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New Books in Critical Theory
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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
349 Episodes
What happens when a Kleinian and Lacanian have a committed, generous, and accessible conversation about the commonalities and differences between their psychoanalytic perspectives? In this special, two-part interview, host Jordan Osserman joins authors Amy Allen, a prominent representative of Frankfurt School critical theory with expertise on Klein, and Mari Ruti, a leading Lacanian critical theorist, to discuss their new book, Critical Theory Between Klein and Lacan: A Dialogue (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). The format of the book is innovative in its own right: the two thinkers set aside a week to meet in person everyday and record themselves discussing, free-form, a variety of themes pertaining to their research interests, including subjectivity, affect, love, creativity, and politics. They then edited the content of these conversations into this fascinating work, which maintains the format of a dialogue. In this podcast, we try to recapture something of the spirit of the book, allowing Ruti and Allen to explore the ways they see the work of Klein and Lacan intersect and diverge, and how they put these theorists to work in their own fields.After the first episode, we felt that the conversation was so rich — and there was so much more left to say — that we decided to record another one. Among other topics, this first part explores the process of writing this unique book, how Ruti and Allen came to realise that Lacan’s critique of ego psychology need not be opposed to Klein’s understanding of ego integration, and how both authors’ focus on critical theory relates to the clinic. In part two, we will delve deeper into the knotty areas of the book, including Allen’s understanding of intrapsychic versus intersubjective phenomena in Klein, Ruti’s distinction between circumstantial and constitutive trauma in Lacan, and the challenges involved in balancing psychoanalytic universalism with a Foucauldian commitment to context and contingency.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
In this episode, Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern and I discuss her latest book, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (Beacon Press, 2019). Our conversation examines the intersections of gender and sexuality, and is they relate to her her research on eugenics, white nationalists, the alt-right, and the alt-lite. We also discuss the influence eugenics and race science has had on nationalist movements throughout history. Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern is a professor of American culture, history, women's studies, and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan and is also the author of the prize-winning book Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power as Pakistan's tenth president resulted in the abolition of a century-old sharecropping system that was rife with corruption. In its place the military regime implemented a market reform policy of cash contract farming. Ostensibly meant to improve living conditions for tenant farmers, the new system, instead, mobilized one of the largest, most successful land rights movements in South Asia—still active today.In The Ethics of Staying: Social Movements and Land Rights Politics in Pakistan (Stanford University Press, 2019), Mubbashir A. Rizvi presents an original framework for understanding this major social movement, called the Anjuman Mazarin Punjab (AMP). This group of Christian and Muslim tenant sharecroppers, against all odds, successfully resisted Pakistan military's bid to monetize state-owned land, making a powerful moral case for land rights by invoking local claims to land and a broader vision for subsistence rights. The case of AMP provides a unique lens through which to examine state and society relations in Pakistan, one that bridges literatures from subaltern studies, military and colonial power, and the language of claim-making. Rizvi also offers a glimpse of Pakistan that challenges its standard framing as a hub of radical militancy, by opening a window into to the everyday struggles that are often obscured in the West's terror discourse.Madhuri Karak holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She tweets @madhurikarak and more of her work can be found here.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
I spoke with Dr Adem Yavuz Elveren about his book on the economics of military spending; this is a very original theoretical and empirical contributionAdem Yavuz Elveren is Associate Professor at Fitchburg State University, U.S.A. His research focuses on gender and social security and the effect of military spending on the economy. The Economics of Military Spending offers a comprehensive analysis of the effect of military expenditures on the economy. It is the first book to provide both a theoretical and an empirical investigation of how military spending affects the profit rate, a key indicator of the health of a capitalist economy.We discussed the origin of the book and its main contribution. I asked the author to define what is the economic effect of military spending and how does it compare today with the past? We then reviewed what economic theory says about military spending. We then focused on military Keynesianism. I asked the author to explain the notion of military-industrial complex; what economists and politicians think about it. We then moved to what does a Marxist perspective add to the study of military spending. We concluded our conversation focusing on the empirical analysis on the nexus of military spending and profit rate.The book presents a general discussion on the economic models of the nexus of military spending and economic growth, as well as military Keynesianism and the military-industrial complex. Including an account of the Marxist crisis theories, it focuses on military spending as a counteracting factor to the tendency of rate of profit to fall. Using a range of econometric methods and adopting a Marxist perspective, this book provides comprehensive evidence on the effects of military spending on the rate of profit for more than thirty countries. The findings of the book shed light on the complex linkages between military spending and the profit rate by considering the role of countries in the arms trade.Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. He holds a doctorate in Organization Theory from the University of Milan, Bicocca. He has held teaching and research positions in Italy, China and the UK. Among his research interests are the use of history in management studies, the co-operative sector, and Chinese co-operatives. His latest project is looking at health care in rural China. He is the co-convener of the EAEPE’s permanent track on Critical Management Studies.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How did American elites change the meaning of Art? In Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts (Princeton University Press, 2019), Jennifer C. Lena, associate professor of arts administration at Colombia University, charts the history of American arts and cultural policy, interrogating the institutions, practices, and technologies underpinning the development of American Art. The book has rich case study material of over 100 years of American cultural policy and practice, as well as a detailed sociological understanding of institution building and cultural consumption patterns. It both celebrates and critiques key moments, organisations, and actors, as well as giving new insights into our own, contemporary, elites, their taste practices, and social inequalities. The book will be essential reading across humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in the arts.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What is the future, and what is the past, of the African American Museum? In Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums: Black Renaissance(Routledge, 2019), Patricia Banks, an associate professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College, explores the rise of the African American museum and its patrons and philanthropists. Combining sociology of culture with organisational and institutional analysis, the book offers both contemporary and historical analysis of some of the most important cultural institutions in America. Crucially, the book restates the importance of understanding race to sociology of culture, particularly in understanding elites. The book also reveals the changing nature of giving, with younger patrons expecting a different mode of engagement, as well as distinctive political and collecting practices. The book is essential reading across social science and humanities, as well as museum and arts professionals, and anyone interested in contemporary culture.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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
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 Listener feedback is most welcome.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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
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
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