Arena Journal

Articles

No. 49/50, 2018

As Revelation and Reason Founder: A Way into the Future?
Approaching the Contribution of Charles TaylorIn the course of their consideration of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, the six contributors to this project agreed that their essays should focus in part on the implications of Taylor's work for outlining...
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Can Transcendence Have a Social Meaning?
Charles Taylor's A Secular Age1 is a sustained attempt to convey the intellectual pathways and ethical and social trajectories of the past four centuries of development in the West, including the transformations of ways of life, and the relation of these...
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Where Is the Sacred Imaginary in These Secular Times?
Charles Taylor is one of the world's most significant social philosophers. Nicholas Smith calls him 'the leading analytic exponent of Continental philosophy'.1 Taylor's book A Secular Age,2 developed from his Gifford Lectures, is an essential treatise...
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Whither Religion in a World of Compounding Crises?
Though a significant minority across the world enjoy the gross material benefits of a prodigiously productive global economy, our planet is at the same time beset by escalating system-level crises. Deep economic inequality is intensifying both between...
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The Natural World and After
I. INTRODUCTIONThe Limits of Charles Taylor's MethodThis essay was undertaken by one among six contributors to a shared project. Three Christians and three others had agreed that chapter 15 - 'The Imminent Frame' - of Charles Taylor's massive A Secular...
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Can We Re-Imagine a Good Society after Neoliberalism?
In the conversations that led to this volume, there was a common agreement that the challenge of navigating beyond 'neoliberalism' is central to dealing with the present daunting civilisation crisis - of which disruptive climate change is the most prominent...
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Can We Live 'In but Not Of' the Immanent Frame?
I am a priest in the Anglican Church in Melbourne.1 I think of myself as an orthodox Christian who in good conscience recites the Nicene Creed each Sunday at the Eucharist. My interest as a priest includes seeking to give an account of the kind of world...
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Introduction to Part II
This section is composed entirely of an essay written by Geoff Sharp. The essay was not finalised before Geoff died in 2015. It contains some unfinished sections, and has been edited by the Arena Journal editors so that it is largely complete. Needless...
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What Does It Mean Ontologically to Be Religious?
What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age? This simple question, the first sentence of Charles Taylor's extraordinary book A Secular Age, is deceptively complex - and a bad place to start.1 Any approach that begins with a question that presumes...
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No. 47/48, 2017

WikiLeaks, Pedagogy and the Ethical Limits of Research
Note to the US government: We know this is bad for you. Don't make it worse by criminalizing everyone who studies international politics.1Using publicly available material from the WikiLeaks database has thrown up a dilemma for scholars and researchers.2...
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Confronting a New Leviathan
This issue of Arena Journal, as many before it have been, is concerned with both specific and more general processes of transformation and crisis. While, considered together, the contents of this issue paint a bleak picture about the contemporary situation...
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Abstraction and Production in Google Maps: The Reorganisation of Subjectivity, Materiality and Labour
Maps can be seen as a potent symbol and the technological manifestation of the abstraction process fundamental to human practice. Cartographic abstraction grants an organising power to the way we look at the world, and hence map-makers and the institutions...
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Deconstruction, Zionism and the BDS Movement
The fascists may spread over the land, blasting their way with weight of metal brought from other countries. They may advance aided by traitors and cowards. They may destroy cities and villages and try to hold the people in slavery. But you cannot hold...
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Ontological Design as an Ecological Practice
I am going to design you a story. Design as an Ecological Practice was the name of a subject that I team-taught with my colleagues at the EcoDesign Foundation in the mid-1990s. The foundation was established as a new learning institution - a not-for-profit...
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Joining the 'Race to the Bottom': The Rudd Government's 'Tough but Humane' Approach to Asylum Seekers
Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.- Dietrich BonhoefferIntroductionIn 2007, Labor leader Kevin Rudd's promise of a new 'tough but humane' approach for dealing with asylum seekers was a key point of difference between...
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Maker Culture and Possibilities for Attached Consumption
Introduction: The Rise of the Maker MovementAccording to journalist James Fallows, the first sprigs of maker culture as a social movement - often demarcated by the Maker Faire in 2006 in San Francisco, but with a longer history descending from twentieth-century...
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Socrates Reborn?: Philosophy, after the Disciplines
Socrates Reborn?: Philosophy, after the Disciplines Review of R. Frodeman and A. Briggle, Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st-Century Philosophy, London and New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st-Century...
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The Scare Cycle: Moral Panics and National Elections
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.- H. L. MenckenAs a general rule, democratic theory tends to represent...
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Terrible Security: Bifocal Visions of Horror
How do we see security? Is it seen in images of peace and safety, or is it perceived in the depiction of the horrors of violence and suffering? The question is not an obvious one, for security is not typically thought to be a quality of vision, or of...
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Trump and the Fascist Prospect
The vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States are signs that the Western world has entered a period of deep uncertainty. Ostensibly this is because of the radical rejection of mainstream political leaders....
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'All Lives Matter' or 'Palestinian Lives Matter'? Yes, Please!
In a well-known Marx Brothers joke Groucho answers the standard question 'Tea or coffee?' with 'Yes, please!' - a refusal of choice ... [O]ne should answer in the same way the false alternative today's critical theory seems to impose on us: either 'class...
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Occupy This: The Political Economy of the Makerspaces
The Economist dedicated one of its covers in 2015 to the growing influence of 'activist investors'. Expanding on the reasons why this was undoubtedly 'good for the public company', The Economist contended that there is no ultimate contradiction between...
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A Spoiling Operation: Cold War at the University of Melbourne
For a decade during the Cold War the lives of Geoff and Nonie Sharp were entangled with Australia's security services. It is difficult to take a reader back to those times and give a meaningful affective sense of the impact of what it meant to be targeted....
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Food, and the Unsettling of the Human Condition
Food is basic to human existence. Across the entire period that humans have lived on this planet, food has been central to our social being. The production, exchange, consumption and narrating of the meaning of food has been, and continues to be, fundamental...
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No. 45/46, 2016

Engaging with Melanesia
In Arena's early years, one of the central themes running through the publication was analysis of Australia's engagement with the Pacific Islands. A series of articles expressed solidarity with movements for self-determination and independence in neighbouring...
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Globalization and the New World Order
The idea that a new world order is emerging cannot be simply thought about in regional or local terms, although local expressions are everywhere. Historically there are many examples of what can be called new world orders. The rise of the state system...
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Popular Culture: Pessimism and Hope
Within Arena, popular culture has been considered as both a manifestation of the problem of radical 'autonomy' and as the scene through which we might glimpse the outbreak of an alternative future - a 'transitional practice' of sorts.1 Looking back over...
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‘Language Can Not Encompass Being’ 1: Poststructuralism and Postmodernism
Writing in 2016, it's sometimes hard to believe the influence that poststructuralist and postmodernist 'theory' had on university and intellectual culture in the 1980s and 1990s. Virtually every humanities and social-science department (and even some...
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Reviewing the Middle East
I was profoundly honoured when Arena asked me to review its contributions on the Middle East. No other independent publisher has been so committed to the task of both (re-)describing our geo - political situation and offering prescriptions for redress...
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Social Movements: Shadow Structures of a New Social Order 1
Like Arena, the sociology of social movements is fifty years old. As in social movement theory, the nature, structure, contexts, theoretical conflicts and consequences of social movement activity have been debated continuously in and by Arena. It would...
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Worse I May Be Yet: Projecting Politics
A few years ago I was speaking with the philosopher Oliver Feltham about the question of truth in politics. 'You always know when truth is involved in a political organization', Oliver remarked to me, 'because that organization will be in constant danger...
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Fifty Years of Arena
This issue of Arena Journal emerges from a day-long symposium held at the University of Melbourne in 2013 marking fifty years of publications by the Arena group. The event was composed of diverse presentations, some by the original editors of the first...
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Contesting Technological Modernity
In his reflections a decade ago on forty years of Arena, Guy Rundle observed:Beneath the surface of current events, a far more substantial change has occurred - the disappearance from the Left political imagination of the possibility of a world transformed...
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Mediations Are Us: Navigating the Information Superhighway
When I first sat down to draft this essay, the latest copy of The New York Review of Books carried an essay by Sue Halpern on 'the Internet of Things':1In the world of the Internet of things, your car, your heating system, your refrigerator, your fitness...
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The Janus Faces of Indigenous Politics
At the 2013 conference of the Australian Historical Association, Tim Rowse brandished a recent copy of Arena Journal in its book form as Stolen Lands, Broken Cultures: The Settler-colonial Present,1 and railed against what he characterized as a 'festschrift'...
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Nuclear Technologies and Exterminism
A couple of years ago a book was published with the challenging title, Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change9 It tried to explain the mass inattention described in its subtitle. There is room to write another, perhaps...
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The Environment and Ecological Politics
In 1962, just a few months before the publication of the first issue of Arena, Rachel Carson outlined the following sharp choices about civilizational values and priorities in her foundational text of ecological politics, Silent Spring:We stand now where...
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Theorizing Intellectuals
A theory about intellectuals has always been one of Arena's main offerings, and one of the most admired. As early as 1970, Warren Osmond's chapter in the collection The Australian New Left called the Arena thesis on intellectuals 'the most lucid and...
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Gender and the Challenges of Feminism
Feminist theory and analysis, with some notable exceptions, has always had the difficult task of cramming itself into the hegemonic theories of the day. This is as true of the writing in Arena as anywhere else. But reviewing the writing on women, feminism...
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Humanities Professionals and ‘the Social’
What's In and What's OutThe ambition of this essay is broad: to review the contributions of Arena on humanities professionals over the last fifty years. This ambit has been interpreted to include material relevant to those with a background or interest...
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New Subjectivity: Looking Back to the Postmodern Moment
When the old Arena came to an end with issue no. 99/100, and Arena Magazine and Arena Journal came into being in the early 1990s, the Berlin Wall had recently fallen, both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had just departed politics, and everywhere...
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Changing Forms of Economy and Class
Dealing adequately with themes as fundamental as economy and class takes incredibly systematic theoretical work. This complexity is compounded when adding in issues of changing historical context, contemporary social consequence and intersecting ontological...
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No. 43/44, 2015

They Have Never Been Modern? Then What Is the Problem with Those Persians?
The question of what it means to use the concepts of modernity and the modern sounds like an arcane theoretical concern. Were not those issues sorted out at the end of the twentieth century in the Great Debate between the moderns and postmoderns? Did...
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Intersections and Tensions between Civilizations and Modernities: The Case of Oman
Oman, Civilizational History and Modernities in Tension: Some Theoretical ReflectionsThis essay is a reflection on the modernity of Oman. I want to look at Oman from the perspective of its 'modernity' as this provides a broader framework in which to...
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The Beast of Syrian Modernity: The Prison in the Writings of Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
It's not always easyto face the animaleven if it looks at youwithout fear or hateit does so fixedlyand seems to disdainthe subtle secret it carriesIt seems better to feelthe obviousness of the worldthat noisily day and nightdrills and damagesthe silence...
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Arab Cinema: Possibilities of Modernity, Nationalism and Resistance
In a striking passage from his essay Being Arab, Samir Kassir makes reference to the significance of cinema for a discussion of modernity in the Arab world:But of all the arts, the cinema best illustrates the Arabs' embrace of modernity. Once again Egypt...
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Traditionalizing the Modern: Tunisia's Living Museums
If modernity represents both a rupture with the past and a culmination of all previous history at the same time, if modernity constantly reorganizes the world to reflect the reality it creates, no other institution embodies that phenomenon better than...
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The Messianic Idea in Shi'i Islam and Its Modern Politicization
There is news, news is on the way;Gladdened is the heart that is aware of it;Perhaps he will come this Friday - perhaps;Perhaps he will pull away the cloth that hides his face.1This traditional poem, known popularly in the Islamic Republic of Iran, expresses...
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Nasser and the Modernization of Egypt
Hosni Mubarak's sudden resignation, which took place on Friday, 11 February 2011, was his begrudging response to the local reverberations in Egypt of the Arab Spring, a groundswell which, beginning in neighbouring Tunisia, was then triggered in Egypt...
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Zionism: An Unfinished Revolution?
How Do You Say Modernism in Hebrew?In a recent and fascinating study published in Israel, the history and achievements of Israeli - or Hebrew - modernist art, music, architecture and literature have been documented and discussed under the title Hoiu...
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Hunting Leviathan in the Middle East
It may be that a bullet kills a manBut a lying camera kills a nationA few days after the July 2013 coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, this slogan appeared on a series of slickly produced posters in Cairo, alongside portraits of General...
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Making Modernity from the Mashriq to the Maghreb
The recent wave of revolutions across the Arab world has brought to the surface the contradictions in popular understandings of the Middle East and North Africa. The place of the region in the global history of modernity has been unsettled yet again....
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Making the Middle East Modern: Shifting Historical Frameworks
Writing the history of modernity entails a certain conceptual contradiction. The idea of the 'modern', after all, expresses a sense of 'now', the contemporary moment, the world as it currently exists. By its very nature, modernity implies a drawing away...
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No. 39/40, 2012

In This Issue
The general thrust of the contributions to this issue of Arena Journal is transformation. These articles suggest that the organisation and conduct of social life is now changing in ways that unsettle the basic assumptions that have underpinned the whole...
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On Nuclear Proliferation
At most summit conferences the assembled world leaders seem to follow an unspoken rule or gentlemen's agreement: no one is to mention the radioactive elephant sitting with them - the threat to destroy civilization within minutes, that the nuclear stockpiles...
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Rebooting Asia: Conflicting Agendas
AgendasThe Obama administration 'pivots' to Asia, reinforcing its regional alliances, shoring up its hegemony and putting pressure on its allies to shoulder more of the costs.1 By 2020 it will have 60 per cent of its navy - six aircraft carriers plus...
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Politics, Independence and the National Interest: The Legacy of Power and How to Achieve a Peaceful Western Pacific
I am honoured to be asked to make this speech. During the turbulent years of the 1970s, few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam Oration. Politics is a hard business. The opposition of one party to another...
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'Democratic Vanguardism': Francis Fukuyama and the Bush Doctrine
IAmerican president George W. Bush was given a number of unflattering names during his eight years in office. Many journalists and figures of popular culture suggested that the president was lacking in intellectual capacity Among students of American...
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Flying at Altitude: Obama Balances Disarmament against US Nuclear Primacy
During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to implement a new direction in US nuclear weapons policy. He would 'show the world' that the United States believed in its existing commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)....
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Leo Africanus and the Songhay Dynasty of the Askiyas: Plundering Northern Mali, Past and Present
At the time of his birth, Leo Africanus was named al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Zayyati.1 His parents were Arab Muslims from Granada, Spain, who migrated to Fez after the Christian Reconquista; that is, after European Christians recaptured much...
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The 'Joint Facilities' Today: Desmond Ball, Democratic Debate on Security and the Human Interest
Temper Democratic, Bias Human1Desmond Ball's labours through four decades to elucidate the character of US defence and intelligence facilities in Australia, to document the evidence, test the balance of benefits and dangers to both national security...
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Larger Than Economy: Interpreting the Global Financial Crisis
Late in 2008 a crisis exploded in the financial centre of Wall Street that brought the global economy to a standstill. Banks and protobanks failed on a significant scale and those that did not refused to deal with each other because they had lost faith...
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MOOCs: Disrupting the University or Business as Usual?
The creation of MOOCs (massive open online courses) has captured the imagination of higher education commentators around the globe. These online courses, initially coming out of elite institutions such as Stanford and MIT, have attracted large numbers...
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On Eschatology and the 'Return to Religion'
Introduction: On the 'Return to Religion'First, two vignettesWe begin with Tony Blair's July 2009 Australian visit. Mr Blair converted publicly to Catholicism in 2008. In Australia that year, he argued that the West was facing an internal crisis of confidence,...
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Globalizing Religions: World without End, or the End of Religion?
Is religion an anachronism in an intensely globalizing and secular world? Despite commonplace assumptions that the world's religions are anachronistic, examples of the intertwining of religion and globalization abound.1 A low-budget Islamaphobe film...
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Art, Utopia and the Aestheticized Self
Famously, Ernst Bloch concludes The Principle of Hope with both negative and positive images of Utopia:Once he [the 'working, creating human being'] has grasped himself and established what is his, without expropriation and alienation, in real democracy,...
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