Filed under book | Tags: · cultural history, enlightenment, france, history
When the apprentices of a Paris printing shop in the 1730s held a series of mock trials and then hanged all the cats they could lay their hands on, why did they find it so hilariously funny that they choked with laughter when they reenacted it in pantomime some twenty times? Why in the eighteenth-century version of Little Red Riding Hood did the wolf eat the child at the end? What did the anonymous townsman of Montpelier have in mind when he kept an exhaustive dossier on all the activities of his native city? These are some of the provocative questions Robert Darnton answers in this classic work of European history in what we like to call “The Age of Enlightenment.”
First published in 1985
Publisher Basic Books, New York, 1990
Filed under book | Tags: · craft, hand, history, labour, machine, technology, work
Craftsmanship, says Richard Sennett, names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. The computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen all engage in a craftsman’s work. In this thought-provoking book, Sennett explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.
The Craftsman engages the many dimensions of skill—from the technical demands to the obsessive energy required to do good work. Craftsmanship leads Sennett across time and space, from ancient Roman brickmakers to Renaissance goldsmiths to the printing presses of Enlightenment Paris and the factories of industrial London; in the modern world he explores what experiences of good work are shared by computer programmers, nurses and doctors, musicians, glassblowers, and cooks. Unique in the scope of his thinking, Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.
Publisher Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2008
ISBN 0300149557, 9780300149555
Meta F. Janowitz, Diane Dallal (eds.): Tales of Gotham, Historical Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Microhistory of New York City (2013)
Filed under book | Tags: · 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, anthropology, archaeology, city, ethnoarchaeology, ethnography, history, new york
Historical Archaeology and Ethnohistory of New York City: Tales and Microhistory of Gotham is a collection of narratives about people who lived in New York City during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, people whose lives archaeologists have encountered during excavations at sites where these people lived or worked. The stories are ethnohistorical or microhistorical studies created using archaeological and documentary data. As microhistories, they are concerned with particular people living at particular times in the past within the framework of world events.
The world events framework will be provided in short introductions to chapters grouped by time periods and themes. The foreword by Mary Beaudry and the afterword by LuAnne DeCunzo bookend the individual case studies and add theoretical weight to the volume. Topics in the book include:
- Native Americans and Europeans in New Amsterdam
- Stories of Dutch women in the colonial period
- African history in New York City, including the African Burial Ground
- Craftsmen and Churchmen of New York City
- A portrait of Stephen Allen, a New York City Mayor
Historical Archaeology and Ethnohistory of New York City: Tales and Microhistory of Gotham focuses on specific individual life stories, or stories of groups of people, as a way to present archaeological theory and research. Archaeologists work with material culture—artifacts—to recreate daily lives and study how culture works; this book is an example of how to do this in a way that can attract people interested in history as well as in anthropological theory. As such, this volume is an invaluable resource for archaeologists, historians, ethnographers, anthropologists, and anybody interested in the rich history of one of the world’s most influential cities, New York City.
With a Foreword by Mary Beaudry
With an Afterword by LuAnne DeCunzo
Publisher Springer, London, 2013
ISBN 1461452716, 9781461452713
Filed under book | Tags: · freemasonry, history, philosophy, slavery
In this path-breaking work, Susan Buck-Morss draws new connections between history, inequality, social conflict, and human emancipation. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History offers a fundamental reinterpretation of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic and points to a way forward to free critical theoretical practice from the prison-house of its own debates. Historicizing the thought of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the actions taken in the Haitian Revolution, Buck-Morss examines the startling connections between the two and challenges us to widen the boundaries of our historical imagination. She finds that it is in the discontinuities of historical flow, the edges of human experience, and the unexpected linkages between cultures that the possibility to transcend limits is discovered. It is these flashes of clarity that open the potential for understanding in spite of cultural differences. What Buck-Morss proposes amounts to a “new humanism,” one that goes beyond the usual ideological implications of such a phrase to embrace a radical neutrality that insists on the permeability of the space between opposing sides and as it reaches for a common humanity.
Publisher University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009
ISBN 0822973340, 9780822973348
Hegel and Haiti (English, paper, Critical Inquiry, 2000)
Hegel y Haití: La dialéctica amo-esclavo, una interpretación revolucionaria (Spanish, book, trans. Fermín Rodríguez, 2005)
Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (English, book, 2009)
Filed under book | Tags: · democracy, history, politics
A bold rethinking of the most powerful political idea in the world—democracy—and the story of how radical democracy can yet transform America
Democracy has been the American religion since before the Revolution—from New England town halls to the multicultural democracy of Atlantic pirate ships. But can our current political system, one that seems responsive only to the wealthiest among us and leaves most Americans feeling disengaged, voiceless, and disenfranchised, really be called democratic? And if the tools of our democracy are not working to solve the rising crises we face, how can we—average citizens—make change happen?
David Graeber, one of the most influential scholars and activists of his generation, takes readers on a journey through the idea of democracy, provocatively reorienting our understanding of pivotal historical moments, and extracts their lessons for today—from the birth of Athenian democracy and the founding of the United States of America to the global revolutions of the twentieth century and the rise of a new generation of activists. Underlying it all is a bracing argument that in the face of increasingly concentrated wealth and power in this country, a reenergized, reconceived democracy—one based on consensus, equality, and broad participation—can yet provide us with the just, free, and fair society we want.
The Democracy Project tells the story of the resilience of the democratic spirit and the adaptability of the democratic idea. It offers a fresh take on vital history and an impassioned argument that radical democracy is, more than ever, our best hope.
Publisher Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of The Random House, New York, 2013
ISBN 081299356X, 9780812993561
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Susan Buck-Morss: The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (1989-) [English, Spanish]
Filed under book | Tags: · 1800s, advertising, bourgeoisie, city, commodification, critical theory, cultural criticism, fashion, flaneur, history, literary criticism, literature, paris, photography, poetry
Walter Benjamin’s magnum opus was a book he did not live to write. In The Dialectics of Seeing, Susan Buck-Morss offers an inventive reconstruction of the Passagen-Werk, or Arcades Project, as it might have taken form.
Working with Benjamin’s vast files of citations and commentary which contain a myriad of historical details from the dawn of consumer culture, Buck-Morss makes visible the conceptual structure that gives these fragments philosophical coherence. She uses images throughout the book to demonstrate that Benjamin took the debris of mass culture seriously as the source of philosophical truth.
The Paris Arcades that so fascinated Benjamin (as they did the Surrealists whose “materialist metaphysics” he admired) were the prototype, the 19th century “ur-form” of the modern shopping mall. Benjamin’s dialectics of seeing demonstrate how to read these consumer dream houses and so many other material objects of the time—from air balloons to women’s fashions, from Baudelaire’s poetry to Grandville’s cartoons—as anticipations of social utopia and, simultaneously, as clues for a radical political critique.
Buck-Morss plots Benjamin’s intellectual orientation on axes running east and west, north and south—Moscow Paris, Berlin-Naples—and shows how such thinking in coordinates can explain his understanding of “dialectics at a standstill.” She argues for the continuing relevance of Benjamin’s insights but then allows a set of “afterimages” to have the last word.
Publisher MIT Press, 1989
Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought Series
The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (English, updated on 2013-5-2)
Dialectica de la mirada: Walter Benjamin y el proyecto de los Pasajes (Spanish, trans. Nora Rabotnikof, 1995, updated on 2013-5-2)
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Filed under book | Tags: · economics, history, market, religion
This book by the legendary Situationist activist and author of The Revolution of Everyday Life examines the heretical and millenarian movements that challenged social and ecclesiastical authority in Europe from the 1200s into the 1500s.
Although Vaneigem discusses a number of different movements such as the Cathars and Joachimite millenarians, his main emphasis is on the various manifestations of the Movement of the Free Spirit in northern Europe. He sees not only resistance to the power of state and church but also the immensely creative invention of new forms of love, sexuality, community, and exchange. Vaneigem is particularly interested in the radical opposition presented by these movements to the imperatives of an emerging market-based economy, and he evokes crucial historical parallels with the antisystemic rebellions of the 1960s. The book includes translations of original texts and source materials.
Originally published as Le Mouvement du libre-esprit, Editions Ramsay, 1986
Translated by Randall Cherry, Ian Patterson
Full title: The Movement of the Free Spirit: General Considerations and Firsthand Testimony Concerning Some Brief Flowerings of Life in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and, Incidentally, Our Own Time
Publisher Zone Books, 1994
ISBN 0942299701, 9780942299700
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