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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CapitalismEssaysFeatureMedia/PublicsTheory & Practice

Theses On The Philosophy Of The FKA-Anthropocene, Feat. Shia LaBeouf, Part II

Something of Shia LaBeouf’s name stands in, perfectly, controversially, for what is now happening to us, across us, as a kind of general FKA-transing of all available terms. Around the time Caitlyn Jenner came out, there was talk of an intersectional “trans-”: a trans for race and class and even for ecographic sub-constituencies. During Occupy Wall Street, the same talk happened, and then nothing happened, and a few people said it was still on, and then nothing happened.

Intersectionality seems to be the least sustainable piece …

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CapitalismEssaysFeatureMedia/PublicsRaceTheory & Practice

Theses On The Philosophy Of The FKA-Anthropocene, Feat. Shia LaBeouf, Part I

Walter Benjamin’s strategy in the Theses on the Philosophy of History was to focus on a non-human moment in human time and to present this instance on blast in his prose style. What I mean by “blast” here is the fact that the message had to be pirated past ideological hangers-on and historical barriers, past both Marxist and theotropic renditions, and also past the Nazi episode that might have been his more obvious target in 1940. His prose is clear but depth-charged, resonates at another frequency, still as if exploded past the imaginary proscriptions of Theodor Adorno, who was already in situ in New York …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionSex & GenderTheory & Practice

Dilley in Retrospect: Machismo & Lasting Emotional Injury, Part II

On the other side of the political situation that women fleeing Central America represent for the United States are the individual stories of the women and children who populate the prison in Dilley Texas. As a psychoanalytically oriented clinician, I was struck by stories I heard, one after the next, each reflecting the long-lasting effects of trauma that could hardly be explained or understood other than as outcomes of the culture of machismo. So often the rape, physical abuse, and murder of loved ones the women had endured had been acceptable to some degree at home, for long periods of time, …

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