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Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience
Questions about the dignity of the human person give rise to many of the most central and hotly disputed topics in bioethics. In A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience, Christopher Kaczor investigates whether each human being has intrinsic dignity and whether the very concept of "dignity" has a useful place in contemporary ethical debates. Kaczor explores a broad range of issues addressed in contemporary bioethics, including whether there is a duty of "procreative beneficence," the ethics of ectopic pregnancy, and the possibility of "rescuing" human embryos with human wombs or artificial wombs. A Defense of Dignity also treats issues relevant to the end of life, including physician-assisted suicide, provision of food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state, and how to proceed with organ donation following death. Finally, what are the duties and prerogatives of health care professionals who refuse in conscience to take part in activities that they regard as degrading to human dignity? Should they be forced to do what they consider to be violations of the patient's well being, or does patient autonomy always trump the conscience of a health care professional? Grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, A Defense of Dignity argues that all human beings from the beginning to the end of their lives should be treated with respect and considers how this belief should be applied in controversial cases.
Between Hope and Despair
In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new foreword, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America. Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy. Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.
Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form
Gregory Heyworth’s Desiring Bodies considers the physical body and its relationship to poetic and corporate bodies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beginning in the odd contest between body and form in the first sentence of Ovid’s protean Metamorphoses, Heyworth identifies these concepts as structuring principles of civic and poetic unity and pursues their consequences as refracted through a series of romances, some typical of the genre, some problematically so. Bodies, in Ovidian romance, are the objects of human desire to possess, to recover, to form, or to violate. Part 1 examines this desire as both a literal and socio-political phenomenon through readings of Marie de France’s Lais, Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligès and Perceval, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, texts variously expressing social, economic, and political culture in romance. In part 2, Heyworth is concerned with missing or absent bodies in Petrarch’s Rime sparse, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Milton’s Paradise Lost and the generic rupture they cause in lyric, tragedy, and epic. Throughout, Heyworth draws on social theorists such as Kant, Weber, Simmel, and Elias to explore the connection between social and literary form. The first comparative, diachronic study of romance form in many years, Desiring Bodies is a persuasive and important cultural history that demonstrates Ovid’s pervasive influence not only on the poetics but on the politics of the medieval and early modern Western tradition.
Intrigue, Betrayal, and Survival in Venezuela, 1908-1935
Dictatorship and Politics presents the first major study of General Juan Vicente Gómez’s regime in Venezuela from 1908 to 1935 and the efforts of Gómez’s enemies to overthrow him during his twenty-seven years in power. In this reappraisal of the Gómez regime, Brian S. McBeth demonstrates that Gómez’s success in withstanding opponents’ attacks was not only the result of his political acumen and ruthless methods of oppression. The political disagreements, personal rivalries, financial difficulties, occasional harassment by foreign powers, and at times plain bad luck of his opponents, usually in exile, were important contributing factors in the failure of their plots to overthrow him. In examining the opposition to the Gómez dictatorship, McBeth also intentionally removes the politics of oil from the center stage of the regime’s foreign relations and instead focuses on the tolerance and intolerance by foreign governments of the exiles’ activities. This monumental work of scholarship encompasses political correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers, British and U.S. sources, and various public and private archives in Venezuela. Historians, as well as political scientists working on themes related to dictatorships and opposition, will find the book of interest.
“Marilyn Krysl's astonishing Dinner with Osama somehow finds the intersection between deep anguish at the state of the world and brilliant, caustic, and hilarious sociopolitical satire of America post-9/11. Its effrontery is peculiarly female, its fierce intelligence that of a mother—or even (‘Are We Dwelling Deep Yet?’) a Great Mother—who needs to save and feed the world however she can. Its north and south must be ‘Mitosis,’ Krysl's heartbreaking life history of a young Dinka woman whose way of life, and source of food, have been destroyed by civil war in Sudan; its east and west is surely the title story, in the voice of a politically irreproachable matriarch of Boulder, Colorado, who does her part by extending a dinner invitation to Osama—yes, that Osama—through her ‘pal’ Abdullah at the local gyros stand; and Osama not only receives it, he accepts. Israelis and Palestinians, ‘conflict’-addicted cliché-mongers of the creative writing workshop, violent extremists of every stripe, and above all the wealthy consumerist left are all skewered in this miraculous collection.” —Jaimy Gordon, author of Bogeywoman and She Drove Without Stopping
Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa
In colonial Africa, Christianity has often supported, sustained, and legitimated a violent process of governance. More recently, however, following decades of violence and oppression, churches and religious organizations have mobilized African publics against corrupt and abusive regimes and facilitated new forms of reconciliation and cooperation. It is the purpose of Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa to illustrate the nature of religion’s ambivalent power in Africa while suggesting new directions in the study of religion, conflict, and peace studies, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. As the editors make clear, most of the literature on conflict and peacebuilding in Africa has been concerned with dramatic conflicts such as genocide and war. In these studies, “conflict” usually means a violent clash between parties with opposing interests, while “peace” implies reconciliation and cooperation between these parties, usually with a view to achieving a social order predicated on the idea of the sovereign national state whose hegemony is viewed as normative. The contributors argue that this perspective is inadequate for understanding the nature, depth, and persistence of conflict in Africa. In contrast, the chapters in this volume adopt an ethnographic approach, often focusing on mundane manifestations of both conflict and peace, and in so doing draw attention to the ambiguities and ambivalences of conflict and peace in everyday life. Displacing the State makes two important contributions to the study of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding. First, it shows how peace is conceptualized and negotiated in daily life, often in ways that are counterintuitive and anything but peaceful. Second, the volume uses African case studies to confront assumptions about the nature of the relationships among religion, conflict, and peace.
Rereading The Nun's Priest's Tale
Chaucer’s The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is one of the most popular of The Canterbury Tales. It is only 646 lines long, yet it contains elements of a beast fable, an exemplum, a satire, and other genres. There have been countless attempts to articulate the “real” meaning of the tale, but it has confounded the critics. Peter W. Travis contends that part of the fun and part of the frustration of trying to interpret the tale has to do with Chaucer’s use of the tale to demonstrate the resistance of all literature to traditional critical practices. But the world of The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is so creative and so quintessentially Chaucerian that critics persist in writing about it. No one has followed the critical fortunes of Chauntecleer and his companions more closely over time than Peter Travis. One of the most important contributions of this book is his assessment of the tale’s reception. Travis also provides an admirable discussion of genre: his analysis of parody and Menippean satire clarify how to approach works such as this tale that take pleasure in resisting traditional generic classifications. Travis also demonstrates that the tale deliberately invoked its readers’ memories of specific grammar school literary assignments, and the tale thus becomes a miniaturized synopticon of western learning. Building on these analyses and insights, Travis’s final argument is that The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is Chaucer’s premier work of self-parody, an ironic apologia pro sua arte. The most profound matters foregrounded in the tale are not advertisements of the poet’s achievements. Rather, they are poetic problems that Chaucer wrestled with from the beginning of his career and, at the end of that career, wanted to address in a concentrated, experimental, and parapoetic way.
Democratic Critiques of Democracy
Guillermo O'Donnell here brings together a collection of significant recent essays in which he considers both the method for and substance of critiques of democracies. While progress has been made in democratization, the authoritarian legacy hangs as a shadow over that advancement. O'Donnell engages in his analysis while keeping a firm gaze on that dangerous past. O'Donnell's work has influenced a generation of political scientists. The essays in this volume bring forward and develop many of the ideas presented in his earlier collection, Counterpoints: Selected Essays on Authoritarianism and Democracy. This work will be of interest to scholars working in justice reform, democratization, and comparative politics.
Diplomacy, Theology, and the Politics of Interwar Ecumenism
Eastern Orthodox and Anglicans is the first sustained study of inter-Orthodox relations, the special role of the Anglican Church, and the problems of Orthodox nationalism in the modern age. Despite many challenges, the interwar years were a time of intense creativity in the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian émigrés, freed from enforced isolation in the wake of the Russian Revolution, found themselves in close contact with figures from other Orthodox churches and from the Roman Catholic Church and all varieties of Protestant confessions. For many reasons, Russian exiles found themselves drawn to the Anglican Church in particular. The interwar years thus witnessed a concentrated effort to bridge the gap between Orthodox and Anglican. Geffert’s book is a detailed history of that effort. It is the story of efforts toward rapprochement by two churches and their ultimate failure to achieve formal unity. The same political, diplomatic, historical, personal, and religious forces that first inspired contact were the ones that ultimately undermined the effort. Bryn Geffert recounts the history of an important chapter in the history of Christian ecumenism, one that is relevant to contemporary efforts to achieve meaningful interfaith dialogue.