African Royal Court Art
Michèle Coquet University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress N7391.65.C66613 1998 | Dewey Decimal 709.67
In this visually stunning work, anthropologist Michèle Coquet presents the power and the brilliance of African court arts. Grounding her analysis in the social and historical context of traditional royalty systems, Coquet examines the diverse roles played by artisans, nobles, and kings in the production and use of royal objects. From the precolonial kingdoms of the Edo and the Yoruba, the Ashanti and the Igbo, Coquet reconstructs from a comparativist view the essential cultural connections between art, representation, and the king.
More than ornamentation, royal objects embodied the strength and status of African rulers. The gold-plated stools of the Ashanti, the delicately carved ivory bracelets of the Edo-these objects were meant not simply to adorn but to affirm and enhance the power and prestige of the wearer. Unlike the abstract style frequently seen in African ritual art, realism became manifest in courtly arts. Realism directly linked the symbolic value of the object-a portrait or relief-with the physical person of the king. The contours of the monarch's face, his political and military exploits rendered on palace walls, became visual histories, the work of art in essence corroborating the ruler's sovereign might.
Richly illustrated and wonderfully detailed, Coquet's influential volume offers both a splendid visual presentation and an authoritative analysis of African royal arts.
"[This] beautiful and exciting book emphasizes the skillful court art of the Benin, Dahomey, and the Kongo. A very interesting and unusual approach to the art of the continent that has been too easily situated 'outside of history.'"—Le Figaro
Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World is the first English translation of a series of lectures Claude Lévi-Strauss delivered in Tokyo in 1986. Written with an eye toward the future as his own distinguished career was drawing to a close, this volume presents a synthesis of the author’s major ideas about structural anthropology, a field he helped establish. Critiquing insights of his earlier writings on the relationship between race, history, and civilization, Lévi-Strauss revisits the social issues that never ceased to fascinate him.
He begins with the observation that the cultural supremacy enjoyed by the West for over two centuries is at an end. Global wars and genocides in the twentieth century have fatally undermined Western faith in humanity’s improvement through scientific progress. Anthropology, however, can be the vehicle of a new “democratic humanism,” broadening traditional frameworks that have restricted cross-cultural understandings of the human condition, and providing a basis for inquiries into what other civilizations, such as those of Asia, can teach.
Surveying a world on the brink of the twenty-first century, Lévi-Strauss assesses some of the dilemmas of cultural and moral relativism a globalized society faces—ethical dimensions of economic inequality, the rise of different forms of religious fundamentalism, the promise and peril of genetic and reproductive engineering. A laboratory of thought opening onto the future, Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World is an important addition to the canon of one of the twentieth-century’s most influential theorists.
In 1898, the Dreyfus Affair plunged French society into a yearlong frenzy. In Paris and provincial villages throughout the country, angry crowds paraded through the streets, threatening to attack Jews and destroy Jewish-owned businesses. Anger about the imagined power of Jewish capital, as well as fears of treason and racial degeneration, made anti-Semitism a convenient banner behind which social and political factions could fall in line. Anti-Semitic feelings that had been simmering in France for decades came boiling to the surface.
Here Pierre Birnbaum guides readers on a tour of France during this crisis. He shows that in the midst of violence, Jewish citizens bravely and effectively defended themselves and were aided by a police force determined to maintain order. Birnbaum paints a vivid portrait of French Jewish culture at the time and explains why the French state remained strong in this time of widespread unrest.
Slavery may no longer exist as a legal institution, but we still find many forms of non-freedom in contemporary societies. It is a troubling paradox, and one this book addresses by considering a period in which the definition of slavery and freedom proved considerably flexible. Between more familiar forms of slavery—those of antiquity and of the Americas—the institution as it was practiced and theorized in the Byzantine Mediterranean was of a different nature.
Looking at the Byzantine concept of slavery within the context of law, the labor market, medieval politics, and religion, Youval Rotman illustrates how these contexts both reshaped and sustained the slave market. By focusing on a period of great change, his historical analysis brings a new perspective to concepts of slavery and freedom. In this period, when Byzantium had to come to terms with the rising power of the Islamic state, and to fight numerous wars over territory and economic interests, Rotman traces a shift in the cultural perception of slaves as individuals: they began to be seen as human beings instead of private property. His book analyzes slavery as a historical process against the background of the political, social, and religious transformation of the Mediterranean world, and demonstrates the flexible and adaptable character of this institution.
Arguing against the use of the term “slavery” for any extreme form of social dependency, Rotman shows instead that slavery and freedom are unrelated concepts. His work offers a radical new understanding of the geopolitical and religious dynamics that have defined and redefined slavery and freedom, in the past and in our own time.
"Read this book if you want to understand me."—Pablo Picasso
Conversations with Picasso offers a remarkable vision of both Picasso and the entire artistic and intellectual milieu of wartime Paris, a vision provided by the gifted photographer and prolific author who spent the early portion of the 1940s photographing Picasso's work. Brassaï carefully and affectionately records each of his meetings and appointments with the great artist, building along the way a work of remarkable depth, intimate perspective, and great importance to anyone who truly wishes to understand Picasso and his world.
The last of Cyrus the Great’s dynastic inheritors and the legendary enemy of Alexander the Great, Darius III ruled over a Persian Empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indus River. Yet, despite being the most powerful king of his time, Darius remains an obscure figure.
As Pierre Briant explains in the first book ever devoted to the historical memory of Darius III, the little that is known of him comes primarily from Greek and Roman sources, which often present him in an unflattering light, as a decadent Oriental who lacked the masculine virtues of his Western adversaries. Influenced by the Alexander Romance as they are, even the medieval Persian sources are not free of harsh prejudices against the king Dārā, whom they deemed deficient in the traditional kingly virtues. Ancient Classical accounts construct a man who is in every respect Alexander’s opposite—feeble-minded, militarily inept, addicted to pleasure, and vain. When Darius’s wife and children are captured by Alexander’s forces at the Battle of Issos, Darius is ready to ransom his entire kingdom to save them—a devoted husband and father, perhaps, but a weak king.
While Darius seems doomed to be a footnote in the chronicle of Alexander’s conquests, in one respect it is Darius who has the last laugh. For after Darius’s defeat in 331 BCE, Alexander is described by historians as becoming ever more like his vanquished opponent: a Darius-like sybarite prone to unmanly excess.
The ancient Greek statesman is a familiar figure in the Western political tradition. Less well known is the administrator who ran the state but who was himself a slave. Challenging the modern belief that democracy and bondage are incompatible, Paulin Ismard directs our attention to the cradle of Western democracy, ancient Athens, where the functioning of civic government depended crucially on highly skilled experts who were literally public servants—slaves owned by the city-state rather than by private citizens.
Known as dēmosioi, these public slaves filled a variety of important roles in Athenian society. They were court clerks, archivists, administrators, accountants, and policemen. Many possessed knowledge and skills beyond the attainments of average citizens, and they enjoyed privileges, such as the right to own property, that were denied to private slaves. In effect, dēmosioi were Western civilization’s first civil servants—though they carried out their duties in a condition of bound servitude.
Ismard detects a radical split between politics and administrative government at the heart of Athenian democracy. The city-state’s managerial caste freed citizens from the day-to-day responsibilities of running the state. By the same token, these public servants were unable to participate in the democratic process because they lacked the rights of full citizenship. By rendering the state’s administrators politically invisible, Athens warded off the specter of a government capable of turning against the citizens’ will. In a real sense, Ismard shows, Athenian citizens put the success of their democratic experiment in the hands of slaves.
Paradise haunts the Biblical West. At once the place of origin and exile, utopia and final destination, it has shaped our poetic and religious imagination and informed literary and theological accounts of man’s relation with his creator, with language and history. For Kant, Paradise was the inaugural moment for the rise and progress of reason as the agency of human history, slowly but certainly driving humanity away from error and superstition. Nietzsche described it more somberly as the very embodiment of the conflict between humanity and its beliefs.
In Earthly Paradise, Milad Doueihi contemplates key moments in the philosophical reception and uses of Paradise, marked by the rise of critical and historical methods in the Early Modern period. How do modern debates around the nature of evil, free will, and the origin of language grow out of the philosophical interpretations of Paradise as the site of human history? How do the reflections of Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, and their contemporaries inform our current ideas about the Biblical narrative of the Fall? Is Paradise the source of human error or an utopian vision of humanity itself?
Far-Right Politics in Europe
Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress JC573.2.E85C3613 2017 | Dewey Decimal 320.533094
In Europe today, staunchly nationalist parties such as France’s National Front and the Austrian Freedom Party are identified as far-right movements, though supporters seldom embrace that label. More often, “far right” is pejorative, used by liberals to tar these groups with the taint of Fascism, Nazism, and other discredited ideologies. Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg’s critical look at the far right throughout Europe—from the United Kingdom to France, Germany, Poland, Italy, and elsewhere—reveals a prehistory and politics more complex than the stereotypes suggest and warns of the challenges these movements pose to the EU’s liberal-democratic order.
The European far right represents a confluence of many ideologies: nationalism, socialism, anti-Semitism, authoritarianism. In the first half of the twentieth century, the radical far right achieved its apotheosis in the regimes of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. But these movements have evolved significantly since 1945, as Far-Right Politics in Europe makes clear. The 1980s marked a turning point in political fortunes, as national-populist parties began winning seats in European parliaments. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the United States, a new wave has unfurled, one that is explicitly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic in outlook.
Though Europe’s far-right parties differ in important respects, they are motivated by a common sense of mission: to save their homelands from what they view as the corrosive effects of multiculturalism and globalization by creating a closed-off, ethnically homogeneous society. Members of these movements are increasingly determined to gain power through legitimate electoral means. In democracies across Europe, they are succeeding.
In the fourth century a new narrative genre captured the imagination of the faithful—the moving accounts of the lives of Christian saints. Willing to die gruesome deaths or endure constant suffering, saints conveyed a powerful message: God was still present in the world. He continues to manifest His powers and communicate His messages through His special friends—the saints. What kind of Christianity do we find in these stories? In this original and provocative work, Aviad Kleinberg argues that the saints’ stories of medieval Europe were more than edifying entertainment; they retain an alternative theology, often quite different from the formal theology of the Church. By telling and retelling the story of virtue and salvation, by expanding the religious imagination of the West, they were shaping and reshaping Christianity itself.
In this study of stories from the fourth through the fourteenth centuries, we meet the tender Perpetua bidding farewell to her infant son, Simeon Stylites turning himself into a rotting corpse, Francis of Assisi finding joy in suffering, and Fra Ginepro playing the fool, for Christ. We meet holy anchorites, headstrong virgins, fearless dragon slayers, and scheming politicians. Kleinberg unveils the inner contradictions, the subversive ideas, and the deadly power games that lay behind the making of the Western imagination. People, ideas, and passions—often relegated to the back pews—take center stage in this daring book. This is a story of how stories change lives.
Philosophers and theologians have long engaged in intense debate and introspection over the representation of the deity, its possibilities and its proscriptions. The Forbidden Image traces the dual strains of “iconophilia” and iconoclasm, the privileging and prohibition of religious images, over a span of two and a half millennia in the West.
Alain Besançon’s work begins with a comprehensive examination of the status of the image in Greek, Judaic, Islamic, and Christian thought. The author then addresses arguments regarding the moral authority of the image in European Christianity from the medieval through the early modern periods. Besançon completes The Forbidden Image with an examination of how iconophilia and iconoclasm have been debated in the modern period.
“Even the reader who has heard something of the Byzantine quarrels about images and their theological background will be surprised by a learned and convincing interpretation of the works of Mondrian, Kandinsky, and Malevich in terms of religiously inspired iconoclasm. . . . This is an immensely rich and powerful masterpiece.”—Leszek Kolakowski, Times Literary Supplement
The traditional story of Renaissance painting is one of inexorable progress toward the exact representation of the real and visible. Georges Didi-Huberman disrupts this story with a new look—and a new way of looking—at the fifteenth-century painter Fra Angelico. In doing so, he alters our understanding of both early Renaissance art and the processes of art history.
A Florentine painter who took Dominican vows, Fra Angelico (1400-1455) approached his work as a largely theological project. For him, the problems of representing the unrepresentable, of portraying the divine and the spiritual, mitigated the more secular breakthroughs in imitative technique. Didi-Huberman explores Fra Angelico's solutions to these problems—his use of color to signal approaching visibility, of marble to recall Christ's tomb, of paint drippings to simulate (or stimulate) holy anointing. He shows how the painter employed emptiness, visual transformation, and displacement to give form to the mystery of faith.
In the work of Fra Angelico, an alternate strain of Renaissance painting emerges to challenge rather than reinforce verisimilitude. Didi-Huberman traces this disruptive impulse through theological writings and iconographic evidence and identifies a widespread tradition in Renaissance art that ranges from Giotto's break with Byzantine image-making well into the sixteenth century. He reveals how the techniques that served this ultimately religious impulse may have anticipated the more abstract characteristics of modern art, such as color fields, paint spatterings, and the absence of color.
The French Resistance
Olivier Wieviorka Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress D802.F8W53513 2016 | Dewey Decimal 940.5344
“Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and will not go out.” As Charles de Gaulle ended his radio address to the French nation in June 1940, listeners must have felt a surge of patriotism tinged with uncertainty. Who would keep the flame burning through dark years of occupation? At what cost?
Olivier Wieviorka presents a comprehensive history of the French Resistance, synthesizing its social, political, and military aspects to offer fresh insights into its operation. Detailing the Resistance from the inside out, he reveals not one organization but many interlocking groups often at odds over goals, methods, and leadership. He debunks lingering myths, including the idea that the Resistance sprang up in response to the exhortations of de Gaulle’s Free French government-in-exile. The Resistance was homegrown, arising from the soil of French civil society. Resisters had to improvise in the fight against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime. They had no blueprint to follow, but resisters from all walks of life and across the political spectrum formed networks, organizing activities from printing newspapers to rescuing downed airmen to sabotage. Although the Resistance was never strong enough to fight the Germans openly, it provided the Allies invaluable intelligence, sowed havoc behind enemy lines on D-Day, and played a key role in Paris’s liberation.
Wieviorka shatters the conventional image of a united resistance with no interest in political power. But setting the record straight does not tarnish the legacy of its fighters, who braved Nazism without blinking.
In premodern China, elite painters used imagery not to mirror the world around them, but to evoke unfathomable experience. Considering their art alongside the philosophical traditions that inform it, The Great Image Has No Form explores the “nonobject”—a notion exemplified by paintings that do not seek to represent observable surroundings.
François Jullien argues that this nonobjectifying approach stems from the painters’ deeply held belief in a continuum of existence, in which art is not distinct from reality. Contrasting this perspective with the Western notion of art as separate from the world it represents, Jullien investigates the theoretical conditions that allow us to apprehend, isolate, and abstract objects. His comparative method lays bare the assumptions of Chinese and European thought, revitalizing the questions of what painting is, where it comes from, and what it does. Provocative and intellectually vigorous, this sweeping inquiry introduces new ways of thinking about the relationship of art to the ideas in which it is rooted.
Henry Miller, Happy Rock
Brassaï University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3525.I5454Z65813 2002 | Dewey Decimal 818.5209
"In a world like this one, it's difficult to devote oneself to art body and soul. To get published, to get exhibited, to get produced often requires ten or twenty years of patient, intense labor. I spent half my life at it! And how do you survive during all that time? Beg? Live off other people until you're successful? What a dog's life! I know something about that! You're always recognized too late. And today, it's no longer enough to have talent, originality, to write a good or beautiful book. One must be inspired! Not only touch the public but create one's own public. Otherwise, you're headed straight for suicide."
That's Henry Miller's advice for young aspiring artists, as remembered by his very good friend Brassaï in this lively book. One of two that Brassaï wrote about the man who called himself a "happy rock," this volume covers their lives and friendship from the 1950s to 1973. Over the course of a number of warm, intimate conversations, Brassaï and Miller revisit their careers; discuss art, literature, Paris, Greece, Japan, World War II, and more; and consider the lives and works of many others in their circle, including Lawrence Durrell, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dalí, Georges Simenon, André Malraux, Hans Reichel, Paul Klee, and Amedeo Modigliani. Throughout Miller's zest for life shines through, as do his love of art and his passionate intensity for just about everything he does, from discussing a movie or play he'd just seen to reminiscing about a decades-long love.
Brassaï's Henry Miller, Happy Rock presents a vivid portrait of two close friends who thoroughly enjoy each other's company—and just happen to be world—famous artists too.
Hezbollah: A History of the "Party of God"
Dominique Avon and Anaїs-Trissa KhatchadourianTranslated by Jane Marie Todd Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress JQ1828.A98H6219513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 324.25692084
For thirty years, Hezbollah has played a pivotal role in Lebanese and global politics. That visibility has invited Hezbollah’s lionization and vilification by outside observers, and at the same time has prevented a clear-eyed view of Hezbollah’s place in the history of the Middle East and its future course of action. Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian provide here a nonpartisan account which offers insights into Hezbollah that Western media have missed or misunderstood.
Now part of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah nevertheless remains in tension with both the transnational Shiite community and a religiously diverse Lebanon. Calling for an Islamic regime would risk losing critical allies at home, but at the same time Hezbollah’s leaders cannot say that a liberal regime is the solution for the future. Consequently, they use the ambiguous expression “civil but believer state.”
What happens when an organization founded as a voice of “revolution” and then “resistance” occupies a position of power, yet witnesses the collapse of its close ally, Syria? How will Hezbollah’s voice evolve as the party struggles to reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? The authors’ analyses of these key questions—buttressed by their clear English translations of foundational documents, including Hezbollah’s open letter of 1985 and its 2009 charter, and an in-depth glossary of key theological and political terms used by the party’s leaders—make Hezbollah an invaluable resource for all readers interested in the future of this volatile force.
Jean Starobinski University of Chicago Press, 1997 Library of Congress N8217.G43S713 1997 | Dewey Decimal 704.9491799
In 1990 the Department of Graphic Arts at the Louvre made their holdings available to guest curators for a program called Parti Pris, or "Taking Sides". In this program, major cultural figures outside of the discipline of art history organized exhibitions based on the department's collection. Within its first several years, this novel collaboration produced exhibitions curated by philosopher Jacques Derrida and filmmaker Peter Greenaway.
Jean Starobinski, noted literary critic and intellectual historian from the University of Geneva, was selected as the third curator in the program. In his exhibition and accompanying essay, Starobinski explores the theme of largesse in its broadest sense. Arguing that gift giving and receiving are fundamental human gestures, he examines graphic and textual representations from the offering of the apple to Eve to Salome's gift of the head of John the Baptist, from the giving of laws to the gift of death. Charity, the poetic gift, and the benefits of Fortune all play a role in Starobinski's extended meditation on the act of donation. Lavishly illustrated and
dazzling in its scope and imagination, Largesse is an exemplar of the rich intellectual work that can result from crossing disciplinary boundaries and considering history as a dense network of themes and allusions.
The writing of recent history tends to be deeply marked by conflict, by personal and collective struggles rooted in horrific traumas and bitter controversies. Frequently, today’s historians can find themselves researching the same events that they themselves lived through. This book reflects on the concept and practices of what is called “contemporary history,” a history of the present time, and identifies special tensions in the field between knowledge and experience, distance and proximity, and objectivity and subjectivity.
Henry Rousso addresses the rise of contemporary history and the relations of present-day societies to their past, especially their legacies of political violence. Focusing on France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, he shows that for contemporary historians, the recent past has become a problem to be solved. No longer unfolding as a series of traditions to be respected or a set of knowledge to be transmitted and built upon, history today is treated as a constant act of mourning or memory, an attempt to atone. Historians must also negotiate with strife within this field, as older scholars who may have lived through events clash with younger historians who also claim to understand the experiences. Ultimately, The Latest Catastrophe shows how historians, at times against their will, have themselves become actors in a history still being made.
In The Mountain, geographers Bernard Debarbieux and Gilles Rudaz trace the origins of the very concept of a mountain, showing how it is not a mere geographic feature but ultimately an idea, one that has evolved over time, influenced by changes in political climates and cultural attitudes. To truly understand mountains, they argue, we must view them not only as material realities but as social constructs, ones that can mean radically different things to different people in different settings.
From the Enlightenment to the present day, and using a variety of case studies from all the continents, the authors show us how our ideas of and about mountains have changed with the times and how a wide range of policies, from border delineation to forestry as well as nature protection and social programs, have been shaped according to them. A rich hybrid analysis of geography, history, culture, and politics, the book promises to forever change the way we look at mountains.
The Other Face of the Moon
Claude Lévi-Strauss Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress GN635.J2.L3913 2013 | Dewey Decimal 306.0952
Gathering for the first time all of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s writings on Japanese civilization, The Other Face of the Moon forms a sustained meditation into the French anthropologist’s dictum that to understand one’s own culture, one must regard it from the point of view of another.
Exposure to Japanese art was influential in Lévi-Strauss’s early intellectual growth, and between 1977 and 1988 he visited the country five times. The essays, lectures, and interviews of this volume, written between 1979 and 2001, are the product of these journeys. They investigate an astonishing range of subjects—among them Japan’s founding myths, Noh and Kabuki theater, the distinctiveness of the Japanese musical scale, the artisanship of Jomon pottery, and the relationship between Japanese graphic arts and cuisine. For Lévi-Strauss, Japan occupied a unique place among world cultures. Molded in the ancient past by Chinese influences, it had more recently incorporated much from Europe and the United States. But the substance of these borrowings was so carefully assimilated that Japanese culture never lost its specificity. As though viewed from the hidden side of the moon, Asia, Europe, and America all find, in Japan, images of themselves profoundly transformed.
As in Lévi-Strauss’s classic ethnography Tristes Tropiques, this new English translation presents the voice of one of France’s most public intellectuals at its most personal.
Race and Erudition
Maurice Olender Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress HT1521.O55 2009 | Dewey Decimal 305.8
Nineteenth-century theories of race were meant to provide a comprehensive account of the history and evolution of civilizations. What they produced instead were the modern foundations for prejudice and its politics. In this enlightening book, with a new preface and postscript for the Anglophone audience, Maurice Olender investigates the unsuspected links between erudition and race, showing the affinities between the social sciences and the concept of “race.”
Beginning with a brilliant study of the Protocols of Zion, the book turns to Indo-European origins of language, culture, and human “types” and moves on to studying some of the more important figures in the twentieth century, such as Eliade, Dumézil, and Momigliano. Olender elegantly teases out the cultural history of the word “race,” a history that explains its diverse political uses and its continuing relevance to our global contemporary society. In doing so, he provides an accessible and lucid pathway through the labyrinth of race and erudition and examines how to deal with diversity without the problematic heritage of racial stereotypes.
Over 5,000 years ago, the history of humanity radically changed direction when writing was invented in Sumer, the southern part of present-day Iraq. For the next three millennia, kings, aristocrats, and slaves all made intensive use of cuneiform script to document everything from royal archives to family records.
In engaging style, Dominique Charpin shows how hundreds of thousands of clay tablets testify to the history of an ancient society that communicated broadly through letters to gods, insightful commentary, and sales receipts. He includes a number of passages, offered in translation, that allow readers an illuminating glimpse into the lives of Babylonians. Charpin’s insightful overview discusses the methods and institutions used to teach reading and writing, the process of apprenticeship, the role of archives and libraries, and various types of literature, including epistolary exchanges and legal and religious writing.
The only book of its kind, Reading and Writing in Babylon introduces Mesopotamia as the birthplace of civilization, culture, and literature while addressing the technical side of writing and arguing for a much wider spread of literacy than is generally assumed. Charpin combines an intimate knowledge of cuneiform with a certain breadth of vision that allows this book to transcend a small circle of scholars. Though it will engage a broad general audience, this book also fills a critical academic gap and is certain to become the standard reference on the topic.
The French Revolution proclaimed the equality of all human beings, yet women remained less than equal in the new society. The exclusion of women at the birth of modern democracy required considerable justification, and by tracing the course of this reasoning through early nineteenth-century texts, Genevieve Fraisse maps a moment of crisis in the history of sexual difference.
Through an analysis of literary, religious, legal, philosophical, and medical texts, Fraisse links a range of positions on women's proper role in society to specific historical and rhetorical circumstances. She shows how the Revolution marked a sharp break in the way women were represented in language, as traditional bantering about the "war of the sexes" gave way to serious discussions of the political and social meanings of sexual difference. Following this discussion on three different planes—the economical, the political, and the biological—Fraisse looks at the exclusion of women against the backdrop of democracy's inevitable lie: the affirmation of an equality so abstract it was impossible to concretely apply.
This study of the place of sexual equality in the founding moment of democracy offers insight into a persistent question: whether female emancipation is to be found through the achievement of equality with men or in the celebration of female difference.
Anne-Marie Eddé Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress DS38.4.S2E3213 2011 | Dewey Decimal 956.014092
Working simultaneously on two levels, Saladin represents the best kind of biography—a portrait of a man who is said to have made an age, and the most complete account we have to date of an age that made the man. Unlike biographies that focus on Saladin’s military exploits, especially the recapturing of Jerusalem from European Crusaders in 1187, Eddé’s narrative draws on an incredible array of contemporary sources to develop the fullest picture possible of a ruler shaped profoundly by the complex Arabian political environment in which he rose to prominence. The result is a unique view of the Crusades from an Arab perspective.
Saladin became a legend in his own time, venerated by friend and foe alike as a paragon of justice, chivalry, and generosity. Arab politicians ever since have sought to claim his mantle as a justification for their own exercise of power. But Saladin's world-historical status as the ideal Muslim ruler owes its longevity to a tacit agreement among contemporaries and later chroniclers about the set of virtues Saladin possessed—virtues that can now be tested against a rich tapestry of historical research. This tension between the mythical image of Saladin, layered over centuries and deployed in service of specific moral and political objectives, and the verifiable facts of his life available to a judicious modern historian is what sustains Anne-Marie Eddé's erudite biography, published to acclaim in France in 2008 and offered here in smooth, readable English translation.
Secularism: the definition of this word is as practical and urgent as income inequalities or the paths to sustainable development. In this wide-ranging analysis, Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor provide a clearly reasoned, articulate account of the two main principles of secularism—equal respect, and freedom of conscience—and its two operative modes—separation of Church (or mosque or temple) and State, and State neutrality vis-à-vis religions. But more crucially, they make the powerful argument that in our ever more religiously diverse, politically interconnected world, secularism, properly understood, may offer the only path to religious and philosophical freedom.
Secularism and Freedom of Conscience grew out of a very real problem—Quebec’s need for guidelines to balance the equal respect due to all citizens with the right to religious freedom. But the authors go further, rethinking secularism in light of other critical issues of our time. The relationship between religious beliefs and deeply-held secular convictions, the scope of the free exercise of religion, and the place of religion in the public sphere are aspects of the larger challenge Maclure and Taylor address: how to manage moral and religious diversity in a free society. Secularism, they show, is essential to any liberal democracy in which citizens adhere to a plurality of conceptions of what gives meaning and direction to human life. The working model the authors construct in this nuanced account is capacious enough to accommodate difference and freedom of conscience, while holding out hope for a world in which diversity no longer divides us.
In her controversial book Women's Words, Mona Ozouf argues that French feminism lacks the rancor and resentment of its counterparts in England and America and explains why this placid, even timid brand of feminism is uniquely French.
Ozouf uses the woman's portrait, traditionally a male genre, to portray ten French women of letters whose lives span the period from the eve of the French Revolution to the resurgence of the feminist movement in the late twentieth century. She studies the letters and memoirs of Mme du Deffand, Mme de Charrière, Mme Roland, Mme de Staël, Mme de Rémusat, George Sand, Hubertine Auclert, Colette, Simone Weil, and Simone de Beauvoir. Rejecting the male constructions of femininity typical of this genre, Ozouf restores these women's voices in order to study their own often-conflicted attitudes toward education, marriage, motherhood, sex, and work, as well as the dilemma of writing in a literary world that did not support women's work.
Ozouf claims that a uniquely French feminism informed these women's lives, one that stems from the great egalitarian spirit of the French Revolution and is more tolerant of difference than its American counterparts. She argues that as a result, modern French culture has not isolated women from men in the same ways as American and British cultures have done.
Ancient Mesopotamia, the fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now western Iraq and eastern Syria, is considered to be the cradle of civilization—home of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, as well as the great Code of Hammurabi. The Code was only part of a rich juridical culture from 2200–1600 BCE that saw the invention of writing and the development of its relationship to law, among other remarkable firsts.
Though ancient history offers inexhaustible riches, Dominique Charpin focuses here on the legal systems of Old Babylonian Mesopotamia and offers considerable insight into how writing and the law evolved together to forge the principles of authority, precedent, and documentation that dominate us to this day. As legal codes throughout the region evolved through advances in cuneiform writing, kings and governments were able to stabilize their control over distant realms and impose a common language—which gave rise to complex social systems overseen by magistrates, judges, and scribes that eventually became the vast empires of history books. Sure to attract any reader with an interest in the ancient Near East, as well as rhetoric, legal history, and classical studies, this book is an innovative account of the intertwined histories of law and language.