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Pirates Only

PIRATES AND PIRACY – MATERIAL REALITIES AND CULTURAL MYTHS

Editorial Notes: Pirates and Piracy – Material Realities and Cultural Myths

By Andrew Opitz

This special issue of darkmatter sets out to examine the complicated and often incongruous cultural meanings assigned to pirates and piracy in the twenty-first century. Debates about piracy have long featured certain telling contradictions. At different times, pirates have been seen as both violent monsters and colorful folk heroes. They have been cast by historians and cultural critics as both capitalist marauders and militant workers fighting for a restoration of the commons. How can we account for these seemingly incompatible visions? Of course, it is important to observe that pirates were hardly uniform in their social and political orientations. Some were greedy opportunists. Some were desperate sailors and slaves driven to mutiny. Others were somewhere in-between. We should also recognize that our understanding of piracy is powerfully shaped by our economic interests and our relationship with the law. The propertied targets of piratical theft are quick to view pirates as criminal actors outside the bounds of civilized behaviour, but the dispossessed are inclined to take a more nuanced approach that admires the defiance of the pirates at the same time as it fears their violence.

It is also important to note that pirates now have a symbolic importance that transcends the basic material conditions behind their banditry. Our enduring cultural fascination with pirates is tied to their status as celebrated figures of rebellion and nonconformity in popular novels and films. Although the actual history of maritime robbery is sordid and contradictory, the pirate has become a compelling symbol of freedom: freedom from oppressive work routines; freedom from polite behaviour; freedom from institutional controls; freedom from restrictive property laws; freedom from unjust social conventions surrounding race and gender roles. We now apply the pirate label to an assortment of activities – from the formation of transgressive sexual identities to the technology-assisted defiance of copyright law – that have little or nothing to do with the sea or those who “go down to it in ships.” The articles assembled in this special issue take a broad approach to the study of pirates and piracy, examining diverse subjects ranging from the working-class politics of transatlantic piracy in the eighteenth century to the actions of Nigerian media pirates in the twenty-first century and recent debates about Somali pirates within East African immigrant communities in North America.

The authors who contributed to this special issue of darkmatter have approached the cultural politics of pirates and piracy from different angles. They are historians, literary critics, legal scholars and media/cultural theorists. However, their scholarship is linked by the shared understanding that modern piracy, like the modern world itself, is inextricably bound to the history of colonial and neo-colonial relations of production and the legacy of racial and class conflict that they produced – a history that forged the global capitalist order that continues to shape our everyday relationships with other people. 

Pirates are often dismissed in the media as exotic anachronisms – colorful characters out of step with present realities. But the forces that produced, and continue to produce pirates – global shipping, the extraction of resources from colonial and neocolonial holdings, the mobilization and control of labor in the service of investment capital – still drive our world today. Studying pirates and their ongoing cultural resonance is hardly a frivolous activity. It is necessary for a true understanding of the socially uneven, violent and unstable world in which we live – a world that is still very much at sea.

Andrew Opitz
Guest Editor

Editorial Notes: Pirates and Piracy – Material Realities and Cultural Myths by Andrew Opitz • 20 Dec 09

Revolution Bootlegged: Pirate Resistance in Nigeria’s Broken Infrastructure by Jason Crawford • 20 Dec 09

Digital Pirates and the Enclosure of the Intellect by Irmak Ertuna • 20 Dec 09

Where’s the Booty?: The Stakes of Textual and Economic Piracy as Seen Through the Work of Kathy Acker by Paige Sweet • 20 Dec 09

Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy – Interview with Gabriel Kuhn by Nora Räthzel • 20 Dec 09

Hostis humani generis. History of a multi-faceted word by Salvatore Poier • 20 Dec 09

Atlantic Orientalism: How Language in Jefferson’s America Defeated the Barbary Pirates by Angela Sutton • 20 Dec 09

Voyage of the Black Joke: Piracy and Gallows Humor in an Era of Primitive Accumulation by Andrew Opitz • 20 Dec 09

The Pirate and the Colonial Project: Kanhoji Angria by Derek L. Elliott • 20 Dec 09

Unravelling Narratives of Piracy: Discourses of Somali Pirates by Muna Ali and Zahra Murad • 20 Dec 09

‘Liberty or Life!’: The Convict Pirates of the Wellington by Erin Ihde • 20 Dec 09

See: http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/category/journal/issues/5-pirates-and-piracy/

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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Enclosures

 

 

Call for Submissions

Issue #108: “Enclosures”


Issue Editors: Amy Chazkel and David Serlin

The Radical History Review seeks submissions for an issue entitled, “Enclosures,” which will explore the twin phenomena of proprietary demarcation and dispossession that has accompanied the global transition to industrial capitalism in cities and rural areas alike.

Although usually associated with the social and legal conflicts over the peasantry’s use of the commons in early modern England, politicians, activists, thinkers and scholars of all ideological orientations have applied the concept of enclosure broadly across a vast variety of historical and geographical contexts.  The “commons” has become a generic metaphor for public property and, by extension, the commonweal; it has come to denote not only agricultural land but also the most abstract types of common property, such as academic disciplinary knowledge and access to the airwaves. Likewise, the enclosure of the commons has taken multiple meanings that extend the idea of the fencing off of common property in the interest of private gain and liberal (or neoliberal) individual property rights.

This special issue offers an opportunity to take stock of the idea of enclosure—to explore the connections between, for example, the type of “primitive accumulation” for which the term was originally applied and its more abstract, contemporary instances, and to historicize rigorously its application. To what degree was there ever really a “commons”?  How did constructions of sacrosanct public space and its privatization and dispossession become naturalized features of cultural life?  By collectively publishing work on such diverse phenomena as urban squatters throughout the world, intellectual property, or social conflicts over indigenous collective property rights in colonial and post-colonial settings, the journal editors aim to explore the limits of the usefulness of the concept of enclosure as a critical paradigm for understanding modern political and social life, and to consider how to connect its manifold manifestations.

While we would welcome submissions that revisit the early modern European context to which the term enclosure has typically been applied, we strongly encourage works from any time period, especially those that critically examine the broad applicability of the term and those that venture beyond the European and North American contexts.

The range of topics might include, but is not limited to, the 
following:

Enclosure of the commons and the genesis of informal economies
The historical roots of the privatized city
Enclosure and the politics of population control
The political and cultural uses of nostalgia for the “commons”
Visual culture and the process of enclosure
Environmental politics as part, or counterweight, to the process of enclosure
Transnational historical perspectives on political and social movements such as Brazil’s and India’s respective anti-dam movements, or the struggle over the privatization of water in Bolivia
Successful assertions of communal rights, for example in urban shantytowns and former runaway slave communities in the Americas: have they challenged the process of enclosure?
Artistic, cinematic, or other cultural representations of enclosure and creative responses to it—for instance, in Agnès Varda’s cinema verité classic, The Gleaners and I, or Britain’s punk and post-punk movements as aesthetic responses to Thatcher’s sweeping politics of privatization
Enclosure and imperialism: what is the relationship between the domestic reapportioning of property rights and the possession of overseas territories? How can we connect the enclosure of the commons in the metropole to the fate of communally owned indigenous lands and other resources under colonial rule?
The making of modern statecraft from the perspective of the “enclosers”: the surveyors, judges, and notaries who carried out the quotidian work of enclosure
The politics of public space and the exclusionary “public sphere”
Enclosure of the scientific commons and the commodification of  
knowledge
The human genome as private property and the ownership of self
The intellectual commons and radical approaches to intellectual and academic life
Innovative uses of the cartographic and judicial records that enclosure left behind
Critical reassessments of the classic works on enclosure, particularly E. P. Thompson and his cohort of Warwick School historians of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English agrarian society.

 

The RHR seeks scholarly research articles as well as such non-traditional contributions as photo essays, film and book review essays, interviews, brief interventions, “conversations” between scholars and/or activists, teaching notes and annotated course syllabi, and research notes.

Procedures for submission of articles:
By February 1, 2009, please submit a 1-2 page abstract summarizing the article you wish to include in this issue as an attachment to rhr@igc.org

with “Issue 108 abstract submission” in the subject line. By March 1, 2009, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review.  The due date for completed drafts of articles is August 1, 2009. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 108 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in Fall 2010. Articles should be submitted electronically with “Issue 108 submission” in the subject line.  For artwork, please send images as high resolution digital files (each image as a separate file).

 

Abstract Deadline: February 1, 2009

Radical History Review
Tamiment Library, 10th
Floor
New York University
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

Email: rhr@igc.org
Visit the website at:
http://chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/rhr.htm

 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk