Open Access (free)
Self-examining White Privilege and the Myth of America

James Baldwin, in his landmark essay “My Dungeon Shook,” says that white Americans are “still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.” This open letter explores this history on a personal level. Taking notes from Baldwin’s indictments of whiteness in Another Country and The Fire Next Time, this essay explores how white people, despite claims of deniability, become culpable, complicit, and ensnared in their racial privilege. By reading Baldwin’s work through a personal lens, it implores fellow white readers and scholars of Baldwin to begin examining the myths of America by first examining themselves.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Aesthetics

This essay establishes a philosophical connection between James Baldwin and the philosopher William James by investigating how the pragmatist protocol against “vicious intellectualism” offers Baldwin a key resource for thinking through how anti-black racism might be dismantled. While Richard Wright had earlier denounced pragmatism for privileging experience over knowledge, and thereby offering the black subject no means for redressing America’s constitutive hierarchies, uncovering the current of Jamesian thought that runs through Baldwin’s essays brings into view his attempt to move beyond epistemology as the primary framework for inaugurating a future unburdened by the problem of the color line. Although Baldwin indicts contemporaneous arrangements of knowledge for producing the most dehumanizing forms of racism, he does not simply attempt to rewrite the enervating meanings to which black subjects are given. Articulating a pragmatist sensibility at various stages of his career, Baldwin repeatedly suggests that the imagining and creation of a better world is predicated upon rethinking the normative value accorded to knowledge in the practice of politics. The provocative challenge that Baldwin issues for his reader is to cease the well-established privileging of knowledge, and to instead stage the struggle for freedom within an aesthetic, rather than epistemological, paradigm.

James Baldwin Review

The author reviews Raoul Peck’s 2016 film, I Am Not Your Negro, finding it a remarkable achievement as a documentary that breaks with cinematic conventions and emphasizes the importance of listening as much as looking. The director has singled out Baldwin as the writer whose work spoke most directly to his own identity and experience during his peripatetic childhood in Haiti and Africa, and in I Am Not Your Negro, Peck aims to ensure that Baldwin’s words will have a similar effect on audiences. However, even as it succeeds in reanimating Baldwin’s voice for a new political era, I Am Not Your Negro inadvertently exposes the difficulty of fully capturing or honoring the writer’s complex legacy. As scholars have long noted, interest in Baldwin’s life and work tends to divide along racial and sexual lines, and Peck’s documentary is no exception. The filmmaker privileges Baldwin’s blackness over his queerness by overlooking the parts of The Devil Finds Work and No Name in the Street in which the writer’s queerness figures prominently.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design

privileging of the design principle over the need for, or even the possibility of, political change. Design Not Politics The computational turn and societal dependence on digital technologies has changed the way the world is understood and the status of humans within it ( Chandler, 2018 ). The privileging of the design principle is central to this change. Besides the spatial shift from circulation to connectivity, an ontological, epistemological and methodological translation has also taken place ( Duffield, 2018 ). While anticipating late-modernity, the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector

also privileges presentism. As Jeff Crisp rather pithily observed, over the course of any emergency, the sector ‘can be guaranteed to describe it as an “unprecedented crisis”’ ( Crisp, 2016 ). Description of the Project We developed ‘Humanitarian History: Past Practice into Future Policy’, a project funded by a New Foundations Grant from the Irish Research Council in 2017, from conversations about these issues. Our aim was to find a method that would allow humanitarians to integrate historical reflection into their work practices and to establish a model that might

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Interpreting Violence on Healthcare in the Early Stage of the South Sudanese Civil War

of presumed ‘traitors’. That places of healthcare, like other institutions deemed sanctuaries, such as mosques and churches, have the potential to facilitate selective violence in conflict is a reality that medical humanitarian actors still seem reluctant to acknowledge. Such a phenomenon, observable in very different conflict settings, has led Adia Benton and Sayed Atshan to wonder ‘if privileging health care sites is even a laudable goal, when the space of the clinic can operate as an extension of the violence enacted in a wider frame’ ( Benton and Atshan, 2016

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
From the Global to the Local

, 20 January 2018. 18 On the Provident Fund, see UNRWA (2017a) . 19 Anonymous interview, 28 January 2018. 20 Anonymous interview, 2 February 2018. 21 At the end of September 2018, two interviewees informed me that Palestinian employees over the age of forty were being ‘invited’ by UNRWA to request voluntary early retirement; their positions would not be filled through new appointments. 22 Anonymous interview, 14 February 2018. As noted by one of the article’s anonymous reviewers, technology can reinforce privilege and forms of exclusion, rather than

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Visions of episcopacy in seventeenth-century France

This book explores how conceptions of episcopacy (government of a church by bishops) shaped the identity of the bishops of France in the wake of the reforming Council of Trent (1545–63). It demonstrates how the episcopate, initially demoralised by the Wars of Religion, developed a powerful ideology of privilege, leadership and pastorate that enabled it to become a flourishing participant in the religious, political and social life of the ancien regime. The book analyses the attitudes of Tridentine bishops towards their office by considering the French episcopate as a recognisable caste, possessing a variety of theological and political principles that allowed it to dominate the French church.

Open Access (free)
Passion and politics in the English Defence League

‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.

The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.

Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.

Open Access (free)
White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy

CEO firmly representative of the one per cent. As the most privileged, he is nevertheless depicted as also being spectacularly broken and scarred by childhood trauma. Starting from and revolving around James’ articulation of a hurt, damaged man as an irresistible object of heterosexual desire, this chapter inquires after the intermeshing of privilege, vulnerability and desirability in the narrative fantasy of Fifty Shades. Written as fan fiction online and launched as e-​books in 2011–​12, James’ trilogy gained viral popularity and was published through Vintage as

in The power of vulnerability