Elaine Devine ~ Why Peer Review Needs A Good Going Over

Jan Steen  - The Village School

Jan Steen (1626 – 1679) – The Village School

Do you work in academic research? If so, you probably have a view on peer review. The system is at the heart of scholarly communication – and it elicits strong opinions from across the community. Many have concerns about the integrity of the process – as demonstrated by the popular hashtag #sixwordpeerreview, which mocks short, unhelpful feedback.

Our year-long research project set out to explore the best approaches to peer review, canvassing the opinions of academic authors, reviewers and the journal editors who oversee the process.

Researchers from across the sciences, social sciences, medicine and humanities were asked to complete a survey or take part in focus groups in China, the UK and South Africa. More than 7,400 responded, answering questions on the purpose of peer review, the prevalence of ethical issues, timeframes, and how comfortable (or not) they were with the different peer review models.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/why-peer-review-needs-a-good-going-over?

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James Garvey ~ Martha Nussbaum: The End Of The Humanities

kaftnussbaum“We are in the midst of a crisis of massive proportions and grave global significance. No, I do not mean the global economic crisis….I mean a crisis that goes largely unnoticed, like a cancer; a crisis that is likely to be, in the long run, far more damaging to the future of democratic self-government: a world-wide crisis in education.” That’s the opening blast from Martha Nussbaum’s new book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities.

She starts by identifying a global trend. Policy-makers, universities, and even entire nations are discarding the humanities and focusing instead on academic subjects linked to economic growth. She then makes a case for a connection between liberal arts education, free-thinking citizens, and healthy democracy. Pull the plug on the liberal arts, and you no longer have the sort of people able to do the things required for democratic citizenship. Barely a page into the book and we’re warned that “nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticise tradition, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements. The future of the world’s democracies hangs in the balance.” Strong stuff. Are things really that bad?

“I don’t write in this alarmist way usually,” she says, “in fact in my book Cultivating Humanity the whole point was to say that insofar as higher education is concerned the changes that we’re seeing are on balance very positive. We’re confronting the new complexity of the world better. We’re educating ourselves about women, about race, about non-western cultures much better. But now, I feel, it’s not true any longer.”

Read more: http://www.philosophersmag.com/the-end

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Taiye Selasi ~ Don’t Ask Where I’m From, Ask Where I’m A Local

When someone asks you where you’re from … do you sometimes not know how to answer? Writer Taiye Selasi speaks on behalf of “multi-local” people, who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two. “How can I come from a country?” she asks. “How can a human being come from a concept?”

About Taiye Selasi:
A writer and photographer of Nigerian and Ghanaian descent, born in London and raised in Boston, now living in Rome and Berlin, who has studied Latin and music, Taiye Selasi is herself a study in the modern meaning of identity. In 2005 she published the much-discussed (and controversial) essay “Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What Is an Afropolitan?),” offering an alternative vision of African identity for a transnational generation. Prompted by writer Toni Morrison, the following year she published the short story “The Sex Lives of African Girls” in the literary magazine Granta.

Her first novel Ghana Must Go, published in 2013, is a tale of family drama and reconciliation, following six characters and spanning generations, continents, genders and classes.

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Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism – Part One

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1949, by which time the world had been confronted with evidence of the Nazi apparatus of terror and destruction. The revelations of the atrocities were met with a high degree of incredulous probing despite a considerable body of evidence and a vast caché of recorded images. The individual capacity for comprehension was overwhelmed, and the nature and extent of these programmes added to the surreal nature of the revelations. In the case of the dedicated death camps of the so-called Aktion Reinhard, comparatively sparse documentation and very low survival rates obscured their significance in the immediate post-war years. The remaining death camps, Majdanek and Auschwitz, were both captured virtually intact. They were thus widely reported, whereas public knowledge of Auschwitz was already widespread in Germany and the Allied countries during the war.[i] In the case of Auschwitz, the evidence was lodged in still largely intact and meticulous archives. Nonetheless it had the effect of throwing into relief the machinery of destruction rather than its anonymous victims, for the extermination system had not only eliminated human biological life but had also systematically expunged cumulative life histories and any trace of prior existence whatsoever, ending with the destruction of almost all traces of the dedicated extermination camps themselves, just prior to the Soviet invasion.

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Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism – Part Two

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt

Ideology and terror: The experiment in total domination
In chapter two of Hannah Arendt’s Response to the Crisis of her Time it was argued that Arendt’s typology of government rests on the twin criteria of organisational form and a corresponding ‘principle of action’. In the post-Origins essay On the Nature of Totalitarianism, Arendt argues that Western political thought has customarily distinguished between ‘lawful’ and ‘lawless’, or ‘constitutional’ and ‘tyrannical’ forms of government (Arendt 1954a: 340). Throughout Occidental history, lawless forms of government, such as tyranny, have been regarded as perverted by definition. Hence, if

… the essence of government is defined as lawfulness, and if it is understood that laws are the stabilizing forces in the public affairs of men (as indeed it always has been since Plato invoked Zeus, the god of the boundaries, in his Laws), then the problem of movement of the body politic and the actions of its citizens arises. (Arendt 1979: 466-7)

‘Lawfulness’ as a corollary of constitutional forms of government is a negative criterion inasmuch as it prescribes the limits to but cannot explain the motive force of human actions: ‘the greatness, but also the perplexity of laws in free societies is that they only tell what one should not, but never what one should do’ (ibid.: 467). Arendt, accordingly, lays great store by Montesquieu’s discovery of the ‘principle of action’ ruling the actions of both government and governed: ‘virtue’ in a republic, ‘honour’ in monarchy, and ‘fear’ in tyrannical forms of government (Arendt 1954a: 330; Arendt 1979: 467-8).

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Hannah Arendt – Zur Person – Full Interview (with English Subtitles)

Hannah Arendt in the Rozenberg Quarterly

Anthony Court – Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism. Part One: http://rozenbergquarterly.com/?p=3099
Anthony Court – Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism. Part Two:  http://rozenbergquarterly.com/?p=3115
Nima Emami – Hannah Arendt and The Green Movement: http://rozenbergquarterly.com/?p=563

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