rural music called música caipira, heralded as música sertaneja’s ancestor, also took shape. And all the while, large numbers of Brazilians in the central-south were moving to cities, using music to support the claim that their Brazil was first and foremost a rural nation.
Since 1998, Alexander Sebastian Dent has analyzed rural music in the state of São Paulo, interviewing and spending time with listeners, musicians, songwriters, journalists, record-company owners, and radio hosts. Dent not only describes the production and reception of this music, he also explains why the genre experienced such tremendous growth as Brazil transitioned from an era of dictatorship to a period of intense neoliberal reform. Dent argues that rural genres reflect a widespread anxiety that change has been too radical and has come too fast. In defining their music as rural, Brazil’s country musicians—whose work circulates largely in cities—are criticizing an increasingly inescapable urban life characterized by suppressed emotions and an inattentiveness to the past. Their performances evoke a river of tears flowing through a landscape of loss—of love, of life in the countryside, and of man’s connections to the natural world.
Romanticism is a worldview that finds expression over a whole range of cultural fields—not only in literature and art but in philosophy, theology, political theory, and social movements. In Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre formulate a theory that defines romanticism as a cultural protest against modern bourgeois industrial civilization and work to reveal the unity that underlies the extraordinary diversity of romanticism from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. After critiquing previous conceptions of romanticism and discussing its first European manifestations, Löwy and Sayre propose a typology of the sociopolitical positions held by romantic writers-from “restitutionist” to various revolutionary/utopian forms. In subsequent chapters, they give extended treatment to writers as diverse as Coleridge and Ruskin, Charles Peguy, Ernst Bloch and Christa Wolf. Among other topics, they discuss the complex relationship between Marxism and romanticism before closing with a reflection on more contemporary manifestations of romanticism (for example, surrealism, the events of May 1968, and the ecological movement) as well as its future. Students and scholars of literature, humanities, social sciences, and cultural studies will be interested in this elegant and thoroughly original book.
Ruins of Modernity
Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle, eds. Duke University Press, 2009 Library of Congress CB425.R85 2010 | Dewey Decimal 909.83
Images of ruins may represent the raw realities created by bombs, natural disasters, or factory closings, but the way we see and understand ruins is not raw or unmediated. Rather, looking at ruins, writing about them, and representing them are acts framed by a long tradition. This unique interdisciplinary collection traces discourses about and representations of ruins from a richly contextualized perspective. In the introduction, Julia Hell and Andreas Schönle discuss how European modernity emerged partly through a confrontation with the ruins of the premodern past.
Several contributors discuss ideas about ruins developed by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Simmel, and Walter Benjamin. One contributor examines how W. G. Sebald’s novel The Rings of Saturn betrays the ruins erased or forgotten in the Hegelian philosophy of history. Another analyzes the repressed specter of being bombed out of existence that underpins post-Second World War modernist architecture, especially Le Corbusier’s plans for Paris. Still another compares the ways that formerly dominant white populations relate to urban-industrial ruins in Detroit and to colonial ruins in Namibia. Other topics include atomic ruins at a Nevada test site, the connection between the cinema and ruins, the various narratives that have accrued around the Inca ruin of Vilcashuamán, Tolstoy’s response in War and Peace to the destruction of Moscow in the fire of 1812, the Nazis’ obsession with imperial ruins, and the emergence in Mumbai of a new “kinetic city” on what some might consider the ruins of a modernist city. By focusing on the concept of ruin, this collection sheds new light on modernity and its vast ramifications and complexities.
Contributors. Kerstin Barndt, Jon Beasley-Murray, Russell A. Berman, Jonathan Bolton, Svetlana Boym, Amir Eshel, Julia Hell, Daniel Herwitz, Andreas Huyssen, Rahul Mehrotra, Johannes von Moltke, Vladimir Paperny, Helen Petrovsky, Todd Presner, Helmut Puff, Alexander Regier, Eric Rentschler, Lucia Saks, Andreas Schönle, Tatiana Smoliarova, George Steinmetz, Jonathan Veitch, Gustavo Verdesio, Anthony Vidler
The rich conceptual and experiential relays between music and philosophy—echoes of what Theodor W. Adorno once called Klangfiguren, or "sound figures"—resonate with heightened intensity during the period of modernity that extends from early German Idealism to the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. This volume traces the political, historical, and philosophical trajectories of a specifically German tradition in which thinkers take recourse to music, both as an aesthetic practice and as the object of their speculative work.
The contributors examine the texts of such highly influential writers and thinkers as Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bloch, Mann, Adorno, and Lukács in relation to individual composers including Beethoven, Wagner, Schönberg, and Eisler. Their explorations of the complexities that arise in conceptualizing music as a mode of representation and philosophy as a mode of aesthetic practice thematize the ways in which the fields of music and philosophy are altered when either attempts to express itself in terms defined by the other.
Contributors: Albrecht Betz, Lydia Goehr, Beatrice Hanssen, Jost Hermand, David Farrell Krell, Ludger Lütkehaus, Margaret Moore, Rebekah Pryor Paré, Gerhard Richter, Hans Rudolf Vaget, Samuel Weber
In Sweet Reason, Susan Wells presents a rhetorical model for understanding the diverse discourses of modernity. Wells describes modernity as a system of texts which we are only now learning to read. In order to comprehend how these texts organize our world, she argues, we must grasp how reason and desire interact to create meaning. To this end, Wells offers a rhetoric based on an understanding of meaning as intersubjectivity created through the work of language. Wells elaborates this "rhetoric of intersubjectivity" by drawing on both Jürgen Habermas's concept of communicative rationality and on Jacques Lacan's theory of desire, affirming the significance of reason and desire for rhetorical studies. From scientific articles to classroom altercations, contemporary government hearings to Mantaigne's Essays, Wells organizes several using rhetoric as an art, and she shows how rhetoric operates in practice.
Susan Wells is associate professor of English at Temple University.
Exposing the religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests. Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology.
“Bringing the history of political thought up to date and situating it against the backdrop of contemporary events, Gillespie’s analyses provide us a way to begin to have conversations with the Islamic world about what is perhaps the central question within each of the three monotheistic religions: if God is omnipotent, then what is the place of human freedom?”—Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University
Best known for his two-year sojourn at Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau is often considered a recluse who emerged from solitude only occasionally to take a stand on the issues of his day. In Thoreau’s Democratic Withdrawal, Shannon L. Mariotti explores Thoreau’s nature writings to offer a new way of understanding the unique politics of the so-called hermit of Walden Pond. Drawing imaginatively from the twentieth-century German social theorist Theodor W. Adorno, she shows how withdrawal from the public sphere can paradoxically be a valuable part of democratic politics.
Separated by time, space, and context, Thoreau and Adorno share a common belief that critical inquiry is essential to democracy but threatened by modern society. While walking, huckleberrying, and picking wild apples, Thoreau tries to recover the capacities for independent perception and thought that are blunted by “Main Street,” conventional society, and the rapidly industrializing world that surrounded him. Adorno’s thoughts on particularity and the microscopic gaze he employs to work against the alienated experience of modernity help us better understand the value of Thoreau’s excursions into nature. Reading Thoreau with Adorno, we see how periodic withdrawals from public spaces are not necessarily apolitical or apathetic but can revitalize our capacity for the critical thought that truly defines democracy.
In graceful, readable prose, Mariotti reintroduces us to a celebrated American thinker, offers new insights on Adorno, and highlights the striking common ground they share. Their provocative and challenging ideas, she shows, still hold lessons on how we can be responsible citizens in a society that often discourages original, critical analysis of public issues.
The Universal Jew analyzes literary images of the Jewish nation and the Jewish national subject at Zionism’s formative moment. In a series of original readings of late nineteenth-century texts—from George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda to Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland to the bildungsromane of Russian Hebrew and Yiddish writers—Mikhal Dekel demonstrates the aesthetic and political function of literary works in the making of early Zionist consciousness. More than half a century before the foundation of the State of Israel and prior to the establishment of the Zionist political movement, Zionism emerges as an imaginary concept in literary texts that create, facilitate, and naturalize the transition from Jewish-minority to Jewish-majority culture. The transition occurs, Dekel argues, mainly through the invention of male literary characters and narrators who come to represent "exemplary" persons or "man in general" for the emergent, still unformed national community.
Such prototypical characters transform the symbol of the Jew from a racially or religiously defined minority subject to a "post-Jewish," particularuniversal, and fundamentally liberal majority subject. The Universal Jew situates the "Zionist moment" horizontally, within the various intellectual currents that make up the turn of the twentieth century: the discourse on modernity, the crisis in liberalism, Nietzsche’s critique of the Enlightenment, psychoanalysis, early feminism, and fin de siècle interrogation of sexual identities. The book examines the symbolic roles that Jews are assigned within these discourses and traces the ways in which Jewish literary citizens are shaped, both out of and in response to them. Beginning with an analysis of George Eliot’s construction of the character Deronda and its reception in Zionist circles, the Universal Jew ends with the self-fashioning of male citizens in fin de siècle and post-statehood Hebrew works, through the aesthetics oftragedy. Throughout her readings, Dekel analyzes the political meaning of these nascent images of citizens, uncovering in particular the gendered arrangements out of which they are born.
Visions of the Emerald City is an absorbing historical analysis of how Mexicans living in Oaxaca City experienced “modernity” during the lengthy “Order and Progress” dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911). Renowned as the Emerald City (for its many buildings made of green cantera stone), Oaxaca City was not only the economic, political, and cultural capital of the state of Oaxaca but also a vital commercial hub for all of southern Mexico. As such, it was a showcase for many of Díaz’s modernizing and state-building projects. Drawing on in-depth research in archives in Oaxaca, Mexico City, and the United States, Mark Overmyer-Velázquez describes how Oaxacans, both elites and commoners, crafted and manipulated practices of tradition and modernity to define themselves and their city as integral parts of a modern Mexico.
Incorporating a nuanced understanding of visual culture into his analysis, Overmyer-Velázquez shows how ideas of modernity figured in Oaxacans’ ideologies of class, race, gender, sexuality, and religion and how they were expressed in Oaxaca City’s streets, plazas, buildings, newspapers, and public rituals. He pays particular attention to the roles of national and regional elites, the Catholic church, and popular groups—such as Oaxaca City’s madams and prostitutes—in shaping the discourses and practices of modernity. At the same time, he illuminates the dynamic interplay between these groups. Ultimately, this well-illustrated history provides insight into provincial life in pre-Revolutionary Mexico and challenges any easy distinctions between the center and the periphery or modernity and tradition.
For sociologist Henning Bech, the image of the male homosexual has become emblematic of the modern urban condition, in which freedom and mobility contend with transience and superficiality, in which possibility, energy, and engagement vie with uncertainty and restlessness. In this powerful and frankly provocative critique, Bech skillfully examines the distinctive relationship between urban modernism and the gay experience, exploring in compelling fashion its growing ramifications for the cultural mainstream.
Gay society has persevered, even flourished, in this highly charged urban environment, aestheticizing and sexualizing the spaces, both public and private, where men meet. With profound insight and honesty, Bech details this world, candidly reflecting on sex, friendship, love, and life as manifest in the homosexual form of existence. He convincingly demonstrates that, in the face of modern alienation, successful coping strategies developed by gay men are gradually being adopted by mainstream heterosexual society.
These adaptations are often masked by what Bech calls an "absent homosexuality, " in which sublimated themes of homosexuality and masculine love surface, only to be disavowed in expressions of social anxiety. This "absent homosexuality" acts as a kind of cultural filter, allowing key traits of gay life to be absorbed by the mainstream, while shielding heterosexual males from their own homophobic anxieties. Ultimately, Bech foresees, a postmodern convergence of hetero- and homosexual forms of exisce emergent from this urban landscape and, with it, a new masculine synthesis.
Certain to ignite immediate controversy, When Men Meet offers both a penetrating scholarly analysis of the modern homosexual condition and an unflinching cultural vision of the masculine in transition.