CapitalismDisabilityEssaysRaceRace/ismsSex & Gender

The Disability Paradox

Further thoughts on inequality, disability, and the imaginal

Do you have a disability? Do you want to work? This seemingly innocent pairing of questions should immediately raise a red flag, for it is technically oxymoronic: in the United States, the disabled, by definition, are those who cannot work, at least in any significant sense. Granted, disability falls on a continuum, and answering to this continuum is a parallel benefits scheme for some workers — specifically, those whose disabilities have resulted from …

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CapitalismEssaysRaceRace/isms

Slaves: The Capital that Made Capitalism

A re-post

This post, adapted from a lecture in the team-taught course “Rethinking Capitalism” at The New School for Social Research and first published last year, is being reposted today to provide critical insight into today’s headlines. Slavery was central to the development of the American political economy. Ott reviews the recent scholarship that shows how it came to be that Black lives haven’t mattered. -J.G.

Racialized chattel slaves were the …

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EssaysRace/ismsSex & Gender

Dolezal and the Defense of the Community

Reflections on the unique difficulties of passing from white to black in America

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Actually Essential Reading About the Confederacy

Understanding the historical context of the massacre in Charleston and the debate about the Confederate battle flag

The massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and the subsequent debate about the Confederate battle flag have sent Americans scrambling for historical context. The shortlist of introductory readings on the Confederacy recommended by John Williams in the New York Times ArtsBeat, however, is an embarrassing catalog of dated scholarship that emphasizes the experiences and reflections of white elites. Histories of the lives of Confederate generals that date to the 1930s may have their virtues. The impact of the Civil War on the planter class is surely worth knowing. And no one ought to discount smart literary analyses of Harriet Beecher Stowe or Albion Tourgee. But scholarship that predates the Carter Administration and centers on a small segment of the slaveholding class hardly provides a starting point for understanding our current moment. …

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EssaysRaceRace/ismsThe Left

Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context

White & Black Analytics

The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility. …

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Learning Baltimore

A student asked me whether I had arranged the Baltimore riots to take place now, at the end of our semester. The news out of Baltimore too perfectly illustrates so much of the history I teach. I suspect I am not alone in this odd feeling of validation — at once reassuring yet terrifying — that the patterns identified by historians are also incredibly important to activists. They may have never taken our classes. They live the experience that most historians merely describe in our research and teaching. “Sometimes,” Tom Sugrue declared recently, “I wish my scholarship wasn’t so relevant.” …

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The Muslims are Coming! Video of Arun Kundani’s Lecture

Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic war on terror

This lecture by Arun Kundani, Adjunct Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, was part of the NSSR Sociology Lecture Series. It took place on February 9, 2015, in the Wolff Conference Room of the Vera List Academic Center at 6 E. 16th St. in New York.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that Muslims in the U.S. are being subjected to systematic surveillance by law enforcement agencies. How does this surveillance relate to the longer histories of surveillance in the U.S.? How can we understand the construction of Muslims in the U.S. as a racial “other”? …

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“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” – But They are Not

As the holidays are coming to an end, I return to New York after a week spent in Puerto Rico with my family. The island is enchanting: it has opened itself to tourism, without selling its soul to it. What most impressed me upon our arrival in San Juan was the number (and strangeness) of Christmas decorations. Instead of the usual western iconography, here Christmas is most often symbolized by what appeared to me as a small detail of the nativity scene: the three Magi. Furthermore, funnily enough, instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the three exotic kings have musical instruments in their hands — as a reminder of the overwhelming importance of salsa, which one hears on almost every corner of the city. For the whole week we spent traveling around the island I kept asking myself “why such a choice?” …

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