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Part II | HAP - Power > Historians > Flashcards

Flashcards in Historians Deck (10):

What is the core argument of Mary Beard's 2017 Thesis, Women and Power? What case studies (8) does it employ?

(Case studies are covered elsewhere)

  • Beard suggests that, across time, women have been silenced by exclusionary discourses dating back to antiquity. 
  • Case Studies:
    • Homer's Odyssey
    • Aristophanes
    • Ovid's Metamorphosis
    • Dio Chrysostom
    • Aeschylus's Agamemnon
    • Elizabeth I's Speech
    • Sojourner Truth
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland
  • “The point is simply but important: as far back as we can see in Western history there is a radical separation - real, cultural and imaginary - between women and power"


What is the premise of Joseph Nye's 2002 Paradox of American Power?

  • Power is wielded in hard and soft forms.
    • Hard constitutes tangible, material forms of power - military presence, economic force, direct action. Nye refers to 'carrots' and 'sticks'
    • Soft constitutes a diffusive cultural power - sometimes ideological - think hearts and minds.
  • Nye suggests soft power has greater propensity to influence others compared to hard power. 


What are the key arguments in Chris Clark's 'Power' (2011), within the Rublack anthology? (4)

  • "Power is at once the most ubiquitous and the most elusive theme of historical writing"
  • "Power is not an identity that can be said to inhere in groups or individuals; rather it expresses a relational state of affairs"
  • "Power is in flux, it disperses, becomes localised, and in doing so changes its character"
  • "“An uncertainty... remains about how exactly power was distributed, given that relations of power so often masked relations of interdependency. The problem penetrated to the heart of royal executives, for even the most powerful monarch depended upon those who advised him - indeed his dependency deemed as the workings of the expanding state became more complex"


What did Michel Foucault argue?

  • Extended discourse. Finds that historically power has been located in the monarch, but in reality, power is diffuse. 'Power is everywhere'.
  • Because power lies neither in agency or structure, power is essentially a ‘regime of truth’, which is in constant flux and negotiation.


What does Jeffrey Herbst argue about states in Africa?

  • Power aggregation has been inhibited by population density.
  • Africanists have veered away from treating the African state as a whole - seen as racist. This has been an unfortunate turn. The failure to develop more powerful generalizations also increasingly hurting the study of African self. For instance, the efforts that came to full life in the 1960s to study the history of Africa before the Europeans have not had the impact that it should because commentary almost always have been devoted to one polity or one region.


What is the core argument presented within Thomas Bisson's 'Cultures of Power'?

  • "Power" seems so conceptually vast, so inscrutably inflated, that one instinctively seeks to pluralize the word." In discussion of the medieval era.


What is the core argument of Michel-Rolph Trouillot?

  • Silence is introduced into history in three fashions
    1. The moment of creation: the historical actor chooses to privilege one expression of information above all others. Impossible to fully capture a single moment in time and space. 
    2. The moment of collection: the persistence of the article of information is dependent on the bureaucracy established to manage documents. Actors with strong bureaucracies have a greater propensity to capture information which would otherwise be lost. 
    3. The moment of selection: a historian will choose to engage with sources in a manner suiting to them; ultimately privileging one set above all others for the purpose of constructionism. 


Who are Barnett and Duvall, what do they propose?

Barnett and Duvall are International Relations experts who propose a matrix for understanding power.

  • Compulsory
  • Structural
  • Productive
  • Institutional


What did Rainer Forst in 2017? 

  • A new mode of understanding power which would transcend the issues present in the other modes. Drawing from Kant, but avoiding his dualism of noumenal and phenomenal, Forst proposed a noumenal power, which is ‘the capacity of A to motivate B to think or do something that B would otherwise not have thought or done’.
  • That capacity is ‘noumenal’ in the sense that the way in which an agent can affect another agent operates within the cognitive ‘space of reasons’ 


What binaries of power does Simon Susen distinguish between?

  • Soft vs hard - or constructivist, representational power versus realist, material power.
  • Power to vs power over - Power to = A's capacity to do something in accordance with A's wishes, versus A's capacity to motivate B to do something B would have otherwise not done.
  • Power for vs power against - The dialectics of ‘power for’ and ‘power against’ – which may be conceived of in terms of the relationship between ‘power’ and ‘counter-power’ – lies at the heart of behavioural, ideological, and institutional struggles between asymmetrically positioned actors in stratified societies.