James Baldwin in Conversation with Fritz J. Raddatz (1978)

This is the first English-language publication of an interview with James Baldwin conducted by the German writer, editor, and journalist Fritz J. Raddatz in 1978 at Baldwin’s house in St. Paul-de-Vence. In the same year, it was published in German in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, as well as in a book of Raddatz’s conversations with international writers, and—in Italian translation—in the newspaper La Repubblica. The interview covers various topics characteristic of Baldwin’s interests at the time—among them his thoughts about Jimmy Carter’s presidency, his reasons for planning to return to the United States, his disillusionment after the series of murders of black civil rights activists in the 1960s and 1970s, and the role of love and sexuality in his literary writings. A special emphasis lies on the discussion of possible parallels between Nazi Germany and U.S. racism, with Baldwin most prominently likening the whole city of New York to a concentration camp. Due to copyright reasons, this reprint is based on an English translation of the edited version published in German. A one-hour tape recording of the original English conversation between Raddatz and Baldwin is accessible at the German literary archive in Marbach.

James Baldwin Review
The first child-witch in Rothenburg, 1587

3 ‘One cannot … hope to obtain the slightest certainty from him’: the first child-witch in Rothenburg, 1587 It is, of course, only with the benefit of hindsight that we can draw conclusions about the relative restraint with which the council in Rothenburg treated witchcraft during the early modern period; this restraint was never a foregone conclusion in any particular witch-trial. The intricate web of factors which accounted for it could be tested to the limits in certain cases when an individual’s story of witchcraft and the manner in which the council chose

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
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Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order

survive this transition, but maybe other forms of humanitarian action will emerge, or thrive where they already exist, especially once the canopy is opened up because the eco-system’s tallest trees have been felled. Of course, what comes next might not meet the hopes of today’s humanitarians, especially because the degree to which it can be truly a global humanitarian system must be doubted if no international consensus can be forged to support it. The humanitarian alliance with liberalism is no accident, and if the world is less liberal, its

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

Written in the aftermath of the civil rights era’s expansive hopes, James Baldwin’s last novel, Just Above My Head (1979), examines a fundamental issue, the choice between hope and skepticism, or prophecy and doubt. Baldwin approaches this issue by questioning two cornerstone ideas of his fiction, the need for prophetic art and this art’s focus on anticipating a renovated society, often pictured in terms adapted from apocalyptic biblical texts and Gospel music lyrics. Just Above My Head is Baldwin’s fullest presentation of this kind of art and its linkage to apocalyptic hopes. He dramatizes these ideas in the art of his Gospel singer protagonist, particularly in a climactic scene of artistic dedication whose Gospel lyric envisions “tearing down the kingdom of this world.” Yet Baldwin also unsparingly questions these same ideas through plot and the blues-inflected skeptical-tragic consciousness of his narrator. Responding to a 1970s moment when hopes for transcendent justice seemed passé, Just Above My Head’s unique contribution is not to try to resolve the ideas it counterposes, but to face both the possible falseness of prophetic hope and our continuing need for it, and to present the necessity for choice in a final dream that holds the key to the novel’s meaning. In presenting this issue through a sustained double-voiced narrative that reexamines its author’s artistic practice and raises fundamental choices in outlook and conduct, Just Above My Head evidences the continuing artistic vitality of Baldwin’s late fiction.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in The Fire Next Time

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves. Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better, in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and evolving democracy.

James Baldwin Review
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Jazzing the Blues Spirit and the Gospel Truth in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

The webs of musical connection are essential to the harmony and cohesion of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.” As a result, we must explore the spectrum of musical references Baldwin makes to unveil their delicate conjunctions. It is vital to probe the traditions of African-American music—Spirituals, Blues, Jazz, and Pop—to get a more comprehensive sense of how Baldwin makes use of music from the sacred and secular continuum in the African-American community. Looking more closely at the variety of African-American musical genres to which Baldwin refers in the story, we can discern even more the nuances of unity that Baldwin creates in his story through musical allusions, and shed greater light on Baldwin’s exploration of the complexities of African-American life and music, all of which have as their core elements of human isolation, loneliness, and despair ameliorated by artistic expression, hope, and the search for familial ties. Through musical intertextuality, Baldwin demonstrates not only how closely related seemingly disparate (in the Western tradition) musical genres are, but also shows that the elements of the community that these genres flow from and represent are much more in synchronization than they sometimes seem or are allowed to be. To realize kinship across familial (Creole), socio-economic (the brother), and most importantly for this paper appreciation and meanings of musical genres advances to Sonny the communal cup of trembling that is both a mode and an instance of envisioning and treating music in its unifying terms, seeing how they coalesce through a holistic vision.

James Baldwin Review
Editor’s Introduction

hope that this second issue of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs will encourage critical reflections on the security of aid work and the further sharing of experiences. We hope, too, that practitioners and researchers will find more reasons to engage with one another, on this topic as on others, as the world of uncertainties will only be contained through the sharing and analysis of earnest accounts and studies. Bibliography Bouchet-Saulnier , F. and Whittall

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

to me that the relief world now faces a similar scenario. But it is hard to imagine what new terms of reference the humanitarian world can hope to establish with donors. After all, humanitarians are scarcely free agents here. Western donor governments and the UN system subservient to them may be witnessing their own eclipse, but it is not as if the relations of force between them and NGOs have changed as a result. And as the old saying goes, there’s no tyrant like a petty tyrant. If relief NGOs can weather the storm, there will be more areas in

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction

distortions. And as liberal hopes for a pacific and technocratic utopia have taken leave of empirical reality, the assumption of progress has been sustained primarily through myth-making and cognitive gymnastics. Fake news is not the antithesis of liberal truth but its progeny. Nonetheless, the notion of liberal order is useful to the extent that it signals the role of liberal ideas and politics in the consolidation of Western hegemony and, more specifically, the expansion of American power. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, set out in 1941

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

humanitarian agencies, and the value of seeking knowledge from outside the traditional parameters of humanitarian studies. The main body of the article outlines the aims and implementation of the project and puts forward four principles on which a workable model of reflective practice might be developed. Our objective is not to establish a single transferable framework for historical reflection. Rather, we hope to open a conversation about the ways in which the humanitarian sector can develop formal (and fruitful) collaborations with academic historians and to integrate some

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs