Category: Readings/Lectures

Readings and reviews on works about centres and centralities.

Pouvoir, autorité et centre: “What is authority” de Hannah Arendt

“Cum potestas in populo auctoritas in senatu sit” “Le pouvoir réside dans le peuple mais l’autorité siège au Sénat” (Cicero) Arendt, H. 1968. Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought. Penguin Books. Qu’est-ce que l’autorité? Dans...

L’invention des continents of Grataloup, how the centre invents its periphery

The book shows how “continents” have nothing natural: they are but all constructions and mere creations of humans who claimed to “discover” them. Grataloup demonstrates how the notion of “continent” is a trial to find a natural explanation of a politically-constructed divison of the world. His analyses stem from maps, works of art and political and religious documents.

Downtown Beirut and the bitter taste of a “reconstructed” supposed-to-be-centrality

Pre-war Beirut used to be the apparent centre of the Middle East: highly specialised economy, advanced tourist services, great cultural manifestations, and a beautiful strategic geographical situation. Unfortunately this is no more the case: Beirut, in spite of the reconstruction plan, has not been able to reclaim its lost supposed-to-be-centrality. One can go far and argue that Beirut was never a “real” centre, that is, where decision is made and where real power abides.

“Le Sacré et le Profane” de Mircea Eliade ou le désir du centre

La recherche du centre (et du Centre), tel est l’objectif de cet ouvrage passionnant de Mircea Eliade. L’auteur a bien cherché le centre dans ses écrits: il lui a consacré plusieurs recherches dont La nostalgie des origines (1971) et Psychologie et histoire des religions. A propos du symbolisme du “centre” (1951). Mais Le sacré et le profane peut être considéré comme le sommet de ses réflexions sur le sujet. Le livre est écrit en allemand, Das Heilige et das Profane, en 1956 puis traduit en plusieurs langues, dont le français et a eu un grand succès dans les sciences des religions et sciences sociales.

Power’s jargon and texts. “Le plaisir du texte” of Roland Barthes

“For each jargon (each fiction) fights for hegemony; if power is on its side, it spreads everywhere in the general and daily occurrences of social life, it becomes doxa, nature: this is the supposedly apolitical jargon of politicians, of agents of the State, of the media, of conversation; but even out of power, even when power is against it, the rivalry is reborn, the jargons split and struggle among themselves. A ruthless topic rules the life of language; language always comes from some place, it is a warrior topos.”

Chinese centralities: the centre, the connector and the Doctrine of the Mean

David Gosset, in this very interesting article, is trying to define Chinese centrality, or better in plural, Chinese centralities. It is a given that China is called the Zhongguo: the Middle Kingdom, the Central Country (For more information cf. this post on centrality of China:

Sassen’s Global City, in the heart of centrality

In the heart of centrality, this is, indeed, the subject of the book of Saskia Sassen. New York, London and Tokyo command the global-city network in the world, that is, the cities in which the biggest number of financial and economic transactions, cultural manifestations, and “pivotal” decisions are made (hence “central functions”). Los Angeles, Toronto, Sao Paolo, Paris, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Dubai, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore belong to this network of global cities.

Dubaï et la centralité en crise

Dubaï est, apparemment, une ville globale et une gate of the Middle East. Elle est le centre financier de tout le Moyen-Orient. En plus elle assure la nodalité dans la région, étant un hub mondial des transports aérien et maritime. L’économie de cette ville-État des Émirats arabe unis dépend de l’immobilier, ainsi que du tertiaire et des services.