Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities (2018)

Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene Interruptions and Possibilities book cover

Nice collection forthcoming in Dec 2018.

Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and Possibilities, Erik Swyngedouw & Henrik Ernstson, Eds., Routledge, 2018

This looks like a great paper on the importance of ecological value theory.

Excerpt from “Value, Nature & The Vortex Of Accumulation,” Jason Moore and Richard Walker

Why bother with value theory? When the classical political economists began to deploy a theory of value to understand the economy it was because the generalization of markets meant that commodity prices had come to be regulated by exchange. For the classicals, value was an objective foundation behind the vagaries of prices, and in a pre-industrial era of handicraft or “manufacture,” labour time was the obvious standard determining value. At the same time, however, they were engaged in fierce debates with opposing views of economy, state, and society. In these debates, the theory of value was mobilized as a weapon of social change, which is why it was called political economy (Varney 2012; Farber 2006).

Marx trod in the footsteps of his predecessors.The labour theory of value was the obvious starting point on a long analytic journey to uncover the workings of capital. For Marx, value was not just the basis of price determination, but the key to unlocking the source of profits, class struggle, and capital accumulation. Along the way, he made technical corrections to the classical theory of value to account for the greater complexity of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism (Marx 1977).1 Most of all, he made two great discoveries: how surplus value could arise in a system of equal exchange and how generalized value turned into capital accumulation.

Entangled Worlds (2017)

Historically speaking, theology can be said to operate “materiaphobically.” Protestant Christianity in particular has bestowed upon theology a privilege of the soul over the body and belief over practice, in line with the distinction between a disembodied God and the inanimate world “He” created. Like all other human, social, and natural sciences, religious studies imported these theological dualisms into a purportedly secular modernity, mapping them furthermore onto the distinction between a rational, “enlightened” Europe on the one hand and a variously emotional, “primitive,” and “animist” non-Europe on the other.

The “new materialisms” currently coursing through cultural, feminist, political, and queer theories seek to displace human privilege by attending to the agency of matter itself. Far from being passive or inert, they show us that matter acts, creates, destroys, and transforms—and, as such, is more of a process than a thing. Entangled Worlds examines the intersections of religion and new and old materialisms. Calling upon an interdisciplinary throng of scholars in science studies, religious studies, and theology, it assembles a multiplicity of experimental perspectives on materiality: What is matter, how does it materialize, and what sorts of worlds are enacted in its varied entanglements with divinity?

While both theology and religious studies have over the past few decades come to prioritize the material contexts and bodily ecologies of more-than-human life, Entangled Worlds sets forth the first multivocal conversation between religious studies, theology, and the body of “the new materialism.” Here disciplines and traditions touch, transgress, and contaminate one another across their several carefully specified contexts. And in the responsiveness of this mutual touching of science, religion, philosophy, and theology, the growing complexity of our entanglements takes on a consistent ethical texture of urgency.
— Read on www.fordhampress.com/9780823276226/entangled-worlds/

Premonitions, AK Thompson (2018)

Now available! Order for 25% off the list price for a limited time.

Bringing together a decade of AK Thompson’s essays on the culture of revolt, Premonitions offers an engaged assessment of contemporary radical politics. Inspired by Walter Benjamin and addressing themes ranging from violence and representation to Romanticism and death, Thompson combines scholarship and grassroots grit to disabuse us of cherished certainties. Whether uncovering the unrealized promise buried in mainstream cultural offerings or tracing our course toward the moment of reckoning ahead, the essays in Premonitions are both practical investigations and provocations.

“AK Thompson’s meditations on love and insurrection provide crucial tools for untangling the neuroses that pervade our culture of revolt. From critical theory to Craigslist, Odysseus to Occupy, Premonitions challenges us to confront the world around us without becoming reconciled to a reality that debases us all.” —Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

“Politics without violence is inconceivable: how does that change what we think of solidarity, action, and world-building, or practices of community and political aesthetics? AK Thompson’s gripping Premonitions forcefully and with conceptual delicacy reconsiders this question. Arguing that activism taps into the revelatory capacities of political violence, the essays develop a creative vision of what collective action can do. Thompson, a brilliant political theorist, works from the ground up and provides a great, inspiriting and clarifying lexicon to work with.” —Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism.

“A pleasure. “This incendiary little book is also a finely balanced one. It asks the defining questions of our hard moment and shows why the answers are uneasy  ones. One part an elegiac history of recent freedom movements and their quandaries, one part a caution against any too-easy commitment to nonviolence, Premonitions teems with insights.” — David Roediger, author of Class, Race, and Marxism.

AK Thompson is an activist, author, and social theorist. Currently a professor of social movements and social change at Ithaca College, his publications include Sociology for Changing the World: Social Movements/Social Research (2006), Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent (2010), Spontaneous Combustion: The Eros Effect and Global Revolution (2017) and co-edited Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle (2016). Between 2005 and 2012, he served on the Editorial Committee of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action.

— Read on www.akpress.org/premonitions.html

What Is Real? | Giorgio Agamben

Eighty years ago, Ettore Majorana, a brilliant student of Enrico Fermi, disappeared under mysterious circumstances while going by ship from Palermo to Naples. How is it possible that the most talented physicist of his generation vanished without leaving a trace? It has long been speculated that Majorana decided to abandon physics, disappearing because he had precociously realized that nuclear fission would inevitably lead to the atomic bomb. This book advances a different hypothesis. Through a careful analysis of Majorana’s article The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences, which shows how in quantum physics reality is dissolved into probability, and in dialogue with Simone Weil’s considerations on the topic, Giorgio Agamben suggests that, by disappearing into thin air, Majorana turned his very person into an exemplary cipher of the status of the real in our probabilistic universe. In so doing, the physicist posed a question to science that is still awaiting an answer: What is Real?

— Read on www.sup.org/books/title/

Two Recent Articles on New Materialism

The Head, the Hand, and Matter: New Materialism and the Politics of Knowledge

P Rekret – Theory, Culture & Society, 2018
This article seeks to examine the political connotations of a recent ‘material turn’ in social and political theory and its implications for theorizations of political agency. ‘New materialist’ theories are premised upon transcending the limits which social constructivism places upon thought, viewed as a reification of the division of subject and object and so a hubristic anthropocentrism which places human beings at the centre of social existence. Yet new materialist theories have tended to locate the conditions of the separation of mind and world they seek to overcome upon the terrain of epistemic or ethical error. By taking the work of Quentin Meillassoux, Jane Bennett and Karen Barad as exemplary, this article contends that new materialist theories not only fall short of their own materialist pretensions insofar as they do not interrogate the material conditions of the separation of the mental and material, but that the failure to do so has profound repercussions for the success of their accounts of political agency. This essay seeks to offer a counter-narrative to new materialist theories by situating the hierarchy between thought and world as a structural feature of capitalist social relations.

Materia Agens, Materia Loquens: Ecocriticism and the Narrative Agency of Matter

S Iovino – 2018

Inspired by the theoretical debates about distributed fields of agency and of meaning, the so-called “material turn” sheds its effects also on ecocriticism. Its main conceptual tenet, the agency of matter, has in fact vast implications on the ideas of narrativity and text. If matter is agentic, and endowed with meanings, every material configuration, from bodies to their contexts of living, is “telling,” and therefore can be the object of a critical analysis aimed at discovering its stories, its material and discursive interplays, its place in a “cho- reography of becoming.” In this article I will explore this new dimension of ecocriticism looking at the example of some meaningful narratives about the intermingling of living bodies, social forms, and what, following Bruno Latour, we can call “actants”: “things” or assemblages of things that, in various forms and patterns, interact and interfere with human life, interlacing with the emerging meanings and agencies. In particular, I will concentrate on visual media and literary “embodied” narratives that show how the “material self” is a crossroads of multiple agencies.

The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, Jasbir K. Puar (2017)

I missed this one from last year, but it looks great.

  • Description

    In The Right to Maim Jasbir K. Puar brings her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to bear on our understanding of disability. Drawing on a stunning array of theoretical and methodological frameworks, Puar uses the concept of “debility”—bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors—to disrupt the category of disability. She shows how debility, disability, and capacity together constitute an assemblage that states use to control populations. Puar’s analysis culminates in an interrogation of Israel’s policies toward Palestine, in which she outlines how Israel brings Palestinians into biopolitical being by designating them available for injury. Supplementing its right to kill with what Puar calls the right to maim, the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. Tracing disability’s interaction with debility and capacity, Puar offers a brilliant rethinking of Foucauldian biopolitics while showing how disability functions at the intersection of imperialism and racialized capital.

    About The Author(s)

    Jasbir K. Puar is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and the author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, also published by Duke University Press.
  • Preface: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!  ix
    Acknowledgments  xxv
    Introduction: The Cost of Getting Better  1
    1. Bodies with New Organs: Becoming Trans, Becoming Disabled  33
    2. Crip Nationalism: From Narrative Prosthesis to Disaster Capitalism  63
    3. Disabled Diaspora, Rehabilitating State: The Queer Politics of Reproduction in Palestine/Israel  95
    4. “Will Not Let Die”: Debilitation and Inhuman Biopolitics in Palestine  127
    Postscript: Treatment without Checkpoints  155
    Notes  163
    Bibliography  223
    Index  261

The Birth of Nomos, Thanos Zartaloudis (2018)

This book looks absolutely essential. My only resource on this important term for the last decade has been Emmanuel Laroche, Histoire de la racine nem- en grec ancien (nemō, nemesis, nomos, nomizō) (1949).

 

Delves into the history of the ancient Greek word nomos (and related words) to reveal the interdisciplinary depth of this term beyond its later meaning of ‘law’ or ‘law-making’

This is a highly original, interdisciplinary study of the archaic Greek word nomos and its family of words. Thanos Zartaloudis draws out the richness of this fundamental term by exploring its many uses over the centuries.

The Birth of Nomos includes extracts from a wide range of ancient sources, in both the original and English translation, including material from legal history, philosophy, philology, linguistics, ancient history, poetry, archaeology, ancient musicology and anthropology. Through a thorough analysis of these extracts, we gain a new understanding of nomos and its foundational place in the Western legal tradition.

Key Features

  • Assembles a genealogical history of the ancient Greek work nomos, showing how it contains a richness that is not reflected in its classical and modern usage as simply ‘law’ or ‘law-making’

  • Draws on works by ancient Greek philosophers, poets and tragedians including Homer, Hesiod, Alcman, Pindar, Archilochos, Theognis, Heraclitus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Plato

  • Includes extracts from ancient primary sources, in both the original and in English translation, to analyse how nomos has been used in the literary evidence and in context

  • Considers how nomos has been used by contemporary philosophers, including Agamben, Foucault, Heidegger, Schmitt, Deleuze and Axelos, and re-examines their interpretations

https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-the-birth-of-nomos-hb.html

Thanos Zartaloudis, The Birth of Nomos – Edinburgh University Press, November 2018