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How do contemporary political parties envision intergroup relations in South Africa? The visions of political parties are important for peace as these can either mirror or shape people’s views and behavior. The transition from apartheid to democracy was eased by the idea of the Rainbow Nation, which encapsulates a recognition of diversity and a sense of colorblindness whereby South Africa belongs to “all who live in it,” as the preamble to the constitution states. Using the relational peace framework, this chapter contributes to the literature on nation-building by investigating how contemporary political parties (the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, and Freedom Front Plus) discuss intergroup relations of peace and violent conflict and how they describe a vision of future intergroup relations. Parties based on civic nationalism champion a common identity and aim for a society where ethnicity and race are politically irrelevant. By contrast, both multiculturalism and ethno-nationalism recognize ethnicity as important for intergroup relations. The relational peace framework helps identify which dyads are seen as important in the political party manifestos – who is seen as a legitimate counterpart and who is excluded from discussions related to nation-building and intergroup peace. The assessment of the manifestos using the framework’s elements proves fruitful in capturing the type of nation-building. The analysis of 2019 election manifestos shows a variety of competing visions. These disagreements on who belongs to the South African nation pose a challenge to the legitimacy of the state and peace.
This chapter tackles one of the most troubling aspects of the problem of literary value – its ideological complicity, as acutely evident in, for example, colonialist, white supremacist and androcentric ideologies – examining that complicity as it is encapsulated in the phenomenon of canonicity. For this purpose it revisits the canon wars, but its main aim is to identify how, and then explore the implications of the fact that, the ineluctability of canonicity and simultaneously its inescapable complicity remain with us. Using as a springboard a pair of epigraphs taken from Henry Louis Gates Jr’s Loose Canons, it draws on the preceding chapters’ preliminary theory of literary valuing to describe several concrete manifestations of how canonicity emerges despite attempts to evade it. Examples include the response from leaders within Chaucer studies to the 2013 MLA proposal to eliminate the MLA Chaucer Division, an English departmental mission statement and a professional periodical piece. The chapter then turns, conversely, to attempts to defend canonicity, showing how the potential for ideological complicity inevitably haunts those efforts. Examples include an attempt to defend Chaucer’s canonicity specifically as well as a more general attempt, by Frank Kermode, to define an ideology-free canonicity as the grounding principle of literary criticism. The chapter concludes with an example of Chaucer pedagogy that suggests how the dilemma of canonicity might become generative rather than merely perplexing, offering a generalisation of this response that might serve as one of literary study’s distinctive disciplinary contributions.
Rebuilding relationships between different actors in societies broken by prolonged social conflict is an important part of peacebuilding. This process is particularly challenging where levels of violence are still high and state security actors continue to occupy a powerful position even after a peace accord is signed. In this difficult transition period between war and peace, military and civilian actors, in the government as well as in civil society and the communities, often struggle with the task of redefining their relationships to each other. Applying the relational peace framework, this chapter looks particularly at how representatives of the military and of different civilian state and non-state actors in post-accord Colombia perceive their relationships to each other today, how they view the military's role in post-accord peacebuilding, and what they identify as challenges to relational peace. The findings, based on field interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018, show significant differences in how the actors assess their interactions, think of each other, and evaluate their current and future relationship. Identified as a peace between agonists characterized by a lack of mutual respect, trust, and cooperation, the interaction between the actors in the dyad shows important obstacles to achieving a higher level of relational peace in the future. In the end, however, friendship might be neither attainable nor desirable as the ultimate form of relational peace for civil–military relations.
The arts, while still at the outskirts of prevailing debates in politics, have gained increasing interest for possible applications in peacebuilding. Participatory art forms such as theater, dance, and music offer a particularly apt platform to bring adversaries together and build relationships across conflict divisions at an everyday level. Existing literature argues that we need sound empirical studies and conceptual frameworks to understand the process of arts-based peacebuilding. To address this call, the chapter uses the relational peace framework to explore the peacebuilding practice of the Sri Lankan theater group Jana Karaliya. Jana Karaliya was established in 2002 as a multiethnic, bilingual, mobile theater group. The chapter focuses on the group’s Tamil and Sinhala members and the ways in which their interpersonal relations shift across foes, fellows, and friends over time, during the course of their work. The chapter draws from participant observation, focus group interviews with longstanding members of the group, and individual interviews with selected members, and further benefits from insights gathered through continued engagement with the group since 2007. Applying the relational peace framework enables us to see how relations within Jana Karaliya transform because of their sustained interaction and shared vision of performing peace, amid changing phases of the Sri Lankan conflict. The chapter is rigorous in its empirical investigation and application of the framework. It makes a significant and an original contribution to arts-based peacebuilding by illustrating how we can map relational transitions that take place in long-term participatory arts-based peacebuilding initiatives.
This chapter focuses on specific manifestations of the problem of literary value as they appear in instances of interpretation or reflections on interpretation. Initially using snapshots of Chaucer interpretation as touchstones, the chapter defines its focus in relation to current interpretive practices. It then turns back to Stanley Fish’s 1970s critique of the approach known as stylistics in order to delineate a basic interpretive conundrum, which it describes in relation to the famous hermeneutic circle. The chapter shows that Fish’s critique applies generally and currently to interpretation, and, drawing on the book’s preliminary theory of literary valuing, it argues that this basic conundrum is the flipside of the problem of literary value. Using another example of Chaucer interpretation, it shows how value ascription inaugurates the activity of interpretation, is its outcome and pervades it at each step. The chapter then takes a close, sustained look at the efforts of one celebrated medievalist, Lee Patterson, to come to grips with this very problem in his effort to establish a firm ground for academic literary study, seeking to trace in Patterson’s response the challenges and pitfalls that such efforts may entail. In its final section, the chapter considers a pair of more recent medievalist interpretations that, by means of an activist, transhistorical methodology, point towards a way of leveraging those difficulties as a source of critical insight while keeping at bay entanglements in paradox.
The introduction establishes the book’s topic and explains the book’s rationale, organisation and coverage. After describing the book’s focus and purpose, the introduction defines some of the book’s basic terms and outlines the general nature of the problem of literary value that it considers. Seeking then to distinguish its project from others that consider literary value, the introduction provides accounts of competing approaches, and it situates those approaches and its own in the contexts of both literary critical history and the current pressures on and problems within the literary studies. Against that backdrop, the introduction provides an overview of the ensuing chapters, explaining their organisation and function in relation to the book as a whole, as well as their individual focuses and major points. In particular, the introduction explains the relation of the topical chapters – the first on the Chaucer edition, the fourth on canonicity and the fifth on interpretation – to the theoretical chapters (the second and third). The introduction closes by providing a rationale for the extent to which it pursues its explorations within Chaucer studies specifically.
The main motivation behind the book is to identify tools with which we can empirically study peace beyond the absence of war. Our approach is to study relational peace practices. This chapter provides an overview of the structure and content of the edited volume, which as a whole analyzes relational peace in several sites, including Cyprus, Cambodia, South Africa, Abkhazia, Transnistria/Russia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Myanmar. Each chapter makes its own unique contribution to specific literatures related to its field, including civil–military relations, frozen peacebuilding, peace- and nation-building, negotiation and mediation literatures, arts-based peacebuilding initiatives, post-war elite studies, ideational analysis, and post-Soviet studies and everyday peace. The introductory chapter develops the theoretical framework for studying relational peace, which serves as a basis for the case studies. Relational peace entails non-domination, deliberation, and cooperation between the actors in the dyad; moreover, the actors involved must recognize and trust each other, and their idea of the relationship should be one between fellows or an expression of friendship. The chapter introduces some of the methodological implications of studying peace in this manner. The edited volume as a whole demonstrates how the framework can be applied to different types of cases and across different dyads in different geographical locations, levels of analysis, stages of peace processes, and types of actor dyads. It suggests that the most fruitful analysis can be conducted when the framework is used as analytical tool for assessing how relationships evolve and comparing shifts over time or across dyads or cases.
The first chapter explores a particular manifestation of the problem of literary value in order to delineate in some detail the contours of that problem as a basis for the theoretical chapters that follow. Specifically, it examines the problem in relation to the Chaucer edition, centring its attention on a critique of the Chaucer edition from the perspective of manuscript studies, a critique that achieved some prominence in the 1990s but by the second decade of the next century had largely faded from view. It locates that critique at a juncture in literary critical history when one set of still dominant trends (historicism in particular) was beginning to yield to others, most of which remain current today. Looking then backwards and forwards in literary critical history from the emergence of the critique, it shows how the problem of literary value has remained problematic throughout. It argues that the continued operation of this problem constituted one of the principal reasons why the critique never gained decisive traction. In exploring the underlying, largely unacknowledged obstacles to the critique, it provides a series of prompts for the following theoretical chapters, in effect illustrating why the book’s preliminary theory of literary valuing is needed. More so than the other chapters, this one spends the majority of its time within the confines of Chaucer studies, and in this way documents some of the critical dynamics among the subfield’s recent scholarly trends.
This chapter makes the theoretical debts of the prior one more explicit and expands upon the preliminary theory in a few ways. Most crucially, the chapter explores several implications of a broadly characteristic (though not necessary) feature of literary valuing – its tendency to accrue many various kinds of value, literary and otherwise, without contradiction or incoherence – which the chapter names loose binding. It first makes more explicit its understanding of value as a category, for which it draws on the work of Georg Simmel and later theorists of value in his vein, blending Simmel’s ideas with those from Actor-Network Theory to present a fundamentally differential account of value. Elucidating loose binding in those terms, the chapter then develops a pragmatic framework for understanding how different kinds of value mutually determine one another and, as an illustration of these several points, considers Giovanni Boccaccio’s reflections on the value of poetry in his Trattatello in laude di Dante. The chapter closes by beginning to answer the question of ‘so what’. First, it explores the significance of the book’s preliminary theory by way of clarifying the relation between loose binding and the formalist concept of defamiliarisation. Next, it suggests that the book’s framework, without any substantial changes to our scholarly and pedagogical practices, might serve as the ‘big tent’ that the field of literary studies no longer possesses. It concludes by suggesting a few other ways that the framework might be helpful for literary studies generally.
The book’s brief postscript, as its subtitle suggests, reflects on the personal doubts about literary value that have prompted the book and with which it wrestles. In these closing pages, I seek to take my own advice of pursuing a reflexive critical practice and lay my cards on the table, so to speak, in regard to literary value generally and Chaucer’s value in particular. Organised under the two queries of ‘What if literature is not as valuable as the dedication of one’s career to it would seem to presume?’ and ‘Even if the works of Chaucer are “great”, do they and their study do more harm than good?’, the postscript provides personal reflections on my ongoing commitments – if increasingly ambivalent and at times rather limited ones – to literary value in general and Chaucer’s in particular.