Political Science

Theater Magazine Publishes Elfriede Jelinek, Carrie Mae Weems

ddthe_47_3The most recent issue of Theater magazine features new performance texts from major artists Elfriede Jelinek and Carrie Mae Weems.

In the first edition of Theater to launch since the November 2016 election altered the American political landscape, the magazine looks to theater artists “to provide clarity where leaders sow confusion, to inspire when cynicism reigns, and to offer a moral compass while the nation reels in disorientation,” writes editor Tom Sellar.

Nobel laureate playwright Elfriede Jelinek’s newest work On the Royal Road: The Burgher King delves into the psyche of a businessman tyrant whose hold on power gets channeled through American pop culture iconography, among other creative filters. An intimate conversation between Jelinek and her longtime translator Gitta Honegger accompanies the script.

In her new performance text Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, celebrated artist Carrie Mae Weems contemplates grace in the face of racism and violence through music, song, spoken word, and video. Carl Hancock Rux introduces the text with a panoramic essay on Grace Notes as “a non-decorative inclusive self-portrait,” interrupting the peripheralization of black women.

Jennifer Krasinski’s rumination on Taylor Mac’s recent 24-hour marathon performance of music from the American songbook, as well as performance criticism from Krasinski and David Bruin, complete the issue.

To read the issue online, visit read.dukeupress.edu/theater.

The Trouble with White Women

Kyla SHC Oct 17 croppedToday’s guest blog post is written by Kyla Schuller, author of the new book The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century.

Broad swaths of the left and liberal-leaning U.S. public newly dedicated themselves to political activity in the wake of Trump’s ascension to the White House and the GOP’s control of the Senate and the House. Amidst the awakening of a liberal grassroots, a new enemy crystallized: the white woman voter. She emerged as the victim of a kind of false consciousness forged not in the factory, but in the college classroom and suburban mall. In dominant media narratives, her ubiquity came as a shock. The stats are repeated as incantation: 53% of white women voted for Trump a mere four weeks after video emerged of Trump bragging about sexual assault. 63% of white women voted for Roy Moore in December’s Alabama Senate special election, despite mounds of credible evidence of Moore’s molestation of young teen girls. Why, the narrative muses, would white women betray their own interests? And why are black women—98% of whom voted for Moore’s opponent Doug Jones—seemingly immune to electoral self-sabotage?

I wish to suggest a frame that has not emerged in the mountain of copy addressing the problem of white women. Feminists have generated many useful analyses – white women’s investment in patriarchy, the class structure, the racial status quo—underlining the material benefits conservative politics offer white women. There is a deeper, more structural reason why white women vote for misogynist, white supremacist candidates despite a century and a half of feminist organizing, however. Simply put: sex difference is itself a racial structure.

978-0-8223-6953-0Sexual difference, as a concept, emerged as a function of race. This is particularly salient in the nineteenth century, the era in which modern notions of race and sex difference solidified. My new book, The Biopolitics of Feeling, zeroes in on this generally overlooked phenomenon (outside of the history of evolutionary thought): that a wide variety of scientists, writers, and reformers articulated full sexual differentiation as the unique achievement of the civilized. The binary entities of man and woman were newly understood as thoroughly distinct in terms of mental, physiological, emotional, and psychological capacity. Sex difference was presented as the singular attainment of a teleological evolution moving toward ever greater specialization. The primitive races, by contrast, were cast as unsexed, as insufficiently evolved in both anatomy and character. The category of womanhood emerged in modern times as a unique quality of civilization. Its ramifications are still visible in electoral politics across the country.

The Biopolitics of Feeling uncovers the foundational role of sex difference to biopower. It unearths how sex difference functioned as a key technology of biopower’s racializing structures, which operate to choose some members of the population for life and cast others into disposability and death. Sex difference helped qualify individuals for life. I reveal how the position of the feminine was carved out not only to exemplify social evolutionary achievement, but also to protect it. Scientists identified the key quality of the civilized body to be its impressibility, or the capacity to be affected over time. Receptivity to sensory impressions determined a body’s capacity for growth, mental development, and even, in this Lamarckian and pre-genetic era, the transmission of acquired characteristics to descendants. Impressibility thus served as the ontological basis of progress. Impressibility also, however, entailed a frightening vulnerability to influence and environment, rendering the civilized body in need of careful protection.

I argue that two central technologies were developed in the nineteenth century to manage the constitutional vulnerability of civilization: sex difference and sentimentalism. The civilized body was cleaved in two, and the female half were assigned the liabilities of heightened impressibility as well as increased emotional faculty to mediate temptation to impulsive response to impressions. The male half were thus stabilized as masters of reason and moderate feeling. Sentimentalism, in turn, was a vast technology particularly, but far from exclusively, assigned to women to regulate the growth of the individual and the evolution of the population through managing the flow of impressions throughout a milieu. Both sex and sentiment were deployed as stabilizing forces regulating responses to sensory stimulations and thus their effect on the individual and racial body.

The legacy of womanhood as itself a stabilizing structure of whiteness reverberates loudly today and is particularly resonant in the trope of the white woman voter. The conservative ideology in which women’s role is to protect the private sphere is an element of the biopolitical logic that women’s role is to secure the stability of the civilized races. White Republican women who vote for sexual assaulters are not identifying with their whiteness over their gender, as has often been claimed. Rather, they are enacting their womanhood itself: both absorbing and smoothing over the flow of sensation and feeling that makes up the public sphere, ensuring that white men remain relatively free from the encumbrances of embodiment and are susceptible only to further progress. Our anger at white women conveniently spares the white male voter, who supported Trump and Moore in even larger numbers. The problem with white Republican women is the problem with woman as a category in the first place.

Feminism, too, is revealed in The Biopolitics of Feeling to function as an apparatus of biopower that translates allegedly inherent natural categories into political identities and platforms. But it doesn’t have to be so. Twentieth-and twenty-first century women of color feminists have been strikingly clear that the position of woman has largely been denied to non-white groups, and they have refashioned the meanings of the term woman in the process. Women, as a political group, need no longer be tied to biological discourses of race or anatomy, but this requires explicit excavation and refusal of the term’s lingering past.

Multiethnic feminisms lead the way to disentangling feminism from biopower, and woman as an entity from naturalizing logics. Intersectional and assemblage feminisms and multiethnic #MeToo campaigns are pointing to a new politics in which women no longer serve as civilization’s remainder, the sponge to absorb the impressions and stimulations of which power is itself constituted. Feminism may be born of the biopolitical logic of sex, but it thus also contains the seeds of biopower’s demise.

Pick up Kyla Schuller’s new book The Biopolitics of Feeling for 30% off by using coupon code E17SCHUL at dukeupress.edu.

New Books in January

978-0-8223-6902-8.jpgHappy 2018! Ring in the new year with these exciting new titles from Duke University Press:

In Fractivism, Sara Ann Wylie traces the history of fracking in the United States and how scientists, nonprofits, landowners, and everyday people are coming together to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable through the creation of digital platforms and databases that document fracking’s devastating environmental and human health impacts.

Raymond Knapp’s Making Light traces the musical legacy of German Idealism as it led to the declining prestige of composers such as Haydn while influencing the development of American popular music in the nineteenth century, showing how the existence of camp in Haydn and American music offer ways of reassessing Haydn’s oeuvre.

In Media Heterotopias Hye Jean Chung challenges the widespread tendency among audiences and critics to disregard the material conditions of digital film production, showing how this emphasis on seamlessness masks the complex social, political, and economic realities of global filmmaking.

Charlotte Brunsdon’s Television Cities traces television’s representations of Paris, London, and Baltimore to show how they reflect the medium’s history and evolution, thereby challenging the prevalent assumptions about television as quintessentially suburban and showing how television shapes our perception of urban spaces, both familiar and unknown.

978-0-8223-7038-3.jpgIn Ezili’s Mirrors Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley traces how contemporary queer Caribbean and African American writers, filmmakers, musicians, and performers evoke the divinity Ezili—a pantheon of lwa feminine spirits in Vodou—in ways that offer a new model of queer black feminist theory.

Focusing on the hemispheric circulation of South American musical cultures, in On Site, In Sound, Kirstie A. Dorr examines the spatiality of sound and the ways in which the sonic is bound to perceptions and constructions of geographic space, showing how people can use music and sound to challenge and transform dominant conceptions of place.

Attending to diverse practices of everyday living and doing—of form, style, and scenography—in Jacques Rancière’s writings, Davide Panagia explores Rancière’s aesthetics of politics as it informs his radical democratic theory of participation in Ranciere’s Sentiments.

In Reclaiming the Discarded Kathleen Millar offers a comprehensive ethnography of Jardim Gramacho, a sprawling garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where self-employed workers, known as catadores, collect recyclable materials and ultimately generate new modes of living within the precarious conditions of urban poverty.

978-0-8223-7036-9Bianca C. Williams’s The Pursuit of Happiness traces the experiences of African American women who travel to Jamaica and form affective relationships with Jamaican men and women that help construct notions of diasporic belonging and a form of happiness that resists the damaging intersections of racism and patriarchy in the United States.

We Wanted a Revolution: New Perspectives is the companion volume to the acclaimed Sourcebook, both of which accompany the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985. New Perspectives includes new essays that place the exhibition’s works in historical and contemporary contexts, poems by Alice Walker, and numerous illustrations. The exhibition is at the California African American Museum until January 14 and then travels to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.

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The Most Read Articles of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 15 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

ddjhppl_38_2Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health
by Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin

The Impact of the ACA on Premiums: Evidence from the Self-Employed
by Bradley T. Heim, Gillian Hunter, Ithai Z. Lurie, and Shanthi P. Ramnath

Revisiting Postmodernism: An Interview with Fredric Jameson
by Nico Baumbach, Damon R. Young, and Genevieve Yue

Policy Diffusion across Disparate Disciplines: Private- and Public-Sector Dynamics Affecting State-Level Adoption of the ACA
by Rena M. Conti and David K. Jones

ddpcult_27_1Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy
by Alice E. Marwick

Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?
by Cathy J. Cohen

Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe

Pascal’s Wager: Health Insurance Exchanges, Obamacare, and the Republican Dilemma
by David K. Jones, Katharine W. V. Bradley, and Jonathan Oberlander

Policy Diffusion in Polarized Times: The Case of the Affordable Care Act
by Craig Volden

Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy
by Arjun Appadurai

ddbou_44_2The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump
by Peter E. Gordon

My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage
by Susan Stryker

Introduction: Antinormativity’s Queer Conventions
by Robyn Wiegman

Michael Brown
by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten

Althusser’s Dramaturgy and the Critique of Ideology
by Étienne Balibar

The Jamaican 1960s

ddsmx_21_3_54The most recent issue of Small Axe features a special section, “The Jamaican 1960s.” This section prompts contributors to rethink the cultural-political historiography of Jamaica, as well as question the normative narrative of the making of modern Jamaica.

The revisionary historiographic starting point of the section is the 1960s. Contributors revisit this decade through varied forms of analysis, considering topics from Creole Nationalism to radical skepticism in 1960s Jamaican fiction to post-1952 U.S. foreign policy’s effect on local and colonial perceptions of people’s struggles for sovereignty. The impetus of these essays is not to find fault with the older paradigm but to explore, provisionally and experimentally, how or to what extent this paradigm is helpful in illuminating contemporary Jamaica. The essays themselves grew out of a symposium organized around the theme of the Jamaican 1960s held at the University of Miami in October 2015.

Read the introduction to the section, “On the Very Idea of the Making of Modern Jamaica,” by David Scott, made freely available.

Readings on the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

October 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and a distinct turning point in world history. Check out our books and journal issues on the Revolution and its legacy.

ddlab_14_3In the most recent issue of Labor, the journal’s Up for Debate section focuses solely on the anniversary of October 1917. In the introduction to the section, Eric Arnesen writes, “The revolution brought about by the Bolsheviks had a profound impact not merely on what was to become the Soviet Union but on the development of the Left and the fate of workers’ movements in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas as well.”

Contributors to the section track socialism throughout the last 100 years, analyze the Revolution and the American Left, and view the Revolution through a micro-history of a Brazilian metalworker of African descent. Read the essays from this section, made freely available.

978-0-8223-6949-3The centenary of the Russian Revolution is the perfect time to consider the legacy of communism. In her new book Red Hangover, Kristen Ghodsee examines the legacies of twentieth-century communism twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell. Ghodsee’s essays and short stories reflect on the lived experience of postsocialism and how many ordinary men and women across Eastern Europe suffered from the massive social and economic upheavals in their lives after 1989. An accessible introduction to the history of European state socialism and postcommunism, Red Hangover reveals how the events of 1989 continue to shape the world today.

dispatchesA special correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, Morgan Philips Price was one of the few Englishmen in Russia during all phases of the Revolution. Although his Bolshevik sympathies accorded him an insider’s perspective on much of the turmoil, his reports were often heavily revised or suppressed. In Dispatches from the RevolutionTania Rose collects for the first time Price’s correspondence from Russia—official and unofficial, published and unpublished—to reveal a side of Russian life and politics that fell largely unreported in the years before, during, and after the Revolution.

978-0-8223-6324-8Originally published in 1937, C. L. R. James’s World Revolution, 1917-1936 is a pioneering Marxist analysis of the history of revolutions during the interwar period and of the fundamental conflict between Trotsky and Stalin. A new definitive edition, published this year to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution, features an introduction by Christian Høgsbjerg and includes rare archival material, selected contemporary reviews, and extracts from James’s 1939 interview with Trotsky.

The Russia Reader, edited by Adele Marie Barker and Bruce Grant, includes a section on the Revolution that reprints many primary documents, from The Communist Manifesto, Lenin’s The Withering Away of the State, and Viktor Shklovsky’s Revolution and the Front to Anton Okninsky’s Two Years among the Peasants in Tambov Province and letters written by ordinary Russians in the wake of the Revolution.

Now available from South Atlantic Quarterly

ddsaq_116_4October! The Soviet Centenary
edited by Michael Hardt and Sandro Mezzadra

Contributors to this issue approach the October 1917 Russian Revolution and the experiments of the revolutionary period as events that opened new possibilities for politics that remain vital one hundred years later. The essays highlight how those events not only affected Russia and Europe but led to the emergence of a new political image of the world and a profound rethinking of Marxist traditions. This issue globalizes the 1917 revolution, emphasizing its echoes throughout the world and the parallel development of political possibilities beyond Russia. Topics include the Soviets from the revolution to the present, the impact of the revolution in Latin America, the work of the legal theorist Evgeny Pashukanis analyzed through the lens of the revolution, anarchist imaginaries, and the historicizing of communism.

After #Ferguson, After #Baltimore: The Challenge of Black Death and Black Life for Black Political Thought

ddsaq_116_3The most recent issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, “After #Ferguson, After #Baltimore: The Challenge of Black Death and Black Life for Black Political Thought,” edited by Barnor Hesse and Juliet Hooker, is now available.

Drawing primarily on the US #blacklivesmatter movement, contributors to this issue come to terms with the crisis in the meaning of black politics during the post–civil rights era as evidenced in the unknown trajectories of black protests. The authors’ timely essays frame black protests and the implications of contemporary police killings of black people as symptomatic of a crisis in black politics within the white limits of liberal democracy.

Topics in this issue include the contemporary politics of black rage; the significance of the Ferguson and Baltimore black protests in circumventing formal electoral politics; the ways in which centering the dead black male body draws attention away from other daily forms of racial and gender violence that particularly affect black women; the problem of white nationalisms motivated by a sense of white grievance; the international and decolonial dimensions of black politics; and the relation between white sovereignty and black life politics.

Read the introduction, made freely available.

Sneak Peek: Kristen Ghodsee, Red Hangover

We’re pleased to share the prelude, titled Freundschaft, of Kristen Ghodsee’s upcoming book Red Hangover: Legacies of Twentieth-Century Communism. In Red Hangover Ghodsee reflects on the lived experience of postsocialism and how many ordinary men and women across Eastern Europe suffered from the massive social and economic upheavals in their lives after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This text is not final, but we hope it gives you a taste of this impactful new book, to be published in late October.

978-0-8223-6949-3

Two pairs of earrings, four bracelets, and a mixtape inspired me to write this book. I was in the Stadtmuseum in the German city of Jena, peering into the various display cases of an exhibit called Freundschaft! Mythos und Realität im Alltag der DDR (Friendship! Myth and reality in everyday life in the GDR [German Democratic Republic]). The exhibit ruminated on the official and unofficial uses of the word “friendship” in the context of communist East Germany between 1949 and 1989. In one case, the museum’s curators displayed the personal items of a teenage girl who had gone to a Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth) summer camp in 1985. There, accompanying some photos and a letter she sent home to her parents, sat a white cassette tape, some plastic bracelets, and two pairs of oversized, cheap earrings, the kind once fashionable in the mid-1980s when every girl’s hair was two stories too high.

Back in 1985, I spent several weeks of my summer at a camp in the Cuyamaca Mountains one hour east of San Diego. When I left home, I remember packing several pairs of the same horrible earrings, some plastic bangles, and a stack of mixtapes with my favorite songs recorded off the local Top 40 radio station. Standing in Jena thirty years later, I experienced one of those moments of radical empathy, and tried to imagine what my life would have been like if I’d gone to summer camp in communist East Germany rather than in capitalist California. This girl and I might have shared the same passion for similar material objects, but we would have been ideological enemies, surviving our adolescences on different sides of the Iron Curtain.

OK - 10/14/16

A billboard for the Freundschaft exhibit in Jena. All photos by the author.

From the placard on the display case, I understood that this girl was born in 1971, one year after me. Somewhere out there, this girl was now a woman about my age, and I longed to talk to her, to ask her what she remembered about that summer of 1985, and how things had worked out for her since. This German girl would have been eighteen when the Berlin Wall fell, and nineteen when her country ceased to exist. She would have just graduated from secondary school, and probably listened to Madonna and Fine Young Cannibals as I did: “Express Yourself,” “Like a Prayer,” and “She Drives Me Crazy.” But where I had the luxury of geopolitical continuity in my personal life, this East German faced a young adulthood of dramatic social and economic upheaval.

OK - 10/14/16

Items from the East German Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth).

When I left the museum, I wandered through the cobblestone alleyways leading off the main market square. I saw posters for two upcoming demonstrations in Jena. The right-wing, anti-immigrant political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) would organize a rally and a march in the Marktplatz while Germany’s left-wing party, Die Linke (The Left), in a coalition with other centrist and leftist parties, would organize a counterdemonstration in front of the church. The counterprotesters had plastered the small city with posters saying “FCK AFD” and “refugees welcome,” and I guessed that the center/left demonstrators would outnumber their right-wing counterparts.

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Read to Respond Wrap-Up

R2R final logoSeveral months ago we launched our  “Read to Respond” series to highlight some of our most groundbreaking scholarship engaged with today’s pressing issues. Each topic, from student activism to racial justice, is highlighted with a reading list that encourages students and teachers alike to join the conversation surrounding these current events. 

Revisit your favorite “Read to Respond” topics so far and share these resources in and out of the classroom. These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017.

Read to Respond: Labor

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on labor, worker’s rights, and neoliberalism. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Labor

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.