Bite Size Theory: What Should the Left Propose?

“The history of modern social ideas has misled us into associating piecemeal change with disbelief in institutional reconstruction, and a commitment to such reconstruction with faith in sudden and systematic change.”

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, 2005, What Should the Left Propose?,Verso.

Bite Size Theory: Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

“The author sees the development of a democracy as a long and certainly incomplete struggle to do three closely related things: 1) to check arbitrary rulers, 2) to replace arbitrary rules with just and rational ones, and 3) to obtain a share for the underlying population in the making of rules. The beheading of kings has been the most dramatic and by no means the least important aspect of the first feature. Efforts to establish the rule of law, the power of the legislature, and later to use the state as an engine for social welfare are familiar and famous aspects of the other two.”

Barrington Moore, Jr, 1966, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Allen Lane.

YouTube Geography

drsI’ve only just come across the International Geographical Union (IGU) YouTube channel – seems to be about 6 months old. It’s got a bunch of interviews with geographers of a certain significance, shall we say – David Harvey, from 1984, on historical-geographical materialism; Derek Gregory from 1983, Torsten Hagerstrand, Dick Chorley and Michael Chisholm in discussion with Anne Buttimer (and lots of other interviews chaired by her and one with her). Wonderful stuff in a nerdy ‘history and philosophy of geography’ kind of way).

Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology: 25th Anniversary Issue

For those interested in space, place, embodiment, intentionality, and such things, the latest, and 25th anniversary issue of Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology, edited by David Seamon, is available here or here. Includes short essays on phenomenological themes by various people, including Ted Relph, Yi-Fu Tuan, Jef Malpas, and Tim Ingold.

Media practices and urban politics

IMG_2858If you’re interested, here is a link to a paper called Media practices and urban politics: conceptualizing the powers of the urban-media nexus, by Scott Rodgers, Allan Cochrane and myself, which is forthcoming soonish in Society and Space. This is the last of a series of things we have written and convened together since 2007, emerging from Scott’s time at the OU on an ESRC Postdoc fellowship and stretching beyond that (remember those?). This includes a symposium on the theme of ‘Where is urban politics?’ and an earlier Debate section of the same journal, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, on ‘Media, Politics and Cities‘.

Here is the abstract for the latest piece:

“The spatial imaginations of media studies and urban studies are increasingly aligned, illustrated by a growing literature on what can be identified as the media-urban nexus. This nexus has attracted scholarly interest not only as a cultural phenomenon, but also as a site of emergent political dynamics. We suggest that literature on the media-urban nexus points to the always-already present conditions of possibility for a trans-local, relational urban politics. Current conceptualizations of the politics of urbanized media however tend to fall into one of two registers: conflicts over the access to and regulation of urban media spaces; or the silent politics media inscribe into the affective textures of urban life. Both tend to envision media as instrumental supplements to politics, over-estimating the powers of ‘media’ within urban living. Drawing on recent uses of practice theory in media studies, we highlight how thinking of media- in-practices provides a basis for more nuanced conceptualizations of the powers of the media- urban nexus. Fully realizing this conceptualization requires that the restriction of the insights of practice theory to everyday life be lifted. An expanded view of media practices is required, one which emphasizes the coordination between organized fields of communication and everyday urbanized media practices.”

Bite Size Theory: The Passage of Power

“Lyndon Johnson had grasped in an instant what needed to be done with Kennedy’s men and Kennedy’s legislation: his insight into the crisis and the rapidity of his response to it a glimpse of political genius almost shocking in its acuity and decisiveness.”

Robert Caro, 2012, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Volume 4, The Passage of Power, Bodley Head.

Bite Size Theory: Reason, Faith and Revolution

“One need not capitulate to a view of the world as a host of incommensurable rationalities to recognize that the criteria of what counts as correctness or well-foundedness in, say, anthropology are not the same as in art history.”

Terry Eagleton, 2009, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debates, Yale University Press.