The Common Place reviewed by Andrés Núñez


Andrés Núñez from the Institute of Geography of Universidad Católica de Chile reviews Graciela Silvestri’s book El lugar común, una historia de las figuras de paisaje en el Río de la Plata (The Common Place: A History of Rio de la Plata’s Landscape Representations) here. The book was published in Buenos Aires by Edhasa in 2011.

Another Argentinean title, Geografía y cultura visual (edited by Carla Lois and Veronica Hollman),  was reviewed on the Open Site earlier this year.

Five forthcoming papers in Society and Space

Five forthcoming papers – full papers require subscription, but abstracts viewable at these links.

The global as a field: children’s rights advocacy as a transnational practice
Jouni Häkli, Kirsi Pauliina Kallio

Self-reliance beyond neoliberalism: rethinking autonomy at the edges of empire
Karen Hébert, Diana Mincyte

Agency, affect, and the immunological politics of disaster resilience
Kevin Grove

Biodiversity, purity, and death: conservation biology as biopolitics
Christine Biermann, Becky Mansfield

Gendering fashion, fashioning fur: on the (re)production of a gendered labor market within a craft industry in transition
Norma M Rantisi

Interview with Elizabeth Povinelli with Mat Coleman and Kathryn Yusoff

978-0-8223-5084-2_prSociety and Space Editorial Board members, Mat Coleman and Kathryn Yusoff interview Elizabeth Povinelli about her recent and future work on the question of biopolitics, the Anthropocene and neoliberalism.

Elizabeth Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University. Her writing has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. Most recently, Povinelli is the author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (Duke University Press, 2011), The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Geneology, and Carnality (Duke University Press, 2006), and she is currently working on Geontologies: Indigenous Worlds in the New Media and Late Liberalism, the third and last volume of Dwelling in Late Liberalism. In this series of monographs she is interested in the ways that liberal discourses about alternative social worlds deflect ethical and social responsibility for the crushing, if at times imperceptible harms experienced by communities living at the margins. The volumes integrate political theory and philosophy, anthropology, and cultural and legal studies with ethnographic encounters in Indigenous Australia and queer America in order to understand the transformations that have taken place in how liberal regimes recognize and govern social difference in the wake of the anti-colonial and postcolonial movements—and in the face of the continual emergence of alternative social worlds.

Mat Coleman: In your recent work, and specifically in Economies of Abandonment, you pose a challenge to many theorists of neoliberalism in the sense that you identify the ‘cultural’ problem of late liberalism, i.e. a violent politics of cultural recognition in the wake of anti- and post- colonial social movements, as diagonal to the economic project(s) of neoliberalism as such. Your suggestion is that it is inadequate to see a cultural politics of late modernity as a sort of superstructural ephemera to late modern regimes of accumulation. But what exactly does your disaggregation of late liberalism and neoliberalism allow you to do which other theorizations of neoliberalism, which treat accumulation and regulation together, cannot do?

Elizabeth Povinelli: I must admit I have changed my use of the phrase late liberalism since publishing Economies of Abandonment. Whereas, you’re right, there I distinguished late liberalism from neoliberalism, I now use the phrase “late liberalism” to indicate a period, or development, in “liberalism” that stretches loosely between the late 1950s and the 00s. So late liberalism is meant as a way of periodizing and spatializing liberal formations. The argument is that from the 50s through the 70s, liberal governments—liberal governmentality—were shaken by two severe legitimacy crises. On the one hand, anticolonial, Native, and radical social movements shook the legitimacy of paternalistic liberalism and, on the other hand, Keynesian stagflation shook the legitimacy of the capitalist management of markets. From the perspective of these two slow moving events the politics of recognition and economics of neoliberalism should be seen as strategic containments of potentially more radical futures. It’s unclear whether in the wake of 9/11 multiculturalism remains the key mode of containing the radical otherwise and in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 neoliberal market forms will mutate into something else.

Continue reading here

[i] For a discussion of Althusser’s influence for instance on Harvey see: Resnick S, Wolff R, 2004, “Dialectics and Class in Marxian Economics: David Harvey and Beyond” New School Economic Review 1 59-72, esp. 60-62.

[ii] See also David R. Roediger, 2007, The Wages of Whiteness (London: Verso). .

[iii] Williams R, 1973, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory” New Left Review 82 3-16.

Watch out too for Mat Coleman’s forthcoming review essay of Economies of Abandonment in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Memorylands: Cole on Macdonald

memorylandsTim Cole reviews Sharon Macdonald’s book Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today. The book was published by Routledge in 2013.

Braverman, Irus 2013 “Zooland: The Institution of Captivity” reviewed by Franklin Ginn

ZoolandIrus Braverman, Zooland: The Institution of Captivity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2013, 280 pages, $24.95 paperback, ISBN 978-0-8047-8358-3

On 9 February 2014 a young giraffe named Marius was killed by bolt gun in Copenhagen Zoo. Marius’ body was dissected in front of a crowd comprised of young children, parents, and an international media throng – a public lesson in giraffe anatomy. His carcass was then fed to the lions. The zoo had deemed Marius surplus to requirements, since any of his future offspring would diminish, rather than enhance, the captive giraffe population’s genetic diversity. Like most Scandinavian zoos, Copenhagen holds that sexual reproduction is central to animal welfare and wellbeing, and prefers euthanasia of a few young animals to contraception for many (contraception having potentially debilitating side effects). Hence, a single giraffe was killed in the name of the genetic diversity of his worldwide kin, illustrating the inseparability of ‘good’ biopolitics (the power to make valued life live) and ‘bad’ biopolitics (the power to kill or let die in the name of other valued life) in the more-than-human world of the zoo. The central task of Irus Braverman’s Zooland is to understand how biopolitics take form within a relation of pastoral care in the zoo. Continue reading Franklin Ginn’s review here

Notes on Agamben’s theory of destituent power

CHRONOS_2013_Agamben_Lecture_Athens-620x465Philippe Theophanidis has put together some useful notes on Agamben’s theory of destituent power at the Aphelis blog. These are based on a lecture delivered in Greece which shares some common material with the longer piece translated in the current issue of Society and Space. The Society and Space article is part of a theme section, all of which is open access for a month, along with some permanently open access material on this site.

As Philippe suggests:

The Athens lecture… represents a very good complement to this more elaborate essay, especially in regard to the treatment it offers on the topics of security and biometric technologies.

His post is useful in talking about the differences and similarities between the texts, and summarising some of the key arguments.

Theme section – A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City

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The first issue of the 2014 volume of Society and Space includes the theme section, “A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City.” It is guest edited by Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield, and is comprised of an editorial introduction, papers by BraunJennifer Gabrys and Ross Exo Adams and a translation of a piece by Giorgio Agamben. All contents of the theme section will be open access until 11 March 2014.

Also check out the following commentaries and photo essay that the guest editors and authors have provided as supplements to the material in the print journal:

Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield – Inhabiting the Postapocalytic City

Ross Exo Adams – The Burden of the Present: On the Concept of Urbanisation

Jennifer Gabrys – Smart Cities as Sustainable Cities: A Visual Essay

Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield – Inhabiting the Postapocalytic City

Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield offer the following commentary as a supplement to their guest edited theme section in Society and Space 32(1)“A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City,” which includes an article by Bruce titled “A New Urban Dispositif? Governing Life in an Age of Climate Change.” Contents of this theme section are open access until 11 March 2014.

Figure 1. MoMA “Rising Currents” exhibition

Figure 1. MoMA “Rising Currents” exhibition

One of the less examined aspects of the turn to resilient urbanism in New York City has been the leading role taken by its major cultural institutions, from art institutions and large museums to major magazines and newspapers. MoMA’s 2010 ‘Rising Currents’ exhibition (Figure 1) may have been the first to present NYC as a real-time experiment in resilient design (see the article by Bruce Braun, to which this post is attached), but it was certainly not alone; its vision of the city as an integrated but vulnerable socio-ecological system was quickly reprised elsewhere. At the BMW-Guggenheim ‘Urban Lab’ (Figure 2) – a mobile exhibit/venue based in NYC, Berlin and Mumbai – participants were taken on “ecosystem tours” of wastewater treatment facilities, waterways and landfills and invited to interactive workshops on ‘resilience’ in communities like the Lower East Side. Not to be outdone, participants in the Whitney Independent Study Program ran an “ecosystems” exhibition at sites that included the experimental gallery The Kitchen, the post-industrial eco-renewal site known as the High Line, and other urban metabolic sites like the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant (Figure 3). At each of these sites artists and viewers were invited to experience the urban environment as an “entangled” network in which nature and society could no longer be seen as separate systems. MoMA itself returned to the theme with its 2013 EXPO 1: New York  (Figure 4) which imagined a contemporary art museum dedicated to ecological concerns, presenting a series of modules, interventions, solo projects, and group exhibitions including a school, a colony, a cinema, a geodesic dome, a Rain Room, and more.

Continue reading here.

Ross Exo Adams – The Burden of the Present: On the Concept of Urbanisation

Ross Exo Adams offers the following commentary as a supplement to his article “Natura Urbans, Natura Urbanata: ecological urbanism, circulation and the immunisation of nature” in volume 32, number 1 of Society and Space. The article along with the rest of the theme section of which it is a part, “A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City”, is open access until 11 March 2014. 

‘City Plus’, OMA, concept image for Rebuild by Design initiative. In their own words, ‘[t]his means further densification and defense of high value, high impact, high potential sites—cities’, 2013.

‘City Plus’, OMA, concept image for Rebuild by Design initiative. In their own words, ‘[t]his means further densification and defense of high value, high impact, high potential sites—cities’, 2013.

To interrogate the relation between governmental practices and the slew of recent technologies developed and deployed in the name of sustainability—whether ‘green’, ‘resilient’, ‘ecological’ or otherwise—is of course to interrogate the political status of such technology itself. How does the use of this technology expand governmental knowledge more broadly into a city’s population and more deeply into the intimate spaces and practices of the individuals and groups which compose it? How does it open new sites of intervention, new surfaces of interface between administration and the citizens which it oversees? What inherent directionalities do such channels of power presuppose? More to the point, what new forms of subjectification (and desubjectification) are produced by this blossoming array of spatio-governmental apparatuses and what possible consequences could they have for the future of urban life?

Continue reading here.

Jennifer Gabrys – Smart Cities as Sustainable Cities: A Visual Essay

In the theme section in volume 32, number 1 of Society & Space, “A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City,” Jennifer Gabrys focuses on the ways in which smart cities have increasingly come to be promoted as sustainable cities. The distributions of power that emerge in smart and sustainable cities might be characterized, building on Foucault, as expressions of environmentality, where modes of governance occur through environmental or spatially distributed apparatuses. The specific technologies that Gabrys focuses on in her article, “Programming Environments: Environmentality and Citizen Sensing in the Smart City,” are sensors that re-infrastructure urban processes through ubiquitous computing. While at once a future proposition for more intelligent urbanisms, the informationally inflected city is also an enduring motif within proposals over the last 50 years that have sought to make cities more fluid, flexible, creative, economical and efficient.

See a visual essay that complements Gabrys’ article here.


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