Artist David Antonio Cruz addresses the questions of migrants’ visibility, race, and colour in his artworks, especially in the Chocolate Series, his first artivist work. Originally inspired by the story of trans people, he was marked by the abuses – even murder – that they were victims of. His reflection on photography and migrant communities highlights the issues of institutional racial bias as well as the pressures for assimilation and second-generation migrants. His colourful artworks address the question of colour and are homages to migrants of colour. Cruz also reflects on his positionality and how his own experience of migration has shaped his art production. His work is intended to draw attention by shocking, by making visible the invisible.
Regarde les hommes tomber, Un prophète and Un héros très discret
Perhaps more so than in the case of any other director working today, Jacques Audiard’s cinema speaks to the various ways in which the socially oppressed can experience French society as rigid and hostile. This chapter explores the vision of metropolitan French society that emerges from Audiard’s corpus, with a specific focus on three films in which social structures are a guiding theme: 1994’s Regarde les hommes tomber, 2009’s Un prophète and 1996’s Un héros très discret. The chapter begins with Regarde, Audiard’s first feature, in which the subversion of the film noir and polar genres is linked with reinventions of traditional family structures, social conventions and heteronormative relationships. It then examines the multilingual prison film Un prophète, in which language, violence and culture are interconnected tools that can be mobilised to shift social power relations. Finally it analyses Un héros’s invented Second World War Resistance tale, in which dominant cultural narratives can be manipulated not only in discourses around war and the media, but in cinema itself, to construct stories about the nation and national identity.
This chapter presents some reflections on the women’s monasteries of southern Italy in the eighth to twelfth centuries, based primarily on documents copied into the most important monastic cartularies composed in Lombard central Italy during the first half of the twelfth century, the Chronicon Sanctae Sophiae, the Chronicon Vulturnense and the Registrum Petri Diaconi. Apart from the exceptional case of Naples, women’s monasticism had only a marginal place in the southern Italy of the early Middle Ages, a region lacking towns and a consistent ecclesiastical hierarchy. These deficiencies pushed the placing of the uncommon female monasteries under control of the principal male abbeys. The chapter begins by looking at the foundation of early Beneventan female abbeys, notably St Mary in Cingla, St Mary of Piumarola, St Sophia of Benevento and Holy Saviour of Alife, all of which originated in the eighth century. It then follows the evolution of these and similar institutions from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, when the great abbeys ceased to be in a position to protect their rich and vulnerable women’s dependencies, which were henceforth claimed by new canonical authorities and lay powers. This development allowed female monasteries, including newer establishments such as St Mary of Capua, to multiply themselves in southern Italy in a normalised framework.
Artistic director of the New Museum, New York, Massimiliano Gioni describes the inspiration behind the Phillips Collection’s The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement exhibition (2019), which questions the very notion of universalism. He further describes how modernism and abstractionism have effectively been expressions of border transcending in art history. He reflects of the artists’ role and influence on current debates, but also the tricky interaction between the art world and the media. More recently, the emergence of documentary art raises the question of the interplay between the arts and societal issues. According to Gioni, Arshile Gorky’s portrait The Artist and His Mother (1936) – speaking of displacement and exile – is a remarkable representation of the experience of migration.
If the advent of the drone wars in the early twenty-first century was largely accompanied by narratives of virtuality and disembodiment, recent years have witnessed a renewed attention to the human dimensions of drone warfare – from Hollywood’s fascination with the lived experience of UAV pilots to theoretical examinations of the agential capacities of the drone. But what are the stakes of such representational strategies in a context that arguably relies on the dehumanization of drone targets and victims? This chapter draws on feminist theory and critical posthumanism to explore both the objectification of human subjects in contemporary warfare and the anthropomorphisation of the drone in popular culture. In conversation with a series of recent artworks, the chapter examine the figure of the drone through three rhetorical filters – the swarm, the blob and the corpse. Together, these filters help to elucidate an aesthetics of estrangement that might paradoxically cultivate a praxis of solidarity and care among the ‘stranger things’ of drone warfare.
Insects, drones and swarming in Ernst Jünger’s The Glass Bees
Andreas Immanuel Graae
Since ancient times, insect swarms have triggered uncanny emotions such as anxiety, paranoia and panic within human communities. During the twentieth century, this imagination revived as it merged with fantasies of autonomation and emergent behaviour among intelligent machines. As an eager entomologist with a keen eye for technology’s impact on the human, the German author Ernst Jünger put these ambivalent emotions into literary form in his futuristic novel The Glass Bees (1957), which features advanced robotic bees hardly distinguishable from today’s micro-drones. This chapter investigates Jünger’s novel as an early literary work on drone technology and situates it in the proper historical context as it arrives in a dawning era of computers, networks and automation. The drone swarms in the novel can be seen as something inherently uncanny, which evokes feelings such as paranoia and anxiety – emotions that are easily associated with the authoritarian community where this drone technology is used. Focusing on the figure of the swarm, the chapter thus discusses how Jünger’s artificial bees foreshadow today’s drone technologies and the prospects of swarming robots in warfare as well as everyday life.
Narratives exploring relationships in modern British society
Chapter 5 focuses on how film-makers working in British cinema during the 2000s sought to depict the social, emotional and sexual relationships of characters in a series of modern-day settings and dramatic situations. The chapter opens with a brief discussion of key examples of British films engaging with intimate relationships in British culture since the 1960s to create a basis for the examinations to follow. The chapter features detailed studies of films made by non-British directors exploring relationships in a British setting from something of an external perspective; films focusing on how sexual and loving relationships between various characters can meet with opposition from religious and secular communities. Notes on a Scandal (2006), a drama about a woman teacher’s damaging sexual behaviour outside the marital bedroom, is analysed for its powerful investigation of the consequences of the woman’s behaviour on her marriage, children, career and friendships. Noel Clarke’s ‘hood’ trilogy offers compelling and disturbing portraits of combustible relationships between young people in modern-day settings, providing a fascinating contrast with the very different films of another emerging auteur in British cinema, Joanna Hogg. The films analysed in this chapter explore the emotional and sensual connections between people and places, the perceived spiritual health of British society and its relationship with European and American cultures, and demonstrate the achievements of British cinema during a time of transition and uncertainty.
The Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero famously said that ‘to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one’s self to die’. He influenced the sixteenth-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who wrote an essay entitled ‘That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die’. This chapter explores our relationship with death through the philosophical lenses of these two thinkers, before giving the reader a short summary of all the chapters in the book.
In normal times, we follow the advice of experts. In times of crisis, listening to public health experts, and acting accordingly, becomes an ethical imperative. After the outbreak of the most serious public health emergency in living memory, governments around the world are making decisions based on the advice of public health experts. The problem is that sometimes experts disagree, including scientists. Experts disagree on the best way to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. When this happens, politicians have the power to choose which experts to listen to. This raises important questions about knowledge and trust in science, experts, and politicians.
In crises, we rely desperately on the truth, and there is no room for fake news or post-truth. Or at least, there shouldn’t be. But that has not been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. This chapter will start by distinguishing between lies and post-truth, before highlighting the subversive nature of post-truth, which aims to delegitimize truth. Not even COVID-19 is immune from the toxic rhetoric of post-truth.