Jane Anna Gordon: Creolizing Political Theory: Reading Rousseau through Fanon (2014)

25 March 2021, dusan

“Might creolization offer political theory an approach that would better reflect the heterogeneity of political life? After all, it describes mixtures that were not supposed to have emerged in the plantation societies of the Caribbean but did so through their capacity to exemplify living culture, thought, and political practice. Similar processes continue today, when people who once were strangers find themselves unequal co-occupants of new political locations they both seek to call “home.”

Unlike multiculturalism, in which different cultures are thought to co-exist relatively separately, creolization describes how people reinterpret themselves through interaction with one another. While indebted to comparative political theory, Gordon offers a critique of comparison by demonstrating the generative capacity of creolizing methodologies. She does so by bringing together the eighteenth-century revolutionary Swiss thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the twentieth-century Martinican-born Algerian liberationist Frantz Fanon. While both provocatively challenged whether we can study the world in ways that do not duplicate the prejudices that sustain its inequalities, Fanon, she argues, outlined a vision of how to bring into being the democratically legitimate alternatives that Rousseau mainly imagined.”

Publisher Fordham University Press, New York, 2014
Just Ideas series
ISBN 9780823254811, 082325481X
xv+294 pages

Reviews: Anne Norton, Sharon Stanley, Fred Lee, Thomas Meagher (with author’s response, Contemporary Political Theory, 2018).
See also: Forum on Creolizing Theory (ed. Lewis R. Gordon, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, 2017), The Creolization of Education, Pedagogy, and Political Theory (ed. Lewis R. Gordon, Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 2018).



Alex Zamalin: Black Utopia: The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism (2019)

14 January 2021, dusan

“Within the history of African American struggle against racist oppression that often verges on dystopia, a hidden tradition has depicted a transfigured world. Daring to speculate on a future beyond white supremacy, black utopian artists and thinkers offer powerful visions of ways of being that are built on radical concepts of justice and freedom. They imagine a new black citizen who would inhabit a world that soars above all existing notions of the possible.

In Black Utopia, Alex Zamalin offers a groundbreaking examination of African American visions of social transformation and their counterutopian counterparts. Considering figures associated with racial separatism, postracialism, anticolonialism, Pan-Africanism, and Afrofuturism, he argues that the black utopian tradition continues to challenge American political thought and culture. Black Utopia spans black nationalist visions of an ideal Africa, the fiction of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Sun Ra’s cosmic mythology of alien abduction. Zamalin casts Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler as political theorists and reflects on the antiutopian challenges of George S. Schuyler and Richard Wright. Their thought proves that utopianism, rather than being politically immature or dangerous, can invigorate political imagination. Both an inspiring intellectual history and a critique of present power relations, this book suggests that, with democracy under siege across the globe, the black utopian tradition may be our best hope for combating injustice.”

Publisher Columbia University Press, New York, 2019
ISBN 9780231187404, 0231187408
x+182 pages

Reviews: Smaran Dayal (Social Text, 2020), David A. Lemke (Utopian Studies, 2020), Francis Shor (J American History, 2020), Ladee Hubbard (TLS, 2019).



Martin Hägglund: This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (2019)

29 October 2020, dusan

This Life offers a profoundly inspiring basis for transforming our lives, demonstrating that our commitment to freedom and democracy should lead us beyond both religion and capitalism. Philosopher Martin Hägglund argues that we need to cultivate not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions: what matters is how we treat one another in this life and what we do with our time.

Engaging with great philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel and Marx, literary writers from Dante to Proust and Knausgaard, political economists from Mill to Keynes and Hayek, and religious thinkers from Augustine to Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King, Jr., Hägglund points the way to an emancipated life.”

Publisher Pantheon Books, New York, 2019
ISBN 9781101870402, 1101870400
450 pages

Interviews with author: Meagan Day (Jacobin, 2019), Adam Kelly (University of York, 2019, video).

Debates: Brandon M. Terry, Walter Benn Michaels, Benjamin Kunkel, Michael W. Clune, Jodi Dean, William Clare Roberts (Los Angeles Review of Books, 2020, with Hägglund’s response), Frederick Neuhouser, Lea Ypi, Jensen Suther (The Philosopher, 2020, with Hägglund’s introductory essay), Robert Pippin (The Point, 2019, Hägglund’s response).

Reviews: Samuel Moyn (Jacobin, 2019), Michael A. McCarthy (Jacobin, 2019), Nathan Brown (Radical Philosophy, 2019), Tyler M. Williams (Critical Inquiry, 2020), Jedediah Britton-Purdy (The New Republic, 2019), Mathew Abbott (Marx & Philosophy, 2020), Martin Rayburn (Parrhesia, 2020), Conall Cash (boundary2, 2019), Oliver Burkeman (The Guardian, 2019), James Wood (New Yorker, 2019), Adam Kirsch (Wall Street Journal, 2019), Matt McManus (Areo, 2020), Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins and Daniel Zamora (Dissent, 2019), William Egginton (Believer, 2020), Anton Jansson (Ord & Bild, 2020, SW), Matthew Engelke (Public Books, 2019), Kevin Schilbrack (Sophia, 2020), Knox Peden (Sydney Review of Books, 2020).