This issue marks a new stage in the deterritorialisation of Theory & Event. By coincidence, the two members of the new editorial team have spent the first part of 2002 moving to new institutions, Chaloupka to Colorado State University and Patton to the University of New South Wales. We hope that the fiber optic traces of future issues of Theory & Event will quickly settle into new pathways with a minimum of disruption. We also hope that this reorientation will mark a new stage in the internationalisation of this trans-Pacific home for the best of contemporary political theory.
The issue opens with a dedication to an exemplary American political theorist and teacher, Michael Rogin, known to many contributors and readers of this journal, who was an inspiration for the kind of intellectual and political engagement we aim to continue.
We publish an important intercontinental exchange between two leading political theorists, Slavoj Zizek and William Connolly. The contrast between two influential approaches to the political analysis of film, Zizek’s Lacanian interpretation of the hallucinatory character of Hollywood style narrative and Connolly’s Deleuze inspired approach to the micropolitics of film (or film as micropolitics), are played out in a series of virtuoso analyses of films as diverse as The Duel — Enemy at the Gates, Hannibal, Vertigo and Stranger than Paradise.
The centrepiece of this issue is an extraordinarily rich and wide-ranging symposium, and one additional essay, on the work of Hannah Arendt. These essays provide an excellent survey of central themes in Arendt’s work, but also a testament to its enduring productivity. Comparisons with contemporary thinkers such as Pocock, Minow or Derrida, and earlier thinkers such as Kant and Hegel, show the extent to which her concerns go to the heart of the modern political condition. While the contributors to this symposium bring out tensions within Arendt’s thought, such as those between justice and forgiveness, action and thought, they also demonstrate that these tensions are signs of life much more than they are indicators of blockage or stasis within her thinking.
Unlike our preceding issue, this one was not conceived in explicit response to the events of September 11. Yet in a number of ways, Arendt’s reflections on justice, forgiveness and the nature of evil in the aftermath of mid-twentieth century genocide resonate powerfully with issues raised by responses to September 11: are some atrocities best regarded as ‘crimes against humanity’ and would it be appropriate, as Arendt suggested it might, to establish an international tribunal to deal with such crimes rather than risk pursuing the perpetrators in ways which reproduce their hostility and violence? What is the nature of forgiveness and does it offer a means to escape the cycle of revenge in a way that territorially based conceptions of justice and right do not? Is forgiveness and irremediably personal and religious concept or can it be given an institutional and political sense that enables communities as well as individual victims to escape the shackles of the past? These questions are posed in many guises in different parts of the world. Arendt’s efforts to provide answers remain an exemplary effort to make political thought equal to the events it confronts.
Finally, this issue includes a review of Saul Newman’s From Bakunin to Lacan and two review essays, one on recent works addressing the cultural politics of sport and another on identity construction amid the historical and material conditions of everyday life.
Please note that all previous issues of the journal are accessible, through the Archives link. The Special Symposium (issue 5.4) is at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_&_event/toc/tae5.4.html.
The exchange between Zizek and Connolly appeared initially in the Danish journal Politologiske Studier, which is located at the Institute of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (Denmark). The journal, which has articles in Danish as well as in English, is published four times a year. Each issue is devoted to a cross-disciplinary theme with relevance for students and scholars of politics, international relations, sociology, humanities, and cultural studies. You can visit Politoligiske Studier at www.politologiske.dk.