Issue 1 | Vol. 1 | Fall-Winter 2014
The Journal of Studies in History and Culture (JSHC) was born over many stimulating conversations with friends and colleagues, regarding the limitations as well as the lack of dialogue across the disciplines. This was and is still a uniform phenomenon across the world, albeit with varying attempts at bridging the divide having been initiated in some centres.
Connected with this was the question of making research accessible to everybody. Scholarly research has for many years been circulating within the academia without taking up a holistic approach and engaging with the people at large.
JSHC would hope to provide a platform both towards an interdisciplinary approach and research which analyzes existing scholarship through a new lens. Our first issue is an endeavour towards that very goal, while keeping our journal open access. We also hope to publish many relevant articles from our historical, cultural and literary heritage, in translations so as to make them available to all.
Even though we had numerous submissions for our first issue, many of which showed a definite bend towards engaging in a dialogue, a cross disciplinary methodological predisposition and a scientific bend, we could have included only so many. Our contributors co-operated throughout the process and had their revised papers sent to us in time for publication, for which we are grateful.
Our CFP was broadly constructed on the basis of varying forms of resistance, protest movements, etc. We were also specific about not building our issue around a specific theme so as not to be constrained in scope for our first issue. Many of the papers included here do suggest a commonality of topoi while others may not.
Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta and Frank Jacob’s book reviews cover two books from diverse topics—one falling broadly within the contours of comparative literature and comparative cultural studies while the other is essentially archaeology and history.
Our reprint section was born out of our belief in digitizing a bit of what needs to be preserved and making it accessible to scholars all over the world. In this we intend to publish scholarly essays by academics, litterateurs, etc., which might still be relevant today but are not available in print anymore. In our very first issue we have an essay by Uma Das Gupta on Rabindranath Tagore’s sense of history, analyses which shall shed much light on how he differed from the notions of the revivalists and yet was embedded in his cultural matrix. Tagore’s own essay on ‘his’ vision of India’s history has also been reprinted here.
Malini Bhattacharya’s special article deals with many of the issues which have shrouded us in a sense of despair at the moment. While atrocities against women continue unabated, the recent incident of police violence on protesting students at Jadavpur University has cast a pall over the academic community at large.
Dr. Ashok Mitra’s interview is essentially an insightful diagnosis of the Left. A critique is, most of the times, laced with pain and a sense of loss, which is more than evident from his words.
Tariq Ali talks on issues ranging from Crimea to the conflict at Gaza. His insightful analyses of imperialism as well as the perceptible yearning for an alternative, makes the interview a timely interjection in times like ours.
Author bios have been provided for all articles, other than Tagore’s.
Despite our best efforts the issue may contain errors and mistakes. Any inconvenience caused due to this is regretted.
The Editors - JSHC
The Animal and the Muselmann as a Paradigm of the Victim
By Anna Barcz
In the first part of Anna Barcz's article a notion of the victim will be presented, following Jean-Francois Lyotard's reflection and the posthuman perspective where an opportunity to open the category of victim to animals is broadly expressed. Also, the Nazi camp figure of the Muselmann will be evoked to mediate the meaning of what is human and what is non-human in the victim. In the second part, Helene Cixous's text “Stigmata, or Job the Dog” will be presented as a model text, in which the title dog, who accidentally participates in humans conflicts and co-suffer with them, may be seen as the post-human victim on behalf of whom Cixous feels an obligation to speak.
What is Democracy? The Odd Case of Israel and Palestine
By Antonio Perra
This article examines the complex concept of democracy in light of the current, tragic issue of Palestine. Today, we live in an era in which terminology such as ‘terrorism’, ‘self-defence’ and ‘right to exist’ seem to have overturned the notion of democracy, altered its very nature, and manipulated our perception of what is and what is not a democratic country.
Through an historical analysis of Israel’s foreign policy, its relationship with the US government, and the complex events that have taken place in the Middle East in these past thirteen years, this article will explain just how fragile and ambiguous our idea of democracy today is.
The Maturation of Anglo-American Protest Music in the Antinuclear Environment from 1957-1969
By Anthony Eames.
The postwar years in Britain are often understood in the context of decolonization, the loss of empire, and the collapse of imperialism alongside the rise of American power, ideals and culture. Nuclear weapons programs were at the center of this transition. The British decision to build an independent nuclear arsenal in the late 1940s and the pursuit of nuclear collaboration with the United States in the late 1950s engendered opposition in the United Kingdom. In 1958, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) united a number of antinuclear factions to pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons. The CND pursued disarmament through a method of protest that
focused less on politics and more on mass involvement. Music became essential to engaging people in mass demonstrations against nuclear weapons. It emerged as a preferred medium for the transmission of emotions that roused support for disarmament in the young, educated, middle-class. International dimensions of the protest music industry connected British activists with American demonstrators. The link the CND forged between music and mass demonstrations codified an approach to protest for a variety of social movements in the United Kingdom and the United States in the nuclear age.
This study on the transatlantic creation of modern protest music developed in an antinuclear environment pulls together arguments concerning the socio-economic dimensions of protest, shared musical styles between America and Britain, and the rejection of nuclear weapons. These areas of study must be united in order to accurately depict the cross-cultural connection between music, antinuclear rhetoric, generational conflict, and social protest.
Painting and Money: The Problematic of Art in Modernity with Insights from Early Nineteenth-Century France
By Arpita Mitra
Art and money make an odd couple. Especially so in modern times. But the story of this relationship is chequered and complex, and the drama well-played-out in the history of the artistic field (in Bourdieu’s sense of the term) in France. When one analyses the course of this history from early modern to late modern times, one often has a feeling of déjà vu, where apparently similar discourses recur in a cyclical manner from time to time albeit in different avatars.
Interestingly, the subjection of art to a market economy as well as the discourse of the material disinterestedness of art are specific products of modernity. But in order to understand the development of the modern artistic field in France vis-à-vis the above issues, one has to dig into the pre-history of the mid-nineteenth-century aspiration of the French artist of “living for art, and not off art” (vivre pour l’art et non de l’art).
Since the seventeenth century in France, the process of the discursive dissociation of painting from its mercantile and manual aspects, and the increasing intellectualisation, de-materialisation and individualisation of the activity of painting, came to project the art as a materially “disinterested” pursuit. However, the crisis of post-Revolutionary society, with its implications for art patronage led French painters to experiment along the lines of artistic entrepreneurship. Understandably, there is an implicit tension between the discourse of the material disinterestedness of art, on the one hand, and the reality of making a living from art, on the other.
The present paper seeks to examine this tension by analysing a case-study from early nineteenth-century France – the controversy regarding paid art exhibitions in Paris around 1800, which resulted in a public debate that continued in the press for about three months. The objective is to analyse the digits of the discourse of the French artist-entrepreneurs and those of the sharp response their initiatives evoked among critics and the public at large vis-à-vis the notion of art and money making an odd couple.[Continue Reading…]
Emergence of the Martiniquan Gwan Wòb
By Hélène Zamor
Creolization generated new languages and cultural expressions which developed out of contacts between Africans and Europeans. The Gwan wòb, an offspring of the chemise-jupe (blouse-skirt) emerged during the colonial period. The style consists of a long dress, sleeves, a scarf, petticoats and a Madras headpiece and it is the national costume of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. During the eighteenth century, new French dresses such as the Watteau and Caraco were brought into fashion. According to scholars, the Gwan Wòb shares some similarities with the Caraco and Watteau. The Madras material hails from the southern Indian province called Madras. The first Frenchwomen used it to cover their heads. It is also important to note that both Free Coloured and free Black women were not allowed to wear hats. Not only does the article explore the concept of creolization as well as the origins of the Gwan Wòb, but it also examines how Martiniquan women forged their identity wearing different Madras headpieces. These headpieces consisted of peaks that revealed the marital status of the wearer. Traveler and writer Lafcardio Hearn who was fascinated by Martinique and the Gwan Wòb mentioned the various types of jewelry that the Affranchies (Free Blacks women) and Free Coloured women wore with their Gwan Wòb.
Reviewed by Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta
Reviewed by Frank Jacob
By Rabindranath Tagore
By Uma Das Gupta
Women’s Matters by Malini Bhattacharya