CapitalismFeatureReviewsTheory & Practice

Friction

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing has just published a brilliant book on the global trade in a certain kind of mushroom. As much as I’d like to report on it, I feel like I have to get my head around a previous landmark work of hers before attempting it. Here I’m thinking of her book Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 2005). 

Tsing: “Capitalism, science, and politics all depend on global connections….

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EssaysFeature

The Tragic, Enduring Relevance of Arendt’s Work on Statelessness

While Hannah Arendt is most known for her reflections on totalitarianism and the banality of evil, eighteen years of statelessness (1933-1951) brought her philosophical questions of how one might be at home in the world into sharp relief. The fact that she was Jewish and German during the first half of the twentieth century profoundly influenced her life and writing. Given today’s refugee crisis, Arendt’s work is being examined anew in order to understand the ways in which mass statelessness has influenced the world since the twentieth century. As historian Jeremy Adelman wrote in The Wilson Quarterly: “Arendt’s voice is one we can turn to as we grapple with the spread of statelessness in our day. Camps and pariahs are still with us.” …

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EssaysEventsFeatureSex & Gender

Homonationalism, Heteronationalism and LGBTI Rights in the EU

This year’s pride marches in Europe have taken place under the shadow of a threat, compounded by the recent terrorist attacks in Western Europe (Paris, Brussels and now Germany) and the slaughter at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. We have been urged not to give in to fear, while at the same time we’ve been told that undisclosed security precautions are being taken. The route of the Paris pride march was drastically shortened, supposedly for security reasons. It’s not clear whether the attack in Orlando was motivated by religious fundamentalism or was more the product of anger and anguish about the attacker’s life and sexuality. Either way, it could be just a matter of time before a similarly murderous anti-LGBTQI attack takes place in Europe. …

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EssaysEventsFeature

Queer Reflections On A Summer Of Violence: Surviving Orlando Without Alibi

In a June 12, 2016, Op-Ed (“The Scope of the Orlando Carnage”) New York Times columnist Frank Bruni joined many pundits in cautioning against what he described as narrowly sectarian interpretations of the violence that was unleashed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on the previous evening. “Let’s be clear,” Bruni declared, responding to “complaints on social media” about the failure of the mainstream media and politicians to avow the homophobic motivations of the attacker, “this was no more an attack on L.G.B.T. people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely against satirists.” Extending this curious analogy between satirists and queer people …

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EducationEssaysFeaturePower and CrisisScienceTheory & Practice

What Could History Have Been?

Imagining new approaches to the humanities

“What could history have been?” The question asks how events might have turned out otherwise, if only X had happened instead of Y. What if JFK hadn’t been assassinated? What if Hitler had? The official term for this kind of what-if thinking is “counterfactual history,” and it covers anything from an academic’s earnest attempt to imagine the US economy without railroads to Quentin Tarantino’s WWII redux Jewish revenge fantasy, Inglourious Basterds — anything, that is, which imagines history as it did not happen.

But the same question can be the spur to a different kind of speculation.“History,” after all, has two meanings. It’s not just the sum of past events, but the discipline that studies them. …

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Arts & DesignEssaysFeatureMedia/Publics

Walking with Disaster

In a summer filled with news of the election in the United States, global terrorism, and Brexit, the swift resignation on July 24th of Nepal’s Prime Minister, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, hardly made the headlines. The only two news sources reporting on the event outside of Asia — Al Jazeera and the New York Times — also produced somewhat dissimilar commentaries. The New York Times framed the resignation in the context of party politics, the challenges of running a multi-coalitional government, growing demands for federation, and geopolitical tensions with Nepal’s powerful neighbors, India and China. The Al Jazeera report also associated the resignation with demands for constitutional reforms and federalization, but the commentary largely focused on the numerous street protests that had been disrupting daily life in Kathmandu since Oli’s ascent to power in October 2015. …

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