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New Books in Critical Theory

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books
343 Episodes
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How does thinking about gender and work help to rethink cultural hierarchies? In Cultural Production and the Politics of Women’s Work in American Film and Literature(Routledge, 2019), Polina Kroik, who teaches at Fordham University and Baruch College, CUNY, explores the relationship between work and gender in American culture. The book offers a wide-ranging discussion, from early twentieth century literature to the Hollywood studio system of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as mid-century literary publishing and contemporary television. The book analyses a wealth of well-known authors and examples, including Sylvia Plath and Mad Men, as well as figures, such as Nella Larsen, who have seen less public attention. The book is essential reading across humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in gender, race, and culture.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nazia Kazi’s Islamophobia, Race, and Global Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) is a brilliant and powerful meditation on the intersection and interaction of Islamophobia, racism, and U.S. imperial state power. This book seeks to reorient our understanding of Islamophobia from a phenomenon centered on individual attitudes and perceptions of hate, to one which is indelibly entrenched to the structural logics of modern state sovereignty, and to the long-running history of racism in the U.S. Another distinctive feature of this book lies in its sustained and nuanced analysis of liberal Islamophobia in varied social and political domains, that tethers the promise of being categorized as “good Muslim” to the endorsement and celebration of American exceptionalism. Combining methods and perspectives from anthropology, visual studies, race studies, and political studies, this thoroughly interdisciplinary book is also eminently accessible and written beautifully, rendering it particularly suitable for courses on modern Islam, Race and Religion, Islam in America, among many other topics.SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A recent UNDP report makes the astonishing claim that India has halved its poverty between 2006 and 2016. Moving us past the rosy picture, Alpa Shah and her co-author's  multi-authored, masterful Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st-Century India (Pluto Press, 2017) focuses on those left behind by, and indeed ground down by, India’s much touted growth. Based on intensive fieldwork in multiple locations across India, the book finds that in particular it is India’s ‘untouchables’ (Dalits) and ‘tribals’ (Adivasis) who toil at the bottom of the pyramid in thankless conditions and for little reward. Instead of eradicating inequalities of caste and tribe, the intensification of capitalism has in fact further entrenched them, transforming them into new mechanisms of oppression and accumulation. Analytical rigor paired with lucid prose makes this co-researched and co-authored book indispensable for scholars and citizens concerned with the Global South, inequality, capitalism, economic growth, and social difference.Aparna Gopalan is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University with interests in agrarian capitalism in rural Rajasthan.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Duke UP, 2018), Aimee Bahng traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction. While financial speculation creates a future based on predicting and mitigating risk for wealthy elites, the wide range of speculative novels, comics, films, and narratives Bahng examines imagines alternative futures that envision the multiple possibilities that exist beyond capital’s reach. Whether presenting new spatial futures of the US-Mexico borderlands or inventing forms of kinship in Singapore in order to survive in an economy designed for the few, the varied texts Bahng analyzes illuminate how the futurity of speculative finance is experienced by those who find themselves mired in it. At the same time these displaced, undocumented, unbanked, and disavowed characters imagine alternative visions of the future that offer ways to bring forth new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How do women experience gender inequality in film and television production industries? In Women, Inequality and Media Work (Routledge, 2019), Dr Anne O’Brien, lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University, answers this question with a case study of the Irish media industry. Blending a critical engagement with feminist and media theory with a wealth of empirical material, the book looks at the barriers to women in media occupations. The book highlights the subjectivities within media industries that resist and are responsible for these inequalities, ultimately demanding change in both Irish and Global modes of media production. The book is an important and essential read across a range of academic readers, and for anyone interested in why we have the media we have, and how we can change it.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The 2018 election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has brought the issues of police violence, racial discrimination, and misogyny to the fore. Jaime Alves’s book the Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) shows that, from the perspective of Black Brazilians, these forces have deep roots in the nation’s history. Alves makes a powerful contribution to urban anthropology, describing the spatial contours of “Brazilian Apartheid” in Sao Paulo, the role of police violence in the constitution of the city’s racial-spatial order, and the ways that national sovereignty is exercised on individual bodies. Richly ethnographic, The Anti-Black City explores these themes through an account of the lives and activism of black residents of Sao Paulo’s favelas. In this episode, Jaime Alves talks with Jacob Doherty about how his background shaped the research leading to the book, about the entanglement of neoliberal moral government through community and the deployment of police terror, and about his conceptual engagements with Afro-pessimist philosophy.Jaime Alves is assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York and a research affiliate at the Centro de Estudios Afrodiasporicos at Universidad Icesi, Colombia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. His work has appeared in the Journal of Black Studies, Antipode, Journal of Latin American Studies, Identities, and Critical Sociology.Jacob Doherty is a research associate in urban mobility at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford, and, most recently, the co-editor Labor Laid Waste, a special issue of International Labor and Working Class History.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This tightly argued social and intellectual history of the middle classes in Colombia makes a compelling case for the importance of both transnationalism and gender in the mid-century idea of middle-class-ness. A. Ricardo López-Pedreros' Makers of Democracy: A Transnational History of the Middle Classes in Colombia (Duke University Press, 2019) takes readers through the discursive and ideological creation of the middle classes as necessary to stave off both revolution and oligarchical tyranny in Colombia. As the second half of the book demonstrates, however, members of these middle classes did not always conform to those expectations. The results were tragic, and serve as a cautionary tale in this neoliberal age.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Freedom Faith: The Womanist Vision of Prathia Hall (University of Georgia Press, 2019) is the first full-length critical study of Rev. Dr. Prathia Laura Ann Hall (1940–2002), an undersung leader in both the civil rights movement and African American theology. Freedom faith was the central concept of Hall’s theology: the belief that God created humans to be free and assists and equips those who work for freedom. Hall rooted her work simultaneously in social justice, Christian practice, and womanist thought.Courtney Pace examines Hall’s life and philosophy, particularly through the lens of her civil rights activism, her teaching career, and her ministry as a womanist preacher. Moving along the trajectory of Hall’s life and civic service, Freedom Faith focuses on her intellectual and theological development and her radiating influence on such figures as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marian Wright Edelman, and the early generations of womanist scholars. Hall was one of the first women ordained in the American Baptist Churches, USA, was the pastor of Mt. Sharon Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and in later life joined the faculty at the Boston University School of Theology as the Martin Luther King Chair in Social Ethics. In activism and ministry, Hall was a pioneer, fusing womanist thought with Christian ethics and visions of social justice.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How are markets made? In Automating Finance: Infrastructures, Engineers, and the Making of Electronic Markets (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, an assistant professor in sociology at the University of California, San Diego, explores the history of the finance industry to understand the role of markets and technologies in contemporary capitalism. The book offers a detailed theoretical engagement with the personalities and technological changes underpinning the modern system of automated finance. It uses the case study of the development of the London Stock Exchange, looking at the social relations embedded in financial markets, before moving to look at the global, American system. Charting the move from trading floors to trading screens, the book considers individuals and broader social systems shaping enabling and constraining behaviour in the world of finance. Overall the book offers a rethinking of the meaning of markets, and is essential reading across social science, history, and management studies.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Lacan published his Écrits in 1966, a compilation of his written work up to that middle period in his teaching. Notoriously difficult to read, the editors of the book we’re discussing today describe the Écrits as “an unwieldy, conglomerate ‘urtext’ … not a book at all … but ‘the waste’ of his teaching: elements he didn’t discuss in public … and sensitive points to which his audience would have reacted with reluctance.” It wasn’t until 2007 that, thanks to work of translator Bruce Fink, the complete edition of the Écrits were finally published in English. Now, Stijn Vanheule, Derek Hook and Calum Neill have brought us the three volume work, Reading Lacan’s Écrits (Routledge, 2018), which features world renowned Lacanian scholars and clinicians explicating in detailed paragraph-by-paragraph commentary each of the essays in the Écrits. Thanks to this publication, coming to grips with the Écrits in all its complexity has suddenly become possible. Lacan’s cryptic pronouncements are miraculously, lucidly reformulated, revealing them in their original and enlightening contributions to the practice and theory of psychoanalysis. What was involved in putting together this monumental and challenging work of exegesis? What does it say about the Lacanian tradition today — in all its differing styles, emphases and factions? Join us in conversation with Derek, Calum and Stijn as we explore this and more.Jordan Osserman grew up in South Florida and currently calls London home. He received his PhD in gender studies and psychoanalysis from University College London, his MA in psychosocial studies from Birkbeck College, and his BA in womens and gender studies from Dartmouth College. His published work can be found here.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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