The concept of “indigenous” has been entwined with notions of exoticism and alterity throughout Mexico’s history. In Beyond Alterity, authors from across disciplines question the persistent association between indigenous people and radical difference, and demonstrate that alterity is often the product of specific political contexts.
Although previous studies have usually focused on the most visible aspects of differences—cosmovision, language, customs, resistance—the contributors to this volume show that emphasizing difference prevents researchers from seeing all the social phenomena where alterity is not obvious. Those phenomena are equally or even more constitutive of social life and include property relations (especially individual or private ones), participation in national projects, and the use of national languages.
The category of “indigenous” has commonly been used as if it were an objective term referring to an already given social subject. Beyond Alterity shows how this usage overlooks the fact that the social markers of differentiation (language, race or ethnic group, phenotype) are historical and therefore unstable. In opposition to any reification of geographical, cultural, or social boundaries, this volume shows that people who (self-)identify as indigenous share a multitude of practices with the rest of society and that the association between indigenous identification and alterity is the product of a specific political history.
Beyond Alterity is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding indigenous identity, race, and Mexican history and politics.
Michael T. Ducey
Paul K. Eiss
José Luis Escalona-Victoria
Vivette García Deister
Paula López Caballero
Diana Lynn Schwartz
From vividly colored underwater photographs of Australia's Great Barrier Reef to life-size dioramas re-creating coral reefs and the bounty of life they sustained, the work of early twentieth-century explorers and photographers fed the public's fascination with reefs. In the 1920s John Ernest Williamson in the Bahamas and Frank Hurley in Australia produced mass-circulated and often highly staged photographs and films that cast corals as industrious, colonizing creatures, and the undersea as a virgin, unexplored, and fantastical territory. In Coral Empire Ann Elias traces the visual and social history of Williamson and Hurley and how their modern media spectacles yoked the tropics and coral reefs to colonialism, racism, and the human domination of nature. Using the labor and knowledge of indigenous peoples while exoticizing and racializing them as inferior Others, Williamson and Hurley sustained colonial fantasies about people of color and the environment as endless resources to be plundered. As Elias demonstrates, their reckless treatment of the sea prefigured attitudes that caused the environmental crises that the oceans and reefs now face.
In Essential Vulnerabilities, Deborah Achtenberg contests Emmanuel Levinas’s idea that Plato is a philosopher of freedom for whom thought is a return to the self. To the contrary, she agrees, Plato, like Levinas, is a philosopher of the other. While they share the view that human beings are essentially vulnerable and in relation to others, they conceive human vulnerability and responsiveness differently.
For Plato, when ones see beauty in others, one is overwhelmed by the beauty of what is, by the vision of eternal form. For Levinas, on the other hand, we are disrupted by the newness, foreignness, or singularity of the other. For him, the other is not eternal, but new or foreign. The other is an unknowable singularity. By bringing into focus these similarities and differences, Achtenberg resituates Plato in relation to Levinas and opens up two contrasting ways that self is essentially in relation to others.
In his first book, Listening Subjects, David Schwarz succeeded in fusing post-Lacanian psychoanalytic, musical-theoretical, and musical-historical perspectives. In Listening Awry, he expands his project to “tell a story of historical modernism writ large”—how German music spanning two centuries refracts changes in society and culture, as well as the impacts of concepts introduced by psychoanalysis.Schwarz shows how post-Lacanian psychoanalysis can be applied to ideological interpellation that connects psychoanalysis to culture and how music theory can ground these considerations in precise details of musical textuality. He “listens awry” in several ways: by understanding musical meaning in both objective and socially structured ways, by embracing historical and also aesthetic approaches, by addressing high art as well as popular music, and by listening “around” conventional forms of musical meaning to reach toward that which evades signification.Structured around four themes—trauma, the other/Other, the look/gaze binary, and Judaism—Listening Awry explores five key moments in post-Enlightenment music: the rise of the singular orchestral conductor and the emergence of a new form of alterity, the Art Song and “the sublime of the delicate” (a correlate of the Kantian mathematical and dynamical sublime), the birth of psychoanalysis and the twentieth-century turn toward atonality, German war songs and the subversion of German music by the Nazis, and two different versions of Wagner’s Parsifal that were performed one hundred years apart and in radically different contexts.This highly original work, filled with imaginative readings and disquieting observations, links trauma with the culture and history of modernity and German music, deftly tying the experience of the body to the sounds it hears: how it reaches us slowly, penetrates the skin, and resonates.David Schwarz is assistant professor of music at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Listening Subjects: Music, Psychoanalysis, Culture.
Tanja Stähler and Alexander Kozin’s elegant translation of Bernhard Waldenfels’s Phenomenology of the Alien (Grundmotive einer Phänomenologie des Fremden) introduces the English readership to the philosophy of alien-experience, a multifaceted and multidimensional phenomenon that permeates our everyday experiences of the life-world with immediate implications for the ways we conduct our social, political, and ethical affairs.
With impressive erudition Waldenfels weaves in xenological themes from classical philosophy, contemporary phenomenology, literature, linguistics, sociology, and anthropology to address the boundaries of experience that unite and separate human beings, their collectives, their perceptions, and aspirations. While the debate has long raged in German-speaking circles, Waldenfels’s work is largely unavailable to the English-speaking audience, with the only other translation being The Order in the Twilight (1996). Phenomenology of the Alien is a superb introduction to both xenological phenomenology, and the the question of the alien as it has been unfolding in contemporary thought.
"I don't know of any other book that deals with the hermeneutical problem of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in the way this one does. Full of cunning and unpredictable turns, Prodigal Son/Elder Brother addresses the question of the elder brother's fate by opposing two sets of readings, Christian and Jewish, ancient and modern, figural and midrashic. No one, after reading this book, will any longer connect Judaism and Christianity with a hyphen."—Gerald L. Burns, University of Notre Dame
"Through a creative reading of the prodigal son parable, Jill Robbins demonstrates the hermeneutical impasse of the Christian exegete who must and yet cannot incorporate the Old Testament. Having disclosed the aporia at the heart of Christian hermeneutics, she proposes an alternative approach to the Hebrew Bible and new interpretations of Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, and Levinas. Robbins brilliantly integrates the discourses of biblical texts, literary works, and critical analysis."—Mark C. Taylor, Williams College
Western women’s involvement in Persia dates from the mid-nineteenth century, when female adventurers and missionaries first encountered their veiled Muslim “sisters.” Twentieth-century Western and state-sponsored Iranian feminists continued to use the image of the veiled woman as the embodiment of backwardness. Yet, following the 1979 revolution, indigenous Iranian feminists became more vocal in their resistance to this characterization.
In Rethinking Global Sisterhood, Nima Naghibi makes powerful connections among feminism, imperialism, and the discourses of global sisterhood. Naghibi investigates topics including the state-sponsored Women’s Organization of Iran and the involvement of feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in the Iranian feminism movement before and during the 1979 revolution. With a potent analysis of cinema, she examines the veiled woman in the films of Tahmineh Milani, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Kim Longinotto, and Mahnaz Afzali.
At a time when Western relations with the Muslim world are in crisis, Rethinking Global Sisterhood provides much-needed insights and explores the limitations and possibilities of cross-cultural feminist social and political interventions.
Nima Naghibi is assistant professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto.
From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Europeans struggled to understand their identity in the same way we do as individuals: by comparing themselves to others. In Savages, Romans, and Despots, Robert Launay takes us on a fascinating tour of early modern and modern history in an attempt to untangle how various depictions of “foreign” cultures and civilizations saturated debates about religion, morality, politics, and art.
Beginning with Mandeville and Montaigne, and working through Montesquieu, Diderot, Gibbon, Herder, and others, Launay traces how Europeans both admired and disdained unfamiliar societies in their attempts to work through the inner conflicts of their own social worlds. Some of these writers drew caricatures of “savages,” “Oriental despots,” and “ancient” Greeks and Romans. Others earnestly attempted to understand them. But, throughout this history, comparative thinking opened a space for critical reflection. At its worst, such space could give rise to a sense of European superiority. At its best, however, it could prompt awareness of the value of other ways of being in the world. Launay’s masterful survey of some of the Western tradition’s finest minds offers a keen exploration of the genesis of the notion of “civilization,” as well as an engaging portrait of the promises and perils of cross-cultural comparison.
In the rigorous and highly original Self-Awareness and Alterity, Dan Zahavi provides a sustained argument that phenomenology, especially in its Husserlian version, can make a decisive contribution to discussions of self-awareness. Engaging with debates within both analytic philosophy (Elizabeth Anscombe, John Perry, Sydney Shoemaker, Héctor-Neri Castañeda, David Rosenthal) and contemporary German philosophy (Dieter Henrich, Manfred Frank, Ernst Tugendhat), Zahavi argues that the phenomenological tradition has much more to offer when it comes to the problem of self-awareness than is normally assumed.
As a contribution to the current philosophical debate concerning self-awareness, the book presents a comprehensive reconstruction of Husserl’s theory of pre-reflective self-awareness, thereby criticizing a number of prevalent interpretations. In addition, Zahavi also offers a systematic discussion of a number of phenomenological insights related to the issue of self-awareness, including analyses of the temporal, intentional, reflexive, bodily, and social nature of the self.
The new edition of this prize-winning book has been updated and revised, and all quotations have been translated into English. It also contains a new preface in which Zahavi traces the developments of the debates around self-awareness over the last twenty years and situates this book in the context of his subsequent work.
Winner of the 2000 The Edward Goodwin Ballard Prize in Phenomenology
In the rigorous and highly original Self-Awareness and Alterity, Dan Zahavi provides a sustained argument that phenomenology, especially in its Husserlian version, can contribute something decisive to the analysis of self-awareness. Taking on recent discussions within both analytical philosophy (Shoemaker, Castaneda, Nagel) and contemporary German philosophy (Henrich, Frank, Tugendhat), Zahavi argues that the phenomenological tradition has much more to offer when it comes to the problem of self-awareness than is normally assumed. As a contribution to the current philosophical debate concerning self-awareness, the book presents a comprehensive reconstruction of Husserl's theory of pre-reflective self-awareness, thereby criticizing a number of prevalent interpretations and a systematic discussion of a number of phenomenological insights related to this issue, including analyses of the temporal, intentional, reflexive, bodily, and social nature of the self.
An influential thinker on the concept of singularity and its implications on politics, theology, economics, psychoanalysis, and literature
For readers versed in critical theory, German and comparative literature, or media studies, a new book by Samuel Weber is essential reading. Singularity is no exception. Bringing together two decades of his essays, it hones in on the surprising implications of the singular and its historical relation to the individual in politics, theology, economics, psychoanalysis, and literature. Although singularity has long been a keyword in literary studies and philosophy, never has it been explored as in this book, which distinguishes singularity as an “aporetic” notion from individuality, with which it remains historically closely tied.
To speak or write of the singular is problematic, Weber argues, since once it is spoken of it is no longer strictly singular. Walter Benjamin observed that singularity and repetition imply each other. This approach informs the essays in Singularity. Weber notes that what distinguishes the singular from the individual is that it cannot be perceived directly, but rather experienced through feelings that depend on but also exceed cognition. This interdependence of cognition and affect plays itself out in politics, economics, and theology as well as in poetics. Political practice as well as its theory have been dominated by the attempt to domesticate singularity by subordinating it to the notion of individuality. Weber suggests that this political tendency draws support from what he calls “the monotheological identity paradigm” deriving from the idea of a unique and exclusive Creator-God.
Despite the “secular” tendencies usually associated with Western modernity, this paradigm continues today to inform and influence political and economic practices, often displaying self-destructive tendencies. By contrast, Weber reads the literary writings of Hölderlin, Nietzsche, and Kafka as exemplary practices that put singularity into play, not as fiction but as friction, exposing the self-evidence of established conventions to be responses to challenges and problems that they often prefer to obscure or ignore.
What it is like to be an animal? Ron Broglio wants to know from the inside, from underneath the fur and feathers. In examining this question, he bypasses the perspectives of biology or natural history to explore how one can construct an animal phenomenology, to think and feel as an animal other—or any other.
Until now phenomenology has grappled with how humans are embedded in their world. According to philosophical tradition, animals do not practice the self-reflexive thought that provides humans with depth of being. Without human interiority, philosophers have believed, animals live on the surface of things. But, Broglio argues, the surface can be a site of productive engagement with the world of animals, and as such he turns to humans who work with surfaces: contemporary artists.
Taking on the negative claim of animals living only on the surface and turning the premise into a positive set of possibilities for human–animal engagement, Broglio considers artists—including Damien Hirst, Carolee Schneemann, Olly and Suzi, and Marcus Coates—who take seriously the world of the animal on its own terms. In doing so, these artists develop languages of interspecies expression that both challenge philosophy and fashion new concepts for animal studies.