Another Freedom: The Alternative History of an Idea
1 Jan 2012
University of Chicago Press
The word "freedom" is so used and abused that it is always in danger of becoming nothing but a cliche. In "Another Freedom", Svetlana Boym offers us a refreshing new portrait of the age-old concept that plays such a crucial role in today's politics. Exploring the rich cross-cultural history of the idea of freedom, from its origins in ancient Greece to the present day, she argues that our attempts to imagine freedom should occupy the space of not only "what is" but also "what if". Beginning with notions of sacrifice and the emergence of a public sphere for politics and art, Boym expands her account to include the relationships between freedom and liberation, personal and political freedom, modernity and terror, and public dissent and creative estrangement. While depicting a world of differences, she affirms lasting solidarities based on the commitment to the public sphere and passionate thinking that reflections on freedom require. To do so, Boym assembles a remarkable cast of characters: Aeschylus and Euripides, Kafka and Mandelstam, Arendt and Heidegger, and a virtual encounter between Dostoevsky and Marx on the streets of Paris. By offering a fresh look at the strange history of this idea, "Another Freedom" delivers a nuanced portrait of freedom, one whose repercussions inform our present and future.