Ongoing Research and future writings by Nigel Young
Zones of peace: environmental peace parks and cross-border preservation: a global comparison. The rapid emergence of transboundary eco-protection projects linked to peace-making beyond frontiers. In recent years dozens of such projects have multiplied worldwide. The issues and contradictions of eco-tourism and rural development raised deserve this careful analysis.
Why has the creation or recreation of social memory become such an important part of our cultural life since the late twentieth century?
This book focuses on the construction or reconstruction of collective remembrance - especially through works of criticism in art, literature, and film since the 1980s. After 1900 new thinking about memory, and explorations in literature, was followed by the traumas of two world wars and genocides.
This book surveys the output, cinematic, literary and artistic, that followed after 1918, and after 1945, especially in Europe or the West more generally - but also in Japan and elsewhere. The “memory work” of scholars who analyzed and deconstructed not only remembrance, but denial, “forgetting”, or new forms of memorizing, help us detect the reasons for these transitions, and causes of this shift in collective consciousness.
ENGLISH AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE
The evolution of English as a global practical langua franca, is considered here within the framework of peace analysis. When, for example,
is such language useful for peacemaking, mediation conflict resolution or the avoidance of violent or military confrontation. What are the negatives in terms of cultural hegemony and the privileging superpowers such as the USA and its English speaking neighbors and allies?
The book will also discuss these assets and disadvantages, in terms of the important value of direct personal communications and avoidance of misunderstandings in real life confrontations, where the lack of a common language and the dependence on the interpreters or third parties may increase distrust, and lead to disastrous mistakes, misunderstandings, allegations or fatal consequences if actions (or words) are misinterpreted. History provides numerous examples, where such communication failures have led to war or increased violence.
BERLIN IN THE PRE-WALL & POST-WALL PERIOD
Throughout the twentieth century, Berlin had been an extraordinary fulcrum of cultural and political turmoil, conflict and crisis. Fascination with this city - of Rosa Luxemburg and Otto Dix, Kathe Kollwitz, Georg Grosz, Bertholt Brecht, Kurt Weil and the Berliner Ensemble Tucholsky and Ossietsky led to a personal engagement with the still divided and largely devastated city in 1957-63; meetings with students and figures like Helene Weigh, Ulrike Meinhof, occurred at a time when the wall was not yet built and the independent German radical student SDS was still an East-West group.
By the early 1980s such links were being reconstructed until when at the end of 1989, after 40 years, the strange world of old Berlin re-awoke.
The author was a witness before, during, and after; when the wall went up, and when it came down; and the radical underground Berlin could emerge blinking into daylight of a new century. Instead of the Berlin of Goebbels, Speer or Sally Bowles or even Jessie Owens, this work celebrates the other Berlin, that sustained resistance from Liebknecht through the anti-fascist, and pacifist martyrs, to the struggles against the Emergency laws, and Axel Springer; the politics of remembrance, and the cultural alternatives of Kreuzberg, and “wall-art” so wantonly destroyed in 1990.
AMERICANISM & ANTI-AMERICANISM
“Loving or hating” America is part of an ongoing global questioning; a cultural ambivalence, borne out by contradictory responses worldwide; for example: to the Obama ascension to the presidency. The sources and character of Anti-Americanism, both abroad - externally: “Yanks go home”, and internally “America never was America for me” (Langston Hughes) is analyzed in terms of the contradictions and hypocrisy of America’s truly universalistic (yet parochial and paradoxical) culture. At one extreme Randolph Bournes cosmopolitan idea of “towards a transnational America”, and at the other the arrogance of manifest destiny - and the racist atomic hubris - “America go fuck yourself with your Atom Bomb” (Allen Ginsberg)
The manufacturing of an American nationalism, a kitsch concoction out of and beyond the ‘melting pot’, and of US capitalist expansion worldwide raises the issues of Americanism, as a fake veneer, an ersatz identity - and ‘Americana’ , a genuine, if inward looking local culture of popular survival. Largely isolated from the rest of the world and as such unexportable - unlike the Blues which was universal, American and all conquering, despite its origins in another culture of survival with local roots. The paradox of this is summed up in Hughes’ phrase “America is yet to be”
WRITINGS IN WAR
What language is appropriate to describe modern war? The experience of the writer, the poet, caught up in it? Those like Sassoon, Hemingway, Owen, Rosenberg, Nash, Woolf, Orwell who have used English to try to reproduce experiences that are unimaginable have provided ongoing experiment in how far words, as opposed to images in art, film, photography - even music, can come close to the “this-ness” of events that are indescribable.
COMMUNITIES OF RESISTANCE
The thesis of this work is that modern social resistance (especially to the authority of the state and the imposition of military service in war) occurs or occurred, most strongly when both a community base (whatever its cultural character) and a universalistic and transnational belief system, ideology, or war, coincided. In other words, the local and the global, or transcendent, reinforce the potential for a collective-cultural stance, that would be much more difficult for individuals without such a base.
War resistance and conscientious objection have been seen as essentially individualistic, and in the contemporary world this is increasingly true, especially in those societies where conscription, the draft and compulsory military service, are no longer essential for states to make war. Nevertheless this study shows that as conscription and war resistance spread globally in the 19th and early 20th century, the refusal of war, was in the main, collective resistance; even when expressed in individual actions. The book mainly focuses on evidence and examples from Europe and the Americas between 1880-1990.