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Bruce Robbins: Hegelian reflections, 2 November 2000

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in 20th-Century France 
by Judith Butler.
Columbia, 268 pp., £12, June 1999, 0 231 06451 9
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... In 1987, three years before Gender Trouble made her the most famous feminist philosopher in the United States, Judith Butler published a book on Hegel’s dialectic of lordship and bondage and its impact on 20th-century French thought. The book had nothing to say about bondage in the recreational sense and, aside from a few pages at the end about Julia Kristeva and Simone de Beauvoir, was mostly indifferent to questions of sexuality ...

Martial Art

Bruce Robbins: Pierre Bourdieu, 20 April 2006

Science of Science and Reflexivity 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Richard Nice.
Polity, 168 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 9780745630601
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... A recent French documentary about Pierre Bourdieu is entitled, after one of his own pronouncements: La Sociologie est un sport de combat. When he died in January 2002, Bourdieu was widely considered France’s leading sociologist, its most influential intellectual – and one of its angriest men. In an autobiographical fragment published within days of his death (now available as a book, Esquisse pour une auto-analyse*), he recalled the ‘stubborn rage’ engendered in him by his experience of boarding-school and the mockery he suffered there, in part for his rural accent and origins, in part for being a ‘bon élève’ who clearly aspired to rise above his fellow pupils ...

No Escape

Bruce Robbins: Culture, 1 November 2001

Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress 
edited by Samuel Huntington and Lawrence Harrison.
Basic Books, 384 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 465 03176 5
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Culture/Metaculture 
by Francis Mulhern.
Routledge, 198 pp., £8.99, March 2000, 0 415 10230 8
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Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 299 pp., £12.50, November 2000, 0 674 00417 5
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... Why are some nations so poor and others so rich? Two Harvard professors recently revived an old-fashioned answer to this unsettling question, and it sits plainly as the title of their book: ‘Culture Matters.’ Anyone who has ever agreed with them that culture does indeed matter will want to look at what they take this statement to mean. Adding so-called ‘Asian values’ – a more public-spirited, Confucian version of the Protestant ethic – to the 19th century’s self-congratulatory belief in the West’s ‘civilising mission’, Huntington and Harrison have discovered that the West can keep on congratulating itself – not this time on its exportable civilisation, but on its particular culture ...

Situations Vacant

Dinah Birch, 20 October 1994

The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below 
by Bruce Robbins.
Duke, 261 pp., £13.95, June 1993, 0 8223 1397 9
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... too much in an oddly self-abasing conclusion to his expansive account of literary servants, Bruce Robbins declares himself ‘ready to grant that I have not been talking about what is necessarily most complex, sophisticated, profound or even interesting in the English novel’. Do not believe him. The relations he perceives between servants and ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy, 16 November 2017

... is also normal within a global tradition of storytelling that’s much larger than realism,’ Bruce Robbins has argued. ‘Narrative as such poses the broader question of what circle of readers can recognise themselves at any given moment as a political collectivity or community of fate, whether in any given narrative enough guests have been ...

Where will we live?

James Meek: The Housing Disaster, 9 January 2014

... the slum landlords’ petty exploitations and the demolition-happy dogma of the state. In 1963, Bruce Kenrick – who would a few years later set up the homelessness charity Shelter, just as the nation was absorbing the shock of Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s film about homelessness – founded the Notting Hill Housing Trust, which today, as the Notting ...

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