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Michel Feher

Michel Feher is a founding editor and publisher of Zone Books. He is the author of Powerless by Design: The Age of the International Community and the editor of Fragments for a History of The Human Body (with Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi).

Titles by This Editor

Edited by Michel Feher

To be involved in politics without aspiring to govern, without seeking to be governed by the best leaders, without desiring to abolish all forms of government: such is the condition common to practitioners of nongovernmental politics. Whether these activists concern themselves with providing humanitarian aid, monitoring human rights violations, protecting the environment, educating consumers, or improving the safety of workers, the legitimacy and efficacy of their initiatives demand that they forsake conventional political ambitions. Yet even as they challenge specific governmental practices, nongovernmental activists are still operating within the realm of politics.

Composed of scholarly essays on the challenges and predicaments facing nongovernmental activism, profiles of unique and diverse NGOs (including Memorial, Global Exchange, World Vision, and Third World Network), and interviews with major nongovernmental actors (Gareth Evans of International Crisis Group, Anthony Romero of the ACLU, Rony Brauman of Médecins sans Frontières, and Peter Lurie of Public Citizen, among others), this book offers a groundbreaking survey of the rapidly expanding domain of nongovernmental activism. It examines nongovernmental activists’ motivations, from belief in the universality of human rights to concerns over the fairness of corporate stakeholders’ claims, and explores the multiple ways in which nongovernmental agencies operate. It analyzes the strategic options available and focuses on some of the most remarkable sites of NGO action, including borders, disaster zones, and the Internet. Finally, the book analyzes the conflicting agendas pursued by nongovernmental advocates—protecting civil society from the intrusions of governments that lack accountability or wresting the world from neo-liberal hegemony on the one hand and hastening the return of the Savior or restoring the social order prescribed by the Prophet on the other.

Eroticism and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century France
Edited by Michel Feher

Irresistibly charming or shamelessly deceitful, remarkably persuasive or uselessly verbose, everything one loves to hate—or hates to love—about "French lovers" and their self-styled reputation can be traced to eighteenth-century libertine novels. Obsessed with strategies of seduction, speculating endlessly about the motives and goals of lovers, the idle aristocrats who populate these novels are exclusively preoccupied with their erotic life. Deprived of other battlefields to fulfill their thirst for glory, libertine noblemen seek to conquer the women of their class without falling into the trap of love, while their female prey attempt to enjoy the pleasures of love without sacrificing their honor. Yet, despite the licentious mores of the declining Old Regime, men and women are still expected to pay lip service to an austere code of morals. Since they are constantly asked to denounce their own practices, their erotic war games are governed by a double constraint: whatever they feel or intend, the heroes of libertine literature can neither say what they mean nor mean what they say.

The Libertine Reader includes all the varieties of libertine strategies: from the successful cunning of Mme de T_____ in Vivant Denon's No Tomorrow to the ill-fated genius of Mme de Merteuil in Laclos's Dangerous Liaisons; from the laborious sentimental education of Meilcour in Crebillon fils's The Wayward Head and Heart to the hazardous master plan of the French ambassador in Prevost's The Story of a Modern Greek Woman. The discrepancies between the characters'words and their true intentions—the libertine double entendre—are exposed through the speaking vaginas in Diderot's The Indiscreet Jewels and the wandering soul of Amanzei in Crebillon fils's The Sofa, while the contrasts between natural and civilized—or degenerate—erotics are the subjects of both Diderot's Supplement to Bougainville's Voyage and Laclos's On the Education of Women. Finally, Sade's Florville and Courval shows that destiny itself is on the side of libertinism.