Cultural Studies

New Books in June

Summer is almost here! Kick off the new season with some of the great new titles we have coming out in June.

Perfect for vacation reading, Shola von Reinhold’s decadent queer literary debut LOTE immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscuring of Black figures from history.

Examining the reception of evolutionary biology, the 1925 Scopes Trial, and the New Atheist movement of the 2000s, Donovan O. Schaefer theorizes the relationship between thinking and feeling by challenging the conventional wisdom that they are separate in Wild Experiment.

In Gridiron Capital, Lisa Uperesa charts the cultural, historical, and social dynamics that have made American football so central to Samoan culture.

Thulani Davis provides a sweeping rethinking of Reconstruction in The Emancipation Circuit, tracing how the four million people newly freed from bondage created political organizations and connections that mobilized communities across the South.

In The Small Matter of Suing Chevron, Suzana Sawyer traces Ecuador’s lawsuit against the Chevron corporation for the environmental devastation resulting from its oil drilling practices, showing how distinct legal truths were relationally composed of, with, and through crude oil.

In Discovering Fiction, eminent Chinese novelist Yan Lianke offers insights into his views on literature and realism, the major works that inspired him, and his theories of writing.

The contributors to Grammars of the Urban Ground, edited by Ash Amin and Michele Lancione, develop a new conceptual framework and vocabulary for capturing the complex, ever-shifting, and interactive processes that shape contemporary cities.

In Myriad Intimacies, Lata Mani oscillates between poetry and prose, genre and form, register and voice, and secular and sacred to meditate on the ways in which everyone and everything exists in mutually constitutive interrelations.

Working at the intersection of urban theory, Black studies, and decolonial and Islamic thought, AbdouMaliq Simone offers a new theorization of the interface of the urban and the political in The Surrounds.

Sophie Chao examines the multispecies entanglements of oil palm plantations in West Papua, Indonesia in her new book In the Shadow of the Palms, showing how Indigenous Marind communities understand and navigate the social, political, and environmental demands of the oil palm plant.

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Ken Wissoker’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
A white man with short, graying dark hair, wearing rectangular glasses, a black and white collared print shirt, and a black jacket.
white

Our Spring Sale is rapidly coming to a close. You only have three days to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues. If you’re still not sure what to purchase, here are Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker’s suggestions.

I don’t need to tell most DUP readers that this moment requires transformative thinking. The pandemic and the racist agenda of the last US administration are not over in the least. Rarely a day goes by where rights and conditions central to our well-being are not under attack. Thank you, SCOTUS. What can we as thinkers, readers, and publishers do to make a difference? I would start my sale recommendations there. I’m thinking about books that will help all of us get through: Sara Ahmed’s Complaint!, Max Liboiron’s Pollution Is Colonialism, Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories. Tools for thinking differently.

My own thinking has been transformed this spring by Jennifer L. Morgan’s Reckoning with Slavery, which centers Black women in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, giving them agency, not merely footnoted presence. Morgan points a way for historians to restore the power and feelings of those who were of no account in the archives, while putting the numeracy of the slave trade at the core of capitalism.
 
Morgan’s friend and colleague Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu has shown exactly how this can be done, similarly working between disciplines and archives, but across the Pacific rather than the Atlantic. Her book Experiments in Skin won the publishing equivalent of March Madness this year, the Prose awards from the Association of American Publishers. They choose 106 finalists in categories from Mathematics to Philosophy; then 39 category winners, 4 area winners for humanities, social sciences, bio sciences, and physical sciences—and one overall winner, Thuy’s incredible book, which combines a history of imperialism and chemical warfare with that of dermatology and concepts of beauty showing how they all come together in present-day Vietnam.

Cover of Planetary Longings by Mary Louise Pratt. Cover features a brown landscape with a muddy orange river running through it.

Mary Louise Pratt is one of the theorists who made the intellectual and political work of the last decades possible. Her long-awaited Planetary Longings is just out, as is Jonathan Sterne’s Diminished Faculties: A Political Phenomenology of Impairment, a brilliant and personally driven account of impairment. 
 
The presence and care of a writer’s personal voice feels especially necessary at this moment, given the wearing politics of our time. Rather than being separate from scholarship and theorizing, the voice is central part to it. We see that in Jafari S. Allen’s gorgeous There’s a Discoball Between Us—his account of Black gay male life from the 80s and after and what it owes to Black feminism—and in Kevin Quashie’s similarly inspiring Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being. You hear it in La Marr Jurelle Bruce’s stunning How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind and in McKenzie Wark’s pathbreaking Philosophy for Spiders.
 
In this vein, one book I can’t recommend enough is Mercy Romero’s Toward Camden, a memoir and a way of understanding raced geography at once, where the two are inseparable, and written with intense beauty and insight.

Finally, in other political registers, I would strongly recommend Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi’s Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone, an analysis of emergent forms of capitalism based on the massive expansion of plantations in the present. You should also check out Vicente Rafael book on Duterte, The Sovereign Trickster; Jodi Kim’s long-awaited and incisive Settler Garrison; and Leslie Bow’s superb Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasure of Fantasy.
 
I could easily come up with another list this long (where is Beth Povinelli’s new book or Joshua Clover’s Roadrunner??) so get over to the website and look around yourself. Just do it quickly!

Use coupon SPRING22 to save on all these titles and more. If you’re located outside North and South America, we suggest you order from our partner Combined Academic Publishers using the same coupon. You’ll get faster and cheaper shipping. See the fine print here.

Courtney Berger’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27

You have one week left to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues during our Spring Sale. If you’re still wondering what to buy, check out Executive Editor Courtney Berger’s suggestions.

A white woman with short grey and white hair wearing glasses. She is wearing a white top and a necklace.

This is always a tough assignment: can you recommend some books for the spring sale? All the books, I want to say. But, evidently that doesn’t make for a compelling blog post, and I’m told that I must select just a few. So, here are my picks. (But, secretly, I am whispering, All the books.)

Cover of Passionate Work: Endurance after the Good Life by Renyi Hong. Cover is a painting of a man in a white suit working on a laptop, sitting atop the shoulder of a giant robot. This robot looks like a man in a black suit, a phone attached to his ear. The robot is breaking, with smoke coming out and paint peeling off, revealing orange metal underneath.

Hot off the presses: Renyi Hong’s Passionate Work: Endurance After the Good Life. If you’ve ever balked at the advice to “follow your passion” or “do what you love and the money will follow,” this is the book for you. Hong considers how the idealization of work as a passionate endeavor that sustains people emotionally and spiritually papers over the conditions of labor in late capitalism, which are dominated by precarity, unemployment, repetitive labor, and isolation. He shows us how passion has become an affective structure that shapes our relationship to work and produces the fantasy of a resilient subject capable of enduring disappointment and increasingly disadvantageous working conditions. Hong asks us to question our compulsory attachment to labor and, instead, to consider forms of social and emotional attachments that might better sustain our lives.

Cover of Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados by Nicole Charles. Cover features a 2015 art piece called Waterlogged, by Bajan artist Simone Asia. The piece features a person's face with flora around it in a variety of colors.

Another new book that hits on squarely on pandemic politics: Nicole Charles’s Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados. Charles examines resistance to government-led efforts in Barbados to vaccinate girls against HPV. Framing this resistance not as “vaccine hesitancy” but instead as a form of legitimate suspicion, Charles shows how colonial and postcolonial histories of racial violence, capitalism, and biopolitical surveillance aimed at regulating and controlling Black people have shaped Afro-Barbadians’ relationship to the state and to medical intervention. The book undoes conventional narratives of vaccine hesitancy and scientific certainty in order to open up space for addressing the inequalities that shape health care and community care.

Cover of Hawai′i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific by Nitasha Tamar Sharma. Features a photograph of singer Kamakakēhau by Kenna Reed. Photo is of a bearded Black man in a large pink shaggy collar with pink flowers around him.

You might pick up Nitasha Sharma’s Hawai’i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific because of the stunning cover, but you’ll stay for Sharma’s compelling analysis of Black life on the islands. Despite the prevalence of anti-Black racism in Hawai’i, many Black people regard Hawai’i as a sanctuary. Sharma considers why and shows how Blackness in Hawai’i troubles US-centric understandings of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. Through extensive interviews with Black residents—including transplants, those born in Hawai’i, and many who identify as dual-minority multiracial–Sharma attends to Black residents’ complex experiences of invisibility, non-belonging, and liberation, as well as the opportunities for alliance between anti-racist activism and Native Hawaiian movements focused on decolonization.

Calling all foodies and lovers of The Great British Bake Off: Anita Mannur’s Intimate Eating: Racialized Spaces and Radical Futures dwells on culinary practices, texts, and spaces that resist heteropatriarchal norms of the family, the couple, and the nation. Mannur shows us how racialized and marginalized groups use food to confront and disrupt racism and xenophobia and to create alternate, often queer forms of sociality and kinship.

Our lists in environmental humanities and environmental media continue to grow. Here are a few new titles to look out for:

Nicole Starosielski’s Media Hot and Cold asks us to reckon with the politics of temperature. Thermal technologies—from air conditioning to infrared cameras—serve as both modes of communication and subjugation, and Starosielski’s book points to the urgent need to address the political, economic, and ecological ramifications of “thermopower” and climate control. In Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control Yuriko Furuhata highlights the intertwined development of climate engineering, networked computing, and urban design in the transpacific relationship between the US and Japan during the Cold War. Min Hyoung Song’s Climate Lyricism turns to literature as a site for confronting climate change. In the lyrical voice (the “I” who addresses “you”), Song finds a tool that can help us to develop a practice of sustained attention to climate change even as we want to look away. And, lastly, in Dockside Reading: Hydrocolonialism and the Custom House Isabel Hofmeyr brings us to an unlikely site for thinking about the environment and literature–the colonial customs house. It was here that books were sorted, categorized, and regulated by customs agents, and where the handling of books reflected the operations of empire both at the water’s edge and well beyond the port.

Use coupon SPRING22 to save on all these titles and more. If you’re located outside North and South America, we suggest you order from our partner Combined Academic Publishers using the same coupon. You’ll get faster and cheaper shipping. See the fine print here.

Elizabeth Ault’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
You have until May 27 to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues during our Spring Sale. Still pondering what to buy? Check out Editor Elizabeth Ault’s suggestions. Use coupon SPRING22 to save.
A smiling white woman with strawberry blonde hair piled in a bun on top of her head. She is wearing red oval shaped glasses, gold hoop earrings, and a green scoop necked top with a blue neckline and a black jacket.

The most wonderful time of the year–the Spring sale! There’s something about this time of year that makes so many things, including making a meaningful dent in the TBR, seem possible. I’m thrilled to suggest some new books that themselves open up that spirit of ambitious potential as tonics for times when things may not feel so promising.

A book I know I’ll never stop recommending is Trouillot Remixed, edited by Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, and Mayanthi L. Fernandoa, a gathering of writings from across the Haitian historian and theorist Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s career that makes it easy to see how Trouillot’s influence spanned diverse fields and conversations, centering the Black Caribbean and the ongoingness of coloniality in thinking about anthropology, world history, capitalism, and more. There isn’t a political or intellectual project I can imagine that wouldn’t benefit from Trouillot’s insights.

Cover of Poetic Operations: Trans of Color Art in Digital Media by micha cárdenas. Cover is blue with 7 people on it, and a center person is pointing.

It’s also a fantastic time for feminist media studies! We’ve got so many new books, including two amazing coedited collections that reconsider canonical male figures from feminist perspectives–Re-Understanding Media, edited by Sarah Sharma and Rianka Singh, shows what McLuhanite media theory has to learn from feminism, while Reframing Todd Haynes, edited Theresa L. Geller and Julia Leyda, shows what the filmmaker has learned from (and contributed to) feminist theory. We’ve also got micha cardenas’s Poetic Operations, a trans feminist theory of the liberatory potential of algorithms, Rox Samer’s Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s, which finds the speculative play in feminist science fiction and activist film. Nicole Erin Morse’s Selfie Aesthetics centers trans women artists like Tourmaline, whose work is featured in the Venice Biennale, to enrich the discussion around self-portraiture.

If you’re looking for a good summer read, I am really excited about Guillaume Lachenal’s The Doctor Who Would Be King, a postcolonial detective story, with an incredibly dynamic translation by Cheryl Smeall. And I can’t say enough about the amazing work Jeanne Garane has done to translate Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, the first memoir by African intellectual Amadou Hampâté Bâ about his life in colonial French West Africa, a story with many surprising turns and moving reflections.

Gisela Fosado’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
Our Spring Sale continues for two more weeks. If you’re looking for suggestions for what to buy, check out Editorial Director Gisela Fosado’s recommendations. Use coupon SPRING22 to save 50% on these and all in-stock titles.

With the Latin American Studies Association conference wrapped up last weekend, I thought I’d recommend a dozen of our most important brand new books (published within the past 6 months) in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies.

Troillot Remixed: The Michel-Rolph Trouillot Reader edited by Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, Mayanthi L. Fernando.
“By the sheer force of his example, he invited us to recognize not only the irreducible complexity of the Caribbean as a horizon of inquiry but also the intellectual duty to take up the challenge of reinventing the categories through which we apprehend and engage this complexity. Trouillot Remixed offers us a thematically distilled selection of his work that will provoke us to appreciate his contribution in fresh and unexpected ways.” — David Scott, Columbia University

Planetary Longings by Mary Louise Pratt
“These brilliant essays bring cultural theory to life. Mary Louise Pratt thinks across the Americas, drawing us into a repertoire that every American should grasp. To decolonize the postcolonial legacy, she shows us how to think generously and rigorously as well as politically.” — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, coeditor of Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene

The Florida Room by Alexandra T. Vazquez
“Alexandra T. Vazquez’s bold, brilliant, and refreshingly unconventional meditatin on sonic placemaking in Florida is fearless and groundbreaking. Compressing the deep, wide, and volatile politics and poetics of the global South into a focused exploration of the “Sunshine State,” The Florida Room reminds readers of what daring, innovative, and challenging theory looks and sounds like. This luminous book opens up our notions of what counts as theory as well as who gets identified as theorists.” — Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

Scales of Captivity: Racial Capitalism and the Latinx Child by Mary Pat Brady
“Mary Pat Brady has written a multilayered, bracing study with deep historical roots and startling contemporary resonance. She reanimates questions of citizenship and exclusion at the heart of Chicanx/Latinx studies, while simultaneously uncovering the inextricability of childhood, queer politics, and acts of witnessing.” — Richard T. Rodríguez, author of Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics

Loss and Wonder at the World’s End by Laura A. Ogden
“In its freshness of vision, its first-person mode of presentation, its openheartedness, and its scattering of materials in delicate montages, Loss and Wonder at the World’s End is such fun to read. Laura A. Ogden’s persistent view of history throughout the text as multivalent, dense, and mysterious is wonderful.” — Michael T. Taussig, author of Mastery of Non-mastery in the Age of Meltdown

Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados by Nicole Charles
Suspicion is a compellingly written and superlatively theorized ethnography of public health, affect, and the persistence of racism in the Caribbean. Nicole Charles uses suspicion to understand the logic behind Black parents’ decisions about whether to give their children vaccines, showing that their decisions are rooted not in ignorance and irrationality but within long histories of racial and sexual injury as well as hierarchies related to race, class, color, education, and authority.” — Deborah A. Thomas, author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair

Stories That Make History: Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas by Lynn Stephen
“The fortuitous pairing of perhaps Mexico’s most beloved, enduring, and influential writer with one of its most prolific and accomplished international scholars of social and cultural movements gives rise to an extraordinary collaboration. This engrossing volume will be required reading for anyone seriously interested in Mexican journalism and literature, history and history-making, and the formation of social memory.” — Gilbert M. Joseph, coeditor of The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Unintended Lessons of Revolution by Tanalís Padilla
“This book transcends the constricted scope of a narrow institutional study to throw new light on a series of larger questions concerning Mexico’s legacy of revolution, its failed rural policies, and the explosion of unrest among rural teachers and activists. It is a pleasure to read.” — Brooke Larson, author of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910

Workers Like All the Rest of Them: Domestic Service and the Rights of Labor in Twentieth-Century Chile by Elizabeth Q. Hutchison
“Presenting a series of timely, important, and often surprising arguments, Workers Like All the Rest of Them will find an audience among Chileanists, historians of gender and labor, as well as social science scholars interested in domestic work around the world.” — Nara B. Milanich, author of Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father

The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico by Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo
“Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo’s focus on the ‘politics of knowledge production’ explodes our understanding of the internecine struggles within the early Puerto Rican Left and the politics of race and gender in the construction of radical social movements in Puerto Rico.” — Eileen J. Findlay, author of We Are Left without a Father Here: Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico

Cover of The Nature of Space by Milton Santos features a black and white photograph of Santos. He is wearing reading glasses and looking slightly to his left while gesturing with his hands. The title and subtitle appear over the photo in yellow and white type.

The Nature of Space by Milton Santos, translated by Brenda Baletti
“Milton Santos was one of the most important Black thinkers in the Americas writing in the last four decades, one of the most important Brazilian intellectuals of all time, and one of the most cited and noteworthy geographers in Latin America. This extremely important translation subverts our tendencies to ignore scholarship being produced in the global South and marks a key step in decolonizing thought in US academe.” — Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil

Cocaine: From Coca Fields to the Streets, edited by Enrique Desmond Arias and Thomas Grisaffi
“Through its attention to both the transnational cocaine commodity chain and the locally specific moral economies that have developed along it, Cocaine presents an innovative and urgent perspective. This highly original and engaging volume makes significant contributions to studies of crime, governance, economics, and Latin American studies.” — Rivke Jaffe, author of Concrete Jungles: Urban Pollution and the Politics of Difference in the Caribbean

Finally, if you haven’t checked out the 2022 Bryce Wood Award honorees, now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of the books that won or were honorable mentions for LASA’s top prize, Bret Gustafson’s Bolivia in the Age of Gas and Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador by Thea Riofrancos.  Huge congratulations to Bret and Thea!

New Books in May

As we approach the end of the semester, kick off your summer reading with some of our great new titles! Here’s what we have coming out in May.

Shannen Dee Williams provides a comprehensive history of Black Catholic nuns in the United States in Subversive Habits, tracing how Black sisters’ struggles were central to the long African American freedom movement.

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media, edited by Sarah Sharma and Rianka Singh, advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan’s key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that “the medium is the message” for feminist ends.

In Queer Companions, Omar Kasmani theorizes the construction of queer social relations at Pakistan’s most important Sufi site by examining the affective and intimate relationship between the site’s pilgrims and its patron saint.

In The Impasse of the Latin American Left, Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, and Jeffery R. Webber explore the Latin American Pink Tide as a political, economic, and cultural phenomenon, showing how it failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China.

In Passionate Work, Renyi Hong theorizes the notion of being “passionate about your work” as an affective project that encourages people to endure economically trying situations like unemployment, job change, repetitive and menial labor, and freelancing.

Allan E. S. Lumba explores how the United States used monetary policy and banking systems to justify racial and class hierarchies, enforce capitalist exploitation, and counter movements for decolonization in the American colonial Philippines in Monetary Authorities.

In The Lives of Jessie Sampter, Sarah Imhoff tells the story of the queer, disabled, Zionist writer Jessie Sampter (1883–1938), whose body and life did not match typical Zionist ideals and serves as an example of the complex relationships between the body, queerness, disability, religion, and nationalism.

Jodi Kim examines how the United States extends its sovereignty across Asia and the Pacific in the post-World War II era through a militarist settler imperialism that is leveraged on debt in Settler Garrison.

In Legal Spectatorship, Kelli Moore traces the political origins of the concept of domestic violence through visual culture in the United States, showing how it is rooted in the archive of slavery.

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New Books in March

Need something to read over Spring Break? Check out our amazing titles coming out this March!

In Bigger Than Life, Mary Ann Doane examines how the scalar operations of cinema, especially those of the close-up, disturb and reconfigure the spectator’s sense of place, space, and orientation. Doane traces the history of scalar transformations from early cinema to the contemporary use of digital technology.

In Poetic Operations, artist and theorist micha cárdenas considers contemporary digital media, artwork, and poetry in order to articulate trans of color strategies for safety and survival. Drawing on decolonial theory, women of color feminism, media theory, and queer of color critique, cárdenas develops a method she calls algorithmic analysis.

In Intimate Eating, Anita Mannur examines how notions of the culinary can create new forms of kinship, intimacy, and social and political belonging. Drawing on critical ethnic studies and queer studies, Mannur traces the ways in which people of color, queer people, and other marginalized subjects create and sustain this belonging through the formation of “intimate eating publics.”

In Warring Visions, Thy Phu explores photography from dispersed communities throughout Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora, both during and after the Vietnam War, to complicate narratives of conflict and memory. While the visual history of the Vietnam War has been dominated by American media, Phu turns to photographs circulated by the Vietnamese themselves.

In Familial Undercurrents, Afsaneh Najmabadi uncovers her family’s complex experiences of polygamous marriage to tell a larger story of the transformations of notions of love, marriage, and family life in mid-twentieth-century Iran.

In Racist Love, Leslie Bow traces the ways in which Asian Americans become objects of anxiety and desire. Conceptualizing these feelings as “racist love,” she explores how race is abstracted and then projected onto Asianized objects.

Throughout Atlantis, an Autoanthropology, Nathaniel Tarn captures this multiplicity and reaches for the uncertainties of a life lived in a dizzying array of times, cultures, and environments. Drawing on his practice as an anthropologist, he takes himself as a subject of study, examining the shape of a life devoted to the study of the whole of human culture.

In Workers Like All the Rest of Them, Elizabeth Quay Hutchison recounts the long struggle for domestic workers’ recognition and rights in Chile across the twentieth century. Hutchison traces the legal and social history of domestic workers and their rights, outlining their transition from slavery to servitude.

In Earworm and Event, Eldritch Priest questions the nature of the imagination in contemporary culture through the phenomenon of the earworm. Through a series of meditations on music, animal mentality, abstraction, and metaphor, Priest uses the earworm and the states of daydreaming, mind-wandering, and delusion it can produce to outline how music is something that is felt as thought rather than listened to.

In Scales of Captivity, Mary Pat Brady traces the figure of the captive or cast-off child in Latinx and Chicanx literature and art between chattel slavery’s final years and the mass deportations of the twenty-first century. She shows how Latinx expressive practices expose how every rescaling of economic and military power requires new modalities of capture, new ways to bracket and hedge life.

In Queer African Cinemas, Lindsey B. Green-Simms examines films produced by and about queer Africans in the first two decades of the twenty-first century in an environment of increasing antiqueer violence, efforts to criminalize homosexuality, and other state-sanctioned homophobia.

In Living Worth, Stefan Ecks draws on ethnographic research on depression and antidepressant usage in India to develop a new theory of value. Framing depressive disorder as a problem of value, Ecks traces the myriad ways antidepressants come to have value, from their ability to help make one’s life worth living to the wealth they generate in the multibillion-dollar global pharmaceutical market.

In The Florida Room, Alexandra T. Vazquez listens to the music and history of Miami to offer a lush story of place and people, movement and memory, dispossession and survival. She transforms the “Florida room”—an actual architectural phenomenon—into a vibrant spatial imaginary for Miami’s musical cultures and everyday life.

In Plastic Matter, Heather Davis traces plastic’s relations to geology, media, biology, and race to show how matter itself has come to be understood as pliable, disposable, and consumable. The invention and widespread use of plastic, Davis contends, reveals the dominance of the Western orientation to matter and its assumption that matter exists to be endlessly manipulated and controlled by humans.

In Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s, Rox Samer explores how 1970s feminists took up the figure of the lesbian in broad attempts to reimagine gender and sexuality. Samer turns to feminist film, video, and science fiction literature, offering a historiographical concept called “lesbian potentiality”—a way of thinking beyond what the lesbian was, in favor of how the lesbian signified what could have come to be.

The contributors to Reframing Todd Haynes, edited by Theresa L. Geller and Julia Leyda, reassess his work in light of his long-standing feminist commitments and his exceptional career as a director of women’s films. They present multiple perspectives on Haynes’s film and television work and on his role as an artist-activist who draws on academic theorizations of gender and cinema.

In Vulgar Beauty, Mila Zuo offers a new theorization of cinematic feminine beauty by showing how mediated encounters with Chinese film and popular culture stars produce feelings of Chineseness. To illustrate this, Zuo uses the vulgar as an analytic to trace how racial, gendered, and cultural identity is imagined and produced through affect.

Jia Zhangke on Jia Zhangke is an extended dialogue between film scholar Michael Berry and the internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmaker. Drawing from extensive interviews and public talks, this volume offers a portrait of Jia’s life, art, and approach to filmmaking.

In this new edition of Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution, C. L. R. James tells the history of the socialist revolution led by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president and prime minister of Ghana.

In Climatic Media, Yuriko Furuhata traces climate engineering from the early twentieth century to the present, emphasizing the legacies of Japan’s empire building and its Cold War alliance with the United States.

China in the World by Ban Wang traces the shifting concept of the Chinese state from the late nineteenth century to the present, showing how the Confucian notion of tianxia—“all under heaven”—influences China’s dedication to contributing to and exchanging with a common world.

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Q&A with Badia Ahad and Habiba Ibrahim, editors of “Black Temporality in Times of Crisis”

Badia Ahad and Habiba Ibrahim are the editors of “Black Temporality in Times of Crisis,” a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly that uses crisis as a framework to explore historical and present-day Black temporalities. Contributors consider how moments of emergency shift and redefine one’s relationship to time and temporality—particularly in the material, psychic, and emotional lives of Black people. In today’s post, Ahad and Ibrahim discuss the making of this issue and what the issue can bring to academic courses and future scholarship, highlighting three articles that cover Black negotiations with specific forms of crisis. Preview the issue’s contents, including the Against the Day section, “Universities as New Battlegrounds,” available free for three months, and the editors’ introduction, made freely available; or pick up a copy.

DUP: What guided your interest in editing this special issue? What questions or problems shaped your study?

Badia Ahad, coeditor of "Black Temporality in Times of Crisis," a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly
Badia Ahad, coeditor of “Black Temporality in Times of Crisis,” a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly

A few developments led to the making of this special issue. One is directly related to our own interests in how contemporary blackness might be thought of in terms of historical, experiential, and subjective frameworks of time. Both of our most recent monographs, Black Age: Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life and Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture, center temporality as an oft-overlooked yet critical aspect of Black being. Both works engage the historical past as a mode of transformation, reclamation, and an occasion to reconsider the predominance of what Aida Levy Hussen refers to as “traumatic time.” While we acknowledged that Black temporality was marked by ongoing and overlapping moments of crises in a negative sense, it was self-evident in the body of literature, visual art, and performance we mined in our respective works that “crises” in Black life also provided the capacity for creativity, renewal, and the imagining of liberation.

A second key development was the rise of social justice movements in the years leading up to and in 2020. The unbroken ongoingness of anti-Black brutality, along with the increasing explicitness of white nationalist sentiment, guided our interest in how to account for the temporality of the present. Broadly speaking, we were interested in how the present currently operates as a framework of analysis in Black studies. In a manner now commonplace, the present has been shaped via psychoanalytic concepts of trauma and melancholia. Repetition and incalculable loss, meanings derived from these conceptual frames, endow the present with historical density, and such temporal weightiness becomes figurative of blackness itself. The present of blackness—and blackness as the present—initiates a question: How has the formation of blackness as a modern social category relied on particular schemas of time? Is blackness still knowable as such when it isn’t mired in the ongoingness of time? Although these questions arise from the most recent years of crisis, we were especially interested in a related but different question: How do we tarry with the ongoingness of anti-Black brutality while making conceptual room for numerous other structures of time and feeling that also constitute the present? This special issue explores how the exigencies of recent years—structured through the “twin pandemics” of police brutality and COVID-19—make the mode of time conspicuous. As ongoing, quick, drawn-out, or ruptured, temporality’s conspicuousness reboots our collective attempts to theorize the past and present conditions of Black life.     

By toggling between big and small structures of time, long historical patterns, and specific, localized events, the essays in this special issue insist that history matters in the face of nationalized efforts to disavow it. For many, the present-day experience of the 2010s intensified the already-palpable sense that we were living in what Saidiya Hartman has called “the afterlife of slavery”—along with the sense that afterlives are interminably long. Nested within this broad-scale afterlife was post-civil-rights-era disillusionment. Liberatory promises of the 1960s gave way to a “colorblind” discourse that disavowed the historical and structural dimensions of late-twentieth century racism. And after three decades of neoconservatism and neoliberalism converging to disempower Black communities across the United States, the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, announced the arrival of a so-called “postracial” era. From the 1970s into the second decade of the twenty-first century, colorblindness and postracialism were ideological technologies for making “history” inexpressible. In the context of such suppression, Black experiences of time—as interminable, stagnant, regressive—became a means to track specific social, cultural, political, and economic developments. Black time allows us to perceive how social processes work, along with the material, affective, and cultural influence such processes have on Black life. As the term “afterlife” suggests, Black experiences of time trouble linear and progressive schemas of historical formation. But in addition to this, Black time reveals ways of knowing that are eschewed through dominant discourse. The affective and social dimensions of time—stagnation and regression, but also the experience of counter-national temporalities—offer us a means of exploring how suppressed or disavowed aspects of life are experienced and expressed.

DUP: How do you imagine “Black Temporality in Times of Crisis” could be used in courses or as a basis for future scholarship?

Habiba Ibrahim, coeditor of "Black Temporality in Times of Crisis," a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly
Habiba Ibrahim, coeditor of “Black Temporality in Times of Crisis,” a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly

This special issue builds on a remarkable body of literature that exposes how Black life has always been in tension with normative conventions of Western (European) temporal constructs. The essays in this issue offer so many entry points for either seminars or for future scholarship. Our Introduction sets forth a provocative question (“How does crisis draw us toward the precarities, but also the possibilities, of Black life?”) that could be fruitfully explored across a range of disciplines/fields as the essays demonstrate (literary studies, media/cinema studies, visual and performance studies). This issue could be used in courses that focus on the conventions and historicity of Black cultural forms and genres—music, film, speculative fiction, the slave narrative, photographic images—and ask questions about methods for studying mass and popular culture. Across all of the essays, culture is the location of emergent experience that draws our attention toward the underlying logic and structure of time. Courses that frame Black culture through either a national or transnational lens could use this issue to consider how cultural forms are related to historical development.   

As we think of this issue’s contributions to Black literary and cultural studies, we are aware of what it offers to scholarship that intervenes in western philosophical concerns with human existence. In recent years, scholarship in Black studies has taken a turn toward questions of Black being, with examples ranging from Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson’s Becoming Human, and Kevin Quashie’s Black Aliveness. Our issue draws attention to how temporality structures Black ontology. Conceptual frameworks such as “the afterlife of slavery” (Hartman), “the wake” (Sharpe), “ontological plasticity,” (Jackson), and “aliveness” (Quashie) each explore, in significantly different ways, the inextricability of temporality from conditions of embodiment, presence, reality, and various modes of social and non-social existence. Across these works, temporality is thought of as the longue durée of transatlantic slavery and colonialism, through the epistemic terms of hierarchically organized forms of life, or as the intersubjective here-and-now. Taken together, temporality is related to not just one but multitudinous registers in which to think of Black life. In this issue, Julius B. Fleming Jr.’s essay, “Anticipating Blackness: Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, and the Time of Black Ontology,” speaks most directly to the relationship between Black time and Black being as it offers its own analytical framework, “the time of black ontology.”

DUP: What are some topics that readers can expect to find covered in the issue?

"Black Temporality in Times of Crisis," a new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly

When we discussed the throughline of the essays in this issue, we decided to present the works in a quasi-chronological order because it evinces the narrative of Black negotiations with specific forms of crisis over historical time, across geographic spatialities, and into imagined futures. 

Sarah Stefana Smith’s “Keeping Time: Maroon Assemblages and Black Life in Crisis” weaves her personal navigation with the global pandemic and national racial unrest in 2020, petit-maroon communities in 19th century Virginia, the narrative of Harriet Jacobs, and somatic movement to form a meditation on the precarity of enslavement and emancipation through representations of flight and mobility. This essay produces a sense of warped time reflective of the warped social, political and economic conditions that structured black existence in the antebellum era and persist in our present moment. 

Similarly, Tao Leigh Goffe’s piece “Stolen Life, Stolen Time: Black Temporality, Speculation and Racial Capitalism” brings together a range of media (Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, the HBO series Watchmen, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, and Khalik Allah’s Black Mother) to highlight how Black temporality as “a refusal to labor within the limits of history” frustrates the constraints of Western logics of time even when Black characters are not at the center of the narrative and, in some cases, completely absent. Goffe also draws on “maroon time” as a kind of freedom that takes the form of anticipation, reclamation, and imagination.  

Margo Crawford’s “What Time Is It When You’re Black” extends the conversation around “anticipation” or the “not yet” of black life. In Crawford’s essay the black vernacular term finna signals the liminal space between the trauma of the historical past and the present by which it is shaped (“the afterlife of the afterlife”). Drawing upon the poetry of Nate Marshall, Toni Morrison’s 2015 novel God Help the Child, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (2014) and The White Card (2019), Crawford shows that “finna-tude” is not a state of black hope but a recognition of “a new kind of grammar” that signals the possibility of emancipatory black futures.

Erica Rand on Racialized Gender in Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics

Today at the Beijing Olympics the U.S. figure skating Pairs team of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc made sports history. The most widely publicized, broadly accessible aspect of that history is that LeDuc competes as the first openly nonbinary athlete in the Winter Olympics. For figure-skating fans and practitioners, other aspects of the team’s gender identities and presentation may stand out.  Cain-Gribble, competing as female at 5’6”, does not fit typical gender norms for the sport either. Together, the two explain, they reject common narrative themes of rescue and romance. Tomorrow they skate a long program called “Two Pillars of Strength,” an intentional message toward gender equality.

Some things are changing for the better. Others, not so much. The Olympics remains a shitshow of violence, repression, and harm  from preparation through aftermath, broadly but differentially inflicted on living creatures and their environments—which is not new even if the venue is Beijing rather than Toronto, or just because NBC has decided to cover a fraction of it. Racialized gendering continues to abound. I raged on this blog in 2014 about US Figure Skating (USFS) leaving Mirai Nagasu off the Olympic team. Today I’m raging about Higuchi Wakaba of Japan being grossly undermarked on her short program a few days ago, and about the commentating on yesterday’s long program by Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. Weir praised white U.S. skater Mariah Bell’s “class” and “elegance,” and called her the skater “everyone can imagine being,” even though it was Bell’s Asian American teammate Alysa Liu who Lipinski described as the one revolutionizing the sport for future generations. As I write in The Small Book of Hip Checks—regarding the censure of Black U.S. figure skater Debi Thomas, 1988 Olympic Bronze medalist, and tennis star Serena Williams—those racialized gender ideals have long history and enduring effects. How racially inequitable standards have been applied across Olympics this year to Sha’Carri Richardson and Kamila Valieva needs another post or twelve.

Then there is skating for those of us who don’t have Olympic aims, which, of course, is just about everyone who puts skates on. Since 2019, as I detail in Global Sports Matters, I have been part of a non-traditionally gendered pairs partnership myself. My partner Anna Kellar and I are two white queer skaters: I am a cis woman and Anna is trans nonbinary. Having learned a throw jump, connected spirals, a pairs spin, and a lot about moving together on the ice, we are one trick away—the pairs lift!—from trying to test and compete. Yet while US Figure Skating USFS doesn’t specify by gender who can be a pair, and while people can now join the organization in a gender category called “undeclared,” (USFS) requires testing in male/female units and competing against pairs with the same gender make-up.

It’s great to see USFS “stand with our LGBTQ+ members,” when LeDuc encountered hostility. That doesn’t help us participate. The organization can learn a lot from Skate Canada which has been discarding many gender restrictions, not only for pairing, that USFS holds intact. For example, the 2022 USFS rule book still requires people competing in the “men’s’ category or as the delegated “man” of a pairs or dance team to wear “full-length trousers.” Yes, really.

That’s changing a bit, too. Cain-Gribble and LeDuc create their “two pillars of strength” partly through costume: both wear one-piece form-fitting pants-based garments reminiscent of the unitard that garnered so much hostility against Debi Thomas, leading to a ban on women wearing pants, specifically including unitards, that lasted until the 2000s. The fact that LeDuc isn’t being docked for wearing a skin-tight leg covering is new. For Cain-Gribble, a non-skirt remains an unusual choice sometimes considered too risky, although less so for white women, who have more access to the ideals of aristocratic whiteness that make Bell, as Lipinski put it approvingly, the “quintessential skater in the snow globe.”

Still, I’m heartened by the growing movement to bust open our sport, and I’m hoping to write a different blog post in 2026.

Erica Rand is Professor of Art and Visual Culture and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Bates College. She is the author of Red Nails, Black Skates, in which she describes becoming a competitive figure skater in her forties, and The Small Book of Hip Checks: On Queer Gender, Race, and Writing.

Q&A with Jonathan Sterne

Jonathan Sterne in front of a painting by Ara Osterweil.

Jonathan Sterne is James McGill Professor of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. In his new book, Diminished Faculties, Sterne draws on his personal history with thyroid cancer and a paralyzed vocal cord in order to generate a sweeping cultural study and theorization of impairment, in which experience is understood from the standpoint of a subject that is not fully able to account for itself.

You begin the book with a personal account of your own surgical trauma and difficulty with a speaking impairment. How has that experience contributed to your intellectual development and to this book specifically? And speaking of experience, you discuss the need to reassess phenomenology, which has historically been grounded in white, male experiences.

Writing the parts of the book that deal with my own experience is certainly the most difficult academic writing I’ve ever done. When I acquired a paralyzed vocal cord, a lot of people told me “oh, that’s so interesting—you write on sound, now you have a crip voice, you should write about that.” I also blogged my experience at the time I was going through it, so I had a lot of raw material, which also led to the “you should write about it” response. At first, I resisted it, but after some time and reflection, and the encouragement of several people, including Courtney Berger, I realized I needed to resettle my accounts with phenomenology. While what you say about phenomenology is absolutely true, there has been a growing alternative movement of racialized, queer, feminist, and crip phenomenologies I wanted to join.

But I can’t just join. Sure, I’m disabled. I am also white and male and have benefitted from that status, and very specifically in my academic life. Those canonical phenomenologies are supposed to speak to me and my experience. So I needed a way to interrogate my own experience, to be honest about the mixture of profound privilege and debilitation (both physical and social) that conditions my experience of the world. I’ve sought out colleagues and mentors who don’t necessarily look or sound like me, which has helped a lot.

Do you see impairment phenomenology as contributing to a broader political project during our current moment affected by racist police brutality, COVID-19, and climate change?

I like Stuart Hall’s admonition to be modest in our political claims for intellectual endeavors. I hope the book gives people some inspiration and courage to think differently about human limits (their own, other people’s), maybe some authorization to do what they do or be who they are, and perhaps about how they do their work. My prior experience as a writer is that books can inspire readers in unexpected ways, and that’s my biggest hope for Diminished Faculties.

Throughout the book, you make use of many forms of visual representation that differ from plain text, including the static-y pages at the opening, musical notation, artistic representations and photos. What drew you to these images and how do they contribute to your work?

Most of the credit for visual interest goes to others. Originally I wanted to work with a single artist who would illustrate the whole book, but that idea just didn’t work out. Matt Tauch at the Press translated my vague ideas about spacing in the beginning and “looking like a user manual” into really coherent designs. I commissioned drawings from Lochlann Jain because I love their work and one day Carrie (my partner) and I were trying to work out what 7.5cm really meant. I’m also a fan of Darsha Hewitt, and for the user’s guide, I wanted to pay homage to other great user guides, like the manuals for Madrona Labs’ instruments (which are themselves homages to the manual for the Buchla Music Easel). Zoë de Luca told me I should take the exhibition metaphor more literally for that chapter, and that resulted in looking at actual exhibition maps and then laying out my own.  The artworks didn’t need me to be interesting!  I just had to point to them, and the artists were generous enough to let me reproduce them.

You investigate nonhuman objects throughout your book, including a popcorn machine and a set of “speaking chairs.” How are nonhuman perspectives important to your thinking?

I think technology is profoundly human and humans are profoundly technological. The two works you mention materialize a struggle I have throughout the front end of the book: it is at once extremely ideological and coercive to equate a subject with its voice, to locate the voice as the locus of its agency. But I also live in a world that shaped by those processes and despite my best theoretical equivocations, I can’t help wanting them. Nina Katchadourian’s Talking Popcorn is striking because she follows through so completely, with a long list of experts weighing in on the meaning of the apparatus’ synthesized speech. Graham Pullin’s Speaking Chairs project is an answer to the coercive dimension of augmentative/alternative voice technology that prioritizes the semantic dimensions of speech over the affective. Other objects do other kinds of work. As for other nonhumans, cats make another appearance (including a callback to MP3), and that’s because I am very interested in cats. I originally wanted the book to end with my cat throwing up on me, but that didn’t work with the whole user’s guide conclusion.

You write about some of the challenges of writing impairment phenomenology, including needing to utilize a different set of pronouns than are traditionally used in academic writing. How did those challenges change your experience writing this book for an academic audience? How did you adapt to and overcome them?

The banned pronoun is “we.” It’s an exercise in specificity as much as anything else—when I am doing phenomenology, who am I talking about? Anglophone writers in the humanities use “we” a lot; it solves a lot of problems that they’d otherwise have to deal with when writing about meaning or experience. I’m hardly the first person to note this, but while the “humanities we” can be intended as welcoming or invitational, it has really homogenizing effects. This is especially the case for writing an impairment phenomenology: not only do “we” not hear, see, or feel the same thing, I may not have experienced what I thought I experienced when I recount it later in writing. So I tried to avoid the “humanities we” altogether, and I only used “we” when directly addressing a community of scholars to which I belong, or when I’m narrating something, as in “we went to a party” (oh how I miss going to parties). Towards the end of the book-writing process, I actually did a search of the manuscript, and caught a few places where I slipped up!

Your previous books have been about sound and technology. Diminished Faculties relates to those topics, but also draws significantly from work in disability studies. What brought you to disability studies, and how did you find that transition between disciplines?

I’ve always been interested in disability: for instance, The Audible Past is shaped in part by Deaf historiography and critiques of audism. Some of Diminished Faculties comes out of that thread. I started doing an annual Disability Studies course in 2011. With the help of generations of students, that has really shaped my thinking in profound ways. We could talk about the field’s connection to activism and all the work I and many others have been doing there during the COVID pandemic. But also: disability is constitutive condition of humanity. It is everywhere, yet academics are generally trained to ignore it even when it is right there in the room with them. Disability studies is about getting disabled people into the room—metaphorically but also for real.

There’s another dimension that’s important to me. A lot of disability studies work is in an affirmative mode right now: centering disabled experience, especially those experiences that may not have “counted” as disabled before; it is about showing that disabled people are agents of history. That work is vital and students and activists need to read it. But disability studies also has a profound critique of mastery that is a useful reminder, especially for academics where there is such pressure to perform mastery and control. Again, I’m not the first here: Margaret Price, Remy Yergeau, and Jay Dolmage have had a lot to say on this subject. But I want to push it even further to say that normate thought isn’t as normal or under control as it says it is. Even the most experienced musician will admit that they are not in full control of their instrument—it pushes back; their body does not cooperate; they must adjust. What if we, as scholars, could admit that we are not masters of our own experience, or anyone else’s for that matter? What could that do for hermeneutics, for historiography, for ethnography?

Read the introduction to Diminished Faculties for free and save 30% on the paperback with coupon code E21STERN.