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Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present

Space, Mobility, Aesthetics

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Edited by Esther Peeren, Hanneke Stuit and Astrid Van Weyenberg

This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present. Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.

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Hisakazu Inagaki and J. Nelson Jennings

Philosophical Theology and East-West Dialogue is a unique philosophical and theological analysis of certain key interactions between Eastern and Western thinkers. The book on the one hand contrasts general traits of Eastern, Buddhist thought and Western, Greek thought. However, in doing so it focuses on influential philosophers and theologians who manifest particular instances of wider issues. The result is a careful examination of basic questions that offers both broad implications and concrete specificity in its approach.
The book itself is an instance of East-West dialogue. Independently of each other both authors had previously engaged in serious cross-cultural studies. The Japanese Inagaki had researched Western science and philosophy, then written in Japanese comparative studies of Japanese thought. The North American Jennings had researched Japanese theology. They brought these backgrounds together, dialoguing with each other until the present study emerged.
Several creative Japanese thinkers, as well as important Westerners, are taken up. The study follows the lead of many Eastern impulses, but it also critically utilizes Western methods. Contemporary thinking on religious plurality is carefully examined. This new study is a must for those interested in philosophy and theology in general, and East-West interaction in particular.

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Edited by Maria Margaroni and Effie Yiannopoulou

This collection of essays investigates the convergence between the postmodern politics of mobility and a politics of metaphor, a politics, in other words, in the context of which the production and displacement of meaning(s) constitute the major stakes. Ranging from discussions of re-territorialization, multiculturalism, “digisporas” and transnational politics and ethics, to September 11th, the Pentagon’s New Map, American legislation on Chinese immigration, Gianni Amelio’s film Lamerica, Keith Piper’s online installations and Doris Salcedo’s Atrabiliarios, the collection aims to follow three different theoretical trajectories. First, it seeks to rethink our concepts of mobility in order to open them up to the complexity that structures the thoughts and practices of a global order. Second, it critically examines the privileged position of concepts and metaphors of mobility within postmodern theory. In juxtaposing conflictual theoretical formulations, the book sets out to present the competing responses that fuel academic debates around this issue. Finally, it evaluates the influence of our increasingly mobile conceptual frameworks and everyday experience on the redefinition of politics that is currently under way, especially in the context of Post-Marxist theory. Its hope is to contribute to the production of alternative political positions and practices that will address the conflicting desires for attachment and movement marking postmodernity.

The Margins of Meaning

Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language & Text

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Robin Melrose

The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and by his seminal work, The Margins of Philosophy. The study of meaning in the past thirty years has focused on core meaning, and largely ignored the margins of meaning, where much of the power of language is to be found. The present work seeks to shift this focus by taking a postmodern approach that sees meaning as an accretion of verbal, social, cultural and personal sign systems, with fluid boundaries that shrink or expand with each meaner.
Chapter 1 begins with a brief examination of present-day approaches to meaning, and goes on to a deconstruction of four twentieth century linguists. Chapter 2 takes as its starting point two aspects of the 20th century scientific paradigm, non-deterministic causation and relativity, and considers a number of thinkers who have worked within this paradigm. A major aim of this work is to convince students and teachers of literary theory, cultural studies and feminist theory of the validity of a linguistics of indeterminacy, so Chapter 3 focuses on an analytical approach that models indeterminacy in language, and Chapter 4 applies the model to a newspaper editorial, a Wallace Stevens' poem, and an extract from a Patrick White novel.

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Roland A. Champagne

Reading a text is an ethical activity for Emmanuel Levinas. His moral philosophy considers written texts to be natural places to discover relations of responsibility in Western philosophical systems which are marked by extreme violence and totalizing hatred. While ethics is understood to mean a relationship with the other and reading is the appropriation of the other to the self, readings according to Levinas naturally entail relationships with the other. Levinas's own writings are often frought with the struggle between his own maleness, the concerns of feminism, and the Judaism that marks his contributions to the debates of the Talmud. This book uses male feminism as its perspective in presenting the applications of Levinas's ethical vision to texts whose readings have presented moral dilemmas for women readers. Levinas's philosophical theories can provide keys to unlock the difficulties of these texts whose readings will provide models of reading as ethical acts beginning with the ethical contract in Song of Songs where the assumption of a woman writer begins the elaboration of issues that sets a male reader as her other. From the reader's vantage point of seeing the self as other, other issues of male feminism become increasingly poignant, ranging from the solicitude of listening to Céline (Chapter 2), the responsibility for noise in Nizan (Chapter 3), the asymmetrical pattern of face-to-face relationships in Maupassant (Chapter 4), the sovereignty of laughter in Bataille and Zola (Chapter 5), the call of the other in Italo Svevo (Chapter 6), the Woman as Other in Breton (Chapter 7), the ethical self in Drieu la Rochelle (Chapter 8), the response to Hannah Arendt (Chapter 9), and the vulnerability of Bernard-Henri Lévy (Chapter 10). The male feminist reader is thus the incarnation of the struggle at the core of the issues outlined by Levinas for the act of reading as an ethical endeavor.

Cyberculture, Cyborgs and Science Fiction

Consciousness and the Posthuman

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William S. Haney II

Addressing a key issue related to human nature, this book argues that the first-person experience of pure consciousness may soon be under threat from posthuman biotechnology. In exploiting the mind’s capacity for instrumental behavior, posthumanists seek to extend human experience by physically projecting the mind outward through the continuity of thought and the material world, as through telepresence and other forms of prosthetic enhancements. Posthumanism envisions a biology/machine symbiosis that will promote this extension, arguably at the expense of the natural tendency of the mind to move toward pure consciousness. As each chapter of this book contends, by forcibly overextending and thus jeopardizing the neurophysiology of consciousness, the posthuman condition could in the long term undermine human nature, defined as the effortless capacity for transcending the mind’s conceptual content. Presented here for the first time, the essential argument of this book is more than a warning; it gives a direction: far better to practice patience and develop pure consciousness and evolve into a higher human being than to fall prey to the Faustian temptations of biotechnological power. As argued throughout the book, each person must choose for him or herself between the technological extension of physical experience through mind, body and world on the one hand, and the natural powers of human consciousness on the other as a means to realize their ultimate vision.

Collective Creativity

Collaborative Work in the Sciences, Literature and the Arts

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Edited by Gerhard Fischer and Florian Vassen

Collective Creativity combines complex and ambivalent concepts. While ‘creativity’ is currently experiencing an inflationary boom in popularity, the term ‘collective’ appeared, until recently, rather controversial due to its ideological implications in twentieth-century politics. In a world defined by global cultural practice, the notion of collectivity has gained new relevance. This publication discusses a number of concepts of creativity and shows that, in opposition to the traditional ideal of the individual as creative genius, cultural theorists today emphasize the collaborative nature of creativity; they show that ‘creativity makes alterity, discontinuity and difference attractive’. Not the Romantic Originalgenie, but rather the agents of the ‘creative economy’ appear as the new avant-garde of aesthetic innovation: teams, groups and collectives in business and science, in art and digital media who work together in networking clusters to develop innovative products and processes.
In this book, scholars in the social sciences and in cultural and media studies, in literature, theatre and visual arts present for the first time a comprehensive, inter- and transdisciplinary account of collective creativity in its multifaceted applications. They investigate the intersections of artistic, scientific and cultural practice where the individual and the collective merge, come together or confront each other.

Holy Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Hermeneutics, Values and Society

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Edited by Hendrik M. Vroom and Jerald D. Gort

One of the prime issues that needs to be addressed in dialogical encounter between the three monotheistic faiths of the world is that concerning the authority and interpretation of Holy Writ, since Jews, Christians and Muslims alike consider their Scriptures to be divine revelation. It is incumbent upon each of these religions to apprise itself of the hermeneutical approach employed by the others in ascribing current meaning to ancient scriptural texts. This is not only important as a means for the enhancement of inter-religious understanding but is also of great interest to society at large. What role does the Jewish Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Qu'ran play in the thinking and the lives of contemporary Jews, Christians, and Muslims? How are these Holy Scriptures interpreted in terms of present-day circumstances? How much room do the three religions allow for bringing their basic messages and biblical-theological traditions into rapport with constantly changing social, political and economic conditions? Is the concept of hermeneutical space acceptable to these religions? If so, in what sense and at what level? Is it possible to identify the scopus of a text and then reconstitute it textually, as it were, in light of the social and ethical questions thrown up by new contextual developments? Can interpretive adjustments be made without jeopardizing the core message of the text involved? And do the three monotheistic religions stand open to one another for influence in this regard? Has one or another of them taken hermeneutical cues from the others? Is there room for mutual learning within the hermeneutical space mentioned above or is this a sacred space closed to all influence from other traditions? These are among the central questions raised and dealt with in this interreligious collection of essays, perhaps the only dialogical symposium to date to deal exclusively with the doctrine and hermeneutics of Holy Scripture in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Sites of Discourse – Public and Private Spheres – Legal Culture

Papers from a Conference Held at the Technical University of Dresden, December 2001

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Edited by Uwe Böker and Julie A. Hibbard

The present collection of essays grew out of a conference, held in Dresden in December 2001, exploring the relationship between the public sphere and legal culture. The conference was held in connection with the ongoing research undertaken by the Sonderforschungsbereich 537 ‘Institutionalisation and Historical Change’ and, in particular, by the project ‘Circulation of Legal Norms and Values in British Culture from 1688 to 1900’.
The conference papers include essays on the theory of the public sphere from a systematic and historical point of view by Gert Melville, by Peter Uwe Hohendahl and by Jürgen Schlaeger, all of whom try to re-evaluate and/or improve upon Jürgen Habermas’ seminal contribution to the discussion of the emergence of modernism. Alastair Mann’s contribution investigates the situation in Scotland, particularly censorship and the oath of allegiance; Annette Pankratz focuses on the king’s body as a site of the public sphere; Heinz-Joachim Müllenbrock looks into the widespread ‘culture of contention’ at the beginning of the eighteenth century; and Eckhart Hellmuth considers the reform movement at the end of the century and the radical democrats’ insistence on the right to discuss the constitution.
Ian Bell, who took part in the conference, suggested the inclusion of part of the first chapter of his seminal study Literature and Crime in Augustan England (1991). Beth Swan, Anna-Christina Giovanopoulos, and Christoph Houswitschka respectively analyse the ideologies of justice, the interrelation between journalism and crime, and the juridical evaluation of the crime of incest and its representation in public. Greta Olson investigates keyholes as liminal spaces between the public and the private, Juliet Wightman focuses on theatre and the bear pit, Uwe Böker examines the court room and prison as public sites of discourse, and York-Gothart Mix discusses the German emigrant culture in North America.

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Nathalie Roelens

Tout le monde en conviendra : lire n'est pas une activité de tout repos. La vue y est certes sollicitée, et même d'emblée, mais c'est pour aussitôt s'éclipser. S'il était purement vu, le texte (dans son sens étendu d'objet de l'interprétation) ne serait pas encore lu. La lecture proprement dite aura lieu dès l'instant où je cesse de voir ce qui m'est donné à voir pour me faufiler au-delà. J'embrasse à présent une réalité tri-dimensionnelle, je deviens le texte et le texte m'épouse, je flaire et je ressens, j'hallucine et je jubile, bref : je lis. La lecture sera synesthésique ou ne sera pas. Mon voyeurisme n'est plus trivial mais absolu. Or ce don de voyance que je m'accorde pour pallier mon aveuglement du départ n'est pas sans risques : je ne suis à l'abri ni de la méprise ni de la foi aveugle. Et c'est là le côté ironique de toute lecture. On a beau s'investir dans l'oeuvre, tôt ou tard l'enchantement sera rompu. Je me vois en train de lire, donc je ne lis plus. Le texte me renvoie soudain à mes propres limites. Il n'empêche que cet ébranlement du sujet soit souvent déclencheur d'une expérience esthétique, expérience qui porte également un enseignement : la lecture aujourd'hui engage quiconque s'y adonne à être prêt à abdiquer à chaque instant ou, du moins, à respecter l'illisible et l'inappropriable.
L'aboutissement de ce travail ce confond avec son présupposé majeur : inutile de vouloir maintenir le clivage entre lecture textuelle et lecture tout court (d'une image, du monde, d'un corps désiré, etc.), ce sont leurs empiètements qui restituent à ce geste ancestral et sans doute universel son souffle et son ampleur. Des scènes de perception entravée, lacunaire ou défectueuse, glanées dans le patrimoine littéraire et plastique contemporain (Proust, Cocteau, Michaux, Calvino, Manganelli, De Chirico, Alechinsky, Fuentes, Biély, Nabokov, Gombrowicz et tant d'autres) et appréhendées comme autant de simulacres de l'expérience de lecture, nous ont permis de cerner l'activité lectorielle au plus proche des textes.