In conventional identity politics subjective differences are understood negatively, as gaps to be overcome, as lacks of sameness, as evidence of failed or incomplete unity. In Alterity Politics Jeffrey T. Nealon argues instead for a concrete and ethical understanding of community, one that requires response, action, and performance instead of passive resentment and unproductive mourning for a whole that cannot be attained.
While discussing the work of others who have refused to thematize difference in terms of the possibility or impossibility of sameness—Levinas, Butler, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Zizek, Jameson, Heidegger, Bakhtin—Nealon argues that ethics is constituted as inexorable affirmative response to different identities, not through an inability to understand or totalize the other. Alterity Politics combines this theoretical itinerary with crucial discussions of specific and diverse sites of literary and cultural production—the work of William S. Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, Andy Warhol, Ishmael Reed, Rush Limbaugh, and Vincent Van Gogh—along with analyses of the social formation of subjects as found in identity politics, and in multicultural and whiteness studies. In the process, Nealon takes on a wide variety of issues including white male anger, the ethical questions raised by drug addiction, the nature of literary meaning, and the concept of “becoming-black.”
In seeking to build an ethical structure around poststructuralist discourse and to revitalize the applied use of theoretical concepts to notions of performative identity, Alterity Politics marks a decisive intervention in literary theory, cultural studies, twentieth-century philosophy, and performance studies.
"Displays the full range of informed, thoughtful opinion on the place of Jews in the American politics of identity."
---David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History, University of California, Berkeley
"A fascinating anthology whose essays crystallize the most salient features of American Jewish life in the second half of the twentieth century."
---Beth S. Wenger, Katz Family Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania
"A wonderful collection of important essays, indispensable for understanding the searing conflicts over faith, familial, and political commitments marking American Jewry's journey through the paradoxes of the post-Holocaust era."
---Michael E. Staub, Professor of English, Baruch College, CUNY, and author of Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America
"This provocative anthology offers fascinating essays on Jewish culture, politics, religion, feminism, and much more. It is a must-read for all those interested in the intersection of Jewish life and identity politics in the modern period."
---Joyce Antler, Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture, Brandeis University
"This collection of essays invites the reader to engage with some of the best writing and thinking about American Jewish life by some of the finest scholars in the field. Deborah Moore's introduction offers an important framework to understand not only the essays, but the academic and political contexts in which they are rooted."
---Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor and Chair, American Studies, University of Minnesota, and editor of Women Remaking American Judaism
This collection of essays explores changes among American Jews in their self-understanding during the last half of the 20th century.
Written by scholars who grew up after World War II and the Holocaust who participated in political struggles in the 1960s and 1970s and who articulated many of the formative concepts of modern Jewish studies, this anthology provides a window into an era of social change. These men and women are among the leading scholars of Jewish history, society and culture.
The volume is organized around contested themes in American Jewish life: the Holocaust and World War II, religious pluralism and authenticity, intermarriage and Jewish continuity. Thus, it offers one of the few opportunities for students to learn about these debates from participant scholars.
The book includes a dozen photographs of contemporary Jewish experience in the United States by acclaimed Jewish photographer Bill Aron. Like the scholars of the essays, Aron participated in struggles within the Jewish community and the Jewish counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s. His images reflect shifting perspectives toward spirituality, community, feminism, and memory culture.
The essays reflect several layers of identity politics. On one level, they interrogate the recent past of American Jews, starting with their experiences of World War II. Without the flourishing of identity politics and the white ethnic revival, many questions about American Jewish history might never have been explored. Those who adopted identity politics often saw Jews as an ethnic group in the United States, one connected both to other Americans and to Jews throughout the world and in the past. On another level, these essays express ideas nourished in universities during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s. Those years marked the expansion of Jewish studies as a field in the United States and the establishment of American Jewish studies as an area of specialization. Taken together they reveal the varied sources of American Jewish studies. Finally, one must note that in many cases these essays anticipate major books on the subject. Reading them now reveals how ideas took shape within the political pressures of the moment.
These articles teach us not only about their subject but also about how issues were framed and debated during what might be called our fin de siecle, the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first. The authors of these articles include several, most notably Arthur Green, Alvin Rosenfield, and the late Egon Mayer, who collectively could be thought of as the founding fathers of this new generation of Jewish scholars. Green in theology, Rosenfield in literature, and Mayer in sociology influenced younger academics such as Arnold Eisen. A slightly different relationship exists among the historians. Several come to their subject though the study of American history, including Hasia Diner, Stephen Whitfield, and Jonathan Sarna, while others approach through the portal of Jewish history, such as Paula Hyman and Jeffrey Gurock.
In her evocative ethnographic study, Body Language, Kimberly Lau traces the multiple ways in which the success of an innovative fitness program illuminates what identity means to its Black female clientele and how their group interaction provides a new perspective on feminist theories of identity politics—especially regarding the significance of identity to political activism and social change.
Sisters in Shape, Inc., Fitness Consultants (SIS), a Philadelphia company, promotes balance in physical, mental, and spiritual health. Its program goes beyond workouts, as it educates and motivates women to make health and fitness a priority. Discussing the obstacles at home and the importance of the group's solidarity to their ability to stay focused on their goals, the women speak to the ways in which their commitment to reshaping their bodies is a commitment to an alternative future.
Body Language shows how the group's explorations of black women's identity open new possibilities for identity-based claims to recognition, justice, and social change.
Throughout the seventies, the idea of being “pro-Israel” was traditionally equated with support for the Israeli government and was central to an understanding of American Jewish identity. It was so central, argues Marla Brettschneider, that even committed activists who took issue with such a monolithic stance were silenced by mainstream Jewish organizations. But during the 1980s, a change took place. An explosion of new Jewish groups intent on challenging the dominant definition of the pro-Israel attitude transformed an increasingly closed Jewish community into one more democratic and inclusive.
In Cornerstones of Peace, Marla Brettschneider skillfully combines a lucid review of contemporary Liberal political theory and its understanding of the role of groups in the political process, a sophisticated analysis of Hobbesian philosophy, and a rich history of “alternative” Jewish activist groups like Breira and Americans for Peace Now (APN) to ask: What can we learn about identity and democratic theory from the changes that have taken place in the Jewish community? Through an insightful exploration of how small, activist groups have reclaimed pro-Israel identity politics as a collective multilayered process, Brettschneider adds her voice to the growing number of political theorists envisioning a pro-diversity alternative to Liberal political thought. She theorizes about a new democratic theory, showing theorists and activists how to envision and enact more vibrant, inclusive democratic politics.
We are witnessing in the last decade of the twentieth century more frequent demands by racial and ethnic groups for recognition of their distinctive histories and traditions as well as opportunities to develop and maintain the institutional infrastructure necessary to preserve them. Where it once seemed that the ideal of American citizenship was found in the promise of integration and in the hope that none of us would be singled out for, let alone judged by, our race or ethnicity, today integration, often taken to mean a denial of identity and history for subordinated racial, gender, sexual or ethnic groups, is often rejected, and new terms of inclusion are sought. The essays in Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law ask us to examine carefully the relation of cultural struggle and material transformation and law's role in both. Written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and theoretical inclinations, the essays challenge orthodox understandings of the nature of identity politics and contemporary debates about separatism and assimilation. They ask us to think seriously about the ways law has been, and is, implicated in these debates. The essays address questions such as the challenges posed for notions of legal justice and procedural fairness by cultural pluralism and identity politics, the role played by law in structuring the terms on which recognition, accommodation, and inclusion are accorded to groups in the United States, and how much of accepted notions of law are defined by an ideal of integration and assimilation.
The contributors are Elizabeth Clark, Lauren Berlant, Dorothy Roberts, Georg Lipsitz, and Kenneth Karst.
Decency remains one of the most prevalent yet least understood terms in today’s political discourse. In evoking respect, kindness, courage, integrity, reason, and tolerance, it has long expressed an unquestioned duty and belief in promoting and protecting the dignity of all persons. Today this unquestioned belief is in crisis. Tribalism and identity politics have both hindered and threatened its moral stability and efficacy. Still, many continue to undertheorize its political character by isolating it from the effects of identity politics. Decency and Difference argues that decency is a primary source of the political tension that has long shaped the struggles for power, identity, and justice in the global arena. It distinguishes among basic, conservative, and liberal strands of decency to critically examine the many conflicting and competing applications of decency in global politics. Together these different strands reflect a long and uneven evolution from the British and American empires to a global network of justice. This powerful book exposes the gaps of decency and the disparate ways it is practiced, thus addressing the global challenge of configuring a diverse political ethic of decency.
“In this seminal book, Steven Roach asks questions that are decisive for humankind's survival. What if the liberal international order is in trouble not in spite of decency but because of it? In our ongoing struggle to conduct ourselves morally in relation to others, to act with integrity, tolerance, and courage in protecting the dignity of all persons, what if the notion of decency is caught in a ‘moral silo,’ where its ideological strands contradict basic decency? What if notions of decency mirror our biases and incite divisive identity politics rather than neutralizing them? This book chronicles decency’s complex evolution and contradictions, thinking through decency outside of the liberal world order, offering a heterodox idea of decency, a plurality of ways of practicing decency to protect dignity as a way forward. This is a must-read book not just for academics and politicians, but for every citizen of this world who is interested in offering a dignified future to later generations.”
—Dr. Evelin Lindner, founding president of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, author of Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflicts
“This important new work brings welcome light to one of the most underexamined notions underpinning the liberal and humanitarian architectures of world order: decency. At a time of enormous moral, strategic and ecological peril, Steven Roach brings analytical brilliance, philosophical care and global political awareness to understanding one of the most ambiguous and crucial concepts of our age.”
—Anthony Burke, University of New South Wales, Canberra
“Decency and Difference adopts a critical approach to provide an intellectual history of the notion of decency and use it as a way to interpret modern national and global politics and their interactions. This is an ambitious book, highly recommended for scholars in the fields, among others, of political science and international politics.”
—Jean-Marc Coicaud, Professor of Law and Global Affairs, Rutgers School of Law, Rutgers University
“Steven Roach takes us on a magisterial, critical journey across the little investigated, multifaceted terrain of decency. This is a pioneering contribution to an understanding of decency as a political force. May this original and highly compelling book also be inspiring to researchers in such related fields as Global Justice, Peace, and Dignity Studies.”
—Francisco Gomes de Matos, Emeritus Professor, Federal University of Pernambuco and co-founder, ABA Global Education, Recife, Brazil
“Nobody, presumably, wants to be indecent, and this excellent book by Steven C. Roach explores the significance but also the hypocrisy of ‘decency’ in international relations. This is a challenging book in the best of ways and is a must-read for anybody concerned with the ethics of the global order.”
—Ilan Baron, Durham University
In the diversity of their clients as well as their professional and student staff, writing centers present a complicated set of relationships that inevitably affect the instruction they offer. In Facing the Center, Harry Denny unpacks the identity matrices that enrich teachable moments, and he explores the pedagogical dynamics and implications of identity within the writing center.
The face of the writing center, be it mainstream or marginal, majority or miority, orthodox or subversive, always has implications for teaching and learning. Facing the Center will extend current research in writing center theory to bring it in touch with theories now common in cultural studies curricula. Denny takes up issues of power, agency, language, and meaning, and pushes his readers to ask how they themselves, or the centers in which they work, might be perpetuating cultures that undermine inclusive, progressive education.
One of the most substantial divides in American politics is the “God gap.” Religious voters tend to identify with and support the Republican Party, while secular voters generally support the Democratic Party. Conventional wisdom suggests that religious differences between Republicans and Democrats have produced this gap, with voters sorting themselves into the party that best represents their religious views.
Michele F. Margolis offers a bold challenge to the conventional wisdom, arguing that the relationship between religion and politics is far from a one-way street that starts in the church and ends at the ballot box. Margolis contends that political identity has a profound effect on social identity, including religion. Whether a person chooses to identify as religious and the extent of their involvement in a religious community are, in part, a response to political surroundings. In today’s climate of political polarization, partisan actors also help reinforce the relationship between religion and politics, as Democratic and Republican elites stake out divergent positions on moral issues and use religious faith to varying degrees when reaching out to voters.
In the intimate context of domestic service, power relations take on one of their most personalized forms. Domestic servants and their employers must formulate their political identities in relationship to each other, sometimes reinforcing and sometimes challenging broader social hierarchies such as those based on class, caste or rank, gender, race and ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and kinship relations.
This pathbreaking collection builds on recent examinations of identity in the postcolonial states of South and Southeast Asia by investigating the ways in which domestic workers and their employers come to know and depict one another and themselves through their interactions inside and outside of the home. This setting provides a particularly apt arena for examining the daily negotiations of power and hegemony.
Contributors to the volume, all anthropologists, provide rich ethnographic analyses that avoid a narrow focus on either workers or employers. Rather, they examine systems of power through specific topics that range from the notion of "nurture for sale" to the roles of morality and humor in the negotiation of hierarchy and the dilemmas faced by foreign employers who find themselves in life-and-death dependence on their servants.
With its provocative theoretical and ethnographic contributions to current debates, this collection will be of interest to scholars in Asian studies, women's studies, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.
Kathleen M. Adams is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Loyola University of Chicago. Sara Dickey is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Bowdoin College.
As someone who feels the emotional power of rock and who writes about it as an art form, Theodore Gracyk has been praised for launching "plainspoken arguments destined to change the future of rock and roll," (Publishers Weekly). In I Wanna Be Me, his second book about the music he cares so much about, Gracyk grapples with the ways that rock shapes—limits and expands—our notions of who we can be in the world.
Gracyk sees rock as a mass art, open-ended and open to diverse (but not unlimited) interpretations. Recordings reach millions, drawing people together in communities of listeners who respond viscerally to its sound and intellectually to its messages. As an art form that proclaims its emotional authenticity and resistance to convention, rock music constitutes part of the cultural apparatus from which individuals mold personal and political identities. Going to the heart of this relationship between the music's role in its performers' and fans' self-construction, Gracyk probes questions of gender and appropriation. How can a feminist be a Stones fan or a straight man enjoy the Indigo Girls? Does borrowing music that carries a "racial identity" always add up to exploitation, a charge leveled at Paul Simon's Graceland?
Ranging through forty years of rock history and offering a trove of anecdotes and examples, I Wanna Be Me, like Gracyk's earlier book, "should be cherished, and read, by rockers everywhere" (Salon).
In Identity, Mediation, and the Cunning of Capital, Ani Maitra urgently calls for a reevaluation of identity politics as an aesthetic maneuver regulated by capitalism. A dominant critical trend in the humanities, Maitra argues, is to dismiss or embrace identity through the formal properties of a privileged aesthetic medium such as literature, cinema, or even the performative body. In contrast, he demonstrates that identity politics becomes unavoidably real and material only because the minoritized subject is split between multiple sites of mediation—visual, linguistic, and sonic—while remaining firmly tethered to capitalism’s hierarchical logic of value production. Only in the interstices of media can we track the aesthetic conversion of identitarian difference into value, marked by the inequities of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
Maitra’s archive is transnational and multimodal. Moving from anticolonial polemics to psychoanalysis to diasporic experimental literature to postcolonial feminist and queer media, he lays bare the cunning by which capitalism produces and fragments identity through an intermedial “aesthetic dissonance” with the commodity form. Maitra’s novel contribution to theories of identity and to the concept of mediation will interest a wide range of scholars in media studies, critical race and postcolonial studies, and critical aesthetics.
"Lesbian feminism began and has fueled itself with the rejection of liberalism.... In this rejection, lesbian feminists were not alone. They were joined by the New Left, by many blacks in the civil rights movement, by male academic theorists.... What all these groups shared was an intense awareness of the ways in which liberalism fails to account for the social reality of the world, through a reliance upon law and legal structure to define membership, through individualism, through its basis in a particular conception of rationality."
In tracing how lesbian feminism came to be defined in uneasy relationships with the Women’s Movement and gay rights groups, Shane Phelan explores the tension between liberal ideals of individual rights and tolerance and communitarian ideals of solidarity. The debate over lesbian sado-masochism—an expression of individual choice or pornographic, anti-feminist behavior?—is considered as a test case.
Phelan addresses the problems faced by "the woman-identified woman" in a liberal society that presumes heterosexuality as the biological, psychological, and moral standard. Often silenced by laws defining their sexual behavior as criminal and censured by a medical establishment that persists in defining homosexuality as perversion, lesbians, like blacks and other groups, have fought to have the same rights as others in their communities and even in their own homes. Lesbian feminists have also sought to define themselves as a community that would be distinctly different, a community that would disavow the traditional American obsession with individual advancement in the world as it is.
In this controversial study of political philosophy and the women’s movement, Phelan argues that "the failure to date to produce a satisfying theory and program for lesbian action is reflective of the failure of modern political thinking to produce a compelling, nonsuspect alternative to liberalism."
In the series Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg.
In Identity Politics of Difference, author Michelle R. Montgomery uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine questions of identity construction and multiracialism through the experiences of mixed-race Native American students at a tribal school in New Mexico. She explores the multiple ways in which these students navigate, experience, and understand their racial status and how this status affects their educational success and social interactions.
Montgomery contextualizes students’ representations of their racial identity choices through the compounded race politics of blood quantum and stereotypes of physical features, showing how varying degrees of "Indianness" are determined by peer groups. Based on in-depth interviews with nine students who identify as mixed-race (Native American–White, Native American–Black, and Native American–Hispanic), Montgomery challenges us to scrutinize how the category of “mixed-race” bears different meanings for those who fall under it based on their outward perceptions, including their ability to "pass" as one race or another.
Identity Politics of Difference includes an arsenal of policy implications for advancing equity and social justice in tribal colleges and beyond and actively engages readers to reflect on how they have experienced the identity politics of race throughout their own lives. The book will be a valuable resource to scholars, policy makers, teachers, and school administrators, as well as to students and their families.
Well over thirty million people in the United States speak a primary language other than English. Nearly twenty million of them speak Spanish. And these numbers are growing. Critics of immigration and multiculturalism argue that recent government language policies such as bilingual education, non-English election materials, and social service and workplace "language rights" threaten the national character of the United States. Proponents of bilingualism, on the other hand, maintain that, far from being a threat, these language policies and programs provide an opportunity to right old wrongs and make the United States a more democratic society.
This book lays out the two approaches to language policy -- linguistic assimilation and linguistic pluralism -- in clear and accessible terms. Filled with examples and narratives, it provides a readable overview of the U.S. "culture wars" and explains why the conflict has just now emerged as a major issue in the United States.
Professor Schmidt examines bilingual education in the public schools, "linguistic access" rights to public services, and the designation of English as the United States' "official" language. He illuminates the conflict by describing the comparative, theoretical, and social contexts for the debate. The source of the disagreement, he maintains, is not a disagreement over language per se but over identity and the consequences of identity for individuals, ethnic groups, and the country as a whole. Who are "the American people"? Are we one national group into which newcomers must assimilate? Or are we composed of many cultural communities, each of which is a unique but integral part of the national fabric? This fundamental point is what underlies the specific disputes over language policy. This way of looking at identity politics, as Professor Schmidt shows, calls into question the dichotomy between "material interest" politics and "symbolic" politics in relation to group identities.
Not limited to describing the nature and context of the language debate, Language Policy and Identity Politics in the United States reaches the conclusion that a policy of linguistic pluralism, coupled with an immigrant settlement policy and egalitarian economic reforms, will best meet the aims of justice and the common good. Only by attacking both the symbolic and material effects of racialization will the United States be able to attain the goals of social equality and national harmony.
To experience change on the Navajo Reservation, one need only close one's eyes and listen. Today an increasing number of Navajos speak only English, while very few speak only Navajo. The Navajo language continues to be taught, but it is less often practiced. Deborah House asks why, despite the many factors that would seem to contribute to the maintenance of the Navajo language, speakers of the language continue to shift to English at such an alarming rate—and what can be done about it. Language Shift among the Navajos provides a close look at the ideological factors that intervene between the desire of the Navajos to maintain their language as an important aspect of their culture and their actual linguistic practice. Based on more than ten years of fieldwork within a Navajo institution and community, it points to ideologies held by Navajo people about their unequal relationship with the dominant American society as a primary factor in the erosion of traditional language use. House suggests that the Navajos employ their own paradigm—Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón—to learn both Western language and culture and their own without denigrating either perspective. By building on the traditional Navajo belief in harmony and balance, she advocates that those who value the language should use and teach it not just in school but also in the home, in the ceremonial hogans, and among those who cherish their heritage. Now is the time when language choices and behavior will influence whether the Navajo language lives or dies. House's book carries important lessons for anyone concerned with cultural continuity. It is a wake-up call for educators, youth, politicians, or family and community members who value Native language and culture. It remains to be seen in what language that call will be answered.
Attacking the common view that whiteness is a meaningless category of identity, Lipsitz shows that public policy and private prejudice insure that whites wind up on top of the social hierarchy. Passionately and clearly written, this wide-ranging book probes into the social and material rewards that accrue to "the possessive investment in whiteness." Lipsitz sums up the ways that public policy has virtually excluded communities of color from everything that American society defines as desirable: first-rate education, decent housing, asset accumulation, political power, social status, satisfying work, and even the power it shape and narrate their own history. White supremacy is no thing of the past, no fringe movement. It is a pervasive and pernicious system that restricts the political and cultural agency of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos every day. Unearned and unacknowledged, race-based advantages, not greater merit or a superior work ethic, account for white privilege.
Lipsitz's ultimate point is not to condemn all white people as racists but to challenge everyone to begin a principled examination of personal actions and political commitments. Exposing the system of unfairness is not enough. People of all groups -- but especially white people because they benefit from that system -- have to work toward eradicating the rewards of whiteness.
George Lipsitz’s classic book The Possessive Investment in Whiteness argues that public policy and private prejudice work together to create a possessive investment in whiteness that is responsible for the racialized hierarchies of our society. Whiteness has a cash value: it accounts for advantages that come to individuals through profits made from housing secured in discriminatory markets, through the unequal educational opportunities available to children of different races, through insider networks that channel employment opportunities to the friends and relatives of those who have profited most from past and present discrimination, and especially through intergenerational transfers of inherited wealth that pass on the spoils of discrimination to succeeding generations. White Americans are encouraged to invest in whiteness, to remain true to an identity that provides them with structured advantages.
In this twentieth anniversary edition, Lipsitz provides a new introduction and updated statistics; as well as analyses of the enduring importance of Hurricane Katrina; the nature of anti-immigrant mobilizations; police assaults on Black women, the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray; the legacy of Obama and the emergence of Trump; the Charleston Massacre and other hate crimes; and the ways in which white fear, white fragility, and white failure have become drivers of a new ethno-nationalism.
As vital as it was upon its original publication, the twentieth anniversary edition of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness is an unflinching but necessary look at white supremacy.
In this unflinching look at white supremacy, George Lipsitz argues that racism is a matter of interests as well as attitudes, a problem of property as well as pigment. Above and beyond personal prejudice, whiteness is a structured advantage that produces unfair gains and unearned rewards for whites while imposing impediments to asset accumulation, employment, housing, and health care for minorities. Reaching beyond the black/white binary, Lipsitz shows how whiteness works in respect to Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.Lipsitz delineates the weaknesses embedded in civil rights laws, the racial dimensions of economic restructuring and deindustrialization, and the effects of environmental racism, job discrimination and school segregation. He also analyzes the centrality of whiteness to U.S. culture, and perhaps most importantly, he identifies the sustained and perceptive critique of white privilege embedded in the radical black tradition. This revised and expanded edition also includes an essay about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on working class Blacks in New Orleans, whose perpetual struggle for dignity and self determination has been obscured by the city's image as a tourist party town.
Who am I? The question today haunts every society in the Western world.
Legions of people—especially the young—have become unmoored from a firm sense of self. To compensate, they join the ranks of ideological tribes spawned by identity politics and react with frenzy against any perceived threat to their group.
As identitarians track and expose the ideologically impure, other citizens face the consequences of their rancor: a litany of “isms” run amok across all levels of cultural life; the free marketplace of ideas muted by agendas shouted through megaphones; and a spirit of general goodwill warped into a state of perpetual outrage.
How did we get here? Why have we divided against one another so bitterly? In Primal Screams, acclaimed cultural critic Mary Eberstadt presents the most provocative and original theory to come along in recent years. The rise of identity politics, she argues, is a direct result of the fallout of the sexual revolution, especially the collapse and shrinkage of the family.
As Eberstadt illustrates, humans from time immemorial have forged their identities within the structure of kinship. The extended family, in a real sense, is the first tribe and first teacher. But with its unprecedented decline across a variety of measures, generations of people have been set adrift and can no longer answer the question Who am I? with reference to primordial ties. Desperate for solidarity and connection, they claim membership in politicized groups whose displays of frantic irrationalism amount to primal screams for familial and communal loss.
Written in her impeccable style and with empathy rarely encountered in today’s divisive discourse, Eberstadt’s theory holds immense explanatory power that no serious citizen can afford to ignore. The book concludes with three incisive essays by Rod Dreher, Mark Lilla, and Peter Thiel, each sharing their perspective on the author’s formidable argument.
Salafism, comprised of fundamentalist Islamic movements whose adherents consider themselves the only “saved” sect of Islam, has been little studied, remains shrouded in misconceptions, and has provoked new interest as Salafists have recently staked a claim to power in some Arab states while spearheading battles against “infidel” Arab regimes during recent rebellions in the Arab world. Robert G. Rabil examines the emergence and development of Salafism into a prominent religious movement in Lebanon, including the ideological and sociopolitical foundation that led to the three different schools of Salafism in Lebanon: quietist Salafists, Haraki (active) Salafists; and Salafi Jihadists.
Emphasizing their manhaj (methodology) toward politics, the author surveys Salafists’ ideological transformation from opponents to supporters of political engagement. Their antagonism to Hezbollah, which they denounce as the party of Satan, has risen exponentially following the party’s seizure of Beirut in 2008 and support of the tyrannical Syrian regime. Salafism in Lebanon also demonstrates how activists and jihadi Salafists, in response to the political weakness of Sunni leadership, have threatened regional and international security by endorsing violence and jihad.
Drawing on field research trips, personal interviews, and Arabic primary sources, the book explores the relationship between the ideologies of the various schools of Salafism and their praxis in relation to Lebanese politics. The book should interest students and scholars of Islamic movements, international affairs, politics and religion, and radical groups and terrorism.
The Taiwan Voter
Christopher H. Achen and T. Y. Wang, Editors University of Michigan Press, 2017 Library of Congress JQ1538.T3523 2017 | Dewey Decimal 324.951249
The Taiwan Voter examines the critical role ethnic and national identities play in politics, utilizing the case of Taiwan. Although elections there often raise international tensions, and have led to military demonstrations by China, no scholarly books have examined how Taiwan’s voters make electoral choices in a dangerous environment. Critiquing the conventional interpretation of politics as an ideological battle between liberals and conservatives, The Taiwan Voter demonstrates in Taiwan the party system and voters’ responses are shaped by one powerful determinant of national identity—the China factor.
Taiwan’s electoral politics draws international scholarly interest because of the prominent role of ethnic and national identification. While in most countries the many tangled strands of competing identities are daunting for scholarly analysis, in Taiwan the cleavages are powerful and limited in number, so the logic of interrelationships among issues, partisanship, and identity are particularly clear. The Taiwan Voter unites experts to investigate the ways in which social identities, policy views, and partisan preferences intersect and influence each other. These novel findings have wide applicability to other countries, and will be of interest to a broad range of social scientists interested in identity politics.
In this lively, thought-provoking study, AnaLouise Keating writes in the traditions of radical U.S. women-of-color feminist/womanist thought and queer studies, inviting us to transform how we think about identity, difference, social justice and social change, metaphysics, reading, and teaching. Through detailed investigations of women of color theories and writings, indigenous thought, and her own personal and pedagogical experiences, Keating develops transformative modes of engagement that move through oppositional approaches to embrace interconnectivity as a framework for identity formation, theorizing, social change, and the possibility of planetary citizenship. Speaking to many dimensions of contemporary scholarship, activism, and social justice work, Transformation Now! calls for and enacts innovative, radically inclusionary ways of reading, teaching, and communicating.
Vulnerability in Resistance
Judith Butler, Zeynep Gambetti, and Leticia Sabsay, editors Duke University Press, 2016 Library of Congress HQ1190.V86 2016
Vulnerability and resistance have often been seen as opposites, with the assumption that vulnerability requires protection and the strengthening of paternalistic power at the expense of collective resistance. Focusing on political movements and cultural practices in different global locations, including Turkey, Palestine, France, and the former Yugoslavia, the contributors to Vulnerability in Resistance articulate an understanding of the role of vulnerability in practices of resistance. They consider how vulnerability is constructed, invoked, and mobilized within neoliberal discourse, the politics of war, resistance to authoritarian and securitarian power, in LGBTQI struggles, and in the resistance to occupation and colonial violence. The essays offer a feminist account of political agency by exploring occupy movements and street politics, informal groups at checkpoints and barricades, practices of self-defense, hunger strikes, transgressive enactments of solidarity and mourning, infrastructural mobilizations, and aesthetic and erotic interventions into public space that mobilize memory and expose forms of power. Pointing to possible strategies for a feminist politics of transversal engagements and suggesting a politics of bodily resistance that does not disavow forms of vulnerability, the contributors develop a new conception of embodiment and sociality within fields of contemporary power.
Contributors. Meltem Ahiska, Athena Athanasiou, Sarah Bracke, Judith Butler, Elsa Dorlin, Başak Ertür, Zeynep Gambetti, Rema Hammami, Marianne Hirsch, Elena Loizidou, Leticia Sabsay, Nükhet Sirman, Elena Tzelepis