Marshall Sahlins & David Graeber, On Kings – open access e-book

9780986132506On Kings by Marshall Sahlins & David Graeber (Hau Press, distributed University of Chicago Press, 2017, 534 pp.) is available as open access pdf in this link; physical copy to buy here.

In anthropology as much as in popular imagination, kings are figures of fascination and intrigue, heroes or tyrants in ways presidents and prime ministers can never be. This collection of essays by two of the world’s most distinguished anthropologists—David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins—explores what kingship actually is, historically and anthropologically. As they show, kings are symbols for more than just sovereignty: indeed, the study of kingship offers a unique window into fundamental dilemmas concerning the very nature of power, meaning, and the human condition.
Reflecting on issues such as temporality, alterity, piracy, and utopia—not to mention the divine, the strange, the numinous, and the bestial—Graeber and Sahlins explore the role of kings as they have existed around the world, from the BaKongo to the Aztec to the Shilluk and beyond. Richly delivered with the wit and sharp analysis characteristic of Graeber and Sahlins, this book opens up new avenues for the anthropological study of this fascinating and ubiquitous political figure.


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Maja Zehfuss, War and the Politics of Ethics – now out with OUP

9780198807995.jpgMaja Zehfuss, War and the Politics of Ethics – now published with Oxford University Press. [Update: jumped the gun here – will actually be published in February 2018]

Contemporary Western war is represented as enacting the West’s ability and responsibility to help make the world a better place for others, in particular to protect them from oppression and serious human rights abuses. That is, war has become permissible again, indeed even required, as ethical war. At the same time, however, Western war kills and destroys. This creates a paradox: Western war risks killing those it proposes to protect.

This book examines how we have responded to this dilemma and challenges the vision of ethical war itself, exploring how the commitment to ethics shapes the practice of war and indeed how practices come, in turn, to shape what is considered ethical in war. The book closely examines particular practices of warfare, such as targeting, the use of cultural knowledge, and ethics training for soldiers. What emerges is that instead of constraining violence, the commitment to ethics enables and enhances it. The book argues that the production of ethical war relies on an impossible but obscured separation between ethics and politics, that is, the problematic politics of ethics, and reflects on the need to make decisions at the limit of ethics.

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Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory (40th Anniversary Edition)

9781137565891Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini’s classic book The Prison and the Factory has been reissued as a 40th Anniversary Edition.

This new edition of The Prison and the Factory, a classic work on radical criminology, includes two new, long essays from the authors and a foreword from Professor Jonathan Simon (UC Berkeley). In the two essays, Melossi and Pavarini reflect on the origins, development and fortune of The Prison and the Factory in relation to the debates surrounding mass incarceration that have taken place since this book was first published 40 years ago. The reputation of the original work has long been established worldwide, and this updated version will be of very special interest to scholars of the criminal justice system, penology, and Marxist theory.

This seminal book examines the links between the development of capitalist political economy and changing forms of social control. Melossi and Pavarini analyse the connection between the creation of penal institutions and regimes in Europe and the USA, and the problems generated by the emergence of capitalist soci
al relations. They provide a thorough neo-Marxist view of emergent capitalism and the penal mechanisms which are constructed to deal with the problem of labour.

Contemporary to but independent from the work of Michel Foucault, Melossi and Pavarini combine research on the development of penal philosophies and institutions with a rigorous account of changing forms of capital accumulation, focusing on the use, and the problem, of labour under capitalist relations.

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Rob Kitchin, Rules for making decisions on requests for academic work

Rob Kitchin, Rules for making decisions on requests for academic work Some very interesting discussion of how to decide what to do, and what not to do,

Last week I posted on my personal blog about the volume of requests I receive to undertake work beyond my allocated load as directed by university managers. Such work includes reviewing for journals and grant agencies, writing references and external examining, serving on advisory boards and working with local communities, and contributing papers to special issues or delivering invited talks.

While undertaking all these tasks are expected of academics as part of their normal load, constituting service work and an important part of the exchange economy of academia (Elden 2008), it is usually undertaken at their discretion. Key questions then are: what requests for labour to accept? What is an acceptable/sensible load? These questions become more pressing as the number of requests increases as an individual’s profile and academic network develop.

Most academics, I sense, find it quite difficult to evaluate and manage requests, and to say ‘no’ to many of them. In part this is because we are trying to balance a sense of obligation to participate in the exchange economy (especially if we know the person making the request), with a strategic approach to career development, and a need for personal well-being. Certainly, I struggle in deciding which requests to accept, and even though I do say ‘no’ to a lot of requests I still feel I take on too much and struggle to deliver on my promises (I typically receive about one new request a day beyond existing commitments).

On social media I was asked about how I go about making decisions on what requests to undertake and how I manage the workload. I didn’t have a ready answer because I’ve never formulated a strategy for decision-making or managing commitments. Instead, I have been using a rough set of unarticulated rules of thumb. It was also suggested that it might be useful for academics to be mentored with regards to dealing with requests.

In an effort to provide some mentoring advice, but also to try and formalise my own rules of thumb, I thought it might be useful to consider how best to deal with external requests for academic labour. [continues here]

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Pluto Books Radical Geography series – 50% off and Danny Dorling introduction

Pluto Books Radical Geography series is on sale, with 50% off the three books in the series – Katharyne Mitchell, Making Workers; Stephen Crossley, In their Place and Paul Routledge, Space Invaders. One of the series editors, Danny Dorling, has an introduction here: What is Radical about Geography?

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Books received – Freud, Beckman on Deleuze, Heidegger, Olson, Hanawalt, Willetts


Freud’s Therapy and Technique; Frida Beckman’s Gilles Deleuze; the latest volume of Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe; Kevin Olson’s Imagined Sovereignties: The Power of the People and Other Myths of the Modern Age; Barbara Hanawalt’s Ceremony and Civility: Civic Culture in Late Medieval London; and David Willett’s A University Education. The OUP books were recompense for review work.

Posted in Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, Politics, Sigmund Freud, Uncategorized, Universities | Leave a comment

Metamodernism: Historicity, Affect, and Depth after Postmodernism – now out with Rowman and Littlefield

9781783489619 (1)Metamodernism: Historicity, Affect, and Depth after Postmodernism, edited by Robin van den Akker, Alison Gibbons and Timotheus Vermeulen, now out with Rowman and Littlefield

Metamodernism: Historicity, Affect, Depth brings together many of the most influential voices in the scholarly and critical debate about post-postmodernism and twenty-first century aesthetics, arts and culture. By relating cutting-edge analyses of contemporary literature, the visual arts and film and television to recent social, technological and economic developments, the volume provides both a map and an itinerary of today’s metamodern cultural landscape. As its organising principle, the book takes Fredric Jameson’s canonical arguments about the waning of historicity, affect and depth in the postmodern culture of western capitalist societies in the twentieth century, and re-evaluates and reconceptualises these notions in a twenty-first century context. In doing so, it shows that the contemporary moment should be regarded as a transitional period from the postmodern and into the metamodern cultural moment.

Acknowledgements / 1. Periodising the 2000s, or, the emergence of metamodernism, Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen / Section I: Historicity / 2. Metamodern Historicity, Robin van den Akker / 3. The metamodern, the quirky, and the challenge of categorization, James MacDowell / 4. Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the Rise of Historioplastic Metafiction, Josh Toth / 5. Super-hybridity: Non-simultaneity, political power, and multipolar conflict, Jorg Heiser / 6. The Cosmic Artisan: Mannerist Virtuosity and Contemporary Crafts, Sjoerd van Tuinen / Section II: Affect / 7. Metamodern Affect, Alison Gibbons / 8. Four Faces of Post-Irony, Lee Konstantinou / 9. Radical Defenselessness: A new sense of self in the work of David Foster Wallace, Nicoline Timmer / 10. Contemporary Autofiction and Affect, Alison Gibbons / 11. The Joke that Wasn’t funny anymore: Empathy in Contemporary Sitcoms, Gry Rustad and Kai Schwind / Section III: Depth / 12. Metamodern Depth or ‘Depthiness’, Timotheus Vermeulen / 13. Reconstructing Depth: Authentic Fiction and Responsibility, Irmtraud Huber and Wolfgang Funk / 14. Between truth, sincerity and satire: Post-truth politics and the rhetoric of authenticity, Sam Browse / 15. Notes on Performatist Photography: Experiencing beauty and transcendence after postmodernism, Raoul Eshelman / Epilogue / 16. Thoughts on writing about art after postmodernism, James Elkins / References / Index / Contributor Information

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Richard C. Powell, Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices and Environmental Sciences – now out with MQUP

9780773551138.jpgRichard C. Powell, Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices and Environmental Sciences – now out with McGill-Queen’s University Press.

In recent years the circumpolar region has emerged as the key to understanding global climate change. The plight of the polar bear, resource extraction debates, indigenous self-determination, and competing definitions of sovereignty among Arctic nation-states have brought the northernmost part of the planet to the forefront of public consideration. Yet little is reported about the social world of environmental scientists in the Arctic. What happens at the isolated sites where experts seek to answer the most pressing questions facing the future of humanity?

Portraying the social lives of scientists at Resolute in Nunavut and their interactions with logistical staff and Inuit, Richard Powell demonstrates that the scientific community is structured along power differentials in response to gender, class, and race. To explain these social dynamics the author examines the history and vision of the Government of Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program and John Diefenbaker’s “Northern Vision,” combining ethnography with wider discourses on nationalism, identity, and the postwar evolution of scientific sovereignty in the high Arctic. By revealing an expanded understanding of the scientific life as it relates to politics, history, and cultures, Studying Arctic Fields articulates a new theory of field research.

Advocating for a greater appreciation of science in the remote parts of the world, Studying Arctic Fields is an innovative approach to anthropology, environmental inquiry, and geography, and a landmark statement on Arctic science as a social practice.

1. Scientific Sovereignty, Nordicity, and the Canadian Nation
2. Between Observation and Experiment in Arctic Fieldwork
3. Base Cultures: The Spatial Organization of a Research Station
4. Performing the Arctic Scientific Human
5. Canada Day in Qausuittuq: Dramatizing Inuit Encounters
6. Emotional Practices and Play: The Quotidian Provenance of Logistics
7. Hidden Voices? Competing Visions and the Everyday Governance of Arctic Science
Epilogue: Requiem for a Canadian Arctic? | 188

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Books received – Soussloff and Favreau on Foucault, Kleinberg, Gandal, Höfele, Flynn on Sartre, Withers

books Jan 1.png

Some recently received books – Catherine M. Soussloff, Foucault on Painting; Jean-François Favreau, Vertiges de l’écriture : Michel Foucault et la littérature (1954-1970); Ethan Kleinberg, Haunting History: For a Deconstructive Approach to the Past; Keith Gandal, The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and the Fiction of Mobilization; Andreas Höfele, Stage, Stake, and Scaffold: Humans and Animals in Shakespeare’s Theatre and No Hamlets: German Shakespeare from Nietzsche to Carl Schmitt; Thomas Flynn, Sartre: A Philosophical Biography; Charles W. Withers, Zero Degrees: Geographies of the Prime Meridian. The OUP books were recompense for review work.

Posted in Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Territory, Uncategorized, William Shakespeare | 2 Comments

Matthew Longo, Politics of Borders: Sovereignty, Security, and the Citizen after 9/11 – now out with CUP

9781316622933.jpgMatthew Longo, Politics of Borders: Sovereignty, Security, and the Citizen after 9/11 – now out with Cambridge University Press.

Borders sit at the center of global politics. Yet they are too often understood as thin lines, as they appear on maps, rather than as political institutions in their own right. This book takes a detailed look at the evolution of border security in the United States after 9/11. Far from the walls and fences that dominate the news, it reveals borders to be thick, multi-faceted and binational institutions that have evolved greatly in recent decades. The book contributes to debates within political science on sovereignty, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, human rights and global justice. In particular, the new politics of borders reveal a sovereignty that is not waning, but changing, expanding beyond the state carapace and engaging certain logics of empire.

  • Presents a radical new way to understand borders that reveals how contemporary borders are increasingly bi-nationally administered institutions
  • Provides a new way to understand sovereignty that is evolving alongside globalization
  • Recasts the relationship between sovereignty and security
  • Evaluates the normative challenges of cross-border collaboration, and suggests solutions in the language of citizenship
Table of Contents

1. Borders: thick and thin
Part I. The Perimeter:
2. The wall and its shadow: security in the borderlands
3. Co-bordering: one border, two sovereigns?
4. A global question: co-bordering, cosmopolitanism, and the spectre of empire
Part II. The Ports of Entry:
5. The tiniest constable: big data, security, and the politics of identification
6. Sovereignty, security, and the politics of trust
7. Into the digital dark: data, the global firewall, and the future of security.

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