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© Patrick O'Donovan 1986–2019

That was the week that was: debates and diversions
17 Nov 2018

Le Goncourt


Nicolas Mathieu: ‘Le Goncourt est un conte de fées singulier’, France-Culture, 9 November 2018

Learning from Latour…

If anything, our current post-truth moment is less a product of Latour’s ideas than a validation of them. In the way that a person notices her body only once something goes wrong with it, we are becoming conscious of the role that Latourian networks play in producing and sustaining knowledge only now that those networks are under assault.
Ava Kofman, ‘Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science’, New York Times Magazine, 25 October 2018

… and Inside, a lecture-performance with Frédérique Aït-Touati


Peut-on modifier notre manière de voir la Terre? Non plus de loin, bille bleue perdue dans le cosmos, mais en coupe. Notre façon de marcher sur Terre? Non plus sur mais avec. C’est une affaire de perception, de sensation et de modélisation. Rien de tel que la scène pour tenter une expérience de pensée: se tenir non pas sur le Globe, mais dans cette ‘zone critique’ dont parlent les scientifiques. […] Depuis une dizaine d’années, Bruno Latour, philosophe, et Frédérique Aït-Touati, metteur en scène et chercheur, s’associent pour des projets au croisement de la recherche et du théâtre. Dans leurs collaborations, ils s’attachent à suivre une pensée en train de s’élaborer, faisant du plateau un lieu de modélisation et d’expérimentation sur la perception.
Zone critique

There is no such thing as ‘cultural Marxism’

[W]hile increasingly popular worries about cosmopolitan elites and economic globalization can sometimes transcend the most noxious anti-Semitism, talk of cultural Marxism is inseparable from it. The legend of cultural Marxism recycles old anti-Semitic tropes to give those who feel threatened a scapegoat. […] That ‘cultural Marxism’ is a crude slander, referring to something that does not exist, unfortunately does not mean actual people are not being set up to pay the price, as scapegoats to appease a rising sense of anger and anxiety. And for that reason, ‘cultural Marxism’ is not only a sad diversion from framing legitimate grievances but also a dangerous lure in an increasingly unhinged moment.
Samuel Moyn, ‘The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme Is 100 Years Old’, New York Times, 11 November 2018

Total history and the Histoire mondiale de la France

Patrick Boucheron bouscule l’histoire
Que vous inspirent les critiques, parfois très violentes, qu’a rencontrées cet ouvrage?
P. B. : Elles m’évoquent l’idée de Michel Foucault selon laquelle toute pensée critique produit des effets de vérité. Quand on se dispute sur notre passé, on dit toujours quelque chose de nous-mêmes au moment présent. Donc cette polémique, même si elle ne rend pas vraiment compte du livre, documente l’état actuel du débat. Nous en sommes là. J’explique aussi la fureur autour de cet ouvrage par une forme de sacrilège : comme si nous avions touché au trésor! Il y a cette idée sous-jacente que l’histoire de France dont certains politiques ont besoin, ce n’est pas aux historiens de l’écrire. L’effet de vérité est là: il montre à ceux qui veulent une histoire de France inchangée depuis Lavisse, qu’ils ne trouveront plus d’historiens pour l’écrire et qu’ils auront à l’écrire eux-mêmes! C’est un vrai changement d’époque.
CNRS: Le Journal, 9 October 2018

A review reviews reviews

Les revues sont des lieux de débats. On y discute, on s’y dispute. Vacarme chahute les esprits et Anticipation croise les opinions sur le transhumanisme.
En attendant Nadeau, no. 66

The French verb *être*… and Proust

Brexit: the stakes for research… and the humanities

Soon after Article 50 was triggered, the EU’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, set out the technical (albeit sub-optimal) possibilities for keeping the UK sector associated with EU programmes, adding that he knew how important ‘the EU is for creating networks and exchanges between universities in all 28 countries’. The post-2021 programmes, Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, at present working their way through EU decision processes, are in the frame here. While technically these education and research programmes are independent of any UK-EU agreement, politically they are a live issue. The UK’s participation in research programmes has been hugely valuable in helping make the EU a global research hub: when member states’ output is combined, the EU outstrips the US and China. The Commission proposal to make the future Horizon participation criteria more flexible is doubtless influenced by the desire to keep the British in after Brexit.

But a governmental view that values the sciences much more highly than the humanities and general education – and is always on the lookout to strengthen links with the Anglo-Saxon world – is also in play. The Erasmus+ programme, which has provided an effective hub for mobility and cross-cultural experience for millions of students, young people and their teachers, and which also supports the development of a European Higher Education Area through the Bologna Process, does not attract a similar level of government support. […] Countries or institutions concerned in international negotiations simultaneously face outwards to their would-be partners and inwards to their domestic constituents. Their negotiating stance is partly dictated by what a government can sell at home. It is bad luck, for the UK higher education sector and the science community, that their political importance now ranks lower than that of nine DUP MPs.
Anne Corbett, ‘Universities are a bargaining chip in the Brexit free-trade future’, LSE Brexit Blog, 31 October 2018

Plan S — CC-BY? CC-NY-NC?

I think Wellcome has taken a more balanced approach, because it says it won’t pay for hybrid-journal open fees, but it won’t ban its researchers from publishing in them. But it still mandates a CC-BY licence for open papers and accepted manuscripts. I personally prefer more restrictive open licences, such as CC-BY-NC [which does not permit commercial re-use]. I actually don’t mind commercial firms text-mining my work and building services on that, but I don’t want my text to be republished for commercial gain — perhaps a different open licence should be created.
Lynn Kamerlin, ‘Arguments over European open-access plan heat up’, Nature, 12 November 2018

There is also a contradiction in the Plan S document around licensing here that needs to be resolved. Namely, the document states that ‘Plan S whereby research funders will mandate that access to research publications that are generated through research grants that they allocate, must be fully and immediately open and cannot be monetised in any way’. This rules out the CC BY license, since this allows subsequent commercial re-use (even just for dissemination). However, it is debatable whether the CC BY-NC license is compatible with the Berlin Declaration. This should be clarified as a matter of urgency.
Martin Paul Eve, ‘On the practical implementation of Plan S’

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