For Him Art, Research, Creation And Politics Were The Same Thing – In Memory Of Paul Boccara

Paul Boccara 1932 -2017

Face à l’ énorme complexité des ces questions, il es urgent d’y aller, au risque d’essuyer les plâtres, des se tromper ; car il y a une béance formidable, et un appel!

Paul Boccara ended with these words the ‘Nine Lessons of Systemic Anthroponomy’. They can be seen as legacy of a great thinker. He was born in Tunis in 1932 – he finally left us on November 26 th 2017. Although he became entirely French in his attitudes, this Mediterranean origin shaped his way of thinking in a peculiar way. I remember one of our meetings in Ivry, where he lived; we went for lunch and there was no hesitation in choosing a seat. “I’m from
Tunisia – I need light,” and so we settled right next to the window. This urge to light was guiding his life, in a metaphorical sense: it was the strive for enlightenment. This was about a very bright light, illuminating the entire socio-historical space and at the same time it was the spotlight, which made it possible to take a close look at details.
Paul Boccara was educated as economist and mastered the tiresome depths of the bourgeois profession as well as the peaks of political economics. The latter was never a flattened shortcut for complex socio-historical constellations. It was only through knowledge of complex relationalities possible to achieve a truly creative application – a Marxist approach in the best possible sense. His profound thinking was also characterised by the fact that he studied in addition to economics also history and anthropology.

Three outstanding works have to be mentioned:
The Études sur le capitalisme monopoliste d’ État, sa crise et son issue [Éditions sociales, 1973] were probably part of the compulsory reading of the left at that time. Boccara’s work was ground-breaking, but at the same time it was part of a wider discourse concerned with the changing role of the state. This has to be understood against the historical background: on the one hand, at least throughout Europe, the ‘special conditions’ of the post WWII period came to an end and the West had to settle down with a consolidating East-West relationship.
What existed as a socialist state and their coalition could not be met by capital alone – if the state would not have existed already, it would have been invented at that time to complement and consolidate the hegemonic claims of the monopoly capital. In fact, such a re-invention of the string state took place in the sense of a close, organic interweaving of economy and state.
The Théories sur les crises, la suraccumulation et la dévalorisation du capital [Delga, 2013/2015] are nearly a late work. Hardly perceived, unfortunately not translated so far, the two volumes show the misery of the economy and of economics. It is noteworthy that the current crisis is analysed in a very fundamental way as a fundamentally structural crisis. Boccara’s oevre goes beyond other works, because it makes use of the very basics of economic theory: accumulation, theory of value, production and consumption, the long waves and the differentiated consideration of predator, casino and profit of capitalist economy are analysed in principle and assessed in connection with the techno-economic processes [‘information technologies of new type’].
Neuf Leçons sur l’ anthroponomie systémique [Delga, 2017], the last book, which is the assets we inherit – and the appeal, an urgent call obliging us to concrete and detailed analysis. Importantly Boccara emphasises the role of anthroponomy – these questions occupied him intensively in recent years. This is refreshingly different from many ‘identity and value discussions’ also in the left.
Strengthening the left can barely rely on hoping for insight into the necessity of a different way of life – questions of faith and pure good will and related hopes should be left to religion. Boccara, on the other hand, puts forward a clear analysis of the interplay between politics and economy and society. And it is not an appeal for such a way of life, but rather an appeal to a culture of debate. Read more

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Journal Of Anthropological Films

Film cameras, video and sound recorders have for decades been used by anthropologists as research tools, for collecting data, for documentation, for advocacy, for representing a case or a group of people, for disseminating empirical insights and for communicating research findings. For the first time in the history of Visual Anthropology anthropological film can now be published on par with written articles, assessed by peers, and inscribed in international credential systems of academic publication as the Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) has launched this first edition of Journal of Anthropological Films (JAF)

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The Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) has launched the Journal of Anthropological Films (JAF)

Film cameras, video and sound recorders have for decades been used by anthropologists as research tools, for collecting data, for documentation, for advocacy, for representing a case or a group of people, for disseminating empirical insights and for communicating research findings. For the first time in the history of Visual Anthropology anthropological film can now be published on par with written articles, assessed by peers, and inscribed in international credential systems of academic publication as the Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) has launched this first edition of Journal of Anthropological Films (JAF) published by Bergen Open Access Publishing (BOAP).

JAF publishes films that combine documentation with a narrative and aesthetic convention of cinema to communicate an anthropological understanding of a given cultural and social reality. JAF publishes films that stand alone as a complete scientific publication based on research that explore the relationship between “contemporary anthropological understandings of the world, visual and sensory perception, art and aesthetics, and the ways in which aural and visual media may be used to develop and represent those understandings” to borrow words from Paul Henley (in Flores, American Anthropologist, Vol 111, No.1, 2009:95). While most films will stand for themselves, only accompanied by an abstract, supplementary text will be accepted when it adds productively to the anthropological analysis and in case the peer-reviewers will ask for it. Read more

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Folkstreams ~ A National Preserve Of American Folklore Stories

The films on Folkstreams are often produced by independent filmmakers and focus on the culture, struggles, and arts of unnoticed Americans from many different regions and communities. The filmmakers were driven more by sheer engagement with the people and their traditions than by commercial hopes. Their films have unusual subjects, odd lengths, and talkers who do not speak “broadcast English.” Although they won prizes at film festivals, were used in college classes, and occasionally were shown on PBS, they found few outlets commercial theaters, video shops or television. But they have permanent value.

They come from the same intellectual movement that gave rise to American studies, regional and ethnic studies, the “new history,” “performance theory,” and investigation of tenacious cultural styles in phenomena like song, dance, storytelling, visual designs, and ceremonies. They also respond to the intense political and social ferment of the period.

Many of the films are linked to significant published research. Folkstreams draws on this material to accompany and illuminate both the subjects and the filmmaking. And the films themselves add powerful dimensions to print scholarship. They offer a direct experience of unfamiliar worlds. Many of these worlds are now receding into the historical past. Folkstreams mission is to preserve these films, these worlds, and these stories.

FOLKSTREAMS INC is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

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George Orwell ~ Homage To Catalonia

Chapter 1

In the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona, the day before I joined the militia, I saw an Italian militiaman standing in front of the officers’ table.

He was a tough-looking youth of twenty-five or six, with reddish-yellow hair and powerful shoulders. His peaked leather cap was pulled fiercely over one eye. He was standing in profile to me, his chin on his breast, gazing with a puzzled frown at a map which one of the officers had open on the table. Something in his face deeply moved me. It was the face of a man who would commit murder and throw away his life for a friend–the kind efface you would expect in an Anarchist, though as likely as not he was a Communist. There were both candour and ferocity in it; also the pathetic reverence that illiterate people have for their supposed superiors. Obviously he could not make head or tail of the map; obviously he regarded map-reading as a stupendous intellectual feat. I hardly know why, but I have seldom seen anyone–any man, I mean–to whom I have taken such an immediate liking. While they were talking round the table some remark brought it out that I was a foreigner. The Italian raised his head and said quickly:


I answered in my bad Spanish: ‘No, Ingles. Y tu?’


As we went out he stepped across the room and gripped my hand very hard. Queer, the affection you can feel for a stranger! It was as though his spirit and mine had momentarily succeeded in bridging the gulf of language and tradition and meeting in utter intimacy. I hoped he liked me as well as I liked him. But I also knew that to retain my first impression of him I must not see him again; and needless to say I never did see him again. One was always making contacts of that kind in Spain.

I mention this Italian militiaman because he has stuck vividly in my memory. With his shabby uniform and fierce pathetic face he typifies for me the special
atmosphere of that time. He is bound up with all my memories of that period of the war–the red flags in Barcelona, the gaunt trains full of shabby soldiers
creeping to the front, the grey war-stricken towns farther up the line, the muddy, ice-cold trenches in the mountains.

This was in late December 1936, less than seven months ago as I write, and yet it is a period that has already receded into enormous distance. Later events
have obliterated it much more completely than they have obliterated 1935, or 1905, for that matter. I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately, because at that time and in that atmosphere it seemed the only conceivable thing to do. The Anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing. Read more

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Kunst is Lang ~ Patricia Kaersenhout

De beeldende kunst is als een altijd doorstomende trein die zich een weg baant langs stromingen, niches, uitspattingen en extravaganza. Het tempo van afwisselingen en opkomende kunstenaars is hoog, de zendtijd voor hedendaagse kunst bescheiden. In de uitzending van Kunst is lang zoekt Luuk Heezen samen met mister Motley de verdieping op met een hedendaagse kunstenaar. Een gesprek over het werk, over vreemde ideeën, over de vooroordelen binnen kunst, en over het (doodnormale) dagelijkse leven van de kunstenaar.

Patricia Kaersenhout is een Nederlandse visueel kunstenaar en cultureel activist. Ze studeerde sociale wetenschappen aan Amstelhorn Amsterdam en beeldende kunst aan de Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Haar werk onderzoekt sociale onzichtbaarheid als gevolg van de Afrikaanse Diaspora. Ook richt ze zich op het kolonialisme in relatie tot haar eigen opgroeien binnen een West-Europese cultuur. De rode draad in haar werk is een onderzoek naar de Afrikaanse Diaspora, die ze in verband brengt met de geschiedenis van de slavernij, racisme, feminisme en seksualiteit.

Gast: Patricia Kaersenhout
Streamer: Elsemarijn Bruys
Kunstenaarsvideo: ZaZaZoZo

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Robert Musil: Essays ~ Kapitel 1. Fragen der Zeit Politik in Österreich (1913)

Robert Musil 1880 – 1942

Man denkt bei diesem Begriff zu einseitig an die Schwierigkeit der Nationalitätenfrage. Denn die – obgleich eine Schwierigkeit – ist längst eine Bequemlichkeit geworden; über einen ernsten Anlaß hinaus ein uneingestandenes Ausweichen und Verweilen. Wie bei hohlen Liebenden, die immer neue Trennungen und Widerstände überwinden, weil sie schon ahnen, wie wenig sie am ersten Tag der Hindernislosigkeit noch miteinander anzufangen wissen werden. Wie Leidenschaft überhaupt nur ein Vorwand ist, keine Gefühle zu haben. Wenn die große Abrechnung beendet sein wird, wird es ein Glück sein, daß die schlechten Manieren, die man inzwischen angenommen hat, auch aus nichtigen Anlässen noch den Verwahrlosungsschein des Idealismus zu schaffen wissen werden. Aber dahinter wird die Leere inneren Lebens schwanken, wie die Öde im Magen des Alkoholikers.

Es gibt wenig Länder, die so leidenschaftlich Politik treiben, und keines, wo Politik bei ähnlicher Leidenschaft so gleichgültig bleibt wie in diesem; Leidenschaft als Vorwand. Nach außen ist alles so sehr parlamentarisch, daß mehr Leute totgeschossen werden als anderswo, und es stehen alle Räder alle Augenblicke wegen der nächstbesten Parteidrehung still; hohe Beamte, Generäle, Ratgeber der Krone dürfen beschimpft werden, man kann Vorgesetzten mit einer Drohung vor dem Parlament bange machen, verdient Geld mit Hilfe der Politik, ohrfeigt einander. Aber alles ist halb wie eine Konvention, ein Spiel nach Übereinkommen. Die Furcht, die man erregt, die Macht, die man ausübt, die Ehren, die man auf sich sammelt, bleiben – trotzdem sie in allen wirklichen und gemeinhin als wichtig geltenden Beziehungen völlig echt sind – in der Seele unwahr, spukhaft, geglaubt und respektiert, aber nicht gefühlt. Man nimmt sie soweit ernst, daß man ihretwillen verarmt, doch es scheint, daß man das ganze Leben bis zu solchem Grade nach etwas einrichtet, hier nicht das Letzte zu bedeuten. Es könnte ein großer, wenn auch erst negativer Idealismus darin gesehen werden. Das Tun legt diese Österreicher nie ganz auf sein Niveau fest. Es ist nicht an ihre Religiosität zu glauben, nicht an ihre Untertanenkindlichkeit oder ihre Sorgen; sie warten dahinter; sie haben die passive Phantasie unausgefüllter Räume und gestatten eifersüchtig einem Menschen alles, nur nicht den seelisch so präjudizierenden Anspruch auf den Ernst seiner Arbeit. Wogegen der Deutsche im Verhältnis zu seinen Idealen jenen unerträglich lieben Frauen gleicht, die plitschtreu wie ein nasses Schwimmkleid an ihren Gatten kleben.


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