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This chapter contends that international law is structured in ways that systemically reinforce ecological harm. Through exploring the cultural milieu from which international environmental law emerged, we argue it produced an impoverished understanding of nature incapable of responding adequately to ecological crises. Many of international law’s basic concepts, such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, territory, development and human rights, have evolved in trajectories unsuited to perceiving or respecting ecological limits. International law treats nature as a resource for wealth generation and environmental degradation as an economic externality to be managed through special regimes. This chapter traces the coevolution of such assumptions about nature alongside formative disciplinary concepts, arguing that such understandings have been central to making international law, and that the discipline helps universalise and normalise them. Thus, to engage with environmental challenges, disciplinary tenets would have to evolve in directions that radically transform the nature of law.
This chapter explores the relationship between human rights and the environment. It begins by asking ‘who we think we are’ to understand the forms of subjecthood and subjectivity produced by human rights. It argues that human rights normalize a series of false conceptions about our collective self that have detrimental social and ecological consequences. The chapter next examines the question of ‘where we think we are’, probing the ontological rift between humans as subjects of rights and ‘the environment’ as the repository of resources with which to satisfy human entitlements. The chapter challenges human rights as a hubristic organizing category and observes that the ‘who’ and ‘where’ questions, artificially separated in the chapter, serve to show that the way humans treat each other is inextricable from the way we treat nature. To undo relationships of mastery, ownership, and violence between the subjects and objects of human rights law, projects for human wellbeing and environmental struggles need to engage with and understand each other outside the unproductive rubric of rights discourse.
Climate change, mass extinction, deforestation, desertification and increasing pollution and toxicity of the air, water and land: Uncontainable by national borders, these are quintessentially global concerns for which peoples and states have turned to international law for solutions. This edited collection asks how international lawyers have understood the environment: What exactly is it and how do international lawyers purport to govern it? These seemingly straightforward questions have the potential to unmake our discipline through destabilizing formative assumptions about the separation between subjects and objects of governance, between the social and the natural, and between the human and non-human. We explain in this introductory chapter that reexamining international law assumptions about the natural world is not mere theoretical speculation. It is an urgent and necessary step for addressing pressing environmental challenges.
For those troubled by environmental harm on a global scale and its deeply unequal effects, this book explains how international law structures ecological degradation and environmental injustice while claiming to protect the environment. It identifies how central legal concepts such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, territory, development, environment, labour and human rights make inaccurate and unsustainable assumptions about the natural world and systemically reproduce environmental degradation and injustice. To avert socioecological crises, we must not only unpack but radically rework our understandings of nature and its relationship with law. We propose more sustainable and equitable ways to remake law's relationship with nature by drawing on diverse disciplines and sociocultural traditions that have been marginalized within international law. Influenced by Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), postcolonialism and decoloniality, and inspired by Indigenous knowledges, cosmology, mythology and storytelling, this book lays the groundwork for an epistemological shift in the way humans conceptualize the relationship between law and nature.
Legitimation via the representative claim is existentially critical for non-governmental organisations in the absence of meaningful consent or authorization. The need to so compensate is manifest in iterative claims to be ‘one of the people’, to be close to the people and ultimately to stand for the people, challenging state representative monopolies that have unravelled in Tanzania, as elsewhere. Claims to stand for the people, however, are fleeting and give way to the conclusive need to act for the people when situations of uncertainty and of perceived failure solicit a more authoritative stance. This chapter expounds the hybridity of contemporary representational practice, whereby state and non-state actors continually reconcile claims to stand and to act for Others. In doing so, it uniquely identifies a productive confluence in mainstream representation theory and long-established anti/postcolonial writings in understanding representational multivalency and making today, disrupting default notions of representation in the West.
Having built much of their wealth, power, and identities on imperial expansion, how did the Portuguese and, by extension, Europeans deal with the end of empire? Postcolonial People explores the processes and consequences of decolonization through the histories of over half a million Portuguese settlers who 'returned' following the 1974 Carnation Revolution from Angola, Mozambique, and other parts of Portugal's crumbling empire to their country of origin and citizenship, itself undergoing significant upheaval. Looking comprehensively at the returnees' history and memory for the first time, this book contributes to debates about colonial racism and its afterlives. It studies migration, 'refugeeness,' and integration to expose an apparent paradox: The end of empire and the return migrations it triggered belong to a global history of the twentieth century and are shaped by transnational dynamics. However, they have done nothing to dethrone the primacy of the nation-state. If anything, they have reinforced it.
In my ethnographic fieldwork in the contemporary dance scene in Brussels, I followed closely which struggles Moya Michael had to overcome as a South African maker in the European contemporary dance sector trying to sell her work. As a female artist of color, she cannot escape the fetishistic gaze emphasizing her exoticized body, a body imagined as exotic vis-à-vis institutional whiteness. This article examines how the work environment in the continental European contemporary dance sector forms a breeding ground for the fetishization of Afrodiasporic artists. After unpacking the general issues related to identity in the European contemporary dance sector, this article continues to discuss the dance solo Khoiswan, which Michael created in 2018 as the first part of an ongoing series called Coloured Swans. In this choreographic work, Michael centers and explores her multilayered identity on her own terms.
Often studied as a transitory step towards the late consolidation of Italian opera in Mexico, the activities of the Spanish tenor and composer Manuel García in Mexico City from 1827 to 1829 call for a more nuanced analysis. The spatial reconceptualisation pursued by transnational and global histories as well as the redefinition of cultural borders triggered by postcolonial studies give us the tools to address García’s Mexican career as a key moment in terms of understanding the effects and issues raised by the spread of Italian opera in Latin America at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The chapter rethinks García's activities in Mexico City as comprising one of the first (while at the same time highly problematic) cultural encounters between Europe and the young Latin American nation after its emancipation from Spain (1821). Until then, mutual perceptions between Europe and Mexico were distorted by the intrusive cultural politics of imperial Spain. After independence, such misperceptions became more marked. Perceived as a familiar expressions of Europeanness, Italian opera became the arena where issues of identity and otherness were discussed. A close reading of the operas García composed for Mexican audiences will reveal how Italian opera changed by absorbing and reflecting the multiple postcolonial tensions of Mexico City.
In the 1820s, a stable company of Italian singers was in charge of the operatic performances staged at the Imperial Theatre in Rio de Janeiro. Working together with a French ballet troupe, those soloists joined forces to present their repertoire before a heterogeneous audience. Works by Rossini and his contemporaries were sung in the original language, subscriptions were sold for annual seasons and Italian masterpieces crowned the theatrical festivities offered to the Emperor. The chapter examines this recently independent country’s attraction for foreign singers and looks at how these artists were able to pursue their careers in a totally different milieu to that to which they had been accustomed, living in a city that offered great opportunities, but also considerable challenges to newcomers. A small group of Italian singers were employed by a local impresario, with the aim of making opera a viable cultural activity at an Imperial Court that was proud of its connections with Europe, yet they also struggled with economic difficulties and the country’s political instability. The press assumed a central role in negotiating the relationship between artists and their audiences, revealing a growing public interest in opera, its backstage and the lives of its protagonists.
The introduction examines the concept of italianità within its historical and cross-disciplinary context. Since the eighteenth century, music and especially opera have frequently been used as signifiers of national identity. Rousseau’s writings, and the responses they received, were particularly influential in associating music with national styles, reflecting linguistic conditions as well as the development of musical and operatic genres. These ideas resonated in debates on music, but also in travel writing and political thought, as exemplified in the works of de Staël, Stendhal and Goethe, but also Byron and Dickens. During the nineteenth century, often narrowly described as an age of nationalism, drawing connections between music and national character assumed a new dimension in political and aesthetic debates, partly due to the idea of reading opera as a contribution to processes of political emancipation. Especially in the non-European world, ideas about music were negotiated in relation to colonial and postcolonial experiences. But they also contributed to new notions of cosmopolitanism and a universal sense of belonging. The extent to which opera was intended to take a position within the political battles of national movements and global conflicts remains a matter of debate among opera scholars and historians.
In the mid-nineteenth century, touring minstrel and Italian operatic troupes reached Bombay’s shores, exposing its residents to the delights of European and American popular tunes and burlesque Italian opera. Although reformists initially struggled to convince locals to patronise this strange warbling, opera gradually became a marker of high culture in the subcontinent. This transition was the result of the adoption of the term ‘opera’ by Parsi theatre, India’s most widespread, commercial, ‘modern’ dramatic form. The chapter traces Parsi theatre's role in the creation of a modern South Asian aural culture during the second half of the nineteenth century through the indigenisation of Italian opera. It delineates how the locus for Hindustani music shifted, from the courts of Awadh to the proscenium theatres of Asia, and how an Indian brand of opera that combined European melodies with Hindustani music became a staple not only of the theatre but also of the cinematic medium that followed.
Teresa Carreño’s 1887 operatic season in Caracas is a notorious episode in Venezuelan musical history: an attempt to launch an Italian opera company by the country’s most celebrated pianist that ended in dismal failure. Invited by President Guzman in 1885 to give a series of recitals – and subsequently to start a permanent opera company – Carreño was by then in the glory years of her career. Studies of Carreño have long emphasised the symbolic importance of Carreño’s time in Caracas in the 1880s, highlighted by her composition of an 'Himno a Bolivar' during the visit. Less frequently discussed, however, is that the majority of the operatic troupe were in fact recruited from New York, where Carreño had settled in the previous decade, and from where she had pursued concert tours across the United States. The chapter reassesses Carreño’s failed operatic experiment both through the lens of her North American networks and against the shifting relations between New York, Venezuela and Italy at this time. It provides a framework for later activities within Latin America by the US operatic gramophone industry, and underlines the problematic status of Italian opera’s 'civilising' ambitions for local Venezuelan elites. If Venezuela could easily be subsumed into clichés of italianità abroad, then Italian opera was an uneasy and surprisingly mobile symbol of cultural progress.
The Occupy Central/Umbrella Movement of 2014 and the anti-extradition protests of 2019 revealed how much Hong Kong's relationship with mainland China has deteriorated since the former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997. With mutual distrust and suspicion at an all-time high, many Hong Kong people have become increasingly hostile toward the Chinese government and the mainland in general, identifying themselves as Hongkongers rather than as Chinese. Yet, as John Carroll shows, for more than 150 years, colonial Hong Kong and China not only coexisted with but benefited each other, even during the anti-imperialist campaigns of the Republican and Communist eras. The porous boundary between Hong Kong and China enabled the two to use each other economically, politically, socially, and culturally. The Hong Kong–China nexus, although firmly embedded in global dynamics of colonialism, Cold War politics, and capitalist expansion, defies many common assumptions about nationalism, colonialism, and decolonization.
This volume of essays discusses the European and global expansion of Italian opera and the significance of this process for debates on opera at home in Italy. Covering different parts of Europe, the Americas, Southeast and East Asia, it investigates the impact of transnational musical exchanges on notions of national identity associated with the production and reception of Italian opera across the world. As a consequence of these exchanges between composers, impresarios, musicians and audiences, ideas of operatic Italianness (italianità) constantly changed and had to be reconfigured, reflecting the radically transformative experience of time and space that throughout the nineteenth century turned opera into a global aesthetic commodity. The book opens with a substantial introduction discussing key concepts in cross-disciplinary perspective and concludes with an epilogue relating its findings to different historiographical trends in transnational opera studies.
This chapter starts by arguing that traditionally the writing of history has a strong connection to the construction of identities, be they national, class, ethnic, gender or spatial identities. The theory of history has also re-inforced that link until a range of diverse thinkers came to question this. I am discussing in particular Hayden White, Michel Foucault, Mikhail Bakhtin, Chris Lorenz, Chantal Mouffe, Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu, Stuart Hall, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. The collective impact of these authors has been to produce a greater self-reflexivity about the relationship between history and identity formation in many historians. The book, however, is not about a whiggish story of progress towards self-reflexivity, but it highlights that work which, in the author’s view, has been successful in being self-reflective about the historians’ part in the construction of identities.
This chapter starts off by discussing the roots of historical anthropology in ‘people’s history’ before the linguistic turn. It then traces the journey from the history workshop movements of the 1960s and 1970s to historical anthropology, focusing on European and Indian groups (the Subaltern Studies Group). It highlights the work of Ann Laura Stoler as an example of how historical anthropology led to new and exciting perspectives in historical writing with deep implications for the deconstruction of historical identities. Historical anthropologists brought with them a concern for the everyday, diversity, performance and resistance and they raised an awareness of the undeterminedness of the past. They also emphasised how collective identities were rooted in constructions of culture. Relating cultural values to practices, diverse theories of the everday examined different structures of power and the agency of ordinary people in resisting and re-appropriating these structures of power. Treating culture as fluid, plural and changing, it also contributed to the de-essentialisation of human identities. Emphasising mimetic processes and the interrelationship of diverse mimetically produced images, historical anthropology also contributed to the decentring of Western perspectives.
This chapter analyses the move of historians away from text and towards the interpretation of visuals. Starting with art history’s turn to the social and the cultural, it traces the interest of historians for an ever wider group of images, including popular images. It also highlights the emergence of perspectivalism and transdisciplinarity in the field of visual history. The main bulk of the chapter is taken up with presenting a range of examples showing how the visual turn in historical writing has contributed to deconstructing national identites, class identities and racial/ethnic identities. Ranging widely across different parts of the globe it also discusses the deconstruction of religious and gender identities through visual histories that have in total contributed much towards a much higher self-reflexivity among historians when it comes to the construction of collective identities through historical writing.
This chapter looks at the spread of global history globally and the abandonment of historiographical nationalism. It examines the long practice of comparative, transnational and global history writing since the Enlightenments. It also looks at the construction of peculiarities and exceptionalisms through comparison as well as their critique. It distinguishes between comparative and global history and links the rise of both to the renewed crisis of historicism since the 1980s. It also discusses the controvery between comparative historians and historians of cultural transfer, arguing that both approaches need to be united. The chapter highlights the idea of circulations and examines the explosion of global history around particular themes. It also underlines its usefulness in overcoming Western-centric models of development and questioning universalisms. Transnational, comparative and global histories have all contributed to decentring collective identity constructions and making historians more aware of the ways in which historical writing has been connected to the construction of such collective identities. This is shown in relation to spatial boundaries, be they national or supra-national, but also in relation to class, racial and gender identities. Postcolonial perspectives on global history have been particularly adept at questioning the Western-centrism of historical writing and understanding diverse regimes of colonialism. It has also made transnational global history more aware of its own temptation to further global identities.
This chapter begins by tracing the strong links between traditional political history writing and identity politics, be it national identity, the identity of empires or religious identity. It then analyses the crisis of political history writing in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally it examines the remaking of the ‘new’ political history, highlighting (a) a stonger concern for popular politics, (b) a major emphasis on the languages of politics, (c) the desire to look for links between popular politics and popular religion and (d) the study of political transfers. Overall the new political history has done much to problematise the strong link between political history writing and identity formation.
We now turn to an utter rejection of structure. Two figures are prominent: Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard and Clifford Geertz. Evans-Pritchard maintained an approach that saw anthropology as akin to history. He rejected anthropology as a science. A better analogy saw anthropology as an exercise in translation. Geertz built on the idea of complex nuance in the study of culture. In other words, he favoured a quest for ‘thick description’.