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Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean

Franco Cassano

Publication Year: 2012

In 1996, with the publication of Southern Thought, Italian writer Franco Cassano became widely recognized as one of the most important voices in the contemporary Italian and European intellectual scene. In this engaging and provocative book, which ranges effortlessly between the fields of sociology, political science, philosophy, cultural anthropology, and literature, Cassano offers a critique of normative models of modernization derived from Eurocentric and North Atlantic paradigms, while claiming that autonomous paths to modernity exist in the Mediterranean and the so-called Global Souths. Cassano's rethinking of the South seeks nothing less than to reverse the North-South relationship: not to think of the South in light of modernity, but rather to think of modernity in light of the South.In this work, the South is no longer a belated, imperfect, incomplete, and not-yet North but the space of a differential, autonomous identity to be recovered and rediscovered. Thus, Southern Thought not only exemplifies a brilliant critique of Occidentalism but represents a valiant attempt to restore agency and dignity to the heritage and legacies of Southern civilizations and cultures. Four additional essays supplement this English translation of the original Italian book.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-8

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Translators’ Introduction: On Franco Cassano’s Southern Thought

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pp. viii-xxvi

In 1996, with the publication of Southern Thought, which we present here in the English translation with four additional essays, Italian writer Franco Cassano became widely recognized as one of the most important voices in the contemporary Italian and European intellectual scene. In this engaging...

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Preface to the English-language Edition

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pp. xxvii-xxxi

The basic idea for writing Southern Thought is very simple. It has been many centuries since the South has spoken in the first person because others have been speaking in its place. The civilization that has been speaking for and representing the South is the one that, during these centuries...

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Prologue: Parallels and Meridians

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pp. xxxiii-lv

Since its publication in January 1996, Southern Thought has elicited a wide range of responses, from unconditional approval to suspicious opposition, from requests to translate its categories into concrete political terms to expressions of ironic skepticism. Many of its arguments have also been...

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Introduction: For a Thought from the South

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pp. 1-6

To rethink the South some preliminary observations are in order. The most important is that we must stop thinking of its pathologies simply as the consequences of a lack of modernity. We must reverse our point of view and believe that in the South of Italy, with all probability, modernity...

Part I. Mediterranean

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pp. 7-66

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1. Going Slow

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pp. 9-15

We must go slow like an old country train carrying peasant women dressed in black, like those who go on foot and see the world magically opening ahead, because going on foot is like leafing through a book, while running is like looking at its cover. We must go slow and love the pauses that...

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2. Of Land and Sea

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pp. 16-38

What do the sea and epistemology have in common? Is the relationship between land and sea purely accidental, or is it rather a determining and underrated factor for the birth of Greek culture? And, if this relationship exists, what is the meaning of the sea for Greece, for Greek philosophy...

Part II. Homo currens

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pp. 39-98

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3. Thinking the Frontier

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pp. 41-51

‘‘A small county is a country that was once great and remembers it,’’ said Georges Simenon in a short and wonderful story titled Frontiers.1 It is on the frontier that one measures the full and terrible restlessness that runs through human history....

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4. The Fundamentalism of the Rat Race

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pp. 52-60

The question is inevitable: When we talk about relationships ‘‘between’’ cultures, do we in fact place ourselves outside them, like an unconnected and impartial judge (as the word ‘‘between’’ would suggest), or do we play the old game where one of the sides disguises itself as the third? If I start...

Part III. The Friction of Thought

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pp. 61-120

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5. Albert Camus: The Need for Southern Thought

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pp. 63-84

God is not center stage, but it is not true that everything is allowed; on the contrary, the exact opposite is true: ‘‘If God does not exist, nothing is permitted.’’1 God is not present, but there is the sun (‘‘At the center of my work there is an invincible sun’’),2 and nihilism does not win in any of its...

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6. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Life as Oxymoron

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pp. 85-103

There is still a large crowd milling around Pasolini, different people with different questions. My question is very simple: What allowed Pasolini’s prophetic vision? How is it possible that a poet (‘‘I sense the problems of the moment; I am not a scientist who does research . . . I am a writer’’)1...

Part IV. Other Essays on the Mediterranean

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pp. 105-164

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7. Europe and Southern Thought

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pp. 107-115

It is not by chance that philosophy was born on the sea, when the word ‘‘being’’ came into existence, floating between being and nothingness; when ‘‘becoming’’ became a word charged with a cognitive sense, calling into question truths that had been so strong as to never have been doubted...

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8. Cardinal Knowledge

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pp. 116-124

North: It rules from above. The place of cold and of the winter solstice, of industry that delays gratification because its flowers will blossom only with the heat. The place of austerity and of the ability to wait, of restraint and control over the world and oneself. It is discipline and planning; light that...

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9. Against All Fundamentalisms: The New Mediterranean

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pp. 125-141

Italy becomes a unified State very late, in the second half of the nineteenth century (1859–60), and the problem of national unity monopolizes its political and cultural attention for a long time. Italy arrives to unity after an extremely long period of divisions, without an autonomous presence...

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10. Thinking the Mediterranean

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pp. 142-153

To think the Mediterranean today means, first of all, to deconstruct the perspective of a clash of civilizations and turn this struggle into the goal of a whole historical epoch. The adjective Mediterranean contains a cultural and political program, because it describes a sea that unites and...

Notes

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pp. 155-185

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 187-200

Index

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pp. 201-212


E-ISBN-13: 9780823253647
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823233649
Print-ISBN-10: 0823233642

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Thought and thinking -- Europe, Southern.
  • Thought and thinking -- Mediterranean Region.
  • Europe, Southern -- Social life and customs.
  • Mediterranean Region -- Social life and customs.
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