Drinking to excess has been a striking problem for industrial and post-industrial societies – who is responsible when a ‘free’ individual opts for a slow suicide? The causes of such drinking have often been blamed on heredity, moral weakness, ‘disease’ (addiction), hedonism, and Romantic illusion. Yet there is another reason which may be more fundamental and which has been overlooked or dismissed, and it is that the drinker may act with sincere philosophical intent. The Existential Drinker looks at the convergence of a new kind of excessive, habitual drinking, beginning in the nineteenth century, and a new way of thinking about the self which in the twentieth century comes to be labelled ‘Existential’. A substantial introduction covers questions of self, will, consciousness, authenticity, and ethics in relation to drinking, while introducing aspects of Existential thought pertinent to the discussion. The Existential-drinker canon is anchored in Jack London’s ‘alcoholic memoir’ John Barleycorn (1913), where London claims he can get at the truth of existence only through the insights afforded by excessive and repeated alcohol use. The book then covers drinker-texts such as Jean Rhys’s interwar novels, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas, along with less well-known works such as Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow–Petushki, and A. L. Kennedy’s Paradise. The book will appeal to anybody with an interest in drinking and literature, as well as those with more specialised concerns in drinking studies, Existentialism, twentieth-century literature, and medical humanities.
The crisis around the movement of people at Europe's borders is matched by similar contestations, albeit less visible, around the position and movement of minorities within Europe; specifically, Romani minorities. While Romani minorities have not come from ‘anywhere else’, they have, nonetheless, often been considered strangers among citizens. This is the central argument of Julija Sardelić's stunning new book, The fringes of citizenship: Romani minorities in Europe and civic marginalisation. Essentially, Sardelić is concerned to find out why rights, formally guaranteed by institutions at the European Union level and nationally, both fail to protect Roma and fail to address their social and political marginalisation.
Sardelić argues that the processes by way of which the marginalisation of Roma occur are not exceptional; rather, similar policies are in use globally in relation to other minorities. Consequently, she deftly locates the treatment of Roma as marginalised citizens within a broader, global perspective. This is done through the concept of the ‘invisible edges of citizenship’ where, as she argues, ‘marginalised minorities are manifestly included as a special group but yet latently marginalised as citizens’. This distinctive formulation enables her to examine a diversity of experiences within a common framework. More significantly, it points to the ways in which difference is not simply excluded, and also sheds light on how it is constructed as a justification of the exclusion.
In The fringes of citizenship: Romani minorities in Europe and civic marginalisation, Sardelić superbly mobilises her analysis of the civic marginalisation of Roma to investigate the concept of citizenship itself. In this way, she addresses one of the key concerns of the Theory for a Global Age series, of which this book is part, namely, to rethink the concepts and categories central to disciplinary understandings from the experiences of those who are rarely made central to such processes. This book is a powerful illustration of the urgency and efficacy of undertaking such a task and the new avenues – political and scholarly – that open up in the process. It is compelling analysis that has the potential to reshape our understandings of citizenship.
Gurminder K. Bhambra
University of Sussex