Humanities2014, 3(3), 313-339; doi:10.3390/h3030313 - published online 30 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The language of human rights can prove as difficult to define as it is to determine its boundaries as a legal discipline and to assert its universal acceptance. The indeterminacy and vagueness often observed in the language of its documents is clearly aimed at fostering Human Rights acknowledgment and protection; however, these same features are also a powerful tool for States seeking manipulative interpretations of human rights conventions. By combining the Appraisal Framework with an analysis of the rhetorical strategies employed in a specific type of legal document, this paper will explore the linguistic devices and rendering in translation of the so-called “Torture Memos” released by the US Government after 9/11 in an attempt to provide a legal framework for the CIA interrogation program for “unlawful combatants”.
Humanities2014, 3(3), 299-312; doi:10.3390/h3030299 - published online 30 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth”. This is a remarkable conclusion to his magisterial survey of the state of the planet. Climatic and other environmental changes are showing us not only the extent of human influence on the planet, but also the limits of programmatic management of this influence, whether through political, economic, technological or social engineering. A changing climate is a condition of modernity, but a condition which modernity seems uncomfortable with. Inspired by the recent “environmental turn” in the humanities—and calls from a range of environmental scholars and scientists such as Flannery—I wish to suggest a different, non-programmatic response to climate change: a reacquaintance with the ancient and religious ideas of virtue and its renaissance in the field of virtue ethics. Drawing upon work by Alasdair MacIntyre, Melissa Lane and Tom Wright, I outline an apologetic for why the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate response to the challenges of climate change.
Humanities2014, 3(3), 283-298; doi:10.3390/h3030283 - published online 27 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The representation of the practice of sati, the immolation of widows on their husbands’ funeral pyre, has garnered interest for long from postcolonial and feminist discourses among others. While advocates of Western modernity perceive sati as a murderous ritual, the proponents of orthodox Hinduism, on the contrary, claim sati to be a courageous cult of “wifely devotion”. In both bigoted beliefs, as poststructuralists observe, women largely appear as “mute objects”. Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (2008) brilliantly sidelines the conundrum of polarizing representation of sati along the East-West axis and reflects instead the subjective experience of women as sati. The article examines how the rhetoric and ritual of sati in the novel enable marginalized women to acquire consciousness of their subjectivity in a colonized society. To this end, the paper analyzes deconstructive readings of sati, such as by Gayatri Spivak, and explores the way the novel uses religion as a ploy, which, instead of perpetrating violence, confers a subjective entity on the sati that can even subvert the constrictive norms of a colonized society.
Humanities2014, 3(3), 264-282; doi:10.3390/h3030264 - published online 25 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The ways in which Humanities scholars talk about teaching tell something about how we interact with the past of our own discipline as well as anticipate our students’ futures. In this we express collective memories as truths of learning and teaching. As cultural artifacts of our present, such stories are worthy of excavation for what they imply about ourselves as well as messages they pass onto our successors. This paper outlines “collective re-membering” as one way to understand these stories, particularly as they present in qualitative interviews commonly being used to research higher education practice in the Humanities. It defines such collective re-membering through an interweaving of Halbwachs, Ricoeur, Wertsch and Bakhtin. It proposes that a dialogic reading between this understanding of collective re-membering and qualitative data-sets enables us to both access our discursive tendencies within the Humanities and understand the impact they might have on student engagement with our disciplines, noting that when discussing learning and teaching, we engage in collectively influenced myth-making and hagiography. The paper finishes by positing that the Humanities need to change their orientation from generating myths and pious teaching sagas towards the complex and ultimately more intellectually satisfying, articulation of learning and teaching parables.
Humanities2014, 3(2), 244-263; doi:10.3390/h3020244 - published online 20 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article develops a philosophy of the humanities by reading C.P. Snow’s famous thesis of “the two cultures” through the early work of Alfred North Whitehead. I argue that, whereas Snow refers to Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World, he ultimately paves the way for a reductive interpretation of humanities scholarship, which is a move that can be repaired by delving into Snow’s own reference to Whitehead following a diffractive reading methodology. This way of reading was first formulated in the context of feminist epistemology (but can be found elsewhere and under different names) in an attempt to generate constructively conceptual rather than closed hermeneutical readings of theoretical texts by making the reading dynamic and open-ended (in Karen Barad’s terms: reading their insights “through” one another). As such, reading diffractively shies away from relying on classification and is playful with the past, present, and future of the humanities. The article argues that the diffraction of Snow and Whitehead hinges on theories of “beauty” and will demonstrate (with Whitehead) that humanities scholarship originates in a total environment in which works of art—as the subject matter of humanities research—stand out and preserve themselves as “enduring objects”.
Humanities2014, 3(2), 232-243; doi:10.3390/h3020232 - published online 16 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Humanitarian workers often complain that international aid to victims of armed conflicts is more and more militarized because relief organizations are embedded into peacekeeping operations, used as a “force multiplier”, or manipulated as an instrument of diplomacy by proxy. Historically, however, charity has always been a military issue in times of war. We can distinguish four types of militarization of relief organizations in this regard. First is the use of charities to make “war by proxy”, as in Afghanistan or Nicaragua in the 1980s. The second pattern is “embedment”, like the Red Cross during the two world wars. The third is “self-defense”, as with the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (now Malta) in the 12th Century. The fourth, finally, is the model of “International Brigades” alongside the Spanish Republicans in 1936 or various liberation movements in the 1970s. In comparison, humanitarian aid today appears to be much less militarized. However, this perception also depends on the various definitions of the word “humanitarian”.