More things to read

On the assumption that a blog is a means of thinking out loud, I have updated the Things to Read page, adding various unpublished bits and bobs, including texts of talks given over the last few years, as well as a first attempt to articulate some ideas about theorising emergent publics and some grumpy thoughts about why it might be best to think that politics is ordinary. One day I might get around to writing these ideas out in neat.

Open University initiatives on poverty

Here are a couple of OU-related initiatives and research projects on issues of poverty – a series of documentaries on Why Poverty? with other media resources too; and the re-launched website of the ESRC-funded collaborative project on Poverty and Social Exclusion (this will at some point soon have links to audio-visual materials associated with the new module The Uses of Social Science that has just started it’s first presentation – I’ll post again when this is live).

Is politics an enigma?

Via Derek Gregory at geographicalimaginations, I’ve just come across a short essay at Adbusters from Andrew Merrifield diagnosing the ‘spatial’ lessons of Occupy, which he presents in terms of the challenge of linking a clear and adequate Marxist theory of capitalism to the rather elusive practical challenge of doing politics in light of that sort of analysis. I guess the ‘engima’ that Andrew identifies might not be so puzzling if one did not imagine that the theory was quite so adequate, and if one did not suppose that ‘revolt’ was the only plausible model for thinking about politics. Oh well.

The essay does contain a nice description of what’s ‘public’ about occupied spaces, one that punctures the romance of ‘real’ spaces of assembly – publicness turns out to be about both situated encounters as well as catching the attention of more dispersed, disseminated audiences. A nice image, certainly, developed more fully in John Parkinson’s recent book which I mentioned a while back, for example, or in Kurt Ivesen’s work on spaces of public address , or various other places in which a stretched-out notion of public space is developed . It’s not really a terribly ‘revolting’ idea at all.