Hashtag Panelwatch: Accumulation by Discrediting

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A common occurrence when organizing academic events these days is the inevitable encounter with a trigger-​happy deployment of queries and condemnation regarding representation. In the age of immediate self-​publication in social media, this “calling out” usually takes the form of one or more people condemning event organisers on Twitter, Facebook, a blog or some combination thereof. The organisers are condemned for hosting speakers who do not reflect a sufficiently full spectrum of people from marginalised groups (by, for instance, ignoring gender, race, dis/​ability, nationality, sexuality or some other aspect of social identity in the panel’s or conference’s line-​up). In the last year, we have witnessed several events marred in some way by the social media call-​out. This phenomenon more often than not has…

The TTIP: Back to the future?

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In 1954 the ordo-​liberal economist1 W. Roepke was invited in the Hague to deliver a paper on the relation between (neoliberal) economics and international law. In this instructive speech entitled ‘Economic Order and International Law’2 Roepke observed that the 19th century being par excellence the time of economic liberalism lacked international legal documents on free trade, investment protection etc. For him this was not a contradiction, but rather a manifestation of political consensus: since all (Western) governments agreed on the merits of free market economy, there was no practical need to safeguard it through additional, international legislation. It was rather the experience of the inter-​war ‘protectionism’ and the ongoing legacy of Keynesian politics and of differentiated legislation that according to Roepke disrupted free…

Legal infrastructure, differentiated space and the spectacle of ‘lawful protest’: The Australian G20 (Safety and Security) Act 2013

Brisbane Exclusion Zone

Queensland is this year host to various G20 meetings, most prominently the Finance Ministers’ Meeting that was held in Cairns on 20 & 21 September and next month’s Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane on 15 & 16 November. At a cost of over $450 million, a massive security operation is being coordinated by the Commonwealth Government Taskforce (G20 Taskforce), together with the Queensland Police Service and other Commonwealth, State and Local government security agencies. In what is, as Queensland Police Service assistant commissioner Katarina Carroll, confirms, ‘arguably (the biggest) [police operation] in Australia, but definitely the biggest operation in Queensland’, 5000 police, from Queensland, the AFP, interstate forces and security personal will be on the streets of Brisbane on a 24-​hour roster. Public transport…

Barbarism: Notes on the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno

Paul Klee, Hauptweg und Nebenwege, 1929, oil on canvas, 83,7 x 67,5 cm, Museum Ludwig 1976.

The whole thing is truly barbarism, and triumphs as such even over its own barbaric spirit. — Theodor W. Adorno Adorno’s use of the term “barbarism” has probably been most often referred to in the context of his much-​cited dictum that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (Adorno 1983: 34). While, nowadays, the term is usually and fortunately presented within the broader context of his works, his intended meaning was frequently misunderstood particularly after Adorno had articulated it for the first time. For clarity, the aforementioned dictum was not a verdict intended to silence poets or artists. It was rearticulated a few times by Adorno — specifically in response to Celan’s poetry — who calls for arts and culture to respond from within and in the…

A Taste for the Secret: Interview with Mark Neocleous

Mark Neocleous

This interview was originally conducted in March 2014 for Kampfplatz (a journal of philosophy, published in Turkish in Ankara, Turkey) and its Turkish translation was first published in the 6th issue of the Kampfplatz in May 2014. More information about Kampfplatz can be found on their website (in Turkish). Kampfplatz also annually co-​organizes State and Law Symposium (devletvehukuk​.blogspot​.com — in Turkish only), in memory of young academician Taner Yelkenci, in collaboration with non-​governmental organizations every May in Izmit, Turkey. One of the international participants of the 2014 Taner Yelkenci State and Law Sypmosium was Mark Neocleous. You can view the video of his talk here. Gülden Özcan & Ersin Vedat Elgür (&EVE): Before getting into the details of your work, we would like to discuss with…

Demanding the Future: The Right2Water and Another Ireland

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The American abolitionist Frederick Douglass once observed that if you find out ‘just what any people will quietly submit to … you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them’ and that such injustices ‘will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both’. In Ireland, after six years of austerity and regressive tax reforms that have punished Irish working people for the benefit of Irish and European bond holders, it seems the Irish establishment may have finally discovered the measure of injustice that the people will not tolerate. The Irish government is currently implementing a plan to install water meters, so that people’s domestic water usage can be…

Federation: Notes on the thought of Carl Schmitt

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One of the most thorough and interesting discussions of the relationship between federalism, constitutionalism and democracy is presented by Carl Schmitt in Constitutional Theory (Duke University Press, 2008). A federation of states, or just a federation, is according to Schmitt a curious and structurally contradictory interstate relation, which has to be distinguished from, on the one hand, a confederation (an alliance of sovereign states)1 and, on the other hand, a federal state (one sovereign state). A federation is a permanent association of two or more states which rests on a free agreement of all member-​states with the common goal of self-​preservation; an agreement that however changes the political or constitutional status of the member-​states (p. 383 – 4). It is immediately clear that the federation lies in between — or is a curios…

Whose ideas are they anyway?

photo: Rivka Cocker

The academic world is a strange one. Sometimes, it seems like a place of tremendous sharing, generosity and trust. Other times, one of huge paranoia as competitive individuals scramble to protect ideas and work from the scavenging gaze of others. Attending an American humanities workshop some months back, I was struck by the fact that rather than presenting current research, speakers talked about already published writing. Was it lack of time or lack of trust that made them reluctant to divulge new directions in their thinking? A European friend recently told me she had been warned to leave her best ideas off her grant applications in case they were taken and used without attribution. Others worry about submitting articles to academic journals in case…

The Black Atlantic: Notes on the Thought of Paul Gilroy

Black-Atlantic

Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, which was first published in 1993, remains remarkable for its introduction of the validity of ‘race’ as an analytical category in presenting the ‘Atlantic’ as a discrete geo-​political unit in the modern capitalist world-​system.1 The book elaborates a richly provocative critique of cultural nationalism, against which Gilroy posits black diasporic cultural and intellectual production. Gilroy’s ‘black Atlantic’ delineates a distinctively modern, cultural-​political space that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but is, rather, a hybrid mix of all of these at once; this is evidenced via a series of compelling readings of a cohort of key modern black intellectuals and artists. Martin Delaney, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Toni Morrison, and Richard Wright, and black Atlantic music from jazz to…

Parrēsia: Notes on the Thought of Michel Foucault

Jean-Léon Gérôme - Diogenes - Walters

In the last two lecture series Foucault gave at the Collège de France in 1982 – 1984, published under the titles The Government of Self and Others and The Courage of Truth, a genealogy of the obscure concept parrēsia - “truth-​telling”(dire-​vrai) or “free-​spokeness”(franc-​parler) — is unfolded. Parrēsia was, according to Foucault, one of the core principles of Athenian democracy together with - but sharply distinguished from - isonomia and isēgoria; principles that are roughly translatable as equality before the law and the equal right to address the assembly for all citizens of Athens. Though all Athenian citizens have an equal right to speak (isēgoria), only a small elite, those who are in the foremost rank (prōton zugon) and of extraordinary personal and moral qualities, are meant to claim their right to…

Equaliberty: Notes on the Thought of Étienne Balibar

Day and Night, MC Escher, woodcut 1938

It could be asserted that the spectre of Equaliberty (Égaliberté) has haunted Étienne Balibar’s work for decades. Early connotations avant-​la-​lettre can be found in his concept of citizenship as ‘temporary equilibrium’ (Balibar 1988: 724) — a key structural condition that also underpins ‘equaliberty’. The notion itself reappears throughout the entirety of his work; the most differentiated and compiled summary of its fundamentals are to be found in Equaliberty (2014; first published in French in 2010), which contains a collection of essays responsive to the term. Equaliberty itself is more of a proposition than a concept. It hints at an aporetic condition determining the political field. Balibar’s frequently used terminological characterisation ‘portmanteau’ attests to its inherent non-​uniformity. While he traces equaliberty’s genealogical origin back to Cicero (aequa…

Why Neoliberalism’s Unregulated Global Debt System is for the Birds (and Vultures)

Jubilee vulture pic

An eerie sense of calm pervaded the bustling streets of Buenos Aires as local Porteños calmly went about their daily business. It was 31st July 2014 and the clock had just run out on the deadline for Argentina’s government to make a $539 million interest payment to the 93 percent of its bondholders which had agreed to debt restructuring in the years since the country’s 2001/​2 economic and political crisis. Back then Argentina had been forced to declare the largest sovereign default in world history, but with the latest deadline having been missed, the South American nation was now once again in ‘technical default’. Profound economic upheaval potentially lay in store. If the locals’ seemingly misplaced serenity wasn’t disturbing enough, what…

Three Questions for Hamas

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There is no doubt that Hamas has exhibited extraordinary resilience under the most difficult of conditions that have bedeviled its period of political leadership in the Gaza Strip that started in 2007. It also seems clear as persuasively argued by Sandy Tolan in a valuable Common Dreams article [Tolan, “Blown Chances in Gaza: Israel & U.S. Miss Many Chances to Avoid War, Aug. 13, 2014] that Hamas pursued multiple initiatives starting in 2006 designed to achieve calm and quiet in its relations with Israel, and that these initiatives, including back channel reassurance about peaceful intentions, were rebuffed without even being acknowledged by either Israel or the United States. It also seems the case that Israel acted to provoke the three most…

Finding the Hidden Constitution: Explaining Ireland’s Abortion Law

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On Saturday, we heard of the Irish state’s latest efforts to police its abortion law. The story has emerged from a series of High Court hearings. Reporting on the case is restricted by court order, and so facts have emerged drip by drip. On Tuesday, we heard a journalist almost in tears on Morning Ireland finally make sense of the story. A young woman, still in her teens, arrives in Ireland earlier this year. The Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act, 2013 is in the first months of its operation. She does not speak English. She has no money. She has few friends or family to call on. She has recently been raped in the country she had left to come to Ireland. During a medical assessment, presumably part…

An Island of Saints and Sadists: Abortion in Ireland

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People often ask me why I write such dark books. You’re such a sunny person, they say. I say: Look around you, what kind of a country do you think you’re living in? Here is a tale of the island of Saints and Sadists. A young woman came to our country for help, for a home, for safety. We call her an immigrant and it has become a bad word in the way that the simple trade of tinker became a bad word when I was a boy. And sometimes we call them refugees, which is even a worse word. Or fugees. At least we’re not racist about it. It applies to anyone in distress who asks us to take them in. And she had been raped in her own country and…

International Law 1914/​2014

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Looking back to mid-​1914 from mid-​2014, it is hard to see beyond the piles of bodies. History barely seems up to the task of grappling with this tumultuous interstice. Perhaps, rather than approaching this interval as a sequence of historical contexts, we might conceive of it – and our relationship to it – in terms of a welter of styles, or as a ‘storage room for costumes’ as Nietzsche suggests the ‘hybrid European’ makes of history. Now, as in the immediate aftermath of World War I, Dada seems the only way to concoct something approaching a response to that war and what we’ve done since. So, trying on hobble skirt and tunic: What among the ways international law might have been thought and done in 1914 seem to…

Civilians, Combatants, and Histories of International Law

If the only deaths worth mourning are those of children, we have become complicit with the oppression that dehumanizes their communities. Image by Israeli artist Amir Schiby in tribute to four boys killed on a beach In Gaza

In the media coverage of war, whether reports on individual incidents or the numbing tallies of casualties, the distinction between civilians and combatants is central and frequently contested. The killing of the four boys who had been playing soccer on a Gaza beach has become emblematic for Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians because the boys were clearly recognizable as children and therefore civilians. When news outlets report the death toll of the uneven conflict, they give details that bolster and yet complicate the distinction between civilians and combatants. For example, the Washington Post reports that as of July 26th, 41 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians were killed in the recent war, whereas 129 armed Palestinian militants, 119 Palestinians with unknown roles,…

Repetition and Death in the Colony: On the Israeli Attacks on Gaza

Visit Gaza

At the moment of writing these lines, the BBC reports 100 deaths thus far in Gaza in the recent Israeli onslaught. As we have seen these scenes before, the invocation of repetition comes naturally. “Once again” is a commonly used word when it comes to death and suffering under occupation in Palestine and specifically Gaza.1 It can be a rhetorically deployed knee-​jerk reaction (as in: once again Israel is killing Palestinians; or: once again Israel has to defend itself against Palestinian attacks). It can also be deployed by a well-​meaning third party who perceives the rhetorical deployment of “once again” as a propaganda war between two parties involved in a tragic conflict. Repetition is equated with futile death. Repetition outside context But “once again” is…

Should we value academic fashions?

Davina_Cooper_Academic_Fashions-Manet

Fashions come and go, but what about academic or intellectual fashions? Are they like any other, with the same pleasures and limitations? Or should ideas be protected from the vagaries and currencies of what is current? Googling the phrase “academic fashion” produces a lot of hits — almost all address the question of what to wear. Very few tackle the problem of which academics are well aware — that ideas go in and out of popularity. “Academic fads” as a phrase gets closer to this truth, but fads are derided — their lack of staying power evidence the idea was not a committed one, not a good one. But are fashions in ideas all bad? Can anything good be said about them? The academic world I inhabit, that corner where social and…