Ep. 67 – Joel Olson, The Abolition of White Democracy

In this episode, John and Sid are joined by friend of the podcast Danielle Hanley of Rutgers University to discuss Joel Olson’s The Abolition of White Democracy (2004). Our discussion weaves through a number of pressing questions: How does Olson center Du Bois in political theory debates about American democracy and citizenship? In what ways are Olson’s conceptualizations of “race,” “whiteness,” and “white privilege” precisely the kind of theorizations—politically astute, materially grounded, and non-reductive—that our moment calls for? What does Olson’s analysis of the constitutive relationship between race and American capitalism add to theories of racial capitalism? How does Olson’s vision of “abolition-democracy” expand democratic imaginaries and re-think agency and participation in critical race theory? Instead of turning to the work of Robin DiAngelo and Tim Wise, what if liberals interested in understanding and/or undoing “whiteness” read Olson’s prescient work?

Across our conversation, we find that Olson’s elegant work speaks to our historical and political moment in multiple ways and has much to offer the left, theoretically and practically, within and beyond academia.

Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Patreon here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

Image of book cover, with the title in alternative red, white, and grey text on a black background

 

Interview: Practicing Critical Care Through COVID-19 and Beyond – Epistemic Unruliness 27

In this episode focusing on the hazards of COVID-19, James interviews Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar, a queer, immigrant, neurodivergent audio-visual artist and a postdoctoral geneticist, and Jess Cowing, a PhD candidate working at the intersections of critical disability studies and settler colonialism. Jointly, Talukdar and Cowing are the organizers of the online workshop, “Chronic Illness and Mutual Care in Emergent Times: Preparing for COVID-19 and other Contagious Diseases,” which detailed the late public health crisis within an intersectional healing and disability justice frame that centers the experiences of those communities already held vulnerable and made unwell by the scarcity logic of capitalism and its asymmetrical distribution of resources and knowledge through the medical-industrial complex. How do we practice “social distancing” while mobilizing critical mutual care for our communities? And in an Anthropocene Age which has featured viral apocalypse since at least 1492, can we look through the prism of global pandemic towards the horizon of alternative futures and re-arrangements of our social relations, so that we might dream, imagine, and fantasize together about the world to come after capitalism?

Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

 

Links:

 

Ep. 65 – Race, Capitalism, and Intersectionality

Emily, Sid, and John intervene in the resurgent and lively (and possibly trendy?) discussion on “racial capitalism.” By engaging with four articles–Michael Dawson’s (2016), “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Note on Legitimation Crises and the Racial Order“; Nancy Fraser’s (2016), “Expropriation and Exploitation in Racialized Capitalism: A Reply to Michael Dawson“; Ashley Bohrer’s (2018), “Intersectionality and Marxism: A Critical Historiography“; and Michael Ralph and Maya Singhal’s (2019), “Racial Capitalism“–the team interrogates the theoretical foundations and political stakes around the relationship between capitalism, racial domination, patriarchy, and other modalities of hierarchy and oppression.

We raise questions (and often meet them with additional questions) such as: Is race necessary or contingent to the history and structure of capitalism? How, if at all, does contemporary work on racial capitalism move us past the entrenched class versus identity debate? Is the phrase “racial capitalism” an empty signifier, or does it hold generative political possibilities for the left? Tune in and find out where you end up on these questions and more!
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.
Links:
  • The Combahee River Collective Statement
  • Boston Review critical forum on slavery, capitalism, and justice
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, video of “What is Racial Capitalism and Why Does It Matter?” lecture (2017) and essay on Cedric Robinson and racial capitalism
  • Chapter 13 of Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class
  • The Race and Capitalism Project at the University of Chicago
  • Mayra Cotta on Michael Dawson, Nancy Fraser, race, and capitalism
  • Video of Michael Dawson talk “Race, Capitalism, and the Current Crisis” (2019)
  • Ashley Bohrer talk on “Capitalist Confinement” (2016)
  • 2016 panel discussion on Race and Capitalism at U Chicago
  • Michael Ralph discussing his book Forensics of Capital on Left on Black

Ep. 63 – Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch

[Edited to add: Federici published an earlier version of this book in Italian in 1984; the English book Caliban and the Witch, published in 2004, as a synthesis of the earlier work and her ongoing research, thinking, and experiences, including time living in Nigeria in the 1980s. This context bears on our discussions of colonialism and the slave trade in the episode. Thanks to a listener for pointing this out.] 

In this episode, join James, Emily, and John for a discussion of Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. We attempt to parse her engagement with/extension of Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation, and question whether the figure of the witch in this text is a historical materialist one, a metonymic one, or some combination of the two. We also ask after the analogizing of witch hunts with the slave trade, draw on James’s rich knowledge of witchcraft to interrogate the role of actual witches in the text, think through the idea of capitalism’s historical inevitability, and perhaps even reveal ourselves to be different kinds of Marxists in the process!

Thanks to listener Jonathan Lowell for the request to read Federici. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

Image of Silvia Federici, sitting on a chair while turned to the camera.

Silvia Federici in 2014. Photo by Marta Jara, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 es license. Found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvia_Federici#/media/File:La_escritora_y_activista_feminista_Silvia_Federici_(cropped).jpg

 

Cover of the book Caliban and the Witch

 

Interview: Jason Ortiz on #RickyRenuncia and Puerto Rican Sovereignty Movements – Epistemic Unruliness 26

In this new installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James interviews Jason Ortiz, president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda, to discuss the recent #RickyRenuncia Uprising in Puerto Rico. To place these protests in their long historical context, Jason and James transport the listeners to the island of Borikén, home of the Taíno Rebellion of 1511, and condense over 500 years of anticolonial movements in Puerto Rican history to a 90-minute conversation. The pair details the various iterations of U.S. colonialism that have ensnared Puerto Ricans in global political economic confrontations over the twentieth century as the Caribbean formed a microcosm of Cold War statecraft, with Puerto Rico and Cuba figuring as proxy theaters for Washington and Moscow’s war games. As the Iron Curtain fell and the new millennium dawned, Puerto Rican colonialism entered a reconfiguring phase with the near-collapse of global financial markets during the Great Recession of 2008 and the subsequent neoliberal austerity regimes it catalyzed. Hurricane María’s devastating landfall in September 2017 served only to amplify the material and political precarity of Boricuas caught in the dual maelstroms of the American Empire and the Anthropocene.

When a team of investigative journalists released a cache of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s homophobic, misogynistic, and classist chat messages in July 2019, Puerto Ricans seized the 500-year moment once again and initiated the #RickyRenuncia/#RickyResign Uprising. Nearly a million Boricuas took to the streets of San Juan, (and many more in la diaspora), staring down police tear gas canisters as they banged their pots and danced perreo to reggaeton and trap music, giving new life to the adage of Emma Goldman lore, “if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution” (Si no puedo perrear, no es mi revolución).

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

National Puerto Rican Agenda

Full 889 page cache of Roselló documents from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo

The New York Times interview with Colectiva Feminista en Construcción who organized the initial protests of the Uprising

Fernando Tormos-Aponte’s Jacobin article “Puerto Rico Rises”

Sandy Plácido’s historicization of Caribbean anti-imperialist movements in The Washington Post

Video montage of “Perreo Combativo” dance protest, July 25, 2019A

NPR coverage of Bad Bunny, Residente, and iLe protest song: “Afilando Los Cuchillos”

Minority Cannabis Business Association

to demonstrate the protests

#RickyRenuncia protester. Photo courtesy of Resumen Latinoamerica