New Formations

100 – 101: Bureaucracy – print

New Formations is recognised internationally for its cutting edge analysis of contemporary culture and politics.

Articles in this peer-reviewed journal bring innovative and interdisciplinary perspectives to diverse and pressing areas of contemporary scholarship. The core intellectual remit of the journal is to publish original work that explores the uses of cultural theory for the analysis of political and social issues.

‘For increasingly rare and very welcome undisciplinary theorising about the contemporary predicament, reach for New Formations.’ Ien Ang

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New Formations 86: Sexism

January 2016

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New Formations 82: Mood Work

November 2014

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New Formations 63: Happiness

March 2008

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New Formations 61: Kracauer

August 2007

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New Formations 86: Sexism

January 2016

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Editorial (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

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Neoliberal capitalism’s bureaucracies of ‘governance’ (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

The account of bureaucracy under neoliberal capitalism which I present in this article under the innocuous heading it prefers to use to describe itself (‘governance’) draws together recent critical work by David Graeber, Wendy Brown, William Davies and Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, which it repositions in relation to Jacques Rancière’s conception of the ‘police order’. The key claims of the new critique of bureaucracy thus delineated are: (i) that neoliberal capitalism’s ‘stealth revolution’ (Brown) is primarily effected by way of a proliferation of bureaucracies; (ii) that these bureaucracies reconstruct the world as an array of ‘overlapping competitions’ (Davies); (iii) that competitive hierarchisation (‘ranking’) is the key bureaucratic form, or process, in each of these administrative fiefdoms. To this new critique I add a Derridean reflection on the longstanding mystical or metaphysical appeal of hierarchy and also argue that bureaucratic organisation is the mundane way in which an anti-democratic commitment to hierarchy becomes naturalised. To understand the continuity between the administrative and coercive dimensions of the police order of governance I draw on work in critical criminology on ‘the new punitiveness’ and scholarship from critical security studies which views security professionals as experts in the governmental management of ‘(in)security’. I suggest that the massive production of insecurity by proliferating bureaucracies which structure neoliberalism’s project of competitive hierarchisation creates the ideal conditions for a vicious circle of securitarian inflation.

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Bright Grey: The Political Dialectic of Bureaucratic Boredom (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

In addition to accusations of authoritarianism, arbitrariness, and inefficiency, one of the more persistent criticisms of bureaucracy is that it tends to be rather boring. Yet while this boringness has historically informed both scholarly and popular forms of anti-bureaucratic critique, in this article I argue that it also might reflect necessary, and even desirable, aspects of democratic political practice. Working with fictional texts that have sought to represent bureaucratic boringness, in particular The Apartment (1960) and The Pale King (2011), this article traces how the aesthetic quality of boringness has historically been understood as a means by which bureaucratic systems can facilitate oppressive and anti-democratic forms of politics. However, with reference to recent attempts to automate and streamline contemporary bureaucratic systems, I argue that it does not necessarily follow that the elimination of boringness makes such systems more accessible and responsive. Instead, I suggest that boringness is better understood dialectically as a difficult but potentially necessary part of living together in complex societies. In doing so, I aim not to redeem bureaucracy and boringness, but also to argue for the necessity of an anti-heroic, pragmatic mode of politics. 

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Reviews (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

Making use of interpretive methods of social inquiry, informed by disability studies, I show how the Western bureaucratic orientation is particularly troubled by those unable to keep the rules. Disability is, today, a term used to delineate such an inability. Exploring the meaning of bureaucratic definitions of disability can help us learn something about the organising force of bureaucracy on our lives. In particular, this paper explores a paradox found within the bureaucratic orientation whereby disability is conceptualised as lack of function resulting in an inability to keep the rules that is, nonetheless, managed by the imposition of further rules that need to be kept. Ultimately, this paper tries to reveal what becomes of disability under bureaucratic control not only to learn something about how bureaucracy works but also to learn something about how disability is made meaningful.

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The Expansion of Prevent: On the Politics of Legibility, Opacity and Decolonial Critique (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

It is argued here that the liberal state has authoritarian aspects that are irreducible to the authoritarian aspects of neoliberalism. The argument draws on James Scott’s work on modern state ruling through bureaucratic ‘legibility’, and the decolonial work of S. Sayyid on how a form of political Islam he calls ‘Islamism’ challenges the west’s construction of modernity as an intrinsically western project. The state’s need for legibility undermines democracy by seeking to shape political debate and political activity to fit its bureaucratic channels for engagement, and Islamophobia caused by the UK state’s reaction to Islamism, shapes how the UK state seeks control via legibility. Prevent expanded in 2011 from focusing on ‘violent extremism’ to ‘extremism’, with extremism defined in terms of normative commitments the state takes to be in tension with its conception of ‘British values’. The state defined the Muslim population as opaque because they were taken to not be socially integrated. This was used to justify a repressive ubiquitous surveillance based on what is termed here a ‘legibility of symptoms’. This was presented, after 2015, as paternalistic ‘safeguarding’, when workers in public sector bureaucracies became legally obligated to carry out Prevent surveillance. Left-wing and environmental organisations engaged in extra-parliamentary protest are now as defined as potentially extremist. With the expansion of Prevent in 2011, the state created a ‘pre-crime’ space in civil society that is taken to justify repressive surveillance, presented as paternalistic safeguarding to save individuals ‘at risk’ of ‘radicalisation’ from going on to commit criminal acts.

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The Bureaucratic Vocation: State / Office / Ethics (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

This paper seeks to indicate how and why public bureaucracy has been and remains a cornerstone of the modern state and of representative democratic governmental regimes. It does so by highlighting both the constitutive role bureaucratic practices and ethics play in securing civil peace and security, and individual and collective rights and freedoms, for example, and how attempts to transcend, negate, or otherwise ‘disappear’ bureaucracy can have profound political consequences. The paper begins with a brief exploration of some of the tropes of ‘bureau-critique’ and their historical and contemporary association with key elements of anti-statist thought. It then proceeds, in section two, to chart how attempts to detach an understanding of bureaucracy from its imbrication in critical polemic and political partisanship can be best pursued by revisiting the work of Max Weber. Weber’s great achievement, it will be argued, was to provide a definitive analysis of both the ‘technical’ and ethico-cultural attributes of public bureaucracy without falling into pejorative critique. In so doing, Weber’s work provides a useful resource for exploring the limits and pitfalls of ‘bureau-critique’ historically and contemporaneously. The problems identified with politically partisan and critique- oriented understandings of public bureaucracy identified in the first two sections of the paper are then illustrated in section three with direct reference to specific episodes in German, US, and British political history. The paper concludes by re-emphasising the enduring significance and political positivity of the ethos of bureaucratic office-holding, not least in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Towards a Bureaucracy of the Body (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

The objective of this article is to explore the evolution of what Beatrice Hibou calls the bureaucratisation of the world through a cultural history of the idea of bureaucracy in the western canon, taking in readings of Max Weber, Franz Kafka, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. The purpose of this historical survey is to reveal the essential problem of bureaucracy relating to the estrangement of body and writing in a state of modern technological abstraction. In order to set up this cultural history the first part of the article concerns perhaps the originary moment of the estrangement of humanity from writing, Socrates’ story of the gift of writing from Plato’s Phaedrus. Following exploration of Socrates’ story, the article considers Derrida’s famous analysis of the pharmakon of writing and suggests that what Derrida considered the original problem of speech and writing (that is, the need to decentre the proto-totalitarian idea of presence) no longer applies in the contemporary bureaucratised world where writing itself has evolved its own totalitarian form – abstract bureaucratic language that no longer speaks to the human. The article goes on to trace the evolution of this strange form of writing through exploration of the key works of Weber, Kafka, Arendt, and Foucault, before concluding by suggesting that what is required to move beyond the bureaucratisation of the world is the reversal of Derrida’s pharmakon towards a situation that recognises the presence of human being in the world. Extending this point, the final section of the article concludes by suggesting that it is possible to find this argument in Bernard Stiegler’s work and explaining that his theory of the neganthropocene may contain a solution of the problem of estranged writing and the totally bureaucratised world.

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Hayek Shrugged: Why Bureaucracy Didn’t Die Under Neoliberalism But Boomed Instead (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

Commentators have observed how neoliberal capitalism – contrary to the official narrative – frequently correlates with enthusiastic bureaucratisation, and perhaps has done so from its inception. Despite this acknowledgement, the precise mechanisms involved remain obscure. Focusing mainly on the writings of F.A Hayek, I argue that economic libertarianism is often contingent on a particular spirit of administration, justification for which can be found in the ‘fine print’ of Hayek among others. Furthermore, this counterintuitive symbiosis is realised through three institutional mechanisms, fuelling bureaucratisation in ostensibly pro-market environments. I discuss these mechanisms before exploring the implications they have for opposing the present economic regime.

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Bright Grey: The Political Dialectic of Bureaucratic Boredom (New Formations 100, 101, )

August 1, 2020

In addition to accusations of authoritarianism, arbitrariness, and inefficiency, one of the more persistent criticisms of bureaucracy is that it tends to be rather boring. Yet while this boringness has historically informed both scholarly and popular forms of anti-bureaucratic critique, in this article I argue that it also might reflect necessary, and even desirable, aspects of democratic political practice. Working with fictional texts that have sought to represent bureaucratic boringness, in particular The Apartment (1960) and The Pale King (2011), this article traces how the aesthetic quality of boringness has historically been understood as a means by which bureaucratic systems can facilitate oppressive and anti-democratic forms of politics. However, with reference to recent attempts to automate and streamline contemporary bureaucratic systems, I argue that it does not necessarily follow that the elimination of boringness makes such systems more accessible and responsive. Instead, I suggest that boringness is better understood dialectically as a difficult but potentially necessary part of living together in complex societies. In doing so, I aim not to redeem bureaucracy and boringness, but also to argue for the necessity of an anti-heroic, pragmatic mode of politics. 

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Living with ambivalence: bureaucracy, antistatism and ‘progressive’ politics (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

This paper addresses a paradox. Bureaucracy, I argue, can be viewed as an ideological construct mobilised in both in the anti-statist rhetoric of neoliberalism, and in discourses of the ‘progressive’ left. But it is also integral to a range of contemporary calls for the regulation of corporate power, public action and personal conduct. Does left/progressive politics, then, mean rescuing bureaucracy in a reimagined polity capable of protecting citizens from harm and restoring notions of the state as a guarantor of public rights and justice? Or are left-inclined movements right to critique bureaucratic institutions and search for alternative organisational forms more capable of engaging or even ‘empowering’ citizens? The paper traces the slips and slides between negative representations of bureaucracy, regulation and the state itself, and asks how far emerging work can offer counter-narratives that serve to reimagine or reclaim them for ‘progressive’ purposes. 

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Bureaucracy as Politics in Action in Parks and Recreation (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

The North American television show Parks and Recreation focuses on the bureaucratic processes and practices of managing the Parks and Recreation Department for the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Filmed in the mockumentary style of television comedies such as The Office, humour is derived from the discrepancy between the self-importance the main character, Leslie Knope, deputy director of the department, attaches to the department’s work and the mundane realities of mid-level bureaucracy in municipal government. Nevertheless, in spite of this parodic discrepancy, the programme encourages viewers to sympathise with Leslie’s perspective that bureaucracy is foundational to building inter-organisational relationships and stimulating community activism. By using the mockumentary conceit to focus on public administration, Parks and Recreation also reveals the role of bureaucracy in place-making and the attendant histories that are included and excluded in the foundation of settler autochthony. Because the ideal of public administration as the service of community is emphasised, Parks and Recreation is also able to position the opposite of this ideal – reduction of municipal services and bureaucratic non-caring – as mockable and problematic for community interests, particularly the needs of women and minority groups. Parks and Recreation highlights how bureaucracy is politics in action that can fundamentally shape the civic, private, and communal spaces of residents’ lives. 

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The Paradox of Neoliberal Education Bureaucracy and Hysterical Resistance: The Case of New Zealand Schooling (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

Neoliberal discourse often positions itself as the antithesis of bureaucracy. However, as the hegemonic political project of the past forty years, neoliberalism has imposed various forms of bureaucracy, most notably, those that audit performance. This contradiction between antagonism towards bureaucracy and bureaucratising tendencies is particularly resonant in the contemporary neoliberalised education sector, where the perceived risk of not producing self-managing, autonomous, economically productive subjects must be minimised through audit mechanisms which, conversely, necessarily decrease those capacities in students. Through a case study of the neoliberalisation of New Zealand’s school sector, using the lens of Lacan’s four discourses, this article argues that the discourses of the Master and the University have worked together to sometimes obscure, but at other times highlight, this contradiction. Drawing on policy documents, political speeches and reports, I highlight that a key policy which increased the visibility of the contradiction was National Standards, introduced in 2007 to reduce the risk of the unknown through the collection of performance data. I also draw on interviews with educationalists who adopt the discourse of the hysteric as a means to publicly highlight this contradiction, contesting the symbolic mandate of the teacher-as-data-node, while avoiding the kinds of full-frontal resistance that might cost them their jobs and jeopardise the education of children.

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Editorial (New Formations 100, 101, )

August 1, 2020

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Automated Neoliberalism? The Digital Organisation of Markets in Technoscientific Capitalism (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

The core contradiction in neoliberalism (studies) is that markets are organised and require significant bureaucratic coordination and governance. In light of the increasingly technoscientific nature of contemporary capitalism, it is important to examine exactly how markets are organised and their governance configured by digital processes. In this article, I argue that the entanglement of digital technoscience and capitalism has led to an ‘automated neoliberalism’ in which markets are configured by digital platforms, personal lives are transformed through the accumulation of personal data, and social relations are automated through algorithms, distributed electronic ledgers, and rating systems. Two issues arise as a result of these changes: first, are markets being automated away, in that market exchange no longer underpins social organisation? And second, does individual and social reflexivity problematise techno-economic automation, in that new platforms, data assets, ranking algorithms, etc. are all dependent on individuals telling the ‘truth’? My aim in this article is to answer these questions and to consider the political implications of automated neoliberalism and our reflexive enrolment in it.

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The corporatisation of education: Bureaucracy, boredom, and transformative possibilities (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

In school and tertiary education sectors, the rise of accountability regimes parallels the growth in bureaucracy and marketisation of knowledge work. Increasing student numbers have not been matched by an increase in teaching staff, whilst new administrative positions in accounting, marketing, and legal services have ballooned. In this paper we are concerned to examine the impact of these institutional changes on the lived experiences of education professionals. In this context we are particularly interested in the potential rise of boredom among staff, and how boredom may work alongside other affects to generate both compliance and resistance to hyper-bureaucratic trends. Empirical studies on the intensification of ‘administrivia’ and ‘busy work’ in educational settings reveal among staff a perceived loss of intellectual integrity, longer work hours and impaired productivity, as well as diminished opportunities for interpersonal engagement. The collective feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and frustration that have accompanied these conditions have real potential to bottom out in feelings of disengagement and boredom among educators. Noting boredom’s role in sustaining hyper-bureaucratic structures within the education sector, we critically examine whether and to what extent it might also form part of shifting affective dynamics that can drive resistance to the proliferation of these structures.

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Neoliberal capitalism‚Äôs bureaucracies of ‘governance’ (New Formations 100, 101, )

August 1, 2020

The account of bureaucracy under neoliberal capitalism which I present in this article under the innocuous heading it prefers to use to describe itself (‘governance’) draws together recent critical work by David Graeber, Wendy Brown, William Davies and Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, which it repositions in relation to Jacques Rancière’s conception of the ‘police order’. The key claims of the new critique of bureaucracy thus delineated are: (i) that neoliberal capitalism’s ‘stealth revolution’ (Brown) is primarily effected by way of a proliferation of bureaucracies; (ii) that these bureaucracies reconstruct the world as an array of ‘overlapping competitions’ (Davies); (iii) that competitive hierarchisation (‘ranking’) is the key bureaucratic form, or process, in each of these administrative fiefdoms. To this new critique I add a Derridean reflection on the longstanding mystical or metaphysical appeal of hierarchy and also argue that bureaucratic organisation is the mundane way in which an anti-democratic commitment to hierarchy becomes naturalised. To understand the continuity between the administrative and coercive dimensions of the police order of governance I draw on work in critical criminology on ‘the new punitiveness’ and scholarship from critical security studies which views security professionals as experts in the governmental management of ‘(in)security’. I suggest that the massive production of insecurity by proliferating bureaucracies which structure neoliberalism’s project of competitive hierarchisation creates the ideal conditions for a vicious circle of securitarian inflation.

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The Bureaucratic Making of Disability (New Formations 100-101, )

August 1, 2020

Making use of interpretive methods of social inquiry, informed by disability studies, I show how the Western bureaucratic orientation is particularly troubled by those unable to keep the rules. Disability is, today, a term used to delineate such an inability. Exploring the meaning of bureaucratic definitions of disability can help us learn something about the organising force of bureaucracy on our lives. In particular, this paper explores a paradox found within the bureaucratic orientation whereby disability is conceptualised as lack of function resulting in an inability to keep the rules that is, nonetheless, managed by the imposition of further rules that need to be kept. Ultimately, this paper tries to reveal what becomes of disability under bureaucratic control not only to learn something about how bureaucracy works but also to learn something about how disability is made meaningful.

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Reviews (New Formations 100, 101, )

August 1, 2020

Yuk Hui’s Axio-Cosmology of the Unknown: Genesis and the Inhuman
Ekin Erkan reviews Yuk Hui, Recursivity and Contingency, London, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019, pp317, £24.95/£80.00

What Do You Want?
Bethan Michael-Fox reviews Mareile Pfannebecker and J.A. Smith, Work Want Work: Labour and Desire at the End of Capitalism, London, Zed, 2020, 208pp; £14.99 paperback. 
 

 

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Dispossessed Prosumption, Crowdsourcing and the Digital Regime of Work (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

Futurist Alvin Toffler and critical theorist and historian Michel Foucault both referenced the interface of consumption and production – ‘prosumption’ – around 1980 in considerably different ways. Whereas Toffler focused on the empirical basis of prosumption at a time of structural unemployment and customised demand, Foucault’s rendition was discursive and focused on the subjective dimension of prosumption under neoliberal governance. This article engages both contextual and subjective dimensions of prosumption in the context of digital life in the new millennium. Literature to date has emphasised prosumption from the vantage point of digital consumers, whose daily internet activity produces profit for firms while consumers receive no compensation for the data they produce and thereby are dispossessed of the fruits of their free labour – a perverse dimension of prosumption in the digital era. I extend the notion of dispossessed prosumption from the realm of digital consumers to digital producers – those who seek a wage through digital means – to permit an overarching conceptualisation of the digital regime of work, recognising important similarities and differences in the processes by which digital subjects experience dispossessed prosumption. I argue that for-profit crowdsourcing is the salient corporate strategy in the digital era regarding capital-labour relations, encompassing both digital consumers and producers, although it is covert regarding the former and overt regarding the latter. I explain how dispossessed prosumption uniquely configures for digital producers with reference to the requirement for self-capitalisation in a context of deepened precarity, while producers’ aspirations for a stable career and consumer lifestyle sustain the process. Although the processes by which digital producers and consumers are dispossessed differ relative to digital value chains, both digital consumers and producers nonetheless share vulnerability to digital addiction. Crucially, despite different strategies of resistance to date between digital consumers and producers, all resistance strategies are rooted in common sensibilities, which potentially can be weaponised towards transcending the dated consumption/production divide to realise an effective coalitional movement.

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The Consolation of Profit (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

Incessant marketing generates a concomitant reassurance: nothing is asked but purchasing. The desperation of sales might be reasonably expected to protect consumers from further complications. This consolation of profit helps explain a wide range of otherwise surprising preferences – for commercially bottled over tap water, for example. As a case study, this paper investigates the success of formulaic, fast food over riskier and possibly more rewarding restaurants. Predictable food – ‘Do you want fries with that?’ – and stilted interactions – ‘Have a nice day’ – congeal into a multimodal text announcing that profit is pursued, to the exclusion of any other demands. In another example, the extraordinary growth of so-called megachurches, as other forms of organised Christianity decline, attests the power of deliberately appropriating marketing culture. The self-styled pastorpreneurs’ constant appeal for funds reassures newcomers that, only payment being wanted, these churches uniquely present no unanticipated challenge. Finally, marketing’s surreal hammering of capitalism’s simple demand helps explain how an obsessive artist of ‘the deal’ might have been welcomed as US president.

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Editorial (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

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Agnes Heller and Biopolitics (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

This article is published as a tribute to the late Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller, who died earlier this year. Heller was best known as a prolific writer and political activist whose academic work addressed a wide range of topics, including the status of reformist Marxism, modernism, postmodernism, democracy and aesthetics. The article comprises an introduction, outlining Heller’s career as a political dissident and activist, academic philosopher and public intellectual, and an edited transcript of a discussion with Heller, conducted in 2010, focusing on her work on biopolitics. The discussion-interview reflects its historical moment both in the nature of the questions posed and in Heller’s responses to them. Heller elaborates her thinking on this topic with particular reference to the following issues: the technical, moral and legal limits of biopolitics in relation to new biological technologies such as genetic engineering; the tension between conceptions of biopolitics as a type of identity politics and as a practice of governmentality and demography; Giorgio Agamben’s theorising on biopolitics in Homo Sacer and Hannah Arendt’s views on political representation and her distinction between the private and public spheres. Heller also addresses other themes that run through her oeuvre, such as the status and meanings of democracy, totalitarianism, minority rights, and the relationship between ecological science and politics. The conversational tone of the discussion provides a concise and accessible introduction to Heller’s later work and conveys her sense of dynamic engagement with what continue to be urgent political and philosophical issues.

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On Capital’s Watch: Derivative Ecology and the Temporal Logic of Biodiversity Credits (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

How is it possible to profit from protecting the environment, rather than through deepening its terminal crisis? In recent years, a growing group of investors, economists and governments have answered this question with a range of market-based instruments designed to facilitate the commodification and trade of everything from carbon to wetlands. A popular approach has been to establish ecological credit schemes that allow businesses to destroy a discrete ecosystem in return for the restoration of an ecological site elsewhere. Numerous scholars have already emphasised the questionable spatial politics inherent to such initiatives. Focusing on the UK’s emergent biodiversity credit policy regime, this article, by contrast, considers what effect credit schemes have on the temporal dynamics of the ecosystems they capture. Drawing on discussions of financialisation in the social sciences, we show how biodiversity credits rearticulate ecosystems as units of ‘derivative ecology’, which makes the future of these ecosystems actionable in the present, at the same time as it restricts their capacity to adapt to anthropogenic climate change. When discussed alongside recent currents in ecological theory that emphasise novelty, futurity and resilience through change, the gap widens between ecological and financial approaches to restoration. Consequently, we argue that market-based instruments such as biodiversity credits are constitutively unable to embrace the futurity of ecology on its own terms, because they have their own temporal logic that cannot help but petrify their bearers of value.

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Compensatory Cultures: post-2008 Climate Mechanisms for Crisis Times (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

This paper charts emerging scholarship on what I conceptualise as ‘compensatory cultures’; cultures that are, in essence, compensatory responses to crisis, but are presented and received as desirable, even preferable ways of organising life. Since the 2008 crash, precarity has become a new normal and a dominant structure-of-feeling in the global north. I argue that compensatory cultures alleviate precarity’s affective impacts, enabling ‘business as usual’, yet do so in ways that perpetuate that precarity and the conditions that reproduce it. I survey literature on compensatory urbanisms, compensatory labour and compensatory consumption; demonstrating the compensatory as a pervasive mechanism operating across various cultural settings in the post-recession, austerity context. The work explored reveals compensatory cultures as central in remaking places, structuring social relations and producing meaning in crisis times. 

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What is this ‘Black’ in Black Studies?: From Black British Cultural Studies to Black Critical Thought in U.K. Arts and Higher Education (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

The aim of this article is two-fold. Firstly, it identifies and maps out a new presence in race discourse in the UK arts and higher education, under the heading of ‘US Black Critical Thought’. Secondly, it seeks to situate ‘US Black Critical Thought’ and its growing impact upon intellectual and aesthetic discourses on race in the UK through the lens of the longer-term project of ‘Black British Cultural Studies’. The article traces the formation and eventual dissolving of ‘Black British Cultural Studies’ from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, and suggests that ‘US Black Critical Thought’ has energised a cohort of younger thinkers and artists in Britain, following a period where the intellectual left side-lined race as a serious category of theoretical or critical analysis.

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Reviews and Booknote (New Formations 99, )

April 1, 2020

Reviews

The Insistent Poetics of Relation
Shahidha Bari  reviews Moten, Fred, Stolen Life, Duke University Press, 2018, 336 pp; paperback $27.95; Moten, Fred, The Universal Machine, Duke University Press, 2018, 336pp; paperback $27.95

An Historically Conjunctural Phenomenon
Jacob McGuinn reviews Marjorie Levinson, Thinking Through Poetry: Field Reports on Romantic Lyric, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018, 352pp; £60 cloth

New Narrative Maternity
Claire Finch reviews Hélène Cixous, Mother Homer is Dead, trans. Peggy Kamuf. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2018, 136 pages; Hardback, £80.00

Booknote

An Indomitable Humanism
Elliot Ross reviews Gopal, Priyamvada, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonialism and the Making of British Dissent. London, Verso, 2019, 624pp; Hardback, £25.00.

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Bernard Stiegler on Algorithmic Governmentality: A New Regimen of Truth? (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

This essay examines philosopher of technology and media Bernard Stiegler’s propositions concerning the nature and effects of the automation of social existence through computational processes deployed in online media. It argues for the critical pertinence of Stiegler’s approach to this widespread and now increasingly apparent deployment. I centre my examination on Stiegler’s adoption and critical re-reading of Antoinette Rouvroy and Thomas Berns’ concept of ‘algorithmic governmentality’. This concept characterises the realtime deployment of these automated processes as a significant transformation from the pre-digital era’s application of statistical methods of analysis and prediction of social phenomena, a transformation driven above all by the strategic development and application of recent advances in AI and machine learning. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s influential analysis of governmentality and his work on the interconnections of power, knowledge and truth in social control, Rouvroy and Berns propose that algorithmic governmentality ushers in a new regime of truth. Stiegler accepts in large part their analysis of what I term this new ‘regimen’ but challenges the claim that it amounts to the apparatus of a new truth. My discussion considers the terms and the stakes of this disagreement about the truth, and the place of the technological regimen in this disagreement. 

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Making Automation Explicable: A Challenge for Philosophy of Technology (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

This article argues for an expanded conception of automation’s ‘explicability’. When it comes to topics as topical and shot through with multifarious anxieties as automation, it is, I argue, insufficient to rely on a conception of explicability as ‘explanation’ or ‘simplification’. Instead, automation is the kind of topic that is challenging us to develop a more dynamic conception of explicability as explication. By this, I mean that automation is challenging us to develop epistemic strategies that are better capable of implicating people and their anxieties about automation in the topic, and, counterintuitively, of complicating how the topic is interfaced with. The article comprises an introduction followed by four main parts. While the introduction provides general context, each of the four subsequent parts seeks to demonstrate how diverse epistemic strategies might have a role to play in developing the process just described. Together, the parts are intended to build a cumulative case. This does not mean that the strategies they discuss are intended to be definitive, however – other strategies for making automation explicable may be possible and more desirable.

Part one historicises automation as a concept. It does this through a focus on a famous passage from Descartes’ Second Meditation, where he asks the reader to imagine automata glimpsed through a window. The aim here is to rehearse the presuppositions of a familiar ‘modernist’ epistemological model, and to outline how a contemporary understanding of automation as a wicked socio-economic problem challenges it. Parts two and three are then framed through concepts emerging from recent psychology: ‘automation bias’ and ‘automation complacency’. The aim here is to consider recent developments in philosophy of technology in terms of these concepts, and to dramatically explicate key presuppositions at stake in the form of reasoning by analogy implied. While part two explicates an analogy between automation bias in philosophical engagements with technologies that involve a ‘transcendental’ tendency to reify automation, part three explicates an analogy between automation complacency and an opposed ‘empirical turn’ tendency in philosophy of technology to privilege nuanced description of case studies. Part four then conclude by arguing that anxieties concerning automation might usefully be redirected towards a different sense of the scope and purpose of philosophy of technology today: not as a movement to be ‘turned’ in one direction at the expense of others (‘empirical’ vs ‘transcendental’, for instance) but as a multidimensional ‘problem space’ to be explicated in many different directions at once. Through reference to Kierkegaard and Simondon, I show how different approaches to exemplification, indirection and indeterminacy can be consistent with this, and with the approach to explicability recommended above.

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Distraction Machines? Augmentation, Automation and Attention in a Computational Age (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

It is often argued (and feared) that the human capacity to pay attention is being transformed by computational technologies. Are computing machines distraction machines? This article takes this question as its starting point in order to address concerns about attention deficits vis-à-vis questions and issues about the mechanisation of cognitive procedures. I will claim that, when approaching the attention ecology of the twenty-first century, it is necessary to differentiate between augmentation and automation. While augmentation implies the extension of predefined forms or modes of behaviour, contemporary developments in computational automation ask us instead to consider the possibility of moving beyond phenomenological analogies. The article will thus discuss how transformations in the capacity to pay attention in a computational age need to be analysed in relation to the emergence of quasi-autonomous artificial cognitive agents driven by AI technologies, such as those known as machine learning. I will argue that these artificial cognitive agents can no longer be described in terms of technological add-ons to pre-existing human cognitive capacities. Today, we think alongside machines that are, is a sense, already thinking. Similarly, we pay attention alongside machines that are, in a sense, already paying attention. The challenge for philosophy and cultural theory is that of moving beyond ‘projectionist’ conceptions of such technological agency. This challenge, however, also involves overcoming the anthropomorphism that is implicit in expression such as ‘thinking machines’. In a century where robot-to-robot communications have outpaced and outnumbered human-machine interactions, these artificial cognitive agents are not just reframing the human capacity to pay attention: they are also re-structuring the conditions for such capacity. Addressing the conditions for attention beyond augmentation and vis-à-vis computational automation involves considering the role and scope of both human and algorithmic decision-making, and engaging with the ways in which the humanities can intervene upon contemporary complex cognitive scenarios.

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Automatic Endo-Attention, Creative Exo-Attention: the Egocidal and Ecocidal Logic of Neoliberal Capitalism (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

The beginning of the twenty-first century could be characterised by the externalisation of attention, following the externalisation of our other faculties: the term ‘exo-attention’ can be used to refer to the increasing number of electrical devices performing attentional tasks for us outside of our bodies. At the same time, the logic of industrial production continues to demand human beings to develop automated gestures commanded by the planetary assembly line, intellectual gestures being now added to bodily gestures. This automation of our ‘endo-attention’ cannot be considered as a temporary step in the process leading to full automation. On the one hand, it coexists and goes along with the logic of ‘heteromation’, whereby supposedly automated procedures are actually performed by micro-taskers, click farms and Mechanical Turks. On the other hand, the precarisation of labour conditions analysed by Franco Berardi tends to segment our activity into pre-formatted time-cells which alienate us from the very tasks we accomplish. While our endo-attention threatens to be automated through and through, progress in deep learning programming allows exo-attention to become creative: what used to be the specificity of human attention (i.e., its capacity to extract a meaningful figure from a given background) can now be obtained by unsupervised machine learning. Does all this mean that the creativity of human attention has been merely displaced, from creatively paying attention to (a limited number of) things, to creatively devising algorithms that pay attention to (a higher number of) things? This perspective could be technologically attractive, if it weren’t trapped within the constraints of neoliberal capitalism. Social – not technological – logics should be the main cause of our concern (and anxiety) about automation. Neoliberal capitalism tends to globally align the infinite diversity of our individual attentions under one single hegemonic imperative to maximise financial profit. This is both egocidal, as it automatises our endo-attention subjected to segmented tasks that no longer make sense to us (pre-empting emancipatory forms of subjectification), and eco-cidal, as the race for short-term profit vandalises our social and natural environments. We therefore need to sharpen our analyses (and anxieties), in order to deflect our fear of automation towards a rejection of neoliberal capitalism.

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Automations, Technological and Nervous: Addiction Epidemics from Athens to Fake News (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

Building on work by Bertrand Gille (1978), Bernard Stiegler argues that waves of technological automation tend to be characterised by periods of social ‘disadjustment’, when the rapid pace of change leaves political and social support systems inadequate to the task of ensuring societal cohesion. In the absence of adequate rules for the government of consumption, we can see this technological disadjustment symptomatised in a phenomenon of ‘generalised addiction’. We are living through one such period, struggling in the wake of disintegrating older social norms, and prior to the birth of new ones better able to mitigate the toxic potential of our technological pharmaka. But emerging work in addiction research facilitates the argument, made here, that epidemics of generalised addiction are not unique to the digital era. The works of Plato can be interpreted as a response to an addiction epidemic in fifth-century Athens, which was attributable, in turn, to the technological revolution of alphabetic writing. The comparison of then and now, two periods of technological change bringing political turmoil, throws up multiple parallels with the ongoing transformations of digital culture. Athenian symposia functioned as sanctuaries where aristocrats, displaced from their traditional position at the heart of an increasingly chaotic city, retreated to experiment with religious, poetic and pharmaceutical oblivion. They accordingly bring to mind both the anxiety-relieving ‘zones’ of escape and disavowal sought out by addicts in using, and the internet echo chambers into which we retreat from an increasingly fragmented public sphere. In a move that hints at an exit strategy for our own period of generalised addiction, Plato builds on the logical thinking made possible by the new technology of writing to reinvent and readjust a dislocated political morality. 

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Predictive Policing Management: A Brief History of Patrol Automation (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

Predictive policing has attracted considerably scholarly attention. Extending the promise of being able to interdict crime prior to its commission, it seemingly promised forms of anticipatory policing that had previously existed only in the realms of science fiction. The aesthetic futurism that attended predictive policing did, however, obscure the important historical vectors from which it emerged. The adulation of technology as a tool for achieving efficiencies in policing was evident from the 1920s in the United States, reaching sustained momentum in the 1960s as the methods of Systems Analysis were applied to policing. Underpinning these efforts resided an imaginary of automated patrol facilitated by computerised command and control systems. The desire to automate police work has extended into the present, and is evident in an emergent platform policing – cloud-based technological architectures that increasingly enfold police work. Policing is consequently datafied, commodified and integrated into the circuits of contemporary digital capitalism. 

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Nomic Sound (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

This article pays attention to the media channels through which different modes of power flow, and specifically to how they sound. The soundscapes of real and fictional control rooms provide a way of understanding the connection between automation, decision-making and politics. The types of sounds that accompany control rooms screens map onto alternative, at times contradictory, interpretations of the ontological status of computation and data visualisations. As a result, both biopolitical and sovereign modes of power seem to coexist, with human control room operators making decisions whose actual significance is difficult to measure. The control room is therefore a key manifestation of a general contemporary anxiety about dematerialisation, virtualisation and information overload, and about the political problems that they entail. 

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Editorial (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

Ben Roberts and Patrick Crogan introduce this special issue of New Formations. 

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Automation Now and Then: Automation Fevers, Anxieties and Utopias (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

This article discusses the cyclical nature of automation anxiety and examines ways of thinking about the recurrence of automation debates in culture, particularly with reference to the 1950s, 1960s and today. It draws on the concept of topos, developed by Erkki Huhtamo, to explore the return of automation anxieties (and fevers) and the relationship between material formations and technological imaginaries. We focus in particular on recent left thinking where automation is used to invoke a postcapitalist utopia. Examples include Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’s Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015) and Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto (2018). This strand of contemporary thinking is re-framed through our return to early automation scares emerging in the late 1960s. We explore engagements between labour, civil rights, left public intellectuals, and emerging industrial figures, over questions of automation and work. We pay particular attention to questions of ‘who benefits and when?’ These are germane to the question of utopian futures or non-reformist reformism as it recurs today. What interests us here is the concept of revived salience: not only how the tropes evident in these debates are revived and re-embedded today, but how do they find their force, and what do they imply. 

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Automation Anxieties and Infrastructural Technologies (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

Contesting binaries that tend to underlie claims about automation, this article seeks to complicate arguments that are made about digital technology and the processes and practices of automation essential to it. In particular, it contests a well-entrenched distinction between infrastructures and culture, so as to consider more carefully the relationship between processes and practices of automation distributed throughout the increasingly planetary web of digital infrastructures, and subjectivity. Rather than viewing the logic of automation through the lens of value extraction, the paper links post-Foucauldian arguments about governmentality and the production of subjectivity to the strategic origins of computation in war, on the one hand, and processes and practices of infrastructure production on the other. This in turn facilitates a more nuanced, micropolitical, view of the grey area of human-machine relations worked on by automation. 

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Reviews (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

On the NSA (New Security Aesthetics)
Clare Birchall reviews Matthew Potolsky, The National Security Sublime: On the Aesthetics of Government Secrecy, London, Routledge, 2019, 183pp; £115 hardback; from £21 ebook.

All Good in Theory
Jack Boulton reviews John Protevi, Edges of the State, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press, 2019, 118pp; paperback, $7.95, ISBN 978-1-517-90796-9.

Can Femininity be Queer?
Joni Meenagh reviews Hannah McCann, Queering Femininity: Sexuality, Feminism, and the Politics of Presentation, London and New York, Routledge, 2018, 162pp; £115.00 hardcover.

Judgment, or Learning How to Live
Danielle Sands reviews Jacques Derrida, Before the Law: The Complete Text of Préjugés, Sandra Van Reenan and Jacques de Ville (trans.), Minneapolis & London, University of Minnesota Press, 2018, 78pp; ISBN 978-1517905514 (pbk).

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Booknotes (New Formations 98, )

January 1, 2020

Minimal Autonomies
Oliver Haslam reviews Nicholas Brown, Autonomy: The Social Ontology of Art under Capitalism. Durham, Duke University Press, 2019, 232pp; $24.95 paperback, $89.95 cloth.

Epochal Ecopoetics
Demi Wilton reviews David Farrier, Anthropocene Poetics: Deep Time, Sacrifice Zones, and Extinction, Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press, 2019, 164pp; $23 paperback, $93 cloth.

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Cultural Studies in search of a method, or looking for conjunctural analysis (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Conjunctural analysis is a conversation across many fields, discourses, knowledges and institutions, a conversation one seeks to advance by humbly offering the best contributions one can. Too often, a conjuncture is simply treated as a context defined by some boundary, often but not necessarily a given space and period of time. This article attempts to uncover some of the concepts and assumptions that have driven the author’s own efforts as part of a broader collaborative effort, and that have, over the course of more than four decades, constituted his passion for cultural studies. The article offers some theorising on the conjunctural analysis to open up and continue the important conversation, and hopefully to move the possibilities of political analysis a bit further on.

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Policing the Environmental Conjuncture: Structural Violence in Mexico and the National Assembly of the Environmentally Affected (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

In this article, I contextualise the emergence and describe the political processes of a grassroots mobilisation against the structural violence of neoliberalism in Mexico in order to suggest the necessity of re-thinking conjunctural analysis in a posthegemonic direction. The National Assembly of the Environmentally Affected (ANAA) is a nationwide network of Mexican communities and organisations that has operated since 2008. ANAA’s most notorious achievement has been the opening of a Mexican chapter at the Permanent People’s Tribunal, the final verdict of which established the legal responsibility of the Mexican State for structural violence against the Mexican people. My account of ANAA’s intervention in the Mexican conjuncture recuperates Stuart Hall’s emphasis on complexity and singularity by narrating, through multiple critical voices, the cultural and political conjuncture in which some of the most environmentally affected groups of the Mexican population have been able to organise and strike alliances with critical academic communities or socially concerned scientists. In terms of theoretical elaboration, I reflect on the limits of conjunctural analysis as a response to the deeper crisis of representation – what I call a ‘disjuncture’ – that concerns the scale of socioenvironmental violence in neoliberal Mexico. In order to think beyond issues of cultural representation, I propose to inform a situated practice of environmentally affected cultural studies with the posthegemonic turn in Latin American thinking of the political.

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A sense of loss? Unsettled attachments in the current conjuncture (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

In what ways does conjunctural analysis help us to think better about the present? In this article, I will suggest that this way of thinking (Stuart Hall’s demanding gift to cultural studies) offers us three things of value for dealing with a turbulent and troubling present:
• A configuration of time-space: not just the conventional here and now, but spatial relations and entangled temporalities;
• Attention to heterogeneous social forces and their political alignments;
• The principle of articulation, rather than the analysis of singularities.
A conjunctural analysis helps to illuminate the present and I suggest that it might be approached in terms of the framing effects of different formations, different temporalities and the different ‘senses of loss’ that were articulated in the politics of Brexit.

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Both Sides of the Line: Stuart Hall and New Ethnicities, then and now (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Part memoir, part critical reflection, this essay traces the trajectory of one of the key concepts in Stuart Hall’s approach to issues of race and class. Drawing on the influential work of the Centre for New Ethnicities Research (UEL) in the 1990’s it examines how the theory of new ethnicities was put under empirical pressure through ethnographic research with communities in East London; it also looks at the innovative pedagogy of antiracist work with young people which was developed with direct input from SH. A detailed case study of one such intervention is presented. The continuing relevance of the key debates around multiculturalism and anti-racism during this period is highlighted in a concluding section which revisits the concept of authoritarian populism in the context of the Brexit vote and the shape shifting configurations of the ‘white’ working class as both backbone of the nation and race apart.

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Out of place (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Sara Salem reviews Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, London, Penguin, 2018, 320pp, £9.99 paperback.

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Remembering Stuart Hall: Learning to Think Differently (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Ben Carrington reviews Stuart Hall, Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History Jennifer Daryl Slack and Lawrence Grossberg (eds), Durham, Duke University Press, 2016, pp.218, $25.95; Stuart Hall, The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, Kobena Mercer (ed), Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2017, pp. 229, $26.50/£21.95; Julian Henriques, David Morley and Vana Goblot (eds.) Stuart Hall: Conversations, Projects and Legacies, London, Goldsmiths Press, 2017, p. 322, £24.95
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:96/97.REV04.2019

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Editorial: This Conjuncture: For Stuart Hall (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Jeremy Gilbert introduces issue 96-97 of New Formations.

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The Exhaustion of Merkelism: A Conjunctural Analysis (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Inspired by Hall et al.’s Policing the Crisis (1978), the authors provide a conjunctural analysis of present-day Germany. It is based on a periodisation of Merkelism – the dominant political mode of managing the economic, political and cultural crisis tendencies in the country from the mid-2000s onwards. This reveals that the Merkelist approach to crisis management has become exhausted. The manifestation point of this process is the 2015 ‘Summer of Migration’. The Merkel government decided not to prevent hundred thousands of refugees who had been walking across the Balkans for months from entering the country. Hereupon, it was identified, at the level of political discourse, with a liberal stance on the border regime. As a result, the pragmatic and depoliticising interventions typical of Merkelism lost traction; a political and cultural polarisation emerged. Importantly, this happened in the context of a socio-economic consolidation of large parts of the ‘new’ middle class – and a protracted decline of the working class, which was covered up by narratives of Germany as a success story. Accordingly, the conjuncture in the country is characterised by the weakening of class ties of political and cultural representation and the proliferation of nationalist interpellations. Once again, ‘race is the modality in which class is lived’ (Hall), which is visible in the widespread assumption that there are clearly defined, homogeneous and incompatible ‘cultures’ clashing with one another. In this sense, race has become a politically salient category whose discursive predominance contributes to further marginalising a language of class.

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Feeling Poor: D.W. Winnicott and Daniel Blake (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

This article draws on Donald Winnicott’s understanding of human dependence and Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake (2015) to open up a new space between ‘psychoanalysis’ and ‘politics’. Its starting-point is what Stuart Hall has described as the ‘ferocious onslaught’ on the postwar social-democratic settlement and its initial commitments to the idea of the ‘full life’ and ‘social security for all’. Putting dependence at the heart of human experience, Winnicott’s psychoanalysis is especially attuned to the individual and collective harms imposed by this new ‘age of austerity’. ‘Feeling Poor’ explores the structures of material and psychic dispossession at work in contemporary regimes of austerity – in particular, the neoliberal denial of human dependence and vulnerability. What does the neoliberal world, its reformations of the social state, make of the primal situation of dependence – its terrors and dreads as well as its impulses towards culture and community? How might we reconceive vulnerability in solidarity rather than stigma? What might a psychoanalysis attuned to ‘dependence as a living fact’ contribute to the cultures of protest mobilized through the aesthetics of British social realism? Part of a wider exploration of the question of psychoanalysis and class, this article attempts to think about the symbolic functions of care embedded in the post-war welfare state and engages the potential of Winnicott’s psychoanalysis as a means to social critique.

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The X of Representation: Rereading Stuart Hall (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

This essay is a study of the notion of representation – its relation to difference, politics, diaspora, otherness, truth, and doxa – within Stuart Hall’s work. The reevaluation of this concept in terms of dialectics and différance, or of blackness and innocence, is shown to be an abiding preoccupation of Hall’s work. In particular, because blackness (or its notion) is never innocent, this essay explores the consequences of a certain undecidability that attends any encounter between representation and difference. And it is this X – its shaping of black meaning and life – that alerts us to an unsettling tension in Hall’s work that no knowledge or encounter can fill and that leads to a purely negative reassessment of the racial imperatives of certain truths.

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Consciousness and Commitment in the Political Conjuncture (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Alan Finlayson reviews Stuart Hall, Selected political writings – The Great Moving Right Show and other essays, edited by Sally Davison, David Featherstone and Bill Schwarz, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 2017.

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‘A Different Rhythm’: Stuart Hall’s Du Bois Lectures (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

David Glover reviews Stuart Hall, The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, Kobena Mercer (ed), Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Foreword), Cambridge MA and London, Harvard University Press, 2017.

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Letters of Clarification (New Formations 96, 97, )

August 1, 2019

Frankie Hines reviews David Scott, Stuart Hall’s Voice: Intimations of an Ethics of Receptive Generosity, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2017, 185pp.

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Where ‘Nothing Ever Was’: Anthropomorphic Spectrality and the (Im)Possibility of the Post-Anthropocene (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

The imagining of a post-anthropocene future can be dizzying: it requires that we think of the present as an already-past and project ourselves into a world in which the human and the possibility of human thought might no longer exist. Such a future might be beyond the bounds of human perception, but it is nevertheless that which we must attempt to think: it is only by imagining a world without the human that we might be able to create a world that is no longer shaped by the human. This article examines the (im)possibility and necessity of imagining a nonhuman world through a reading of Stephen Baxter’s science fiction novel Evolution (2002). It explores the possible value of anthropomorphism in confronting the limits of human imagination and argues that despite the narrowness of its vision, the spectrality of anthropomorphic thought can offer a glimpse into that which lies beyond the human.

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Falling into Things: Peter Sloterdijk, Ontological Anthropology in the Monstrous (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

This paper offers a close reading of the ontological anthropology developed by Peter Sloterdijk over the last three decades. Special attention is given to how it resonates with the current political situation, and particularly with the imperative to design spaces and techniques that can sustain life in the midst of revived nativism, triumphant connectivism, and non-stop mobilisation. The paper critically examines Sloterdijk’s timely, if often exasperatingly ambivalent treatment of the relation between engendering and enduring, as it plays out in such design. Sloterdijk’s anthropology is concerned with the crafting of habitable spaces out in the cold, open sky. It raises the issue of the viability of a vexing exposure to the incommensurable, the monstrous. On the one hand, I suggest that this concern all too often involves the domestication of the political, subsuming the emancipatory potential of collective energies under broader concerns with adaptation and endurability. On the other hand, in his most inspired writings Sloterdijk evokes movements of inspiration and ascent that engender worlds in ways that subsist any transfiguration into mere comfort or tolerance. In dialogue with other contemporary thinkers, this paper thus follows Sloterdijk in exploring the articulation of endurability and intensity, inside and outside, inner consistency and ekstatic decentering. It is a conceptual proposition aimed at the design of spaces capable of sustaining an increase in openness to the world – knowing that spaces of protection can all too easily morph into spaces of containment.

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Creative failure: Stiegler, psychoanalysis and the promise of a life worth living (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

The paper examines Stiegler’ use of psychoanalytic concepts, focusing on how the proletarianised or blissfully numb mind may begin to work its way towards ‘a life worth living’. The emphasis is on the process rather than the final outcome. Winnicott’s concept of relationality and Lacan’s concept of time in analysis can be aligned to the concept of pharmakon. Stiegler’s autobiographical account How I Became a Philosopher (2009) and the initially ‘stupid’ hero of the Lego Movie (2014) are used as examples.

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Post-socialist narratives of being, belonging and becoming: Eastern European women migrants and transformative politics in an era of European crises (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

This paper draws from an oral history project on ‘Gendered Histories of Resilience and Resistance: Eastern European Women’s Narratives of Mobility and Survival’, which is a narrative ethnography of Albanian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Polish migrant women living in Greece. The paper explores these women’s life stories, memories and experiences, in both their ancestral homelands as well as country of settlement, in order to examine the intersections of gender and identity and how the recollection of socialist pasts informs the understanding of living present and future capitalist lives. The diverse, compelling but also competing accounts of women’s childhood and early adult lives in socialist times in their Eastern European countries of origin is an intriguing way to explore issues of being, belonging and becoming. Discussions on feminism and identity are also revealing as they highlight the discourses and political projects at the intersections of personal experiences with broader socio-cultural and economic fields, in particular the context of migration and the current crisis in Greece. 

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The Politics of loitering in millennial Britain: Tiqqun‚Äôs ‚ÄòRapport √† la S.A.S.C…‚Äô (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

This article focuses on a piece written by Tiqqun, the French philosophical collective, in 2001. ‘Rapport à la S.A.S.C. concernant un dispositif impérial’, published in their second journal Tiqqun 2, is a psychogeographical ‘report’ submitted to the Society for the Advancement of Criminal Science, a fake authority invented by the authors. The report surveys the rise, through the late nineties and early two-thousands, of a particular kind of suburban mega-mall, as epitomised by the newly-opened ‘Bluewater’ shopping centre in Kent. Tiqqun characterise this emerging mall culture as presenting a new type of ‘apparatus,’ [dispositif], one they claim will produce a particular kind of consumerist subjectivity. Focusing on an incident that Tiqqun describe, my article takes a genealogical approach to reading the implications of what unfolds, homing in on three strands of enquiry. I analyse the figure of the loiterer in millennial Britain, using the concept of ‘spatial justice’ and the more recent but related idea of ‘spatio-legality’ and I consider the relationship between gender, surveillance and consumption in contemporary shopping malls. Drawing on Derrida’s work on ‘hospitality’, I try to uncover the contradictions in the way Bluewater welcomes and treats its ‘invited guests’, as it describes customers in its glossy brochure. Tying these enquiries together, I argue that Tiqqun’s article functions as a kind of ‘non-standard’ manifesto, one designed to force readers to recognise the highly constructed and regulated nature of the contemporary consumerist experience.

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Editorial: Spaces and Stories (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

Jeremy Gilbert introduces issue 95 of New Formations. 

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Towards a metaphysics of the soul and a participatory aesthetics of life: mobilising Foucault, affect and animism for caring practices of existence (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

In his Lectures on Biopolitics (1978-79) Foucault highlighted the contemporary intensification of neoliberal arts of government, by which economic incentive structures are designed to control human behaviour and ‘life itself ’ through market transactions framed as enhancing efficiency in the distribution of goods and bads. The human subject of this ‘truth game of the market’ seems critically disempowered: conceived as a machine-like agent, responding predictably to expert manipulations constructing a governmentality that simultaneously disavows the amplifications of inequity and ecological damage with which it is associated. In the last works of his life, especially The Hermeneutics of the Subject (1981-82) and The Courage of Truth (1983-84), Foucault turned again towards the possibility of seeking other rules of subjectification so as to play the games of power ‘with as little domination as possible’. His encouragement was to remember the philosophical strategy associated with Socrates, namely to attend to oneself through activating the soul’s contemplation of the actions of the self: thereby composing an ethical subject whose actions, through practices of freedom and truth-telling, are not enslaved by appetites; and whose ethos of care becomes extended through the conduct of relationships with others, including life (bios) itself. This paper extends Foucault’s expositions on ‘the care of the self ’ and ‘the courage of truth’ to affirm animist and affective activations of the soul silenced through the consolidated colonial universality of so-called western knowledge. In doing so, the paper advocates a refraction of the games of truth infusing practices of domination in socio-ecological relations and ‘biodiversity conservation’, as a gesture towards amplifying an ethics of consideration for both human and beyond-human others. 

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The Politics of a Smile (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

In this article, I explore the smile as regulatory mechanism installed in the face to organise a subject’s responses to neo-imperial/biopolitical capitalist governmentality. I begin by situating my reading with respect to Sara Ahmed’s and Lauren Berlant’s work on affective labour before turning to German philosopher Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985) in order to consider the smile as theory of sovereignty. I propose that these two meanings or deployments of the smile – as (1) act that demonstrates forced enslavement to capitalist culture and (2) as articulation of the sovereign self/state – converge in their joint purpose, which is the elimination of sociality and solidarity. My article thereby contributes to recent scholarship on the face, in particular its function in affective/service labour, which it supplements by drawing on Plessner’s work: at stake is not only the worker’s subjection to capital but also to a regime obsessed with securing borders. 

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Reviews (New Formations 95, )

January 1, 2019

This is not an autobiography

Michelle Meagher reviews Griselda Pollock, Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory, New Haven CT and London, Yale University Press, 2018, 542pp; £38, cloth.

On speculating otherwise

Heejoo Park reviews Aimee Bahng, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2018, 248pp, US $24.95, paperback.

And the reverse 

Robert Spencer reviews Bashir Abu-Manneh, The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-107-13652-6.

Myth and the real

Rob Lapsley reviews Oliver Harris, Lacan’s Return to Antiquity: Between Nature and the Gods, London and New York, Routledge, 2017, 213 pp; £34.99 paperback.

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Introduction: Transmitting Rosa Luxemburg (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Rosa Luxemburg’s reflections on May Day are important because they reveal a deep and thought-provoking way of thinking about memory and cultural transmission. They indicate, suggestively, that struggles taking place in the past sometimes surprise us, in a ‘lightning-like way’, by their anticipatory force in inspiring struggles of the future, forms of resistance that have not yet taken shape.

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Non-Linear pathways to social transformation: Rosa Luxemburg and the post-colonial condition (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital, which spurred intense discussion and debate from the moment of its publication in 1913, has taken on new resonance in light of the global expansion of capitalism, the  destruction of indigenous cultures and habitats, and capital’s reconfiguration of public and private space.  No less important is a series of additional works by Luxemburg that address these themes, but which have received far less attention. These include her notes and lectures on pre-capitalist society that were composed as part of her work as a teacher at the German Social Democratic Party’s school in Berlin from 1907-14 and her Introduction to Political Economy, which first led her to confront the problem delineated  in The  Accumulation  of  Capital. These writings shed new light on the contributions as well as the limitations of her understanding of the internal and external limits to capital accumulation, especially insofar as the ability of non-capitalist formations and practices to survive the domination of  capital is concerned. Luxemburg’s understanding of the impact of capitalism in undermining non-capitalist  strata has crucial ramifications for working out a viable alternative to capitalism today.

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Neoliberal capitalism and its crises in Europe: towards a Luxemburgian interpretation (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

This article recapitulates Rosa Luxemburg’s considerations on the capitalist penetration of non-capitalist economies as a condition for capital accumulation, as well as her arguments about the limits of social  reform and the shortcomings of claims for national self-determination. The theoretical tools Luxemburg  developed around these issues are then used to analyse the rise, consolidation and crisis of neoliberal capitalism in Europe. This analysis stresses the reintegration of previously communist countries into the  capitalist world system and the China boom as drivers of this neoliberal wave of accumulation. It concludes  with pointing at the economic limits of this wave and at emerging left and right alternatives to neoliberal  capitalism. 

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Reviews (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Art’s Work
Ben Highmore  

Caroline A. Jones, The Global Work of Art: World’s Fairs, Biennials, and the Aesthetics of Experience, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2016, 331pp, $65

Photography remoulded
Andrew Dewdney 

Joanna Zylinska, Nonhuman Photography, Cambridge MA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2017, 257pp, £21.55

About to happen
David Wylot

Howard Caygill, Kafka: In Light of the Accident, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2017, 264pp, £20.

Kitsch theory
Ben Ware

Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society, trans. Erik Butler, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015, 72pp,  £9.99/$12.99
Byung-Chul Han, Psychopolitics, Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, trans. Eric Butler, London, Verso, 2017, 80pp, £9.99/$16.99

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Booknote (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Hacking and hackerspaces
Jack Booth

Sarah R. Davies, Hackerspaces: Making the Maker Movement, Cambridge and Malden, Polity Press, 2017, 192pp

 

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Think another time: Rosa Luxemburg and the concept of history (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

This essay considers the significance of Rosa Luxemburg’s thought in relation to discourses on the materialist conception of history. Luxemburg engaged extensively with Marx’s method in order to understand the consequences of capitalism and socialism as a concrete possibility. In The Accumulation of Capital (1913), she deals with the problem of economic reproduction and the material conditions for the global expansion of capital. Yet, her writings have sparked a long tradition of debate concerning her contribution to Marxist theory. Within this tradition, Michael Löwy and Norman Geras have discussed Luxemburg’s idea of history, giving divergent interpretations of her influential phrase, ‘socialism or barbarism’. Building on the key terms of their argument, this essay proposes to read The Accumulation of Capital as a compelling reflection on the contingency of capitalism. Luxemburg’s analysis of the drive to accumulation shows capitalism’s manipulation of the process of social transmission and urges a re-appropriation of history against capitalism’s teleology of perpetual expansion. 

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Capitalism in ‘all corners of the earth’: Luxemburg and globalisation (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Luxemburg has not been a prominent figure within postcolonial studies, but her legacy is of relevance for many areas within the field. Her work, in conversation with the broader Marxist tradition, is of great value  to ongoing attempts to understand and challenge global capitalism. Luxemburg’s emphasis on the centrality  of colonial plunder and global dispossession to capitalist accumulation, and unflinching opposition to all  forms of imperialism and oppression, offer counterpoints to the charge that Marxism is Eurocentric. Luxemburg understood capitalism to be an integrated global system, located dispossession as a central property of capitalist expansion, and articulated a strategy for emancipation based on international working-class solidarity. In the twenty-first century her work continues to provide insight not only in the realm of political economy, but also for the analysis of global cultures.

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Perspectives on Rosa Luxemburg 1 (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

In this brief exchange, Evelin Wittich reflects on the contemporary significance of Rosa Luxemburg. In  particular, Wittich addresses ways of situating Luxemburg as a European and global thinker, considering Luxemburg’s stance on the national question and internationalism. This exchange testifies to Luxemburg’s  continuing relevance in a time of populist politics in Europe. Wittich explores the links between Luxemburg’s analysis of nationalism and national autonomy, and her engagement with the global remit of the  accumulation of capital, imperialism and neo-colonialism. In the conclusion, Wittich also comments on Luxemburg’s interest in plants and animals and reflects on how Luxemburg’s personal life cannot be detached from her restless fight for social justice.

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Perspectives on Rosa Luxemburg 2 (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

In this exchange, Benita Parry reinstates the significance of Luxemburg as a Marxist thinker and activist,  whose kind of political commitment cannot be detached from the revolutionary tradition of socialism. Parry’s  compelling reflections address Luxemburg’s relevance to defining vital questions in Marxism, especially  the centrality of class struggle, the Party, spontaneity, imperialism, combined and uneven development, and  the accumulation of capital in a neoliberal age. Parry shows how Luxemburg’s vision is necessarily a systemic, dialectical and materialist one, in a way that could inspire current generations to keep the  socialist tradition alive. In the concluding sections, Parry also explores the significance of Luxemburg to rethinking postcolonial studies and the Jewish question today.

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Capital accumulation and debt colonialism after Rosa Luxemburg (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

In The Accumulation of Capital (1913), Rosa Luxemburg offers a sophisticated account of the foundational  role of colonialism in the development and expansion of the capitalist world system. By interrogating the  blind spots in Marx’s account of capitalist political economy, Luxemburg emphasises the importance of  ‘non-capitalist strata and countries’ in the production of surplus value. Crucial to Luxemburg’s re-thinking  of capitalist political economy, in other words, was the accumulation and dispossession of non-capitalist  societies on the periphery of the world economy. Beginning with an assessment of Luxemburg’s central thesis  in The Accumulation of Capital, this article proceeds to suggest that Luxemburg’s analysis of imperialism  has important and far-reaching consequences for understanding contemporary formations of capital  accumulation  and  debt  colonialism  in  the  postcolonial world.  What’s  more,  Luxemburg’s  reflections on primitive communism and the challenge this posed to the universalising historical narrative  of bourgeois political economy offer an important counterpoint to the predominant conceptualisation of the  world as an abstract space for the uneven and unequal circulation of capital and commodities. By reading  Luxemburg’s writings on primitive communism against the grain of her writings on imperialism and debt colonialism in The Accumulation of Capital, I suggest in conclusion that Luxemburg’s writing offers a  valuable contribution to contemporary accounts of the commons.

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Rosa Luxemburg and the heart of darkness (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

‘Imperialism’, Rosa Luxemburg tells us, ‘is the political expression of the process of the accumulation of capital in its competitive struggle over the unspoiled remainder of the noncapitalist world environment’. The realities analysed by this outstanding socialist revolutionary have also found significant reflection  in classic writings of such literary icons as Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell. Conrad’s racist conceptualisation in The Heart of Darkness shows us an idealistic imperialist, Kurtz, whose last words - ‘the  horror’ - can be understood in opposite ways:as an idealism grotesquely corrupted when a ‘civilising’ white ‘goes native’ or, more persuasively, as a grotesque violence  emanating from ‘progressive’ capitalist civilisation itself. Dark horrors visited upon innumerable victims in Africa, Asia, Latin America and among indigenous peoples of Australia and North America have been  generated, as Luxemburg demonstrates in The Accumulation of Capital, from the very heart of European civilisation, permeated and animated as it is by the capital accumulation process. The eloquent justifications of Kurtz can be found in the glowing prose of - for example - Winston Churchill: ‘Let it be  granted that nations exist and peoples labour to produce armies with which to conquer other nations, and  the nation best qualified to do this is of course the most highly civilised and the most deserving of  honour.’ Yet the actual impacts have been summarised by W.E.B. Du Bois: ‘There was no Nazi atrocity - concentration camps, wholesale maiming and murder, defilement of women or ghastly blasphemy of childhood - which the Christian civilization of Europe had not long been practicing against colored folk in all parts of the world in the name of and for the defense of a Superior Race born to rule the world.’ Such horrors have  afflicted not only vast ‘peripheries’ but have also defined modern and contemporary history in the civilised ‘metropolis’.

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Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital, postcolonial theory, and the problem of present day imperialisms (New Formations 94, Autumn 2018)

October 1, 2018

Rosa Luxemburg’s classic work The Accumulation of Capital reveals, with a great degree of clarity, the  function of imperialism in determining the global movement and accumulation of capital. Her attention to  the constitutive role of international credit, tariffs and militarism, not just as manifestations of imperialism but as methods integral to the project of capital accumulation, continues to have a significant bearing on our own time, offering us valuable insights for disrupting current theories of globalisation and  the postcolonial. The reason for highlighting the inadequacies of these particular theories is because over  the last three decades, they have become the predominant analytical lens through which asymmetrical global  relations have been viewed. While acknowledging the gaps in Luxemburg’s analysis of imperialist practices,  I will, nevertheless, consider how her fiery critique of imperial activities of her time hold tremendous  possibilities for investigating the vexed dialectic between capitalist and non-capitalist organisations as reflected in existing global arrangements, even as I specify ways to trouble those categories. Indeed, what  may Luxemburg’s categorisation of a non-capitalist space look like in the current conjuncture, where it is almost impossible to escape the centrality of capitalist relations? Moreover, if postcolonial theory in  its many formations remains the predominant mode of analysing global asymmetries, how  might its uncovering  of these asymmetries be strengthened by an attention to Luxemburg’s work?

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Editorial: Memory, Territory, Moods (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

This issue of New Formations brings together a typically diverse selection of work in contemporary cultural studies and critical theory, as well as a major translation project of direct interest to ongoing debates in the field. 

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‘#BOREDWITHMEG’: Gendered boredom and networked media (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

This article seeks to theorise boredom in the wake of the new technological modes of capture and commodification that have emerged in a digital network culture, by focusing on the popular ‘What to do When You’re Bored’ sub-genre of YouTube video tutorials that are addressed largely to female teenage audiences. Situating itself in relation to the fields of boredom studies, critical attention studies and feminist media studies, the article reads these videos as performing a variety of affective labour that is increasingly required of gendered subjects in the so-called ‘attention economy’ of twenty-first century media. As I will argue, platforms such as YouTube construct users above all as boredom managers -  agents who are responsible for, and capable of coordinating, the affective texture of their own experience as it unfolds in real time. And yet, as I will suggest, this discursive construction of boredom overlooks the significant role that such media play, not only in producing and intensifying new cultural forms of tedium, but also in capturing and modulating the subject’s affective experience before she becomes aware of it. Reflecting on the blatant gendering of affect in these YouTube tutorials through the figure of the teenage girl, I go on to ask why this work of boredom management should fall so resoundingly to young women to perform. Why has the figure of the teenage girl been rendered so excessively visible in these YouTube tutorials as an ideal conduit for the monitoring and self-management of twenty-first century boredom? 

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The face as technology (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

In this article, we contribute to thinking about the emergence of the face in digital culture. Building on work in the fields of art history, cinema studies, and surveillance studies, which have long established a technological interest in the human face, we move this critical discourse on by locating in contemporary popular culture, and Hollywood narrative cinema in particular, anxieties about, and play with, the face as a new kind of digital object. By studying the face as a digital object away from its primary sites of recognition – online, in CCTV imagery, in identification documents – we encounter in narrative cinema the face as a story. In particular, the recent films of Scarlett Johansson tell stories about the face as made by and in relation to digital technology, but also in relation to discourses of celebrity, whiteness, and femininity. Johansson’s face is a generative filmic object with which to interrogate the normative conditions of the face in contemporary digital culture. It is her face that becomes the computer in Lucy (dir. Luc Besson, 2014), her face that is the alien black sheen of Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer, 2013), and her face that is the absent signified in her (dir. Spike Jonze, 2013). Focusing on Johansson’s films enables us to think together the interface-object of celebrity in the contemporary, the technological face of digital cinema, and importantly, the face as primarily a gendered and raced technology in the making.

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Reviews (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

The end of the world for whom?

Nicholas Beuret reviews Richard Grusin, ed., Anthropocene Feminism, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2017, 233pp, US$28 paperback.

From illumination to irritation

Peter Buse reviews Kate Flint, Flash!: Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination, Oxford, OUP, 2017.

A post-employment utopia? 

Mihail Evans reviews Bernard Stiegler, Automatic Society 1: The Future of Work, Cambridge, Polity, 2016; Rutger Bregman, Utopia for Realists, Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 2017;  Peter Fleming, The Mythology of Work, London, Pluto, 2015. 

Macrobial Cultures

Joseph Darlington reviews Carsten Strathausen, Bioaesthetics: Making Sense of Life in Science and the Arts, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Booknote

Ida Djursaa reviews Brenna Bhandar and Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller (eds.), Plastic Materialities: Politics, Legality, and Metamorphosis in the Work of Catherine Malabou, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2015, 339pp; £29.99, paperback.

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Stimmung (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

This is a translation of a major essay by David Wellbery (first published in German in 2003), on the concept of Stimmung. This notoriously untranslatable term is closer to ‘mood’ than to any other in English, but also implies a whole conceptual problematic that closely relates to the idea of affect. Wellbery shows, in this comprehensive survey of uses of the term in philosophy and aesthetics, that Stimmung can at times be taken to designate a kind of ‘comprehensive affectivity’ that exceeds (or precedes) any simple logic of description or predication. 

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Competitive memories: the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in contemporary British culture (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Recent trends in memory studies have focused on the possibility of creating links between different forms of memory and considering these links as non-competitive. Michael Rothberg (2009; 2011) and Max Silverman (2013) propose a concept of memory that creates a productive comparative framework for understanding different types of memory without, however, creating a hierarchy of suffering between them. In this article, I interrogate the idea of non-competitive memories by focusing on the representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Marina Lewycka’s novel We Are All Made of Glue (2009) and Peter Kosminsky’s mini-series The Promise (2011) in light of how the Holocaust and the British Mandate in Palestine are remembered in the UK. Offering close readings of the narrative strategies used to engage with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in these works, I argue that Israel/Palestine can be seen as a litmus case to show that even though, in theory, Rothberg’s and Silverman’s concepts of memory are able to avoid a competition of suffering, in practice the Holocaust is still perceived as a validation of exclusive Jewish rights to territorial sovereignty in metropolitan discourses, thus often overriding the Palestinian history of suffering as well as Palestinian claims to a national homeland. 

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Eco-catastrophe, arithmetic patriotism and the Thatcherite promise of nature (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

This essay describes how the renovated 1970s liberalism that would become a major thread of Thatcherism grew on the back of public perceptions of crisis, and adapted worries about ecology to worries about ‘financial ecology’, or money supply. The natural conditions of money movement have a particular place in the British constitution as the original basis of authority for the 1688 state, when Newtonian ideas of eternal laws of physics were ‘financialised’ by John Locke. In this thinking, the property basis of citizenship itself is nature, and must be underwired by universal terms of exchange following natural rules. Although Thatcherism has often been described as an alien credo, it was largely enabled by this promise of a return to a financial natural law. In the terms borrowed from Luc Boltanski by William Davies, it returns to a ‘political physics’ which now takes on a moral role preventing catastrophe, or an ‘economic patriotism’ seen to protect the constitution from political force. The 1970s return to Locke’s understanding of nature builds on and repurposes visions of the catastrophic in popular culture, fiction, children’s books and TV, which I describe here. It begins with those eco-catastrophes that describe a ‘disaster of nature’, which it sees as also including the disaster of the property-producing role of labour, in the ‘despotic’ role of trade unions, and the perceived threat to money as a universal measure, a disaster that would increasingly be given an arithmetic measure in inflation. For key liberal or neo-Lockean think-tanks of the mid­1970s, the attack on natural law by despotic power, measured in inflation, could be seen as a mass erosion of individual responsibility, as dystopian, and as always calling for a restoration of the balances of nature. The result is a permanent and quotidian vigilance over threats to nature that sees their solution, paradoxically, as the creation of more property. Understanding this binding between nature and property in the constitution that gave rise to Anglophone capitalist modernity also helps give a fix on the way stories of ecological disaster can, as Frederick Buell has described, themselves be given values and repurposed for increased consumption. 

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The obscure drama of the political idea: postcolonial negotiations, Deleuzian structures and the concept of cooperation (New Formations 93, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Deleuze rarely countenances concepts such as ‘rights’ or ‘democracy’ that comprise conventional political discourse. This is unsurprising, since these typically refer to properties of political identities or to intentional processes occurring between coherent moral agents; they reference the representational structures that Deleuzian philosophy aims to counter and unravel. His thought is nonetheless profoundly political in every aspect, insofar as it contends with the intensive dynamics of force relations that decompose and recompose forms. To understand political life in Deleuzian terms, we must first discover the immanent conditions of the political in the virtual Idea operating ‘underneath’ the political concept, in the intensive relations and serial dynamisms that determine the Idea to incarnate itself. Politics primarily concerns the force of virtual desire and the preconscious conditions of coupling: power acts in the dark libidinous passages between organised forms. This interaction describes a subterranean drama of relational individuation, directed by ‘partial’ and non-subjective ‘agents of communication’. This ‘obscure’ plane of differential force relations, then, is where the substance of Deleuze’s political concepts must be sought. In this paper, I understand Deleuze’s ‘structuralism’ in the light of a current political practice of negotiation that is shaping a new kind of relationship between the Indigenous Ngarrindjeri Nation and the South Australian State Government to produce a significant structural effect of decolonisation. I use this example to argue that a concept of cooperation is implied in Deleuze’s depiction of a systemic ‘difference operator’ that ‘relates difference to difference’. 

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Editorial: Posthuman Temporalities (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

Manuela Rossini and Mike Toggweiler introduce New Formations 92: Posthuman Temporalities.

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Troubling time/s and ecologies of nothingness: re-turning, re-membering, and facing the incalculable (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

This paper examines the political-ontoepistemological-ethical implications of temporal dis/junction by reading insights from Quantum Field Theory and Kyoko Hayashi’s account of the destruction wrought by the Nagasaki bombing through one another. The diffraction [indeterminacy] of time at the core of quantum field theory, troubles the scalar distinction between the world of subatomic particles and that of colonialism, war, nuclear physics research, and environmental destruction; all of which entangle the effects of nuclear warfare throughout the present time, troubling the binaries between micro and macro, nature and culture, nonhuman and human. Barad thus attempts to think through what possibilities remain open for an embodied re-membering of the past which, against the colonialist practices of erasure and avoidance and the related desire to set time aright, calls for thinking a certain undoing of time; a work of mourning more accountable to, and doing justice to, the victims of ecological destruction and of racist, colonialist, and nationalist violence, human and otherwise – those victims who are no longer there, and those yet to come. This task is related to rethinking the notion of the void. Against its Newtonian interpretation as the absence of matter and energy, as that which does not matter and thus works to justify colonial occupation, Barad understands the void in terms of Derrida’s hauntology; a spectral domain where life and death are originarily entangled, and inanimate matter itself gives itself to be thought in its mortal finitude. The void is rather the yearning and the imagining of what might yet have been, and thus also the infinitely rich ground of imagining possibilities for living and dying otherwise.

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Reviews (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

Of technical ensembles

Franziska Aigner reviews Gilbert Simondon, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (Univocal), C. Malaspina and J. Rogove (trans), Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2017; £26.99 paperback.

On Expecting relations

Jonathan Beever reviews Wendy Wheeler, Expecting the Earth: Life, Culture, Biosemiotics, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 2016, 276pp; £20.00, paperback.

Hack and yack

Martin Eve reviews Berry, David M and Anders Fagerjord, eds. Digital Humanities: Knowledge and Critique in a Digital Age (Cambridge: Polity, 2017)

Placing the self

Griselda Pollock reviews Janet Wolff, Austerity Baby, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017, 262pp.

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Time unshackled (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

One of the biggest truisms of our age is the fact that we never have enough time to accomplish all the things we set out to do or that are imposed onto us. Our lives are not only ruled by clocks, they are always filled with looming deadlines, un-ticked to-do lists, ever-fuller inboxes… ‘I just won’t have enough time’, we lament again and again. We are handcuffed to time. But how can we make sense of these shackles? In this essay, this truism is analysed through the emblematic experience of the treadmill (this electric exercise machine made up of a continuous belt that allows one to run in place). Instead of suggesting a different or slow pace, instead of attempting to stop or step off the treadmill, the aim of this exploration is to think a new stance that allows us to diminish the allure of the treadmill and in doing so, unshackle ourselves from all interpretations of time as calculation. To achieve this bold aim, this essay takes its source of inspiration from the work of the late Heidegger and of a selection of complementary texts on speed, time, and the politics of temporality.

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Timing sex in the age of digital reproduction: Gerard & Kelly’s kisses (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

This essay focuses on a set of performance pieces by Tino Sehgal (Kiss, 2002) and the performance duo Gerard & Kelly: You Call This Progress? (2010); Reusable Parts/Endless Love (2011), and Kiss Solo (2012). Using a bootleg verbal description of Sehgal’s live performance in a museum space, Gerard & Kelly re-enact and critique it in their own live performance and video installations. As Gerard & Kelly move the Sehgal piece across media, their transformations of it highlight and deconstruct the way that in Kiss, heterosexual sex play is fluid, synchronous, eternal, ‘alive,’ and aesthetically pleasing. Gerard & Kelly’s performance captures the politics of rhythm as a bodily regime inculcated by specific power regimes, capable of contesting normative organisations of timing, pace, frequency, flow – specifically where sex is concerned – and able to manifest and materialise new social formations.

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Liberating clocks: Developing a critical horology to rethink the potential of clock time (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

Across a wide range of cultural forms, including philosophy, cultural theory, literature and art, the figure of the clock has drawn suspicion, censure and outright hostility. In contrast, even while maps have been shown to be complicit with forms of domination, they are also widely recognised as tools that can be critically reworked in the service of more liberatory ends. This paper seeks to counteract the tendency to see clocks in this way, arguing that they have many more interesting possibilities than they are usually given credit for. An analysis of approaches to clocks in continental philosophy critiques the way they have too often been dismissed as unworthy of further analysis, and argues that this dismissal is based upon an inadequate understanding of how clocks operate. Seeking to move towards more critical and curious approaches, the paper draws inspiration from critical cartography in order to call for the development of a ‘critical horology’ which would emphasise both the fundamentally political nature of clocks, and the potential for designing them otherwise. A discussion of temporal design provides a range of examples of how clocks might open up new horizons within the politics of time.

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Timing rice: an inquiry into more-than-human temporalities of the Anthropocene (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

Practices of cultivating grain have enabled settlement, trade, and state formation for millennia. Such practices involve more-than-human assemblages that have given rise to countless varieties of rice in almost every continent. This essay considers how varieties come into being through timing or modes of temporal coordination: what comes to matter is a matter of time. I argue that situating this inquiry in historical materialities and multispecies socialities that constitute rice opens up underexplored pathways for articulating conditions of liveability in the Anthropocene. Moving beyond the rigid binaries of nature vs. culture, human vs. nonhuman, I offer three analytical lenses for multispecies coordination: the longue durée of entangled historical trajectories; recursive cycles of attunement; and episodes of encounter. My aim is not to present differential coordinations through longer or shorter timescales, faster or slower tempos, less or more timelines, which depend on a human-centred system of measure. Rather, I consider how continuity, change, and collapse arise from the elusive temporalities of naturecultures and suggest tools for analysis.

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Anti-catastrophic time (New Formations 92, Autumn 2017)

March 1, 2018

One of the dominant features of post-apocalyptic or Anthropocene culture is a ‘this changes everything’ sentiment regarding time.Whatever cultural differences the world may have been able to harbour up until the present, the current feeling of end-times focuses attention on the future. The overwhelming evidence for anthropogenic climate change seems to demand either that we think about humans as a historical agent at the level of the species or that we devalue the human to recognise a temporality beyond that of human concern. This essay questions that exclusive disjunction: it is possible to recognise both the thoroughly ‘human’ nature of the sense ‘we’ make of the world, while also striving to think beyond what has (up until now) counted as human temporality.

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Introduction: Righting Feminism (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

Sara Farris and Catherine Rottenburg introduce New Formations 91: Righting Feminism.

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Hegemonic feminism, neoliberalism and womenomics: ‘empowerment’ instead of liberation? (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

In this essay I reflect on a sample of a relatively new literature that has emerged in recent years on the growth of ‘womenomics’ and what Adrienne Roberts has called ‘transnational business feminism’. Are these developments a triumph for the influence of feminist activists around the globe? Or do we see them as yet another classic attempt by the agents of capitalist globalisation to contain the energies of women and turn them to the advantage of the bottom line? I look at some examples of TBF on the part of Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Levi-Strauss, and the Nike Foundation; at the debate among feminist scholars over whether neoliberal feminism is ‘really’ feminism; at the rise of the concept of ‘empowerment;’ and finally, at some elements that TBF leaves out of the picture, including the neoliberal assault on social reproduction; the extreme exploitation of women workers, from Walmart to Export Processing Zones; the retreat from class analysis under neoliberalism; and the continuing effects of ‘structural adjustment’ on countries in the North like Greece subject to the ravages of the international financial order. I conclude with a call to the international male left to be as welcoming and as creative toward the ideas and the activism of the international women’s movement as their corporate adversaries.

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Reviews (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

Books reviewed:

David Wills, Inanimation: Theories of Inorganic Life, Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, 318pp; $30.00 paperback. 

Trebor Scholz, Uberworked and Underpaid: How Workers are Disrupting the Digital Economy, New York, Polity Press, 2016, 242 pp.

Esther Leslie, Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Liquid Form, London: Reaktion, 2016, 296pp, £25 hardback.

Charles Thorpe, Necroculture, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 270pp; c.£70 hardback.

Lois McNay, The Misguided Search for the Political: Social Weightlessness in Radical Democratic Theory, Cambridge, UK. Polity, 2014, E-book edition, 247pp; £16.14 e-book.

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Confidence culture and the remaking of feminism (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

In this article we explore how confidence works as a technology of self, exhorting women and girls to act upon themselves, and how it is reconfiguring feminist concerns. Our analysis demonstrates how the confidence cult(ure) has materialised in three different sites: discussions about women in the workplace; texts and practices promoting ‘confident mothering’; and contemporary sex and relationship advice. We show that confidence acts as a disciplinary technology of self which is addressed almost exclusively to women and is articulated in highly standardised terms which disavow any difference between and among women. It is an individualising technology which demands intense labour, places the emphasis upon women’s self-regulation and locates the source of the ‘problems’ and their ‘solutions’ within a newly upgraded form of confident subjectivity, thus rendering insecurity and lack of confidence abhorrent. We then discuss how the confidence culture is deeply implicated in the new luminosity of feminism, and argue that it contributes to the remaking of feminism in three central ways: by continuing and promoting elements of postfeminist sensibility, yet through celebration rather than repudiation of feminism; through an inclusive address that expunges difference and the possibility of its critique; and by favouring positive affect and outlawing ‘negative’ ‘political’ feelings. We argue that this move, which calls forth a new kind of a ‘cool’ ‘feminist’ subject, is simultaneously political, psychological and aesthetic.

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In the name of reproductive rights: race, neoliberalism and the embodied violence of population policies (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

Contemporary population interventions by states, international organisations and corporates have during the last two decades been effectively reframed in feminist terms of reproductive rights and choices, while continuing to perpetuate and rely upon structural and embodied violence and racialised and gendered constructions of industriousness and altruism on the one hand, and disposability, hypersexuality and excess on the other. I argue that the twenty-first century resurgence of population control and its reframing cannot be fully understood however, except in relation to processes of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ to which the intensification of women’s labour, and its mobilisation for global capital, is central. The advent of the adolescent girl as the agent of international development, I suggest, marks the final stage in a transition from liberal to neoliberal feminism in development. Even liberal feminist critiques that sought to highlight discrimination which ostensibly prevented markets from functioning effectively are now marginalised. The focus on the pre-reproductive, pre-labouring years is thoroughly neoliberal in that intervention via education is constructed as necessary only to produce the idealised neoliberal subject who can negotiate unfettered and unregulated markets with ease, while simultaneously assuming full responsibility for social reproduction. The article reflects on India’s population policies in the context of the increasing mobilisation of gendered precarious labour for global capital, the escalation of corporate land-grab, dispossession and displacement and the growing dominance of Hindu supremacist ideology and its incitement to genocidal gendered violence against minorities. Against this background, I consider the significance of the concept of ‘reproductive justice’ and the importance of resisting current attempts to appropriate, eviscerate, and redeploy it.

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Disrupting disempowerment: feminism, co-optation, and the privatised governance of gender and development (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

Longstanding debates about the relationship between neoliberalism and feminism have been given new vigour by the somewhat surprising emergence of an ‘unabashed feminism’ espoused by elite women in political, economic, and cultural institutions of the global North. Women and girls are now highly visible subjects of global development governance, but also ‘poster girls’ for a variety of neoliberal reforms: Has feminism been co-opted by neoliberalism? Reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of feminist accounts of neoliberal co-optation, this article suggests a path beyond the co-optation debate: Why does neoliberalism evince concern for gender inequality as a form of inequality if it is broadly concerned with individual subjects? Empirically, the article applies this conceptual debate to Bottom of the Pyramid development initiatives, focused on the Girl Effect Accelerator. It argues that neoliberalism appropriates dimensions of feminism insofar as it represents gender inequality as a site of accumulation and mechanism for legitimising the increased power accorded to the private sector in development governance. 

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Gender and women in the Front National discourse and policy: from ‘mothers of the nation’ to ‘working mothers’? (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

This article explores the gendered dimensions of the populist radical right discourse and policy by considering the Front national in France. The article shows how the Front national has progressively moved from a ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern traditional’ approach to issues of gender, women’s work, and the family. The core of the Front national policy and ideology has remained stable over time, with regard to the interconnected issues of gender and of immigration. However, there is a significant move from the celebration of women as ‘mothers of the nation’, prevalent in the party until the 1990s, to an emphasis on ‘working mothers’ in Marine Le Pen’s discourse. The article also analyses the ambivalence of Marine Le Pen’s party discourse on gender, as well as the discrepancies between the party discourse and its political programme. This ambivalence mirrors the internal conflicts between the leadership and the conservative Catholic faction. This evolution of the Front national discourse on gender is linked to the party history and internal politics as well as to broader long-term social changes in French society. 

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The other sex industry: narratives of feminism and freedom in evangelical discourses of human trafficking (New Formations 91, Spring/Summer 2017)

September 1, 2017

This paper explores the role that narratives of ‘sex trafficking’ play within evangelical Christian conceptions of sex, gender, and global engagement. It examines evangelical cultural products that link sex work, pornography consumption, and forced prostitution, all of which constitute a site through which gender norms are negotiated. Primarily, this paper argues that masculinity itself is imagined to be the central victim within the evangelical fight against sex trafficking. Additionally, this paper argues that the language of this fight, particularly its emphasis on the ways that men harm women, is embedded within feminist rhetoric and logic, even when utilising them to anti-feminist ends. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the parameters of evangelical interest in the sex industry, and the focus on masculinity in crisis, in particular, are imbued with racial imagery that creates a dichotomy between the foreign, dangerous, and dark space, where men are tempted and a safe, white domesticity to which properly restored patriarchy promises to return them.

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Introduction: Death and the Contemporary (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

Georgina Colby introduces New Formations 88/89 on death and the contemporary.

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Why Do the Dead Keep Coming Back? (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

This essay examines how the critical theory of photography has, at least since Barthes and Sontag, developed a default position that is routinely suspicious of the political and aesthetic value of images of the dead, even as the archive of images of the dead continues to accumulate and to shock. Photographic theory seems to share the post-war assumptions that death has been eclipsed by modernity, sequestered away and rendered taboo. The project here is to give a sense of the array of photographic practice that exists in stark opposition to these assumptions, and indeed in the contemporary moment seems actively to stage an argument with the thesis of the ‘eclipse of death’. It considers work ranging from Sally Mann and Luc Delahaye to the recent projects of Edgar Martins.

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Dying for Sex: Cultural and Forensic Narratives of Autoerotic Death (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

This article explores representations of autoerotic death in a range of discursive fields: the media, forensic pathology, the psy sciences, literary fiction, and internet humour. It adopts a broadly Foucauldian approach to the study of the topic; i.e., rather than interrogating what sexual practices leading to autoerotic death mean, or what motivates people to experiment with these ‘extreme’ practices, it explores instead what attitudes towards autoerotic death tell us about normative cultural understandings of sexuality and gender. The article interrogates the ways in which gender norms and roles are at play in the apprehension of autoerotic fatalities, marking some of the men who die in this way as effeminate, failed men; while others are represented as hyper-masculine misadventurers. It also discusses why the rare female autoerotic fatality troubles assumptions about the nature and role of women. The biases guiding definitions of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sexuality and gender are thus revealed in particularly striking ways by moving the focus of interrogation away from the pathologised practices and the bodies they produce, and onto the discourses that pronounce about them.

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Capacious Aesthetics (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

Books reviewed:

Ben Anderson, Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, 194pp, £65.00 hardback
Maurizia Boscagli, Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism, New York and London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 279pp, £16.99 paperback 
Elizabeth Chin, My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries, Duke University Press, 2016, 239pp, £19.99 paperback
Tonino Griffero, Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces, translated by Sarah de Sanctis, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, 174pp, £65.00 hardback

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The Prisoners of Starvation, or Necessitas dat legem (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

In 1961, the same year that Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth appeared, Gilles Couvreur, a Jesuit, published Les Pauvres ont-ils des droits [Do the poor have rights?]. Couvreur’s work offered a carefully researched examination of the debates within canon law particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries concerning the right of those who are starving to steal food. At the heart of these debates is the question of whether the appropriation of food that is the property of another, under circumstances of extreme need, constitutes theft (albeit a theft whose criminality is immediately nullified by the law itself) or whether in such circumstances the legal status of property itself is suspended, in which case the taking of food can no longer be understood as theft. Finally, I examine the legal maxims “need has no law” and “necessity [or need] makes law,” often cited in the period under consideration, to show how the concept of property was subordinated to the imperative of life in a way that appears unthinkable today. 

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Deconstructing Death: Derrida and the Scene of Execution (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

This paper focuses on the scene of execution, on the essentially theatrical and spectacular nature of the death penalty. It argues that this scene involves not a literal seeing but a virtual or phantasmatic seeing, i.e. a specific kind of visibility that has important consequences for thinking the death penalty (and its future). It highlights two moments of Derrida’s reading of the death penalty in The Death Penalty I and II: the first is Derrida’s insistence on the virtualization of the spectacle; the second is Derrida’s appeal, in the penultimate session of The Death Penalty I, to the explicitly phantasmatic dimension of the death penalty. As the paper tries to show, there is no escaping the scene of execution because there is no escaping the dream of execution; one does not simply put an end to a phantasmatic truth. But if this ‘ready-made phantasy’ is the case, if there is something invincible about the dream of execution, then what would it mean, this paper asks, to think beyond the death penalty?

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Zoya Kosmodemianskaya between Sacrifice and Extermination (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

The article considers the posthumous representation of an eighteen year-old Soviet partisan, captured and executed by German forces during the Battle of Moscow in 1941. As the first woman honoured with the Hero of the Soviet Union award during the war, Kosmodemianskaya’s story and image were deployed across the country as mobilisational propaganda, and she subsequently became a central figure in the pantheon of Soviet heroes, enduring in public consciousness to this day. My analysis focuses on moments of ambivalence in textual and visual representations of Kosmodemianskaya, specifically regarding the dialectic of gender and attitudes to the exterminatory violence of the war. I draw on psychoanalytical and anthropological models in my readings.

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The Face of the Good Death: Euthanasia and Levinas (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

At various strata of the debate, the sense that arguments surrounding euthanasia are no longer making significant advances has provoked a variety of attempts to find alternative ethical approaches that might break with standard deadlocks. In this essay, we will trail one such move by giving a new account of what the ethical stance of Emmanuel Levinas might contribute towards the twin questions of the ethical justification and legalisation of euthanasia. Interpreting our fundamental relationship with the other in terms of the Biblical injunction ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and refusing to draw any distinction between murder and other forms of killing, Levinas is commonly taken to have offered an ethical stance that is strongly opposed to euthanasia. Without disagreeing with this interpretation, we will offer an account of a further twist on this perspective that renders euthanasia ambiguously the exemplary ethical failure and the supreme culmination of ethics, simultaneously separating this ethical question entirely from legality.

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Horror beyond Death: Geopolitics and the Pulverisation of the Human (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

From territorial conquests or wars of attrition to the concentration camps or policies of control of displaced populations, the biopolitical capture of human life in configurations of geopolitical power has often involved the putting to death of populations. While, following Foucault’s work, we can argue that late modern political power has been concerned with the management of people’s lives or with the ‘health’ of a population, this capacity to ‘make live and let die’ (as Foucault put it) is never separate from a modality of force premised upon a right to put to death. Thus, the distinction between biopolitics and what has been called thanatopolitics or necropolitics can no longer be guaranteed. The goal of this essay is to push further the biopolitical/necropolitical argument by showing that, in key contemporary instances of geopolitical violence and destruction, the life and/or death of populations and individual bodies is not a primary concern. What is of concern, rather, is what I have called the pulverization of the human. I consider this targeting of the human, or of humanity itself, to be a matter of horror. Horror’s aim, when it enters the domain of geopolitical destruction, appears to be to put bodies to death. But, more crucially, its aim is to render human bodies, beyond the fact of life and death, unrecognizable, unidentifiable, and sometimes undistinguishable from non-human matter. Horror does not care to recompose human life or humanity. This essay briefly details the argument about horror and horror’s ‘objectives’ beyond death. It also takes issue with recent theories that have argued that traces of human life can be recovered from contemporary instances of geopolitical violence and destruction. Finally, this essay offers two contemporary illustrations of horror’s targeting of the human by examining the role and place of horror in suicide bombings and in drone attacks. 

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Drone Poetics (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

‘Drone Poetics’ considers the challenge to the theory and practice of the lyric of the development of drone warfare. It argues that modernist writing has historically been influenced by aerial technology; drones also affect notions of perception, distance and intimacy, and the self-policing subject, with consequences for contemporary lyric. Indeed, drone artworks and poems proliferate; and while these take critical perspectives on drone operations, they have not reckoned with the phenomenological implications of execution from the air. I draw out six of these: the objectification of the target, the domination of visuality, psychic and operational splitting, the ‘everywhere war’, the intimacy of keyhole observations, and the mythic or psychoanalytic representation of desire and fear. These six tropes indicate the necessity for a radical revision of our thinking about the practice of writing committed poetry in the drone age.

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The Violations of Empathy (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

This article questions the assumption that empathy is a positive, politically beneficial emotion through two examples of poetry about deaths with sensitive political dimensions. I begin by returning to the origins of ‘empathy’ in English, as written about by Vernon Lee in the early-twentieth-century, to show how far the word has drifted from Lee’s sense of it as an embodied aesthetic response to an artwork. Rob Halpern’s book of poems Common Room refuses imaginative empathy with its subject, a dead Guantánamo Bay detainee, and yet, I show, surprisingly aligns with Lee’s sense of empathy through the author’s erotic and imaginative response to the man’s autopsy report. What results in this revivification of Lee’s empathy is a violation of the religious beliefs of the detainee. In contrast, Andrea Brady’s poem ‘Song for Florida 2’ takes up a more contemporary sense of empathy in its focus upon the killing of the unarmed teen Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. Brady’s poem presents several possibilities for empathising with Martin’s mother - by imagining being her, or imagining similarly losing a son - but eventually draws back from this as a limit. Empathy here risks erasing the specificity of the racialized context which led to Martin’s unjust death. The white poet’s son cannot ‘replace’, even imaginatively, the black mother’s son without effacing the difference which saw Martin targeted in the first place. Brady’s poem, I argue, marks how empathy can violate through supplanting the grief and political context for that grief of the person to whom empathy is extended. What is needed instead of empathy is a commitment to political change.  

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Imaginary Intimacies: Death and New Temporalities in the Work of Denise Riley and Nicholas Royle (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

In The Severed Head: Capital Visions (2014), Julia Kristeva understands there to be two forms of relation to death in contemporary culture. The ‘imaginary intimacy with death, which transforms melancholy or desire into representation and thought’ is opposed in Kristeva’s work to ‘the rational realization’ of the act of capital punishment, the former epitomizing ‘vision’ in contrast to the ‘action’ of the latter. This essay proposes that Kristeva’s idea of an ‘imaginary intimacy’ with death can be read in the context of contemporary literary responses to the death of a loved one by Denise Riley and Nicholas Royle. In particular, this essay addresses the relationship between death and new temporalities in Riley’s essay Time Lived, Without Its Flow (2012), her recent collection of poems Say Something Back (2016), and Royle’s Quilt (2010). The non-linear models of time found in Riley’s and Royle’s works are contextualised via the attempts in phenomenology to theorise the relations between temporality and finitude, as well as via Stephen J Gould’s work on geological time. For Riley, the experience of the death of her son brings with it an ‘altered condition of life’ in which time takes the form of ‘a-temporality.’ Questioning the limits of the sentence, and collapsing the narrative boundaries between the living narrator and the deceased father, Quilt traverses the boundaries between experience lived and an experience impossible to claim. Through such an analysis the essay explores the capacity of experimental works to harbour new non-linear temporalities that reflect on the relation between temporality and finitude in the contemporary. 

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Blind Seeing: Deathwriting from Dickinson to the contemporary (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

The essay traces a tradition of what is here called ‘deathwriting’ as it stretches from Emily Dickinson, to Franz Kafka, to Samuel Beckett, to Cormac McCarthy. The work of all these writers, the essay argues, is driven by the urge to give a poetic form to the experience of death, to make death thinkable and narratable. Alongside this tradition of deathwriting, and interwoven with it, one can discern too, a fascination with ‘blind seeing’, an attempt to make darkness visible, or to overcome the distinction between the light and the dark, the visible and the invisible. In reading the connection between deathwriting and blind seeing as it runs from Dickinson to the contemporary, the essay argues that these writers allow us to glimpse a differently constituted relationship between the living and the dead, and between the perceptible and the imperceptible. At a contemporary moment when it has become urgent to rethink our apparatuses for world picturing, with the emergence of the Anthropocene as a critical context for all of our imaginings, the essay offers this history of deathwriting as a radically different way of seeing, without the aid of human light.

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Sites of Death in Some Recent British Fiction (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

We generally think that death has retreated from contemporary everyday life, withdrawn to the non-places of nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, funeral parlours, crematoria. Graham Swift’s Last Orders, with its journey from technologised hospital death to the scattering of the ashes, occupies precisely these non-places of death.  J. G. Ballard’s Crash, however, provides a counter-example: Crash takes place in the non-places of motorway slip-roads, airport access roads, police-pounds and reservoirs. At the same time, it registers how these spaces and non-spaces are over-written by various pre-existing scripts of violent death by films, television and newspaper photographs. The essay then demonstrates the ubiquity of death in contemporary life by exploring Tom McCarthy’s engagement with accident, trauma and re-enactment in Remainder; Gordon Burns’s depiction of tabloid journalism and modern improvised rituals of death in fullalove; the psychogeographic identification of particular sites of death in the work of Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd; and the recognition, in detective fiction, that anywhere can be a site of death. The essay concludes by considering the popularity of forensic-science series and how Silent Witness, Waking the Dead, Cold Case, and CSI present death in its multiple forms for peak-time viewing.

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Reviews (New Formations 89, 90, Autumn/Winter 2016)

May 1, 2017

Including: 

Janet Wolff Car Thoughts
Ben Highmore Capacious Aesthetics
Ruth Preser Un-learning to See Palestine
Karin Lesnik-Oberstein ARTs and the Unconscious
Sheena Culley A Place for Practice
Kevin M.Potter Expansion/Expulsion
Julia Vassilieva Boris Groys: The Intruder
Conor Heaney Inventing New Lines
Dougal McNeill Psychoanalytic Stimulus Packages
S.Trimble Trust Sylvia Wynter

 

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Cutting off the king’s head: the self-disciplining fantasy of neoliberal sovereignty (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

This paper aims to reconsider the relationship and importance of sovereign power for neoliberalism. At the broader theoretical level, this analysis hopes to illuminate the dynamic and mutually reinforcing relation of subjection and subjectivation, as proposed by Foucault, through a psychoanalytic, particularly Lacanian, perspective. It proposes that the identification with a powerful sovereign provides individuals with ontological security in the face of rather complex micro-processes of power and broader depersonalised forms of subjection associated with neoliberalism. In this respect, individuals are affectively ‘gripped’ by sovereignty to account for the complexity and incoherence associated with the concrete and discursive operation of disciplinary power. The appeal of a sovereign fantasy lies in its promise of granting individuals a sense of ‘sovereign’ agency perceived to be lacking in their existence as ‘agency-less’ disciplinary subjects of neoliberalism. This desire produces diverse but complementary contemporary fantasies of sovereignty for producing and reinforcing the ‘self-disciplined’ neoliberal subject. Thus, paradoxically disciplinary power relies on an identification with and desire for sovereign control. To truly move beyond neoliberalism it is necessary therefore to not only challenge its disciplinary body but also cut off its sovereign head.

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Transcendentalising the state (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

How can one radically resist the state, when material and ideological circumstances foreclose a non-statist horizon? To tackle this question, the paper will rely on points of view of communities that know no stateless world, but still reject contemporary state governmentality as such, rather than just this or that government. The paper opens by fleshing out the claim that there is no ‘world’ outside the state. Then it looks into Zapatista resistance, among others, to see how resistance to the state works where there is no independent world from which the state is to be resisted. Next the work of Pierre Clastres and liberation theology is used to set up a model that I call ‘transcendentalisation of the state’ - a form of governmentality that retains the state as constitutive framework, but undermines its power to enforce its authority. The last two sections flesh out this model with case studies from Israel/Palestine and the Euromed civil forum.

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Markets without subjects: Nasdaq and the financial interface (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article is a re-evaluation of recent discourses around financial subjectivity and debt, popularised in the wake of the 2008 crash, from the perspective of critical media studies. Through an examination of the history and development of the Nasdaq market - the world’s first electronic stock exchange which came to serve as the engine for the ‘New Economy’ and the dot-com boom of the 1990s - this paper complicates recent theoretical conversations around the way that financial capitalism shapes political subjects in the neoliberal era in order to take into account the machinic and pre-individual operations of financial markets and the computational infrastructures that undergird them. It argues that the Nasdaq offers insight into the unfolding of a unique socio-technical apparatus that defines contemporary capitalism, one not adequately accounted for in either the popular or scholarly discourse on finance written since the crash. Paying particular attention to the role of the Nasdaq in producing the myths of the New Economy, this paper examines how the Nasdaq model was instrumental in an attempt to resolve the contradictions of neoliberal capitalism. It argues that the Nasdaq marks a crucial moment in the integration of financial markets and new mechanisms of control in contemporary capitalism that work on the dividual, always rendered in a subjugated and reactive position to the flow of automated financial information.

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An ‘exemplary contemporary technical object’: thinking cinema between Hansen and Stiegler (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

This article explores the work of Mark B.N. Hansen and Bernard Stiegler in relation to technology, experience and cinema. It highlights the differences between their positions and evaluates their ongoing usefulness for ‘technocultural’ studies. The article starts by describing and evaluating Hansen’s critique of Stiegler on cinematic temporality. Here it argues that their very different reading of Gilbert Simondon’s work (and especially his concept of individuation) are crucial to understanding the difference between Hansen and Stiegler. The article then moves on to look directly at Stiegler’s approach to cinema through an analysis of his reading of Alain Resnais’s film On connaît la chanson (Same Old Song). It shows here how the frequent citation of popular French song in this film underlines Stiegler’s concept of the ‘industrialisation of memory’. The economic and cultural problematic that Stiegler locates in the film is contrasted with the seemingly positive reappropriation of culture industry which Lawrence Lessig describes as ‘remix culture’. The article then concludes by discussing what is at stake, theoretically and politically, in Stiegler and Hansen’s different ways of thinking about cinema.

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Feeling it: Habitat, taste and the new middle class in 1970s Britain (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

In 1964 the furniture designer and entrepreneur Terence Conran, along with various partners, opened a shop in London selling furniture and household goods. It was a ‘lifestyle shop’ called Habitat. By the late 1970s is was a fixture of many cities and towns across Britain. This essay treats Habitat as a taste formation, as part of a structure of feeling that was specific to what many social commentators were calling the ‘new middle class’. The essay charts some of those feelings and the material culture that supported them, and argues for an approach to taste that treats it as an agent of socio-historical change as well as a practice that maintains and reproduces social class. The feelings that Habitat could be seen to activate ranged from ‘cottage urbanism’ and improvised sociability to a sense of middle-class-classlessness. Habitat’s role was ambiguous, nurturing both middle class radicalism and the marketization of democratic impulses. In the transition from welfare state socialism to neoliberal

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Introduction (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

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Fighting precarity with co-operation? Worker co-operatives in the cultural sector. (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

This paper explores avenues for resistance to precarious and exploited labour in the cultural sector. It investigates the potential of worker co-operatives to help improve working conditions and radically reimagine cultural work. The concept of worker co-ops focuses on democratising ownership and decision-making power. It challenges class divisions and promises to empower workers by giving them more control over their working lives. However, co-ops are constrained by competitive market pressures, creating tensions between economic necessity and political goals. Examining current debates on co-operatives the article explores co-ops as a radical pre-figurative political project, mobilised in a reformist attempt to create a more ethical capitalism or be integrated into neoliberal discourses of entrepreneurship and individual responsibility. It goes on to discuss the potentials and limitations of worker co-ops by looking at precariousness, inequality and individualisation of cultural sector work arguing that radical co-ops can play an important role within a larger movement that mobilises collectivity to confront neoliberal individualisation and capitalist realism.

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Curious about others: relational and empathetic curiosity for diverse societies (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

Sociable curiosity - wondering and finding out about others (empathetic curiosity), and being curious with them (relational curiosity) - can draw people together, bridging differences and social distances. This promises more than the distant connections that are increasingly recognised and endorsed as mechanisms of coping with diversity and living within societies that have been characterised as diverse. It reaches towards more active and definite engagement with others. But curiosity - associated as it is with taxonomy and therefore with exploring and sometimes disrupting and recasting categories - can also be a vehicle for more fundamental explorations of social difference. Understandings of sociable curiosity are distilled in this paper through readings of theoretical literature on curiosity, wonder and taxonomy, and through a series of more tangible encounters, drawn from experiences of anti-war activism and museum projects in the UK, which bring sociable curiosity into focus.

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Reviews (New Formations 88, Spring 2016)

July 1, 2016

Near Hemel Hempstead
Tim Armstrong

Diana, and everything else
Catrin Lundström

We Other Dickensians
Sara Hackenberg

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Tax justice in austerity: logics, residues and attachments (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

In the wake of the UK government’s post-2010 spending cuts, talk about tax justice has become more audible and urgent. Campaigning groups such as UK Uncut have sought to bring the contested tax affairs of a number of multinational corporations, and notably Vodafone, to wider public attention, and have called for the introduction of a ‘Tax Dodging Bill’. In the House of Commons, the Public Accounts Committee scrutinised the avoidance of corporation tax by multinationals during the 2010-15 parliament, leading to widely reported interrogations of representatives from Amazon, Google and Starbucks. This article examines the moral reasoning that prevails in post-2010 tax justice discourse. Drawing on data from an online ‘occupation’ of Vodafone’s Twitter feed in 2014, during which UK Uncut supporters were invited to ‘[t]ell Vodafone what you think their dodged tax should be spent on’, it explores how the ‘injustice’ of tax avoidance is established within the context of austerity. It goes on to examine the ways in which tax justice discourse activates economic imaginaries in austerity, with a specific focus on the ‘tax and spend’ cycle. I develop the argument that tax justice rhetoric tends to perpetuate a residual conception of taxation that emphasises its function as a mechanism of redistributive justice, and tends not to take account of the intensification of neoliberal marketisation and privatisation of public services. The article concludes by evaluating the opportunities and challenges that these residual conceptions afford – both for the tax justice movement and for a politics of public ownership.

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Race, debt and the welfare state (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

In this article I explore how the figure of debt illuminates the racial politics of welfare in neoliberal Britain. I begin by giving a reading of the simultaneous unfolding of post-war race politics and the Beveridgean welfare state, and then turn to consider the interpellative appeal of neoliberal debt to minoritiSed subjects who have, in certain respects, been de facto excluded from prevailing models of welfare citizenship. In particular, this article considers the ways in which household debt might, even as it increases social inequality, simultaneously produce ideas about equality and futurity, as well as gesture towards the possibility of post-national forms of identity and belonging. If we are to challenge the lowest-common-denominator logics of ‘capitalist realism’ it is necessary to develop orientations to the economic that are as convincing as the popular stories that circulate about the operations of the neoliberal marketplace, and which are as meaningful as the social relations they play a part in constituting. Rather than reproduce the racialized model of welfare citizenship that is implicit to the ‘defence’ of the postwar welfare state, I suggest that there are elements of prevailing neoliberal market relations that might themselves serve as a more substantial basis for expressions of racial equality. There is, in other words, something that we can learn from neoliberal debt regimes in order to develop a more egalitarian future-oriented politics of social welfare and economic redistribution.

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Digital Debt Management: The Everyday Life of Austerity (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

The age of austerity has seen large swathes of society adversely affected by ever-harsher austerity measures and protracted economic stagnation. This is compounded by the increasing routinisation of debt default and the everyday management of problematic levels of debt. This paper explores the everyday politics of indebtedness—the multifaceted ways in which household debt is transforming debtors’ lives—and the forms of resistance it can give rise to. In particular we focus on the role played in the UK by online resources as a new and increasingly important source of expertise and collaborative support. The paper’s object is a set of web forums that offer platforms for peer-to-peer (p2p) information exchange, specifically: Consumer Action Group, Money Saving Expert, Mumsnet. We analyse the types of expertise that are made available, how this is discussed and achieves legitimacy (or not), as well as the forums’ effects on forms of domestic accounting. We also compare the online forms of debt advice to conventional ‘real world’ debt management expertise. We conclude by considering how this enhances our understanding of the transformative impact of digital technologies on indebtedness as well as offering insights into the everyday life of contemporary austerity.

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Austerity futures: debt, temporality and (hopeful) pessimism as an austerity mood (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

This article examines the relationships between austerity, debt and mood through a focus on temporality and the future. Its starting point is a poll, conducted in Britain in 2011, which showed an increase of pessimism about the future and led to suggestions that ‘a new pessimism’ had become the ‘national mood’. Exploring this survey and other related examples, I ask whether and how pessimism about the future might be considered a mood characteristic of austerity in the UK, consider some of the implications of the future being imagined not as better but as diminished and, drawing on Berlant’s concept of cruel optimism, propose a notion of hopeful pessimism. I explore the politics of pessimism about the future, focusing especially on the affects and emotions that some women and young people might feel. In these senses, I aim to turn around the focus of this special issue to inquire not so much about the future of austerity as about the kinds of futures that are imagined in the new age of austerity, and the affective experiences of such imaginations.

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Living and feeling the austere (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

This paper moves beyond conceptualisations of austerity as fiscal policy towards exploring the multiple ways austerity may be lived and felt in everyday life. Drawing on research with families affected by disability, this paper argues that austerity is felt as a series of atmospheres that envelop and condition times and spaces of the everyday. Austerity is made both affectively and materially present through these atmospheric intensities as they register and radiate between individual bodies and everyday objects. As they shape both day-to-day practices and future imaginaries, atmospheres of austerity generate numerous individualised experiences that result in multiple affective relations towards austerity. As a result, this paper holds together the following relations to austerity: anticipating austerity, adapting to austerity, ‘getting on with life’ and accepting austerity. These show that austerity is more than an economic policy; it is a phenomenon that is understood through individuals’ lived and felt realities that are often experienced through fluctuating, non-coherent and sometimes conflicting affective relations that come to shape how people feel and act in the everyday. It is through a conceptualisation of austerity as lived that we might galvanise people against austerity by encouraging a more nuanced and multi-tonal counter politics that takes into account the multiple affective relations that are expressed through various domains of everyday life.

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Austere creativity and volunteer-run public services: the case of Lewisham’s Libraries (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

The article explores a particular concept of creativity that which is being mobilised within Austerity Britain. This mobilisation involves capitalising on the resourcefulness and ingenuity of citizens in their ability to adapt and ‘problem-solve’ in the face of cuts to the welfare state; it lacks any oppositional or explicitly political aspects. Such a conception of creativity is also linked to imperatives to restore a perceived loss of community and authentic experience, and to the nostalgic belief that austerity provides an opportunity to do so by bringing us ’back to basics’. ‘Austere creativity’ becomes prevalent in the absence of alternatives and large-scale social movements challenging austerity. The article will explore these issues through the case of a campaign to save five libraries in Lewisham, London in 2010-11, and in the reaction of campaigners to the decision by the council to turn them over to charities and social enterprises, with volunteers replacing qualified librarians. It is based on interviews with key activists, ethnographic observations from the author’s role as an activist in the campaign, grey literature and a promotional video on the outsourcing of public services.

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Introduction: The future of austerity (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

This special issue explores some of the ways in which austerity can be construed as capturing, shaping, and (dis)organising the future. It addresses the futures that austerity has begun to assign to certain subjects and to embed in the societies they live in. It attends to the promises for the future that have unravelled in the austerity conjuncture, and the new modes of expectation that have been offered and embraced in their place. In a context of rising levels of household debt in the UK and other countries, particular attention is given to indebted imaginaries, and to Maurizio Lazzarato’s claim that the debt economy is depriving workers of their very future.

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What is austerity? (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

This is the edited transcript of a conversation between Rebecca Bramall, editor of this special issue, Jeremy Gilbert, editor of New Formations, and James Meadway, who at the time was chief economist of the New Economics Foundation and is currently advising shadow chancellor the exchequer John McDonnell in a consultancy capacity. It touches on the different meanings of ‘austerity’ in contemporary political discourse, the history of neoliberal austerity programmes and their political and social effects, the uneven implementation of austerity in the UK, and various other issues in understanding the cultural, social and economic politics of ‘austerity’ in contemporary Britain, today and in the future.

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Reviews (New Formations 87, )

May 1, 2016

The Long Conjuncture

David Glover reviews Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents, Durham NC and London, Duke
University Press, 2015, 319pp; £16.99 paperback and James Epstein, Scandal of Colonial Rule: Power and Subversion in the British Atlantic
during the Age of Revolution
, New York and Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, 314pp; £21.99 paperback

Higher Frequency

Sarah L. Webb reviews Ian Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class, New York, Oxford University Press, 2014, 304pp; £11.99 paperback.

Modernist Philosophy?

Richard Eldridge reviews Ben Ware, Dialectic of the Ladder: Wittgenstein, the ‘Tractatus’ and Modernism, London, Bloomsbury, 2015, xiv + 212pp.; £65.00 hardcover.

Taste After Bourdieu

Ben Highmore reviews Antoine Hennion, The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation, translated by Margaret Rigaud and Peter Collier, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015, 339pp, £75 hardback and David Wright, Understanding Cultural Taste: Sensation, Skill and Sensibility, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 188pp, £60 hardback

Plagued by the Self

Joseph Darlington reviews Élisabeth Roudinesco, Lacan: In Spite of Everything, trans. Gregory Elliott, London, Verso, 2014.

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Introduction: sexism – a problem with a name (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

This special issue is premised on a claim: to make sexism the explicit object of academic enquiry is to generate new knowledge and understanding. To understand how sexism works, to ask why sexism remains stubbornly persistent in shaping worlds, determining possibilities, deciding futures, despite decades of feminist activism, is to work out and to work through the very mechanics of power. Sexism seems to operate as a well-oiled machine that runs all the more smoothly and efficiently for being in constant use. The effects of this constancy are wearing on those to whom sexism is directed. In this special issue we reflect on how and why sexism remains so persistent without isolating sexism from other machineries of power. We hope to intervene collectively in the reproduction of sexism, to throw a spanner in the works or even to become, to borrow Sarah Franklin’s evocative phrase, a ‘wench in the works’. It takes conscious willed effort not to reproduce sexism.1 This special issue is part of this effort.

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Sexism as a means of reproduction: some reflections on feminism in the academy (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

Personal experience remains an important resource in the collective effort to document the many faces of sexism - a problem with a name, but an elusive diagnosis. This article, based on a lecture of the same title prepared for the Sexism Workshop at Goldsmiths College in 2014, builds on personal experience to address the persistence of sexism in the academy. The individual experiences on which it is based are both personal and generic, and the aim of revisiting them here is diagnostic: to examine sexism as a means of reproduction. We can learn, I suggest, not only more about the mechanisms of sexism in the academy, but the politics of reproduction more generally, from this analysis. In turn, we can evaluate our own relationship to academic reproduction from two interlinked points of view. On the one hand, in tried and true feminist tradition, personal experience remains a vital resource for collective, transformative politics. Equally important, on the other hand, is the use of personal experience as a guide, or gauge, to determine our own professional practice. The question of how we understand the means by which the academy is reproduced helps us to ask sharper questions about our own reproductive practices, as well as to intervene in means of reproduction we want to challenge.

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Sexism at the centre: locating the problem of sexual harassment (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

In this article we discuss the sexual harassment that occurs within academic institutions between academic staff and students. Our interest is in analysing the ways that sexism and sexual harassment are enabled and sustained in the university environment. In particular, we are interested in interrogating the power that occurs in these relationships, and how the nature of this relation makes it difficult for students to name and refuse the harassment that occurs. We argue that sexism conceals itself through its continual movement, and that sexual harassment is perpetuated within universities through tactics that relocate the problem away from the individual and the institution. In this way, sexual harassment disappears: the problem never appears as a problem of sexual harassment. Instead, it appears as a number of other shifting problems which include the problem of the women who complain and the harm caused to academic reputations. The slipperiness of sexism means it comes to be re-circulated through social and institutional structures that keep sexual harassers in place, because sexism and sexual harassment appear always out of reach. Mechanisms within the institution set up to address sexual harassment work not only to distance the institution from responsibility for the harassment, but also to hide the harassment even in the moment when women and male allies are insistently working to try to make it appear.

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Reviews (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

Who’s looking at whom

Zara Dinnen reviews Rachel E. Dubrofsky and Shoshana Amielle Magnet (eds), Feminist Surveillance Studies, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2015, 304pp.

DOI:10.3898/NEWF.86.REV01.2015

Shape-shifting

Geoff Eley reviews  David Glover, Literature, Immigration, and Diaspora in Fin de Siècle England: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, x + 229 pp., £53.99 hardback.

DOI:10.3898/NEWF.86.REV02.2015

Ludic Handwaving

John Ó Maoilearca reviews Brian Massumi, What Animals Teach Us About Politics, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2014, 137pp; paperback, £14.99

DOI:10.3898/NEWF.86.REV03.2015

Entanglement

Sam McBean reviews Ken Hillis, Susanna Paasonen, and Michael Petit (eds), Networked Affect, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2015, 267pp; £24.95 hardcover.

DOI:10.3898/NEWF.86.REV04.2015

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Sexism: a femme-inist perspective (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

This experimental essay offers an auto-ethnography of sexism. Six stories are woven around considering sexism as an ontology, a theory of reality and being for feminists. Based on experiences of feminist training in the US and working in gender studies in Sweden, it discusses how (academic) sexism can become a career, a heritage and an expectation, but also how it gets below the surface and becomes sensational, often through (sexual) shame. Engaging the work of Marilyn Frye, Julia Serrano, Cherrie Moraga and Audre Lorde it aims to put ’sex’, as in sexuality, back into sexism. It also outlines how feminism can reproduce sexism by making femininity a problem.

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The paradox of Fallon’s fight: interlocking discourses of sexism and cissexism in mixed martial arts fighting (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

This article examines a particular cultural context where transgender acceptance and inclusion are fiercely contested: women’s professional sports. More specifically, I highlight the interlocking discourses of cissexism and sexism surrounding Fallon Fox, professional mixed martial arts’ (MMA) first openly transgender male-to-female (MTF) fighter. The interplay between arguments for transgender acceptance and assumptions of fixed sexual difference circulating in MMA blogs, radio shows, and in sports and entertainment magazines, maintains barriers for Fox’s participation in the sport. I argue that regardless of the various debates for or against her inclusion in women’s professional MMA, both sides reaffirm a patriarchal, cisgender, cissexual system of power by exaggerating ‘biologically’ sanctioned male physical dominance and ‘innate’ female physical lack. As a result, Fox’s plight is fixed within a discursive paradox as the interlocking discourses of cissexism and sexism create a double bind for trans women in combat sports. Trans MTF athletes encounter cissexism on one front and sexism on the other.       

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The choreography of everyday sexism: reworking sexism in interaction (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

Sexism thrives in the present because it appears to dwell in the past. Shielded by the claim that we have successfully dispatched it, contemporary sexism flourishes as ‘retro’, ‘hipster’ or ‘ironic’, or else passes unnoticed. Accusations of sexism sound amusingly out-dated and those speaking seriously of sexism may be dismissed as out-of-date themselves - or else as unreasonable and oversensitive. Under these conditions, the persistent presence of sexism has appeared virtually ‘unspeakable’. In this essay I examine this dynamic at close quarters, asking how sexism is performed and resisted in young people’s everyday interactions. Drawing from interviews with twenty secondary school students aged sixteen to eighteen, I develop an account of the ‘choreography’ of sexism: the organising patterns through which sexism is communicated in interaction. This choreography shapes what is said, but also what is felt: how bodies are hailed by sexist communication and recruited into particular patterns of feeling and response. I focus my attention on the moves those I interviewed made to challenge sexism, and the possibilities these manoeuvres hold for unravelling sexism in interaction.

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The unwanted labour of social media: women of colour call out culture as venture community management (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

Social media platforms generate huge profits from free user data. Twitter and other social media sites benefit additionally from the labour of volunteer community managers whose efforts to moderate misogyny and sexism online are often unwanted, punished, and viewed as censorship, uncivil behaviour, or themselves forms of sexism. Hashtag movements like #ThisTweetCalledMyBack reveal a growing labour consciousness on the part of these volunteers and an awareness of their role as an emergent formation within this ‘new economy’.

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Uncloaking humour: ironic-parodic sexism and smart media (New Formations 86, Autumn 2015)

January 1, 2016

This short paper offers a seemingly perverse position on humour, arguing the case for using humour against humour and pursuing imperfect strategies of parody and irony in the face of ironic and parodic forms of sexism. The argument is contingent, confined to the arena of smart media seen here as a new, and newly sexist theatre of the absurd. On the basis that it is undecidable with respect to politics, the paper outlines the potential for an antagonistic feminist political theory of humour.

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Control Societies: Notes for an Introduction (New Formations 84,85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

First published in Michel Butel’s popular review L’Autre journal, of which he was an editorial board member, Gilles Deleuze’s essay on control societies, re-published in Pourparlers in 1990 and later translated as the ‘Postscript on Control Societies’ (hereafter just the ‘Postscript’) has proved to be one of his most widely cited pieces of work. Presented in historical terms as the successor to the disciplinary configuration of power elaborated by his friend Michel Foucault, the logic of control sketched out by Deleuze has proved highly suggestive within the arts and social sciences (in Anglophone countries in particular), as a means of articulating understandings of a range of historically grounded shifts in the organisation of power.

Yet, brief as it is, Deleuze’s essay can scarcely be thought to offer anything like a complete account of control, whether that is to be understood either uniquely on Deleuze’s terms or, in particular, as a comprehensively established contrast to the disciplinary logic presented by Foucault. Its cursory and suggestive form makes the historical basis of the argument obscure, and, whilst it makes numerous references to concepts established by Deleuze elsewhere in his writings (modulation, dividual, order-word/pass-word and so on), the broader basis of its connections with his more carefully established accounts of, for example, capitalism, are not entirely obvious. […]

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Everyone is Not an Artist: Autonomous Art Meets the Neoliberal City (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Abstract

The crisis of neoliberal urbanism and its production of polarised, fragmentary and exclusionary cities is explored as an effect of the biopolitical schema of the ‘milieu’: a schema, Foucault claims, by which the ‘pastorate of souls’ is converted into the depersonalised collective ‘population’, and life is elevated and protected as an autonomous value but also degraded as fungible commodity. Within this, the historical function of aesthetics and its increasingly central role within urbanism and urban government is interrogated, from modernist architecture’s attempts to design the entire ‘anthrogeographic’ terrain, to community art, creative regeneration schemes and parks, and public and site specific artworks.

The article explores the parallel between the securitising effects of the urban capitalist milieu, which acts to fix life within normative bandwidths, and the implications of artistic autonomy that strives to return to the everyday, thus fixing all life within the bandwidth of aesthetics. The contemporary and officially sanctioned use of relational or participatory art projects in particular within the UK’s zones of ‘regenicide’ - generally, condemned social housing - is read as paradigmatic of biopower’s contradictory elevation and degradation of life. If crisis capitalism targets housing - the ultimate structure of care - as a last means of surplus value extraction, then autonomous art, through its pursuit of the sites and spaces of everyday life, finds itself on a collision course with the trajectory of economic development.

The article makes a reading of how it is precisely through autonomous art’s universal exoneration of life (encapsulated by Joseph Beuy’s slogan ‘everyone an artist!’) that it becomes amenable to the opposite use: a propaganda tool for gentrification by which housing can be withdrawn and life rendered naked and exposed to the relentless forces of the market. In this way, the intricate and fundamental relationship between biopolitics and autonomous art is exposed.

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The Chronic Social: Relations of Control Within and Without Neoliberalism (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Abstract

A key feature of ‘societies of control’ as described by Deleuze is that, unlike societies of discipline, they lack any decisive moments of judgement or evaluation. Individuals live in a condition of ‘endless postponement’ and constant uncertainty. This article explores the implications of this feature in the context of ubiquitous digitisation, neoliberalism and the return of the ‘social’ as a mode of government (as in ‘social media’, ‘social enterprise’, etc). It argues that the state of continuous, uncritical flow facilitated by the price system, combined with the uncritical, embodied knowledge of the entrepreneur, are key features of capitalism celebrated by neoliberal thinkers. We might therefore view neoliberalism as a celebration of ‘control’ technologies, and - inversely - view the neoliberal critique of socialism as a critique of ‘disciplinary’ technologies, as manifest in Hayek’s critique of ‘intellectuals’. The contemporary re-emergence of the ‘social’ as a means of government is due to the fact that this new version of the social is amenable to ‘control’, rather than ‘discipline’. This is a new phase of neoliberalism, which highlights the fact that neoliberalism was only ever contingently dependent on markets, and can be reinvented by expanding the scope of control through using (non-market) techniques that were traditionally associated with corporate management. The article explores the new forms of power inequality that arise, once the ‘social’ is co-opted as a tool of control. Control societies are organised by varying assumptions regarding the individual’s capacity to cope with a state of constant, uninterrupted flow. Most individuals require steering in some way, while a small minority of leaders and entrepreneurs can perform the navigation.

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Towards a Rhizomatic Technical History of Control (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Abstract

Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on Control Societies lends itself readily - too readily, perhaps - to historical interpretations of control that accept the universalising claims of techno-science. Critical social and cultural theory tacitly confirms the terms of reference of techno-scientific concepts at the risk of sanctioning the speculative claims of a notional physics of the cultural world which makes it difficult to develop a critical reading of the emergence of the socio-technical mechanisms of control. This essay addresses that problem and points towards the importance of considering the history of engineering, particularly in its complex relations to management and to bureaucracy, for an account of the present. Understanding the incidence of these practices on the environment within which computing emerged helps provide a corrective to idealised readings of the history of digital technology and points in turn to crucial aspects of the relationship between control and governmentality, relating in particular to the important Deleuzoguattarian concept of machinic enslavement. 

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Modulation after Control (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Abstract

This article revisits the concept of modulation in Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on Control Societies, in which he announces control societies as the new paradigm succeeding Michel Foucault’s disciplinary society. Deleuze characterises this shift in terms of a shift from ‘moulding’ to ‘modulation’, namely from a form-imposing mode to a self-regulating mode. The concept of modulation is crucial to Deleuze’s reinterpretation of the history of philosophy, where he employs it to turn against, for example, Aristotle’s hylomorphism and Kant’s transcendental categories. The role of modulation in Deleuze’s thought in general, and in the article on control societies in particular, reveals an aporia concerning the consistency of this concept: isn’t the idea of control societies a realisation of Deleuze’s philosophy? On the other hand it urges us to consider how modulation is realised through digital technologies, which occupy a central role in his article on control societies, and are further taken up by contemporary media theorists such as Alexander Galloway and Antoinette Rouvroy. This article attempts to address these two questions by looking again at the work of Gilbert Simondon, whose concept of modulation was an inspiration to Deleuze. For Simondon, the concept of modulation is closely related to technology, a dimension not sufficiently explored by Deleuze. By exploring Simondon’s 1961 paper ‘Amplification in the Process of Information’, this article elaborates on the concept of modulation, in relation to technical amplification and individuation. It attempts to show that how modulation can also be understood as a way to resist the tendency of ‘disindividuation’ in control societies, and that the ‘modulative’ mode of control societies is only one possible outcome from the philosophical concept of modulation. It concludes with a concrete practical example from within the development of alternative social networks.

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Policing the Demos: Foucault, Hegel and Police Power in Waller v. City of New York (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Abstract

This paper traces the contradictions of liberal ‘police’ power from Hegel’s analysis of modern polizei to a Foucauldian analysis of the 2011 judicial ruling on the police eviction of Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zucotti Plaza in New York. In the first section, I develop insights from Hegel and Foucault’s analysis of the contradictions of liberal police, whereby power in liberal government incorporates an ‘internal principle of limitation’ that distinguishes it from the unlimited internal objectives of the European police state, while finding itself constantly violating its own internal normative principles. In the second section, I situate liberal police within Foucault’s history of police and the development of a political economy of the poor. In the third section, I challenge Foucault’s own portrayal of liberal police as ‘self-limiting’ in the 1978-79 lectures, through a detailed examination of ‘police’ in the life and thought of Benjamin Franklin. In the final section, I draw upon this historical background of police to analyse the police power jurisprudence laid out in the 2011 Waller v. City of New York ruling on the police eviction of protestors from Zucotti Plaza. Here, I argue that the ruling allows us to see how the discourse of ‘police power’ claims to uphold a (neo)liberal economic-juridical order, while at the same time functioning as a mechanism of repression and security against the ‘dangerous’ (democratic) element within the polity.

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Hack or be Hacked: The Quasi-Totalitarianism of Global Trusted Networks (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

This article focuses on digital surveillance ideology by examining specific empirical examples drawn from media reports of the Snowden affair, in order to nuance the politics, ethics, values and affects mobilized by governments and corporate elites to justify the collect-it-all practices by a ménage à trois of “trusted” global networks. It charts this political space as a sphere of action emerging against the backdrop of what we call ‘quasi-totalitarian’ mechanisms, which are fostered by alignment, collusion and imbrication of the three trusted authoritative networks. This approach accounts for a particular vexing problem in the articulation of digital politics. That is, the process of political disenfranchisement by corporations looking to profit, governments looking to regulate information flows, and coopted groups in civil society looking to appropriate the legitimate concerns of users for their own political and financial subsistence. The distinct features of this quasi-totalitarianism include a. the monopoly of digital planning on surveillance resting on back-channel and secret communication between government, tech corporate elites and, sometimes, NGOs; b. the role of civil society NGOs as mechanisms for circumventing democratic processes c. enterprise association politics that ensures that the dual goal of state (security) and capital (profit) continues unabated and unaccounted; d. the unprecedented scope in the form of total structural data acquisition by western intelligence matrixes; e. the persecution and prosecution of journalists, whistle-blowers and transparency actors outside the scope of civil society groups and f. the significant if insufficient contestation by members of the public concerning the infringement on civil liberties.

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Discipline is Control: Foucault contra Deleuze (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

In this paper, I critically assess Gilles Deleuze’s ‘societies of control’ thesis in relation to the work of Michel Foucault that provides its ostensible inspiration. I argue, contra Deleuzian readings of Foucault, that contemporary society continues to be a form of the disciplinary-biopolitical society identified by Foucault as having emerged in the late eighteenth century. My argument for this is dual. On the one hand, I point to claims of Deleuze’s that have not been borne out by subsequent developments, particularly the claim that disciplinary institutions are breaking down: while some institutions have declined, others (particularly the prison) have massively expanded. On the other hand, I argue that characteristics specifically assigned to societies of control by Deleuze were already part of disciplinary power as conceived by Foucault, noting that Foucault indeed uses the word ‘control’ as a synonym for discipline. I conclude that, due to his relative economism, Deleuze has misidentified real changes associated with the transition from Fordism to post-Fordism as comprising something much more dramatically new at a political level than they really are. That is, post-Fordism represents at most a modification of disciplinary power, rather than a new technology of power in a Foucauldian sense.

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Archipelago of Risk: Uncertainty, Borders and Migration Detention Systems (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

This essay takes Deleuze’s ‘Postscript’ as a point of departure for a theory of risk analytics. It heeds the advice of the ‘Postscript’ to dispense with registers of fear and hope and instead focus upon the rough outline of coming forms of power, and the insight it gives to the dynamics of enclosure and flight. The illustrative case in this essay is the Australian ‘Detention Network’, a vast system of migration detention that has been wholly privatised since 1997 and has served as a laboratory for similar systems in other parts of the world. In doing so, it tests the limits of normative and constructivist theories of risk. Normative theories explain the ubiquity of risk as a consequence of ‘globalisation’, the rise of techno-scientific rationality, and the decline of ‘traditions’ (namely, the gendered division of labour and the family upon which industrial production depended); while the constructivist approach either neglects the persistent reconstruction of bounded spaces and time-zones to the dynamics of risk and profit, or tends to place the assemblage outside the changing, conflictual socio-technical history of capitalism.

The principal argument in this essay is that contemporary analytics of risk are preoccupied with integrating uncertainty (or uninsurable risk) into formulations of risk, and that this necessarily gives rise to complex, archipelagic systems of abstract and physical dimensions. Flight transformed the enclosures. That is, this essay reads the Deleuzo-Guattarian concept of the assemblage not as the imperative, philosophical reconstruction of a Platonist ‘parts-whole’ paradigm but as an initial step in a critical theory of assemblage. In doing so, it places the emphasis on contracts as mechanisms that assemble stochastic processes into sociotechnical systems and forms of value.

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Control Societies and Platform Logic (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

Deleuze’s concept of the control society presciently sketches a world of power as ‘universal modulation’. This article investigates the applicability of this understanding of control to today’s socio-technical systems. It examines Deleuze’s control society through the philosophy of cybernetics. This situates a restrictive interpretation with reference to Norbert Weiner’s theory of control systems in animals and machines. We argue that in maintaining a concept of control-as-homeostatic feedback modulation, cybernetic readings tend to ignore the constructive, enabling dimension of control. To remedy this, we analyse a recent concept developed in the field of business studies of information technology: the platform. Extrapolating beyond the existing literature of platform design, we develop a generalised theory of the platform as an alternative model of control, through the concept of generative entrenchment, where enablement is directly correlated with constraint and vice versa. Finally we consider the political implications of such an approach to control.

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Brand Intimacy, Female Friendship and Digital Surveillance Networks (New Formations 84/85, Winter 2014 / Summer 2015)

November 1, 2015

This article examines the way that digital media harness, mine and infiltrate social networks and private relationships. More specifically it looks at online homosocial groups that primarily target, interpellate and mould a heteronormative demographic of women and girls. It examines digital platforms that are hosted or penetrated by corporations and their brands, such as Dove (owned by Unilever), babycentre.co.uk (owned by Johnson & Johnson) and Mumsnet (independently owned and funded by advertising). These sites are re-organised disciplinary industries whose instrumental apparatuses are devolved and spread among ‘disaggregated sets of mechanisms and processes’. I argue that these websites harness the affectivity of female friendship conjoined with what Lauren Berlant terms ‘intimate publics’ in order to monitor women’s sexualities. Rather than being a top-down form of governance and discipline such as in the panopticon, control is devolved, shared and internalised among modalities of the policing gaze. Moreover, this policing is permeated by market values and the privileging of self-management in service to competitive subjectivities. Bodies are surveyed and controlled by groups of women, or what I call a gynaeopticon - a gendered, neoliberal variation on Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon - where the many women watch the many women. The feminine individual, who accrues value through the correct maintenance of sexuality, is captured by the interest of corporations and their shareholders. These branded spaces disseminate, perpetuate and realise their ideal of the entrepreneurial individual through, by, and on the bodies of women. Patriarchy is obfuscated in an affective popular culture where neoliberal logics configure the intimate lives of women, and where women are complicit in the regulation of normative femininities. Effective branding strategies form intimate relationships between the brand and consumers. Significantly, they often harness the assemblage of friendship in order to create networks around, with and through brands. Friendship is assembled out of different affects, as well as other elements. This assemblage includes empathy, sympathy, generosity, thoughtfulness, attentiveness. As commercial texts selling the signifiers of friendship, they are an antidote to, as well as a symptom of, what Zygmunt Bauman calls ‘liquid loving’.

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The spirit of Gezi: the recomposition of political subjectivities in Turkey (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

In the last few years, a sequence of protests and uprisings occurred across the planet from the student’s movement in Chile, to the Egyptian revolution, the Spanish Indignados, Occupy Wall Street up to the Gezi Park protest in Turkey. Despite their respective singularity these events seem to reveal new practices and forms of political subjectivity. The paper focuses on three aspects by analysing the recent Turkish case, the Gezi Park protests. Firstly, it explores what the authors call the process of ‘recomposition of people’, which is connected to the emergence of new subjectivities and social practices, and eventually to the emergence of new norms, as indicated by the pervasive reference to the ‘Spirit of Gezi’. Secondly it discusses the virtually classical phenomenon of emergence by examining infrastructures and practices of ‘commoning’, which created what many participants of the protests lived as a transgressive experience. Thirdly, drawing on a Spinozan theoretical framework, the authors investigate the affective dimensions of the Gezi protest, emphasising the transformative role played by humour during the uprising.

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Psychoanalysis and the poem: on reading in Sandor Ferenczi and D.W. Winnicott (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

This article examines how returning to the question of interpretation in twentieth-century psychoanalysis can help us readdress the discipline’s bearing on literary studies, in particular the study of poetry. Reading the work of Sándor Ferenczi and D.W. Winnicott, the article sets out their responses to well-documented controversies surrounding psychoanalytic interpretation. Using original research on the correspondence of both analysts and key references to poetry and ‘the poetic’ in their writing, I examine how their theories of interpretation rely on notions not only of language but of poetry, and how this reliance prompts us to consider the implications of their conclusions for the project of critical reading. These analysts’ understanding of aesthetic as well as psychoanalytic relationship stretches our sense of what interpretation is for and what impulses might be behind it. The status of poetry in their work invites us to bring this discussion back into the field of literature.

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Why write? Feminism, publishing and the politics of communication (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

My concern here is with the enclosure and delimitation of a politics of communication within and across the knowledge and creative sectors. I show how this enclosure is enacted by reform agendas and specifically by the alignment of copyright and access reform in the UK. While policy on copyright and access implements neoliberal values by means of the apparently valueless a-politics of openness, I explore the possibilities of re-politicisation - of opening out from openness - through publishing projects that (re)enact specifically feminist agendas and investments in, for example, care, ethics, agency, responsibility, experimentation and intervention. A feminist politics of communication does not (could not) posit radicalism in opposition to neoliberalism but does constitute a relation of antagonism (Mouffe) within a nexus of trouble understood here as the configuration of writing, publishing, privatisation and marketisation. To the extent that this nexus of trouble is already troubled (and not least by crisis models in publishing, the humanities and academia generally), the specific and strategic question of writing itself is, I suggest, currently underexplored. The question of writing brings philosophy to bear on policies of openness but, I argue, in an environment of increasingly proprietorial knowledge and of creativity as market competition, the key question (to ask) of writing is not the metaphysical one (what is writing?) but rather the more provisional question: why write?

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Editorial (New Formations 83, )

January 1, 2015

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Aesthetics of the Secret (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

In re-igniting a familiar debate about the balance between state security and individual privacy, the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have stalled on matters of regulation and reform, which treat secrecy, securitisation and surveillance largely in procedural terms. This article seeks to interrupt the containment strategies of communicative capitalism/democracy evident in these debates by configuring secrets as subject to and the subject of radical politics rather than regulation. Its premise is that we might be better able to form a radical political response to the ‘Snowden event’ by situating the secret within a distributive regime and imagining what collectivities and subjectivities the secret makes available. Through a consideration of artworks by Trevor Paglen and Jill Magid - which help us to stay with the secret as secret, rather than foregrounding the more individualistic notion of privacy or moving too quickly towards revelation and reform - the article turns from a hermeneutics of the secret towards an aesthetics of the secret. Considered as a Rancièrean ‘distribution of the sensible’, a delimitation of space, time, the visible, the sayable, the audible, and political experience, this aesthetics can help us to imagine a politics of the secret not bound to policy and legalities.

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Notes Towards an Analytics of Resistance (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

New forms, subjects and strategies of resistance have emerged in recent mass protests and insurrections, from the Arab Spring to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Brazil. Insurrections, exodus and democratic experimentation respond to the economic and social landscape of neoliberal capitalism and the biopolitical operation of power. Using historical and recent examples, this essay proposes seven theses on the philosophy of resistance. We have entered a new age of resistance and potentially radical change after fifty years of failures and defeats of the left.

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Reviews (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

Better tables
James Penney

Hieroglyphics of the flesh
Dhanveer Singh Brar

Women, Crime and Sexual Transgression
Jade Munslow Ong

Can sociologists write?
Caspar Melville

That Dawn to Be Alive
Joseph Darlington

Again Antigone
Elena Tzelepis

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Acting Straight: Reality TV, Gender Self-Consciousness and Forms of Capital (New Formations 83, )

January 1, 2015

‘Straight acting’ is a category that has become increasingly prominent as a means of describing men who have sex with other men but are not considered effeminate. It may even suggest a form of disidentification with ‘gay.’ This paper looks at the significance of this term in relation to an intensified social self-consciousness of gender, especially in relation to sexuality, by focusing on the reality TV series, Playing It Straight. While straight acting should mostly be regarded as socially conservative, even nostalgic, in its appeal to various norms, it may also be critical of the kinds of ‘postmodern’ understandings of gender promoted under neoliberal conditions. The article concludes by discussing the cultural political dynamics of masculinity and effeminacy in relation to increasing inequality, precarity and austerity.

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Bathetic masochism and the shrinking woman (New Formations 83, Autumn 2014)

January 1, 2015

This essay examines the privileged position given to masochism in some recent critical-theoretical work and argues that a controversy of size is often involved in recalibrations of subjectivity. The masochist is frequently described as a shrinking subject who paradoxically has the potential to function on a grand scale. I track questions of size through certain radical accounts of subjectivity, arguing that such spatial thinking has a complex relation to female subjectivity, which has a long history of being imagined (and stigmatised) as an inherent propensity to smallness and masochistic self-diminution. As a case in point, I address the recent Fifty Shades novels, which romanticise masochism as a shrinking of the female subject accompanied by an increase in her orgasmic and consumer power. The gender-specific implications of shrinking here highlight the potential bathos, or failure, of a radical re-calibration of size effected through masochism. Bathos is seen as an effect of disproportion and I explore the ways in which gendered conventions bathetically ‘shrink’ female subjects. Finally, I argue that a valorsiation of masochism might reflect the disappointment of certain radical aspirations and demonstrate expansive hopes of transformation shrinking into bathetic adaptation.

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Cultural theory as mood work (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

In staging an encounter between Sedgwick’s discussion of reparation, Spivak’s analysis of translation, and critical scholarship on mood, this essay considers how we might understand contemporary cultural theory as a form of ‘mood work’ that is at once discursive and material, textual and affective, political and aesthetic. In particular, I am interested in how thinking reparation, translation and mood together might open up different ways of conceptualising and negotiating the affective ‘double binds’ central to both critical thought and socio-political relations at the current conjuncture. As Sedgwick and Spivak each show us, I will argue, tarrying with contradiction and ambivalence is the mood work that cultural theory must continue to pursue, both in order to understand the material implications of our own emotional investments in intellectual production and to appreciate the complex ways in which power operates within the structures of feeling of late liberalism.

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The mood of defeat (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

Although the mood of defeat is usually seen as physically and emotionally debilitating, many historians and philosophers have argued that the defeated are in a better position to understand history. In the words of the historian Reinhart Koselleck, ‘If history is made in the short run by the victors, historical gains in knowledge stem in the long run from the vanquished’. But the requirement for distance evades the interesting question of how far analysis of defeat represses, but is still shaped by, the original mood of defeat: a vital question for those interested in the defeat of the Left, as the experience of revolution can easily be dismissed as an emotional, infantile outburst. This is the case in what is perhaps the most comprehensive historical study of defeat: Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery. Schivelbusch defines the insurrections that often follow national defeat, for example the Paris Commune in 1871 or the Spartacist uprising in Berlin in 1919, as ‘delusional’ or ‘dream’ states, which stand in the way of national ‘recovery’, which he defines as a return to reason through an acceptance. An alternative perspective on political defeat is offered by Jules Vallès Vingtras trilogy, conceived and written while in exile in London after the defeat of the Paris Commune. Vallès makes no attempt to distance or contain the emotional consequences of defeat. On the contrary, the core structure of feeling that informs and shapes his narrative is the mood of personal unhappiness he experienced first in his provincial childhood. This evocation of misery and misattunement becomes the touchstone against which all subsequent setbacks and depressive states are measured. Instead of a narrative of recovery, Vallès’s trilogy offers a model of how it might be possible to use misattunement to think through the mood of defeat. His use of as a resource for resistance has implications for how we think about defeat now, and not just in terms of the relationship between the past and the present, but also for how view the future.

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The Great War and British broadcasting: emotional life in the creation of the BBC (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

This essay attempts to re-assess the early history of British broadcasting by drawing attention to the role of mood in shaping the lives and attitudes of the founding figures of the BBC in the interwar period. It argues that their direct experience of World War One triggered a pervasive ‘sonic-mindedness’, which involved not just a heightened sensitivity to noise but the cultivation of a more critical approach to listening. Other moods and emotions, such as a post-war veneration of home and a desire for social and personal stability, also reinforced the appeal of radio and so helped give a sense of purpose to those who helped found the BBC. The essay concludes that the BBC of the 1920s and 1930s might be thought of as a cultural institution shaped by ‘systems of feeling’ as much as by rational planning and coherent policy.

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The legibilities of mood work (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

This essay explores how mood marshals bodies, objects, technologies, sensations and flights of fantasy to articulate the labour of living. For us, mood is a contact zone for the strange and prolific coexistence of self and world, through which we sense out what is actual and potential in an empirical context. We refer to this labour of sensing out as mood work, which is both a habit and an emerging sense of form, often inchoate and yet pronounced in practices, socialities, scenes, social circles, events, and landscapes. Mood works are not easily read, but they are legible and, as such, they can be sensed out and followed. Through ethnographic writing, we explore legibilities of mood work at two spatiotemporal sites, the United States of the 1950s, when action and attachment in everyday life magnetised around the object of the good life, and Germany in the early twenty-first century, where domestic spheres were newly animated by the technoscientific promise of renewable energy development. In mapping legibilities of mood work at these sites, we consider how writing itself is a form of mood work, a method of attending and composing that pulls ethnographer and audience into the shared sensing out of worlds.

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Booknotes (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

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The multitude strikes back? Boredom in an age of semiocapitalism (New Formations 82, Autumn 2014)

November 1, 2014

This essay examines the privileged position given to masochism in some recent critical-theoretical work and argues that a controversy of size is often involved in recalibrations of subjectivity. The masochist is frequently described as a shrinking subject who paradoxically has the potential to function on a grand scale. I track questions of size through certain radical accounts of subjectivity, arguing that such spatial thinking has a complex relation to female subjectivity, which has a long history of being imagined (and stigmatised) as an inherent propensity to smallness and masochistic self-diminution. As a case in point, I address the recent Fifty Shades novels, which romanticise masochism as a shrinking of the female subject accompanied by an increase in her orgasmic and consumer power. The gender-specific implications of shrinking here highlight the potential bathos, or failure, of a radical re-calibration of size effected through masochism. Bathos is seen as an effect of disproportion and I explore the ways in which gendered conventions bathetically ‘shrink’ female subjects. Finally, I argue that a valorsiation of masochism might reflect the disappointment of certain radical aspirations and demonstrate expansive hopes of transformation shrinking into bathetic adaptation.

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Introducing Mood Work (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

In this introduction we suggest a number of ways that mood has been and can be a productive way to approach various forms of labour including: the emotional expenditure of those that care either professionally or as ‘voluntary’ labourers; the pedagogic labour of teaching; and the mood work of the state and the media. The introduction also introduces the main themes of the essays in this special issue.

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Not in the Mood (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

This essay explores the sociality of moods as a sociality that does not simply bring us together. Reflecting specifically on how attunement creates strangers (as those who are only dimly perceived) the essay explores how some have to work to become attuned to others. The essay concludes by reflecting on how national moods are measured and made, taking up the political potential of affect aliens, those who are alienated from the nation by virtue of how they are affected.

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Reviews (New Formations 82, Summer 2014)

November 1, 2014

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Hit your educable public right in the supermarket where they live’: risk and failure in the work of William Gaddis (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay explores political and aesthetic ‘failure’ in the work of William Gaddis, specifically arguing that failure was his critical response to the triumphalism of an emerging neo-liberalism. In the first half I argue that Gaddis drew on Norbert Wiener’s 1950 The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society as a ‘sourcebook’ for his novel JR because it offered a critical counter-point to an increasingly hegemonic positivism. I specifically explore the parallels and divergences between the work of Wiener and his erstwhile colleague Milton Friedman to suggest that Wiener provided Gaddis with a formal and methodological alternative to the modelling of conservative economics. The second half of the article focuses on JR, drawing out the ways in which the novel draws on Wiener in order to make evident the importance of failure as a site of political and aesthetic critique. In this section I highlight how the ‘difficult’ formal properties of the novel offer their own parodic response to an empirical methodology: as they force us to question what it is that we know we know in an entirely different way.

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ATMs, teleprompters and photobooths: a short history of neoliberal optics (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay investigates three devices that were widely used beginning mid-twentieth century to explore the concept of ‘neoliberal optics’. Through a discussion of the development of the teleprompter, the self-portraiture in photobooths and automated teller machines (ATM), this paper outlines the role that optical technologies played in the development of forms of embodiment and selfhood the define neoliberal culture. This essay argues that, while the emergence of these optical technologies antedate the established chronologies of neoliberalism, they subsequently were integrated with the broader cultural project that defined has defined the neoliberal individual.

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Editorial: Neoliberal Culture (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This special issue of New Formations takes as its subject the genesis, persistence and poly-valency of neoliberalism across a range of cultural sites and discursive genres. The volume opens with a long introductory essay by the editor, situating the contributions to the collection and its topics historically, and in terms of the existing scholarship on neoliberalism, linking together all the contributions while addressing the question of what kind of object ‘neoliberalism’ actually is.

Amongst the contributors, Paul Patton examines the relationships between neoliberal ideas and those of John Rawls, while Paul Gilroy considers the appeal of discourses of entrepreneurial self-help for members of black and migrant communities in contemporary neoliberal cultures. Jo Littler, like Gilroy, demonstrates in her contribution that neoliberal government has increasingly legitimated its practices and the form of society that they produce in terms of an ideal of meritocracy, which valorises a hierarchical and highly unequal set of social relations while claiming to offer individuals from all backgrounds an equal chance to compete for elite status.

Jodi Dean’s essay identifies the ways in which the complexification of social and economic life is both actively produced by neoliberalism and becomes an alibi for the inefficacy of political challenges to it. Neal Curtis similarly investigates the persistence of neoliberal assumptions and practices in government and popular journalistic discourse following the disastrous financial crash of 2008. His argument draws on Heidegger’s understanding of the nature of Dasein, the coherence of the subject’s lifeworld, and the importance to the subject of maintaining the coherence of their ‘world’, even in the face of events which seem wholly to disprove their earlier assumptions about it. Exploring a more detailed instance of neoliberal ideology, Lucy Potter and Clare Westall chart the ways in which ideas and practices around the production, preparation and consumption of food have been mobilised in order to invite continued affective investment in consumption and consumerism while simultaneously legitimating the austerity programme which has formed the core of the UK government’s resolutely neoliberal response to the post-2008 crisis.

Nicky Marsh’s essay discusses the highly circumscribed rhetoric of neoliberal ‘failure’ which emerged from that moment, moving on to consider the conceptualisation of failure in the writing and teaching of American experimental novelist William Gaddis. Specifically Marsh addresses Gaddis’ 1975 novel JR - which satirises the emergent world of asset-stripping and financialised capitalism - and in particular its relation to the writings of Norbert Wiener, widely regarded as the founder of cybernetics, and a sometime colleague and collaborator of Milton Friedman’s. In a complementary fashion, Mark Hayward focuses on one highly specific history of technological innovation, charting the progress of twentieth-century developments in electronic technologies which contributed to the development of the teleprompter, the ATM machine and the self-service photo booth, and the participation of this history in the development of a techno-social regime of ‘neoliberal optics’.

Stephen Maddison’s paper considers the pornography industry and its apparent promotion of modes of sexuality which might be regarded as wholly consistent with neoliberal culture - treating sex itself as a consumptive rather than a relational act, and participating in the general commodification of sex which is one of the most striking characteristics of neoliberal culture today - while Angela McRobbie looks at the precise forms of accommodation which current forms of neoliberalism make with the historic demands of feminism and the women’s movement. McRobbie’s key object of analysis is the emergent figure of the working mother, now fully valorised by the types of mainstream media outlet that until recently vilified any deviation from the mid-twentieth century family model. McRobbie points out that for all of her difference from the ‘traditional’ housewife, the ideal neoliberal mother is now expected to engage in forms of costly and highly restrictive self-management in order to demonstrate that working motherhood is no obstacle either to glamorous and highly sexualised modes of self-presentation - a continuation of the ‘post-feminist masquerade’ in which young working women are expected to participate - or to efficient and responsible household-management.

One of the most widely-read recent critiques of neoliberal culture, Mark Fisher’s very widely-cited Capitalist Realism, analyses the persistence across a range of sites of an attitude which assumes neoliberal capitalist norms to be unchallengeable at the level of actual social or political practice. We finally present, as a contribution to this collection and to wider political and theoretical debate, a dialogue between the issue editor and Fisher reflecting upon some of the political implications of his analysis, and of the possibilities for democratic challenge to neoliberal culture in the immediate future.

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What Kind of Thing Is Neoliberalism (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay introduces the special double issue (80/81) of New Formations, Neoliberal Culture. It situates the eleven other contributions to the volume in the context of the wider field of debate over the existence and nature of ‘neoliberalism’ as a specifiable and analysable phenomenon. In particular it considers the conceptual status of neoliberalism as a discursive formation, a governmental programme, an ideology, a hegemonic project, a technical assemblage, and an abstract machine.

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Meritocracy as Plutocracy: the Marketising of Equality under Neoliberalism (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

Meritocracy, in contemporary parlance, refers to the idea that whatever our social position at birth, society ought to facilitate the means for ‘talent’ to ‘rise to the top’. This article argues that the ideology of ‘meritocracy’ has become a key means through which plutocracy is endorsed by stealth within contemporary neoliberal culture. The article attempts to analyse the term ‘meritocracy’, to open up understandings of its genealogy, and to comprehend its current use. It does so through three sections. The first section considers what might be wrong with the notion of meritocracy. The second traces some key points in the travels of the concept within and around academic social theory, moving from Alan Fox and Michael Young’s initial, disparaging use of the term in the 1950s, to Daniel Bell’s approving adoption of the concept in the 1970s, and on to its take-up by neoconservative think tanks in the 1980s. The third section analyses the use of meritocracy as a plank of neoliberal political rhetoric and public discourse. It focuses on the resonance of the term in relatively recent British culture, discussing how what it terms ‘meritocratic feeling’ has come to operate in David Cameron’s ‘Aspiration Nation’. This final section argues that meritocracy has become a potent blend of an essentialised and exclusionary notion of ‘talent’, competitive individualism and the need for social mobility. Today it is a discourse which predominantly works to marketise the very idea of equality.

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Capitalist Realism, Neoliberal Hegemony: A Dialogue (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This is a dialogue conducted over email by Mark Fisher, author of the widely-read Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative and Jeremy Gilbert, editor of New Formations. The discussion touches on issues raised by Fisher’s book, by some of Gilbert’s work as a theorist and analyst, by some of the political commentary in which each has engaged at various times (online and in print), as well as by the recent prevalence of a certain identification with anarchist ideas and methods amongst activists and online commentators whose intellectual and political reference points are otherwise very close to those of the Fisher and Gilbert. It considers the concept of ‘capitalist realism’ as a way of understanding neoliberal ideology and hegemony; the role of bureaucracy in neoliberal culture and the ‘societies of control’; the types of political and cultural strategy that might be required to challenge their hegemonic position; the relationship between political strategies which do and do not focus on conventional party politics; the general condition of politics in the UK today. Although largely concerned with a specifically British (and, arguably, English) political context, its consideration of abstract issues around the theorisation of ideology and neoliberalism and the nature of political strategy have far wider applicability.

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Neoliberal Britains Austerity Foodscape: Home Economics, Veg Patch Capitalism and Culinary Temporality (New Formations 80,81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay examines contemporary Britain’s foodscape in order to identify how mediatised life-quests uphold ‘boom-based’ culinary/consumptive motifs while mobilising a distinctive ‘austerity aesthetic’ that coincides and colludes with the British state’s neoliberal austerity narrative. In part one, ‘The British State of Home-Economics’, we examine this austerity aesthetic as it came to the fore during the ‘Great British Summer’ of 2012. In part two, ‘Localism, Veg Patch Capitalism and Austerity’, we unpack the fundamental contradictions found in the modesty claims of recent gentrified culinary activities and pastoralised localist discourses. And, finally, in part three, ‘Temporal Deficit and Culinary Work- for-Labour’, we analyse the foodscape’s investment in temporal presumptions, metaphors, promises and paradoxes in order to expose how the structure of deficit that shapes the way capitalism’s ‘economy of time’ is maintained through culinary ‘work-for-labour’. Throughout, we use the term ‘foodscape’ to ‘map food geographies’ onto cultural activities and socio-economic patterns, and to argue that Britain’s contemporary foodscape consistently fuels and reveals the self-contradictory yet self-perpetuating logic of capital as manifest in the neoliberal enterprise of state-led austerity.

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‚Äò… We got to get over before we go under …‚Äô Fragments for a history of black vernacular neoliberalism (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

Through a discussion of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad books, the motivational primers of Robert Greene and other similar material produced in the UK by a legion black nationalists turned consultants, trainers, mentors and motivators, this paper asks some difficult questions about the relationship between black and migrant communities and the neoliberal thematics of uplift, self-responsibility and self-improvement. These topics have a long history that spans the interest of nineteenth-century African Americans in Samuel Smiles and the hustling ethic affirmed in several generations of Hip hop.

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Foucault‚Äôs ‘critique’ of neoliberalism: Rawls and the genealogy of public reason (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

Foucault devotes seven out of the twelve lectures he delivered at the Collège de France in 1979 to German and American neo-liberalism. Contrary to the widespread view that the purpose of these lectures was to ‘critique’ neoliberalism, I sketch another reading of those lectures that connects them with a different kind of critique of liberal political reason that we find in the work of John Rawls. I begin by showing that Foucault is more normative than is often realised: at one point he raises the question what form of governmentality would be appropriate to socialism? I then show that Rawls is not simply normative but also descriptive of the institutions and policies of liberal government: his argument for property owning democracy as an alternative to welfare state capitalism is one element of a conception of governmentality associated with his conception of justice as fairness. Finally, I point to some of the ways in which Rawls’s conception of the kind of government and economy compatible with his principles of justice was influenced by elements of postwar neoliberalism. I conclude by suggesting that Foucault’s sketch of a genealogy of neoliberal economic and political thought points to a historical conception of Rawls’s idea of public reason, and that the egalitarian tradition of neoliberal thought on which Rawls draws points toward possible answers to Foucault’s question about a governmentality appropriate to socialism.

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Thought bubble: neoliberalism and the politics of knowledge (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay addresses the issue of neoliberalism and knowledge from two distinct yet related perspectives. The first part argues that the continuation of neoliberal policies after the crash of 2008 is not an epistemological problem or a matter of false consciousness but an ontological problem. Using the work of Martin Heidegger the essay proposes the reason we might continue with a system shown to be fatally flawed is because awareness of the flaw produces an experience of such anxiety that rather than face the issue head on and create an alternate world we find greater ‘security’ in the attempt to rebuild the one that is broken. Secondly, neoliberalism has become increasingly dogmatic and is currently the only theory permissible. To this end the institution most closely tied to the production and distribution of knowledge, the university, has to be brought into the group-think that supports both plutocracy and oligarchy at the expense of democracy. Currently the only social institution questioning the truth of neoliberalism the university is increasingly being disciplined by customer service, internal competition and privatization in order to ensure conformity to market credo. The essay then closes by readdressing the importance of the university as a democratic counter to such dogma. It argues that the humanities in particular has always been a site for the contest of worldviews and theories of the human condition and facilitates an exposure to different ways of being-in-the-world that is essential if we are to challenge the systemic closure currently taking place.

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Beyond the entrepreneurial voyeur? Sex, porn and cultural politics (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay aims to explore the relationship between neoliberal ideologies and sexuality, by considering questions of criticality and political agency in relation to pornography. The essay identifies a trend in contemporary porn studies work towards a ‘constrained optimism’ that also expresses a wider deadlock in cultural and media studies. This arises from a need to protect the concept of individual agency against reactionary movements, alongside a tendency to elide the implications of consumerism in neoliberal cultures. Much porn studies work is critical of tendencies in altporn, most significantly around questions of labour and commodification. Yet work in this area also tends to remain invested in the promise of agency, where this agency is a function of the expansion of the technological resources available in a networked culture, the proliferation of choice, and the blurred boundary between consumer and producer. This essay seeks to move beyond this deadlock by drawing on recent work on the concept of the enterprise society, elaborated by Foucault in The Birth of Biopolitics, and taken up by writers such as McNay, who have suggested that Foucault’s insight fundamentally challenges the relationship between individual autonomy and political resistance, where that autonomy guarantees not liberty but responsible self-management. The essay considers the figure of the entrepreneurial voyeur, in the light of concepts of immaterial labour offered by Lazzarato and critiqued by McRobbie, and goes on to make a sustained reading of the film Made in Secret in order to map ways in which we might be able to imagine how the affective pleasures of pornography might not simply underwrite alienated and competitive modes of being but might help us to imagine more radical forms of sociality.

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Feminism, the family and the new ‘mediated’ maternalism (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay interrogates the emergence of a new moment in the unfolding of contemporary neoliberal hegemony which sees the political potential in creating strong connections with liberal feminism, updating this while also retaining some of its most salient features dating back to the mid to late 1970s. At the same time this process, which can be traced through the very contemporary entanglements of political culture, visual media and new social media, finds concretisation through the figure of the middle-class mother who is slim and youthful in appearance. This persona, whether in full time work or a ‘stay home Mum’ is accredited a more substantial professional status than was the case in the era of the ‘housewife’. With feminism ‘taken into account’ she is considered an equal partner in marriage and thus charged with making the right choices and decisions for her family needs. In this neoliberal version of past notions of ‘maternal citizenship’ a number of socio-political processes can be seen at work, she is compared favourably for her well-planned and healthy life in comparison to her less advantaged, low income, single parent counterparts. Her lifestyle and childcare choices mark a strong departure, indeed an entirely different trajectory to previous generations of mothers, who across the boundaries of class and ethnicity, benefited from a feminist post-war welfare ethos which regarded nursery provision for pre-school children, toddlers and indeed babies as a social good. And finally her presence and visibility in a number of campaigning and online organisations suggests a stronger class divide than was the case in the past and with this the eclipsing of the egalitarian principles of social democracy. The essay reflects on the film Revolutionary Road (2009) and the recent book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as conduits for this new ‘maternal-feminine’.

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Complexity as capture – neoliberalism and the loop of drive (New Formations 80, 81, Autumn / Winter 2013)

November 1, 2013

This essay uses the psychoanalytic concept of drive to think through the specificity of neoliberalism. It focuses on reflexivity and complexity, both attributes widely associated with contemporary financial markets as well as with contemporary thought.

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Editorial: Materialities of text (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

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Black Twitter? Racial Hashtags, Networks and Contagion (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

This essay foregrounds how technocultural assemblages - software platforms, algorithms, digital networks and affects - are constitutive of online racialized identities. Rather than being concerned with what online identities are in terms of ethno-racial representation and signification, we can explore how they are materialized via the technologies of online platforms. The essay focuses on the micro-blogging site of Twitter and the viral phenomenon of racialized hashtags - dubbed as ‘Blacktags’ - for example #onlyintheghetto or #ifsantawasblack. The circulation of these racialized hashtags is analyzed as the transmission of contagious meanings and affects, such as anti/racist humour, sentiment and social commentary. Blacktags as contagious digital objects play a role in constituting the ‘Black Twitter’ identities they articulate and interact with. Beyond conceiving Black Twitter as a group of preconstituted users tweeting racialized hashtags, Blacktags are instrumental in producing networked subjects which have the capacity to multiply the possibilities of being raced online. Thus, ethno-racial collective behaviours on the Twitter social media platform are grasped as emergent aggregations, materialized through the contagious social relations produced by the networked propagation of Blacktags.

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Materialities of Independent Publishing: A Conversation with AAAAARG, Chto Delat?, I Cite, Mute, And Neural (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

Jodi Dean, Sean Dockray, Alessandro Ludovico, Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Nicholas Thoburn, and Dmitry Vilensky 

This text is a conversation among practitioners of independent political media, focusing on the diverse materialities of independent publishing associated with the new media environment. The conversation concentrates on the publishing projects with which the participants are involved: the online archive and conversation platform AAAAARG, the print and digital publications of artist and activist group Chto Delat?, the blog I Cite, and the hybrid print/digital magazines Mute and Neural. Approaching independent media as sites of political and aesthetic intervention, association, and experimentation, the conversation ranges across a number of themes, including: the technical structures of new media publishing; financial constraints in independent publishing; independence and institutions; the sensory properties of paper and the book; the politics of writing; design and the aesthetics of publishing; the relation between social media and communicative capitalism; publishing as art; publishing as self-education; and post-digital print.

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Booknotes (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Matt ffytche, The Foundation of the Unconscious: Freud, Schelling and the Birth of the Modern Psyche, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011
by Benjamin Poore

Lisa Blackman, Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation, London, Sage, 2012
by Tony D. Sampson

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Editorial: Touches, Traces and Times (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Although this is officially an ‘unthemed’ issue of New Formations - collecting simply the best unsolicited submissions received by the journal over the past two years - the resonances and convergence between its various contributions are remarkable. Every article here is concerned in one way or another with issues around the theorisation of experience, affect, and temporality: with the technologically, temporally and socially distributed nature of experience. Several essays concern themselves in novel ways with the unstable relationship between the interior self and the surfaces on which it is reflected or expressed, and whose interrelationships are its condition of im/possibility. The irreducibly social and technological character of existence is a key theme which runs across several contributions. The historical specificity and/or the conceptual insufficiency of orthodox psychoanalytic doctrines is a recurring theme, explored here in an array of polemical and analytic contexts. The importance of the early twentieth century as a key point of historical and intellectual reference comes up in several different ways, even while other key moments - from the moment of Kant’s formulation of the modern subject to the events of 1968 to the present day - are crucial as well.

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#Mysubjectivation (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

‘#MySubjectivation’ explores some of the implications changes in the media landscape, including those associated with the development of corporate social media and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, have for the ways in which theorists and philosophers create, perform and circulate research and knowledge. It takes as its starting point Bernard Stiegler’s claim that, with the Web and digital reproducibility, we are now living in an era in which subjects are created with a different form of the awareness of time. It proceeds by paying special attention to the medium Stiegler himself employs most frequently to analyse the relation between subjectivity, technology and time: the linearly written and organised, print-on-paper codex text, with all its associated concepts, values and habitual practices (e.g. the long-form argument, individualized proprietorial author, originality, copyright). Can the ongoing changes in the media landscape that are said to be shaping our memories and consciousness be understood, analysed and rethought by subjectivities that continue to live, work and think on the basis of knowledge instruments originating in a very different epistemic environment? Or is the continued reliance of theorists and philosophers on print-on-paper books and journals an example of how capitalism’s cultural and programming industries invent us and our own knowledge work, philosophy and minds by virtue of the way they modify and homogenise our thought and behaviour through their media technologies?

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Reviews (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Precarious Attachments
Anna E. Ward 

‘To Be To Be Tool’
Laurent Milesi

Ordinary and Everywhere
Annebella Pollen

Mind the Gap
Colin Gardner

Digging machines
Niels Kerssens

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Shelf-life: biopolitics, the new media – archive, and ‘paperless’ persons (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

Media Through the writings of Adorno, Benjamin, and Derrida, and the films of Alain Resnais, this essay considers the construction of the subject through statesanctioned forms of inscription - passports, for example. Such forms, traditionally speaking, are aspects of the technologies of the book - the biblion - and they indicate that ‘biopolitics’ merges with bibliopolitics. Indeed, the subject is a matter of ‘shelf-life’: it is constructed through archival forms of collection; by the bibliotekhe - the ‘slot’ or shelf where documents are placed. Yet peoples and texts may not fit normative taxonomies, in traditional and digital media contexts. In the context of historical diasporas, for example, we might recall Derrida’s argument that, like the peoples referred to as the sanspapiers, those without state-sanctioned documents, we are all becoming ‘paperless’, as external memory becomes virtual. The essay is concerned, then, with what happens when the subject is no longer substantiated by traditional legal papers, but by digital files and memory chips; while it argues also that the distinction between traditional and digital media cannot be reduced to a linear history.

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On the materiality of contemporary reading formations: the case of Jari Tervo’s Layla (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

This essay describes the emergence of a ‘reading formation’ around a Finnish bestselling novel, Layla, investigating how a specific dominant reading of Layla was constructed with the help of different material supports - including TV programmes, blogs, newspapers, websites and advertising infrastructure. The essay sets out Tony Bennett’s concept of reading formation and develops it in the context of twenty-first century reading environments, paying special attention to the transformations associated with digital media and the book’s material supports. By making empirical use of actor-network theory, the essay suggests that contemporary reading formations should be perceived as hybrid networks of both human and non-human actors, technologies and texts. By focusing especially on the circulation of Layla’s opening sentence across different material platforms, and describing its interaction with different actors, the essay depicts how certain interdependencies between different actors and material mechanisms controlled the proliferation of meanings around Layla. Thus, the essay investigates how specific culturalist meanings of Kurds as a violent and misogynist people were materially constructed at the expense of tendencies to polysemy in the text.

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Diagrammatic writing (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

The concept of the diagram has a rich history in many theoretical disciplines as well as in applied practices. This essay suggests that a dialogue between theory and practice can be used to explore the potential of digital platforms for developing an approach to writing and display that takes advantage of the semantically constitutive effects of format features. This approach would borrow from manuscript conventions, as well as those of print, and combine them with the specific affordances of newer media. In development of such an approach, and such a discourse, this article pursues a critical, descriptive language of the rhetorical effects of spatial relations that addresses graphical features (juxtaposition, hierarchy, interlinearity, proximity and so on) and their capacity to produce semantic value.

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Working papers in cultural studies, or, the virtues of grey literature (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

One of the more striking, if under-appreciated, aspects of publishing in cultural studies’ early days was its provisionality. It is worth remembering that the chief publishing organ of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was not called Cultural Studies, or something similarly definitive, but rather Working Papers in Cultural Studies. By today’s standards it would likely be considered ‘grey literature’, because the work appearing there announced itself as, on some level, in process. This essay offers a detailed history of cultural studies’ early publication practices, particularly those associated with the Centre. Its purpose is to provide insight into the modes of scholarly communication through which the nascent field established itself in the 1960s and ’70s. Equally, its purpose is to use this history as a means for taking stock of the field’s apparatus of scholarly communication today. Cultural studies, the authors argue, might do well to open a space once again for less finished scholarly products - work that is as much constitutive (i.e., about community building) as it is instrumental (i.e., about conveying new research).

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Literary digital humanities and the politics of the infinite (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

In the context of relationships between traditional and digital forms of memory and dissemination, this essay discusses two key positions in the digital humanities. The aestheticist position is broadly defined by the extension of literary values into the digital milieu, as it is articulated in the work of Johanna Drucker, N. Katherine Hayles, and Jerome McGann. The populist position rather emphasises engagement with contemporary social media, as it is represented by the work of Pierre Lévy and Henry Jenkins. This comparison is designed to analyse a problematic parity between the two positions that is couched in their conception of archives and texts as being infinite; an infinitude that is political in the sense that engagement with it may facilitate or prohibit subjective agency and collective knowledge. Yet, through deconstruction, this analysis is designed to propose an alternate conception that negotiates the difficult relation between the finite and the infinite aspects of technological memory accumulation, and that poses the possibility of an alternate politics that problematically links the poles of engagement and disengagement with such accumulation.

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The political nature of the book: on artists’ books and radical open access (New Formations 78, Winter 2012)

August 1, 2013

In this essay we argue that the medium of the book can be a material and conceptual means, both of criticising capitalism’s commodification of knowledge (for example, in the form of the commercial incorporation of open access by feral and predatory publishers), and of opening up a space for thinking about politics. The book, then, is a political medium. As the history of the artist’s book shows, it can be used to question, intervene in and disturb existing practices and institutions, and even offer radical, counter-institutional alternatives. Yet if the book’s potential to question and disturb existing practices and institutions includes those associated with liberal democracy and the neoliberal knowledge economy (as is apparent from some of the more radical interventions occurring today under the name of open access), it also includes politics and with it the very idea of democracy. In other words, the book is a medium that can (and should) be ‘rethought to serve new ends’; a medium through which politics itself can be rethought in an ongoing manner.

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Collecting time: some reflections on the psychopolitics of belonging (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Starting with the return to the aesthetic of the ‘peace camp’ that we have seen in the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings stretching from North Africa and the Middle East to the central squares of Madrid and Athens, this paper re-reads Luisa Passerini’s classic 1988 text, Autobiography of a Generation: Italy, 1968, as a way of understanding the intergenerational dynamics of protest. Passerini’s text reads the events of 1968 through collecting political testimony in the mid 1980s from those involved primarily in the occupation of the Palazzo Campana at the University of Turin, which she then juxtaposes with an account of her own psychoanalysis that she undertakes during the research period. Her psychoanalytic journey takes her to the core traumatic event of her childhood - the death of her mother at the age of six - which can only be worked through in relation to a working through of the events of 1968. I argue that through an engagement with the psychoanalytic tropes of remémoration and delayed action, we can see how the text both engages and reverses the classic feminist slogan, the personal is political, showing that it is through a capacity to attach to one’s own generation and to establish retroactively the lateral relations of ‘my time’, that the work of psychoanalysis can take place.

Drawing on Bracha Ettinger’s notion of the matrixial, the essay further proposes that this capacity for attachment to ‘my time’, is linked to what is not possible to separate from, lose, or abject, which Ettinger traces as an alternative substrata to psychic life, marked in the feminine as a form of positive difference. I read the matrixial in political rather than personal terms, linking the matrixial with a return to the aesthetics of communal living proposed by the ‘peace camp’. The essay concludes by tying together the double meaning of generation: generation (the collective time-frame of the political) with generation(the matrixial substrata of psychic life).

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‘Stealing silk is my delight’: Ga√´tan Gatian de Cl√©rambault and the sexual politics of poststructuralist feminism (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

This essay contends that contemporary practices of literary criticism unreflectively reiterate distinctive propositions about subjectivity that derive from a long tradition of idealist philosophy. It is a tradition of thinking predicated on a splitting of the mind from the body to enable the philosophical subject to transcend death by disavowing the material object world. To explore this claim, the essay examines the reception by late twentieth- and early twenty-first century Anglophone scholarship of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault’s work on shoplifting in fin-de-siècle Parisian department stores. The essay demonstrates that recent scholarship on de Clérambault reproduces the idealist assumptions that informed critical accounts of his work in the early 1990s, and locates these philosophical postulates within two interrelated modes of poststructuralist scholarship that enjoyed significant intellectual prestige in the 1980s and 1990s: the critique of the ‘culture of consumption,’ and the feminist deployment of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. The essay proposes that a new interpretation of de Clérambault’s work may challenge the sexual politics of the philosophical idealism that structured some of the most influential feminist scholarship of the poststructuralist era, and that continues to shape critical thinking today.

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Personal impressions: fingerprints, Freud and Conrad (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

In 1901, fingerprinting was first implemented by Scotland Yard for the purposes of criminal identification. Recording identity in the imprint left by a body’s digits allowed for the identification of individuals on a mass scale, ‘fixing’ their identity with apparently incontrovertible certainty. But in this essay it will be argued that the fingerprint also served as an example of a much more enigmatic and ‘impressionistic’ identity that was shared by the discourses of two contemporary figures - Sigmund Freud and Joseph Conrad. In the development of psychoanalysis, particularly around the turn of the twentieth century in texts such as Studies on Hysteria (1895) and The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud continually utilised the notion of the ‘impression’ to articulate his ideas, promoting theories that had a profound effect on how identity could be conceptualised. Likewise, the novel Lord Jim (1900) serves as a prime example of Conrad’s Literary Impressionism: a style of writing self-consciously created as a response to a novelistic realism that failed to capture the essence of lived experience. In lifting prints, analyzing traces and reading impressions the discourses examined in this essay all display a dominating concern with the unintentional, the fragmentary and the imaginary, all of which had to be enhanced, analysed and represented by authoritative experts who could make the layman see true identity.

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Museums and how to know about access (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Museums exist to keep material culture safe and make this vulnerable material culture available. The term ‘access’ is used to manage this tension. Tony Bennett has long diagnosed an insatiability to the politics of museums - that the stated purpose of museums to be accessible to all and to represent all can never be achieved. As a result of this insatiability within museums’ purpose, museums have tended to generate critical intellectual work which unmasks where museums fail. Yet this is not only a desire associated with intellectual work, it is also built into the technocratic desire to know in order to improve. As such technocratic frustration always holds the potential for epistemic openness. This essay works within the logics of access and the technocratic desire to know; something which flowed from the project on which it is based - Museums for Us (2010-2011) - which was conceived as a Museum Practice Fellowship based at the Smithsonian Institution. The Museums for Us project responded to the institution’s epistemic openness by working with people with intellectual disabilities, their families and teachers to explore and share their experiences and views of museum visits. In its final section, the article returns to its point of origin - a seminar held by the Centre for Education and Museum Studies - where five of us involved in the project (some of us with and some of us without intellectual disabilities) spoke of our experiences in our own voices and in our own way. For some staff in the room this created the conditions for a kind of ‘tacit’ knowledge (Strathern, 2000), which has since enabled future programmes at the Smithsonian. Yet for others the seminar failed. The quality of knowledge and its basis for action were not secure. Using poetic ethnographic description self-consciously taken from the established academic discipline of anthropology, this essay - taking a certain ethical risk - re-encodes the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities visiting museums within an academic register. It does this very deliberately to explore the epistemic techniques through which certain ways of knowing access as life and contingency might become seen as a ‘useful’ approach to knowing access for a wider range of museum practitioners. The article, therefore, also knows itself as an access practice which, as with many access practices in museums themselves, makes exclusions as it seeks to make available something it believes is of crucial significance.

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Experience, time and the religious: from classical subject to technological system (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

This essay addresses the question of experience in today’s ‘technological modernity’. The essay sets up the earlier classically modern notion of experience in Kantian critique and finds that it is irreducibly connected to Kant’s self-identical subject. We interrogate the temporal dimension in Kant’s transcendental aesthetic in the context of such experience and subjectivity. We then shift our attention to today’s technological modernity. Here we first consider perhaps the dominant voice in cultural/social theory - in Badiou, Zizek and Lacan - in which the subject is constituted through the subtraction from experience in the context of a mathematical notion of time. This subtraction from experience takes place in the register of the real. We criticize this and attempt to rescue experience, through consideration of, not the real but the imaginary in the more phenomenological thinking on temporality of Heidegger and Bernard Stiegler. We then break with the apriorism of both Heidegger and Badiou in an attempt to take experience back to its radical empiricist roots. We do this through drawing on the religious thematic in the late science-fiction writing of Philip K. Dick. We set this up in contrast again to today’s notion of the religious as subtraction from experience in Badiou’s St Paul and Zizek’s Christ. We draw on Dick’s Gnosticism to reconstitute experience and the subject as a technological system. Dick’s ‘vast active living intelligence systems’ operate, not in time, but as time. They constitute a socio-technical imaginary that engages structurally with cultural objects. Here experience is fundamentally empirical: yet this re-casting of the subject as socio-technical system at same time largely effaces the distinction between the empirical and the transcendental.

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‘The tender instinct is the hope of the world’: human feeling and social change before empathy (New Formations 79, Summer 2013)

August 1, 2013

Social feeling is understood as the foundation of civil society, an emotional connectivity that underlies pro-social action. These ‘ordinary affects’ are commonly expressed in the concept of empathy, a transpersonal state of emotional extensiveness. But this term was only introduced into Anglophone cultures in the first decade of the twentieth century, gaining purchase on social explanation over twenty years later. This essay examines competing understandings of social feeling in this period of transition, which resisted situating it in relation to those individual processes of perception, ‘inner imitation’ and projection that spoke of empathy’s origin in aesthetic theory. By contrast, psychologists, sociologists and political theorists invoked an innate capacity for association and ‘fellowship’ - the ‘gregarious’ and ‘herd’ instincts - with altruism as the expression of that transindividual formation in externally directed action. In these models, emotional extensiveness was tangled up with questions of creaturely sociability, the dynamics of collectivity and mutual tenderness, moving beyond the problem of perceiving ‘other minds’ to imagine the inner states of others in their social embeddedness. Hence they speak to contemporary concerns with our capacity to respond to ‘distant suffering’, the everyday consolations of association and human presence, and the ability to effect social change.

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Editorial (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

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A Rational Theory of Miracles: on Pharmacology, Transindividuation, an Interview with Bernard Stiegler (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

Bernard Stiegler (BS) was interviewed by Ben Roberts (BR), Jeremy Gilbert (JG) and Mark Hayward (MH)

MH There are two concepts which are at the centre of your work, the concept of technics and the concept of individuation. Could you say something about the role these two concepts play in your work and how your engagement with them has changed over time?

BS Certainly. I’ll try to do that. I’ve worked for nearly thirty years on the concept of memory. The starting point for my work is the question of memory in Plato; more precisely, in what Plato calls ‘anamnesis’, that strange memory recalling a time that has not been lived by my body. This is also a way of posing the fundamental transcendental question, because in the end Plato’s concept of anamnesis is in a certain sense the concept of the origin of the transcendental. At the same time, I was asking this question as it had already been broached by Derrida. I was thus also interrogating the relation between anamnesis and hypomnesis; that is, between artificial memory and writing. In fact in the beginning I wasn’t studying philosophy, but linguistics and poetics.

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Reviews (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

War at the Membrane
Nicholas Thoburn

Unconsoled
James Graham 

Beyond the Everyday
Keya Ganguly

Post-Cinematic Effects
Paul Bowman 

Baldwin’s Atlantics
Babacar M’Baye 

Resisting Deconstruction
Molly Macdonald

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Technics, individuation and tertiary memory: Bernard Stiegler’s challenge to media theory (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

“Media studies as a field has traditionally been wary of the question of technology. Discussion of technology has often been restricted to relatively sterile debates about technological determinism. In recent times there has been renewed interest, however, in the technological dimension of media. In part this is doubtless due to rapid changes in media technology, such as the rise of the internet and the digital convergence of media technologies. But there are also an increasing number of writers who seem to believe that media theory, and more widely social science and the humanities, needs to rethink the question of technology and its relationship to society, culture and cultural production.  Andrew Feenberg has characterized the two most dominant positions as, on the one hand, the social constructivist or ‘technology studies’ approach to technology, and, on the other, ‘substantivist’ theories of technology. The social constructivist approach, aims to counter technological determinism by showing how the development of technology is shaped not by technical and scientific progress but by contingent social, cultural and economic forces.  The limitation of this view, however, is that it tends to see technology as no different from any other social process and it may lose the ability to distinguish between the technical object and any other social formation or cultural artefact. Doubtless constructivism would like to see technology as a subset of the cultural artefact and not vice versa, therefore explaining technology in terms of culture and society. But there are powerful arguments for arguing something like the opposite: in other words for understanding culture and society in terms of or as technical objects. In recent years this argument has been put most forcefully by the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler and it is to his work and its implications for media theory that this essay is dedicated. In particular I will show how Stiegler might defend his ideas around technics from the charge of technological determinism. Firstly, technics is not understood in the narrow sense of techno-scientific technology but in the wider sense of all the ways in which the human is exteriorised into artefacts or organized inorganic matter. Technics in this sense is therefore inseparable from culture and society and it makes no sense either to talk of technics determining culture and society or vice versa. Culture and society are not constituted by technics as if by a cause but rather constituted through it. Secondly, a technics in Stiegler’s sense does not represent scientific progress or a deterministic evolution; rather, however strange this may seem, technics is a kind of pure accidentality or contingency. For Stiegler it is because of the exteriorisation of the human into artefacts or inorganic organized matter that culture and society constitute themselves contingently. Stiegler’s work therefore offers a way for us to rethink the relationship between culture and technology in ways which can productively reconfigure the concerns of critical theory.”

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Enchantment, disenchantment, re-enchantment: toward a critical politics of re-individuation (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

Since the creation of Ars Industrialis in 2005, Bernard Stiegler has increasingly turned his focus toward the more directly political aspects of critical theory. While in his great, five-volume Technics and Time Stiegler concentrated on a radical reassessment of the role of technics in a post-phenomenological world, it has become impossible for him to avoid the contemporary implications of a history-less (and therefore uncritical) culture, the arrival of a hyper-technical age in which not only the very idea of history, but of the cultural values historicity provides, have been occluded. Stiegler’s publications since 2005 have been preoccupied with this occlusion; his two most dynamic recent publications, Réenchanter le monde (2006) and Prendre soin (1) de la jeunesse et les générations (2008) are aimed directly at it.1 In these two works Stiegler lays out a politics of critique, not merely returning to an Enlightenment idea of critical rationality but accepting the current technological world for what it is and re-introducing the possibility of an anamnesis, a non-forgetting of the vital importance of critical engagement to any sustainable cultural environment. In so doing, Stiegler examines what he calls the ‘telecracy,’ agri-business, and the ‘culture industry,’ as well as the political process itself, showing how a new sense of ‘grammatisation’ can be employed to pull culture back from the brink of disintegration. My contribution will consist of translations of two sections of Réenchanter le monde, ‘Grammatisation and Individuation Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow’ and ‘The Risk of Disindividuation as the Increase of Ignorance Rather Than Knowledge’, making extensive critical commentary on Stiegler’s project -‘re-enchanting’ the world requires new vigour, commitment, and critical literacy; I will compare the crisis of individuation Stiegler lays out as his ‘next step’ in the process of ‘re-enchantment’, in Taking Care (1) of Youth and the Generations (which I have translated for Stanford University Press). In Réenchanter le monde Stiegler uses Gilbert Simondon’s transduction and individuation, as well as his own Technics and Time, as critical frames; in Taking Care he shows how the urgent need for change is part of a larger discourse originating in the Kantian Enlightenment but being very much of our time. I will tie Stiegler’s approaches in these two works together to show how he and Ars Industrialis are forging a critical politics vital to the twenty-first century.

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Technics beyond the temporal object (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

This essay focuses on the phenomenological origins and limitations of Bernard Stiegler’s media philosophy. No critic has more thoroughly and convincingly laid bare the deep correlation of human life and technical culture: from the first volume of his Technics and Time to his recent study of attention and technics (Taking Care), Stiegler has explored the co-evolution of technics and life and has managed to articulate a powerful neo-phenomenological model of media centered around the adaptation of the Husserlian figure of time-consciousness for thinking contemporary “technical temporal objects” and their role in mediating our subjectivity.  With his contention that technics impacts human life first and foremost by contaminating the innermost intimacy of human time-consciousness, Stiegler retains a crucial commitment to the integrity of human agency: while he does recognize the specificity of twenty-first century media - its operation at levels beneath that of consciousness - Stiegler focuses his attention on how interaction with microtemporal technics impacts higher-order human experience. This focus forms both the strength and the weakness of Stiegler’s work. With his appreciation for the specificity of contemporary digital technics, Stiegler is in principle ready and able to recognize the necessity for rethinking human agency along the lines suggested above: namely, as a hybrid composition of overlapping processes - of which consciousness is simply one among others - operating at different timescales and levels of complexity. And yet he is prevented from doing so because of his overly narrow conception of time-consciousness, which is equally to say, because of his fidelity to a certain Husserl: the orthodox Husserl of the phenomenological epoche. There is, in other words, a fundamental tension at the core of Stiegler’s position: while his analysis of technics pinpoints its operation beyond the grasp of consciousness, his argument for technical contamination retains consciousness as the exclusive scope for thinking technics.

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The reality of real time (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

According to Bernard Stiegler the technological contrivances that rule our world have set in motion dangerous developments. Although Stiegler is not a technophobe, he believes that the technological devices that are constructed around real time (live broadcasting, mobile phone communications, digital photography, etc.) introduce a new relation to time that jeopardises the cohesion of society. They erase the delay of time that is essential to it and thereby wipe away the singular, which is a crucial element in the construction of the social.

This essay examines the nature of this argument and queries its factual basis. It does this by first exploring the technological or prosthetic nature of Dasein by referring to Heidegger’s definition of Dasein as ec-static time. After this short exposition, the essay shows how Stiegler strengthens this pre-prosthetic nature of time that can be found in Heidegger into a time which is fully fledged prosthetic or fundamentally constituted by the technological devices that exteriorise it. The second part of the essay focuses on Stiegler’s hesitations and even contradictory statements regarding the contemporary production of time. Sometimes he presents real time as a factual accomplishment, sometimes he is more careful and characterises it to be merely a tendency; there are passages in which he proclaims the end of history, and other ones in which he presents that end as a fiction and a warning. The comments on the rather dramatic and evocative pages Stiegler inserts in La technique et le temps 1, together with ideas and comments from Maurice Blanchot and Richard Beardsworth, serve as a bridge to discuss the philosophical importance of an ambiguity in the actuality of real time.

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The forgetting of aesthetics: individuation, technology, and aesthetics in the work of Bernard Stiegler (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

This essay discusses the role of aesthetics in Bernard Stiegler’s work in its relation to individuation and technology. It argues that Stiegler understands aesthetics as the sensuous experience of space and time, which he sees as the ground for the individuation of individuals and groups. The article shows how Stiegler’s particular understanding of aesthetics is based in his reading of Immanuel Kant’s ‘transcendental aesthetics’ in the Critique of Pure Reason. However, by making this aesthetics dependent on technology Stiegler undermines the transcendental nature of Kant’s aesthetics. As a result, technology now intervenes directly into the organisation of our sensuous experience of space and time. This in turn has dire consequences for the process of individuation. This article discusses these consequences (aesthetic malaise, hyper-synchronization and a loss of individuation) and concludes by questioning Stiegler’s take on aesthetics.

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Editing (and) individuation (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

This essay will explore aspects of Bernard Stiegler’s theorisation of film editing as the construction of a flux of perceptual experience at the heart of the industrialisation of attention characteristic of modern and contemporary technocultures. This work appears in the third volume of the Technics and Time series and provides a crucial plank in the rationale informing Stiegler’s recent critical activism dedicated to a reformulation of the mainstream mediascape. It also represents a substantially novel reconsideration of key themes in film theory through a critical phenomenological perspective informed by an equally critical mobilisation of Gilbert Simondon’s notion of individuation. The relations between perceiving spectator and projected film, film and experience, and the individual and collective experience of cinema as a cultural form are reposed through this perspective. Editing is central to this reconsideration, as it has been to many accounts of the specificity of cinematic representation. Stiegler sees the coincidence of the flux of the perceiving consciousness with the synthesis of an edited cinematic work as crucial to cinema’s capacity to both inherit from and displace the literary technicity of early and pre-modern Western cultural becoming. Cinematic technicity has been and remains a crucial substrate for the dynamics of this mutual becoming because it has played such a major role in the organisation of collective cultural experience in and through its instantiation of individual lived experience, memory, imagination and anticipation. Stiegler’s diagnosis in recent texts of the addictive, disassociating, and disorienting dynamics of contemporary ‘ill-being’ will be approached through his account of editing’s part in making experience modern - which he associates with mainstream Hollywood’s projection and exporting of a model of life as and for universal adoptability - and then global and realtime in the digital age.

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Life and thought in the rushes: mnemotechnics and orthographic temporal objects in the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

This essay uses the work of Bernard Stiegler to explore some philosophical and theoretical implications of his project with regard to the ways in which mnemotechnics can be found to function in moving-image culture. In particular the article focuses on Stiegler’s rendering of the ancient Greek myth of the titans Prometheus and Epithemeus as a heuristic device for philosophically thinking mnemotechnics, as well as his relationship to important precursors including Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Roland Barthes, in the elaboration of a philosophy of mnemonic, technological and temporal inscription. Christopher Nolan’s 2000 film Memento is used as a filmic vehicle for sounding Stiegler’s concepts of mnemotechnics and ‘orthographic’ temporal objects, as well as his rich yet sparingly articulated appeal for a ‘critical culture’ of the image.

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Proletarianisation (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

This essay takes up the work of Bernard Stiegler to evaluate and critique his take up of Marx and Engels’ notion of proletarianization in the context of new media, television, education and activism. The impact of technology and the notion of the general intellect is measured against Stiegler’s worry about a ‘short circuit’ that threatens humanity and requires a ‘new critique’. Talk of an ‘attention economy’ might be better understood if we took up a wider Marxist notion of proletarianization in relation to class consciousness and struggle. Rather than a forlorn complaint about the ‘conspiracy of imbeciles’ and the ‘ruin’ of public education, a more careful reading of Marx offers proletarianization as a resource in a struggle that is - also but not only - a ‘battle for intelligence’.

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Antagonism and technicity: Bernard Stiegler on eris, stasis and polemos (New Formations 77, Autumn 2012)

February 1, 2013

The essay seeks to sketch out, by outlining the Stiegler’s interpretation of eris, stasis and polemos as notions of social conflict, the relation between his thought of technics and current thinking of the political. Stiegler’s notion of a ‘de-fault of origin’ is taken as an indication that he is to be located within the family of post-foundational political thinkers. At the same time, though, he tends to reduce politics to a rhetorical or strategic skill. It is claimed that with this ‘ontic’ account of politics or la politique as strategic action, important as it may be, an ‘ontological’ concept of the political as antagonism may get lost.

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Editorial: The Animals Turn (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

The development of a new field of study is very often just as much about a creative meaning-generation, obliging us to think in new ways (to evolve one might say), as it is simply or only about the objects of study themselves. A semiotic view of such an evolution of human knowledge would speak of this in terms of sign-objects which, in engendering new interpretants, grow the endless spiral of semiosis (i.e. knowledge) further.1 Nonetheless, the (sign) objects we choose for thinking with are telling. The direction and terrain of travel, and the sign vehicles chosen, are all clues to what kind of new knowledge we might be looking for. In the case of animal studies, and the questions addressed in this special issue of new formations, these questions seem very often to be about ethics - about our place, and the place of animals, in other words - in a long mutually shaping symbiosis of human and more-than-human relationships.2 The growing interest in animal life, both without and within us, alongside the growing understanding that all this life is semiotic, might suggest that what we are attempting to think about is life, mind and minding, and thus ethics, from a wider than human perspective.

  1. 1. W. Wheeler (ed and Introductory Essay), Biosemiotics: Nature/Culture/ Science/Semiosis, Living Books About Life Series (liviBL), G. Hall, J. Zylinska and C. Birchall (series eds), Open Humanities Press, 2011. http://www.livingbooksaboutlife. org/books/ Biosemiotics
  2. 2. P. Shepard, The Others: How Animals Made Us Human, Washington DC, Island Press/ Shearwater Books, 1996. 

 

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Modernity, Humans and Animals – Tensions in the Field of the Technical-Industrial Imaginary (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

This essay is guided by two themes that concern the complexity of the modern world and the distinction between the human and the non-human. Keeping these themes in mind I will look first at the notion of modernity and the way in which notions of crises and tensions have been deployed, before turning to one set of tensions - the relation between the human and the non-human worlds through an analysis of the developments in the technical-industrial imaginary. In modernity, the regimes that humans put in place in relation to nature, and especially the animal world are constituted, principally, from the perspective of the industrialising imagination and technical regimes of control. I want to explore this theme and its crisis potential from the vantage point of both longer and shorter histories of human interactions with the animal world which intersect the history of modernity. The longer history includes the animal imbedded as a ‘natural’ extension to the human world, whilst the shorter one includes the animal as ‘non-natural’, prosthetic, or coded extension through the industrialization of the sign and the invention, for example, of DNA and genetic technologies. This interpretative move is made in order to throw the anthropological image of technical mastery into relief, as a prelude to critiquing it.

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The Anguish of Wildlife Ethics (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

As an environmental philosopher I had long been aware of dilemmas between animal ethics and ecological ethics, but now, as the manager of my own biodiversity reserve, I was facing these dilemmas in a more gut-wrenching and complex form than I had ever encountered in the classroom. Pressured by environmental authorities to cull kangaroos on my property, in the name of ecological ethics, I started thinking about the very meaning of ethics, its origins in the evolution of society and its material and metaphysical presuppositions. Two different conceptions of the normative root of society emerged, the deontic conception, appropriate within the material and metaphysical framework of hunter-gatherer societies, and the axial conception, appropriate within the framework of ‘civilization’, viz the agrarian societies that evolved into the urban- industrial formations of the modern era. The axial conception, based on empathy, aligned with our modern conception of ethics, and underlay our contemporary sense of animal ethics. ‘Ecological ethics’, on the other hand, seemed to be obscurely underpinned by the deontic conception, and was not ethical at all in the axial sense, and was moreover mismatched, normatively speaking, with the material and metaphysical realities of modern societies. A different set of practices from those currently prescribed by environmental authorities needs to be devised to meet both the ethical and ecological requirements of our contemporary natural environment.

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Reviews and Booknotes (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

Legs in Luk√°cs
Katie Terezakis

Medium Jam
Marta McCaughey

Feminism Untold
Lynne Pearce

Beyond Al-Jazeera
Anastasia Valassopoulos

BOOKNOTES
Jen Morgan

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Darwin and Derida on human and animal emotions: the question of shame as a measure of ontological difference (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

This essay reflects on how studies in human emotions, and studies of the emotional qualities of shame in particular, may be brought to bear on the study of human-animal relations. Derrida’s late essays on human - animal relations are compared to Darwin’s seminal works and to social theories of the emotions in order to emphasise how traditional regimes of theocentric logic on the animal still prevail. However, in the context of a global industrialised instrumentalisation of the animal, widespread erosion of biodiversity and mass extinctions, Derrida’s account of the ‘trauma’ Darwinism has inflicted on conventional epistemological framework of human-animal relations acquires a new urgency in the need for a profound shift in the way we think about animals and their ontological status.

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Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and the question of biological continuism (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

This essay will demonstrate how, fifty years ago, Maurice Merleau-Ponty had moved far beyond Heidegger to accomplish the kind of profound reconsideration of human relations with other animals that Derrida urged in his late writings but could not himself pursue. Merleau-Ponty’s work has been foundational for the new interdisciplinary movement of biosemiotics, and it anticipates by many decades Cary Wolfe’s call for more specific attention to the ‘embodiment, embeddedness, and materiality’ of our consciousness as it coevolved with us and other animals. While Heidegger rejected serious engagement with evolution and its consequences, Merleau-Ponty insisted upon it. For him, no rupture occurred during the millennia of our co-evolution with the other creatures. While there is no abyssal divide, however, there are nevertheless profound differences within a ‘strange kinship’ which is not a hierarchical but a lateral relation, or Ineinander. The essay will show how he carefully evaluated the philosophical consequences of leading evolutionary biology of the 1950s, Uexküll’s Umwelt theory, and the animal studies of Tinbergen and Lorenz, in order to develop his account of Homo sapien’s silent appearance on the evolutionary scene and continued intertwining with the lives of our animal kin.  

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Animals in biopolitical theory: between Agamben and Negri (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

Michel Foucault’s notion of ‘biopolitics’ has attained a renewed prominence in recent years through its reworking by, among others, Antonio Negri and Giorgio Agamben, who have each incorporated it into their different diagnoses of our contemporary political situation. But for all their attention to biology and life, and indeed the politicisation of such, they give little consideration to the subjection of animals within the regimes of biopower they critique. This essay will examine the biopolitical theories of these key Italian philosophers, asking whether and how they might be elaborated in eco- and zoo-political terms, such that we might critique the animalising reduction and biological production of human and nonhuman life together.

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Turning to animals between love and law (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

As an alternative to Utilitarianism, animal ethics turned to the Continental philosophies of Levinas and Derrida that welcome and revere Otherness. While Utilitarianism relies on a ‘closed’ system of ethical calculations, the Levinasian model remains open-ended. This essay argues for a revised approach to animal ethics that combines Levinasian immeasurability, what Matthew Calarco called ‘ethical agnosticism’, with a closed approach that sees ethics as issuing from particular modes of practice. Highlighting some of the problems inherent in the Levinasian ethics of love as well as Agamben’s biopolitical critique of law, I propose a corrective, ‘between love and law’, that avoids predetermining the limits of moral consideration yet insists on the social and normative dimensions of ethical responsiveness. I take the practice of veganism - broadly conceived beyond the strictly dietary - as the heart of animal ethics and consider some of the philosophical and theological dimensions of veganism as neither naïve nor as utopian but on the contrary, as a worldly mode of engagement that acknowledges the realities of violence.

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Renaissance animal things (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

This essay explores the place of the animal-made-object (that is, simultaneously, the animal made into an object and the object made out of an animal) in English Renaissance culture. Focusing particularly on two objects - leather and civet - the essay traces out the ways in which animals transformed into objects can still be interpreted as having agency; it argues, indeed, that such objects - true things, in the terms of thing theory - themselves possess transformative power over humans. As such the essay attempts to widen current discussions in animal studies about agency to attend not only to the living but to the dead animal in so-called human culture.

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Cosmopolitics: the kiss of life (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)

October 1, 2012

A portrait of Australian flying fox life in the Anthropocene illuminates startlingly familiar stories. These animals are participants in most of the major catastrophic events of contemporary life on Earth: warfare, man-made mass death, famine, expulsion, urbanisation, emerging diseases, climate change, and biosecurity. At the same time they are the targets of conservation action and local/international NGO aid. They are endangered, and are involved in all the major factors causing extinctions. Equally, they are a keystone species and their looming extinction portends wider waves of extinction. My account of flying foxes in Australia focuses on the plan to expel them from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Whilst arguing for an urban cosmopolitics of emergent convivialities, my study is required to move in a darker direction. I am inspired by Stengers’s account of cosmopolitics and her definition of politics which focuses on who is entitled to speak about questions of our common destiny. Research with flying foxes shows that in advance of the question of who speaks, determinations involving terror and expulsion depend on severing any sense that there is or could be a common destiny. Radical social exclusion, phrased in righteously banal terms, precedes and comes to authorise the species cleansing involved in expulsion. Peace, if it can grasped at all in such a context, requires multiple recursions across a terrain in which we name and resist the acts of terror that purport to separate us out into divergent destinies.

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Editorial (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

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Reviews and Booknotes (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

No rest for the wicked
Ken Hirschkop 

Outside the psy-complex
James Penney

Human thing 1
Teresa Heffernan

Strange ecology
Noel Castree 

Pink patches
Chiara Certomà 

BOOKNOTES
Isabelle Hesse, Joe Darlington

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Repressive desublimation and consumer culture: re-evaluating Herbert Marcuse (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

As mass society has given way to risk society in the popular sociological imagination, the work of the Frankfurt School has lost much of the purchase it might previously have had on academic understandings of consumer culture. In this article I return to Marcuse’s concept of repressive desublimation, arguing that it still provides a useful intellectual tool for thinking through the tensions and dilemmas of contemporary consumer societies, and one which is surprisingly compatible with the post-Weberian sociology of recent years. I begin by summarising Freud’s writings on sublimation, then explain Marcuse’s companion concepts of ‘repressive sublimation’ and ‘repressive desublimation’. I show that Marcuse’s insights into the alienating nature of consumer capitalism usefully complement more fashionable theoretical approaches to the same subject. I conclude by drawing on Hannah Arendt’s argument that judgements of taste are ultimately political judgements, suggesting that this is a fruitful way of understanding the responsibilities of the citizen-consumer.

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Monumental memories – Xu Weixin’s Chinese historical figures, 1966-1976 (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

This essay introduces the series ‘Chinese Historical Figures 1966-1976’, by Beijing artists Xu Weixin. The discussion centres on the relationship between pedagogy, historicity and memorialization in Xu’s work, drawing on both Xu’s perceptions of his own work, and on the theoretical frames in which it might be evaluated both in and beyond Chinese art practice. The article is informed by Sara Ahmed’s work on emotion, and Gerhard Richter’s notion of the blur as a clarification of the historical moment. In assessing Xu’s approach to memorialization, the article questions whether, by adopting an aesthetic of monumentality and compulsive repetition, Xu risks the series appearing too close to the governmental regime of excess and dogmatism that he is, in fact, attacking.

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The war against terror, neo-medievalism, and the Egyptian revolution (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

The key image of thought in the war against terror is ‘clash’, of civilizations and of religions. Islamic fundamentalism becomes, in this context, a synonym for chiliastic fanaticism. To problematize this framework, the article contrasts the contemporary katechontic take on the apocalypse, which legitimizes the war on terror, with Taubes’s revolutionary eschatology, which seeks a total deligitimization of power. Locating Islamic fundamentalism in relation to the apocalyptic tradition in this way provides an alternative to the standard critiques of Islamic terrorism. Initially I frame the discussion of the apocalyptic within the dialectic between two forms of nihilism, radical and passive nihilism, linking them to terrorism and post-politics. Then I move towards the discussion of contemporary politics and re-visit the idea of communism in the context of the recent Egyptian Revolution. The pivot around which this double move is undertaken and the terms of the discussion are changed is the concept of event.

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Night of the unexpected: a critique of the ‘uncanny’ and its apotheosis within cultural and social theory (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

This essay attempts a critical analysis of the boom in ‘uncanny’ theory. As the ‘uncanny’ has carved its image in cultural, political, sociological and aesthetic theory, there has been little attempt to challenge the notion that all critical work is or should be uncanny. Introductions to the concept, such as those by Nicholas Royle and more recently Anna Masschelein, have tended to promote its ubiquity and irreducibility, even while acknowledging a dramatic shift in its fortunes since the 1990s. Opening with a brief genealogy of uncanny theory in the late twentieth century (looking to work on Freud, the influence of Derrida and American deconstruction) the article pays particular attention to the watershed of the late 1980s when the uncanny is increasingly assimilated to the ‘spectral’ and begins to take shape as an autonomous theory. It probes the influence of Heidegger, who inflected Derrida’s own turn to spectres, and the way the uncanny is mobilised on cultural and sociological terrain as a specifically ethical tool: a site of historical mourning or sociological resistance. The article proposes that the anti-conceptualism of the uncanny is a transcendant gesture which needs to be read in the context of a crisis in the theorisation of Marxism at the end of the 1980s. In all the clamour over the disturbing and in-coercible logic of the uncanny, there has been little analysis of its potentially reactionary function on the contemporary scene.

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Socialism from the right?: aesthetics, politics and the counter-revolution in Weimar Germany (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

The early years of the Weimar period in Germany (1918-33) saw radical right paramilitaries and other activists engage in a violent struggle to roll back the post-war advances of the revolutionary left. This article examines the writings of Ernst Jünger and a number other writers from the period, arguing that their work elaborated a violently misogynist pedagogy of the body and subjectivity designed to engineer these counter-revolutionary fighters. What is frequently missed in commentary on these writers, however, is the extent to which their work was not simply about the repression of the left, but involved the production of a radical right ‘socialism’ whose powerful dynamic was crucial in breaking down the left socialist project over the course of the Weimar years; this dynamic was recognized at the time by critics like Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch. Drawing on the work of these theorists, this paper traces the logic of fascist mobilization, arguing that the appropriation of the revolutionary energies of a left in crisis shaped the trajectory of the radical right, and drove their production of a masculinist, aestheticized ‘state of total mobilization’ (Jünger).

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Late modern subjects of colonial occupation: mobile phones and the rise of neoliberalism in Palestine (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

Despite the abundance of research on Palestine, studies of Palestinian political subjectivity and agency tend to adhere to the dominant analytical frames of nationalism and/or Islamism. This has led to the neglect of a variety of socio-economic and political developments that do not fit these frameworks. Working against the dominant trend, the present essay attempts to understand Palestinian politics in relationship to the wider changes associated with globalisation and late modernity, focusing, in particular, on the globalisation of neoliberal subjectivities and political sensitivities. These themes are explored through a variety of discourses and struggles that have developed around mobile telephony in Palestine during the first years of the 2000s. Mobile telephony, it has been argued, epitomises a diversity of social processes and ideas that are connected to late modernity and globalisation of neoliberalism. In Palestine, however, the emergence of mobile telephony and the deterritorialising qualities associated with it intersect with an ultra-territorial colonial occupation, resulting in a largely unexamined space of multiple and clashing temporalities, spacialities and identifications. A study of these encounters builds an image of a late modern subject of colonial occupation, of a Palestinian subject that is increasingly individualised, hybridised, and hard to represent within the dominant discourses of the Palestinians’ struggle.

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Love’s unlimited orchestra: overcoming left melancholy via dubstep and microhouse (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

Many post-war cultural commentators have perceived a lack of impetus to the left-wing project, especially in the wake of the influential but ultimately unsuccessful worldwide protests of 1968. For some, such as Wendy Brown, this aimlessness is a result of a traditionalist left-wing’s failure to acknowledge cultural and theoretical developments over the same period that call into question its fundamental presuppositions, such as economic determinism and teleological progress. Instead, she argues, the traditionalist left has succumbed to melancholia, refusing to abandon its ideals while blaming their disappearance on those representative of these newer developments, often referred to as the ‘cultural’ left. Yet, as recent developments in electronic dance music culture suggest, the ideals more identifiable with a poststructuralist leftism may, too, have their melancholic object in the heterotopic principles associated with rave culture. The work of two contemporary electronic musicians, Burial and Farben, working respectively in the genres of dubstep and microhouse, provocatively illustrates these developments. By examining their work alongside its online reception as well as more historical debates over left-wing melancholy, we can both understand the insights they offer into the present political landscape and begin to identify the outline of a more productive relationship to political loss.

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Yes of course, but … Derrida to Genet on commitment in favour of Jackson (New Formations 75, Winter 2011)

August 1, 2012

The essay analyses the letter that Jacques Derrida sent to Jean Genet in 1971 as a contribution to an anthology compiled in honour of George Jackson who was imprisoned at Soledad Prison. Derrida had some reservations towards the attempt to get French writers and intellectuals to defend Jackson, not because he did not support the fight of the oppressed black population in the US, but because he did not want to speak in their name, thereby reproducing the very submission that had to be critiqued.

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Eating Roo: Of Things That Become Food (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

This essay pursues the processes and obstacles involved in making food out of an animal. Taking kangaroos and roo meat as the object of investigation, the essay follows roo through environmentalist arguments, promotional campaigns, animal activists and decades of Skippy. Following kangaroo entails tracking the interconnections and disconnections between assessments of environmental sustainability and the sentiment that the kangaroo is a ‘friend’; between the association of roo meat as pet food and the attempt to produce a cuisine around it. It also means following roo from Australia to Russia and the Czech Republic. Based on the assumption that food is intractably and simultaneously both cultural and ‘beyond-cultural’ (agricultural, metabolic, biological and so on) the essay argues for a complex description of its phenomenal forms.

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Reviews (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

REVIEWS
Eerie changelings

Daniela Caselli 

Planetary counter-archive
Tara Blake Wilson

Plus ça change … 
Annebella Pollen 

Cosmos and colony
Bart Moore-Gilbert

Documentary: negotiating the public sphere
Jeffrey Geiger 

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Introduction: ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’ – sugar on the move (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

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Palm oil tensions (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

This essay follows the fortunes of palm oil as it circulates in a variety of physical, global locations as well as in the discursive environments that characterise it and inform consumers about its properties. Such is the contested nature of palm oil that it is simultaneously ‘deadly’ and ‘life-saving’ depending on where you are in the world and what discursive regimes are accompanying your contact with it. Dominant western discourses about nutrition and environment have stressed the negative characteristics of the oil and its production; African and Asian discourses have emphasised its environmental sustainability and its health benefits. Such contexts have material affects. In the case of West Africans migrating to Australia it means that palm oil is hard to come by and is freighted with negative health and environment associations: at the same time it remains the core cultural foundation for making African home- away-from-home. The essay tries to imagine a discourse of health and environment that could be flexible enough to take account of the identity and home work that provides the necessary care for migrants.

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Quesadillas with Chinese black bean puree: eating together in ‘ethnic’ neighbourhoods (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

This essay represents an extended walk through Chelsea, a downtown ‘village’ of Manhattan, New York City. The purpose of this walking tour is, firstly, to seek out competing and intersecting ‘taste’ cultures offered within a site already inscribed as different from the ‘mainstream’. At another level, the article represents a meditative excursion through arguments that address the politics of cross-cultural encounters through food, positioning these within the ‘mixed’ spaces and contradictory imperatives of global cities. Extending conceptual frameworks developed by both Iris Marion Young and Ien Ang, the article teases out the paradox of eating ‘together-in-difference’. The original impetus for the project was a fragment from the popular press declaring a renewed interest in ‘fusion’ food in New York City’s ‘ethnic’ restaurants. Reflecting on the cultural implications of this particular ‘take’ on hybrid foods and cooking, the essay traces the history of a Mexican-Asian restaurant on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea’s restaurant strip. This history draws together connections of the owner’s own narratives of place-making through food, the ‘mixed’ neighbourhood in which the restaurant is located and the ‘creolised’ tastes produced in the restaurant’s kitchen. Not surprisingly, the analysis suggests the ‘fusion’ of ‘Mexican’ and ‘Asian’ in this setting is more complicated - culturally, politically and theoretically - than simple assumptions of western/ cosmopolitan appropriation would suggest. Drawing on Narayan’s critique of Heldke’s anticolonialist stance, the essay concludes with the need to re-think the possibility/impossibility of cultural exchanges through food - their entanglements with meanings of reciprocity and differential belonging.

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Thai food in Taiwan: tracing the contours of transnational taste (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

This essay examines the recent proliferation of Thai restaurants in Taiwan, relating their development to different streams of transnational migration from Thailand, Myanmar and mainland China. Thai restaurants in Taiwan take many forms from low-cost ‘ethnic’ restaurants around the Taoyuan train station and in more peripheral areas, catering mainly to migrant workers from Thailand, to upmarket restaurants in city centre locations, catering to a ‘cosmopolitan’ clientele with high levels of economic and cultural capital. The paper traces the contours of transnational taste in Taiwan where Thai food has been adapted to suit local demand. In this context, as elsewhere, notions of culinary authenticity are contested, revolving around specific ingredients, recipes and dishes as well as notions of provenance, décor and other aspects of material culture. The paper examines the process of authentication, focusing on the culinary claims made by differently-located stakeholders. It also considers the material as well as the symbolic construction of ‘taste’, a term whose multiple meanings provide a valuable way of rethinking transnationality. As well as providing a case study of the evolution of culinary culture in a non-Western context, the paper sheds light on the role of food in defining Taiwan’s contemporary political culture through notions of cosmopolitanism and modernity.

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Moving food: gustatory commensality and disjuncture in everyday multiculturalism (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

This essay draws on the fieldwork from three research projects undertaken in Australia between 2002 and 2007. The general research was concerned with investigating the phenomenology of everyday diversity as it was experienced in a number of spatial contexts (suburban, urban, regional, shopping mall, church and so on). Material interactions with food were found to be a privileged arena for experiences of living within a multi culture, and food consumption constituted a site for experiences of cultural anxiety and disjuncture as well as for prosaic forms of low-level cosmopolitanism. Living in common means living with common resources. Commensality - in its etymology - names the practice of eating at the same table; in its more general meaning it describes the practice of living together with others. This paper explores commensal practices that encourage convivial experiences of multiculturalism while also investigating how the experience of sitting down with others can exacerbate cultural differences.

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Migration, cuisine and integration: the Anglo-Jewish cookbook from the lady to the princess (New Formations 74, Autumn 2011)

January 1, 2012

Although cookbooks have become one of the most important of literary genres, relatively little attention has focused upon deconstructing their meaning. The vast numbers of cookbooks published allow us to identify a whole series of sub-genres. One of these consists of Anglo-Jewish cookbooks, whose origins date back to the middle of the nineteenth century. By analyzing the most important cookery books published by British women of Jewish origin over the past 160 years, this essay will demonstrate the way in which migrant cuisines are constructed by bringing together food practices in the land of origin and combining them with the eating norms of wider society in the land of settlement. The article also demonstrates the relationship between food and integration.

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Editorial (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

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Reviews (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

That style
Adam Roberts 

Future Williams
Ben Harker 

Cultural shimmer 
Michael Goddard 

For one hand
George McKay 

Platonic sex?
Chloë Taylor

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Introduction (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

This essay considers what we can learn about the role of the audience or the reader from the work of C.L.R. James. Beginning with a brief consideration of James’ theorisation of audiences, it moves on to discuss his own reading practice and, in particular, his relationship to Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. It is argued that in important ways James’ love of Thackeray reflects and informs the construction of his own novel, Minty Alley, as well as the critical populism of his politics more generally.

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C.L.R. James, Vanity Fair and the audience (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

Focussing on locally-owned newspapers in colonial West Africa, this essay presents a history of reading in the colonies which experiments with reading beyond, or reading outside, the anti-colonial nationalist perspective that prevails over newspaper history. The essay asks what kind of ‘information’ about the values, attitudes, aspirations and articulations of diverse colonial readerships can be extrapolated from the indigenous press, and about the manner in which ‘non-readers’ in West Africa interacted with printed forms, including the newspaper.

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Articulating Empire: newspaper readerships in colonial West Africa (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

The dialogue begins with a discussion of the development of processes of globalisation in recent years, offering a critique of some of the more hyperbolic claims about the death of geography. The discussion then moves to the question of the new conditions for the production of localities, and the role of new technologies in these developments. Further issues considered concern the politics of mobility, the question of differential modes of circulation and of continuing patterns of sedentarism and in some sectors of society. The relation between migrancy as a differentiated material process, and as a metaphor is discussed and these issues are then related to contemporary political debates in the USA, in the UK, India and South Africa. As the dialogue develops, attention turns to the question of how best to theorise the activity of audiences in different cultural locations in relation to particular structures of cultural power. The discussion also covers the particular status of readers and audiences within the context of postcolonial theory and concludes with a debate about questions of race, class, empire, consumption and resistance.

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Decoding diaspora and disjuncture: Arjun Appadurai in dialogue with David Morley (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

The novel Girls of Riyadh (Banat Al-Riyadh) by Saudi author Rajaa Alsanea, first published in English by Penguin in 2007, provides a valuable prism through which to examine an array of geo- political forces that govern the movement of literary texts between Anglophone and Arabic-speaking reading publics. This investigation seeks to contribute to the developing feminist scholarship on reading books by and about Muslim women, not just in the light of the long history of Orientalism but more specifically in the context of neo-imperial wars in the twenty-first century. The essay explores a wider range of questions posed by the subject matter, style, translation and marketing of this book. As the novel is written as a series of emails to an online chat room, it raises timely questions about how technology is mediating the social lives of young people across the Arabic-speaking world. The publication and promotion of this book is discussed in the context of the 2008 London Book Fair in which Arabic literature was the market focus. The role of the British Council in the event provides a window to examine the mechanisms of public diplomacy which provide the context for understanding the convergence of the Anglophone publishing industry with media corporations, NGOs and policy makers. The essay then asks how we are to read modern Arabic fiction in translation, since it is virtually impossible to approach it outside these tentacles of geo-political power.

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The new literary front: public diplomacy and the cultural politics of reading Arabic fiction in translation (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

The lack of attention to reading and reception in postcolonial literary studies makes it easy to forget that one of the field’s earliest points of reference is a theory of reading. Fredric Jameson’s controversial 1986 essay on ‘Third-World Literature’, which famously distinguishes ‘first-world’ from ‘third-world’ writing, also posits a difference between ‘first’ and ‘third’ world readers by arguing that the ‘first-world’ reader is seriously limited as a reader of ‘third-world’ texts. This essay returns to Jameson, and to the idea of national allegory, as a way of understanding and responding to the popular and academic reception of Palestinian and Israeli literature. Although metropolitan readers have generally been very willing to read both Palestinian and Israeli texts as national allegories in something like the sense described by Jameson, readers of Palestinian and Israeli women’s writing have tended to privilege these writers’ gender over their nationalism. Drawing on the work of two of the most internationally recognizable female novelists from Israel/Palestine, Orly Castel-Bloom and Sahar Khalifeh, the essay argues that national allegory should be understood as a reading and a writing practice, one that writers of both genders anticipate and emphasize in contexts where the nation’s political and imaginative force remains urgent and immediate.

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Reading for the nation: ‘third-world literature’ and Israel/Palestine (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

When someone becomes or does not become a reader - and how we make a claim to or refuse these kinds of identity - clearly matters within globalised cultures, where the challenges of literary representation quickly become problems of cultural misrepresentation. Yet precisely because not reading would appear to amount to nothing, its significance remains unexplored. In order to trace the conjunctural and multiple meanings of not reading, this essay explores the embattled reception surrounding Monica Ali’s novel Brick Lane (2003) and its adaptation into film (2007), and locates not reading within a longer history of book controversies that is overshadowed by the Rushdie Affair. Our paper argues that, far from mere negation, not reading is an intensely productive site of cross-cultural negotiation and conflict without which the contemporary significance of global readerships and reading acts makes only partial sense.

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Not reading Brick Lane (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

This essay asks how we can account for the experience of inventiveness when we read a work that arises from, and on its initial publication spoke to, a significantly different cultural context from our own. To what extent does a responsible reading of such a work imply a project of countering any sense of inventiveness that arises solely from the cultural distance between the contexts of production and of reception? If so, how can this be achieved? How can we know if it has been achieved? If, on the other hand, it is legitimate to capitalize on effects of inventiveness that arise from cultural difference, how can we avoid reducing the work to an example of pleasurable exoticism? The example of Alaa al-Aswany’s novel The Yacoubian Building is used to discuss these issues, concluding that the inevitable disparity that arises under such circumstances need not disqualify a reading; the responsibility of the reader is not to undertake a reconstruction of the original moment of reception in the home culture but to allow the norms of the host culture to be challenged by whatever is experienced as inventive in the work.

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Afterword: responsible reading and cultural distance (New Formations 73, Summer 2011)

November 1, 2011

This essay asks how we can account for the experience of inventiveness when we read a work that arises from, and on its initial publication spoke to, a significantly different cultural context from our own. To what extent does a responsible reading of such a work imply a project of countering any sense of inventiveness that arises solely from the cultural distance between the contexts of production and of reception? If so, how can this be achieved? How can we know if it has been achieved? If, on the other hand, it is legitimate to capitalize on effects of inventiveness that arise from cultural difference, how can we avoid reducing the work to an example of pleasurable exoticism? The example of Alaa al-Aswany’s novel The Yacoubian Building is used to discuss these issues, concluding that the inevitable disparity that arises under such circumstances need not disqualify a reading; the responsibility of the reader is not to undertake a reconstruction of the original moment of reception in the home culture but to allow the norms of the host culture to be challenged by whatever is experienced as inventive in the work.

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Reviews (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

A Topology Of The Sensible
Steven D. Brown 

Canalysis
Laura Mulvey

Lock Work 
Ian Parker 

Shadow Manifesto
Benjamin Noys

BOOKNOTES
Kate Houlden, Lara Cox

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‘Money is laughing gas to me’ (Freud): a critique of pure reason in economics and psychoanalysis (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

Economic theory, since the time of Smith and Hume, has been operating with a model of homo oeconomicus as an autonomous, rational, self-interested calculator of cost-for-benefit. This presumed rationality of ‘economic man’ supposedly guarantees, in turn, the fundamental rationality of the ‘self-regulating’, ‘efficient’ market. Classical political economy, neoclassical economics and neoliberalism have all operated with this model. But the recent ‘global financial crisis’ was yet another reminder that the psychology of markets and financial dealers can seem far from rational. Even Alan Greenspan had to admit of the 2008-9 financial crash: ‘Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief’. From its inception, psychoanalysis has viewed the psychology of money as profoundly irrational - as a realm of illusion, neurosis, phantasy and psychopathology, both individual and collective. Freud, Ferenczi, Jones and Abraham were just the earliest psychoanalytic theorists to decode monetary transactions and relationships into their presumed unconscious motives. And yet, psychoanalysis itself has been notoriously reluctant to speak frankly of its own economics as a profession and business - of how ‘filthy lucre’ is the indispensable stuff of its own transactions. This essay stages a confrontation between two discourses, psychoanalysis and economics, which for much of their history have been mutually indifferent and mutually opaque. By confronting the implied subjects of these discourses with each other’s models of reason or sanity in money matters, rather than of irrationality or psychopathology, it questions the equation of economic rationality with individuated self-interest while seeking to deconstruct the century-old dichotomy between homo oeconomicus and homo psychologicus.

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Analysand and analyst in the global economy, or why anyone in their right mind would pay for an analysis (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

Use value, exchange value, the equation between time and money, and globalisation are explored in conjunction with the psychoanalytic concepts of loss and castration, leading to the paradoxical notion that, in psychoanalytic treatment, one pays to lose something. The unique configuration of work and payment in the psychoanalytic situation is explored through several clinical vignettes.

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The financial crisis: a psychoanalytic view of illusion, greed and reparation in masculine phantasy (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

The recent financial crisis has shaken the financial system and affected everyone’s economic well-being. It has also shaken the framework of stability and trust in rational, ordered management, and injected an anxiety that irrationality is closer than we thought but that no-one really understands it. This essay argues that the financial crisis offers a way to look at a feature of masculinity that is a grounding assumption of both culture and the economy. Through exploring the crisis as a masculine collapse, we can simultaneously bring the nature of masculinity into clearer focus. In particular, I argue that our conscious sense of masculinity is only one pole of a duality - in psychoanalytic terms, it is phallic masculinity, which is based on an illusion of competitive superiority. Viewed as a manifestation of the unconscious, it can be seen as a defence against what I call seminal masculinity, which is based on the procreation, sustenance and restoration of life. I associate phallic masculinity with Klein’s ‘paranoid-schizoid position’ and seminal masculinity with her ‘depressive position’. This historic event ramifies into other areas, including environmentalism, trust and deception in politics. The paper focuses on illusion and illusory models that underwrite a sense of rationality, and the sense that a good economy that sustains life has been contaminated by ‘toxic assets’.

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The meaning of money’: the ruble, the dollar and psychoanalysis (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

In keeping with the psychoanalytical tradition, this essay is an interpretation of a dream, or rather a series of answers to questions posed in a dream about the meanings of money. The answers touch on the periods in which the author has lived. What was the attitude towards money in the Soviet Union? How did it change during perestroika? What happened with the advent of capitalism? To understand how the meaning of money has been transformed, the author turns to three literary works: Sergei Mikhalkov’s political fairy tale The Adventures of the Ruble (1971), in which a Soviet Ruble encounters an American Dollar; Nikolai Nosov’s book Neznaika on the Moon (1965), whose hero flies from the communist Sun City to the capitalist Moon; and Viktor Pelevin’s novel Empire V (2006), which describes attitudes to money in the new capitalist Russia. The idea formulated during the course of this analysis is that there is money, and then there is money: money changes its meaning depending on the discursive construction in which it is inscribed. Money is a universal means of exchange, but there is no such thing as universal money.

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Financial crisis, social pathologies and ‘generalised perversion’: questioning Zi≈æek’s diagnosis of the times (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

Slavoj Žižek’s work has been highly influential in the formulation of an emerging consensus among Lacanian social researchers, that we live in a society of ‘generalised perversion’ whose initial fruits are the corrosion of democracy and the recent financial crisis. This position rests upon a notion of modern subjectivity that connects ‘commodity fetishism’ with clinical perversion in a pathological configuration, so that social theoretical identification of crisis tendencies, evaluative language about moral problems and diagnostic categories from the Lacanian clinic can be combined in a single figure. In this article, we question the series of conceptual links that constitute this position, tracing them from Žižek’s critique in his short work on the global financial crisis and his broader restatement of this analysis in the recent Living in the End Times, through the moment of his announcement of the notion of ‘generalised perversion’ in The Ticklish Subject, all the way back to fundamental propositions outlined in his earliest work. Our argument progresses through three claims. First, we show in the evolution of this position that it leads Žižek to equivocate in his diagnosis of contemporary society between two mutually exclusive categories (‘psychosis’ and ‘perversion’), indicating an antinomy in his work that is resolved in favour of ‘generalised perversion’ on empirical, not logical, grounds. Secondly, we offer a critical resolution of the antinomy through a critique of what we argue is Žižek’s mistaken over-extension of psychoanalytic reason beyond its legitimate scope of application. Finally, we point to some of the political implications of the way that Žižek speculatively resolves his logical difficulties, by analysing the consequences of his claim that generalised social perversion - the problem to be solved - involves a dethroning of the communal ego ideal. A communitarian streak, implicit in the potential conflation of moral denunciation with psychoanalytic diagnosis that the rhetoric of ‘perversion’ invokes, runs through Žižek’s work on capitalism, we propose in conclusion.

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What a waste of money: expenditure, the death drive and the contemporary art market (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

The commonplace, knee-jerk response to the enormous sums realised by iconic works of postwar and contemporary art - ‘what a waste of money!’ - is conventionally countered in three ways: by explaining that such pieces possess an aesthetic importance that fully justifies the amounts spent to acquire them; by, conversely, making the pragmatic point that artworks can often prove to be extraordinarily lucrative investments; or, in a synthesis of these polarised views, by arguing that collecting art yields a degree of ‘symbolic capital’ (evidence of one’s knowledge, taste and sophistication; access to an exclusive, glamorous and creative social milieu) for which many are understandably willing to pay a premium. In this essay, however, I argue that the philistine and reactionary standpoint typically occupied by those who denounce money spent on contemporary art as money ‘wasted’ should not blind cultural critics to the kernel of truth in such assertions: that it is precisely the function of the contemporary art market - and of the art auction in particular - to provide an arena in which reserves of capital may be wantonly expended, and that the wastefulness of such acts of prodigality is maximised when the object purchased itself represents, or literally embodies, waste - hence the prominence today of artworks that entail death, decay, mortification and abjection. In articulating this position, I draw on a theoretical tradition that has its roots in the Freudian theory of the death drive and runs through the work of the French thinkers Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard and Julia Kristeva. I pay particular attention to the auction of work by the ‘Young British Artist’ Damien Hirst at Sotheby’s in London in September 2008, a carnival of expenditure that partook of the wider zeitgeist of financial dissipation generated by the global ‘credit crunch’, then entering its most intense phase.

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Psychoanalysis, anti-semitism and the miser (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

In some recent writing that draws on Lacanian ideas about the structure of psychoanalysis, Slavoj Žižek opposes the common cultural vision of the analyst as confessor or priest. In this view, psychoanalysis is born out of the capitalist spirit of ‘thrift’, of hoarding and spending only with reluctance. Instead of the religious imagery of confession and forgiveness, or indeed a fantasy that psychoanalysis might represent a ‘cure by love’, Žižek alights on an anti-semitic trope that starkly pronounces on psychoanalysis as a mode of economic exchange. Miserliness is the core of this trope. Žižek writes (in The Parallax View), ‘The link between psychoanalysis and capitalism is perhaps best exemplified by one of the great literary figures of the nineteenth-century novel, the Jewish moneylender, a shadowy figure to whom all the big figures of society come to borrow money, pleading with him and telling him all their dirty secrets and passions.’ This paper takes seriously the idea that, in centring on a miserly exchange mediated by money, psychoanalysis reveals the structuring power of the social order over encounters that are fantasised to be based on love or care. However, it asks why the trope has to be so explicitly anti-semitic in its formulation. It is argued that what breaks through in this and some other passages where Žižek overly exuberantly evokes anti-semitism is a continuing failure of psychoanalysis to deal with its own ‘Jewish’ investments.

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Psychoanalytic reflections on the nature of money: authority, regulation of standards, and the law of the father (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

This essay sketches out a psychoanalytic contribution to historical and anthropological discussions about the nature of money. Setting out from an observation by Jean-Joseph Goux, according to which the genealogy of the Oedipus complex is analogous to the genealogy of money form (‘universal equivalent’) in Marx, I ask how the Freudian notion of the father might illuminate our understanding of money. In a new close reading of chapter 4, paragraph 7 of Totem and Taboo (1913), I claim that the historical father figure Freud had in mind most prominently was Caesar Augustus, who assumed a new kind of auctoritas and thereby managed to transfer the law of paterfamilias to the public realm. According to this reading, the paradoxical afterlife of the father’s law, which begins at the moment of his death, can be identified with the theological-political frame of Christianity, which both depended on and tried to overcome the Caesar’s auctoritas. Based on observations by Max Weber as well as by recent research on Roman monetary policy, I then go on to claim that the emergence of money form takes place under the rule of the Caesars as well. In my opinion a ‘universal equivalent’ is not established - as Marx claimed - as soon as gold becomes selected as primary means of payment, but only when a currency - not actually based on material value - is issued and regulated by a central authority. I thus suggest that there is a historical connection between auctoritas - the Freudian law of the father - and the emergence of money. I conclude by raising the question how in the Christian world the money form invented by the Caesars continues to live after its ‘death’.

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Pleasure and pain: at the crossroads of psychoanalysis and the political economy (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

At the very moment when Freud, still a student, initiated his first works, three economists from different countries - the Englishman Stanley Jevons, the Frenchman Leon Walras and the Austrian Carl Menger - revolutionised economic thought, breaking with the ‘objectivism’ of the classical economists (Smith, Ricardo, Marx) and introducing ‘a psychological, individual and subjective explanation’ of value and exchange in which the notions of ‘desirability’ and satisfaction are central. The Freudian discovery is linked to neoclassical economic theory through the epistemological basis they share: utilitarianism, a moral philosophy that runs from Epicurus to Bentham through Helvétius and considers the search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the basis of human behaviour. This epistemological basis is visible in Freud, not least in the decisive importance he attributed to sexuality, understood as the human experience that intensifies pleasure to its maximum. This essay considers whether it is this link that gives psychoanalysis its double and conflicting vocation: on one hand, its easy fit with the motives and ends of a society ruled by economic liberalism, marked by expenditure, hedonism, consumption, monetary profits and speculations; and, on the other hand, its capacity to play the role of a critical consciousness, having recognised the limits and difficulties of the principle of pleasure (moving ‘beyond’ this principle) and having identified the illusions and disappointments that threaten aspirations to happiness.

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What kind of subject is the market? (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

Up to and during the latest series of financial crises, we have seen the market represented as a kind of subject, one with desires and will, a subject that is capable of responding in extreme fashion if this will is contravened. Given this subjectivisation of the market and the concomitant attribution of powers, we ask: if the market is a subject, what kind of subject is it? As psychoanalysis stresses that the subject is not master of its own home, the market is likewise a strangely homeless subject - on the one hand it manifests in the form of an imagined singular, subjective agent and on the other as a mysterious and ungraspable, unknowable yet powerful force. Suspecting the magic that attributes such powers to the market, this absolute master that is the market is here called to account.

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Translator’s introduction to Bernard Stiegler’s ‘pharmacology of desire: drive-based capitalism and libidinal dis-economy’ (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

Understanding Stiegler’s attempt to marry psychoanalysis and economics requires rethinking the relation of need and desire, not only theoretically but in terms of the material composition and decomposition of these in the history of capitalism. Stiegler shows via Husserl that desire is inherently connected to the selection inherent in perception, that is, that it inherently involves the question of knowledge. This leads him to rethink the Platonic opposition of appearance and idea in terms of the distinction between existence and consistence, and in turn to understand these in relation to the distinction between life as subsistence and as existence. The problem of desire today can then be grasped as the calculated reduction of life to the finitude of the drives rather than the infinity and singularity of desire.

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Pharmacology of desire: drive-based capitalism and libidinal dis-economy (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

July 1, 2011

The concept of desire is the key to understanding the relation between economics and psychoanalysis, that is, between social and psychic investment, or between productive and libidinal economies. Today, the system organising the relation between these two economies is less a matter of biopower than of ‘psychopower,’ technologies and industries developed in order to control the behaviour of consumers. But this system interferes with the intergenerational circuits on which desire has hitherto always been based. Consequently, the system is now encountering certain limits, threatening the collapse of the system itself, and requiring a new economic understanding, itself dependent on a new theoretical foundation for understanding desire in general.

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Introduction: Hannah Arendt ‘After Modernity’ (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

As one of the most incisive political philosophers of the post-war epoch, Hannah Arendt is well known for her critical reflections on anti-Semitism and the limitations of humanism; violence and revolutionary politics; morality and evil; judgement; and the aetiology of genocide and totalitarianism. Her reflections on the collapse of the public sphere and the loss of the shared human way of experiencing the world in the face of totalitarian state bureaucracies are no less valuable for confronting the destruction of the welfare state in contemporary western democracies today than they were for addressing the genealogy of totalitarianism in early twentieth-century Europe. What is more, Arendt’s reflections on the nation state and human rights from the standpoint of the refugee, and her critique of the superfluity of human life associated with mass culture and society have proven to be very fertile ground for contemporary thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Paul Gilroy, Julia Kristeva, Jacqueline Rose and Edward Said (among others).

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Reviews (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

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The supreme social concept: the un-worldliness of modern security (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

Since Hobbes, the capacity to govern through providing ‘security’ has been understood as the way of producing and organising political order and subjectivity. Hobbes’ claim that the security of domestic peace is founded on fear of violent death meant that modern individuals must be taught to love life. The discourse of ‘security’ is arguably the most powerful discourse of the modern age since it has largely set the parameters of modern thinking about politics and war. However, contra Schmitt and his followers, this is not because ‘security’ is the political discourse par excellence, allowing the sovereign to decide the law and exceptions to the law. Modern security is an exemplary instance of the rise of the social, as understood by Hannah Arendt. Modern discourses and practices of security have provided the justification and mechanism for the expansion of what Arendt described as the ‘life process’ of ‘society’ and the liberal view that ‘life is the highest good’. Arendt’s unwieldy and strange concept of ‘the social’ is eccentric, but defensible, both in terms of its origins in her unique form of philosophical anthropology and her socio-historical analysis of capitalism and the modern bureaucratic state.

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Hannah Arendt and the concept of revolution in the 1960s (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

Neglected until recently, Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the relationship between European imperialism and the rise of fascism, especially Nazism, offers fresh ways to study the rise of modern totalitarian regimes. Indeed, Paul Gilroy, among others, has underscored Arendt’s importance for understanding contemporary race-thinking around the globe, while African Studies specialists still see Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism as one of the founding texts of their discipline. That said, David Scott, in his Conscripts of Modernity (2004), has criticised Arendt for failing to group the Haitian Revolution with the American and French Revolutions as landmarks in the emergence of political modernity. Once more, Scott suggests, the non-European world is slighted.

In my essay I want to explore the issues raised above and then propose that if we look at C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins (1938; 1963), Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1961) and Arendt’s On Revolution (1963), we have three models of revolution. James emphasises the social and economic dimension; Fanon the psychological; and Arendt the political. From this perspective, Arendt was tone-deaf to the Haitian Revolution because she was pre-disposed to fear revolutions whose main goal was the alleviation of poverty and clearly disliked Fanon’s emphasis upon the reconstruction of self aimed for through revolutionary violence. In truth, Fanon’s emphasis upon recognition signalled another goal of Third World revolution beyond national liberation - the forging of a new individual and group identity through revolutionary struggle. Finally, I will suggest that in the post-colonial era, Arendt’s focus on the importance of a ‘constitution of liberty,’ implying for her a politics of democratic participation in the context of stable institutions, remains a worthy, if more limited, goal of post-colonial regimes.

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Defending the plural: Hannah Arendt and genocide studies (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

This essay examines the reasons for the revival of interest in Hannah Arendt’s work in the new field of genocide studies. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt puts forward the ‘boomerang thesis’, suggesting that the roots of European totalitarianism, especially Nazism, lay in overseas colonialism. This claim, which is only now, over fifty years later, being empirically tested, accords with the view of some scholars of genocide that genocide and colonialism are inherently linked. German Southwest Africa (Namibia), where the Herero and Nama War (1904-08) ended in the first genocide of the twentieth century, is often cited as the best proof of Arendt’s thesis. Yet Arendt herself argued that there were unbridgeable breaks between the nineteenth-century, including the history of imperialism, and twentieth-century totalitarianism, and also believed that the Holocaust could not meaningfully be compared with pre-modern or colonial cases of genocide. What then accounts for Arendt’s renewed popularity? Apart from being one of the few thinkers to acknowledge that genocide had occurred in colonial contexts, genocide scholars find that the philosophical underpinning of Arendt’s work accords with their own. Like Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term ‘genocide’, Arendt saw that, at bottom, her thought was concerned with defending the plurality of the human species.

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Hannah Arendt: a question of character (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

This essay is about the ethical importance of ‘character’ or ‘personality’ in Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy. I argue that Arendt’s interest in the ‘valid personality which once acquired, never leaves a man’ (Men in Dark Times) is of axiomatic importance in her attempt, after the atrocities of the Second World War, to overturn the philosophical privileging of contemplation and eidetic intuition, and evoke thinking and judgment as quintessentially worldly human activities. By exploring what it means to have a principled character or morally significant personality capable of resisting totalitarianism, Arendt offers an ethical alternative to moralistic and parochial explanations of the Holocaust. On the one hand Arendt eschews the explanatory narrative, recently typified by the work of Zygmunt Bauman, which blames the Holocaust on the instrumental, taxonomic rationality of post-Enlightenment modernity. On the other hand Arendt does not locate the origins of the Holocaust in a Sonderweg thesis which points to the exceptional, anti-modern course of German nationalism and in the pervasive anti-Semitism, romantic nationalism, and authoritarian tendencies of the German people themselves. Instead Arendt’s interest in the ‘representative significance’ of personality, and the disastrous ethical consequences of not having one, reflects her post-war commitment to thinking history and politics from the cosmopolitan standpoint of a ‘citizen of the world’. Arendt refrains from facile, self-exculpatory rationalisations of the causes and significance of the Holocaust, instead submitting that capitulation to fascism is a constant possibility for the great majority of us who do not have a distinctive character which animates and unifies our comportment toward the world.

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Hannah Arendt’s tactlessness: reading Eichmann in Jerusalem (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

This essay engages with the problem of Arendt’s historical style, particularly the style of Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) and what Gersholm Scholem described as its lack of feeling for the suffering of others, its lack of Herzenstakt. Arendt thought that totalitarianism had changed the way in which history must be written; in particular, she thought that the extermination of the Jews of Europe meant that historical writing could no longer conform to classical standards of dispassion and withhold anger. In light of this claim, I examine anger in Arendt’s writing in relation both to her reflections on the cognitive meaning of anger in On Violence, particularly the anger of the Black Power movement, but also (and more expansively) the tactlessness of her writing both about Eichmann and the survivor testimony that formed the ‘background’ to his trial. By drawing on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s arguments about the importance of tact, and the ancient Stoic formulation of sensus communis for the methodology of the human sciences, I read Arendt’s tactless, abrasive style not as simply dismissive towards the suffering of others, but rather as a key expression of her understanding of political modernity. Arendt’s tactlessness signals, I argue, what she thinks of as an abandonment of the political language of ‘sentiment.’ Again, such an abandonment, I argue, is a result of the pressure that totalitarianism had placed on the possibilities of political and historical writing.

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The life process and forgettable living: Arendt and Agamben (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

Hannah Arendt’s low estimation of household and society in The Human Condition is ambiguously grounded in her objections to expropriation of labour, on one hand - an expropriation that she associates with the ‘life process’ - and to what she perceives as the ‘futility of mortal life’ on the other. This essay explores this tension in The Human Condition and compares it (more briefly) to related thoughts about bare life, subjectivity, and meaninglessness in Karl Marx, Giorgio Agamben and T.W. Adorno. It suggests, positively, that bare life and subjectivity alike occlude living - something different from either the life processor work and which is neither human nor bare life, bios nor zoe, vitality nor culture, and which therefore involves the toleration of meaninglessness.

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Hannah Arendt: reflections on ruin (New Formations 71, Autumn 2010)

May 1, 2011

This essay seeks to account for the sources and consequences of Arendt’s conception of ruin as the ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ character of human affairs - a view she expressed most famously in The Human Condition and perhaps most powerfully in her reflections on the work of Franz Kafka. Beginning with an analysis of Heidegger’s use of the term ‘ruination’ in his early Marburg lectures, the essay shows how Arendt absorbs Heidegger’s insight while completely altering its critical function. As a German Jew, Arendt was acutely aware of the temptations and dangers of the cult of Bildung (culture, self-development), especially as a result of her intense engagement with Rachel Varnhagen, who saw in Bildung a way out of her impossible socio-political position. For Arendt, who follows Kafka in this regard, any process that operates on its own, including that of Bildung, tends toward ruin, and she understood her work, in large part, as an uncovering of the counter-movement to ruination in the form of action. The essay concludes by showing the degree to which Arendt’s reflections on ruin underlie her analysis of Eichmann’s crimes and considers the ways in which her critical engagement with Kafka prepared her for her ‘report’ on his trial.

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Editorial: Living life in pictures (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

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Reviews (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

The offices of comedy 
Robert Lapsley 

Buccaneers 
Simon Harvey 

Multicultural nationalism
Jamie Hakim  

Imaginary Americas 
Katherine Harrison 

Selective hospitality 
Felicia Chan 

Situating the situationists
Sam Cooper 

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Being in the care of philosophy: thinking about Rachel Corrie (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

This essay examines the letters of Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was struck and killed by a Caterpillar D9R armoured bulldozer, steered by an Israeli Defence Force vehicle operator in March 2003, as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The article firstly considers how Corrie articulates in her writing a responsible conception of ‘care’ that recognises the contingency of human beings, and secondly, measures Corrie’s account against the Heideggerian conception of care that arises from existential ontology. Although these versions of ‘care’ are incommensurate, the article proposes that the unequal and sometimes dangerous political conditions of human being poses a challenge to any existentially universal account of ‘being’, and that Heideggerian philosophy after Heidegger concerns itself with this difficulty. The intimacy of Corrie’s writing presents the full force of this challenge and exposes the limits of philosophy. The article proposes that the idea of existential security is tethered to the conditions of political security in a way that continues to test Heideggerian philosophy.

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Documenting the paedophile: virtual white men in the era of recovered memory (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

‘Documenting the Paedophile: Virtual White Men in the Era of Recovered Memory’ argues that Andrew Jarecki’s 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans is part of a larger recent film trend in which remembered scenes of adult/child sex are used to reconfigure the meaning of white masculinity. In several recent films, memories of child sexual predators emerge on screen in scenes best described as ‘virtual’. In particular, the white paedophile appears in liminal filmic spaces that replace historically specific reference points with the virtual codes of an explicitly technologically mediated reality. Building on theories of virtuality developed by Katherine Hayles and Brian Massumi, this essay argues that the white paedophile technologically re-mediates residual forms of white masculinity and refunctions them for the era of neo-liberalism. Jarecki’s Oscar-nominated documentary best reveals the technological relations through which the white paedophile appears as the virtual image of a neoliberal ‘real’, part of a visual code of memory produced for what Stuart Hall calls new times.

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Living life in pictures: isotype as modernist cultural practice (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

The Vienna Method of Picture Statistics, also known as Isotype, has become a means for historians and theorists of modern culture to directly link visual modernism with modern social science and philosophy, specifically with logical positivism and Taylorism/Fordism. Isotype has been described in terms of Taylorist standardization, rationalism, ‘transparent construction’ and functionalism. By delineating the understanding of these terms held by Isotype’s inventor Otto Neurath and his friends and colleagues, and contextualising Isotype in relation to recent reassessments of Neurath’s other work, I suggest that Isotype participated in a modernism that was understood by its proponents in ways that were more plural, and pluralist, than we now give them credit.

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Reflections on feminism, immaterial labour and the post Fordist regime (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

In the many articles and books written in recent years on the topic of precarious labour, immaterial and affective labour, all of which are understood within the over-arching frame of post-Fordist regimes of production, there is a failure to foreground gender, or indeed to knit gender and ethnicity into prevailing concerns with class and class struggle. I seek to rectify this by interrogating some of the influential work in this terrain. I draw attention to those accounts which have reflected on gender and on changes in how feminists and sociologists nowadays think about the question of women and employment. I ask the question, how integral is the participation of ‘women’ to the rise of post-Fordist production, and what kind of role do women, especially young women now play in the urban-based new culture industries? By prioritising gender I am also critiquing its invisibility in this current field of new radical political discourse associated with writers like Hardt and Virno (eds 1996) and Hardt and Negri (2000). I argue for a more historically informed perspective which pays attention to the micro-activities of earlier generations of feminists who were at the forefront of combining forms of job creation with political activity (eg women’s book stores and publishing, youth-work or ‘madchenarbeit’, child care and kinderladen ) under the auspices of what would now be called ‘social enterprise’.

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You never look at me from where I see you’: postcolonial guilt in cach√© (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

Michael Haneke’s much-discussed film Caché (2005) explores the psychodynamics of postcolonial guilt as they are made manifest in the specific arena of the field of vision. To the puzzled consternation of many a critic and viewer, Caché objectifies the return of the colonial real in the form of a gaze, a gaze indexed by videotapes left anonymously for Georges on his doorstep. These tapes contain images shot from a camera the status of which is eminently paradoxical. Both included within and banished from the film’s diegesis, this camera torments Georges with memories of his childhood, memories that we see in the form of harrowing flashbacks or dream sequences. The video footage is also the film’s principle means of creating suspense: it incites our desire as viewers to solve the perplexing enigma of its ‘impossible’ hidden camera. Through a reconsideration of the gaze through the lens of Lacan’s analysis of Diderot’s Letter on the Blind (1749), this essay draws out how Georges’ desperate attempt to control the conditions of his own visibility reflects a refusal to acknowledge his complicity in the shameful colonial history of France.

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Remembering Islamic empires: speaking of imperialism and islamophobia (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

In the aftermath of 9/11, debates about Islam and the West have taken some unprompted historical turns. In Europe and America many people who have spoken out, either as or for Muslims, have appealed to histories of Islam. Ordinary anti-war activists, public intellectuals, museum and gallery curators, even captains of industry: all have spoken of Islamic civilisation and empires of the past. These everyday representations of empires speak to postcolonial and cultural debates about the form and significance of contemporary colonial discourse, and also to controversies in academic and school history about memories of empires and languages of imperialism. Representations of the Islamic past are both reactive and pro-active. First, they can be read as interventions against the colonial present: contesting Islamophobic ideology in the context of the war on terror by rejecting allegations that Islam is careless about liberty and human rights, primitive and uncivilised. This interpretation is qualified, however, with the acknowledgement that these histories are not consistently anti-imperial; they can better be described as anti-western. But, more pro-actively, these histories also advance positive ideals of tolerance and citizenship, using Andalucía to substantiate claims that Muslims did not simply or grudgingly conform to European ideas of tolerance and liberty; they pioneered these values. Moreover, these historical claims are brought to contemporary debates about how to make tolerance work, identifying points of contact between British values and Islamic histories, and showing how Muslims can imagine not only adopting, but actively shaping British citizenship and other forms of belonging in Europe and America.

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The production of subjectivity: from transindividuality to the commons (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

Collectivity is increasingly difficult to conceptualize. This is perhaps due to a long philosophical cold war. Which has left us with concepts of social relations that start with an irreducible individual, figuring society as nothing other than the sum total of individual actions, as in social contract theory and various forms of methodological individualism, on the one hand, and spectres of organic or functionalist totality, on the other hand. Against both terms of this division this paper examines Gilbert Simondon’s work on individuation to explore the transindividual production of subjectivity. The conditions of our subjectivity, language, knowledge, and habits, are neither individual nor part of any collective, but are the conditions of individual identity and collective belonging, remaining irreducible to each. These conditions have become increasingly important to the contemporary production process, becoming the source of new forms of wealth. They are the new commons that are increasingly becoming enclosed, privatized. Finally, following the work of Paolo Virno and Bernard Stiegler, I argue that these commons, the transindividual production of subjectivity, can become the basis of a new politics, a politics irreducible to individuality or totality.

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Ravishing Maggie: Thatcherism thirty years on’ (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

Marcus Harvey’s portrait Maggie was the centrepiece of his White Riot exhibition in 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory as Prime Minister and, as it turned out, the beginning of the end of New Labour’s time in office. This article takes Harvey’s compositional strategy of forming Maggie out of thousands of plaster-cast objects as a response to the legacies of the political figure most associated with violating the social fabric of postwar Britain. Involving the spectator in the process of assembling and dissolving Thatcher’s famous resolute certainty, Maggie turns the shattering impact of her policies back on to the status of her image. If the phallic properties of Thatcher’s punishing style of leadership are literalised in Maggie, the pleasurable control of her integrity implicates us all in this encounter. Reflecting upon Thatcher’s promise to unify the nation, repair its wounded pride and restore its lost sense of greatness, the article reads Maggie’s precarious state through New Labour’s modernising national project and places it within wider debates about the current intensification of uncertainty to which we are increasingly subject.

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Split level, or, the predicament of dwelling (New Formations 70, Summer 2010)

January 1, 2011

This essay stages a dialogue between a handful of writers and artists whose works dramatize the ‘predicament of dwelling’. Soren Kierkegaard, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, Charles Baudelaire, and Gordon Matta-Clark shared a common sensibility with respect to the difficulties of modern life. Benjamin’s ‘destruction of experience’ and Adorno’s ‘damaged life’ evoked images of modern subjectivity as something as deranged and mutilated as the creatures in Kafka’s stories. Matta-Clark’s lacerated homes and buildings combined the despair and disrepair of the city with complex images of intrusion and redemption in ways that echo the enmeshment of melancholia and delight in Baudelaire’s flaneur, in Kierkegaard’s interieur. Perhaps it would do to regard these as elaborations on the experience and the ironies of modern alienation, but what interests me here is the way we are presented with a subject that is ruptured, lacerated, and split, and whose splitting is reflected in the places and spaces in which it attempts to live. What is the nature of such living, and of the subjectivities appropriate to it?

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Editorial: Imperial ecologies (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

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Reviews (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

Mute
Nicholas Thoburn 

Left in space
Tony Venezia 

The open book of the humanities
Ignaz Cassar 

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Introduction: New enclosures (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

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The future of ‘the commons’: neoliberalism’s ‘plan B’ or the original disaccumulation of capital? (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

This essay examines the complex and conflicting motivations driving the increasing uses of the concept of the commons in contemporary political discourse. This conflict has led to the development of two connotations of the concept that are especially important: the pro-capitalist and the anti-capitalist commons. Examples of both types of commons are discussed in the essay which includes an extensive description of the hoboes? struggle in the teens and twenties of the twentieth century to transform privately owned rails and freight cars into an anti-capitalist transport commons that they defended against attacks by the railroad guards, the local police and the KKK. The last part of the essay shows how the concept of the commons has been increasingly used by political figures like Jeffrey Sachs and Barack Obama to bolster the capitalist system in a time of crisis.

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A natural history of ‘food riots’ (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

In 2008, there was a sudden rapid escalation in staple food prices on world markets and, in response, numerous food riots in the global South. This essay underscores that these food riots, as E.P. Thompson argued for those in an earlier moment, are reasoned forms of collective conscious struggle against injustice, not the mindless spontaneous outbursts that the term ‘riot’ implies. In this most recent resurgence, however, the injustice addressed is manifestly global, which requires a supplement to the work of Marxist historians on early modern food riots in Europe. In the current global context, theorists and activists in the global North must take particular care to adjust their theories and their praxis to consider global effects of their own local choices, as well as the grotesquely uneven conditions in which so-called free choices are made. Specifically, critiques of Neoliberal globalisation must take on - as food riots do - the uneven distribution of concrete global resources that market forces not only effect but naturalize. This means that no theory, or praxis, can afford to put so much emphasis on the post-Fordist shift to increased ‘immaterial’ production that the limits imposed by the concrete world are obscured. We also cannot assume that ‘acting locally’ will combat injustice effectively; a consideration of global consequences is always necessary since current conditions are so uneven. This global state of affairs poses a predicament for theories of ‘de-centred’ politics with their aversion to organization and conscious planning. The limits of (individual) market “choice” must be consciously combated by the development of mechanisms for collective aggregate distribution of properly common planetary resources.

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Unimagined communities: developmental refugees, megadams and monumental modernity (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

This essay examines the ways in which megadams are violently diversionary in much of the global South, diverting not just water and land away from disempowered communities, but also diverting attention from structural violence. As spectacular monuments to modernity, megadams play a critical role in the politics of visibility and invisibility, casting into shadow the nation’s unimagined communities-those people deemed surplus who become, in effect, developmental refugees in flight from modernity’s ostentatious and hydrologically inefficient edifices.

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Oil in an American imaginary (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

If much of twentieth century US history is defined by its relationship to oil, its cultural genealogy has been more difficult to fathom, as if oil’s ubiquity paradoxically seemed to cheat adequate cultural expression. This paper takes up Amitav Ghosh’s argument that ‘petrofiction’ does not exist in the American grain and answers it with an understanding of its specific geoculture, especially in relation to violence and war.

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The global species (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

The phenomenon of colonialism is in this article treated with reference to our stepwise establishment throughout history of something akin to a global colonial organism. The concept of ‘global species’, which conditions is introduced for the first time, applies not only to the human species but furthermore to several of our affiliated species. Due to disparity in ecological and climatic, global presence may never before have been a typical characteristic of dominating species - but it is today. Humankind’s successful proliferation and dispersal has facilitated the global spread of everything from livestock and crop species to pets and certain bugs, at the expense of wildlife. Though humankind is in this article for the most part taken to be one entity, the author does in no way claim that all cultures are the same, or that we are destined to go on in the same way as we have started out. The word “we”, however, is empathised - as a prerequisite for a truly global awareness and sense of responsibility. What this article suggests, is simply that the global colonial organism we have established is the proper real-life framework for any discussion of the ecological performance of specific cultures and societies.

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‘Ecosystem service commodities’ – a new imperial ecology? Implications for animist immanent ecologies, with Deleuze and Guattari (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

This essay is structured around the juxtaposition of two very different expressions of culture/nature relationships. The first is a current ‘imperial ecology’ constituted by the ideational transformation of ‘the environment’ into new commodity fictions called ‘ecosystem services’. I suggest that this transformation intensifies a classical and modern desire for the release of culture from nature, even as its market rhetoric speaks of a greater valuing of ‘nature’. The second is the possibility and implications of an animist ‘immanent ecology’ in which the human/non-human nexus is more explicitly experienced as one of intersubjective intensities and shared sentience. Here I work primarily with ethnographic material from a KhoeSan people indigenous to north-west Namibia. I draw extensively on the writings of philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, whose profound suggestions add much to an understanding of the constitutive conditions in which these different ecologies arise, and the social and environmental trajectories they may bring forth and sustain.

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A contribution to the critique of political ecology: sustainability as disavowal (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

By reflecting on ‘sustainability’ as a word whose sudden public importance derives from the contradictions associated with its lexical history, this essay argues that ‘sustainability’ functions as an ambiguous ‘ecological’ supplement to the principal political norms of neoliberalism. ‘Sustainability’ expresses a need for social and natural ‘damage control’ that at one level acknowledges how capital accumulation on a world scale erodes the forms of human and non-human life that serve as its conditions of possibility. At the same time, ‘sustainability’ operates according to a psychic logic of disavowal, representing these living conditions of capital accumulation as themselves forms of ‘living capital’ (as opposed to ‘living energy’) so as to safeguard itself against any movement toward a more radical critique of the self-regulatory biopolitical power of neoliberal capitalism.

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Climate crisis and the actuarial imaginary: ‘the war on global warming’ (New Formations 69, Winter 2009)

July 1, 2010

Has there ever been a climate crisis? Or an economic crisis? This paper critically interrogates the proposition that the present is a time of crisis. Focusing on mobilisations against climate change, we ask how this vision calls forth regimes of risk that walk the line between danger and opportunity, protection and profit. To tease out these logics of risk and investigate how they imply particular modes of governance and subjectivation, the paper introduces the concept of the actuarial imaginary. This holds in a single optic the calculative rationalities of risk and the affective atmosphere they generate. From this perspective we interrogate the prevalent claim that action against global warming requires a war footing. The strategies of security and securitisation mobilised to address climate change demand an analysis that refers, on the one hand, to the pre-emptive logic of the war on terror, and, on the other, to the global economic meltdown. Any struggle to reclaim the terrestrial commons must, by contrast, proceed on the recognition that these strategies involve processes of enclosure, whether predicated on the absolute rent of primitive accumulation or the relative rent of finance capital.

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Editorial: Deleuzian politics? (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

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Reviews (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

Sexual temporalities
Katrina Schlunke 

Organising modern emotions 
Katrina Schlunke 

BOOKNOTES
David W. Hill, Andrew Blake, Kate O’Riordan

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Deleuzian politics? A survey and some suggestions (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

This article surveys and evaluates the broad field of Deleuzian political theory with particular reference to its novel implications for anglophone cultural theory. It opens by discussing Mengue’s and Hallward’s recent critical studies of Deleuze and the wider problem of evaluating the normative and descriptive function of key Deleuzian concepts. It goes on to consider the specificity of Deleuzian approaches to the key notion of ‘essentialism’ with reference to a comparison between the ideas of Manuel Delanda and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, before moving into a consideration of recent appropriations of Deleuzian philosophy for the theorisation of gender and race. From there it goes on to consider various Marxist and post-Marxist uses of Deleuzian thought for the theorisation of capital, labour and the state in the work of writers such as Thoburn, Read and Lazaratto, following this with a consideration of recent debates over the status of democracy in Deleuze’s political thought, arguing against any liberal interpretations thereof that would minimise the anti-individualism of this ideas or collapse its advocacy of ‘rhizomatic’ relations into an argument for the universal desirability of market logics. It moves on from here to argue for the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought to green politics, and to the importance of understanding ‘affect’ as an irreducibly social, multi-directional and polyvalent phenomenon in recent cultural theory.

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Politics as the orientation of every assemblage (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

This essay is concerned with the question of where politics, as Deleuze understands it, resides. Vitalism dictates an understanding of politics as, in fact, the correlate of every assemblage (of thought or desire, individual or collective), and affiliates it to the ethical question of an affirmation of the powers of life. Every assemblage is ipso facto political in that it manifests a particular orientation to life, enriching it or mutilating it: it being understood that the consistency to be given to it is perpetually under construction, without any a priori guarantees. The article shows the ways in which the task of politics is cartographic, pragmatic -charting the composition of lines, and their consequences -and not hermeneutic. In the first section, we unpack the conceptual operators which Deleuze and Guattari make use of to develop their understanding of the political (the types of lines and the molar/molecular schema); in the second section we consider their triple impact (politics understood as an index of the bearing a body, situating itself in the paradox of a passive volition and shattering the distinction between the resignation of the beautiful soul and voluntaristic engagement). We conclude with an analysis of Bartleby as singular figure of an ethical-political orientation.

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On putting the active back into activism (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

This paper addresses a paradox: how to engage in affirmative politics, which entails the production of social horizons of hope, while at the same time doing critical theory, which means resisting the present. Drawing on the neo-vitalism of Deleuze, with reference to Nietzsche and Spinoza, the article argues in favour of an affirmative ethics: defined as a radical ethics of transformation. This new framework for re-thinking ethics moves away from the moral protocols of Kantian universalism, while also shifting its focus from unitary, rationality-driven consciousness to an understanding of subjectivity as processual in nature, propelled by affects and relations. Such a new framework disengages the emergence of the subject from the logic of negation and attaches subjectivity to affirmative otherness. Hence the self-other relation is reconceived in terms of reciprocity as creation and not as the recognition of Sameness. Taking critical distance from modern conceptions of self-centred individualism and the negative production of hierarchically inferior others which it assumes, an affirmative ethics for a non-unitary subject as proposed here aims at offering an enlarged sense of inter-connection between self and others, including the non-human or ‘earth’ others, following and enhancing the tradition of a bio-centred egalitarianism (Ansell-Pearson, 1999) that posits a nature-culture continuum (Haraway, 1997). Moreover by putting the emphasis on the positivity of affirmative ethics - conceived in a depsychologised sense similar to that of Nietzsche and Spinoza - the article suggests an ethics of sustainability: one that provides the subject with a frame for interaction and change, growth and movement; an ethics that affirms life as difference-at-work.

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A tragic note: on Negri and Deleuze in the light of the ‘Argentinazo’ (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

In a conversation between Antonio Negri and Gilles Deleuze, translated under the title ‘Control and Becoming’, the former philosopher denounced the problematic status of the latter’s work - specifically A Thousand Plateaus, co-authored with Félix Guattari - in the context of political philosophy. For Negri, as we gather from his comments, inasmuch as Deleuze’s framework is essential for thinking about the contemporary world, it remains a catalogue of unresolved problems on the all-important topic of politics. One of the central points of divergence is related to Negri’s optimistic and teleological philosophical orientation vis-à-vis Deleuze’s decidedly non-teleological ontology and philosophy of history. Negri famously hears a ‘tragic note’ in Deleuze’s open-ended account. This article explores and evaluates this divergence, philosophically and politically, in the light of the period of revolts and radical political experimentation that broke out in Argentina after 2001. Siding with Deleuze, philosophically and politically, it concludes that the positive outcome of such a ‘tragic’ perspective is a constant concern for launching and re-launching instances of concrete political experimentation with a regard for just this open-endedness of the historical horizon.

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Queer vitalism (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

Starting from Deleuze’s and Guattari’s distinction between passive and active vitalism as set out in their last book, What is Philosophy?, this article posits the possibility of a new conceptualisation of political bodies outside notions of individual will, intent and agency: mobilising forces of change from within in the act of encountering. Moving away from the active vitalism of resisting and overcoming - acts that always imply new normative images/representations of ‘being otherwise’, being thus aligned to what Deleuze and Guattari would call majoritarian politics - passive vitalism mobilises forces of change from within the act of encountering, understood as the emanation and interaction of potentials always already found in the forces, percepts and affects that constitute actual bodies. Contrary to an active vitalism that strives to overcome the imposed norms that would reduce an individual’s autonomy, but that also takes into account the vitality of traditions, cultures and practices that constitute bodies as individuals and agents in the first place, a passive vitalism is one of re-singularisation or counter-actualisation: this means that it takes bodies as they are, with their identifying and determining features, and then asks how the potentials that enabled those features might be expanded. It is within this new suggested framework that the article revisits gender and sexual politics: in terms of potentials and the virtual, and in radical distance from politics of recognition and theories of subjection. It thus suggests a new post-human articulation of the ‘I’ as a second, belated perceiving, understood not as a transcendent grasping but as one affectuation among others.

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Becoming vulva: flesh, fold, infinity (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

The relation between morphology and becoming-woman is a contentious one. Deleuze and Guattari have been critiqued by Irigaray as fetishising woman. However Irigaray, Deleuze and Guattari each posit a challenge to phallologocentric paradigms through real life becomings via reconfigurations -beyond metaphor or alternate subjectifiation -of the subject as enfleshed. Subjectivity is manifold and folds with other subjects, so the subject is never entirely present to the self and never extricated from the connexions it makes. Such multiplicity, fluidity and connectivity negotiate the singularity, stability and dividuation inherent to phallologic. Deleuze and Guattari’s understanding of ‘Becoming’, and Irigaray’s model of the two lips, directly respond to the symbol of the phallus. As an experiment in extending and exploring these concepts, while simultaneously attempting to create a fold between the theories, this article offers the idea of ‘becoming-vulva’. The vulva, with all its symbolic and psychoanalytic associations, is itself both the blind spot and rupture of the phallic. As a folding and folded organ the vulva is temporally metamorphic and apprehended through aspect rather than totality. It constitutes a schema of organ and pleasure which resonates with the folded and folding structure of desire itself. In this article both the vulva and desire are grounded in the political and ethical contexts of this feminist project while also being an abstract territory that opens out and potentialises ways of thinking the flesh.

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Becoming-woman by breaking the waves (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

Begins from the argument that Deleuze’s method of ‘transcendental empiricism’ requires a shift in the way we conceptualise both ‘ethics’ and ‘politics’. This shift is examined in relation to the cinematic thinking of the film Breaking the Waves, since the latter problematises established ideas of what an ethics of (sexual) difference might be, as well as received political values tied to modern individualism such as freedom, autonomy, and reason. Moving through a filmosophical methodology, it is argued that the film manages to provide us with a post-theistic framework that resonates but also pushes further Deleuze’s transcendentalism, opening new paths for a radicalisation of feminist materialist theories. Breaking the Waves provides us with a notion of (becoming-) woman in relation to Man that breaks away from the established discourses of difference, equality, reciprocity and respect that have traditionally informed the Self-Other relation, bringing in the themes of sacrifice, stupidity and belief. The latter constitute new political forces that actualise an-other politics: an affective activism and a vitalist pragmatism, that reinvent freedom on the level of non-representation.

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Weatherman, the militant diagram, and the problem of political passion (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

This paper is a critique of the political figure of the militant. In particular it seeks to understand the ways militancy effectuates processes of political passion and a certain unworking or deterritorialisation of the self in relation to political organisations and the wider social environment within which militants would enact change. To this end the paper traces a diagram or abstract machine of militancy, a diagram comprised of Guattari’s cartography of Leninism and the model of struggle set out by the Russian nihilist Sergei Nechaev. Foregrounding specific techniques and affective and semiotic registers, the paper explores a particular animation of abstract militant functions in the Weatherman organisation in the United States at the turn of the 1970s. It then sketches the principle outlines of a counter figure - an ‘a-militant diagram’, or dispersive ecology of political composition -that draws together Marx’s figure of the party, Jacques Camatte’s critique of the political ‘racket’, and Deleuze and Guattari’s approach to the problem of the group and its outside.

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Deleuzian politics? A roundtable discussion (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

March 1, 2010

A discussion on Deleuze and politics with topics covered including: Deleuze’s relationship to Marxism and capitalism; the political valency of the concept of deterritorialisation; the implications of Deleuzian thought for theorisations of collectivity and identity; its implications for thinking about revolution, universality and the party form; the problems of desire and the decision; issues of ecology and the implications of vitalism for them; problems of political strategy and organisation; the legacy of the invasion of Iraq.

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Editorial: Reading life writing (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

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The missing photograph: Charlotte Salomon Life? or Theatre? as the encounter with maternal loss (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

A reading of painter Charlotte Salomon’s Leben? Oder Theater? (Life? or Theatre?) (1941-2), created shortly before her death in Auschwitz, as a form of allothanatography - a writing of the deaths of others. The sequence’s visual and textual weave of invented memories for a traumatic core in maternal loss are probed and analysed. particular incidents are written and rewritten throughout his work.

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Reviews (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

The archive and the detail
Gillian Swanson

Art’s labour
Esther Leslie 

BOOKNOTES
Jane Mansfield, Jérôme Hansen

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A child’s sense of the past (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

This memoir of Light’s Portsmouth childhood highlights the staging of stories within a familial setting, and the alternative chronologies through which both children and adults remember the past.

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On not writing biography (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

This article draws on the ledgers and notebooks of Frances Hamilton, an eighteenth century woman, property holder and intellectual whose wide-ranging reading, in particular about slavery, offers a way of reconstructing the materiality of mental life and its political implications. In her reflections on the challenges posed by her biographical research on Hamilton, Steedman questions the way in which historians generally suppress the affective nature of their own engagement with their subjects.

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On burning, saving and stealing letters (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Reflecting on her research for her book on letters written during the period of second wave feminism, Jolly explore the levels of negotiation and compromise involved in the publication of personal letters. Stressing the power of letters as material objects, she considers how they work within systems of exchange, both as a synecdoche for the body and as a site of absence and presence.

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John McGahern: memory, autobiography, fiction, history (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Discusses the work of John McGahern, and the generic and political relationship between autobiography, fiction and the essay, querying the line between the genres and exploring the affective and aesthetic work that each accomplishes. McGahern’s autobiographically charged fiction is a contribution to collective memory - more than simply making the personal public. He gives the psychic and social, political and physical landscape a kind of subjectivity - representing a synthesis of rural Ireland. Exploring McGahern’s ‘autobiographical naturalism’ in his mature novels, Ryle comments on the paradoxically detached narrative voice through which remembered experience, itself laden with affect, is expressed.

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Flesh and blood’: autobiographical ‘material’ between fiction and non-fiction (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

James Baldwin’s essays, notes, addresses, speeches, as well as his fiction, are almost all developed around an autobiographical core, so insistently that the modality of such writing asks for further analysis. This essay queries the line between the different genres within which Baldwin wrote, and explores the affective and aesthetic work that they accomplish. It explores the insistence and function of autobiography in Baldwin, and the way in which he frames both privacy and intimacy by looking at how particular incidents are written and rewritten throughout his work.

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Hannah Arendt’s testimony: judging in a lawless world (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Lyndsey Stonebridge discusses the interpretative questions raised by Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt’s irreverent account of the 1961 Eichmann trial. Arendt’s mordant humour and refusal of pathos was seen by many as inappropriately out of tune with an emerging politics of memory and testimony. Stonebridge places her ‘refusal to inhabit a rhetoric of trauma’ within Arendt’s larger concern with ways to think about judgement and responsibility during the 1960s and 1970s. In particular she targets Arendt’s ‘apparent repudiation of the transformative power of the testimonies of surviving witnesses’ - an issue at the centre of post-Holocaust ethics.

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Reflections on Joan Didion’s the year of magical thinking (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Considers Joan Didion’s memoir of bereavement, The Year of Magical Thinking, within the context of the contemporary boom in trauma memoir, and traces the ‘secret history of cognitions’ that Didion’s account references, in which extreme mental states are associated with the magical and numinous, back to the beginnings of dynamic psychiatry in the early nineteenth century, as the underside of rationalist modernity.

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Talk about the party: conversations with the SWP (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Reflections on Wall’s interviews with SWP activists in York, Manchester and London, contrasting ‘literary’ biography (the focus of his earlier work) with the messier and more inconclusive process of the collective political memory of living activists.

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Queerstories in Brighton (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Discusses a range of books of gay and lesbian testimonies, focusing on their framing in archival and published form - an analysis which reveals some of the dilemmas and achievements which highlight the fault lines of the genre. Sinfield also interviews people from Ourstory in Brighton.

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Who do you think you are? Feminist memoir writing (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

Looking back on her own experiment with collective memoir, Making Trouble, which draws much of its material from London-based feminists, Lynne Segal traces the ‘shifting contexts of self-narration’ between the re-emergence of feminism at the end of the 1960s and the present. How is our connection with those past times, and their progressive hopes, altered by the grim global landscape of this new century?

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Biography and theory reconsidered: second Wittgensteinian thoughts (New Formations 67, Summer 2009)

July 1, 2009

This article offers further reflection on Monk’s argument that biography offers, or should offer if done properly, a paradigm example of Wittgenstein’s notion of ‘the understanding that consists in seeing connections’. Monk regards seeing connections in this way as untheoretical. Here he extends his discussion of the definition of ‘theory’ and questions its usefulness in relation to the understanding and practice of biography.

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Reviews (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Postcolonial futures 
Peter Sjølyst-Jackson 

The politics of Tonto 
Vincent Lloyd 

About a boy
Jon Cairns

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Checking the post: music, postmodernism and cultural theory (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

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More PoMo than thou: the status of cultural meanings in music (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

The New Musicology of the 1970s, in reaction against a conservatorium culture that demanded a single-minded focus on structural analysis detached from its social and cultural ‘contexts’, insisted on finding contestable meanings in musical form; and it coincided with the emergence of composers such as Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk, whose music embraced pop-cultural material and spoke to the life-worlds of its audiences. This generation had a sense of the plurality of ‘little narratives’ that seemed capable of blooming once high modernism’s metanarrative had been demoted to the status of just one among other little narratives, or merely one particularly stringent special interest. Suddenly it was possible, even desirable, to compose from a specific subject-position - of a woman, an Australian, a gay man or an African American. But this opening of the art-music terrain to identity politics also raised divisive questions, which McClary explores in the latter half of her article through her commentary on the work of Osvaldo Golijov. If musicological post-postmodernism should come to reject New Musicology’s view of music as meaning-laden sound, McClary is ready to retreat back into ‘that Old Time Postmodernism’.

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Music and postmodernity (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Translated by David Bennett

Lyotard rehearses his theses about postmodernism as incredulity towards metanarratives, and follows Schoenberg and Adorno in suggesting that the history of Western music may be thought of as ‘the grand narrative of the emancipation of sound’ from the inherited rules and customs of composition - rules that were discovered to be neither natural nor necessary but purely contingent. Lyotard proposes understanding the artistic value of a musical composition in terms of its status as a sonic ‘event’, or ‘geste’, which gives us an intimation of the ‘sonorous matter’ that is before or outside of all musical expression or meaning, and hence of all communication between subjects. Such an ‘event’ or ‘geste’ throws all narratives of development, modernisation or revolution - all periodisations of art and culture - into crisis, insofar as it puts into question what music, listening and ‘sonorous material’ itself might be.

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Post-politics and riotous music (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

This article situates Lyotard’s musical aesthetics in relation to his political or ‘anti-political’ theory as a soixante-huitard manqué who wished to conceive of the May ‘68 student-led uprising in France as an ‘event’ that threw the rules of historiography and political praxis into crisis, just as the postmodern musical ‘event’ puts the epistemology and phenomenology of sound into crisis, destabilising the subjects of musical creation and appreciation. Testing Lyotard’s theory against an example of musical practice, Bennett asks whether it can be squared with a composition such as Bob Ostertag’s All the Rage, which appears to answer to Lyotard’s definitions of an ‘absolutely aporetic’ post-musical event while nonetheless serving an emancipatory project (in this instance, gay rights). KEYWORDS: Lyotard, May ‘68, postmodernism, Bob Ostertag, All the Rage, aesthetics, event

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Strings in the earth and air (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Steven Connor reflects on music that is the antithesis of the punctual, rupturing event: namely ‘atmospheric’ music, or sound-saturated space, in an era that can entertain all sound as potentially music since it no longer believes there is any essence of music. Connor posits an antinomy between two ‘characteristically postmodern’ principles: the ideal of an unrestricted economy of music, facilitated by new technologies of sound (re)production and transmission that allow for a spatial diffusion of music - which he describes as its conversion from form into field; and the ideal of what the Canadian acoustic theorist and composer R. Murray Schafer called ‘acoustic ecology’, derived from an Adamic view of the composer as sonic gardener, charged with the responsibility of tending the world’s soundscape and preventing it from running to acoustic weed. Connor looks some of the ambient, atmospheric, immersive and soundscape musics that have arisen in the last four decades, including the work of Ligeti and Stockhausen. He proposes an ‘auditory ecology’ concerned not with preserving and clarifying sound-objects in a ‘balanced’ sonic economy, but with negotiating the distinctions between listening and hearing in which musical and non-musical sounds are phenomenologically constituted as such.

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The sonorous, the haptic and the intensive (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Two possible understandings of musical postmodernism are contrasted: on the one hand it is seen as a deconstructive art that denaturalises preconstituted relationships between composition, performance and listener; and on the other, in a more ‘positive’ understanding, it is understood in terms of sound having the power to constitute relations through its capacity to transform bodies, organs and territories. Reflecting on works of contemporary sound-art and music by David Chesworth, Sonia Leber, Peter Sculthorpe and James Macmillan, the article explores and defends the second approach, informed by Deleuze’s vitalist and expressivist philosophy, and proposing ways of conceiving in music what Deleuze called the ‘minoritarian’ in literature. It argues for an alternative view of quotation and repetition, which it sees as a drawing-out of the originality (rather than the derivativeness) of ‘sonorous matter’; and it recognises its potentiality for variation and difference, and hence its capacity for constituting new relations through its transforming affects. In contrast to the dominant, ‘linguistic’ strain of postmodern theory, it proposes a new way of thinking positively about difference in music, using the Deleuzian concepts of the sonorous, the haptic and the intensive.

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Sampling, cyborgs and simulation: popular music in the digital hypermodern (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

This article explores the ways in which computer technology has increased the elasticity of the popular musical text, lending it - as digital code - to repeated creation, formation, iteration; it looks at how this technology has dislocated popular music from a given place of creation and from the co-presence of its creators, facilitating a dispersed and mobile creativity; and looks at the ways in which it has dissolved distinctions between technological automation and human creativity, turning musicians into partners, not masters, of machines. Prior argues for an understanding of the digital mediation of popular music as a condition of radicalised modernity, or hypermodernity, rather than of postmodernity.

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Postnationalism, postmodernism and the German discourse(s) of weltmusik (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

German weltmusik, promoted in particular by J.E. Berendt, was founded in the postwar period as an attempt to overcome the histories of German nationalism in which German music culture had been heavily implicated. Jazz was embraced as a democratic international form of music, and its interaction with musics from other cultures promoted as a coming together of musicians in which music’s universalism could be celebrated. Later critics have pointed to the failure of this approach to take cognisance of difference, and its lack of concern with social context and power relations.

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James Brown and the ‘illogic’ of innovation: a Deleuzian perspective (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

In this discussion of James Brown, Scannell brings Deleuze’s concept of the ‘Idiot’ to bear on the relationship between compositional expertise and innovation in contemporary popular music. Brown’s public acclaim as a musical ‘visionary’ was often counterpointed by the private disdain of many of the ‘trained’ musicians in his bands, who scorned his ‘musical illiteracy’. An unorthodox valorisation of Brown’s approach to composition is offered via Deleuze’s account, in Difference and Repetition, of the Idiot as the pedant’s polar opposite, whose naive immunity to conceptual rules or institutionally dominant forms of thinking - whose capacity, in other words, for ‘thought without presupposition’ - enables modes of conceptual originality that evade the more musically-trained.

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Chair creaks, though no one sits there: decomposition and liquidity (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

The title of this essay is also the title of one of Toop’s compositions, and it both reflects upon and enacts a compositional practice that Toop characterises as ‘destructive composition’, or ‘decomposition’. Confounding modernist dichotomies between control and ecstasy, intentionality and contingency, authoritarian composition and utopian free improvisation, Toop’s decompositional practice involves commissioning recorded sounds from a variety of musicians and ‘other sonic technicians’ unaware either of the decomposer’s plans or of one another’s contributions, and subjecting them to improvisational processes of ‘destructive composing’ with his digital audio software. A decentring, at once, of the composition, the performance and the relations of authority and ownership among the composer-performers who contribute to its assembling, Toop’s sound-art is often poised on the thresholds of audibility, treating the ‘decay’ of sounds - in the ear and mind - as a zone of creative potentiality and a metaphor for blurred boundaries between composer and listener, ownership and loss, presence and absence. Toop conceives of his method as a reflection on the uncomfortable business of exploitation, negotiation and sharing that participating in contemporary musical cyberculture inevitably entails.

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Music as model for postmodern textual analysis (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Rather than subjecting music to hermeneutical procedures that purport to make explicit its implicit motives and meanings, Breyley proposes employing musical concepts - ranging from pitch, tempo and dynamics to counterpoint and atonality - to analyse the drifts and strategies of thought, memory and imagination in verbal texts. Pointing to the dominance of visual and spatial paradigms in canonical Western ‘theory’, she suggests how such paradigms may be re-inflected by focusing on their repressed aural dimensions. Arguing that musical analysis is especially pertinent to the literature of memory, Breyley focuses on three memoirs from Australian minoritarian literature’, by Evelyn Crawford, Ruby Langford Ginibi and Lily Brett, and suggests that these texts be read as a kind of ‘vocalese’ - the adaptation of new words and many voices to pre-arranged ancestral melodies, to tell stories and pay tribute to the composers and previous performers of those tunes. In such works of memory, popular and national discourses can be heard as key-setting ‘bass drones’ underneath the ‘melodies’ of personal memory; and narrative voices and themes can be recognised as organised by principles like counterpoint, improvisation or ornamentation.

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Naming: music and the postmodern (New Formations 66, Winter 2008)

April 1, 2009

Use of the term postmodernism is infrequent in writing about music. This is partly because of the conservatism and autonomy of the academic study of music, and its tradition of technical music analysis by composers. However there have often been postmodern theories and practices in the field that have not been named as such by their authors. Works by Berio, Rochberg, del Tredici, Gubaidulina and Daugherty are discussed, all which are analysed as instances of postmodern practice.

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Editorial: After ’68 (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Reviews (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

Utopian issues 
Peter Marcuse 

Space, politics, and how experimental can one be?
Noortje Marres 

BOOKNOTES
Rosemary Shirley, Simon Stewart

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The politics of radical immanence: May 1968 as an event (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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After ’68: narratives of the new capitalism (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Humanism and cosmopolitanism after ’68 (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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New manifestations: Paris, Seattle and after (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Be realistic: demand the impossible (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Review essay: beginnings and ends: for, against and beyond ’68 (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Late Jameson, or, after the eternity of the present (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Art and empire: on oil, antiquities, and the war in Iraq (New Formations 65, Autumn 2008)

November 1, 2008

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Introduction (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Reviews (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

A picture of virtue
Michelle Henning

This is your life
Paul Cobley

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Recent critiques of ecocriticism (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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The poverty of ecocritical theory: E.P. Thompson and the British perspective (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Ecocriticism, ecopoetics, and a creed outworn (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Nature post-nature (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Sustaining authentic human experience in community (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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The ecological blind spot in postmodernism (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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On the road: Robert Louis Stevenson’s views on nature (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Stirring the geopolitical unconscious: towards a Jamesonian ecocriticism (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Learning from Temple Grandin, or, animal studies, disability studies, and who comes after the subject (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Heidegger’s shepherd of being and Neitzsche’s satyr (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Postscrpt on biosemiotics: reading beyond words – and ecocriticism (New Formations 64, Summer 2008)

May 1, 2008

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Editorial: The happiness turn (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Reviews (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

Walking back to happiness
Rowan Boyson 

Resisting sophistry 
Vincent Lloyd 

Cinematic hat tricks
Janet Harbord 

BOOKNOTES
Pollyanna Ruiz, Nils Lindahl Elliot

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Is happiness contagious? (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Cruel optimism: on Marx, loss and the senses (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Compulsory happiness and queer existence (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Happy memories (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Narrative happiness and the meaning of life (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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The problematic joys of gambling: subjects in a state (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Multiculturalism and the promise of happiness (New Formations 63, Winter 2007)

March 1, 2008

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Editorial: Zidane’s melancholy (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

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Zidane’s melancholy (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

This essay considers the infamous altercations during extra time at the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin, when Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi. The author identifies similarities between Zidane’s action and a calligrapher’s stroke, and refers to Sigmund Freud, Gaston Bachelard, Jean Starobinski and one of his own novels to support this. Toussaint suggests that Zidane possesses a sense of existential melancholy and artistic impotence, and argues (alluding to Zeno) that Zidane’s act ultimately did not take place.

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Un coup de Boule N’Abolira jamais … (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

Offering a commentary on “Le Mélancolie de Zidane” (Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s essay on Zidane), Macey suggests Toussaint’s enthusiasm for allusion to great writers and thinkers, and the resemblance between his writing in this essay and his characters’ opinions in his novels. Macey ultimately suggests that the essay is effectively an extract from a book that, as yet, does not exist.

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‘Form resists him’: the event of Zidane’s melancholy (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

This article is a reading of Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Le Mélancolie de Zidane”, an essay on Zidane’s headbutting of Marco Materazzi, suggesting that for Toussaint Zidane’s actions resist reading or interpretation. Bewes argues that this resembles the work of a writer of fiction, visible in Toussaint’s novels, expressing melancholy and discomfort with closure and with form. Both Toussaint and Zidane, Bewes suggests, are ultimately fleeing the principles of signification, ontology, and history.

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The song of Zidane (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

This article discusses Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Le Mélancolie de Zidane”, an essay on Zidane’s headbutting of Marco Materazzi, noting that Toussaint’s works (both essayistic and novelistic) rely on disruption of narrative time and the creation of a hallucinatory atmosphere of potential violence. Ravindranathan suggests Jean Starobinski’s “La Mélancolie au Miroir”, as a means to understand Toussaint, tracing the relationship between melancholy and the mirror in Baudelaire.

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Photography degree zero: cultural history of the polaroid image (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

Buse considers technological developments in photography since Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera in 1947, and suggests the cultural role of “instant” image making. The article criticises Roland Barthes’ and Stephen Heath’s dismissal of the Polaroid, discusses its imminent obsolescence, and suggests that its intimate image-making-in the specialised sense developed by Georges Bataille-is most culturally significant.

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Spectacle and spectres: London 7 july 2005 (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

Rose discusses the personal photographs, released by the Evening Standard and replicated by other national newspapers, of dead and missing victims of the London 7/7 bombings. Rose argues that the photographs aimed to incorporate victims and readers in a community of normality and thus to erase questions of responsibility. She suggests a method of looking differently at photographs of the dead, acknowledging difference and a responsibility to engage with that difference.

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Border – photo project (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

‘Border’ is a photographic project which focuses on Iranians in exile, combining fact and fiction while using the coded structure of documentary. It presents fragments of individuals’ stories to support the photographs, and through these come emergent themes of the fantasy of return, waiting, and the slippage in the idealisation of the past.

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Semio-ethics and anti-humanism (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

Cobley argues that semiotics (over semiology) provides a chance to reconceptualise human affairs in relation to the planet. To do so, he places humans as semiotic entities within the environment of semiosis, thus providing a corrective to voluntarist ethical impulses. Despite this, he suggests, early semioethics has voluntarist pitfalls, requiring ant-humanist refinement.

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Law of friendship: Derrida and Agamben (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

This article examines the relationship between Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida, tracing a correspondence or non-correspondence between them, and pursuing the question of friendship and its analysis and performance. Agamben’s (non-)correspondence with Derrida may re-establish a ‘deconstructive’ problematics of friendship, which casts a different light on certain aspects of his methods of philosophy.

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Peace material: Giorgio Agamben and the Israeli Palestinian peace accords (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

This article examines Giorgio Agamben’s insights into the status of refugees and ‘bare life’, detailing the biopolitical structure of exception that captures it. Through this, Agamben identifies the relationship between the citizen (central to modern statist politic) and the material condition of being human, overwritten by citizenship. Youssef explores this relationship between materiality and citizenship, particularly in the context of the Palestinian pursuit of statehood and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Peace Accords. This analysis of Palestinian statelessness in the light of Agambenian materiality illuminates the Peace Accords and suggests that the link between Palestinian refugees and their nationalist struggle is fractured.

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Horror, abjection and compassion: from Dunant to compassion fatigue (New Formations 62, Autumn 2007)

December 1, 2007

Taithe examines the practices of compassion throughout history and suggests their entanglement with the humanitarian narratives that have sustained them. Both emerged in the nineteenth century and have subsequently structured experimentation in the field of semiotics of emotion and the development of humanitarian ideals. With the support of French empirical examples, this article traces the progression of these ideas in Europe since the publication of “Un Souvenir de Solférino” in 1864, suggesting the development of a moral economy of humanitarian love and its quasi-metaphysical dead end in compassion fatigue.

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The cultural spaces of Siegfied Kracauer: the many surfaces of Berlin (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Allen explores Kracauer’s phenomenological treatment of Weimar Berlin and its character, suggestive of contemporaneous cultural change and the progression toward emergent mass cultural forms, defining Kracauer’s embrace of a world of ‘surfaces’. Allen addresses Kracauer’s view of the relationship between photography and the topography of urban life and evokes Kracauer’s sensibility to explore Berlin today and its urban montage, underpinned by a new logic of superficiality and seduction.

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Kracauer’s Weimar geometry and geomancy (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

The article focuses on the cityscapes of Berlin and Marseilles in the 1920s and 1930s, taking a Marxist perspective on Kracauer’s analysis of the “mass ornament”. Leslie reads these spaces as lines of geometry, rationalist abstractions concealing and fusing with the irrational myths of capitalist culture, particularly that of an irrational and unknowable human nature. Spaces of film and cinema are reconfigured into mass ornamental rationality.

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Kracauer and the dancing girls (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Examining Kracauer’s ‘The Mass Ornament’, and its reading of popular dance troupe the Tiller Girls as a hieroglyphic representation of rational capitalism, Donalds suggests an alternative analysis of Josephine Baker’s ‘danse sauvage’. He suggests gaps in Kracauer’s analysis, arguing that Baker’s performance and ‘star’ status were the product of historical forces and events, imagining the responses of the cosmopolitan audiences of the time.

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Making visible, making strange: photography and representation in Kracauer, Brecht and Benjamin (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Giles traces the aesthetics of photography in Kracauer’s ‘Die Photographie’ (1927) - photography’s mimetic realism suggests it cannot be art, but Kracauer implies that photography can be redeemed for the purposes of Art and History, making it a radically anti-mimetic medium. This almost contradictory position, Giles suggests, offers a Marxist aesthetics of photography, between Expressionism and Formalism, and similar to Adorno, anticipating Brecht and Benjamin.

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The territory of photography: between modernity and utopia in Kracauer’s thought (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Gualtieri maps the development of Kracauer’s thinking about photography, tracing an arc from critic of modernity in the 1920s to philosopher of utopia in the 1960s, suggesting Kracauer’s trajectory and photography’s shifting role as cultural and historical signifier. Kracauer draws on European modernist literary sources in his writing, suggests Gualtieri, thus rearticulating his understanding of photography, from modern mass ornament to trace of an immaterial world at the intersection between ideologies.

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Contingency’s work: Kracauer’s theory of film and the trope of the accidental (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Harbord suggests that the tropes of the contingent and the accidental are central to Kracauer’s thinking on cinema and modernism. The essay argues that in ‘Theory of Film’ (1960), Kracauer’s use of contingency prises open the bodily encounter with the image as it undergoes transformation. Thus, according to Harbord, the contingent is a fundamental indeterminacy at the heart of film, threatening relations between image and viewer.

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The strangest of station names: changing trains with Kracauer and Benjamin (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Langford explores Kracauer and Benjamin’s mutual interest in urban landscape in film, and capitalist modernity’s obscuring of historical reality. He examines the metaphor of the railway as suggestive of Kracauer’s ambivalence toward film and modernity, via Walter Ruttman and Claude Lanzmann’s documentaries. Examining ‘Theory of Film’ (1960), Langford suggests it avoids ‘naive realism’ in favour of a tragic poetics of the real, indicated by the analysis of film’s concealed barbaric gaze.

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Urban optics: film, phantasmagoria and the city in Benjamin and Kracauer (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

This article examines Siegfried Kracauer’s and Walter Benjamin’s writings on the relationship between the metropolis, the most modern human habitat, and film, the most modern cultural medium. Benjamin combines film and architecture in the notion of ‘distraction’, while Kracauer’s ‘improvisation’ formulates a radical disjuncture between them. ‘Improvisation’ is central to Kracauer’s ideas about film and the city as manifestations of the modern collective unconscious, despite his emphasis on ‘camera reality’.

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Are your dreams wishes or desires? Hysteria as distraction and character in the work of Siegfried Kracauer (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Campbell explores Kracauer’s concept of distracted experience as simultaneously hysterical dissociation and embodied active dreaming, via his historical account of the social imaginary. Kracauer’s distracted cultural unconscious, suggests Campbell, links psychic experience with historical images and, through his analysis of the social psychology of cultural objects as hieroglyphs, counters the sociologising of the unconscious in the writing of Erich Fromm.

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Below the surface: Siegfried Kracauer’s ‘test-film’ project (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Gilloch and Kang discuss ‘Below the Surface’, a 24-page screenplay dating from 1945 for a so-called test film of approximately 20 minutes duration, designed as a social psychology experiment to investigate anti-Semitism among US audiences. The authors examine Kracauer’s involvement in the project and how it represents his theory of film as a dream image for the collective unconscious, suggesting that it is a fantasia of Critical Theory due to the motifs, concepts and figures that it contains.

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Editorial: Kracauer (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

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Reviews (New Formations 61, Summer 2007)

August 1, 2007

Black Men of the World Unite! 
Nadia Ellis

A Life Less Ordinary
Joe Moran

Spectacular Conflicts, Naked Empires, and the Colonization of Social Life
Ramaswami Harindranath 

Form, Function, Utopia
Malcolm Miles

BOOKNOTES
Bram Ieven, Michelle Henning

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Eugenics and genetics: the conjoint twins? (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Rose considers recent changes in human genetics and biotechnology and their social and ethical implications, particularly in the close relationship between genetics and eugenics. The article also examines the frequency of eugenic thought in the twentieth century, which extended beyond the cataclysmic example represented by Nazism. Suggests a cautious optimism in moves towards citizen involvement with the new form of eugenicism: ‘consumer eugenics’.

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Parsing the postmenopausal pregnancy: a case study in the new eugenics (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

This article explores the increasing phenomenon of postmenopausal pregnancy as indicative of the shaping of biotechnology by the power of the individual consumer. Personalised market eugenics is created by the combination of privileging of genes over environment, pronatalism targeted at women, and a market environment that responds to privileging and wealth: this is the privileging of the genes of the privileged.

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Eugenics and social democracy: or, how the European left tried to eliminate the ‘weeds’ from its national gardens (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

One consequence of developing genetics, is the revival of anxieties about past eugenic experiences, and this article suggests that there are important lessons to be drawn from this, particularly in the context of social democracy in Europe. Mottier and Gerodetti focus on Switzerland, demonstrating how current ethical concerns around new human genetics are connected with social democracy and with the role of the modern state.

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Serenity, self-regard and the genetic sequence: social psychiatry and preventive eugenics in Britain, 1930s-1950s (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Draws attention to the under-explored and contradictory figure of C.P. Blacker in relation to the development of social psychiatry, and in particular looks at his focus on the role of the family in the making of individual ‘character’. Swanson brings to light a forgotten network of affiliations between medical professionals, social planners and politicians in the mid-century, and shows some of the dialogue between psychology and eugenics, particularly in relation to ‘problem families’ and their ‘inherent temperamental instabilities’. These dialogues were an important source for the continuing influences of eugenic thinking.

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British eugenics and ‘race-crossing’: a study of an interwar investigation (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Examines a fascinating interwar investigation about race and ‘race-crossing’, a study carried out in Liverpool about children of mixed parentage living in Liverpool, and based on anthropometrics. Bland’s account of the study illuminates how diverse groups of social researchers shared and consolidated ideas about racial types in the name of eugenic improvement.

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Is the new genetics eugenic? Interpreting the past, envisioning the future (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Emphasises the complexities and uncertainties which characterise current genetic developments, which should warn against any over-quick collapsing together of genetics and eugenics. Peterson notes the shift towards genetic models in current health provision, and its links to a policy of more personalised health care, and discusses governmental responses to public concerns, and official attempts to formulate policies to deal with the changing environment of biotechnology.

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Eugenics: a polemical view of social policy in the genetic age (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Armer examines the label of ‘disability’ and its application to a group of people who exist on society’s fringes, without access to its benefits and responsibilities. In the past, this position was claimed to be the consequence of an innate inability to meet the requirements of modern society, but today, it seems they are considered to be genetically unfit for full citizenship. Armer claims that these people formulate a genetic underclass, beneath and apart from contemporary British society: eugenetics in action.

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Self-eugenics: the creeping illusioning of identity from neurobiology to newgenics (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Stafford identifies the biomedical reconceptualisation of the organism by computational science and ‘knowledge engineering’ as a synthetic medium. She explores our attitudes to the body in areas from genetics to consciousness and how they are influenced by this, specifically with regard to the use of performance-enhancing technologies and the culture of self-perfection. The article concludes by suggesting Gunther von Hagen’s ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibition as representative of self-perfecting therapies, and thus transcendence seeking.

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Eugenic undergrounds: stem cells and human futures (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Ganchoff addresses the suggestion that the category of ‘the human’ is being rearticulated by human embryonic stem cells research and the development of ‘regenerative medicine’, countering that the category is actually being consolidated. This is supported by an examination of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s interpretation of Marxist historiography-placing the human outside the field of biotechnology-and Nicholas Agar’s conception of liberal eugenics.

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The new eugenics: Jacques Testart and French bioethics (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Examining geneticist and biologist Jacques Testart’s arguments on eugenics in relation to modern reproductive techniques and molecular genetics, Marks suggests that Testart revives a largely existentialist humanism and forges intellectual links with ecology. According to Marks, Testart sees eugenics as a recurrent impulse throughout history and across cultures.

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Contra habermas and towards a critical theory of human nature and the question of genetic enhancement (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Analysing Jürgen Habermas’s recent book, ‘The Future of Human Nature’, Moss suggests that Harbermas’s attitude to ‘liberal eugenics’ represents a transparent neo-Kantian ethics of abstention, and a retreat from his earlier anthropological perspective, rooted as it was in traditions of Critical Theory. Moss argues that Habermas’s dismissal of liberal eugenics is a cure worse than the disease, and suggests a closer adherence to the Critical tradition that maintains its anthropological dimension.

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Introduction: eugenics old and new (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Introducing a special issue of new formations, Burdett suggests that as biotechnology advances, transforming human reproduction and healthcare, it also raises concern about current regulatory systems for overseeing these transformations and their ethical implications. The issue revisits the question of eugenics, questioning whether a ‘posthuman’ future is also a eugenic future.

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Reviews (New Formations 60, Winter 2006)

April 1, 2007

Liberal Eugenics
John Dupre 

Predictive Genetics and Ethnology
Staffan Muller-Wille 

Diversity and Adversity
Staffan Muller-Wille 

Well-born? Kristin Rencher and The Rhetorical Cultures of Eugenics Marouf Hasian, Jr
Milla Rosenberg

BOOKNOTES 
Michael Calderbank, Joe Brooker, Matt Briggs

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Postcolonial studies after the invasion of Iraq (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

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Postcolonial urbicide: new imperialism, global cities and the damned of the earth (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Goonewardena and Kipfer analyse postcolonial urbicide, by demonstrating the importance of cities to imperialism, due to their centralisation of military, political, and economic activity. They cite new theories of imperialism, suggesting the influence of revolutions on postcolonialism, and offering approaches for urban studies toward the problematic of colonialism and imperialism.

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Israel in US empire (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Abu-Manneh examines U.S.-Israeli relations, focusing on the cultural and religious exchange that has occurred since 1967 with the tandem of U.S. imperialism and Israeli colonialism, working to achieve both Israeli and American nationalist outcomes. Further, Abu-Manneh suggests how U.S. interests in the Middle East have become consistent with supporting the Jewish state and defending its colonial objectives.

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Edward Said and the war in Iraq (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Spencer criticises Edward Said’s Orientalism, which, he suggests, incorporates a range of misrepresentations, ultimately to portray Orientals as a mass reducible to stereotype, rather than individuals and groups that merit unique analyses. Said suggests that the orientalist creates a distorted view of the east that is ripe for western cultural fantasy and economic domination.

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History after the end of history: critical counterfactualism and revolution (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Bartolovich argues that in the North, revolution appears as an embarrassment or an impossibility, since the current unfashionable status of complicity in the context of postcolonial and globalisation theories. This article argues that it is undialectical to assume current global struggles are not influenced by non-elite complicity with capital as well as a collective longing for the anticapitalist common.

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The ‘moral empire’: Africa, globalisation and the politics of conscience (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Gopal suggests that the British government’s financial and social initiatives for Africa have created a range of cultural texts, policy documents and political declarations. She demonstrates that suggestions have emerged indicating: shared interest in the amelioration of poverty in Africa benefits humanity as whole; and reduction of poverty is about justice rather than charity.

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The fetish of the margins: religious absolutism, anti-racism and postcolonial silence (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Bhatt addresses religious absolutism, anti-racism, and postcolonial silence, noting that this cultural method can be inclined to epistemologically overreach itself. This permits a range of crude suggestions that subaltern and diasporic cultures are incommensurably distant from western thinking. The article also reveals that the origins of current subaltern horrors can always be located in old texts of rationalism, humanism, and positivism.

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Postcolonialism and Scottish studies (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Macdonald suggests the role of Scotland in the British Empire, examining the Scots’ contributions to its philosophical thought, its economic theory, and its material practices, but also their resistance to imperialism as a whole. The article examines the politics of contemporary Scottish writing and argues that the roots of Scottish imperialism are found in academic postcolonial studies.

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Beyond Anglophone imperialism? (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

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Surfing the second waves: Amitav Ghosh’s tide country (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Mukherjee criticises former U.S. President, George Bush’s 1990s declarations of a new world order, stating that such a declaration created the horrific spectacle of current and future wars in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Iraq. Further, suggests Mukherjee, this spectacle has embedded the environment in the social, political, and military aspects of conflict.

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Editorial: After Iraq (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

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Reviews (New Formations 59, Autumn 2006)

December 1, 2006

Crossroads Guantanamo
Barbara Harlow 

Englishness and Its (Cricketing) Ashes
Claire Westall 

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Étienne Balibar (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Borders, citizenship, war, class: a discussion with Étienne Balibar and Sandro Mezzadra (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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The state (and society) of Europe (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Only aporias to offer? √âtienne Balibar ‘s politics and the ambiguity of war (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Borders and the boundaries of democracy (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Beyond liberal democracy: Slavoj Zizek’s and the politics of ideology critique (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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The postcolonial everyday (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Paul Auster’s cinematographic fictions: against the ontology of the present (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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In defence of ‘in defense of disco’ (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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In defense of disco (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Dyer and Deleuze: post-structuralist cultural criticism (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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In defence of disco (again) (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Editorial: Of borders and discos (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

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Reviews (New Formations 58, Summer 2006)

June 1, 2006

Ornament and Kracauer
Graeme Gilloch 

From Interactivity to Affectivity
Mara Mills

Modernity and the Concept of Experience
Michael Pickering 

John Gray’s Navigational Problem
William H. Thornton

If You Don’t Know Me by Now - Cultural Studies’ Perpetual Introduction
Melissa Gregg 

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Terrorism and counter narratives: Don de Lillo and the New York imaginary (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Brooker explores the influence of the September 11 terrorist attacks on a New York urban imaginary, particularly through the medium of Don DeLillo’s In The Shadow of No Towers. He suggests the potential effect of nostalgia in provoking patriotism and explores the scope of the urban imaginary, by investigating different types of post-9/11 fiction. Through this, the article suggests those counternarratives through which New York and the United States can reclaim itself.

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Practical Deleuzism and postmodern space (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Buchanan examines analyses of transitory spaces that give context to contemporary existing, using the work of Edward Casey in particular to understand how exactly we can theorise contemporary space. This is also informed by the work of Gilles Deleuze on the concept of the body without organs, and his argument that the US movie industry was undergoing a period without aesthetic developments.

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After the fact: spatial narratives in the canadian imaginary (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Berland explores the importance of space and landscape in Canadian identity, most particularly through examining Canadian writing and theories of communication. The article suggests the implications of this, as informed by Henri Lefebvre’s ideas about the production of space. Berland also explores the role of a self-querying topos as a product of local and colonial narratives.

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The idea of a critical literary geography (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

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Disseminating Africa: burdens of representation and the African Writers series (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

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Geographical immediations: locating The English Patient (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Cavell examines Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, and its representation of the relationship between space and text; he is particularly interested in the development of a hegemony of electronic mediation in this relationship as suggested by Ondaatje’s text. The article also examines the role of the language of space in literary and cultural studies, via the representation of spatial collisions in The English Patient. Finally, Cavell explores the problematic nature of displaced surfaces in the last part of the novel.

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The spatial poetics of James Joyce (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

In this article, Kearns examines James Joyce’s spatial poetics with regard to Irish identity, in preference to the dynamics of capitalism. He explores Joyce’s central poetic concerns and explores the moral history of Dublin as represented in Ulysses and Dubliners. Also regarding Ulysses, Kearns suggests possible reasons for the use of maps in the text, and how they are used to represent Ireland.

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Study, marketplace and labyrinth: geometry as rhetoric (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Edwards focuses on how we might judge the cultural currency of maps in the early modern period, and how maps might have been used then. The article suggests the heterogeneous implications of the development of early-modern cartography. Finally, the article explores the traditional cartographic history from this period to the present day.

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Mapping words (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Ogborn suggests methods for re-evaluating the relationship between geography and studies of literature, most particularly those novels and essays in which spaces and texts mutually overlap to form one cohesive formal aesthetic. He explores the implications of this overlapping and the way it is influenced by contemporary transformations in the nature of space and time.

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Editorial: The spatial imaginary (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

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Reviews (New Formations 57, Winter 2005)

February 1, 2006

Walter, Leni, Walt and Mickey
Laura Marcus 

Teddie and the Philosophers
David Cunningham

Disruption and Flickering in the Weimar Republic
Janelle Blankenship 

Resistance Incarnate: on Ranciere
Peter Sjolyst-Jackson

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Before critical realism: Kantian empirical metaphysics (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Agar traces the origins of critical realism and the foundation of empirical metaphysics in Enlightenment thought. In particular, this article explores the relationship of critical realism to the works of Kant on empirical metaphysics, and suggests the differences between the latter and analytical reasoning .Agar suggests criteria for ascribing causal laws to certain moments in scientific inquiry, particularly relating to Hume, Kant, and Bhaskar.

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Critical realism and the strategic-relational approach (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Examining the works of Roy Bhaskar and Anthony Giddens, Jessop discusses the strategic-relational approaches of critical realism. He introduces Giddens’s structuration theory and Bhaskar’s and Margaret Archer’s applications of critical realism to structure and agency. The article suggests the advantages of a strategic-relational approach.

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Sex and gender: a critical realist approach (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

The article explores the mobilisation of critical realism to defend the distinction between sex and gender that is suggested by second wave feminism. New suggests ways to understand sexual differences in humans, particularly through examining the works of Judith Butler and the issues they raise regarding the sex/gender distinction. The critical realist account of sex/gender, argues New, relies on stratified and causal ideas on the subject, which would be unacceptable to postmodern feminism.

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Biology and the New Scientific Subjectivism: a suitable case for critical realism? (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Dean explores modern and postmodern sciences, and the distinction between the two. To examine the critical realist philosophy of science, she looks at the two sciences discussed by Roy Bhaskar in A Realist Theory of Science and suggests the differences between reification and dereification in life sciences.

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Post-Cartesian anxieties: embodied subjectivity after the linguistic turn (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Calder explores the challenges faced by critical realists, such as Richard Rorty and Michel Foucault, to overcome longstanding philosophical dilemmas. He suggests particularly attempts to dislodge the Cartesian linguistic turn, and examines Charles Taylor’s work on Cartesian linguistics.

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Theorising ‘spectrality’: ontology and ethics in Derrida and Bhaskar (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Norrie suggests the ontological commitment required to maintain an ethics of ambivalence and incompleteness. He explores the links between deconstruction and critical realism, particularly by examining Derrida’s attitude to ontology and spectrality in modern life. He also suggests Roy Bhaskar’s work, in which critical realism and its dialects act in places of Derrida’s spectrality, particularly in Bhaskar’s discussions of ontological monovolence.

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Derrida, Foucault and Zizek: being realistic about social theory (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Roberts and Joseph reflect on the critical realism of Derrida, Foucault and Žižek, with particular reference to social theory and the philosophers’ ontological claims within it. The article explores their work with reference to a broader social and cultural context for their epistemic relativism.

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Dialectical critical realism and existential phenomenology: a dialogue (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Coole examines the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and his existential phenomenology and arguments regarding the process of dialectical thought; Coole suggests the affinity of this work with critical realism and its relevance to realists. She explores the concept of transformative agency and its introduction as a dialectical category by Bhaskar.

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Ontological casuistry: Bhaskar’s meta-reality, fine structure, and human disposition (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Morgan defines meta-reality in the context of Roy Bhaskar’s work on the concept, and, through this, suggests reasons for the human failure to connect with fine structure and its internal connectivity. The article also indicates the problematic nature of a philosophical system based on meta-reality.

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The spiritual turn in critical realism (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Porpora reflects on the spiritual turn in contemporary critical realism, defining both concepts in relation to one another. He suggests the controversy at the heart of this spiritual turn, particularly in the context of progressive academia and Marxist political thought. He suggests the tensions within the concept of the ‘real’ via a discussion of the spiritual turn and its relationship to ontological versus epistemic conceptions of ‘truth’.

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Editorial: New essays in critical realism (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

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Reviews (New Formations 56, Autumn 2005)

October 1, 2005

Demise and publish
David Macey 

After the science wars
Mara Mills 

The rule of everyone by everyone
Jeremy Gilbert 

For a planetary conviviality
Yogita Goyal 

Location, location
Ben Highmore 

Fear itself
Shelley Trower 

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Foucault recalled: interview with Michel Foucault (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

In this interview with Foucault from May 1979, he explains his strategy and his intention in writing his books on sexuality; he intended to offer a history of the contemporary conception of human sexuality, and those notions which are involved in this conception e.g. perversion. He describes his ideas of hermaphroditism and the way this conception has changed over time, and how the current meaning of the term might be linked to discussions of homosexuality. Suggests the fragility of assumed historical record and the transmutable nature of linguistic categorisation, as well as the relationship between sexuality and power.

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Foucault and extradiscursive sexuality (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Lane examines the May 1979 interview with Foucault recorded in the previous article and its discussion of the relationship between sexuality and power. He insists that the interview sheds new and useful light on Foucault’s views on this concept through its more subtle connections between the practical and conceptual applications of it. Lane defines Foucault’s understanding of the term ‘extra-discursive’ and argues that it is conceptually dissatisfying due to Foucault’s refusal to admit to a realm beyond discourse. He connects this with psychoanalysis, particularly Lacan, Freud and Derrida, and explores the interaction between Foucault’s thoughts on discursive sexuality, and the work of these three theorists to suggest that sexuality breaks and traverses discourse.

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Foucault, sexuality, liberalism: a commentary (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Glover comments on Foucault’s discourse on sexuality and power and explores the significance of his own commentaries on previous writings, and the transitional and changeable state that his ideas suggest, particularly in his interview with Mort and Peters recorded in this volume. The article argues that in defining the genealogy of sexuality, Foucault necessarily found himself embroiled in liberalism and was forced to recognise origins of sexuality with which he was not always comfortable.

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Still thinking differently: Foucault twenty years on (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Lloyd and Thacker explore the works of Foucault twenty years after his death, thinking about how his significant writings have been commemorated, and suggesting that there has possibly been a decline in the assumptions that form the basis of poststructural and postmodern thought, but that his works continue to be significant. The article suggests that contemporary thought on cultural geography has been substantially influenced by Foucault’s work on space, knowledge, and power, as have art history and postcolonial thought. They explore the implications of Foucault’s comments in the interview with Mort and Peters recorded in this volume, situating them in his wider canon and then suggests the relationship of these particular ideas to the works of Judith Butler.

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Impersonal friends: Foucault, Guibert and an ethics of discomfort (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

This article analyses the letter that Michel Foucault wrote for author Hervé Guibert, just a few months before Foucault died. It incorporates Foucault’s definition of pleasure, as well as his description of a man that he watched every day. Tom Roach also explores Foucault’s writings in ‘The End of the Monarchy of Sex’.

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Queer cosmopolitanism: place, politics, citizenship and Queer as Folk (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Alderson discusses the television programme Queer As Folk in the context of its impact on British politics and its representations of contemporary gay life. He suggests the significance of gay communities for concepts of urban renewal, and how this leads to the important establishment of a definitively gay space.

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W.G. Sebald: invisible and intangible forces (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

In this article, John Marks offers a critical review of the works of W.G. Sebald, explored through defining the Deleuzian concept of becoming. He investigates the German author’s family and his biography, examining several of his novels in the process. This leads to a discussion of the role of memory in Sebald’s works.

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Ascetism against colour, or modernism, abstractions and the lateness of Beckett (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Cunningham’s article explores the works of Samuel Beckett, suggesting his lateness and asceticism, in contrast to modernism and abstraction. Cunningham suggests the precise dynamics of lateness via an exploration of the political terminology of modernism.

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‘The situation is really terrible there’: terrorism, site specificty and ethical response in the artistic practice of Alia Hasan-Khan (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Stephen Morton examines the works of sculptor-photographer Alia Hasan-Khan. He suggests the significance of Hasan-Khan’s artistic representation of cultural, geo-political, and economic relationships between Pakistan and the US, and explores the relation of Hasan-Khan’s works to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is reinforced by a study of art theorist Miwon Kwon’s arguments on site-specific art.

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Interview with S.I. Martin (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Campbell and Kamali interview author S.I. Martin and discuss his book Incomparable World with him. They consider the text in the light of Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and discuss the frequency of gossip amongst residents of London. Martin describes the characters Equiano, Cuguano and Sancho and they discuss their relationship to diasporic London.

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‘Circular talk’: the social city and Atlantic slave routes in S.I. Martin’s incomparable world (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

In this article - related to Campbell and Kamali’s interview with Martin, above - Leila Kamali offers a critical reading of S. I. Martin’s Incomparable World. This reading suggests the reasons that might have encouraged African American slaves to fight in the American Revolution on the side of the British. It also explores Martin’s representations of transatlantic societies and of the lives of African American Londoners.

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Writing, representation and rescue: narrating an eighteenth-century history in S.I. Martin’s incomparable world (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

Christopher Campbell’s article - also related to Campbell and Kamali’s interview with S. I. Martin, above - explores the narration of eighteenth-century history in Martin’s Incomparable World. He considers the plot of the novel and suggests its strengths and weaknesses, particularly in relation to Martin’s representation of African American Londoners and his representations of England.

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The hidden powers of injury (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

In this article, Segal discusses various anti-Semitic writings of the twentieth century and comments on the Holocaust. She explores the emergence of twentieth-century Jewish feminism in London. Finally, she examines cross-cultural representations of Jews and Jewishness, suggesting their image in a range of societies.

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Editorial: Foucault talk (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

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Reviews (New Formations 55, Spring 2005)

June 1, 2005

The Holocaust in theory
Sue Vice 

African-American postmodernism: resisting the literary
Caren Irr 

Surrealism and mass observation: the missing link
Ben Highmore 

BOOKNOTES
Asha Nadkarni, Lisa Brocklebank

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Stars, phosphor and chemical colours: extraterrestriality in the arcades (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Leslie’s article investigates Benjamin’s discussions of celestial bodies and extraterrestriality in The Arcades Project, and suggests an analogy between the work of a watchman and the implications of the text. This article comments on the relationship between this work and modern societies, and suggests how contemporary capitalism might have been influence by The Arcades Project. Leslie also suggests this significance of Benjamin’s use of cartographic metaphors.

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Benjamin’s redemptive politics: ruins or debris in the sacred jungle (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Bunyard examines Walter Benjamin’s speculative potential in The Arcades Project, suggesting the text’s perspective on the potential for improvements on modern societies’ prevalent social problems. This article comments on the impact of political movements and change on the circumstances of social conflict and discusses literary imagery.

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The aporias of theory: negotiating the dialectical image in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades project (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Chalmers suggests how nineteenth century Parisian culture was influenced by Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project. He explores the text’s concept of historical materialism, and explores the arguments against Benjamin’s claims concerning its social functions. Through this, Chalmers also suggests the significant role of historical materialism in Western metaphysics.

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The Arcades Project: a Talmud for our times (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Mertens’s view of Benjamin’s The Arcades Project focuses on its theological resonances, and opposes its claims for historical materialism and dialectical image. This article suggests the implications of The Arcades Project for Jewish beliefs, and explores the death of intention in Benjamin’s terms.

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Glass before its time, premature iron: the unforseeable futures of technology in Benjamin’s Arcades Project (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

In this article, MacPhee’s position is in opposition to Benjamin’s on the relation of technology to the philosophy of history, in The Arcades Project. MacPhee argues against Benjamin’s view of the meeting point between technology and time, and comments on the significance of technological revolutions to the definition of a contemporary culture. MacPhee emphasises that we must understand modernity in order to explain the decay of experience.

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Iron construction: the physiognomy of the modern unconscious in Benjamin’s Arcades Project (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

This article suggests dialectical imagining as the fundamental foundation for the concept of iron construction in Benjamin’s The Arcades Project. This is founded on an analysis of how iron construction began in nineteenth-century Paris and what the sources of modern iron construction actually are. Liberatore also explores the significance, to Benjamin’s work, of his understanding of objects’ relationship to their biographies, and how this is influenced by physiognomy.

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Dialectical fairyland, cosmic advertising and the mimetic faculty in the Arcades Project (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Burrow investigates Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, to suggest the manifold implications of his discussion of advertisements, and the impact this has on branding of commodities. This is with particular reference to the relevance of The Arcades Project to the politics and culture of modern societies. Burrow also analyses Benjamin’s thoughts on surrealism, and his explanations of childhood experiences.

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Arcadian children: Benjamin, Fourier and the child of The Arcades (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Pearson’s investigation into The Arcades Project focuses particularly on Benjamin’s interest in childhood, specifically, arguing against his view on the dialectics of childhood dream and awakening. This entails a discussion of the Romantics’ ideals of childhood, and through this, exploring the relationship between nature and childhood.

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From ‘Passage’ to ‘Parly 2’: commodity culture in Benjamin and Baudrillard (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Gilloch and Dant compare works by Walter Benjamin and Jean Baudrillard, The Arcades Project and The Consumer Society respectively. They explore how both theorists explain the emergence of commodity culture in its contemporary form, and how this relates to ideas about language. This article also explores both theorists’ interest in nineteenth century collectors, particularly collectors’ characters and practices.

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Textual debaucheries and the fl√¢neur: prostitution as critique of bourgeois discourse in Walter Benjamin’s the arcades project (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

McCabe argues that Benjamin demonstrates his deep ambivalence about bourgeois discourse in The Arcades Project. She suggests the feminist issues at the heart of the text, most particularly though a discussion of modernity and prostitution. She also discusses Paris in the nineteenth century, commenting on its character and the commercial activities housed within it.

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Editorial: Reading Benjamin’s Arcades (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

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Reviews (New Formations 54, Winter 2004)

March 1, 2005

Real absences
Matt ffytche

After the cyborg
Tiziana Terranova 

Towards vertical travel
Alasdair Pettinger 

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A place to think? Some reflections on the idea of the university in the age of the ‘knowledge economy’ (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Prospects for knowledge work: critical engagement or expert conscription? (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Public intellectuals and the public domain (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Talking up skill and skilling up talk (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Idleness for all (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Marx to the rescue! Queer theory and the crisis of prestige (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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The work of forgetting: Raymond Williams and the problem of experience (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Cinematic insomnia (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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The body of evil (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Editorial: Intellectual work (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

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Reviews (New Formations 53, Summer 2004)

November 1, 2004

Campbell strategic universalism?
Mary Baine 

The rarity of the event: on Alain Badiou
Andrew Gibson 

The modern prints
Jon Klancher 

Making it newer
David Cunningham

Queering the spheres
Judith Surkis

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The death of the working class hero (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Editorial: Cultures and economies (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Reviews (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

Emotion pictures
Ben Highmore

Empire and form
Stuart Burrows

Thinking of England: slavery and sexuality
Stephen Shapiro

The gains of loss
Desiree Henderson

The politics of colonial metamorphosis
Susannah Radstone

Reality makeover
A.R. Biressi

BOOKNOTES
Mary Bryden, Yogita Goyal, Alice Brittan

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Strange fruit: the violent beauty of the American pastoral now and then (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Imperialism redux? (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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From porno-topia to total information awareness, or what forces really govern access to porn? (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Commodification and cultural form: film copyright revisited (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Sexuality, subjectivity and … economics (New Formations 52, Spring 2004)

May 1, 2004

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Editorial: The short century (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Moor-veiled-matters: the hijab as troubling interrogative of the relation between the west and islam (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Reviews (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

Mind the gap
Ben Highmore

Deleuze: ontologist of the virtual
Claire Colebrook

The Irish difference
David Alderson

The tyranny of already existing interpretations
Kelwyn Sole

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The Short Century: on modernism and nationalism (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Coming to terms with cultural nationalism: on Gikandi’s ‘short century’ (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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The Short Century: on art and African subjectivities (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Losing the right to country: the memory of loss and the loss of memory in claiming the nation as space (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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National allegory today: a return to jameson (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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The banality of representation: generation, holocaust, signification and empire of the senseless (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Post-theory: theory and ‘the folk’ (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Idle talk: ontologyand mass communications in Heidegger (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Machinic magic: IBM and the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair (New Formations 51, Winter 2003)

March 1, 2004

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Introduction (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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The agenda of globalisation (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Reviews (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

The pleasures of the multiplex
Helen Stoddart

The God box
Fred Botting

Can-do alienation
Andrew Wylie

The aesthetics of underachievement 
Herman Rapaport

The taste for controversy
Manu Samriti Chande

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New image Glasgow to young British art: introducing the 1990s (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Traumaculture (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Memory false memory: days of ’49 by Alan Halsey and Gavin Selerie (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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The new memoryism: how computers changed the way we read (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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A long and complex revolution: the theo-ontologicical expansion of science (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Weird science (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Commercial alternative (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Oublier baudrillard: melancholy of the year 2000 (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Theoretical afflictions: poor rich white folks play the blues (New Formations 50, Autumn 2003)

October 1, 2003

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Philosophy of science as ‘history of the present’: quantum theory, anti-realism, and paradigm change (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Science and the aesthetics of English modernism (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Reading the texture of reality: interpretations of chaos theory in literature and literary studies (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Everthing is real: Gilles Deleuze and creative univocity (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Trans-genesis: an interview with Eduardo Kac (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Philosophy in the wild? Kac and Derrida on animals and responsibility (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Humans, animals, machines (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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The scientist goes surfing: Timothy Leary, LSD and the internet (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Introduction (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Demon-haunted Darwinism (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Reviews (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

Everyday life invented and revisited
Elizabeth B Silva

Decade grandeur
Esther Leslie

Ethnicity beyond the pale
Eleanor Byrne

Fandom resistance
Mark Perryman

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Future imperfect: versions of science in the theme park (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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A brief history of Stephen Hawking: making scientific meaning in contemporary anglo-american culture (New Formations 49, Spring 2003)

July 1, 2003

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Editorial: recent developments in the general theory of primal seduction (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

This special issue has been conceived as an attempt to introduce the English language reader to the more recent work of Jean Laplanche and to those French psychoanalytic writers who either locate their work on the ground of the ‘new foundations for psychoanalysis’ as proposed by Laplanche in his 1987 book of that title and seek to develop it, or who, like Guy Rosolato in his essay included here, position their arguments in some relation to it.

Since the translation of the New Foundations for Psychoanalysis into English in 1989, Laplanche’s return to and reformulation of Freud’s restricted (and officially abandoned) theory of seduction as a general theory of primal seduction has been available to an anglophone audience in a bold if schematic outline, an outline that was developed and progressively filled in by the later essays collected and translated in Essays on Otherness in 1999. Here an account of the contradictory dynamics of the Freudian conceptual field and a critique of the core concepts of classical Freudian metapsychology were elaborated from a distinctively new point of view. This entailed both a reformulation of older Freudian concepts together with the formulation of new concepts, not on a one-by-one basis but systematically, as part of an ambitious ‘return to origins’, not only in relation to the conceptual foundations of psychoanalytic thought, but also in relation to the psychic origins of the human subject and the foundations of the human ‘psychical apparatus’. Core concepts, such as ‘the unconscious’, ‘repression’, ‘transference’, ‘the superego’ and ‘the drives’, were rethought on the basis of the theory of primal seduction and of a metapsychology that gave foundational force to the primacy of the (care-giving though not necessarily parental) other, the adult subject with an already constituted unconscious and sexuality, in the formation of infantile psychic life.

The work gathered together here continues the development of this metapsychology of the other and seduction. It does so by exploring further the implications of Laplanche’s formulation of what he calls the ‘fundamental anthropological situation’ of the human infant. He conceives this as a dual situation involving the infant’s need and dependency on the care and nurture given by the adult other (an inter-subjective situation marked by bilateral communication as described by attachment theory), on the one hand, and as well the implantation of enigmatic messages in the primitive body-ego of the infant via the adult’s gestures of care and expressions of feeling, both verbal and non-verbal (a unilateral transmission that is enigmatic because derived from the adult’s unconscious sexuality in a situation of primal seduction), on the other.

As well as developing this model of primal seduction, the work of resituating and relocating classical concepts and debates also continues in these essays: with a path-breaking meditation by Laplanche himself on the theory of sublimation, unfinished and unsatisfactory in Freud, even in his rich and productive text on Leonardo and his art; with a reformulation of the problematic of parental ‘primal scenes’ by Jacqueline Lanouzière in relation to the mother-child couple and the experience of breast-feeding (and an analysis of Giorgione’s enigmatic painting La Tempesta); with a return to the classical debates on female sexuality by Jacques André, and a reconsideration of the question of precocious vaginal eroticism and a critique of the orthodox thesis of phallic primacy, in order to articulate the presence in Freud’s work of a subordinated counter-thesis that emphasises a primordial and repressed femininity in what André calls elsewhere the ‘orifice-infant’ (l’enfant orificiel) in both sexes, legible through the lens of the theory of seduction and implantation. Laplanche’s short set of theses on narrativity and hermeneutics reflects on the primal anthropological situation of the human infant, to emphasise the centrality of interpretation and translation in that situation, indicating briefly an important affinity with the philosophy of Martin Heidegger in order to question the retrospective ‘constructivism’ and relativism of the ‘narrativist’ current in contemporary psychoanalytic thought. The essay by Dominique Scarfone also elaborates further the understanding of the primal situation of transmission, seduction and translation between adult and infant in order to develop Laplanche’s pregnant theses on psychosis and the superego as psychotic enclave. Finally I have included Guy Rosolato’s return to the problematic of the ‘primal fantasies’ in Freud, the topic of Laplanche’s early and now classic essay with J.-B. Pontalis from 1964, a panoptic survey that brings out the structural homologies between the scenarios of the primal fantasies and a wide range of cultural formations and myths. Unlike the other writers collected here, Rosolato is of Laplanche’s generation and of a Lacanian formation, a writer who has maintained a career parallel to Laplanche’s and an independence in relation to the orthodoxies and splits of contemporary Lacanianism. He concludes his extensive cultural mapping by positioning it in relation to Laplanche’s recent work on primal seduction.

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Narrativity and hermeneutics: some propositions (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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Sublimation and/or inspiration (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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Breast-feeding as original seduction and primal scene of seduction (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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‘It was not my mother’: from seduction to negation (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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Feminine sexuality: a return to sources (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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Primal fantasies and their corresponding myths (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

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Reviews (New Formations 48, Winter 2002)

February 1, 2003

How Stanley fish works
Matthew Jordan

Postcolonial dialectics
Karyn Ball

Big A petit a
Alan Finlayson

The wisdom of little narratives
Graham Pechey

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Symposium on the life and work of Frantz Fanon (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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‘This zone of occult instability’: the utopian promise of the African novel in the era of decolonisation (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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‘On the road’ with Che and Jack: melancholia and the legacy of colonial racial geographies in the Americas (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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‘Yankee universality’: race, nation and empire in H.C.Carey’s the past, the present, and the future (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Adorno and the postcolonial (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Mimesis and the un-reconciled condition: a theoretical approach to Antonioni’s cinema (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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A taste for murder: aesthetics in the silence of the lambs (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Street life in London: towards a rhythmanalysis of London in the late nineteenth century (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Urban portraits: space/body/city in late georgian Edinburgh (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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The writing of trauma: trauma theory and the liberty of reading (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Editorial: After Fanon (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Introduction: rethinking race and nation (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

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Reviews (New Formations 47, Summer 2002)

October 1, 2002

Be alarmed!: ‘Surrealism: Desire Unbound’, (Tate Modern, London, 2001)
Michael Calderbank

BOOKNOTES

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Transcendental imagination in a thousand points (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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From senseless acts of violence to seamless acts of visibility: ‘film censorship’ in the age of digital compositing (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Between bodies without organs and machines without desire: Deleuze-Guattari’s elision of prosthetic actuality (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Rauschenberg’s skin: autobiography, inexicality, auto-eroticism (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Venus in foam (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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The uncertainty of placing: prosthetic bodies, sculptural design, and unhomely dwelling in Marc Quinn, James Gillingham, and Sigmund Freud (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Puppets and prosthesis (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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A phantom limb: feeling the gap between invisibility and touch in recent British art (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Prosthetic gestation: shulamith firestone and sexual difference (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Thinking expenditure: bataille and body art (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

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Introduction: the prosthetic aesthetic (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

In considering the bonds between modernity, technology and the body, there is no better place from which to begin than from the figure of prosthesis. This themed issue of New Formations brings together a series of articles that approach and question prosthesis in general, and do so specifically in relation to aesthetics. Hence the convergence that is our title, ‘The Prosthetic Aesthetic’. Implicitly engaging with the etymological derivations of each concept, the aesthetic and the prosthetic, these articles re-articulate the ways in which we ‘perceive’ (Greek aisthetikos) the ‘place’ (Greek prosthesis from prostithemi) of the prosthetic within the culture of modernity. Building on work carried out across the Humanities and Social Sciences over the last ten years or so, these texts extend our thinking on the relationship between aesthetics, the body, and technology as an a priori prosthetic one.

This past decade has witnessed the emergence and dissemination of discussions around prosthesis as an historical, philosophical, technological, political, ethical, and medical concern. The subject of prosthesis has been raised in the discourses of cultural history, critical theory, philosophy, literature, cyberculture, and the visual arts. There is also a large body of knowledge that has contributed to debates surrounding prosthetics, while not necessarily being on prosthetics as such. ‘The Prosthetic Aesthetic’ places itself squarely within this literature, and at the same time offers something in addition to it. For while there is a great deal of writing on prosthetics and its associated concerns, this is one of the first collections that examines the confluence of the body, technology and prosthetics in an aesthetic and visual forum. As such this issue considers various aspects of visual culture including ornamentation, drawing, photography, body tracing, performance, theatre, body art, sculpture, installation art, television, video, and (digital) film. The modalities of these visual media are examined through the discourses of philosophy, psychoanalysis, media studies, history, feminist theory, art history, critical theory, and medicine as a means of unpacking certain types of consequences borne of prosthesis. Instances of these prosthetic concerns which are presented here include the issues of consciousness, compositing, the organic versus the machinic, the post-human, autobiography, indexicality, desire, the Other, the phenomenon of the phantom limb, deficiency, puppetry, and gestation.

Together, these articles are concerned with the visual and aesthetic aspect of prosthetics as a means of contributing to an understanding of the problems, challenges, and possibilities that prosthetics has to offer visual culture, and the ways in which visual culture - as a resolutely prosthetic concern - can offer new ways of understanding the formation and function of prosthesis.

A number of the articles published here were presented in one form or another at a conference we organised at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in April 2000 entitled ‘Between Bodies and Machines: The Prosthetic’. Thanks go to Heidi Reitmaier, then Head of Talks at the ICA for being such a great host and to Barry Curtis at Middlesex University for its financial support of this event. Thanks also go to Jeremy Gilbert and Scott McCracken at New Formations for their presence, both real and spectral, during that event and to New Formations for their encouragement of and patience with this project. Special thanks go to the speakers at the ICA event and to all the contributors in ‘The Prosthetic Aesthetic’.

Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra
November 2001, London

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Reviews (New Formations 46, Spring 2002)

June 1, 2002

The insatiability of human wants: economics and aesthetics in market society
Regenia Gagnier

Home territories: media, mobility and identity
David Morley

Philosophy in cultural theory
Peter Osborne

Conspiracy culture: from Kennedy to the X-Files
Peter Knight

Dance, space and subjectivity
Valerie A. Briginshaw

‘Race’, sport and British society
Ben Carrington and Ian McDonald (eds)

Rereading the imperial romance: British imperialism and South African resistance in Haggard, Schreiner and Plaatje
Laura Chrisman

Without guarantees: in honour of Stuart Hall
Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg and Angela McRobbie (eds)

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Mapping the present’: interview with Gayatri Spivak (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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The witness of poetry: economic calculation, civil society and the limits of everyday experience in a liberated South Africa (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Terminus nation state: Palestine and the critique of nationalism (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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The stuff of Egypt: the nation, the state and their proper objects (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Fear of a black athlete: masculinity, politics and the body (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Where blackness is bright? Cuba, Africa and the black liberation during the age of civil rights (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Readiming the race: Martin Delaney and the Niger valley exploring party, 1859-60 (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Postmodernism as postnationalism? Racial representation in US black cultural studies (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Scenes of empowerment: virtual racial diversity and digital divides (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Special review: Empire and No Logo in dialogue: an anti-capitalist Bildungsroman (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Editorial: The rendez-vous of conquest (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Reviews (New Formations 45, Winter 2001)

March 1, 2002

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Charles Madge and the mass-observation archive: a personal note (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

The original Mass-Observation archive was transferred to the University of Sussex in 1970 as the result of negotiations between the then vice-chancellor of Sussex, Asa Briggs, and Len England, at that time Director of Mass-Observation UK Ltd. Set up by Tom Harrisson, the archive became known as ‘The Tom Harrisson Mass-Observation Archive’ after his death. It was only then that Charles Madge re-involved himself in the project, apparently due to his reservations about working for the government, and M-O’s lack of social scientific rigour.

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Bourgeois news: Humphrey Jennings and Charles Madge (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

Surrealism can be seen as a formative influence both upon the origins of sociology in Britain, and upon a war-time and post-war new realism that was concerned with the portrayal of working-class culture. This can be seen in the surrealist humour of the original manifesto of Mass-Observation, ‘Anthropology at Home’. Madge’s ‘Bourgeois News’, as well as Malinowski’s work, emphasises the importance of surrealist humour as a means of achieving the ‘home coming’ of anthropology, in order to gain a new sense of proportion with regard to our own institutions, beliefs, and customs.

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In the blitz of dreams: mass-observation and the historical uses of dream reports (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

Methodological and interpretative problems contributed to a relative failure of the Mass Observation dream project to identify ‘dominant images’; and, contrary to expectations, the project showed no evidence that the air-war years significantly affected the British psyche. Miller argues that dreams represent a form of indirect communication of that which is repressed in a society, and serve as testimony to forces that remain hidden in more official forms of documentation, and they should therefore be considered historically relevant.

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‘A door half open to surprise’: Charles Madge’s imminences (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

A sense of anticipation of modernist change is recurrent in Charles Madge’s poetry, and while he had an ambivalent relation to modernism, he wrote in the 1930s of his desire to be caught up in the irresistible current of the new. Madge was capable of conceiving a modernism joined to mass expression and asserted the historical necessity of socialist realism. He saw Mass-Observation as a deflection from individual to collective consciousness. The article also looks at the way time and space are expressed and connected in Madge’s work.

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Charles Madge: political perception and the persistence of poetry (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

Madge’s poems are animated by questions about the persistence of poetry as a meaningful horizon of social being. This essay explores ways in which Madge’s commitment to poetry suggests a revision of some canonical conceptions of the politics of modernist poetry, and the continuing relevance of poetry for radical social formations.

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Charles Madge and mass-observation are at home: from anthropology to war, and after (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

One of the few constants of Madge’s varied career from 1932 to the late 1970s was his interest in the environment of the working-class home. His work on Mass-Observation, his economic research with Keynes, and his town planning work as Social Development Officer at Stevenage, can be seen as part of a continuous development in which each setback is met with a change of tactics, geared towards the same overarching strategic aim of the transformation of society.

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Mass-observation, surrealism, social anthropology:a present day assessment (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

Mass-Observation is unjustly remembered in mainly negative terms by the majority of social anthropologists in Britain, and largely neglected by postmodernists. However it can be considered the intellectual predecessor of postmodernism, which replicates many of the original aims and insights of M-O. Had it been conceived later, M-O might have been better received within the current heterogeneous and experimental climate of the social sciences.

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Giving voice to the ordinary: mass-observation and the documentary film (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

The documentary film movement was a social democratic project which opposed traditional class and gender structures by giving voice to the ordinary. Like Mass-Observation, there are issues of verisimilitude, but it is this subjectivity which, whilst limiting its role as objective social history, makes Mass-Observation rich in anthropological terms, and makes the documentary film poetic.

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Historical entries: mass-observation diarists 1937-2001 (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

Looks at the question of observation and testimony in relation to the diaries kept by volunteer Observers, and the ways in which these unpaid volunteers (to be contrasted with Harrisson’s team of radical amateur anthropologists) rose to the challenge of providing an ‘anthropology of ourselves’. Focusing on three diarists in particular - Nella Last, Edward Stebbing and Naomi Mitchison - Jolly opens up the function of diary-writing, both for the project of Mass-Observation and for the diarists themselves. She explores the thesis that ‘a cultural sociology of writing is part of the logic of M-O itself’, and discusses the current work of the Mass-Observation Archive in this light.

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Arresting cinema: surveillance and the city-state in the representation of Hong Kong (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

In an article that looks at mass observation from a different angle, Karen Fang argues that surveillance is the distinctive characteristic of the city state. In an illuminating account of Hong Kong cinema before and after re-unification, she describes the inter-relationships between new technologies of surveillance, law enforcement and the media, and concludes that Hong Kong is ‘the product of a police-entertainment industrial complex’.

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Introduction: the project of mass observation (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

This special issue of New Formations has a dual focus. Firstly, it explores the history and the cultural politics of the Mass-Observation movement, the project of bringing ethnographic fieldwork and observation to bear on everyday life in Britain, which came into being in 1937. Secondly, it brings to centre stage the work and writing of Charles Madge, who founded Mass-Observation with the ethnographer Tom Harrisson and the poet, painter and film-maker Humphrey Jennings. Madge has to date been less prominent in the research and writing on Mass-Observation than Tom Harrisson, as Dorothy Sheridan, Head of Special Collections and Mass-Observation archivist at the University of Sussex, notes in her contribution to this issue. In exploring Charles Madge’s writings we intend both to open up the work of an important twentieth-century poet, and to assess the broader significance of poetry and poetics for the Mass-Observation movement. One of the most fascinating aspects of Mass-Observation is the ways in which it negotiated and sought to reshape disciplinary boundaries, and to bring together, as a founding letter-manifesto declares, the artist, the scientist and the mass. Yet the place of ‘poetry’ in the Mass-Observation project was also a contested issue, as a number of our contributors show. The significance of Mass-Observation as project and experiment was not that it reconciled the ‘two cultures’ – art and science - but that it put into play the possibility and the difficulty of their interrelationship, and, in so doing, raised conceptual questions that continue to resonate today.

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Reviews (New Formations 44, Autumn 2001)

November 1, 2001

A question of sport? Butler contra Laclau contra Zizek
Jeremy Gilbert

Zizek against the fashionable intelligence: on totalitarianism
Lois Wheller

Vulgarity, he said: T.J. Clark’s modernism
Herman Rapaport

The limitations of ‘duckology’
Adam Roberts

BOOKNOTES
Ben Highmore, Megan Stern, Gail Low

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The production of mobilities (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Technological frontiers and the politics of mobilities (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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The devil’s arm: points of passage, networks of violence, and the California agricultural landscape (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Negotiating and narrating emplacement: belonging and conflict in Northern Ireland (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Culture, politics and cultural politics in Northern Ireland (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Walt Disney’s ape-man: race, writing and humanism (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Art as propaganda for literary modernism (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Post-traumatic woundings: sexual anxiety in Patricia Cornwell’s fiction (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Editorial: Mobilities (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Mobilities – an introduction (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

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Reviews (New Formations 43, Spring 2001)

Site-specific mobilities
Catherine Nash

Double displacement
Alison Blunt

Wanderlust or ‘pathological tourism’?
Waltraud Ernst

The modern way of seeing
Peter Buse

BOOKNOTES
Ben Highmore, David Cunningham

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Children again (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘Mongol in the woods’ (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Another child of violence (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Unknownst to the people (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘The derived life of fiction’: race, childhood and culture (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘Let me tell you a story’: writing the fiction of childhood in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘Letter to Lucy: ‘you know that dream we had last night’ (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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From proud flesh (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Fostering the nation: Patrick Pearse and pedagogy (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘Infantia’ (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘No one is seduced here’: Nabakov’s perverse family romances (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Command of English (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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‘But cast their eyes on these little wretched beings’: the innocence and experience of children in the late eighteenth century (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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The necessary privations of growing up (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Editorial: The ruins of childhood (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

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Reviews (New Formations 42, Winter 2000)

Grammatical infanticide
Lyndsey Stonebridge

The enigma of the message
Elizabeth Cowie

Rescuing the future
David Cunningham

BOOKNOTES
Timothy Bewes, Gesa Mackenthun, John McLeod

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‘And art thou nothing?’: Dialogue and critique in Romanticism (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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The future of monologue (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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The burden of intersubjectivity: dialogue as communicative ideal in postmodern fiction and theory (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Doing the call and response’: dialogue in contemporary African American poetics (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Conflict not conversation: the defeat of dialogue in Bakhtin and de Man (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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It’s too good to talk: myths of dialogue in Bakhtin and Habermas (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Universalism/particularism: towards a poststructural politics of universality (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Gendered melancholy or general melancholy? Homosexual attachments in the formation of gender (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Sibling love and queer subjectivity (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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The Great War and postmodern memory (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Secularist faith in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Oedipus express: trains, trauma and detective fiction (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Editorial: The future of dialogue (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

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Reviews (New Formations 41, Autumn 2000)

The backwash of differentiated sound
Sarah Parry

Curious guardian in the margin
Yogita Goyal

BOOKNOTES
Ben Highmore, Alan Rice, Alasdair Pettinger

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Editorial: la chine in culture / China (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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A stranger to yourself: ways of becoming an another – an interview with Yang Lian (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Internet, memory, and the Chinese diaspora – the case of the Nanjing massacre (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Going south (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Xiao Ye: food, alterity, and the pleasure of Chineseness in Malaysia (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Allegorical figures: placing the work of Pam Leung (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Globalisation and minoritisation: Ang Lee and the politics of flexibility (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Alienation, aesthetic distance and absorption in Tsai Mingliang’s Vive L’Amour (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Fashioning identities, consuming passions: public images of women in China (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Other China / China’s others: a report on the first national forum on the protection of migrant women workers, Beijing (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Editorial: Culture/China (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

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Reviews (New Formations 40, Spring 2000)

Avant-garde dissent after Tianenmen Square
Craig Clunas

A treasure box of possibilities
Tseen Khoo

Colonised into admission
Sarah Stevens

BOOKNOTES
James Buzard, Bibi Bakare, Ben Highmore 

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Cool rules: anatomy of an attitude (New Formations 39, Winter 1999)

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The invention of everyday life (New Formations 39, Winter 1999)

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