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Contradictions of Modernity

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Contradictions of Modernity


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Cultural Formations Of Postcommunism

Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War

Michael D. Kennedy

Transition is the name typically given to the time of radical change following the fall of communism, connoting a shift from planned to market economy, from dictatorship to democracy. Transition is also, in Michael Kennedy’s analysis, a culture in its own right-with its own contentions, repressions, and unrealized potentials. By elaborating transition as a culture of power and viewing it in its complex relation to emancipation, nationalism, and war, Kennedy’s book clarifies the transformations of postcommunism as well as, more generally, the ways in which culture articulates social change. This ambitious work is, in effect, a nuanced critical-cultural sociology of change. Kennedy examines transition culture’s historical foundation by looking at the relationship among perestroika, Poland, and Hungary, and considers its structure and practice in the following decade across fields and nations. His wide-ranging analysis-of the artifacts of transition culture’s proponents, of interviews with providers and recipients of technical assistance in business across Eastern Europe, and of focus groups assessing the successes and failures of social change in Estonia and Ukraine-suggests a transition culture deeply implicated in nationalism. But this association, Kennedy contends, is not necessarily antithetical to transition’s emancipation. By reconsidering transition culture’s relationship to the Wars of Yugoslav Succession and communism’s negotiated collapse in Poland and Hungary, he shows how transition might be reconceived in terms of solidarity, freedom, and peace. Distinguished by its focus on culture, not only within particular nations but in the transnational community organized around transition, this book will help reframe the debate about postcommunist social change.

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Knowledge Power And Discipline

German Studies And National Identity

Pier Carlo Bontempelli

German Studies has confronted many crises, as well as severe criticism and self-criticism, and yet it has managed to maintain its disciplinary system through every upheaval—the revolution of 1848, the establishment of the Second Reich in 1871, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi Third Reich, the Second World War and the reconstruction era, the creation and reunification of the two German states. Pier Carlo Bontempelli focuses on this continuity, dating back to the early nineteenth century, when the “founding fathers” of Germanistik secured its status by grounding it in a set of fixed principles, revived by each successive generation of scholars in order to legitimize their position of power—and to ensure their capacity for cultural reproduction. Using the works of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, Bontempelli investigates the institution and principles of German Studies and critically reconstructs its history. Mindful of the mechanisms of choice and domination operating at every turn, his book exposes the repressed social and political history of German Studies.

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Questions Of Modernity

Timothy Mitchell

Modernity has always laid claim to universal certainty—which meant assigning a different and lesser significance to anything deemed purely local, non-Western, or lacking a universal expression. This book makes those very non-Western, non-universal elements the tools for fashioning a more complex, rigorous, and multifaceted understanding of how the modern comes about. Focusing on the making of modernity outside the West, eight leading anthropologists, historians, and political theorists explore the production of new forms of politics, sensibility, temporality, and selfhood in locations ranging from nineteenth-century Bengal to contemporary Morocco. Topics include the therapeutics of colonial medical practice, the multiple registers of popular film, television serials and their audiences, psychiatrists and their patients, the iconic figure of the young widow, and the emergence of new political forms beyond the grasp of civil society. Contributors: Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia U; Dipesh Chakrabarty, U of Chicago; Partha Chatterjee, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta; Veena Das, U of Delhi; Nicholas B. Dirks, Columbia U; Stefania Pandolfo, UC Berkeley; and Gyan Prakash, Princeton U.

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Sacred Revolutions

Durkheim And The College De Sociologie

Michele H. Richman

How is it that the most radical cultural iconoclasts of the interwar years—Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, and Michel Leiris—could have responded to the rise of fascism by taking refuge in a "sacred sociology"? This is the question that Michèle H. Richman poses in a work that examines this seemingly paradoxical development. Her book traces the overall implications for French social thought of the "ethnographic detour" that began with Durkheim’s interest in Australian aboriginal religion—implications that reach back to the Revolution of 1789 and forward to the student protests of May 1968. Richman argues that by revising a phenomenon at once as familiar and as exotic as the sacred, these intellectuals forged a point of view relevant to politics, art, and eroticism in the modern period. Assimilating sociology to this revised notion of the sacred, they revitalized a critical discourse based on anthropological thinking dating back to Montaigne and culminating in Rousseau. Her work thus supplies an important chapter in the history of the human sciences while demonstrating the formation of an innovative critical discourse that straddles literary theory, social thought, and religious and cultural studies.

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Socialism and Modernity

Peter Beilharz

This first collection of Peter Beilharz's highly influential thought traces the themes and problems, manifestations, and trajectories of socialism and modernity as they connect and shift over a twenty-year period. Woven throughout Beilharz's analysis is the urgent question of modern utopia: how do we imagine freedom and equality in modernity?

The essays in this volume explore the relationship between socialism and modernity across the United States, Europe, and Australia from the mid-1980s to the turn of the twenty-first century, a time that witnessed the global triumph of capitalism and the dramatic turn away from Marxism and socialism to modernity as the dominant perspective. According to Beilharz, we have seen the expansion of a kind of Weberian Marxism, with the concept of revolution giving way to the idea of pluralized forms of power and the idea of rupture giving way to the postmodern sense of difference. These changes come together with the discourse of modernism, both aesthetic and technological.

Socialism and modernity, Beilharz argues, are fundamentally interrelated. In correcting the conflation of Marxism, Bolshevism, and socialism that occludes contemporary political thinking, he reopens a space for discussion of what socialist politics might look like now-in the postcommunist-postcolonial-postmodern moment.

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State Repression and the Labors of Memory

Elizabeth Jelin

Hearing the news from South America at the turn of the millennium can be like traveling in time: here are the trials of Pinochet, the searches for “the disappeared” in Argentina, the investigation of the death of former president Goulart in Brazil, the Peace Commission in Uruguay, the Archive of Terror in Paraguay, a Truth Commission in Peru. As societies struggle to come to terms with the past and with the vexing questions posed by ineradicable memories, this wise book offers guidance. Combining a concrete sense of present urgency and a theoretical understanding of social, political, and historical realities, State Repression and the Labors of Memory fashions tools for thinking about and analyzing the presences, silences, and meanings of the past. With unflappable good judgment and fairness, Elizabeth Jelin clarifies the often muddled debates about the nature of memory, the politics of struggles over memories of historical injustice, the relation of historiography to memory, the issue of truth in testimony and traumatic remembrance, the role of women in Latin American attempts to cope with the legacies of military dictatorships, and problems of second-generation memory and its transmission and appropriation. Jelin’s work engages European and North American theory in its exploration of the various ways in which conflicts over memory shape individual and collective identities, as well as social and political cleavages. In doing so, her book exposes the enduring consequences of repression for social processes in Latin America, and at the same time enriches our general understanding of the fundamentally conflicted and contingent nature of memory.

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Theories Of The New Class

Intellectuals And Power

Lawrence Peter King

Old as the notion of the “New Class” is (the term was coined by anarchist Mikhail Bakunin around 1870), the idea of the ascendancy of an intellectual elite continues to engage, and perplex, social theorists. In Theories of the New Class, Iván Szelényi, one of the most incisive and respected analysts of the intellectual class, and his colleague Lawrence King put New Class theories into a broad historical framework for the first time. Addressing the intellectual history of Marxism and socialism, theories of the increasing role of the state and technocratic elites in capitalism, and theories of contemporary social change, King and Szelényi’s work clearly links the centrality of thinking about intellectual class formation to a variety of theoretical and political projects that have shaped social theory and influenced political realities over the past century. King and Szelényi show that the idea of the New Class has stubbornly entered and reentered the agenda of critical social theorizing throughout the last century. Indeed, they interpret that the last century as a history of projects by different groups of the highly educated—factions of intellectuals, bureaucrats, technocrats, managers, and the left-wing humanistic intelligentsia—to gain ultimate power. A rare empirical discussion of theory, Theories of the New Class invigorates class theories by grounding them in contemporary issues; at the same time, it uses modern polemics to revitalize historical debates on the origins of capitalism.

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Two Kinds of Rationality

Kibbutz Democracy and Generational Conflict

T.M.S. Evens

Two Kinds of Rationality was first published in 1995. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Beginning with a discussion of mind-body dualism in social anthropology, Evens presents a profound theory of human conduct that deploys notions of hierarchy and practice. He uses the case study of an Israeli kibbutz to address the central anthropological problem of rationality.

Of particular interest is Evens's interpretation of the Genesis myth, as well as his reading of Rousseau's revision of this myth, as paradigms of generational conflict and the kibbutz's logic of moral order. These interpretations are tied to Evens's detailed discussion of a controversial attempt to introduce secret balloting into a particular kibbutz's directly democratic process.

Two Kinds of Rationality distinguishes between instrumental and mythic rationality, picturing the latter as a value rationality. Projecting reality as basically ambiguous, Evens offers a critique of theoretical approaches to social action and a rethinking of contemporary notions of human agency. This revolutionary theoretical work will appeal to social and political theorists, anthropologists, and students of cultural studies, social movements, and Jewish studies.

T. M. S. Evens is professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of numerous articles and coeditor of Transcendence in Society: Case Studies (1990), a comparative study of social movements.


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