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Despite the imperative for change in a world of persistent inequality, racism, oppression and violence, difficulties arise once we try to bring about a transformation. As scholars, students and activists, we may want to change the world, but we are not separate, looking in, but rather part of the world ourselves. The book demonstrates that we are not in control: with all our academic rigour, we cannot know with certainty why the world is the way it is, or what impact our actions will have. It asks what we are to do, if this is the case, and engages with our desire to seek change. Chapters scrutinise the role of intellectuals, experts and activists in famine aid, the Iraq war, humanitarianism and intervention, traumatic memory, enforced disappearance, and the Grenfell Tower fire, and examine the fantasy of security, contemporary notions of time, space and materiality, and ideas of the human and sentience. Plays and films by Michael Frayn, Chris Marker and Patricio Guzmán are considered, and autobiographical narrative accounts probe the author’s life and background. The book argues that although we might need to traverse the fantasy of certainty and security, we do not need to give up on hope.

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, counterproductive, re-inscribing the inequalities we seek to remove? Should we acknowledge that if there is no certainty about the past, we surely cannot predict the future? Would acknowledging this inadequacy enable a different form of politics? Or is this just another form of the same desire for escape? In this book I wrestle with these questions through a series of reflections in three different registers that can be loosely characterised as autobiographical, aesthetic and quasi-theoretical. Several of the EDKINS 9781526119032 PRINT.indd 3 22/02/2019 08:34 4 change and

in Change and the politics of certainty
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, as my student Marie Suetsugu relates in her doctoral thesis – itself an attempt to transgress the boundaries between the academic and the personal – in telling an autobiographical story we are necessarily concealing as well as revealing.10 In the Lacanian sense I suppose, the veils do not conceal anything but the fact that behind the veils there is nothing: the person is missing.11 As I write this, it seems that a more modest motivation than that I identified just now is appropriate: not the desire to somehow achieve a world where the tool never possesses the man

in Change and the politics of certainty

The chapter provides a semi-autobiographical narrative that considers classism and racism against the background of movement from one class to another and the dislocation that produces. It explores James Martell’s notions of misinterpellation – when someone responds to a call that they know is not for them – and how a refusal of interpellation can function politically as a decolonising move. If, instead of taking on the habits and values to which we are called, we retain our loyalty to the place we are from, whatever that might be, then we have the potential to resist interpellation’s colonising move.

in Change and the politics of certainty
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This chapter takes the form of a narrative, auto-ethnographic or autobiographical account. In the period between 2002 and 2009, the author had made several visits to New York, and to Manhattan in particular, to the site of Ground Zero, in an attempt to understand the response of New Yorkers to the collapse of the twin towers. She was grappling with the idea of trauma time – the time of openness after an event that throws into doubt what seemed to have been certain – and its political implications. The visit recounted in this chapter took place after a gap of five years, and proved to be a turning point for the author, challenging what she had thought her work was about.

in Change and the politics of certainty
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well as bringing ourselves back into our work, it means seeing our interlocutors as complex, grounded people too, with histories and relations. Back notes that in the wards of the hospital in Croydon where his father died, ‘people just disappeared, they were not remarked upon, they were mostly working-class people and – like my father – they simply vanished’.19 The desire to hold on to those whose lives would otherwise vanish without trace motivates his work. My autobiographical accounts in Chapters 1 and 10 clearly have something of the same purpose, but my accounts

in Change and the politics of certainty
A cinematic response to pessimism

this regard, I read the title of Cavell’s Pursuits of Happiness to be less descriptive than autobiographical. In that book, we discover an author recounting, sharing and partaking in the pursuit of happiness (of going to the movies). Much of my disagreement with Dienstag, then, rests on my inability to recognize his account of Cavell’s motivation in writing about film. I

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

historian and rigorously condemned both nationalism and nationalists, issuing not only denunciations of opposition leaders but veiled attacks against her husband as well. While her motives were unclear, her largely autobiographical texts presented a rather bizarre schizophrenic view of her own social and political position. 23 Brian Hall, The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia (Boston, MA: David R. Godine, 1994). See his chapter on Kosovo pp. 235–90. 24 Nikolai Velimirovich and Justin Popovich, ‘The Mystery and Meaning of the Battle of

in Balkan holocausts?