In the mid-1990s, scholars turned their attention toward the ways that ongoing political, economic, and cultural transformations were changing the realm of the social, specifically that aspect of it described by the notion of affect: pre-individual bodily forces, linked to autonomic responses, which augment or diminish a body’s capacity to act or engage with others. This “affective turn” and the new configurations of bodies, technology, and matter that it reveals, is the subject of this collection of essays. Scholars based in sociology, cultural studies, science studies, and women’s studies illuminate the movement in thought from a psychoanalytically informed criticism of subject identity, representation, and trauma to an engagement with information and affect; from a privileging of the organic body to an exploration of nonorganic life; and from the presumption of equilibrium-seeking closed systems to an engagement with the complexity of open systems under far-from-equilibrium conditions. Taken together, these essays suggest that attending to the affective turn is necessary to theorizing the social.
Contributors. Jamie “Skye” Bianco, Grace M. Cho, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Melissa Ditmore, Ariel Ducey, Deborah Gambs, Karen Wendy Gilbert, Greg Goldberg, Jean Halley, Hosu Kim, David Staples, Craig Willse , Elizabeth Wissinger , Jonathan R. Wynn
An influential thinker’s fascinating reflections and meditations on reacclimating to his native Senegal as a young academic after years of study abroad
The call to morning prayer. A group run at daybreak along the Corniche in Dakar. A young woman shedding tears on a beach as her friends take a boat to Europe. In African Meditations, paths to enlightenment collide with tales of loss and ruminations, musical gatherings, and the everyday sights and sounds of life in West Africa as a young philosopher and creative writer seeks to establish himself as a teacher upon his return to Senegal, his homeland, after years of study abroad.
A unique contemporary portrait of an influential, multicultural thinker on a spiritual quest across continents—reflecting on his multiple literary influences along with French, African Francophone, and Senegalese tribal cultural roots in a homeland with a predominantly Muslim culture—African Meditations is a seamless blend of autobiography, journal entries, and fiction; aphorisms and brief narrative sketches; humor and Zen reflections.
Taking us from Saint-Louis to Dakar, Felwine Sarr encounters the rhythms of everyday life as well as its disruptions such as teachers’ strikes and power outages while traversing a semi-surrealistic landscape. As he reacclimates to his native country after a life in France, we get candid glimpses, both vibrant and hopeful, sublime and mundane, into his Zen journey to resecure a foothold in his roots and to navigate academia, even while gleaning something of the good life, of joy, amid the struggles of life in Senegal.
A timely and provocative discussion of alienation as an intersectional category of life under racial capitalism and white supremacy
From the divisiveness of the Trump era to the Covid-19 pandemic, alienation has become an all-too-familiar contemporary concept. In this groundbreaking book, James A. Tyner offers a novel framework for understanding the alienated subject, situating it within racial capitalism and white supremacy. Directly addressing current economic trends and their rhetoric of xenophobia, discrimination, and violence, The Alienated Subject exposes the universal whitewashing of alienation.
Drawing insight from a variety of sources, including Marxism, feminism, existentialism, and critical race theory, Tyner develops a critique of both the liberal subject and the alienated subject. Through an engagement with the recent pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, he demonstrates how the alienated subject is capable of both compassion and cruelty; it is a sadomasochist. Tyner goes on to emphasize the importance of the particular places we find the alienated subject and how the revolutionary transformation of alienation is inherently a spatial struggle. Returning to key interlocutors from Sartre to Fromm, he examines political notions of distance and the spatial practices of everyday life as well as the capitalist conditions that give rise to the alienated subject.
For Tyner, the alienated subject is not the iconic, romanticized image of Marx’s proletariat. Here he calls for an affirmation of love as a revolutionary concept, necessary for the transformation of a society marred by capitalism into an emancipated, caring society conditioned by socially just relations.
“Appiah is a writer and thinker of remarkable range… [He] has packed into this short book an impressive amount of original reflection… A rich and illuminating book.”—Thomas Nagel, New York Review of BooksIdealization is a fundamental feature of human thought. We build simplified models to make sense of the world, and life is a constant adjustment between the models we make and the realities we encounter. Our beliefs, desires, and sense of justice are bound up with these ideals, and we proceed “as if” our representations were true, while knowing they are not. In this elegant and original meditation, Kwame Anthony Appiah suggests that this instinct to idealize is not dangerous or distracting so much as it is necessary. As If explores how strategic untruth plays a critical role in far-flung areas of inquiry: decision theory, psychology, natural science, and political philosophy. A polymath who writes with mainstream clarity, Appiah defends the centrality of the imagination not just in the arts but in science, morality, and everyday life.“Appiah is the rare public intellectual who is also a first-rate analytic philosopher, and the characteristic virtues associated with each of these identities are very much in evidence throughout the book.”—Thomas Kelly, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Once upon a time, neuroscience was born. A dazzling array of neurotechnologies emerged that, according to popular belief, have finally begun to unlock the secrets of the brain. But as the brain sciences now extend into all corners of cultural, social, political, and economic life, a yet newer world has taken shape: “neuroculture,” which goes further than ever before to tackle the profound ethical implications we face in consequence.
The Assemblage Brain unveils a major new concept of sense making, one that challenges conventional scientific and philosophical understandings of the brain. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, Tony D. Sampson calls for a radical critical theory that operates in the interferences between philosophy, science, art, and politics. From this novel perspective the book is structured around two questions: “What can be done to a brain?” and “What can a brain do?” Sampson examines the rise of neuroeconomics in informing significant developments in computer work, marketing, and the neuropharmaceutical control of inattentiveness in the classroom. Moving beyond the neurocapitalist framework, he then reestablishes a place for proto-subjectivity in which biological and cultural distinctions are reintegrated in an understanding of the brain as an assemblage.
The Assemblage Brain unravels the conventional image of thought that underpins many scientific and philosophical accounts of how sense is produced, providing a new view of our current time in which capitalism and the neurosciences endeavor to colonize the brain.
The state is often regarded as an abstract and neutral bureaucratic entity. Against this common sense idea, At the Heart of the State argues that it is also a concrete and situated reality, embodied in the work of its agents and inscribed in the issues of its time.
The result of a five-year investigation conducted by ten scholars, this book describes and analyses the police, the court system, the prison apparatus, the social services, and mental health facilities in France. Combining genealogy and ethnography, its authors show that these state institutions do not simply implement laws, rules and procedures: they mobilise values and affects, judgements and emotions. In other words, they reflect the morality of the state.
Of immense interest to both social scientists and political theorists, this work will make an important contribution to the ever expanding literature on the contemporary state.
Automating technologies threaten to usher in a workless future. But this can be a good thing—if we play our cards right.Human obsolescence is imminent. The factories of the future will be dark, staffed by armies of tireless robots. The hospitals of the future will have fewer doctors, depending instead on cloud-based AI to diagnose patients and recommend treatments. The homes of the future will anticipate our wants and needs and provide all the entertainment, food, and distraction we could ever desire.To many, this is a depressing prognosis, an image of civilization replaced by its machines. But what if an automated future is something to be welcomed rather than feared? Work is a source of misery and oppression for most people, so shouldn’t we do what we can to hasten its demise? Automation and Utopia makes the case for a world in which, free from need or want, we can spend our time inventing and playing games and exploring virtual realities that are more deeply engaging and absorbing than any we have experienced before, allowing us to achieve idealized forms of human flourishing.The idea that we should “give up” and retreat to the virtual may seem shocking, even distasteful. But John Danaher urges us to embrace the possibilities of this new existence. The rise of automating technologies presents a utopian moment for humankind, providing both the motive and the means to build a better future.
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