Editor’s Introduction

. Globalisation has uprooted people symbolically as well as materially. A growing ‘impulse’ for social protection has received little response from the receding welfare state. 3 In the absence of an economic resolution, the assertion of cultural sovereignty has become a fuite en arrière – a retreat, to nostalgic fantasies of grandeur, fascistic tropes of national belonging and religious fundamentalisms. 4 Ressentiment has given rise to diverse anti-modern social phenomena, from ISIS to the Tea Party to the Hindu nationalist movement associated with

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

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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White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy

 133 8 SPECTACULARLY WOUNDED White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy Susa nna Paa sonen I n a 2012 interview, E. L. James, the author of the massively popular Fifty Shades novel series, describes its male protagonist Christian Grey as ‘the ultimate fantasy guy. And that’s the point: As long as you accept that fantasy guy –​fantasy sex, fantasy lifestyle, a broken man who needs fixing through love –​what woman could resist that?’ (in Thomas, 2012.) Grey is a twenty-​seven-​year-​old, white, cis-​gendered, Seattle-​based multi-​billionaire businessman

in The power of vulnerability
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the face of violence, working alongside those already involved in this every day rather than studying them from the outside. Each of the chapters has approached the question of how this might work in different ways. Concepts and practices such as memory studies, security and intervention, and enforced disappearance have formed the ground for these explorations. Central to the discussion has been the idea of a demand for justice, but what justice might be has not been addressed. Giving up on changing the world involves traversing the fantasy that we can know what

in Change and the politics of certainty

2395Chap6 7/5/02 8:41 am Page 156 6 Visions in colour; religious visions According to the analysis in the last chapter, as William Sorrell travelled through the realised realm of his unconscious, what had been repressed in him was gradually translated into glorious action. His journey culminated, in the ‘real’ world of the text, in a poised harmony where talk, trust and fantasy, and the professional demands of publishing, could co-exist. (Feminine) nature and (masculine) civilisation were united. In The New Humpty-Dumpty, as Emily Aldington and Count

in Fragmenting modernism
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mere seventeen years earlier, the more recent Algerian War, and the anxieties and tensions of the ongoing Cold War.8 The underground world of prisoners and experiments conjures up the atmosphere of the Nazi camps, and images of the scenes of destruction of Paris reflect the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire-bombed cities of Germany. The Cuban missile crisis took place in 1962 and the tensions in the film embody the sense prevalent at that time of nuclear war as an imminent prospect. The film offers what I read as two distinct fantasies of the future

in Change and the politics of certainty
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recognition that the tools we have at hand to attempt this move can be precisely those that have produced and hence continually reproduce what we are trying to escape. In particular, the fantasy of escape – to an outside, to a better world – is what entrenches us more firmly in the nightmare. And yet, giving up altogether on dreams of a different world is difficult, especially if, or maybe only if, we are in a position of racial, gender or class privilege. One notable exponent of the dangers of thinking in terms of an outside to which we can escape is R.B.J. Walker. He

in Change and the politics of certainty
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Murphy’s misrecognition of love

process of a patient, Mrs A., who had recently lost her son: In the second week of her mourning Mrs A. found some comfort in looking at some nicely situated houses in the country, and in wishing to have such a house of her own. However, this comfort was soon interrupted by bouts of despair and sorrow. She now cried abundantly, and found relief in tears. The solace she found in looking at houses came from her rebuilding her inner world in her fantasy [... and in] getting satisfaction from the knowledge that other people’s houses and good objects existed. Ultimately this

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures

The power of vulnerability interrogates the new language of vulnerability that has emerged in feminist, queer and anti-racist debates about the production, use and meanings of media. The book investigates the historical legacies and contemporary forms and effects of this language. In today’s media culture, traumatic first-person or group narratives have popular currency, mobilising affect from compassion to rage to gain cultural visibility and political advantage. In this context, vulnerability becomes a kind of capital, a resource or an asset that can and has been appropriated for various groups and purposes in public discourses, activism as well as cultural institutions. Thus, politics of representation translates into politics of affect, and the question about whose vulnerability counts as socially and culturally legible and acknowledged. The contributors of the book examine how vulnerability has become a battleground; how affect and vulnerability have turned into a politicised language for not only addressing but also obscuring asymmetries of power; and how media activism and state policies address so-called vulnerable groups. While the contributors investigate the political potential as well as the constraints of vulnerability for feminist, queer and antiracist criticism, they also focus on the forms of agency and participation vulnerability can offer.

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the case of Chantal Chawaf, contamination. Alternatively, loss can take the form of a more conscious attempt to convey its effects and be traceable in the aesthetics of a text, surfacing in motifs, in metaphors, or in form, as for example, in the works of Paule Constant or Sibylle Lacan. Our internal selves are also manifest in other ways. Fears and fantasies are given material reality in Marie Darrieussecq’s novels of women in crisis, in the literalisation of metaphors pertaining to women’s bodies, in the undercurrents of presence and absence, in the void at the

in Women’s writing in contemporary France