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Constituent Moments

Author: Jason Frank
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 0822391686
Size: 74.26 MB
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Since the American Revolution, there has been broad cultural consensus that “the people” are the only legitimate ground of public authority in the United States. For just as long, there has been disagreement over who the people are and how they should be represented or institutionally embodied. In Constituent Moments, Jason Frank explores this dilemma of authorization: the grounding of democratic legitimacy in an elusive notion of the people. Frank argues that the people are not a coherent or sanctioned collective. Instead, the people exist as an effect of successful claims to speak on their behalf; the power to speak in their name can be vindicated only retrospectively. The people, and democratic politics more broadly, emerge from the dynamic tension between popular politics and representation. They spring from what Frank calls “constituent moments,” moments when claims to speak in the people’s name are politically felicitous, even though those making such claims break from established rules and procedures for representing popular voice. Elaborating his theory of constituent moments, Frank focuses on specific historical instances when under-authorized individuals or associations seized the mantle of authority, and, by doing so, changed the inherited rules of authorization and produced new spaces and conditions for political representation. He looks at crowd actions such as parades, riots, and protests; the Democratic-Republican Societies of the 1790s; and the writings of Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass. Frank demonstrates that the revolutionary establishment of the people is not a solitary event, but rather a series of micropolitical enactments, small dramas of self-authorization that take place in the informal contexts of crowd actions, political oratory, and literature as well as in the more formal settings of constitutional conventions and political associations.

Hybrid Constitutions

Author: Vicki Hsueh
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 0822391619
Size: 52.59 MB
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In Hybrid Constitutions, Vicki Hsueh contests the idea that early-modern colonial constitutions were part of a uniform process of modernization, conquest, and assimilation. Through detailed analyses of the founding of several seventeenth-century English proprietary colonies in North America, she reveals how diverse constitutional thought and practice were at the time, and how colonial ambitions were advanced through cruelty toward indigenous peoples as well as accommodation of them. Proprietary colonies were governed by individuals (or small groups of individuals) granted colonial charters by the Crown. These proprietors had quasi-sovereign status over their colonies; they were able to draw on and transform English legal and political instruments as they developed constitutions. Hsueh demonstrates that the proprietors cobbled together constitutions based on the terms of their charters and the needs of their settlements. The “hybrid constitutions” they created were often altered based on interactions among the English settlers, other European settlers, and indigenous peoples. Hsueh traces the historical development and theoretical implications of proprietary constitutionalism by examining the founding of the colonies of Maryland, Carolina, and Pennsylvania. She provides close readings of colonial proclamations, executive orders, and assembly statutes, as well as the charter granting Cecilius Calvert the colony of Maryland in 1632; the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, adopted in 1669; and the treaties brokered by William Penn and various Lenni Lenape and Susquehannock tribes during the 1680s and 1690s. These founding documents were shaped by ambition, contingency, and limited resources; they reflected an ambiguous and unwieldy colonialism rather than a purposeful, uniform march to modernity. Hsueh concludes by reflecting on hybridity as a rubric for analyzing the historical origins of colonialism and reconsidering contemporary indigenous claims in former settler colonies such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Vocations Of Political Theory

Author: Jason A. Frank
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
ISBN: 9781452904658
Size: 54.99 MB
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Content Description pt. 1. Invoking political theory. Political theory : from vocation to invocation / Sheldon S. Wolin -- pt. 2. Theorizing loss. Specters and angels at the end of history / Wendy Brown -- The politics of nostalgia and theories of loss / J. Peter Euben -- pt. 3. Thinking in time. Can theorists make time for belief? / Russell Arben Fox -- The history of political thought as a vocation : a pragmatist defense / David Paul Mandell -- pt. 4. The politics of ordinary life. Political theory for losers / Thomas L. Dumm -- Feminism's flight from the ordinary / Linda M.B. Zerilli -- pt. 5. Political knowledge. Conceptions of science in political theory : a tale of cloaks and daggers / Mark B. Brown -- Political theory as a provocation : an ethos of political theory / Lon Troyer -- Gramsci, organic intellectuals, and cultural studies : lessons for political theorists? / Shane Gunster -- pt. 6. Practicing political theory. Reading the body : hobbes, body politics, and the task of political theory / Samantha Frost -- Work, shame, and the chain gang : the new civic education / Jill Locke -- The nobility of democracy / William E. Connolly.

A Political Companion To Herman Melville

Author: Jason Frank
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 0813143888
Size: 71.63 MB
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Herman Melville is widely considered to be one of America's greatest authors, and countless literary theorists and critics have studied his life and work. However, political theorists have tended to avoid Melville, turning rather to such contemporaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau to understand the political thought of the American Renaissance. While Melville was not an activist in the traditional sense and his philosophy is notoriously difficult to categorize, his work is nevertheless deeply political in its own right. As editor Jason Frank notes in his introduction to A Political Companion to Herman Melville, Melville's writing "strikes a note of dissonance in the pre-established harmonies of the American political tradition." This unique volume explores Melville's politics by surveying the full range of his work -- from Typee (1846) to the posthumously published Billy Budd (1924). The contributors give historical context to Melville's writings and place him in conversation with political and theoretical debates, examining his relationship to transcendentalism and contemporary continental philosophy and addressing his work's relevance to topics such as nineteenth-century imperialism, twentieth-century legal theory, the anti-rent wars of the 1840s, and the civil rights movement. From these analyses emerges a new and challenging portrait of Melville as a political thinker of the first order, one that will establish his importance not only for nineteenth-century American political thought but also for political theory more broadly.

Populism S Power

Author: Laura Grattan
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190277645
Size: 28.40 MB
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Uprisings such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street signal a resurgence of populist politics in America, pitting the people against the establishment in a struggle over control of democracy. In the wake of its conservative capture during the Nixon and Reagan eras, and given its increasing ubiquity as a mainstream buzzword of politicians and pundits, democratic theorists and activists have been eager to abandon populism to right-wing demagogues and mega-media spin-doctors. Decades of liberal scholarship have reinforced this shift, turning the term "populism" into a pejorative in academic and public discourse. At best, they conclude that populism encourages an "empty" wish to express a unified popular will beyond the mediating institutions of government; at worst, it has been described as an antidemocratic temperament prone to fomenting backlash against elites and marginalized groups. Populism's Power argues that such routine dismissals of populism reinforce liberalism as the end of democracy. Yet, as long as democracy remains true to its meaning, that is, "rule by the people," democratic theorists and activists must be able to give an account of the people as collective actors. Without such an account of the people's power, democracy's future seems fixed by the institutions of today's neoliberal, managerial states, and not by the always changing demographics of those who live within and across their borders. Laura Grattan looks at how populism cultivates the aspirations of ordinary people to exercise power over their everyday lives and their collective fate. In evaluating competing theories of populism she looks at a range of populist moments, from cultural phenomena such as the Chevrolet ad campaign for "Our Country, Our Truck," to the music of Leonard Cohen, and historical and contemporary populist movements, including nineteenth-century Populism, the Tea Party, broad-based community organizing, and Occupy Wall Street. While she ultimately expresses ambivalence about both populism and democracy, she reopens the idea that grassroots movements--like the insurgent farmers and laborers, New Deal agitators, and Civil Rights and New Left actors of US history--can play a key role in democratizing power and politics in America.


Author: bell hooks
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317588150
Size: 77.94 MB
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For bell hooks, the best cultural criticism sees no need to separate politics from the pleasure of reading. Yearning collects together some of hooks's classic and early pieces of cultural criticism from the '80s. Addressing topics like pedagogy, postmodernism, and politics, hooks examines a variety of cultural artifacts, from Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing and Wim Wenders's film Wings of Desire to the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison. The result is a poignant collection of essays which, like all of hooks's work, is above all else concerned with transforming oppressive structures of domination.

Sensing The Nation S Law

Author: Stefan Huygebaert
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319754971
Size: 22.69 MB
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This book examines how the nation – and its (fundamental) law – are ‘sensed’ by way of various aesthetic forms from the age of revolution up until our age of contested democratic legitimacy. Contemporary democratic legitimacy is tied, among other things, to consent, to representation, to the identity of ruler and ruled, and, of course, to legality and the legal forms through which democracy is structured. This book expands the ways in which we can understand and appreciate democratic legitimacy. If (democratic) communities are “imagined” this book suggests that their “rightfulness” must be “sensed” – analogously to the need for justice not only to be done, but to be seen to be done. This book brings together legal, historical and philosophical perspectives on the representation and iconography of the nation in the European, North American and Australian contexts from contributors in law, political science, history, art history and philosophy.

The Struggle For Democracy

Author: Christopher Meckstroth
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0190213922
Size: 21.29 MB
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Most democratic theory imagines democracy either as a static ideal, or else as a timeless sea of contestation. This book turns attention to democracy's neglected historical dimension, arguing that a legitimate democracy needs not only to respect all citizens' equal freedoms in the present, but that it must also do so through a political system that citizens have chosen for themselves. According to this view, both the history of democratic revolutions and ongoing struggles for democratic reform are integral parts of what makes democracies democratic. It argues that democracy is the only legitimate form of government not because it rests on the right theoretical foundations, but because it is the only form that needs no foundations at all: it is the only way of deciding what will count as good, right, or true without presupposing the right of some authorities to impose their decisions on everyone else with the force of law. But for the same reason, there is no one "right" way of putting democracy into practice and the people must choose for themselves which way is best. Of course this begs the question as to whether we need a system in place to determine the will of the people. Meckstroth argues that we can solve this paradox if we work out the conditions of any coherent claim to speak in the people's name. In the heat of actual democratic struggles, one can show which side's claims hold up better and which undercut their own authority because they cannot answer claims from the other side. Meckstroth looks at history and context in the development of democratic theory to provide a principled way of sorting out deep conflicts over who has the right to speak for the democratic people. He tests this theory by applying it to contemporary debates over same-sex marriage, military intervention, and gun control. He finds that sometimes democracy requires minority rule and that sometimes history provides the key to determining what the democratic people have decided in the present.

Publius And Political Imagination

Author: Jason Frank
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 0742548163
Size: 70.62 MB
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Jason Frank’s Publius and Political Imagination is the first volume of the Modernity and Political Thought series to take as its focus not a single author, but collaboration between political philosophers, in this very special case the collective known by the pseudonym: Publius.

Imagined Sovereignties

Author: Kevin Olson
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 131659209X
Size: 46.45 MB
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Movements like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the Tea Party embody some of our deepest intuitions about popular politics and 'the power of the people'. They also expose tensions and shortcomings in our understanding of these ideals. We typically see 'the people' as having a special, sovereign power. Despite the centrality of this idea in our thinking, we have little understanding of why it has such importance. Imagined Sovereignties probes the considerable force that 'the people' exercises on our thought and practice. Like the imagined communities described by Benedict Anderson, popular politics is formed around shared, imaginary constructs rooted in our collective imagination. This book investigates these 'imagined sovereignties' in a genealogy traversing the French Enlightenment, the Haitian Revolution, and nineteenth-century Haitian constitutionalism. It problematizes taken-for-granted ideas about popular politics and provokes new ways of imagining the power of the people.