Posts Tagged ‘historians’

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Beautiful Souls: What makes people good—sometimes

March 8, 2012

The horrors of the twentieth century left artists and thinkers preoccupied with the problem of evil. How could Germans herd Jewish families into the gas chambers? How could Serbs turn on their Bosnian neighbors, or Hutus pick up machetes and carry out the bloody work of genocidaires?

In Beautiful Souls, Eyal Press takes on a different challenge, more suited to the twenty-first century: He suggests that the true mystery is not what impels ordinary people into the moral abyss, but rather how some people manage to avoid the abyss altogether, by refusing to participate in atrocities. For every horror, there are courageous, conscientious resisters: Germans who hid Jews, Hutus who saved Tutsis, Serbs who saved Muslims. Even the more quotidian forms of evil always generate some resistance: Consider the Enron scandal’s whistle-blowers.

But what enables some to resist while most go along? Beautiful Souls, Press writes, is about “nonconformists, about the mystery of what impels people to do something risky . . . when thrust into a morally compromising situation: stop, say no, resist.”

Press is right to view this as an abiding mystery. Today, thanks to decades of meticulous research by historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists, our understanding of how ordinary people come to participate in—or turn a blind eye toward—atrocities and crimes has become fairly sophisticated. In contrast, our understanding of how and why some ordinary people turn into resisters remains mostly a matter of guesswork.

Excerpt of an article written by Rosa Brooks at Bookforum. Read it HERE

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(Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture / Call for Submissions

January 30, 2012

For the next 306090 book, guest editor David L. Hays wants to know, “What is essential knowledge for architecture?”What is essential knowledge for architecture?

This frequently posed question targets fundamental principles of design, those basic criteria and priorities through which disciplinary stability is ensured. Yet, insofar as relevance is a core value of architecture, in both theory and practice, the contingent nature of the future guarantees that some forms of knowledge not presently considered essential will eventually become indispensable.

With that condition in mind, the editors of 306090 15, (Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture, seek contributions that envision possible futures for architecture through speculations about new disciplinary knowledge. What specific methods, materials, or understandings—tools, ratios, formulas, properties, principles, guidelines, definitions, rules, practices, techniques, reference points, histories, and more—not presently considered essential to architecture could, or should, define its future? Pertinent knowledge might be previously forgotten, currently undervalued, generally misunderstood, or not yet recognized. Architects have long looked both to the outmoded traditions of their discipline and to other fields altogether when imagining possible directions for their work. In blurring the boundary between essential and non-essential knowledge, this inquiry seeks not to codify the contemporary state of the art for architecture, nor to assert the value of multidisciplinarity, but to envision, and potentially catalyze, new disciplinary approaches.

(Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture will serve as both a gauge of contemporary concerns and a manual for emergent theory and practice. Submissions are sought from practitioners, theorists, historians, critics, artists, activists, and anyone else with direct or indirect interest in the future of architecture.

Click HERE to submit and for more information.
Deadline: Friday, March 30, 2012