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).

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James Mark, Bogdan C. Iacob, Tobias Rupprecht, Ljubica Spaskovska: 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe (2019)

6 October 2020, dusan

“The collapse of the Berlin Wall has come to represent the entry of an isolated region onto the global stage. On the contrary, this study argues that communist states had in fact long been shapers of an interconnecting world, with ‘1989’ instead marking a choice by local elites about the form that globalisation should take. Published to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the 1989 revolutions, this work draws on material from local archives to international institutions to explore the place of Eastern Europe in the emergence, since the 1970s, of a new world order that combined neoliberal economics and liberal democracy with increasingly bordered civilisational, racial and religious identities. An original and wide-ranging history, it explores the importance of the region’s links to the West, East Asia, Africa, and Latin America in this global transformation, reclaiming the era’s other visions such as socialist democracy or authoritarian modernisation which had been lost in triumphalist histories of market liberalism.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2019
New Approaches to European History series, 59
ISBN 9781108427005, 1108427006
vii+372 pages

Reviews: Árpád von Klimo (H-Diplo, 2020), Tilmann Siebeneichner (German History, 2020), Nick Ostrum (Europe Now, 2020),

Interviews with co-author (James Mark): Ondřej Bělíček (A2larm, CZ, 2019), Ondřej Bělíček (Jacobin, 2020), Ronaldas Galinis (LRT.lt, 2020), Rūta Miškinytė (15min.lt, 2020, LT), Zoltán Ginelli (LeftEast, 2020, Part 2, Part 3).

Book summary (Eurozine, 2019).

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Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019)

22 November 2019, dusan

“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages

Interviews with author: Jadaliyya (2019), Brad Evans (LA Review of Books, 2020), Sabrina Alli (Guernica, 2020).

Reviews: Ian Wallace (Artforum, 2020), Guy Mannes-Abbott (Third Text, 2020), Louis Rogers (review31, 2020), Stephen Sheehi (Hyperallergic, 2020), Luke Urbain (InVisible Culture, 2020), Lunettes Rouges (Le Monde blog, 2020, FR, part 2).

Roundtable: Gil Hochberg, Zoé Samudzi, Joshua Simon, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman (Protocols, 2020).

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WorldCat

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