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Facing Fear

Facing Fear: The History of an Emotion in Global Perspective

Michael Laffan
Max Weiss
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Facing Fear
    Book Description:

    Fear is ubiquitous but slippery. It has been defined as a purely biological reality, derided as an excuse for cowardice, attacked as a force for social control, and even denigrated as an unnatural condition that has no place in the disenchanted world of enlightened modernity. In these times of institutionalized insecurity and global terror,Facing Fearsheds light on the meaning, diversity, and dynamism of fear in multiple world-historical contexts, and demonstrates how fear universally binds us to particular presents but also to a broad spectrum of memories, stories, and states in the past.

    From the eighteenth-century Peruvian highlands and the California borderlands to the urban cityscapes of contemporary Russia and India, this book collectively explores the wide range of causes, experiences, and explanations of this protean emotion. The volume contributes to the thriving literature on the history of emotions and destabilizes narratives that have often understood fear in very specific linguistic, cultural, and geographical settings. Rather, by using a comparative, multidisciplinary framework, the book situates fear in more global terms, breaks new ground in the historical and cultural analysis of emotions, and sets out a new agenda for further research.

    In addition to the editors, the contributors are Alexander Etkind, Lisbeth Haas, Andreas Killen, David Lederer, Melani McAlister, Ronald Schechter, Marla Stone, Ravi Sundaram, and Charles Walker.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4524-8
    Subjects: History, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Michael Laffan
    (pp. 1-9)

    What has been written on fear across the broad sweep of human history might seem to be as vast, as multidimensional, and yet also as basic as the emotion itself. Be that as it may, and perhaps because of the extent of the literature and the presumed elemental quality of the emotion, there have been far fewer attempts to systematically catalog or track the manifold discourses on and of fear that have been produced over time. In what follows I will draw on a few samples from the history of philosophical, political, and cultural inquiry into the “problem” of fear,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Fear of the thirty years War
    (pp. 10-30)

    Does fear generate crisis or do crises trigger fears? The Thirty Years War can undoubtedly be described as a crisis of the highest magnitude, accompanied in Central Europe by an almost ubiquitous state of fear. Contemporaries depicted the war and its accompanying atrocities with visceral horror.¹ Any inclination to quantify their fear by cliometrically trawling through eyewitness accounts from the destruction of Magdeburg (e.g., those by Daniel Friese, a boy of twelve at the time; or the scientist and future mayor of Magdeburg Otto von Guericke; or the Protestant mercenary Georg Ackerman, who served the Catholic League under Tilly) or...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Conceptions of Terror in the European Enlightenment
    (pp. 31-53)

    In August 1789 the French National Assembly passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, a founding document in the history of human rights.¹ In September 1793 the legislative body known as the Convention inaugurated the infamous Reign of Terror, and over the next ten months more than thirteen thousand people died on the guillotine.² How was this possible? Why did the French Revolution give birth to the Terror? How could a movement designed to liberate humanity descend into a tyranny worse than the reign of any ancien régime monarch?

    These questions are not new. Indeed, contemporaries posed...

  7. CHAPTER 3 “When Fear Rather than Reason Dominates”: PRIESTS BEHIND THE LINES IN THE TUPAC AMARU REBELLION (1780–83)
    (pp. 54-73)

    On November 4, 1780, José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera had lunch with Antonio de Arriaga in Yanaoca, near Tinta to the south of Cuzco.¹ José Gabriel was acacique(also calledkuraka) of the towns of Pampamarca, Surimana, and Tungasuca. He was thus a local authority in the Andes who mediated between the colonial state and the indigenous population, and his duties included the collection of taxes and assignation of labor burdens on indigenous people. Such may well have seemed an entirely natural arrangement in its day. For despite the creeping, and unpopular, tendency for the Bourbon authorities to invest Europeans...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Fear in Colonial California and within the Borderlands
    (pp. 74-90)

    At first glance, one might think fear had been pervasive. If fear emerges from the possibility of violent, unexpected death, or yet death from plague and new forms of illness, then it would seem that after 1769, when the Spanish colonization of California began, fear must surely have prevailed. In less than seventy years, the densely inhabited zone of linguistically diverse indigenous societies stretching along California’s coast had been devastated, and waves of illness and warfare remade tribal societies in the interior. The Spanish occupation of even a single tribal territory brought vast herds of livestock, and foreign seeds and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Weimar Cinema between Hypnosis and Enlightenment
    (pp. 91-113)

    On March 29, 1933, Germany’s film censor board announced it was banning the new Fritz Lang filmThe Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Testamentwas the sequel to Lang’sDr. Mabuse. the Gambler(1922), a dark fable that portrayed postwar Germany as a society in the grip of a series of monstrous plots orchestrated by the master criminal and hypnotist Mabuse. At the outset ofTestamentMabuse has gone mad and been placed in the care of the psychiatrist Dr. Baum. Mabuse eventually dies, but his criminal empire is taken over by Baum, who has fallen under the sway of his...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Italian Fascism’s Wartime Enemy and the Politics of Fear
    (pp. 114-132)

    Modern politics has proven the centrality of political, social, and racial enemies to the nation-state, no matter the nature of that state. America in the last century has had a number of enemies, including the Communist of the Cold War and the “Arab” terrorist of contemporary politics. Modern conceptions of the enemy, from the Hun of British World War I propaganda to the Islamic terrorist of American culture, and the fears associated with them, thus have significant commonalities. Indeed fear of a barbaric and civilization-destroying enemy only accelerated with the growth of the nation-state and the rise of mass politics...

    (pp. 133-161)

    The video opens with images of a young Sudanese boy, interviewed in front of a hut. “They wanted me to become a Muslim,” he says through a translator. “But I told them I wouldn’t. I am a Christian.” He looks away as he lifts his shirt and shows his scars for the camera—horrific burns over one side of his thin body. “It was then,” a deep male voice-over intones, “that he was thrown on a burning fire.” Later, the video explains that in Sudan “a government set on jihad” is persecuting Christians. There is news footage of soldiers, then...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Danger, Media, and the Urban Experience in Delhi
    (pp. 162-182)

    Between the hot months of April, May, and June 2001, the Indian capital was deluged by stories of a monkey-like creature that attacked people at night. These stories emerged almost entirely from the proletarian and lower-middle-class neighborhoods of East Delhi and the nearby suburbs of Ghaziabad and Noida.¹ The initial reports came in from the district of Ghaziabad and spread to East Delhi by early May. The reports from local papers in the former spoke of a Kala Bandar (black monkey); by May this had morphed into the figure of the “Monkeyman,” a human-animal hybrid, endowed with considerable speed, generating...

    (pp. 183-201)

    What we usually fear is the uncertainty of the future, but there are situations that make us fear the repetition of the past. Sigmund Freud began his famous essay, “The Uncanny” (1919), by disproving the idea that the uncanny is usually the novel and unfamiliar. In contrast, he argued, the uncanny is “something that was long familiar” but then “was estranged . . . through being repressed.” This “element . . . that has been repressed and now returns” is uncanny and, moreover, frightening, writes Freud.¹ In his literary analysis of E.T.A. Hoffman and others, Freud emphasized the particular way...

    (pp. 202-216)

    Despite its very recent appearance as a term, Islamophobia is often held to be as old as Islam itself, and utterly embedded in the broader Western experience with the “Orient.” Taking the Crusades as their starting point, today’s outspoken representatives of supposedly primordial national values (inflected by a Judeo-Christian inheritance) claim to rejoin a battle against foes whose motivation, features, and dress seem utterly antithetical to their own, and whose alleged goal is ultimately global subjugation under a “fascist” order that seeks to bind all toshari‘alaw.¹

    Elements of the Right and Left of America and Europe are in...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 217-264)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 265-266)
  17. Index
    (pp. 267-275)