Further to my previous post on the Syndicate review forum on Linda Zerilli’s A Democratic Theory of Judgment (also available here), my own comments are now live, as well as a generous response from Linda herself. My own thoughts focus on Zerilli’s critical engagement with the ontological turn to theories of affect in some strands of political theory, and how her own treatment of these issues overlaps with but also differs from the approach articulated by thinkers associated with nonsite.org including Walter Benn Michaels, Todd Cronan, and Ruth Leys.
I’ve mentioned that I have recently been writing lots of commentaries on books (other people’s and my own), and the latest of these to find its way out into public is part of a review symposium in Urban Geography on Erik Swyngedouw’s Promises of the Political, put together by Joe Penny. If you don’t have access to the journal, Erik has also posted the symposium on his page at ResearchGate. My own thoughts on Erik’s book appear under the title ‘Mourning politics Final‘.
I seem to have spent a lot of time in the past year writing pieces for book review forums – pieces about other people’s books, and pieces about things people have written about my book, The Priority of Injustice. The first of these forums to go public, a series of commentaries on Linda Zerilli’s wonderful A Democratic Theory of Judgment, is perhaps the most interesting (and easily accessible), in so far as it takes the dialogic form that book review forums seek to perform in print/text, and extends it through an online medium. Syndicate is described as a ‘living network of scholarship in the humanities’, and their symposium on Zerilli’s book is now live, through to mid-September – the format involves one commentary being published a week, with a response from Linda, and further comments added as and when. My commentary is due to be published next week (it focusses on Zerilli’s contribution to a series of critical debates about ‘affect theory‘).
There is another newly published title in the Routledge Research Series in Place, Space and Politics – Migration in Performance by Caleb Johnston and Gerry Pratt. For a full list of the books in the Series, look here.
Here is the book description:
“This book follows the travels of Nanay, a testimonial theatre play developed from research with migrant domestic workers in Canada, as it was recreated and restaged in different places around the globe. This work examines how Canadian migration policy is embedded across and within histories of colonialism in the Philippines and settler colonialism in Canada. Translations between scholarship and performance – and between Canada and the Philippines – became more uneasy as the play travelled internationally, raising pressing questions of how decolonial collaborations might take shape in practice. This book examines the strengths and limits of existing framings of Filipina migration and offers rich ideas of how care – the care of children and elderly and each other – might be rethought in radically new ways within less violently unequal relations that span different colonial histories and complex triangulations of racialised migrants, settlers and Indigenous peoples.
This book is a journey towards a new way of doing and performing research and theory. It is part of a growing interdisciplinary exchange between the performing arts and social sciences and will appeal to researchers and students within human geography and performance studies, and those working on migration, colonialisms, documentary theatre and social reproduction.”
Another title in the Routledge Research Series in Place, Space and Politics has been published, Geographies of Postsecularity – written by Paul Cloke, Chris Baker, Callum Sutherland and Andy Williams. A full list of the books in the Series can be found here.
Now available as a hardback book, the special issue originally published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers on the theme of Social Justice and the City. As before, my chapter, as it is now, works through the relevance of the arguments made in The Priority of Injustice for fields of geographical research. It might also be one of the only chapters which addresses in any substance the original book of the same title. Not sure what to make of that.
It’s the time of year for ‘Best of’ lists, and there’s no need for me to resist the temptation. Here is a list of the what I consider, thinking quickly, to be the best 10 books I’ve read this year, in terms of ‘fun’ of one sort or another – they were not all published this year, by any means, and I read them for all sorts of motivated or arbitrary reasons. Some are academic, some not so, all of them were thought provoking, and most of them are good for reading in the bath. So, in no particular order, here they are:
1). Eric Foner, 1983, Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and its legacy. Bought for £1 from the Bookbarn, a withdrawn copy from the Seeley Library in Cambridge, a precursor to Foner’s monumental book on Reconstructioon published a few years later.
2). Mary McCarthy, 1972, The Stones of Florence & Venice Observed. Great reading if you’ve been to at least one of those places. Maybe not so much if you haven’t.
3). John Forrester and Laura Cameron, 2017, Freud in Cambridge. A book about influence and inspiration, about reception and resonance – and about the type of man who is prone to self-analysis.
4). Mariana Mazzucato, 2018, The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy. A clear, simple elaboration of a very radical, old fashioned, but still valid proposition – that price and value are not the same thing, and that the relationship between them is rather complex. If you teach Marx, Harvey, etc, etc, then this book should be on the your reading list to provide proper context, both contemporary and historical.
5). Nick Clarke, Will Jennings, Jonathan Moss, & Garry Stoker, 2018, The Good Politician: Folk Theories, Political Interaction, and the Rise of Anti-Politics. Dangerous stuff – empirically robust theory-building, essential reading if you want to think seriously about things subsumed under the heading of ‘populism’.
6). Graham Greene, 1951, The End of the Affair. I read this in two sittings, on a plane to and from Cape Town, and was inspired by this to try to write 500 words a day, like the more or less reliable narrator. I’m still trying. It’s easier to imagine changing one’s routines when stuck in a tube for hours than to actually do so, it turns out.
7) David Hepworth, 2017, Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars. A kind of genealogy of a what one might now think of as a residual aspect of popular culture. It’s more fun than that makes it sound.
8). Bruce Robbins, 2017, The Beneficiary. The best book about the ethics and politics of living in a stretched-out world of commodity production and markets and excessive responsibilities since, well, either this book or this one (neither of which it cites, but hey, nobody’s perfect).
9). Rowan Williams, 2015, Meeting God in Paul. I bought this accidentally while in a cathedral, it’s a short and simple introduction well suited to the non-believer, by a very smart man.
10). Shirley Jackson, 1949, The Lottery and other stories. Ordinary stuff, scary stuff.