649 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books
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New Books in Critical Theory Marshall Poe

    • Science

Interviews with Scholars of Critical Theory about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/critical-theory

    Doron Taussig, "What We Mean by the American Dream: Stories We Tell about Meritocracy" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    Doron Taussig, "What We Mean by the American Dream: Stories We Tell about Meritocracy" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    Doron Taussig invites us to question the American Dream. Did you earn what you have? Did everyone else? The American Dream is built on the idea that Americans end up, in our working lives, roughly where we deserve to be based on our efforts and abilities—in other words, the United States is supposed to be a meritocracy. When Americans think and talk about our lives, we grapple with this idea, asking how a person got to where he or she is, and whether they earned it. 
    In What We Mean by the American Dream: Stories We Tell about Meritocracy (Cornell UP, 2021), Taussig tries to find out how we answer that question. Weaving together interviews with Americans from many walks of life—as well as stories told in American media about prominent figures from politics, sports, and business—What We Mean by the American Dream investigates how Americans think about whether an individual deserves an opportunity, job, termination, paycheck, or fortune. Taussig's frank assessment of the state of the American workforce and its dreams allows him to truly and meaningfully ask the question that underpins so many of our political debates and personal frustrations, did you earn it? By doing so, he sheds new light on what we mean by—and how we can deliver on—the American Dream of today.
    Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
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    Cristina Beltrán, "Cruelty As Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Cristina Beltrán, "Cruelty As Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Cristina Beltrán has written a thoughtful and interrogating analysis of the concept of citizenship, particularly in the United States, and how the history of the United States as a country has shaped an understanding of who gets to be “belong” as a member of this society. The book, Cruelty as Citizenship: How Migrant Suffering Sustains White Democracy is part of the Forerunners book series published by the University of Minnesota Press—this series, as we discuss in our conversation, publishes shorter works that dig into ideas across a broad and interdisciplinary spectrum. And this is precisely what Beltrán has done in this book, in terms of engaging historiography, Cultural Studies, LatinX Studies, political theory, American Studies, and other disciplines to aid her unwrapping of our understanding of immigrants and migrants, and why there is an interest in seeing these groups as “others” and, among certain segments of the population, wanting to make sure they suffer in this exclusionary position. Beltrán takes the reader through both imagined and real spaces in terms of the place of the immigrant and the migrant in the United States, weaving the role of the American frontier, the way that settler-colonialism operated inside the U.S., and an understanding of white identity within all of these contexts.
    Cruelty as Citizenship is an accessible exploration of the tensions within the United States that surround our reactions to those coming to this country (forcibly, or by choice) and how racial identity has shaped the varied experiences and responses of those who come to the United States and those who have proceeded them here. As Beltrán noted in our discussion, she had come to this work in an effort to tease out the different political affiliations within the LatinX population in the U.S. What she found was that in order to understand the political responses by LatinX voters, the entire dynamic between different racial groups and the role of racial domination needs to be explored. Thus, Cruelty as Citizenship is the result of digging into the political dynamics within different racial groups in the United States, and getting at the role of white identity, and thus white democracy, within American cultural concepts and expectations of political and state power. Cruelty as Citizenship guides the reader through multiple facets of American history, politics, culture, and ideas about what it is to be American and who has the right to claim this identity as their own.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    Daniel Jose Gaztambide, "A People's History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology" (Lexington Books, 2021)

    Daniel Jose Gaztambide, "A People's History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology" (Lexington Books, 2021)

    In this episode, host J.J. Mull interviews Daniel José Gaztambide about his book, A People’s History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology (Lexington Books, 2021). The project traces a global intellectual lineage spanning from the first generation of analysts in Europe to Harlem, the Caribbean, and finally, to Latin America. Challenging a broader cultural narrative that conceives of psychoanalysis as somehow fundamentally “white” or euro-centric, Gaztambide presents a radical and politicized version of psychoanalytic thought inherited and expanded by thinkers like Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Ignacio Martín-Baró.
    J.J. Mull is a poet, training clinician, and graduate student at Smith College School for Social Work living in Northampton, MA. He can be reached at jmull@smith.edu
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    Tim Jackson, "Post Growth: Life after Capitalism" (Polity, 2021)

    Tim Jackson, "Post Growth: Life after Capitalism" (Polity, 2021)

    I spoke with Prof. Tim Jackson about his latest book: Post Growth, Life after Capitalism, published by Polity Books in 2021.
    The book starts with a reflection on the event of the past few months. The success in 2019 of the school strikes for climate, the attention that Greta Thunberg received even in Davos, and the arrival of the pandemic that changed our priorities. Even the 2009 crisis challenged the degrowth movement when we experienced the consequences of the recession. I have asked how do we keep the focus on sustainability?
    This book and his work in general are about the need for a change in our economic paradigms. But we are still tied to old ideas and institutions. Keynes that many progressive politicians and economists frequently refer to, cannot be really claimed to be offering revolutionary ideas for our times. Still, the book mentions an essay by Keynes from 1930 where he appears clearly interested in what should come after the immediate actions (growth) needed to overcome the great depression.
    We discussed how the shift in economic paradigm can follow different patterns in the rich nations and in the developing ones. Finally, referring to the final chapter, 'Dolphins in Venice', we talked about what could happen at the end of the pandemic to our cultural and consumption preferences.
    Capitalism is broken. The relentless pursuit of more has delivered climate catastrophe, social inequality and financial instability—and left us ill prepared for life in a global pandemic. Weaving together philosophical reflection, economic insight and social vision, Tim Jackson’s passionate and provocative book dares us to imagine a world beyond capitalism—a place where relationship and meaning take precedence over profits and power. Post Growth is both a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a deeper conversation about the nature of the human condition.
    Dr Tim Jackson holds degrees in mathematics (MA, Cambridge), philosophy (MA, Uni Western Ontario) and physics (PhD, St Andrews). He is Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey in the UK.
    Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK.
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    Jillian C. York, "Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism" (Verso Book, 2021)

    Jillian C. York, "Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism" (Verso Book, 2021)

    What is the impact of surveillance capitalism on our right to free speech? The Internet once promised to be a place of extraordinary freedom beyond the control of money or politics, but today corporations and platforms exercise more control over our ability to access information and share knowledge to a greater extent than any state. From the online calls to arms in the thick of the Arab Spring to the contemporary front line of misinformation, Jillian York charts the war over our digital rights. She looks at both how the big corporations have become unaccountable censors, and the devastating impact it has had on those who have been censored.
    In Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism (Verso Book, 2021), leading campaigner Jillian York, looks at how our rights have become increasingly undermined by the major corporations desire to harvest our personal data and turn it into profit. She also looks at how governments have used the same technology to monitor citizens and threatened our ability to communicate. As a result our daily lives, and private thoughts, are being policed in an unprecedented manner. Who decides the difference between political debate and hate speech? How does this impact on our identity, our ability to create communities and to protest? Who regulates the censors? In response to this threat to our democracy, York proposes a user-powered movement against the platforms that demands change and a new form of ownership over our own data.
    Marci Mazzarotto is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Her research interests center on the interdisciplinary intersection of academic theory and artistic practice with a focus on film and television studies.
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    Michael L. Siciliano, "Creative Control: The Ambivalence of Work in the Culture Industries" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Michael L. Siciliano, "Creative Control: The Ambivalence of Work in the Culture Industries" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    How should we understand creative work? In Creative Control: The Ambivalence of Work in the Culture Industries (Columbia UP, 2021), Michael Siciliano, an assistant professor of sociology at Queen's University, Canada, explores this question through a comparison of a recording studio and a digital content creation company. The book considers the meaning and practice of ‘creative’ labour, considering its ambivalences, the passions and commitments, as well as the compromises and alienations associated with this area of economy and society. It represents a crucial intervention to the literature on cultural production, as well as offering an important understanding of the impact of digital modes of distribution and production on creative industries. A rich and fascinating comparative ethnography, the book is essential reading across humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in understanding contemporary culture.
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