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Rank #42 in Social Sciences category

Science
Social Sciences

New Books in Critical Theory

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #42 in Social Sciences category

Science
Social Sciences
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Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

42 Ratings
Average Ratings
27
7
4
3
1

‘New...” Jewish/Indian/Gay “Books in Critical Theory”?

By JTR ROUND ROCK - May 22 2018
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Not a fair title for these pods if you’re going to let one or two ethnic groups dominate. Just a fan of truth in advertising.

Summaries into Critical Texts

By thom bjork - May 17 2018
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Each show is an interview into the scholar's/scholars' manuscript. By amplifying the author's voice, each text is given a larger footprint in an environment which at times seems at antipodes. Marxist, new left, on marginilization and the state. Support the network.

iTunes Ratings

42 Ratings
Average Ratings
27
7
4
3
1

‘New...” Jewish/Indian/Gay “Books in Critical Theory”?

By JTR ROUND ROCK - May 22 2018
Read more
Not a fair title for these pods if you’re going to let one or two ethnic groups dominate. Just a fan of truth in advertising.

Summaries into Critical Texts

By thom bjork - May 17 2018
Read more
Each show is an interview into the scholar's/scholars' manuscript. By amplifying the author's voice, each text is given a larger footprint in an environment which at times seems at antipodes. Marxist, new left, on marginilization and the state. Support the network.
Cover image of New Books in Critical Theory

New Books in Critical Theory

Latest release on Jul 13, 2020

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Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books

Rank #1: Stuart Elden, “Foucault: The Birth of Power” (Polity Press, 2017)

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How did Foucault become a public, political intellectual? In Foucault: The Birth of Power (Polity Press, 2017), Stuart Elden, Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, follows up his book on Foucault’s Last Decade with research on Foucault’s work from the late 1960s to the middle 1970s. As with Foucault’s work at the time, the book is focused on the emergence of a new understanding of power, alongside detailed engagements with archival materials and the recently published College De France lecture series. The book offers an alternative reading to traditional periodisations of Foucault’s work, suggesting engagements with ancient Greece, ‘repressive’ theories of power, and his public political work, can be rethought to add nuance and depth to current understandings of Foucault’s theories of the ‘productive’ nature of power and the practice of his scholarship. The book is part of Elden’s broader project on Foucault much of which is detailed on his Progressive Geographies blog. The rich and detailed text will be of interest to social theorists, Foucault scholars, and anyone interested in how best to understand the meaning of power.

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Nov 06 2017

45mins

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Rank #2: Steven Shaviro, “The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism” (University of Minnesota Press, 2014)

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Steven Shaviro‘s new book is a wonderfully engaging study of speculative realism, new materialism, and the ways in which those fields can speak to and be informed by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. While The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) will satisfy even advanced scholars working on “object-oriented ontology” and related issues, it’s also a fantastic introduction for readers who have never heard of “correlationism” or panpsychism, don’t quite understand what all of the recent humanities-wide Whitehead-related fuss is all about, and aren’t sure where to begin. After a helpful introduction that lays out the major terms and stakes of the study, seven chapters each function as stand-alone units (and thus are very assignable in upper-level undergrad or graduate courses) while also progressively building on one another to collectively advance an argument for what Shaviro calls a “speculative aesthetics.”The Universe of Things emphasizes the importance of aesthetics and aesthetic theory to reading and engaging the work of Whitehead, Harman, Meillassoux, Kant, Levinas, Bryant, and others as an ongoing conversation about how we understand, inhabit, and exist as part of a material world. It’s a fabulous (and fabulously clearly written!) work that I will be recommending widely to colleagues and students.


During the course of the interview we talked a bit about the opportunities that electronic and web-based media have brought to life and work in academia. On that note, you can find Steve’s blog here: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/

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Jan 16 2015

1hr 3mins

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Rank #3: Eugene Thacker, “Horror of Philosophy” (Zero Book, 2011-2015)

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Eugene Thacker‘s wonderful Horror of Philosophy series includes three books – In the Dust of this Planet (Zero Books, 2011), Starry Speculative Corpse (Zero Books, 2015), and Tentacles Longer than Night (Zero Books, 2015) – that collectively explore the relationship between philosophy (especially as it overlaps with demonology, occultism, and mysticism) and horror (especially of the supernatural sort). Each book takes on a particular problematic using a particular form from the history of philosophy, from the quaestio, lectio, and disputatio of medieval scholarship, to shorter aphoristic prose, to productive “mis-readings” of works of horror as philosophical texts and vice versa. Taken together, the books thoughtfully model the possibilities born of a comparative scholarly approach that creates conversations among works that might not ordinarily be juxtaposed in the same work: like Nishitani, Kant, Yohji Yamamoto, and Fludd; or Argento, Dante, and Lautramont. Though they explore topics like darkness, pessimism, vampiric cephalopods, and “black tentacular voids,” these books vibrate with life and offer consistent and shining inspiration for the careful reader. Anyone interested in philosophy, theology, modern literature and cinema, literatures on life and death, the history of horror…or really, anyone at all who appreciates thoughtful writing in any form should grab them – grab all of them! – and sit somewhere comfy, and prepare to read, reflect, and enjoy.


For Thacker’s brand-new book Cosmic Pessimism (published by Univocal with a super-groovy black-on-black cover) go here. Thacker is co-teaching a course with Simon Critchley on “Mysticism” at the New School for Social Research this fall 2015. You can check out the description here.

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Sep 28 2015

1hr 8mins

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Rank #4: Stacy Alaimo, “Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times” (U. Minnesota Press, 2016)

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Stacy Alaimo’s Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) is a provocative reflection on environmental ethics, politics, and forms of knowledge. Through a range of examples as broad as the theoretical scope of the book, Alaimo analyzes political responses to climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, and plastic pollution, as well as the epistemologies that have shaped our understanding of these crises. Simultaneously, this series of essays also explores the intimacies and entanglements of human and non-human subjectivities in the Anthropocene, arguing for a new materialist engagement with the world. Despite the gravity of her subject matter, Alaimo’s examples and writing are often playful. This not only echoes the complexity and occasional contradictions of environmental politics but also makes Exposed a very enjoyable read.


Drawing on examples from film, fiction, poetry, scientific writing, art, and activism, Alaimo considers the role pleasure has played and could play in various environmentalisms and environmental engagements. Though it bridges and contributes to scholarly work in the fields of environmental studies, feminism, materialism, and posthumanism, this book is much more than a theoretical exploration; it calls on us to rethink what it means to be human and act accordingly. Alaimo demonstrates interconnections between queer animals, naked protesters, melting glaciers, and interested scholars while providing thoughtful guidance on how to understand and respond to the environmental predicaments to which we are all, to varying degrees, exposed.

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Feb 21 2017

36mins

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Rank #5: Bill V. Mullen, “W.E.B. Du Bois: Revolutionary Across the Color Line,” (Pluto Press, 2016)

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Born just five years after the abolition of slavery, W. E. B. Du Bois died the night before Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington in 1963. In the many decades between, W. E. B. Du Bois contributed as much to the political and social advancement of African Americans as any other figure in history.

W. E. B. Du Bois: Revolutionary Across the Color Line (Pluto Press, 2016) offers an accessible and brief introduction to the life and times of W. E. B. Du Bois. It takes in his many achievements, such as being the first black man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University and co-founding the NAACP, and sets them alongside the seismic political changes of the twentieth century many of which Du Bois weighed in on, including anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles across Asia and Africa.


The author reveals a Du Bois who was focused not just on the immediate question of African American rights, but also took up the question of socialism, the rise of communism, and the complicated interrelationship of capitalism, poverty, and racism. The picture that emerges here is of a powerfully original thinker, fiercely engaged with the political, economic, and social questions of his day never letting up in his struggle to change the world for the better.

Dr. Bill V. Mullen is a professor of American Studies at Purdue University, and teaches courses in African American Literature and Culture, American Studies, Working-Class Literature, Cultural Studies, and Postcolonial Literature. His previous written works include Afro-Orientalism, Popular Fronts: Chicago and African American Cultural Politics 1935-1946 and Un-American: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Century of World Revolution. In addition to his current tenure at Purdue University, Dr. Mullen also has been a Fulbright lecturer at Wuhan University in the Peoples Republic of China.


James Stancil is an independent scholar, freelance journalist, and the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area non-profit dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people.

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Dec 17 2016

52mins

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Rank #6: Todd McGowan, “Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets” (Columbia UP, 2016)

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Todd McGowan‘s Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets (Columbia University Press, 2016) elegantly employs psychoanalytic thinking to unpack the lure of capitalism. He argues that we are drawn to capitalism because, under an overt promise to bring us what we want, it gives us what we need: lack.


Every commodity disappoints. And that’s the point.


Satisfaction, that moment when all is well and good, flutters rapidly, blessedly away. What is so great, so crucial, about lack? Though we pine for relief, nothing kills desire like abundance. (Spoiler alert: should there be an equitable redistribution of wealth, we would still suffer a hunger for the lost object which, according to McGowan, not employing Kleinian thinking, was never attainable in the first place.) If we did not experience ourselves as missing something we might never get out of bed–and, as clinicians know, why it can be purely ruinous to gratify a depressive patient.


You buy those boots, the ones you had to have, and within moments of wearing them, your heart sinks. That car you finally got your hands on? Driving it out of the lot you wonder, “should I have just leased it?” Desire is an engine best run on less than half a tank.


The paradox of capitalism, the way it lets us down, gets a full treatment here. Capitalism reclines on McGowan’s couch and he offers it a few interpretations that shake loose its obsessional and hysterical tendencies. He works with capitalism effectively, not arousing its defenses, because he understands it as caught in a trap of its own making. Embracing Beyond The Pleasure Principle and Lacanian thinking, he asks capitalism how come the ends are more important than the means, and doesn’t it miss the sublime? He also treats the reader, reminding us that we need to not have what we want in order to get what we need.


The interview sails along, if I say so myself, and, given the political surround, offers a good conversation to get into. The author would love to hear from us and has asked that I post his email right here, todd.mcgowan@uvm.edu.

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Mar 19 2017

59mins

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Rank #7: Adrian Johnston, "A New German Idealism: Hegel, Žižek and Dialectical Materialism" (Columbia UP, 2018)

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In 2012, the world-renowned philosopher, psychoanalyst and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek released his 1000-page tome ​Less Than Nothing​, following it up afterwards with its shorter reformulation ​Absolute Recoil​ in 2014. The works contained his usual use of movie-references, historical and political events and jokes to engage in some substantial philosophical formulations, particularly in dialogue with Hegel and Lacan. In these books, Žižek forged a new developed a number of innovative approaches to various philosophical questions, from quantum mechanics to contemporary political movements. Adrian Johnston’s most recent book on Žižek, A New German Idealism: Hegel, Žižek and Dialectical Materialism​ (Columbia University Press, 2018) traces a number of these various developments in detail, salvaging the key philosophical themes while also offering several criticisms and developments of his own.

Adrian Johnston is Distinguished Professor in and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico and is a faculty member at the Emory Psychoanalytic Institute in Atlanta. His many books include ​Žižek’s Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist Theory of Subjectivity​ (2008) and ​Badiou, ​Žižek and Political Transformations: The Cadence of Change (2009)​. With Slavoj ​Žižek and Todd McGowan, he is a co-editor of the book series ​Diaeresis​, all from Northwestern University Press.

Stephen Dozeman is a freelance writer.

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Jan 29 2020

1hr 58mins

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Rank #8: Thomas Piketty, "Capital and Ideology" (Harvard UP, 2020)

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It seems easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism; perhaps that is due to some weakness in our imaginations - Fredric Jameson, The Seeds of Time

Thomas Piketty, the French economist, was dubbed the modern Marx by The Economist in the wake of his bestselling Capital in the 21st Century, which presented historical data reaching back to the eighteenth century and focused on the dynamics of the distribution of wealth and income and the destabilizing force represented by: r > g – that is, the private rate of return on capital over time can be much higher than the rate of growth of income and output. Readers noted however, in addition to pointing out this ‘central contradiction of capitalism’ Professor Piketty was also clear that the purpose of social science is not to produce mathematical certainties that substitute for inclusive democratic debate. More importantly, he made the case for the progressive taxation of capital, and among many other things for going back to using the term ‘political economy’ for the field of economics – all of which did not render his analysis Marxist, although admittedly, the label made for more catchy magazine column titles in 2014.

Six years in the making Piketty has extended the hopeful reach of his analysis by including a much larger global sampling of historical data – not just Western market economies this time, and by expanding the focus to include the political and ideological in his comparative analysis of capital accumulation and ‘inequality regimes’. The professor does so with the same underlying optimism and realistic eye on promoting the social learning process in which we all find ourselves as individuals within various cultures and societies. Enter his expanded interdisciplinary contribution to comparative political economy – Capital and Ideology (Harvard University Press, 2020) – essential reading.

Thomas Piketty is a professor at the Paris School of Economics, and a Director of The School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences.

Keith Krueger lectures at the SHU-UTS Business School in Shanghai.

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Apr 21 2020

36mins

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Rank #9: Timothy Morton, “Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World” (University of Minnesota Press, 2013)

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So much of Science Studies, of STS as a field or a point of engagement, is deeply concerned with objects. We create sociologies and networks of and with objects, we study them as actors or agents or actants, we worry about our relationships to them and their relationships to each other. We wonder if humans and their objects are really so different, or whether we are all octopuses shrinking behind our own ink.


In Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), Timothy Morton offers a way of thinking with and about hyperobjects, particular kinds of things of which we see only pieces at any given moment. (Though by the end of the book, Morton invites us to consider that perhaps every object is a hyperobject.) Hyperobjects have a number of qualities in common, and the first half of Morton’s book introduces and explores them: they stick to other beings, and they potentially transform our taken-for-granted notions of time, space, locality, causality, and the possibility of ever being “away.” How this all happens is explained in a wonderfully personal and engaging narrative voice that ranges from Heidegger to The Lord of the Rings to the Tardis to Op Art, and the second half of the book introduces some of the consequences of and opportunities created by thinking with hyperobjects. It is about global warming and intimacy and object-oriented ontology and modern art and the possibilities of a phenomenology after we get rid of any notion of “the world” as something out-there and beyond-us. For those who are interested in STS and its environs, it offers a very different and very thoughtful language for articulating narratives beyond a simple “object agency” frame or a human/object binary. It’s also a great pleasure to read.

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Feb 23 2014

1hr 11mins

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Rank #10: Clarence Taylor, "Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City" (NYU Press, 2018)

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In his most new book Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City (NYU Press, 2018), Clarence Taylor, dean of the history of the civil rights movement in New York, looks at black resistance to police brutality in the city, and institutional efforts to hold the NYPD accountable, since the late 1930s and '40s.

​“Many people think that police brutality is a recent phenomenon,” says Taylor, professor emeritus at Baruch College and The Graduate Center of City University of New York. But, in fact, it has a long, sordid history, going back even further than the years covered in this new book. And long before the era of cellphones, black newspapers did their own investigations when men, women, and children were beaten or killed by the police. (Louis Lomax, the first African-American journalist to appear regularly on television news, commented in the early 1960s that, if not for police brutality, the black press would have "considerable blank space.")

Taylor also looks at the history of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, first proposed after the Harlem riots of 1935 and 1943. La Guardia and the mayors who followed refused to challenge the NYPD’s power, which is why it took nearly fifty years to establish an independent public agency to investigate allegations of abuse.

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Jan 18 2019

42mins

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Rank #11: Marshall Poe, “How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History of History” (Zero Books, 2018)

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What is the history of a “history book”? In How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History Of History (Zero Books, 2018), Marshall Poe, founder and Editor-In-Chief of the New Books Network, tells the story of why and how we have the “history books” we have. The book uses the literary device of “Elizabeth Ranke,” an ideal type of the modern academic historian, to show how academic disciplines, the structure of college and careers, the tensions between popular and academic publishing, and the morality and ethics of history, shape the “history book.” Whilst each chapter critically relates a stage in Elizabeth’s life and career to the form “history books” take, the overall message of the book is a positive defense of history in the current social and political juncture. A short and accessible text, the book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the artifact called “a history book.”

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Feb 28 2018

46mins

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Rank #12: Ivan Ascher, “Portfolio Society: A Capitalist Mode of Prediction” (Zone Books, 2016)

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Is Marx still relevant? Any social scientist will answer with a resounding yes! In what he refers to as a thought experiment, Ivan Ascher uses Marx to understand the financial market. In Portfolio Society: A Capitalist Mode of Prediction (Zone Books, 2016), Ascher focuses on the arc and narratives found in Capital, using them to analyze risk, credit, and the financial market downfall of 2008. Ascher encourages the reader to explore how we might be able to understand what is going on today by looking back at Marx’s understanding of capitalism. The reader will come across familiar characters, like moneybags and vampires, and familiar concepts from Marx, like fetishism and co-dependence within the market. The nice thing about this book is that you do not need prior knowledge of Marx or financial markets, though those who have knowledge of either or both will still find great pleasure in this thought experiment.


This book would be enjoyed by sociologists or political scientists in general, alongside those interested in financial markets. It would be especially useful in a theory course where students could make connections between Marx and Ascher’s narratives.


Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can follow and tweet her at @spattersearch.

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Aug 12 2017

29mins

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Rank #13: Jack Jacobs, “The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism” (Cambridge UP, 2015)

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In The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Jack Jacobs, Professor of Political Science at John Jay College and the CUNY Graduate Center, investigates how the Jewish backgrounds of major Critical Theorists, and the ways in which they related to their origins, impacted upon their work, the history of the Frankfurt School, and differences that emerged among them over time. Jacobs builds an in depth picture of these theorists, particularly in relation to their theorization of antisemitism and their attitudes towards Israel. This book is a definitive history of the topic which will be referenced for many years to come.

Max Kaiser is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at kaiser@student.unimelb.edu.au.

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Aug 02 2016

47mins

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Rank #14: Wendy Brown, "In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West" (Columbia UP, 2019)

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Neoliberalism is one of those fuzzy words that can mean something different to everyone. Wendy Brown is one of the world’s leading scholars on neoliberalism and argue that a generation of neoliberal worldview among political, business, and intellectual leaders led to the populism we’re seeing throughout the world today. But is it mutually exclusive to democracy? Not necessarily. Wendy joins us this week to help make sense of what neoliberalism is, and where things stand today. We were lucky enough to get an advance copy of her book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West (Columbia UP, 2019), which will be released in July. It’s a follow up to her 2015 book, Undoing the Demos, and you’ll hear her talk about how her thinking has changed since then.

Wendy is the Class of 1936 First Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches political theory. You might also recognize her from Astra Taylor’s documentary, What Is Democracy?

Democracy Works is created by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State and recorded at WPSU Penn State, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station.

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Oct 14 2019

42mins

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Rank #15: Jason W. Moore, “Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital” (Verso, 2015)

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In Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso, 2015), author Jason W. Moore seeks to undermine popular understandings of the relationship among society, environment, and capitalism. Rather, than seeing society and environment as acting on an external, nonhuman nature, Moore wants us to recognize capitalism-in-nature. For Moore, seeing society and environment as separate has hampered clear thinking on the problems we face, such as climate change or the end of cheap nature, as well as political solutions to these issues. His book is an analysis of the interrelationship of capitalism and nature over the past few centuries as well as a critique of important environmental concepts such as the Anthropocene.


Moore is assistant professor of sociology at SUNY-Binghamton and coordinator of the World Ecology Research Network. This book is a product of over a decade of research and writings on world ecology and evidence of his wide-ranging scholarship.

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Dec 03 2015

51mins

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Rank #16: Ayten Gundogdu, “Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants” (Oxford UP, 2015)

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How does one “rethink and revise the key concepts of Hannah Arendt’s political theory in light of the struggles of asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants” (207)? In her new book Rightlessness in An Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants (Oxford University Press, 2015), Ayten Gundogdu (Political Science, Barnard College) engages this question to explore both a radical critique and radical rethinking of human rights in our age. The book challenges and reimagines central dimensions to Arendt’s thought – rightlessness, the political and the social, personhood, labor and work, and the ‘right to have rights’ – at the same time that it provides incisive analysis of the precarious conditions of and political action by migrants. The book works with Arendt to offer important critiques of a number of aspects of contemporary human rights theory and practice, and ultimately develops an approach to human rights as “political practices of founding.”


John McMahon has recently completed his PhD in Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and will be Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Beloit College starting in August 2016. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Global Ethics and Politics at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, which co-sponsors the podcast.

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Jun 26 2016

1hr 11mins

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Rank #17: Bruno Perreau, “Queer Theory: The French Response” (Stanford UP, 2016)

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At once wonderfully clear and bursting with complexity, the title of Bruno Perreau‘s book, Queer Theory: The French Response (Stanford University Press, 2016) is one of my favorites of the past several years. An interrogation of the meanings of queer, theory, French, and response, the book is anchored around the anti-gay marriage demonstrations and activisms that proliferated in France during the lead-up to the passage of the 2013 Loi Taubira (a.k.a. “marriage pour tous”). The book focuses on a central claim of French opponents of gay marriage and adoption: the notion that (American) gender and queer theory is responsible for spreading homosexuality in France, and has thus contributed to the undoing of the French family and the nation as a whole.


Throughout its four chapters, the book considers the French response to queer theory in terms of fantasy and echo. This is not a book about reception in a passive or uncomplicated sense. Rather it is the study of a set of reverberations back and forth across the Atlantic that is always already a matter of translation and interpretation. Indeed, the so-called American theory that anti-gay activists have presented as a foreign menace finds much of its own inspiration in the work of French thinkers and writers. Drawing in part on a series of interviews with French feminist and queer intellectuals and activists, the book also offers critical insight regarding the meanings and anxieties surrounding minority identities and communities in contemporary France. Queer Theory will be compelling reading to anyone interested in the history and politics of sexuality, and in the possibilities of thinking and enacting change into the future, in France, in the U.S., and beyond.


Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. A historian of French culture and politics in the twentieth century, her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send an email to: panchasi@sfu.ca.


*The music that opens and closes the podcast is an instrumental version of Creatures, a song written by Vancouver artist/musician Casey Wei (performing as hazy). To hear more, please visit https://agonyklub.com/.

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Jun 02 2017

1hr 1min

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Rank #18: Malcolm Harris, “Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials” (Little, Brown and Co, 2017)

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Every young generation inspires a host of comparisons—usually negative ones—with older generations. Whether preceding a criticism or punctuating one, “kids these days” is a common utterance. Perhaps because of the ubiquity of the internet and their heavy presence on it, Millennials have been the most parsed and monitored generation as its members are still in the process of coming of age in history. Stereotypes abound in the media and popular culture: Millennials are lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and immature. Synthesizing an array of social science research that has been conducted not just on this cohort but on the society they find themselves struggling to navigate, writer Malcolm Harris in Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials (Little, Brown and Company, 2017) aims to get readers to question these stereotypes and myths and instead think about how Millennials are trying to survive within today’s shifting social structures and conditions. More than any other generation, Millennials have been raised to think of everything they do as a way to build human capital and invest in their own future. And they do so at time in American history when higher education is becoming increasingly expensive as wages are declining, work is becoming more precarious and less stable, and the future of the social safety net is showing signs of either eroding or at least completely transforming in the future. In short, the book refreshingly considers the forces that have helped shape who Millennials are and why they behave and think as they do. With luck, it will encourage a discussion of the root causes behind serious problems that this young cohort confronts (precarity, youth poverty, over-medication, and over-work) and their possible solutions instead of the same tired stereotypes.

Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017), about the transformation of low-status occupations into cool, cultural taste-making jobs (cocktail bartenders, craft distillers, upscale mens barbers, and whole animal butchers), and of Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City (Princeton University Press, 2014), about growth policies, nightlife, and conflict in gentrified neighborhoods. His work has appeared in such journals as City & Community, Poetics, Ethnography, and the European Journal of Cultural Studies. He is also the editor of Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork (Routledge, 2012) and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Metropolitics, Work and Occupations, and the Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography.

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Jan 11 2018

44mins

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Rank #19: Anne A. Cheng, "Ornamentalism" (Oxford UP, 2019)

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On this episode, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric and Communication at the State University of New York at Geneseo--Dr. Anne Cheng (she/hers)--Professor of English and Director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton University--to discuss an almost revolutionary work of theory and critique: Ornamentalism (Oxford University Press, 2019). Ornamentalism offers arguably the first sustained theory of the yellow woman and, beyond that, a nuanced reflection on the way in which women of color are subjects-turned-into-things but that not every woman of color becomes-thing in the same way. Cheng insists on the term ornamentalism as both a lever of critique and of emancipation, resisting the easy distinction between person/thing and skin/substance to investigate how a theory of radical style offers ontological possibilities for thriving among injury.

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Jun 21 2019

1hr 7mins

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Rank #20: Tommy J. Curry, “The Man-Not: Race, Class, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood” (Temple UP, 2017)

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The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University Press, 2017) is a book-length justification for the burgeoning field of Black Male Studies. The author posits that we should conceptualize the black male as a victim, oppressed by his sex. The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, therefore, is a corrective of sorts, offering a concept of Black males that could challenge the existing accounts of black men and boys desiring the power of white men who oppress them that has been proliferated throughout academic research across disciplines.


The Man-Not argues that black men struggle with death and suicide, as well as abuse and rape, and their genred existence deserves study and theorization. This book offers intellectual, historical, sociological, and psychological evidence that the analysis of patriarchy offered by mainstream feminism (including black feminism) does not yet fully understand the role that homoeroticism, sexual violence, and vulnerability play in the deaths and lives of black males.


Author Tommy J. Curry‘s work spans across the various fields of philosophy, jurisprudence, Africana Studies, and Gender Studies. He received his BA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, his masters from DePaul, and he returned to SIUC to earn his Ph.D. Though trained in American and Continental philosophical traditions, Curry’s primary research interests are in Critical Race Theory and Africana Philosophy. In addition to his work as Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at Texas A&M University, Dr. Curry is also the executive director of Philosophy Born of Struggle, a multimedia project billed as a community a conference, and a textbook. His next major research project will be a book-length follow up to The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, tentatively titled The Mismeasurement of Man: Phallicism and the Paradox of the Racially Subjugated Male.


James P. Stancil II is an educator, multimedia journalist, and writer. He is also the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area NGO dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people. He can be reached most easily through his LinkedIn page or at james.stancil@intellectuwell.org.

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Jul 25 2017

1hr 2mins

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Lizzie O’Shea, "Future Histories" (Verso, 2019)

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When we talk about technology we always talk about the future—which makes it hard to figure out how to get there.

In Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us about Digital Technology (Verso), Lizzie O’Shea argues that we need to stop looking forward and start looking backwards. Weaving together histories of computing and social movements with modern theories of the mind, society, and self, O’Shea constructs a “usable past” that help us determine our digital future.

What, she asks, can the Paris Commune tell us about earlier experiments in sharing resources—like the Internet—in common? Can debates over digital access be guided by Tom Paine’s theories of democratic economic redistribution? And how is Elon Musk not a visionary but a throwback to Victorian-era utopians?

In engaging, sparkling prose, O’Shea shows us how very human our understanding of technology is, and what potential exists for struggle, for liberation, for art and poetry in our digital present. Future Histories is for all of us—makers, coders, hacktivists, Facebook-users, self-styled Luddites—who find ourselves in a brave new world.

Lizzie O’Shea is a lawyer, writer, and broadcaster. She is a founder and the chair of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for human rights online, is a special advisor to the National Justice Project, and also sits on the board of Blueprint for Free Speech and the Alliance for Gambling Reform. At the National Justice Project, she worked with lawyers, journalists and activists to establish a Copwatch program, for which she received a Davis Projects for Peace Prize. In June 2019, she was named a Human Rights Hero by Access Now.

Dr Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is a visiting researcher at the British Museum and teaches Digital Humanities at University College London. Her research intersects intellectual history, digital humanities and cultural heritage studies. She can be reached at aortolja-baird@britishmuseum.org

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Jul 13 2020

1hr 11mins

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Adrian Johnston, "Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism Volume II: A Weak Nature Alone" (Northwestern UP, 2019)

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Engaging with almost any Western philosopher of the last couple centuries means you are usually, whether you realize it or not, working in the shadow of Hegel, his work proving stubbornly resistant to attempts to remove from contemporary thought. This has itself proven to be a source of much debate and conflict, as Hegel is notoriously difficult to decipher, leaving room for a huge variety of opinions on a variety of topics.

Diving right into this is my guest today, Adrian Johnston, who is back to discuss the second volume of his trilogy, Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism Volume II: A Weak Nature Alone (Northwestern University Press, 2019).

Where the first volume (which we discussed in a previous episode) was concerned with some major turns in French continental philosophy, this volume takes Hegel as its key point of reference. However, rather than simply functioning as a commentary on Hegel, the book acts as a sort of historical survey of various Hegelianisms that have been developed over the last couple centuries, touching on everything from Marxism to contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy, and everything else in between.

The result is a book that simultaneously manages to cover a huge swath of intellectual territory while also maintaining a very tight focus throughout, all in search of a thoroughly materialist theory of subjectivity. 

Adrian Johnston is a Distinguished Professor in and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico and is a faculty member at the Emory Psychoanalytic Institute in Atlanta. His many books include Irrepressible Truth: On Lacan’s ‘The Freudian Thing’ and the forthcoming Infinite Greed: Money, Marxism, Psychoanalysis. He is also one of the coeditors of the Northwestern University Press book series Diaresis, of which this book is a contribution. 

Stephen Dozeman is a freelance writer.

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Jul 13 2020

1hr 38mins

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Crystal Mun-hye Baik, "Reencounters: On the Korean War and Diasporic Memory Critique" (Temple UP, 2020)

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This interview coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, a war that, as Baik reminds us, has not officially ended.

How are the particularities of the Korean War, as an unended war, expressed in the lives of survivors and their descendants? This work explores how violence is narrated and framed in the lives and works of diasporic subjects, utilizing the concept of durational memory to attend to how the past prevails in the present.

Reencounters: On the Korean War and Diasporic Memory Critique (Temple University Press, 2020) joins a growing list of Asian American and Korean American scholarship that interrogates the impact modern warfare has had on memory, trauma, and healing but does so by engaging with a variety of diasporic works such as oral histories, live performances, media installations, and monuments.

Through a close reading of these aesthetic practices and the events surrounding them, Baik offers a new analytic, the process of reencounters, to account for the ways in which the Korean War has transformed the social lives of those within the Korean peninsula and without.

Included in this discourse are the powerful works of transnational Korean adoptees and a reevaluation of the politics of Jeju Island, a contested space of colonialism, militarism, and sovereignty. Reencounters provides a new perspective not only on the aftermaths of war but on the diverse states of being that form our understanding of diaspora and diasporic memory.

Crystal Mun-hye Baik is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside.

Laura Ha Reizman is a PhD candidate in Asian Languages & Cultures at UCLA

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Jul 10 2020

1hr 19mins

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Marianna Ritchey, "Composing Capital: Classical Music in the Neoliberal Era" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

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What is the place of classical music in contemporary society?

In Composing Capital: Classical Music in the Neoliberal Era (University of Chicago Press, 2019), Marianna Ritchey, an assistant professor of music history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, explores the relationship between neoliberal capitalism and classical music, showing how many of the democratizing and innovative elements of the genre go hand-in-hand with corporate power.

Using detailed social and musicological studies of key composers, movements, opera companies, and tech advertising, the book offers a critical but sympathetic analysis of the potential, but also the limits, of classical music. Accessibly written, blending critical theory with contemporary case studies the book will be essential reading across arts and social sciences, as well as for business and technology scholars.

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Jul 08 2020

50mins

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Mia Fischer, "Terrorizing Gender: Transgender Visibility and the Surveillance Practices of the U.S. Security State" (U Nebraska Press, 2019)

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In Terrorizing Gender: Transgender Visibility and the Surveillance Practices of the U.S. Security State, Mia Fischer traces how media and state actors collude in the violent disciplining of trans women, exposing the traps of visibility by illustrating that dominant representations of trans people as deceptive, deviant, and threatening are integral to justifying, normalizing, and reinforcing the state-sanctioned violence enacted against them.


Bringing together transgender, queer, critical race, legal, surveillance, and media studies, Fisher analyzes the cases of Chelsea Manning, CeCe McDonald, and Monica Jones and shows how the heightened visibility of transgender people has actually occasioned a conservative backlash characterized by the increased surveillance of trans people by the security state.

Terrorizing Gender concludes that the current moment of trans visibility constitutes a contingent cultural and national belonging, given the gendered and racialized violence that the state continues to enact against trans communities, particularly those of color.

Dr. Mia Fischer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research and teaching focuses on LGBTQ media representations and the ongoing struggles of LGBTQ communities to access civil rights. Her work has been published in several academic journals, including Feminist Media Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, Sexualities, and Communication & Sport. She also co-leads the Denver Pen Pal Collaborative (DPPC), a collaborative prison-pen-pal project.

Dr. Isabel Machado is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the Department of History of the University of Memphis.

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Jul 08 2020

53mins

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Greg Burris, "The Palestinian Idea: Film, Media, and the Radical Imagination" (Temple UP, 2019)

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Is there a link between the colonization of Palestinian lands and the enclosing of Palestinian minds? The Palestinian Idea: Film, Media, and the Radical Imagination (Temple University Press, 2019) argues that it is precisely through film and media that hope can occasionally emerge amidst hopelessness, emancipation amidst oppression, freedom amidst apartheid.

Greg Burris employs the work of Edward W. Said, Jacques Rancière, and Cedric J. Robinson in order to locate Palestinian utopia in the heart of the Zionist present.

He analyzes the films of prominent directors Annemarie Jacir (Salt of This Sea, When I Saw You) and Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) to investigate the emergence and formation of Palestinian identity. Looking at Mais Darwazah’s documentary My Love Awaits Me By the Sea, Burris considers the counterhistories that make up the Palestinian experience— stories and memories that have otherwise been obscured or denied.

He also examines Palestinian (in)visibility in the global media landscape, and how issues of Black-Palestinian transnational solidarity are illustrated through social media, staged news spectacles, and hip hop music.

Greg Burris is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.

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Jul 03 2020

1hr 7mins

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Evan Smith, "No Platform: A History of Anti-Fascism, Universities and the Limits of Free Speech" (Routledge, 2020)

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No Platform: A History of Anti-Fascism, Universities and the Limits of Free Speech (Routledge, 2020) is the first to outline the history of the tactic of ‘no platforming’ at British universities since the 1970s, looking at more than four decades of student protest against racist and fascist figures on campus.

The tactic of ‘no platforming’ has been used at British universities and colleges since the National Union of Students adopted the policy in the mid-1970s. The author traces the origins of the tactic from the militant anti-fascism of the 1930s–1940s and looks at how it has developed since the 1970s, being applied to various targets over the last 40 years, including sexists, homophobes, right-wing politicians and Islamic fundamentalists.

This book provides a historical intervention in the current debates over the alleged free speech ‘crisis’ perceived to be plaguing universities in Britain, as well as North America and Australasia.

No Platform: A History of Anti-Fascism, Universities and the Limits of Free Speech is for academics and students, as well as the general reader, interested in modern British history, politics and higher education. Readers interested in contemporary debates over freedom of speech and academic freedom will also have much to discover in this book.

Evan Smith is a research fellow in history at the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in South Australia.

Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.

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Jul 02 2020

1hr 13mins

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Ali Meghji, "Black Middle-Class Britannia: Identities, Repertoires, Cultural Consumption" (Manchester UP, 2019)

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Who are the Black middle-class in Britain?

In Black Middle-Class Britannia: Identities, Repertoires, Cultural Consumption (Manchester University Press, 2019) Ali Meghji, a lecturer in social inequalities at the University of Cambridge, considers the identity of Britain’s Black middle-class by understanding culture and cultural consumption.

Offering examples from across contemporary art and culture, the book provides both a theoretical framework and rich empirical data to demonstrate the importance of understanding race to the study of both class and culture.

As a result, the book is essential reading across the arts and social sciences, as well as for cultural practitioners and policymakers.

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Jul 01 2020

35mins

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Theodor Adorno, "The Authoritarian Personality" (Verso, 2019)

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70 years ago, the philosopher Theodore Adorno and a team of scholars released a massive book titled The Authoritarian Personality (Verso, 2019), which attempted to map the psychological and emotional dynamics of those who might find themselves seduced by authoritarianism.

The book synthesized both empirical psychology and sociology, relying on massive sets of data, with psychoanalytic models of personality so as to approach their subjects with a set of deep hermeneutic tools. The result is a book that is both both data-driven and speculative, and covers a vast swatch of theoretical territory.

It was recently republished by Verso books, with a new introduction by Peter Gordon.

Charles Clavey, a lecturer in social studies at Harvard University, whose research focuses on critical theory and the history of authoritarianism. His writing has appeared in a number of places including Modern Intellectual History, The LA Review of Books and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Stephen Dozeman is a freelance writer.

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Jun 30 2020

1hr 14mins

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Tsedale Melaku, "You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019)

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What kind of discrimination do Black women face in the legal profession? Tsedale Melaku explores this question and more in her new book: You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Using in-depth interviews with Black women about their lived experiences working in elite law firms, Melaku explores topics including double burden, system gendered racism, and color-blind ideology. She also pushes our thinking further about these issues through discovery of issues including the invisible labor clause and inclusion tax. Her respondents elaborate on their experiences of having their appearances and positions continually scrutinized, leading to hypervisibility and invisibility. Melaku also explores women’s experiences of isolation, exclusion, and ultimately attrition through daily experiences as well as through important relationships within professional networks.

This book will be of interest to many readers inside and outside of Sociology. Scholars of race, gender, and work will find this to be an important reading for their own work and a critical addition to their classrooms. Anyone working in professional institutions could benefit from reading the experiences of these women and Melaku’s clear and thorough analysis of next steps and take-aways.

Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.

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Jun 29 2020

51mins

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Josh Cerretti, "Abuses of the Erotic: Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States" (U Nebraska Press, 2020)

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In this episode, Jana Byars talks to Josh Cerretti, Associate Professor of History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Western Washington University about his new book, Abuses of the Erotic: Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States  (University of Nebraska Press, 2020). In Cerretti’s own words, “In Abuses of the Erotic, I argue that the connections between sexuality and militarism apparent in the wake of September 11, 2001, are best understood in reference to the decade that immediately preceded that day. The first decade following the Cold War became the last decade before the War on Terror in large measure through changes in the relationship between sexuality and militarism. That is, I argue that a project of militarizing sexuality succeeded in the 1990s United States, and, furthermore, the mass mobilizations of state violence collectively known as the “War on Terror” could not have happened without sexualities having been militarized.” Our theory-heavy conversation covers the militarizing of sexual violence, conceptions of domestic space and protection, and homonormativity and gender performance. This is a fun and far-ranging conversation about a compelling and challenging read.

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Jun 26 2020

1hr 1min

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Mariann Hardey, "The Culture of Women in Tech: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman" (Emerald, 2019)

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What is the culture of the tech industry? In The Culture of Women in Tech: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Emerald, 2019), Mariann Hardey, an Associate Professor in Marketing at Durham University, shows the ongoing inequalities faced by women in the IT industry. The book uses a range of case studies from across the world’s ‘tech cities’, drawing on interviews, focus groups, ethnography, and a feminist theoretical framework, to make clear the problem of the ‘women in tech’ label and the sexism in the tech industry. The book analyses the gendered spatial and career divisions of tech, making it an important addition to the literature, as well as essential reading for anyone interested in how this most essential modern industry works.

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Jun 22 2020

43mins

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George Lawson, "Anatomies of Revolution" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

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The success of populist politicians and the emergence of social justice movements around the world, and the recent demonstrations against police violence in the United States, demonstrate a widespread desire for fundamental political, economic, and social change, albeit not always in a leftwards direction. What can movements and parties that hope to bring about fundamental social change learn from the past?

In Anatomies of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2019), George Lawson analyzes revolutionary episodes from the modern era (beginning with the Glorious Revolution of 1688) to discern how geopolitics, transnational circulation of ideas and people, organizational capabilities, and contingent choices come together to shape the emergence of revolutionary situations and the trajectories and outcomes of revolutions. He also explains why more moderate negotiated revolutions have been more common than far-reaching social revolutions since the 1980s.

Finally, he suggests that the key for social movements to take advantage of systemic crises that could provide openings for revolutionary situations to emerge is the ability of opposition groups to form cohesive political organizations without succumbing to the authoritarianism and the “ends justify the means” logic that turned revolutionary forces into violent, authoritarian regimes in the past.

George Lawson is Associate Professor, Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics.

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Jun 19 2020

1hr 24mins

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Marcia Chatelain, "Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America" (Liveright, 2020)

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Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (Liveright, 2020) by Marcia Chatelain is a fascinating examination of the relationship between the fast-food industry, Black business owners, and the communities where they set up franchises after the Holy Week Uprisings of 1968.

Using McDonalds as a “prism” to study the expansion of the fast-food industry and the effects of Black capitalism, Franchise tells a complex origins story about Black franchisees and their reception in Black communities across the nation in Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, Cleveland, and Los Angeles after the classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement.

Chatelain ultimately exposes the limits of Black entrepreneurship to supplant state responsibility to create socially and economically reparative conditions in Black communities, while demonstrating how a range of progressive Black politicians and activists came to support Black entrepreneurship as a solution to widespread federal and municipal disinvestment from Black communities.

As Black franchise owners assisted the development of McDonalds into a wealthy and successful national brand, they also encountered glass-ceilings and discriminatory practices within McDonalds corporate and the larger business world despite their tremendous success compared to white counterparts. Chatelain traces these tensions and interconnections across political, business, and community stakeholders to explain how fast-food franchises ingratiated themselves into Black communities, while exasperating inequalities in Black America.

Francise teaches readers to be skeptical of corporate or market-driven solutions whether articulated as Black capitalism or “empowerment,” especially during and after moments of Black uprising.

Marcia Chatelain is a scholar, speaker, and strategist based in Washington, D.C. She teaches courses in African American life and culture at Georgetown University.

Amanda Joyce Hall is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and African American Studies at Yale University. She is writing an international history on the grassroots movement against South African apartheid during the 1970s and 1980s. She tweets from @amandajoycehall

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Jun 18 2020

1hr 10mins

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Minou Arjomand, "Staged: Show Trials, Political Theater, and the Aesthetics of Judgment" (Columbia UP, 2020)

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In Staged: Show Trials, Political Theater, and the Aesthetics of Judgment (Columbia University Press, 2020), Minou Arjomand provides a startling account of the many intersections between theatre and trials in Germany and the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Through case studies of Hannah Arendt, Bertolt Brecht, and Edwin Piscator, Arjomand explores the use of trials as a theatrical form, as well as what theatre theory might tell us about political justice.

In doing so, Arjomand demonstrates that calling a trail theatrical is not a criticism but merely a starting point. In considering what type of justice is possible in a trial, we must ask what theatrical conventions are being used, and to what ends. Arjomand’s book both allows us to see pivotal theatrical artists in a new light and poses profound questions about the nature of theatre itself.

Andy Boyd  is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA program at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. His plays have been produced, developed, or presented at IRT, Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Dixon Place, Roundabout Theatre, Epic Theatre Company, Out Loud Theatre, Naked Theatre Company, Contemporary Theatre of Rhode Island, and The Trunk Space. He is currently working on a series of 50 plays about the 50 U.S. states. His website is AndyJBoyd.com, and he can be reached at andyjamesboyd@gmail.com.

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Jun 18 2020

1hr 16mins

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Joy White, "Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City" (Repeater Books, 2020)

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How are black lives lived in the contemporary city?

In Terraformed: Young Black Lives in the Inner City, Dr Joy White, a sociologist and ethnographer based in London, explores the case study of Newham in East London to illustrate issues of privatisation, gentrification, policing, and racial discrimination.

In doing so, the book highlights how specific cultures and musical scenes have flourished and developed, even as corporate power aims to regenerate away these vital elements of local life. The ethnography and analysis of power offers important lessons for towns and cities in the UK and beyond, connecting global trends and theoretical insights to specific local case studies.

In our current context the book is essential reading across the humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in urban life.

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Jun 17 2020

36mins

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Sa’ed Atshan, "Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique" (Stanford UP, 2020)

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In Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (Stanford University Press, 2020) anthropologist and activist Sa’ed Atshan explores the Palestinian LGBTQ movement and offers a window into the diverse community living both in historic Palestine and in diaspora.

His timely and urgent account contends that the movement has been subjected to an “empire of critique,” which has inhibited its growth and undermines the fight against homophobia in the region and beyond. On the one hand, explains Atshan, queer Palestinians must contend with the harsh realities of patriarchal nationalism, homophobia and heteronormativity, Israeli occupation, dehumanizing discourses such as ‘pinkwashing,’ and the legacies of western imperialism.

At the same time, Atshan argues that critiques against such issues – leveled by academics, journalists, and even queer activists – have contributed to a stifling ideological purism that has put activists on the defensive and alienates some queer Palestinians.

Along with a succinct presentation of the immense challenges faced by the LGBTQ-identifying Palestinians, Atshan highlights Palestinian agency, ingenuity, and resilience. He considers how progressive social movements around the world can navigate the often fraught and complex dynamics of intersectional activism, and leaves his readers with a vision of a diverse queer Palestinian movement capable of “radically reimagining possible futures.”

Sa’ed Atshan is an assistant professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College.

Joshua Donovan is a History PhD candidate and Core Preceptor at Columbia University. His dissertation examines competing conceptions of identity and subjectivity within the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christian community in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora.

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Jun 17 2020

52mins

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Micol Seigel, "Violence Work: State Violence and the Limits of Police" (Duke UP, 2018)

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Recent calls for the defunding or abolition of police raise important questions about the legitimacy of state violence and the functions that police are supposed to serve. Criticism of the militarization of police, concerns about the rise of the private security industry, and the long-standing belief that policing should be controlled by municipal governments suggest that police should be civilians who defend the public interest, and that they should be accountable to the communities that they serve.

In Violence Work: State Violence and the Limits of Police (Duke University Press, 2018), Micol Seigel exposes the mythical nature of the civilian/military, public/private, and local/national/international boundaries that supposedly delimit the legitimate sphere of policing in a liberal democratic society. Focusing on the employees of the Office of Public Safety, a branch of the State Department that provided technical assistance to police forces in developing countries from 1962 until it was closed amid controversy over its role in aiding despotic governments in 1974, Seigel follows their careers as these violence workers put their knowledge of counter-insurgency to use in US police forces, pursued opportunities working for private security firms protecting the oil industry in places like Alaska and Saudi Arabia, and worked alongside military officers in aid missions to Cold War hotspots in the Global South. As she follows the careers of the policemen, she demonstrates that civilian policing has been militarized from the beginning, that capitalist production relies on state violence to discipline workers and dispossess groups who stand in the way of resource extraction, and that violence workers are rarely accountable to the people they supposedly serve.

Violence Work is critical reading for anyone who is interested in rethinking the functions that police should perform in a democratic society. It also weakens the legitimacy of state-sanctioned violence by calling commonly-held ideological distinctions into question.

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Jun 17 2020

1hr 9mins

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Aaron Kamugisha, "Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition" (Indiana UP, 2019)

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Aaron Kamugisha reads CLR James and Sylvia Wynter to glean from them ways to navigate the “beyond” of coloniality. In his new book Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition (Indiana University Press, 2019), reminds us of a Caribbean radical tradition that is fiercely critical of racism, middle-class complacencies and the incursions of neoliberalism. It is also full of hope, and brings our attention to James’ “newforms of existence that are a gift of the Caribbean to the world” as well as Wynter’s enormous contribution to our understanding of the black experience in the Americas.

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Jun 16 2020

1hr 1min

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Alberto Harambour, "Soberanías fronterizas: Estados y capital en la colonización de Patagonia" (EUAC, 2019)

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Alberto Harambour's new book Soberanías Fronterizas. Estados y capital en la colonización de Patagonia (Argentina y Chile, 1840s-1920s) (Universidad Austral de Chile, 2019) examines the explosion of foreign-owned sheep farming, the fitful expansion of Argentine and Chilean sovereignty, and the violence of primitive accumulation and genocide in southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Soberanías Fronterizas wrestles with the multiple and competing sovereignties articulated during the Age of Empire, Latin America’s export boom, and the dispossession of autonomous indigenous peoples through settler colonialism. It asks how, over the course of less than a century, this vast territory described by Europeans and outsiders as inhospitable, unknowable, and uninhabited, came to be a wildly profitable export enclave.

Harambous uncovers how foreign (predominantly British) capital came into possession of millions of hectares of land for sheep raising, effectively establishing sovereign control at the expense of the indigenous inhabitants, Chile, and Argentina. To do this, he reconstructs how foreign investors, merchants, and elites and politicians in Santiago and Buenos Aires built networks of corruption to facilitate land acquisitions, infrastructural improvements, and immigration of labourers. This process, however, was anything but smooth. It came through violence (extermination of Fueginos such as the Selknam, extreme military repression of labour movements, and sheep latifundista resistance to customs).

Jesse Zarley is assistant professor of history at Saint Joseph’s College on Long Island, where he teaches Latin American, Caribbean, and Global History. His research interests include the Mapuche, borderlands, ethnohistory, race, and transnationalism during Latin America’s Age of revolution, particularly in Chile and Río de la Plata. Heis the author of a recent article on Mapuche leaders and Chile’s independence wars. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Jun 15 2020

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