Polity

  • Sexuality in modern western culture is central to identity but the tendency to define by sexuality does not apply to the premodern past. Before the 'invention' of sexuality, erotic acts and desires were comprehended as species of sin, expressions of idealised love, courtship, and marriage, or components of intimacies between men or women, not as outworkings of an innermost self. With a focus on c. 1100-c. 1800, this book explores the shifting meanings, languages, and practices of western sex. It is the first study to combine the medieval and early modern to rethink this time of sex before sexuality, where same-sex and opposite-sex desire and eroticism bore but faint traces of what moderns came to call heterosexuality, homosexuality, lesbianism, and pornography. This volume aims to contribute to contemporary historical theory through paying attention to the particularity of premodern sexual cultures. Phillips and Reay argue that students of premodern sex will be blocked in their understanding if they use terms and concepts applicable to sexuality since the late nineteenth century, and modern commentators will never know their subject without a deeper comprehension of sex's history.

  • Anglais Paparazzi

    Kim Mcnamara

    • Polity
    • 22 Décembre 2015

    Paparazzi photography has emerged as a key element in today's media landscape. This book charts the historical and cultural significance of the industry, profiles its protagonists and discusses how its imagery of celebrity have become a major part of media consumption.
    Kim McNamara examines the various ways in which the controversial paparazzi industry is structured, including its workforce practices, development of image markets, and how it has been reconfigured during the transition from analogue paper-based photography to digital platforms. It adds to the literature on celebrity studies, unraveling the importance of the paparazzi to celebrities, and the integral nature of images - both spontaneous and staged to public relations and marketing content.
    Based on interviews worldwide with key industry players, including agency managers, photo editors and photographers, from Los Angeles to London, the book argues that the paparazzi should be given central importance in any analysis of media culture.

  • Anglais Excess

    Kim Humphery

    • Polity
    • 23 Avril 2013

    Over-consumption is one of the key issues of our time, especially in the Western world. Over the past decade, in the face of historically unprecedented levels of consumer spending in the West - and the more recent impact of recession - a vigorous politics of anti-consumerism has emerged in a range of wealthy nations. This timely and original new book provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of what has come to be called the 'new politics of consumption'; a politics embodied in movements such as culture jamming, simple living, slow food and fair trade. The book offers an examination of anti-consumerism at a time when the idea of 'consumer excess' is being re-framed by a global economic downturn, and crucially explores what this means for the future of political debate. Drawing on interviews with activists across three continents, and offering a refreshingly accessible discussion of contemporary commentary and theory, Kim Humphery sympathetically explores anti-consumerism as cultural interpretation, lifestyle change, and collective action. Whilst analysing the positive advances of the anti-consumerist movement, Excess also challenges contemporary critical thinking on consumption, taking issue with the return to theories of mass culture in contemporary anti-consumerist polemic. Alternatively, Humphery begins to forge a politics of anti-consumerism that addresses the complexity of material acquisition and which avoids treating consumers as mere dupes in the logic of capitalism, viewing them instead as active participants in a culture which is capable of transformation.

  • China's rapid rise as a regional and global power is one of the most important political developments of the twenty-first century. Yet the West still largely overlooks or oversimplifies the complex ideas and ideals that have shaped the country's national and international transformation from antiquity to the present day. 
    In this beautifully written introductory text, Youngmin Kim offers a uniquely incisive survey of the major themes in Chinese political thought from customary community to empire, exploring their theoretical importance and the different historical contexts in which they arose. Challenging traditional assumptions about Chinese nationalism and Marxist history, Kim shows that "China" does not have a fixed, single identity, but rather is a constantly moving target. His probing, interdisciplinary approach traces the long and nuanced history of Chinese thought as a true tradition anchored in certain key themes, many of which began in the early dynasties and still resonate in China today. Only by appreciating this rich history, he argues, can we begin to understand the intricacies and contradictions of contemporary Chinese politics, economy, and society.

empty