Performance Studies

New Books in December

Check out our December new releases!

978-1-4780-0292-5.jpgColin Milburn’s Respawn examines the relationships between video games, hackers, and science fiction, showing how games provide models of social and political engagement, critique, and resistance while offering a vital space for players and hacktivists to challenge centralized power and experiment with alternative futures.

Jack Halberstam’s classic Female Masculinity has been called “a landmark study” (Feminist Theory) and a “pioneering document” (Gay and Lesbian Times) and has become one of our bestselling texts of all time. We are pleased to offer a new twentieth anniversary edition of the book, which features a new preface by the author.

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In Can Politics Be Thought?—published in French in 1985 and appearing here in English for the first time—Alain Badiou offers his most forceful and systematic analysis of the crisis of Marxism in which he argues for the continuation of Marxist politics.

Containing over one hundred selections—many of which appear in English for the first time—this extensively revised and expanded second edition of the bestselling The Brazil Reader, edited by James Green, Victoria Langland, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, presents the lived experience of Brazilians from all social and economic classes, racial backgrounds, genders, and political perspectives over the past half-millennia.

Jessica A. Krug’s Fugitive Modernities traces the history and meaning of Kisama—a seventeenth-century fugitive slave community located in present-day Angola—by showing how it operated as a inspirational global symbol of resistance for fugitives on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Megan H. Glick’s Infrahumanisms considers how twentieth-century conversations surrounding nonhuman life have impacted a broad range of attitudes toward forms of human difference such as race, sexuality, and health, showing how efforts to define a universal humanity create the means with which to reinforce various forms of social inequality.

Damon R. Young’s Making Sex Public tracks the emergence of new forms of sexuality in French and American cinema from the 1950s to the present, showing how cinema transformed narratives of sexuality and how women and queers were both agents and objects of that transformation.

Prompting a reevaluation of canonical understandings of twentieth century art history, Mapping Modernisms, edited by Elizabeth Harney and Ruth Phillips, provides an analysis of how indigenous artists and art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas became recognized as modern.

The contributors to Passages and Afterworlds, edited by Maarit Forde and Yanique Hume, explore death and mortuary rituals across the Caribbean, showing how racial, cultural and class differences have been deployed in ritual practice and how such rituals have been governed in the colonial and postcolonial Caribbean.

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The contributors to Sound Objects, an ambitious and wide-ranging collection edited by James Steintrager and Rey Chow, explore sound as an object, sound studies as a discipline, and the limits of sonic objectivity.

In Worldmaking, Dorinne Kondo draws on critical ethnographic work and over twenty years of experience as a dramaturge and playwright to theorize how racialized labor, aesthetics, affect, genre, and social inequity operate in contemporary theater.

In a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Dean Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire tracks the disparate stories different groups tell about Hawaiian statehood by returning to historical flashpoints ranging from the turn of the century until shortly after 1959.

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Poem of the Week

978-0-8223-7147-2For the second week of National Poetry Month, we’re sharing an excerpt from David Grubbs’s new book-length prose poem Now that the audience is assembled. The poem, both a work of literature and a study of music, describes a fictional performance during which a musician improvises the construction of a series of invented instruments before an audience that is alternately contemplative, participatory, disputatious, and asleep.

 

The demonstration is scarcely completed when the composer places his instrument on the ground and turns to address the audience.

The musician cannot flip the switch quite so easily, and she rocks back and forth with an unprotesting expression, still cradling her instrument and inhabiting a different sphere while the composer, speaking through the page-turner, shares his take on this brief performance: It needs to be said that a duo performance is something other than this composition. Two is an insufficient number. Two performers suffice only to show the technique. The structure of the work is the invitation for multiple individuals to create and experience alterations on the basis of unforeseen encounters. It’s a pleasure to encounter you in this way (composer and page-turner both gesture toward the musician, who gives no indication that she’s listening) and to do so again and again and differently each time, but a duo performance has a melancholic desert-island quality. That of two survivors, and we need others. Composer and page-turner toe the edge of the lighted rectangle and peer into the darkness: Do we have volunteers?

The audience feigns sleep or slumbers on.

Thankfully the composer knows when to drop the direct address, and the offer is not repeated. There is no need to force participation. He gestures for musician and page-turner to follow him as he shuffles toward the upstage door that once again swings open. They disappear for several minutes into the unknown region.

When they return to the performance space, they come provisioned with a collection of ten bulky round objects, each thick with dust and wrapped in a maroon cloth and tied with a piece of canary-yellow nylon rope. They lean the wrapped objects against the wall in an arrangement based on descending order of size. The largest of the bundles matches the arm span of the page-turner; the smallest resembles a hubcap.

We’re going to try something different, announces the composer.

Learn more about Now that the audience is assembled.

Curating Crisis

ddthe_47_2The most recent issue of Theater, “Curating Crisis,” is the journal’s second issue devoted to the curation of performance. It includes an additional set of interviews with four leading performance curatorsFlorian Malzacher, Sodja Lotker, Miranda Wright, and Boris Charmatzthat continue the conversation of historical precedents for curators specializing in theater, dance, and other live forms. It examines the ways in which performance curators are responding to crises and conflicts both within the fields of performance, and in the spheres of politics, economics, and history.

A special section features a series of essays based on lectures originally presented in SpielART festival’s 2015 convening, “Show Me the World,” in which contributors ask how curation strategies might acknowledge and build from postcolonial contexts. The section introduces major questions provoked by rethinking the role of the curator in a time of increasingly transcultural exchange and exhibition.

“Curating Crisis” includes articles on topics such as:

  • Multiculturalism
  • Black American Performance Artistry
  • Performance Curation
  • Micropolitics
  • Performance History

and much more.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the introduction made freely available. To learn more about the topic, read “Performance Curators,” Theater’s first issue devoted to performance curation.

The Pleasure of Sport: Readings for the Olympics

In anticipation of the Olympics starting this weekend, we wanted to share some of our books and special issues on sports. Did we touch on all of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.

Iddrhr_125n the most recent issue of Radical History Review, “Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sport,” (#125) contributors explore how and why sport, paradoxically, leads to empowerment and disempowerment, inclusion and exclusion, unity and division. The issue features cutting-edge research on gender and sexuality, sport in the Global South, neoliberalism, race and ethnicity, and stadiums as sites of urban politics and national identity. The issue also includes a reflection on sport and art, book review essays, contemporary analysis on #BlackLivesMatter and sport, and a forum of scholars who use sport to teach radical history. Read the introduction, made freely available.

ddsaq_105_2A 2006 issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, “The Pleasure Principle: Sport for the Sake of Pleasure,” (105:2) is a great read to prepare for the 2016 Olympics. Sport represents a singular source of social belonging and communal enjoyment—sometimes as intense as religious faith. “The Pleasure Principle” contributors address the issue of sport as a form of pleasure, contending that sport, like any form of popular culture, reveals a lot about the society in which it appears. Examining sports through various theoretical lenses, including Marxist, feminist, and poststructuralist, and from numerous disciplinary viewpoints—history, sociology, cinema studies, literature, and cultural studies—this special issue demonstrates the complexity of contemporary sports culture. Read Amy Bass’s “Objectivity Be Damned, or Why I Go to the Olympic Games: A Hands-On Lesson in Performative Nationalism” to learn why the events that transpire in a fortnight of international athletic competition should never be underemphasized, simplified, or dismissed merely as performative pomp and circumstance, or check out the introduction to the issue by David L. Andrews.

978-0-8223-4856-6_prMany of the athletes competing in the games will be truly transnational citizens, playing on a team in one country, while trying for Olympic glory under the different flag of their birth. Sports like soccer, baseball, and golf have tremendous global appeal. Rachael Miyung Joo’s book Transnational Sport: Gender, Media, and Global Korea looks in particular at Korean athletes and events and explores how global sport has helped shape what it means to be Korean.

978-0-8223-5563-2_prThe last time cricket was played at the Olympics was in 1900, but players and organizers are trying to get it included in a future games. To understand cricket, both the game and its cultural context, read C.L.R. James’s classic Beyond a Boundary, originally published in 1963 and republished in a handsome 50th anniversary edition in 2013. Writing in The Nation, Mark Naison called it, “a book of remarkable richness and force, which vastly expands our understanding of sports as an element of popular culture in the Western and colonial world.”

978-0-8223-4276-2_prThe Cuban baseball team has been the most successful national team at the Olympics since 1992, winning the gold medal three times and the silver twice.  The Quality of Home Runs is Thomas F. Carter’s lively ethnographic exploration of the interconnections between baseball and Cuban identity. Suggesting that baseball is in many ways an apt metaphor for cubanidad, Carter points out aspects of the sport that resonate with Cuban social and political life: the perpetual tension between risk and security, the interplay between individual style and collective regulation, and the risky journeys undertaken with the intention, but not the guarantee, of returning home.

Enjoy the games!

 

Digital Dramaturgies, Digital Feelings

Two recent issues of Theater, “Digital Feelings” (2016) and “Digital Dramaturgies” (2012), focus on new forms of performance arising in response to new technologies.

Digital Feelings

ddthe_46_2In “Digital Feelings,” guest co-editors Miriam Felton-Dansky and Jacob Gallagher-Ross investigate the emerging forms of affective experience engendered by digital technology, and theater artists’ strategic uses of these forms. How do we respond as live spectators to virtual pathos—and as virtual spectators to live pathos? The articles and performance pieces in this issue question the allure and disorientation of communication and affect in our digital age.

Topics in this issue include telegraph plays, live-streamed theater events, transmedia, and the impact of digital media and video recording on theater and performance criticism.

Digital Dramaturgies

ddthe_42_2In recent years, technologies of production and communication have multiplied exponentially, creating new modes of expression and storytelling. The Internet and cell phones allow instantaneous communication across global networks; media communities like YouTube have created venues for amateur performances to reach global audiences; and the enforced brevity of Facebook status updates, Twitter posts, and text messages have created compressed, allusive idioms out of everyday speech. These and other rapid technological and cultural changes have transformed theater, the oldest of “old media.” “Digital Dramaturgies” assembles contributions by scholars and artists that explore this transformation, considering both theater’s place in a world conditioned by new media and the place of these new media in the theater. Tackling questions of what is considered live theater in a digital age and how new media will share the stage with more traditional forms of performance, this issue establishes theater as a unique medium and meeting place for other media as it moves irreversibly into the digital domain.

Contributors to this issue explore a variety of ways—from Twitter plays in 140 characters to performances from the Avatar Repertory Theater in Second Life to two computer chatbots “restaging” debates between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky—that new technology can perform.

New Books in May

We have some great new titles coming out in May. To be sure you never miss a new title from us, and to be first to know about special sales and promotions, subscribe to our email newsletter, Subject Matters.

Activist archives

Doreen Lee’s Activist Archives investigates the origin, experiences, and legacy of the radical Indonesian student movement that helped end Suharto’s thirty-two year dictatorship in May of 1998, showing how student activists claimed their rich political and historical inheritance passed down by earlier generations of activist youth.
In The Brink of Freedom David Kazanjian revises dominant understandings of nineteenth-century conceptions of freedom by examining the letters of black settler colonists in Liberia and the letters and literature of Mayan rebels and their Creole antagonists in Yucatán, showing how they disrupted liberal formations of freedom.

 

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Tell Me Why My Children Died narrates the efforts to identify a strange disease that killed thirty-eight people in a Venezuelan rainforest between 2007 and 2008 and sketches out systematic health inequities regarding the rights to produce and circulate knowledge about health throughout indigenous communities.

In Endangered City Austin Zeiderman focuses on the new political imperative to govern the present in anticipation of future disasters in Bogotá, Colombia, where the state works to protect the lives of poor and vulnerable citizens from a range of threats, including environmental hazards and urban violence.

In The Minor Gesture Erin Manning develops the concept of the minor gesture to rethink common assumptions about human agency, the ways we experience the everyday world, and the possibilities for new political praxis. This is the first book in the new series Thought in the Act, edited by Manning and Brian Massumi.

TVAnikó Imre’s TV Socialism provides an innovative history of television in socialist Europe during and after the Cold War, finding a variety of programming and economic practices that exceed state propaganda and challenge conventional understandings of culture and politics under socialism.

My Life with Things is Elizabeth Chin’s meditation on her relationship with consumer goods and a critical statement on the politics and method of anthropology in which she uses everyday items to intimately examine the ways consumption resonates with personal and social meaning.

Robert Bailey’s Art & Language International reconstructs the history of conceptual art collective Art & Language to show how its international collaborations with dozens of artists and critics between 1969 and 1977 laid the foundation for global contemporary art, all while highlighting how conceptual art exceeds the visual to impact the philosophical and political.

blacktinoContaining nine performance scripts by black and Latino/a queer playwrights and performance artists—each accompanied by an interview and essay, Blacktino Queer Performance approaches the interrelations of sexuality, blackness, and Latinidad.

In Biocultural Creatures Samantha Frost brings feminist and political theory together with findings in the life sciences to create a new theory of the human that explains the mutual constitution of the body, environment, biology, and habitat, while offering new resources for responding to political and environmental crises.

In The Value of Comparison Peter van der Veer highlights anthropology’s continuing ability to gain insights on the whole through the comparative study of the particular and unique while critiquing the quantitative social sciences for their sweeping generalizations.

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In Hope Draped in Black Joseph R. Winters responds to the belief that America follows a constant trajectory of racial progress, using African American literature and film to construct an idea of hope that embraces melancholy in order to acknowledge and mourn America’s traumatic history.

In Ghostly Desires Arnika Fuhrmann examines post-1997 Thai cinema and video art to show how vernacular Buddhist notions, stories, and images combine with sexual politics in figuring current struggles over gender, sexuality, personhood, and collective life.

New Books in March

It is already March and Spring is on its way, but even more exciting are the new books coming out this month. And we have plenty of them!

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Diana Taylor’s Performance explores the multiple and overlapping meanings of performance, showing how it can convey everything from artistic, economic, and sexual performance, to providing ways of understanding how race, gender, identity, and power are performed.

In Indian Given María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo provides a sweeping historical and comparative analysis of racial ideologies in Mexico and the United States from 1550 to the present to show how indigenous peoples provided the condition of possibility for the emergence of each nation.

In The Official World Mark Seltzer analyzes the suspense fiction, films, and performance art of Patricia Highsmith, Tom McCarthy, Cormac McCarthy, J.G. Ballard, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and others to demonstrate that the modern world continuously establishes itself through the staging of its own conditions.feminist bookstore

Kristen Hogan traces The Feminist Bookstore Movement‘s rise and fall, showing how the women at the heart of the movement developed theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability that continue to resonate today.

Drawing on an eclectic range of texts and figures, from the Greek Cynics to Tori Amos, Nick Salvato’s Obstruction finds that embarrassment, laziness, slowness, cynicism, and digressiveness can paradoxically enable alternative modes of intellectual production.

A celebratory new edition to Jane Lazarre’s Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness, in which she, a white Jewish mother, describes her experience being married to an African American man and raising two sons as she learns, from family experience, teaching, and her studies, about the realities of racism in America.

In Cold War Anthropology, David H. Price offers a provocative account of the profound influence that the American security state has had on the field of anthropology since the Second World War by mapping  out the intricate connections between academia and the intelligence community.

diaspora and trustIn Memorializing Pearl Harbor Geoffrey M. White examines the challenge of representing history at the site of the attack that brought America into World War II, showing that the memorial to the Pearl Harbor bombing is a site in which many histories are continually performed, validated, and challenged.

In Diaspora and Trust Adrian H. Hearn proposes a new paradigm for economic development in Mexico and Cuba that is predicated on the development of trust among the state, society, and each nation’s resident Chinese diaspora communities, lest they get left behind in the twenty-first century economy.

In Sexual States Jyoti Puri uses the example of the recent efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in India to show how the regulation of sexuality is fundamentally tied to the creation and enduring existence of the Indian state.

the geographiesAntoinette Burton’s Africa in the Indian Imagination challenges nostalgic narratives of the Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference by showing how postcolonial Indian identity was based on the subordination of Africans and blackness.

In The Geographies of Social Movements Ulrich Oslender examines the activism of black communities in the lowland rain forest of Colombia’s Pacific coast to show how the mutually constituting relationships between residents and their environment informs the political process.

In Domesticating Organ Transplant Megan Crowley-Matoka examines the iconic power of kidney transplantation in Mexico, where the procedure is inexorably linked to the imaginings of individual and national identity, national pride, and the role of women in creating the Mexican state.

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In The Sublime Perversion of Capital Gavin Walker examines the Japanese debate about capitalism between the 1920s and 1950s, using it as a “prehistory” to consider current problems of uneven economic development and contemporary topics in Marxist theory and historiography.

In Motherless Tongues Vicente L. Rafael examines the vexed relationship between language and history as seen through the work of translation in the context of empire, revolution, and academic scholarship in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond.

In Tourist Distractions Youngmin Choe uses Korean hallyu cinema as a lens to examine the importance of tourist films and film tourism in creating transnational bonds throughout East Asia and how they help Korea negotiate its twentieth-century history with the neoliberal present.

Ricardo D. Salvatore’s Disciplinary Conquest rewrites the history of Latin American studies by tracing its roots back to the first half of the twentieth century, showing how its ties to U.S. business and foreign policy interests helped build an informal empire that supported U.S. economic, technological, and cultural hegemony throughout the hemisphere.

 

Digital Collaboration with Hemispheric Institute and Scalar Launches

We are excited to announce the launch of two new born-digital book projects published in in collaboration with the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University. Editorial Director Ken Wissoker says, “I’m excited to be partnering with Diana Taylor and the Hemispheric Institute in publishing these compelling Scalar projects.  Scalar is a pioneering platform for opening out new ways of presenting academic work. In the the hands of the innovative scholars at the Hemispheric Institute these projects bring cutting-edge thinking to a wider public in a manner that books alone could never achieve.

DancingwiththeZapatistas_ScalarProject_WebsiteImageDancing with the Zapatistas, edited by Diana Taylor and  Lorie Novak, brings together scholars, artists, journalists, and activists to respond to the continuing work of the Zapatistas twenty years after their insurrection in 1994. Available free online, this open access multimedia digital book includes essays, photo essays, interviews, and spoken word and theatrical performances that offer insights into the workings of the Zapatista Council on Good Government; the murals in the Caracoles; the Escuelita; Subcomandante Marcos; and Zapatista music and celebrations. An exceptionally rich visual resource, this book discusses how Zapatista and Mayan thought permeate the daily life of the Zapatistas, from the way in which their languages configure collective identity to how music affirms the Zapatistas’ conception of history. Ultimately, Dancing with the Zapatistas considers how the Zapatistas work with those outside their movement while covering how they have influenced the practices of activists and artists around the globe.

WhatisPerformanceStudies_ScalarProject_WebsiteImageWhat is Performance Studies? is edited by Diana Taylor and Marcos Steuernagel. This multimedia digital book, available free online, asks thirty leading scholars from seven different countries throughout the Americas the same question: What is performance studies? The project features video interviews accompanied by short essays. The interviews are transcribed, translated, and subtitled into English, Spanish, and Portuguese, offering a truly trilingual perspective on performance studies that engages with it from a variety of national, linguistic, and disciplinary locations. Diana Taylor and Marcos Steuernagel’s written introduction provides a history and overview of the project, while four brief essays by Steuernagel, Taylor, Marcela A. Fuentes, and Tavia Nyong’o offer critical entry points to the interviews from different yet complementary perspectives. What Is Performance Studies? expands the genealogy of the field while opening new paths for thinking through, in, and with performance studies in the Americas.

We hope these innovative projects will be useful to students, teachers, and researchers and that they’ll spur further innovation in the humanities.

It’s Not What You Think: Affect Theory and Power Take to the Stage

Schaefer cover image, 5990-6Today we are happy to present a guest blog post from Duke University Press author Donovan O. Schaefer, who is Departmental Lecturer in Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, and author of our recent book Religious Affects. Here, Schaefer discusses affect theory, power, and performance.

Affect theory is an approach to culture, history, and politics that focuses on the role of prelinguistic or nonlinguistic forces, or affects. Affects make us what we are, but they are neither under our “conscious” control nor even necessarily within the register of our awareness—and they can only sometimes be captured in language. In Religious Affects, I offer an introduction to the subfield of affect theory that is (I hope) accessible to a range of backgrounds. I then explain how affect theory can be linked to other conversations happening in the humanities—including Michel Foucault’s “analytics of power,” the recent “animal turn,” critical secularism studies, and my home field of religious studies. Affect theory helps us understand power by encouraging us to think of power as theater.

One of the background figures of affect theory, Princeton psychologist Silvan Tomkins, began his academic training not as a psychologist, but as a playwright. He’s a drama kid at heart and affect theory is a dramatist’s understanding of people and their relationships. Drama kids know that acting isn’t about memorizing words on a page. Learning 500 lines of text is the easiest part of an actor’s job. Instead, acting is about taking those lines and packing each and every word—and the spaces between the words—with emotional nuance. An actor’s instrument is not a script, but a body, and effective actors will meticulously use every aspect of their bodies—their voice, hands, face, posture, stride, gaze, gait, and muscles—to build an affective symphony. Directors, too, use a nonverbal repertoire including timing, staging, and perspective to weave a thick knot of affects around their script. The most expertly scripted play can be ruined by underwhelming acting, clumsy direction, or confusing staging. This is because the work of making bodies move is not done by words alone, or even by words primarily. Thespians think not only about script, but about oration, blocking, staging, sound, atmosphere, and a whole embodied toolkit of movements and gestures. These elements are assembled into finely-tuned affect-distribution machines. A play’s success is measured by its ability to deliver a feast of affects.

Affect theory sees power in the same terms. As anthropologist Kathleen Stewart writes, “power is a thing of the senses.” (Ordinary Affects, 84) Rather than thinking about politics as a set of propositions that are sifted by rational, choosing subjects (“Vote for x if you want bridges, vote for y if you want bombers.”), affect theory sees it as a performance. Religious Affects talks about this specifically with reference to religion, exploring examples such as global Christian evangelicalism, American Islamophobia, and contemporary secularisms—but religion is only one of many formations of power, and so the affect method can be applied broadly. All that it takes is to recognize that power is first and foremost what Sara Ahmed calls an “affective economy” rather than a set of ideas or linguistic propositions. Affect theory helps us evade the “linguistic fallacy,” the belief that power is primarily conducted by thoughts and language. Instead, power as a “thing of the senses” feels before it thinks. It is hooked not to our transcendent rational consciousness, but to our animality.

Pundits like to talk about politics as if it is done from the top down. Sneaky politicians put up a front in order to dupe “the masses” into doing what they want. But this is contrary to how someone like Michel Foucault understands power. For Foucault, power is a relationship: it always flows in multiple directions rather than just from the top down. Except in extreme situations (such as confinement or the threat of imminent deadly force—which misleadingly become the templates we use to understand power more broadly), power requires some kind of buy-in—however uneven—from all parties involved. Affect theorists build on this insight, seeing politics not simply as a set of ideas that are neutrally and objectively evaluated, but as a performance, and like all performances, it is a dynamic between actors and audience. Politicians may “use” voters to get things done, but voters also “use” politicians to provide a particular experience—an evening at the theater. (Moreover, politicians undoubtedly “use” voters in the same way.) Whereas rhetorical analysis asks how affects are being mobilized to achieve certain political objectives, affect theorists argue that politics is being done in order to achieve certain affects.

This doesn’t mean that the consequences of politics are in any way trivial—that they don’t deal deprivation, pain, and death, or flourishing, peace, and happiness unevenly across societies. Politics is no less urgent for being structured by affects. If anything, affect theory shows that even a haughty turning-away from politics or a studied indifference is an affective construct—and therefore a political procedure. What affect theory shows is that a political formation is best understood not as a package of more-or-less coherent ideas but as a swirling vortex of emotions. This goes just as much for the incoherent rage-fests of a Trump rally (the lust for hatred, the desire for strength, the refusal of shame) as it does for the soaring optimism and calls for a more just society of a Sanders speech: both are avenues for the production of affects. The political is not just occasionally interrupted by affect. It is affect. The currency that connects our bodies and fuses us into communities is not a rationally elected choice, but a felt compulsion. This is the insight of affect theory: sovereign consciousness—including reason—is an effect of a matrix of moving lines of force, travelling through us and leaving power in their wake.

New Books in February

It seemed like January zoomed right by us, and now February is already here! Which of course means it’s time to take a look at the new books to watch out for this month.

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The contributors to Metrics, edited by Vincanne Adams, use ethnographic evidence from around the globe to evaluate the accomplishments, limits, and the consequences of applying metrics to global health. Now the standard in measuring global health program success, metrics has far implications that extend beyond patients to the political and financial realms.

In The Brain’s Body Victoria Pitts-Taylor applies feminist and critical theory to recent developments in neuroscience and new materialist social thought to demonstrate how the brain interacts with and is impacted by power, social structures, and inequality.

Day cover image, 6093-3In Alien Capital Iyko Day retheorizes the history and logic of settler colonialism by examining its intersection with Asian racialization and capitalism, showing how the conflation of Asian immigrants to Canada and the United states with the abstract dimensions of capital became settler colonialism’s defining feature.

Lesley Gill traces the rise and fall of the strong labor unions and working class of Barrancabermeja, Colombia in A Century of Violence in a Red City, showing how the incursion of neoliberalism, the drug trade, and counterinsurgency military campaigns into civil society that began in the 1980s has destabilized everyday life and decimated the city’s powerful social institutions.

Published in China in 2010 and appearing here in English for the first time, Revolution and its Narratives, by Cai Xiang and edited by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong, is a historical, literary, and critical account of the cultural production of the narratives of China’s socialist revolution that illuminates the complexity of socialist art, culture, and politics.

Pierce cover image, 6091-9In Moral Economies of Corruption Steven Pierce provides a cultural history of the last 150 years of corruption in Nigeria as a case study for considering corruption’s dynamic nature, finding it to be a culturally contingent set of political discourses and historically embedded practices.

Placing the body at the center of critical improvisation studies, the contributors to Negotiated Moments, edited by Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman, explore the challenges of negotiating subjectivity through improvisation in various forms—from jazz, Japanese taiko drumming, and Iranian classical music to sound walking and political street theater.

Coles cover image, 6064-3In Visionary Pragmatism, Romand Coles’s new mode of scholarship and political practice called “visionary pragmatism” blends theory with practice in the generation of new transformative responses to contemporary political and ecological crises.

Indonesian Notebook, edited by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher, contains myriad documents by Indonesian writers, intellectuals, and reporters that provide the largely absent Indonesian perspectives of the 1955 Bandung Conference and of Richard Wright’s activities there, adding new depths to the understandings of the conference. It also includes a newly discovered lecture by Wright.