Published in 2008, Slavoj Žižek’s Violence: Six Sideways Reflections provides critical insight into the structures of power which dictate our perception and comprehension of violence in society. In particular, Žižek’s conception of the distinction between the subjective and objective modes of perceiving violence is particularly illuminating. This paper utilizes Žižek’s distinction to recontextualize and reframe a classic of Australian theatre, David Williamson’s The Removalists. [i] This approach puts Žižek’s seminal work on violence to task, teases out (...) new meanings from Williamson’s text, and most broadly, explores new methods for understanding the playing out of violence on stage. (shrink)
In theological discourse of sexuality, queer theory has often been regarded as an extension of the project of gay and lesbian liberation, when it actually challenges an organizing value of the entire discourse, because it challenges any ascription of ultimate value to "sex," an imaginative formation of power relations. Rather than appeal to God to authorize the privileged status of sex, queer commentary suggests that theological writers should refuse assertions of the absolute importance of any particular formation of human imagination (...) as a basis of relation between self and God. The goal is to recognize the violence—symbolized and real—that enforces the worth of certain imaginations of intelligibly sexed personal identity and stunts the formation of alternative imaginations of intelligible personal identity. Critical account of this violence as sentimental-homicidal-suicidal opens space to confess a theological discourse of personal identities that is entirely beyond sex. (shrink)
In this paper, we demonstrate that the works of Franz Kafka provide an exemplary resource for the investigation of “moral distance” in organizational ethics. We accomplish this in two ways, first by drawing on Kafka’s work to navigate the complexities of the debate over the ethics of bureaucracy, using his work to expand and enrich the concept of “moral distance.” Second, Kafka’s work is used to investigate the existence of “ethical violence” within organizations which entails acts of condemnation and (...) cruelty purportedly in the name of ethics. Kafka’s work provides insight into the processes of moral distancing across a range of organizational contexts including highly formal as well as more informal settings. The paper enriches the concept “moral distance” by identifying the existence of facilitators of moral distance beyond the mechanisms of formal rationality that have been the focus of existing studies. We argue that Kafka’s intense portrayal of “ethical violence” points to an aporia at the very heart of organizational ethics. (shrink)
We are more used to thinking of medicine in relation to the ways that it alleviates the effects of violence. Yet an important thread in the academic literature acknowledges that medicine can also be responsible for perpetuating violence, albeit unintentionally, against the very individuals it intends to help. In this essay, I discuss definitions of violence, emphasizing the importance of understanding the term not only as a physical perpetration but as an act of power of one (...) person over another. I next explore the paradox of a healing profession that is permeated with violence sometimes necessary, often unintentional, and almost always unrecognized. Identifying the construct of “physician arrogance” as contributory to violence, I go on to identify different manifestations of violence in a medical context, including violence to the body; structural violence; metaphoric violence; and the practice of speaking to or about patients (and others in the healthcare system in ways that minimize or disrespect their full humanity. I further suggest possible explanations for the origins of these kinds of violence in physicians, including the fear of suffering and death in relation to vicarious trauma and the consequent concept of “killing suffering”; as well as why patients might be willing to accept such violence directed toward them. I conclude with brief recommendations for attending to root causes of violence, both within societal and institutional structures, and within ourselves, offering the model of the wounded healer. (shrink)
This article presents Kautilya, the most important thinker in the tradition of statecraft in India. Kautilya has influenced ideas of war and violence in much of South- and Southeast Asia and he is of great importance for a comparative understanding of the ethics of war. The violence inflicted by the king on internal and external enemies is pivotal for the maintenance of an ordered society, according to Kautilya. Prudence and treason are hallmarks of Kautilya's world. The article shows (...) that this realist and cynical view of politics is very different from other traditions in India, especially the religious tradition of the epic literature, where war is a game and chivalry is paramount. I conclude that Kautilya's tradition has something in common with the Clausewitzean philosophy of war. (shrink)
The term ‘obstetric violence’ has been used to describe the mistreatment, disrespect and abuse or dehumanized care of women during childbirth by health care providers. This is a review of the existing literature in India on violence against women during childbirth. The review used the typology of Bohren et al.. An internet search of PubMed, Google Scholar and JSTOR was conducted using the terms ‘obstetric violence’, ‘mistreatment’, ‘disrespect and abuse’ and ‘dehumanized care’. Studies based on empirical (...) research on women’s experiences during childbirth in health facilities in India were included in the review. The search yielded sixteen studies: one case study, two ethnographic studies, two mixed-methods studies, three cross-sectional qualitative studies, seven cross-sectional quantitative studies and one longitudinal quantitative study. The studies were analysed using the seven categories of mistreatment outlined by Bohren et al. : 1) physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, stigma and discrimination, failure to meet professional standards of care, poor rapport between women and providers, and health system conditions and constraints. An additional category of ‘harmful traditional practices and beliefs’ emerged from the Indian literature, which was also included in the review. Although geographically limited, the selected research highlighted varying prevalences of the different forms of ‘obstetric violence’ in both public and private birth facilities in India. ‘Obstetric violence’ in India was found to be associated with socio-demographic factors, with women of lower social standing experiencing greater levels of mistreatment. In response to this normalized public health issue, a multi-pronged, rights-based framework is proposed that addresses the social, political and structural contexts of ‘obstetric violence’ in India. (shrink)
The growing literature on gender in armed conflict and the debates over post-conflict reparations for women, focus on the prevalence and harms of sexual violence. While this focus has recently been critiqued, there are few articulations of other types of gendered injuries. This article decentres the emphasis on sexual violence by examining the intersection between forced displacement and political insecurity. Based on extensive field research in Colombia, and using as an example a case study of an internally (...) displaced women’s grassroots organization in Cartagena, Colombia, this article examines political insecurity as a specifically gendered harm. It reflects on the concrete circumstances of insecurity, on the relevance of traditional gender roles in the constitution of insecurity, and on the challenges for court-ordered remedies. This widening of the scope of attention also invites complex reflection on the possibility of transformative reparations in post-conflict situations. (shrink)
A biblical understanding of God's relationship with Israel and the world helps us interpret passages in the prophetic literature that link God and violence. With tears, lament, and regret, God takes into the divine self the violent effects of sinful human activities and thereby makes possible a non-violent future for God's people.
The three texts addressed in this review essay challenge us to question and creatively re-imagine the representation of material spaces at the centre of the colonial project: oceans, islands, ships and archives. Elizabeth McMahon deconstructs the island and its metaphorics, charting the relationship of geography, politics and literature through the changing status of islands, as imagined by colonists, beginning in the Caribbean and ending in Australia. Renisa Mawani destabilises colonial geography by re-animating the ocean and presents, amongst others, the (...) ship and the ocean, as both method and juridical form. Writing against the ‘free sea’, Mawani addresses the imperial reliance on control of the ocean and the intensive juridification of the sea. Stewart Motha re-imagines law’s aggressive acts of adjudication, and challenges its originary fictions by exploring the logic, aesthetics and violence of legal processes that preserve and disavow the past at the same time. Each monograph considers the imaginaries, fictions and material geographies of colonialism, alongside how these imaginaries have been used as sites of counter-claim and resistance by those subjected to their technologies. (shrink)
Every one of us has been a participant these days in futile and endless conversations about the fact that in the past few years violence in our country has excalated to the limit or, more accurately, beyond all limits. No one remembers the nightmares concealed behind the bureaucratic term "mass repressions," when tens and hundreds of thousands of the country's inhabitants were sentenced to death and were exterminated on orders from the top, in a planned manner through "troikas." Human (...) memory is short, and everyday consciousness can only exist thanks to this forgetfulness. Yet it should not be difficult to recall that ten years ago it was no less dangerous to go out for a walk in the evenings. But the newspapers were silent then and crime statistics were secret. If we go back to the origins of the Soviet state, we will see even from the permitted literature of the time that the ferocity of the communist secret police and the White counterintelligence accompanied a deluge of lawlessness that a European can hardly imagine. Suffice it to say that the leader of the world's first proletariat state was accosted and robbed by bandits. (shrink)
This article examines the cultural meanings of suicide, self-sacrifice, military and terrorist violence in the context of contemporary Israel, Palestine and the U.S. ‘War on Terror’. Notions of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘suicide’, employed in the anthropological and sociological literature, are evaluated with regard to these materials using a theoretical framework for interpreting violent acts as part of cultural expression and as critically linked to collective imagination and memory. This theoretical approach is then also deployed to re-examine other apparently unintelligible (...) forms of violence, such as school-shootings, serial-killing in the U.S., as well as ethnic-cleansing and community violence elsewhere. (shrink)
This book traces the theory of violence from nineteenth-century symmetrical warfare through today's warfare of electronics and unbalanced numbers. Surveying such luminaries as Walter Benjamin, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, Paul Virilio, and Jacques Derrida, Avelar also offers a discussion of theories of torture and confession, the work of Roman Polanski and Borges, and a meditation on the rise of the novel in Colombia.
The article applies selected concepts from the writings of Julia Kristeva to the analysis of a novel by Doris Lessing entitled The Cleft. Published in 2007, The Cleft depicts the origin of sexual difference in the human species. Its emergence is fraught with anxiety and sexually specific violence, and invites comparison with the primal separation from the mother and the emancipation of the subject in process at the cost of relegating the maternal to the abject in the writings of (...) Julia Kristeva. Lessing creates an ahistorical community of females from which the male community eventually evolves. The growing awareness of sexual difference dovetails with the emotional and intellectual development, as the nascent human subject gradually enters linear time viewed from perspective by the narrator of the novel, a Roman senator who hoards ancient manuscripts with the story of Clefts and Squirts. The article juxtaposes the ideas of Lessing and Kristeva, who have both cut themselves off from feminism, and have both been inspired by psychoanalysis. Primarily, Lessing’s fictional imaginary can be adequately interpreted in light of Kristeva’s concept of abjection as an element that disturbs the system. My interpretation of abjection is indebted to Pamela Sue Anderson’s reading of Kristeva, notably her contention that violence as a response to sexual difference lies at the heart of collective identity. Finally, the imaginary used by Lessing and Kristeva is shown to have stemmed from the colonial imaginary like the concepts of Freud and Jung. (shrink)
The Blood of Others begins at the bedside of a mortally wounded Résistance fighter named Hélène Bertrand. We encounter her from the point of view of Jean Blomart, her friend and lover, who recounts the story of their relationship : their first meeting, unhappy romance, bitter breakup, and eventual reunion as fellow fighters for the liberation of occupied France. The novel invites the reader to interpret Hélène and Jean’s story as one of positive ethical development. On this progressive reading, although (...) both characters are initially mired in bad faith and ethical irresponsibility, they ultimately transform themselves into ethically exemplary figures. Through their participation in violent political resistance against the occupation, they recognize their responsibility to humanity and actualize that responsibility in the form of positive political engagement. I will argue, on the contrary, that Jean and Hélène exhibit a unique form of bad faith that Beauvoir identifies in The Ethics of Ambiguity, a dangerous form of bad faith, distinct from the Sartrean conception, that promotes the indiscriminate use of violence for political ends. (shrink)
Examining the images of war displayed on front pages of the New York Times, David Shields makes the case that they ultimately glamorize military conflict. He anchors his case with an excerpt on the delight of the sublime from Edmund Burke’s aesthetic theory in A Philosophical Enquiry. By contrast, this essay considers violence and warfare using not the Burkean sublime, but instead the beautiful in Burke’s aesthetics, and argues that forming identities on the beautiful in the Burkean sense can (...) ultimately shut down dialogue and feed the lust for violence and revenge. (shrink)
Numinous spaces in British literature from William Wordsworth to Samuel Beckett -- Jesus figures in American literature from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Edward Albee -- Using Bakhtin's definitions to discover ethical voices in Solzhenitsyn and Tolstoy -- René Girard's categories of scapegoats in literature of the American South -- Hopkins's metaphysics of nature as sacred disclosure -- The book of job as mirrored in Hopkins's metaphysics -- Beckett's mythos of the absence of God.
Although there are many, mostly male, contemporary writers in Brazil whose narratives of urban violence and social inequality implicitly reflect the impact and legacy of slavery on contemporary society, it is interesting that this shameful period, and shockingly brutal events which seem to prove wrong the myths of gentle colonization and harmonious racial democracy, should be chosen as subject matter by four women writers. While very different novels, Adriana Lisboa’s Os Fios da Memória [The Threads of Memory], Conceição Evaristo's (...) Ponciá Vicêncio, Ana Maria Gonçalves's Um Defeito de Cor [A Defect in Colour] and Tatiana Salem Levy's Paraíso [Paradise] all deal frankly with the horrors of slavery and its aftermaths from the point of view of the most vulnerable member of colonial society: the enslaved African woman. This article analyses the ways in which these writers claim justice for their characters and remind readers that those excluded from official histories had names, faces and voices. (shrink)
Greimas’s conception of narrative is based on a causality linked to basic paradigms establishing the deep meaning of a story; Girard’s conception of narrative is rooted in a universal mimetic desire which leads the “lynchers” to justify exclusion by producing mythical narratives demonstrating that the excluded was evil; Kymlicka’s perspective on cultural relationships is based on the necessity to create a socio-political framework helping people to cooperate in order to invent a better world. These three important thinkers analyze stories people (...) tell themselves or believe in in order to organize a controlled and safer way of life for themselves. We compare the theoretical perspectives of these three thinkers in order to understand in what way contemporary writers of the Americas structure their narratives and explore encounters while aiming at fostering a vision of the world oriented towards multi and transculturalism. (shrink)
Figuring Animals is a collection of fifteen essays concerning the representation of animals in literature, the visual arts, philosophy, and cultural practice. At the turn of the new century, it is helpful to reconsider our inherited understandings of the species, some of which are still useful to us. It is also important to look ahead to new understandings and new dialogue, which may contribute to the survival of us all. The contributors to this volume participate in this dialogue in (...) a variety of ways--through personal experience, natural history, cultural studies, philosophical inquiry, art history, literary analysis, film studies, and theoretical imagining, and through a combination of these trains of thought. The essays expose weaknesses in western epistemological frames of reference that for centuries have limited our views and, thus, our experiences of animal being, including our own. (shrink)
These essays showcase the value of the narrative arts in investigating complex conflicts of value in moral and political life, and explore the philosophical problem of moral dilemmas as expressed in ancient drama, classic and contemporary ...
The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or (...) on discontinuities, how should natural science draw the boundaries? Moral agents act and react in a world that they see under a certain description, and there is no value free science that can settle what is the correct description. This book asks us to think about where moral justification could come from, and suggests that the supposed ‘moral status’ of the object cannot provide the answer. For the moral status of the object is a product of our own imagination, and once we see that, we also see that there remains the question where we ought to have the will to see it. Furthermore, since the perception of moral truth involves the development of imagination and will, the means to attain it will be better served by engagement with poetry and literature than with enquiries that seek to exclude the engagement of the imagination, or any appeal to the beauty of nature or the love of one's fellow creatures. (shrink)
This collection is a study of African literature framed by the central, and multi-faceted, idea of 'mother' - motherland, mothertongue, motherwit, motherhood, mothering - looking at the paradoxical location of (m)other as both central and marginal. Whilst the volume stands as a sustained feminist analysis, it engages feminist theory itself by showing how issues in feminism are, in African literature, recast in different and complex ways.
Complex Pleasure deals with questions of literary feeling in eight major German writers—Lessing, Kant, Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Musil, Kafka, Trakl, and Benjamin. On the basis of close readings of these authors Stanley Corngold makes vivid the following ideas: that where there is literature there is complex pleasure; that this pleasure is complex because it involves the impression of a disclosure; that this thought is foremost in the minds of a number of canonical writers; that important literary works in the German (...) tradition—fiction, poetry, critique—can be illuminated through their treatment of literary feeling; and, finally, that the conceptual terms for these forms of feeling continually vary. The types of feeling treated in Complex Pleasure include wit (the startling perception of likeness) and the disinterested pleasure of aesthetic judgment; Hölderlin’s “swift conceptual grasp,” in which “the tempo of the process of thought is stressed”; “artistic imagination,” mood, sadistic enjoyment, rapturous distraction, homonymic dissonance, and courage as a mode of literary experience. At the same time, through the deftness, range, and surprise of its execution, the book itself conveys complex pleasure. The reader will also find fascinating, hitherto untranslated material by Nietzsche (“On Moods”) and Kafka (important sections from his journals and from his unfinished novel The Boy Who Sank Out of Sight). (shrink)
This study is an important contribution to the intellectual history of Victorian England which examines the religio-aesthetic theories of some central writers of the time. Dr Fraser begins with a discussion of the aesthetic dimensions of Tractarian theology and then proceeds to the orthodox certainties of Hopkins' theory of inscape, Ruskin's and Arnold's moralistic criticism of literature and the visual arts, and Pater's and Wilde's faith in a religion of art. The author identifies significant cultural and historical conditions which (...) determined the interdependence of aesthetic and religious sensibility in the period. She argues that certain tensions in the thought of Wordsworth and Coleridge - tensions between poetry and religion, rebellion and reaction, individualism and authority - continued to manifest themselves throughout the Victorian age, and as society became increasingly democratic, religion in turn became increasingly personal and secular. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Acknowledgments; Introduction: scales of identification; 1. Democratic expansionism, gothic geographies, and Charles Brockden Brown; 2. Urban apartments, global cities: the enlargement of private space in Poe and James; 3. Cultural orphans: domesticity, missionaries, and China from Stowe to Sui Sin Far; 4. 'The Checkered Globe': cosmopolitan despair in the American Pacific; 5. Literature and regional production; Epilogue: scales of resistance.