Cultural Studies

Congratulations to MacArthur Fellow Lisa Parks

Parks_2018_hi-res-download_smallCongratulations to MIT media scholar Lisa Parks on winning a 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship! Parks is the co-editor (with Caren Kaplan) of the recent book Life in the Age of Drone Warfare and co-editor (with Elana Levine) of the 2007 collection Undead TV: Essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has also contributed essays to several other collections we have published.

Parks is the author of the 2005 book Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual. The MacArthur Foundation calls it “a groundbreaking analysis of satellite use, including live international transmissions, 978-0-8223-3497-2_pr
archeological excavations via remote sensing, and satellite images documenting mass graves in Srebrenica during the Bosnian conflict.”

The MacArthur Foundation praises Parks for “extending the parameters of media studies and revealing the ways in which media technologies have come increasingly to define our everyday lives, politics, and culture.”

Watch a video of Parks discussing her work:

The Novel and Neoliberalism

coverimageThe most recent issue of Novel, “The Novel and Neoliberalism,” edited by John Marx and Nancy Armstrong, is now available.

How has the form of the novel responded to the conditions now grouped under the term “neoliberalism”? These conditions have generated an explosion of narrative forms that make the past two decades one of the two or three most significant periods in the history of the novel. The contributors to this issue ask whether these formal innovations can be understood as an unprecedented break from the past or the latest chapter in a process that has been playing out over the past three centuries. In response to this question, they use a range of contemporary novels to consider whether conditions of multinational capitalism limit the novel’s ability to imagine a future beyond the limits of that world. Do novels that reject the option of an alternative world nevertheless reimagine the limits of multinational capitalism as the precondition for such a future? With these concerns in mind, contributors demonstrate how major contemporary novelists challenge national traditions of the novel both in the Anglophone West and across the Global South. This collective inquiry begins with a new essay by and interview with British novelist Tom McCarthy.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Black Marriage

dif_29_2_coverThe most recent issue of differences, “Black Marriage,” edited by Ann duCille, is now available.

Marriage has been a contested term in African American studies. Contributors to this special issue address the subject of “black marriage,” broadly conceived and imaginatively considered from different vantage points. Historically, some scholars have maintained that the systematic enslavement of Africans completely undermined and effectively destroyed the institutions of heteropatriarchal marriage and family, while others have insisted that slaves found creative ways to be together, love each other, and build enduring conjugal relationships and family networks in spite of legal prohibitions against marriage, forced separations, and other hardships of the plantation system. Still others have pointed out that not all African Americans were slaves and that free black men and women formed stable marriages, fashioned strong nuclear and extended families, and established thriving black communities in antebellum cities in both the North and the South.

Against the backdrop of such scholarship, contributors look back to scholarly, legal, and literary treatments of the marriage question and address current concerns, from Beyoncé’s music and marriage to the issues of interracial coupling, marriage equality, and the much discussed decline in African American marriage rates.

Read the introduction, “Black Marriage and Meaning from Antoney and Isabella to ‘Beyoncé and Her Husband,'” made freely available.

978-1-4780-0048-8Ann duCille is also author of the new book Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time of TV. In it, she combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with the new medium of TV to examine how televisual representations of African Americans have changed over the last sixty years. Whether explaining how watching Shirley Temple led her to question her own self-worth or how televisual representation functions as a form of racial profiling, duCille traces the real-life social and political repercussions of the portrayal and presence of African Americans on television.

978-0-8223-5008-8Also of interest is the book Inequalities of Love: College-Educated Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family by Averil Y. Clarke. While conventional wisdom suggests that all women, regardless of race, must sacrifice romance and family for advanced educations and professional careers, Clarke’s research reveals that educated black women’s disadvantages in romance and starting a family are consequences of a system of racial inequality and discrimination. Her discussion of the inequities that black women experience in romance highlights the connections between individuals’ sexual and reproductive decisions, their performance of professional or elite class identities, and the avoidance of racial stigma.

New Books in September

Welcome to September! As the new academic year begins, we’ve got some great new books for you to dig into.

978-1-4780-0081-5Imani Perry’s Vexy Thing recenters patriarchy to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts—ranging from nineteenth-century slavery court cases and historical vignettes to literature and contemporary art—from the Enlightenment to the present.

Providing a history of experimental methods and frameworks in anthropology from the 1920s to the present, Michael M. J. Fischer’s Anthropology in the Meantime draws on his real world, multi-causal, multi-scale, and multi-locale research to rebuild theory for the twenty-first century.

In Jezebel Unhinged Tamura Lomax traces the historical and contemporary use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture, showing how it disciplines black women and girls and preserves gender hierarchy, black patriarchy, and heteronormativity in black families, communities, cultures, and institutions.

978-1-4780-0021-1.jpgGathered from Rafael Campo’s over-twenty-year-career as a poet-physician, Comfort Measures Only includes eighty-eight poems—thirty of which have never been previously published in a collection—that pull back the curtain in the ER, laying bare our pain and joining us all in spellbinding moments of pathos.

In Garbage Citizenship Rosalind Fredericks traces the volatile trash politics in Dakar, Senegal, to examine urban citizenship in the context of urban austerity and democratic politics, showing how labor is a key component of infrastructural systems and how Dakar’s residents use infrastructures as a vital tool for forging collective identifies and mobilizing political action.

Gunslinger-50Edward Dorn’s Gunslinger is an anti-epic poem that follows a cast of colorful characters as they set out the American West in search of Howard Hughes. This expanded fiftieth anniversary edition of Dorn’s wild and comedic romp includes a new foreword by Marjorie Perloff, an essay by Michael Davidson, and Charles Olson’s “Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn”.

In Technicolored Black feminist critic Ann duCille combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with TV as a child in the Boston suburbs to examine how televisual representations of African Americans—ranging from I Love Lucy to How to Get Away with Murder—have changed over the last sixty years.

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Trans-in-Asia, Asia-in-Trans

coverimageThe most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Trans-in-Asia, Asia-in-Trans,” edited by Howard H. Chiang, Todd A. Henry, and Helen Hok-Sze Leung, is now available.

Since the late twentieth century, scholars and activists have begun to take stock of the deep histories and politically engaged nature of trans* cultures across the diverse societies of “Asia.” Much of this groundbreaking work has cautioned against immediate assumptions about the universality of transgender experiences, while heeding the significant influence of colonial histories, cultural imperialism, Cold War dynamics, economic integration, and migration practices in shaping local categories of queerness, discourses of rights, as well as the political, social, and medical management of gender variance and non-normative sexualities. This growing body of work on Asia joins trans* scholarship and activism across the world that has similarly sought to de-universalize and de-colonize the category of “trans.”

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

Also keep an eye out for these forthcoming books:

978-1-4780-0087-7In Trans Exploits, out this January, Jian Neo Chen explores the cultural practices created by trans and gender nonconforming artists and activists of color. They argue for a radical rethinking of the policies and technologies of racial gendering and assimilative social programming that have divided LGBT communities and communities of color along the lines of gender, sexuality, class, immigration status, and ability. Focusing on performance, film/video, literature, digital media, and other forms of cultural expression and activism that track the displaced emergences of trans people of color, Chen highlights the complex and varied responses by trans communities to their social dispossession.

Aren Z. Aizura’s Mobile Subjects, coming this November, examines transgender narratives within global health and tourism economies from 1952 to the present. Drawing on an archive of trans memoirs and documentaries as well as ethnographic fieldwork with trans people obtaining gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, Aizura maps the uneven use of medical protocols to show how national and regional health care systems and labor economies contribute to and limit transnational mobility.

Taiwan: The Land Colonialisms Made

ddbou_45_3_coverThe most recent special issue of boundary 2, “Taiwan: The Land Colonialisms Made,” edited by Arif Dirlik, Ping-hui Liao, & Ya-Chung Chuang, is now available.

The contributors to this special issue examine the role successive colonialisms played in forging a distinct Taiwanese identity and the theoretical implications the Taiwanese experience of colonialism raises regarding the making of modern national identities. In addition to its indigenous culture, a long succession of colonial rulers—variously the Netherlands, Spain, the kingdom of Tungning, the Ming and Qing dynasties, Japan, and Kuomintang China—has forged a distinctive Taiwanese national identity. The Taiwan case suggests that it is misleading to approach colonialism as an obstacle to national identity without also accounting for the ways in which colonialism has historically factored into the constitution of national identities. The contributors address the ways in which the colonizer’s culture transformed the colonized, setting them in new historical directions, even if those directions were not what the colonizers expected.

Read the introduction, freely available.

978-0-8223-3367-8Looking for further reading on Taiwan? Consider Envisioning Taiwan by June Yip, which sorts through the complexities of globalization and Taiwan’s history of colonization, weaving together history and cultural analysis to provide a picture of Taiwanese identity and a lesson on the usefulness and the limits of contemporary cultural theory. Another great choice is Writing Taiwan, edited by David Der-wei Wang and Carlos Rojas, the first volume in English to examine the entire span of modern Taiwan literature—from the first decades of the twentieth century to the present.

Here and Now (Under Erasure)

The most recent issue of Social Text, “Here and Now (Under Erasure),” co-written by the After Globalism Writing group, is now available.

m_stx_36_1_coverIn both traditional and experimental prose, this special issue interrogates and reflects on the here and now—our present and new political moment. Collective thinking and writing is one method through which leftist intellectuals have operated in reactionary times and the issue uses such methodology to explore extraction, privatization, data-mining, and other workings of global capital. Turning experimentally away from the authorial and agential subject of modernity, and towards a poly-vocal exposition of water as a protagonist, this issue develops a heuristic for writing the deep history of the global present without centering either capitalism or the developmentalist state.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction now, freely available.

The Global South: Histories, Politics, Maps

m_rhr_18_131_coverThe Global South: Histories, Politics, Maps,” a special issue of Radical History Review, offers a range of perspectives on the intellectual formation of the global South. Spanning time periods and objects of study across the global South, the essays develop new theoretical frameworks for thinking about geography, inequality, and subjectivity. Contributors investigate the construction of gender and racial formation in the global South and explore what is politically and theoretically at stake in considering under-studied places like Guyana or peripheries like Melanesia. One essay considers how encounters between spaces in the global South, specifically between Lebanon and West Africa, help to redirect attention from the northern nations’ preoccupations with their former colonies to the frictions of decolonization. Several articles focus on the role of popular culture in regard to the geopolitical formation of the global South, with topics ranging from film to music to the career of Muhammad Ali. Read the introduction to the issue, freely available now.

978-0-8223-6991-2Contributors to this Radical History Review issue include Emily Callaci, whose recent book Street Archives and City Life maps a new terrain of political and cultural production in mid- to late twentieth-century Tanzanian urban landscapes. While the postcolonial Tanzanian ruling party (TANU) adopted a policy of rural socialism known as Ujamaa, an influx of youth migrants to the city of Dar es Salaam generated innovative forms of urbanism through the circulation of what Callaci calls street archives: popular texts including women’s Christian advice literature, newspaper columns, self-published pulp fiction novellas, and song lyrics. Through these textual networks, Callaci shows how youth migrants and urban intellectuals fashioned a collective ethos of postcolonial African citizenship, ushering in an urban revolution in spite of the nation-state’s pro-rural ideology.

Queers Read This! LGBTQ Literature Now

The most recent special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, “Queers Read This! LGBTQ Literature Now,” edited by Ramzi Fawaz and Shanté Paradigm Smalls, is now available.

m_ddglq_24_2-3_coverThis issue asks how LGBTQ literary production has evolved in response to the dramatic transformations in queer life that have taken place since the early 1990s. Taking inspiration from “QUEERS READ THIS!”—a leaflet distributed at the 1990 New York Pride March by activist group Queer Nation—the contributors to this issue theorize what such an impassioned command would look like today: in light of our current social and political realities, what should queers read now and how are they reading and writing texts? The contributors offer innovative and timely approaches to the place, function, and political possibilities of LGBTQ literature in the wake of AIDS, gay marriage, the rise of institutional queer theory, the ascendancy of transgender rights, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the 2016 election. The authors reconsider camp aesthetics in the Trump era, uncover long-ignored histories of lesbian literary labor, reconceptualize contemporary black queer literary responses to institutional violence and racism, and query the methods by which we might forge a queer-of-color literary canon. This issue frames LGBTQ literature as not only a growing list of texts but also a vast range of reading attitudes, affects, contexts, and archives that support queer ways of life.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available now.

Readings for World Refugee Day

The United Nations World Refugee Day, marked every year on June 20, commemorates the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees. With thousands of families displaced around the world and with the current humanitarian crisis at the US border, it seems especially crucial to understand what is behind these issues. We’ve compiled recent scholarship from our journals and books on the refugee crisis and migration studies. 

ddsaq_117_2_coverThe most recent issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, “Rethinking Migration and Autonomy from within the ‘Crises’,” edited by Martina Tazzioli, Glenda Garelli, and Nicholas De Genova, focuses on the “autonomy of migration” in light of the economic crisis. It brings together the most cutting-edge approaches to migration, such as migration and logistics, with reappraisals of categories of political theory, such as “autonomy” and migrant “subjectivity.” Read the introduction to the issue, “Autonomy of Asylum?: The Autonomy of Migration Undoing the Refugee Crisis Script,” made freely available.

978-0-8223-6916-5Nicholas De Genova is also editor of the recent book The Borders of “Europe”, which features Martina Tazzioli and Glenda Garelli as contributors, as well as Stephan Scheel, who is a contributor to the SAQ issue. Addressing the new technologies and technical forms European states use to curb, control, and constrain the autonomy of migration, the contributors show how the continent’s amorphous borders present a premier site for the enactment and disputation of the very idea of Europe. Attending to migrant and refugee supporters as well as those who stoke nativist fears, this timely volume demonstrates how the enforcement of Europe’s borders is an important element of the worldwide regulation of human mobility.

Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, contributors to “Rethinking Migration and Autonomy from within the ‘Crises,'” are also authors of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor, which charts the proliferation of borders generated by contemporary globalization, investigating their implications for migratory movements, capitalist transformations, and political life. Fellow contributor Verónica Gago is author of the new book Neoliberalism from Below, which examines how Latin American neoliberalism is propelled not just from above by international finance, corporations, and government, but also by the activities of migrant workers, vendors, sweatshop workers, and other marginalized groups.

R2R final logoOur Migration Studies reading list, part of our “Read to Respond” series, encourages thoughtful, educated debate on this pressing issue. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.