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Inverno 2007 - Anno XIV
“Afflicted Powers”. Lo stato, lo spettacolo, e l’11 settembre - p. 5
The essay is part of an account of world politics since September 11, 2001. It aims to confront the perplexing doubleness of the present — its lethal mixture of atavism and new-fangledness. A brute return to the past, calling to mind now the Scramble for Africa, now the Wars of Religion, is accompanied by an equally monstrous political deployment of (and entrapment in) the apparatus of a hyper-modern production of appearances. Capital is attempting, nakedly, a new round of primitive accumulation. But never before has imperialism, and its dominant world power, been subject to real catastrophe in the realm of the spectacle. The present turn to empire is confronted by a variety of movements, including a new kind of vanguard whose weapons include the toolkit of spectacular politics. This piece attempts to rethink certain key aspects of the current global struggle within this overall perspective. It became the opening chapter of the book Afflicted Powers (Verso, 2005), whose main themes are the spectacle and September 11, blood for oil, permanent war and illusory peace, the US–Israel relationship, revolutionary Islam, and modernity and terror. Retort is a gathering of antagonists to capital and empire, based for two decades in the San Francisco Bay Area. This piece arises from the group’s efforts to confront the current political moment and some of the main forms of resistance to it. Involved in the writing were Iain Boal, T. J. Clark, Joseph Matthews, and Michael Watts.
Introduzione - p.
Democrazia ideale e democrazia reale negli Stati Uniti - p. 21
The American Republic was not born as a democratic state. She had to travel a long journey before she became a democracy – first she had to abolish slavery; then she had to give women the suffrage and finally she had to conquer the racism that had stained its institutions all along, up to the Nineteenth-sixties. Now everyone admits that the political institutions are fully democratic – elections are frequent e regular, no section of the population is institutionally disenfranchised etc. – and yet the American democracy is criticized by some, even severely so, because to the political equality corresponds an increasingly deep economic inequality, and because the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite is transforming democracy in an oligarchy. These criticisms, coming from such scholars as Robert Dahl, Ronald Dworkin, Bruce Ackerman and Kevin Phillips, are presented and discussed in the essay, whose main aim is to put the development of American democracy in an historical perspective.
Lezioni europee d’imperialismo: una lettera all’America - p. 36
US neoimperialism around the globe may be the last, desperate effort of outmoded nationalism, or it may be evidence of a new, especially dangerous form of “super-nationalism.” Scholars committed to the internationalizing of American Studies should try to interpret critically and historically the conjunction of U.S. nationalism and imperialism. They should pay special attention to the popular rhetoric of “patriotism,” and how it has encouraged emotional identification with the nation even when the claims of patriotism are contrary to reason. We should also look for alternatives to the nation state, including recent political and economic federations, like the European Union, in order to identify the limitations of the U.S. national model.
Nemici poco chiari, amici poco chiari - p. 53
Using visual and textual material from both inside and outside the United States, this essay argues for the analytic advantages of treating a named “anti- Americanism” as a certain type of criticism, criticism itself as a mode of discourse, and discourse as meaningful social behavior. It resists the widespread view that “anti-Americanism” pits the United States against the world, and focuses instead on the communities of discourse that cross national borders, including those of the U.S. It distinguishes between highly visible and objectified discourses of “anti-Americanism” and criticism of people or things associated with the U.S. that is not framed as “anti-American.” And it offers the paradoxical, but compelling, conclusion that participants in discourses about “anti-Americanism,” who participate in order to try to do away with “anti-Americanism,” end up part of the discourse community that sustains it, even if it did not create it.
Il filoamericanismo mitico in Italia dopo l’11 settembre - p. 66
The essay approaches the question Italian “anti-Americanism” by way of its necessary counterpart: Mythic Pro- Americanism, that is, an embracement of the United States as asocial and political model that operates beyond the pale of rational argumentation. In contemporary political debates in Italy the category of “anti-Americanism” is used to demonize any criticism of the Unites States, no matter what its contents or principles are. By editing and at times even manufacturing textual and historical evidence, Mythic Pro- Americanists breathe new life into the idea of American exceptionalism while holding fast, paradoxically, to a nationalistic essentialism that mirrors the one they rhetorically construct, and denounce, in any critique of the United States.
Politica e letteratura nell’America asiatica: conversazione con Jeffery Paul Chan - p. 79
Testo a fronte
Dentro la poesia americana contemporanea: gli sguardi opposti di Gene Tanta e Amy Newman - p . 93
Atti di traduzione culturale. La diaspora indo-americana in Interpreter of Maladies di Jhumpa Lahiri - p. 104
In her debut collection of short stories The Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri unfolds the possibilities of the diaspora fiction genre, while also pointing to some of its problems. Born in London and raised in the Unites States, of Bengali origin, she writes stories that focus on the intercultural miscommunications and conflicts experienced by Indian immigrants and second generation Indian Americans. In the eponymous short story, the Bengali diaspora feeds back into India in the shape of Mr. and Mrs. Das and family, visiting from the United States. Their interaction with the homeland is observed by Mr. Kapasi, a part-time guide who chauffeurs them on a day trip to touristic places in Orissa. The essay examines the themes, running throughout the story, of misinterpreted signals and of the “other”’s gaze, and the problem of cultural translation across the macro-context of transnational migrations.
Percorsi fluviali e percorsi letterari nei diari di Lewis e Clark - p. 120
In May, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out for an expedition across the Louisiana Territory, to the Pacific Coast and back. Following the Missouri, descending by the Clearwater, the Snake, and the Columbia rivers, crossing forests and mountains, facing animals, interacting with Native tribes and building forts as quarters, the expedition – also known as The Corps of Discovery – made a major contribution to mapping the North American continent. This essay explores the ways in which the mapping of the new territory as recorded in the Journals reflected the expansion of national boundary and nationalist awareness, marking a sort of watershed or “starting point” in nineteenth-century American expansionism. The aim of this essay is also to highlight the literary quality of the Journals. Writing on and of rivers, Lewis and Clark gave life to a “meandering” style whose legacy can be found in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi.