Verena Erlenbusch, Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Violence, Empire forthcoming with Columbia University Press in 2018.
What is terrorism? What ought we to do about it? And why is it wrong? We think we have clear answers to these questions. But acts of violence, like U.S. drone strikes that indiscriminately kill civilians, and mass shootings that become terrorist attacks when suspects are identified as Muslim, suggest that definitions of terrorism are always contested. In Genealogies of Terrorism, Verena Erlenbusch rejects attempts to define what terrorism is in favor of a historico-philosophical investigation into the conditions under which uses of this contested term become meaningful. The result is a powerful critique of the power relations that shape how we understand and theorize political violence.
Tracing discourses and practices of terrorism from the French Revolution to late imperial Russia, colonized Algeria, and the post-9/11 United States, Erlenbusch examines what we do when we name something terrorism. She offers an important corrective to attempts to develop universal definitions that assure semantic consistency and provide normative certainty, showing that terrorism means many different things and serves a wide range of political purposes. In the tradition of Michel Foucault’s genealogies, Erlenbusch excavates the history of conceptual and practical uses of terrorism and maps the historically contingent political and material conditions that shape their emergence. She analyzes the power relations that make different modes of understanding terrorism possible and reveals their complicity in justifying the exercise of sovereign power in the name of defending the nation, class, or humanity against the terrorist enemy. Offering an engaged critique of terrorism and the mechanisms of social and political exclusion that it enables, Genealogies of Terrorism is an empirically grounded and philosophically rigorous critical history with important political implications.
Verena Erlenbusch’s careful genealogy of ‘terrorism’—tracking the term’s multiple and overdetermined meanings since its first appearance as a political concept in the late eighteenth century—powerfully shows us how we all too frequently ask the wrong questions about terrorism. This critical book offers a necessary corrective to how we think about terrorism, and it reshapes the grounds upon which we should have any meaningful debate about terrorism in the present moment.
Andrew Dilts, Loyola Marymount University
As ever, a useful roundup from critical theory
I’ve linked to some of these before, but the LSE has now put together a page of links to their advice posts – Writing for Research.
There are lots more links and some discussions archived here.
Figure/Ground interview with Leonard Lawlor
Leonard Lawlor is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Continental philosophy. He received his doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook in 1988 and taught at the University of Memphis from 1989–2008, where he held the position of Faudree-Hardin University Professor of Philosophy from 2004 to 2008 before joining the faculty at Penn State, as Sparks Professor of Philosophy. He is known for his writings on phenomenology and on the figures Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, and Jean Hippolyte. Lawlor’s most recent work concerns transcendental violence and possible responses to it. His recent From Violence to Speaking Out takes up the question of responses to violence. Although From Violence to Speaking Out contains precise expositions of important ideas in Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucault, it is an original work of philosophy, extending ideas found in his 2007 This is not Sufficient. Somewhat disguised by the expositions, From Violence to Speaking Out is primarily a work in ethics.
Robert Cottrell talks to Will Davies about blogging, writing, sociology and social media on The Browser – podcast.
Edward S. Casey, The World on Edge is reviewed at NDPR by Fred Evans. I’d missed this book when it came out earlier this year, but looks like another important study by Casey. Here’s the press description of the book:
From one of continental philosophy’s most distinctive voices comes a creative contribution to spatial studies, environmental philosophy, and phenomenology. Edward S. Casey identifies how important edges are to us, not only in terms of how we perceive our world, but in our cognitive, artistic, and sociopolitical attentions to it. We live in a world that is constantly on edge, yet edges as such are rarely explored. Casey systematically describes the major and minor edges that configure the human and other-than-human realms, including our everyday experience. He also explores edges in high- stakes situations, such as those that emerge in natural disasters, moments of political and economic upheaval, and encroaching climate change. Casey’s work enables a more lucid understanding of the edge-world that is a necessary part of living in a shared global environment.
Update: thanks to dmf for the link to an open-access related piece by Casey: Edges and the in-Between
Caren Kaplan, Aerial Aftermaths: Wartime from Above – forthcoming in January from Duke University Press.
You can read the introduction here.
From the first vistas provided by flight in balloons in the eighteenth century to the most recent sensing operations performed by military drones, the history of aerial imagery has marked the transformation of how people perceived their world, better understood their past, and imagined their future. In Aerial Aftermaths Caren Kaplan traces this cultural history, showing how aerial views operate as a form of world-making tied to the times and places of war. Kaplan’s investigation of the aerial arts of war—painting, photography, and digital imaging—range from England’s surveys of Scotland following the defeat of the 1746 Jacobite rebellion and early twentieth-century photographic mapping of Iraq to images taken in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Throughout, Kaplan foregrounds aerial imagery’s importance to modern visual culture and its ability to enforce colonial power, demonstrating both the destructive force and the potential for political connection that come with viewing from above.