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

Caribbean Carnival Complex – Epistemic Unruliness 25

In this special installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James brings you a student-assembled episode produced by some the intrepid undergraduates who took his spring 2019 Swarthmore College course, “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.” This course and the podcasts presented here focused on the Caribbean Carnival Complex — a heuristic that has emerged within Caribbean cultural studies that takes the Carnival performance season common across the region as a metonymic expression of a fractalized Caribbean identity, history, culture, and cosmology.

Drawing on complexity studies, chaos theory, the Blackened Afro-Caribbean phenomenology and kinaesthetics of Frantz Fanon, as well as participant-observation at Philadelphia’s El Carnaval de Puebla, this episode plunges listeners into the “Caribbean of the senses” (Benítez-Rojo 1992) through an exploration of the embodied, choreographic archives carnavaleros use to generate and transmit forms of knowing (Roach 1996). This performance modality, called “playing Mas” in the Anglo-Caribbean (Browne 2018), centers the affective immediacy but rhetorical indirection of communicative forms like masking, veiling, costuming and other dramaturgical aspects of Caribbean mytho-poesis. The Caribbean Carnival Complex entails a fugitive praxis that emerges from the fragments of liberatory-emancipatory potential made sensible and perceptible by mass street rituals.

A special thank you to the students who worked on the following segments:

  • “Culture Chat” – Liv Elmore, Alejandra King, Jayna Jones, Megan Ruoff
  • “Caribbean Curries” – Arpita Joyce and Catherine Williams
  • “Sounds of El Carnaval de Puebla en Filadelfia” – Edna Olvera and Miryam Ramírez (click here for a .pdf of their listening notes)

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, “Being in the World,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Syllabus for “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.”

The Traditional Mas Archive, an online resource for festival drama in the Caribbean region.

Blue Devils of Paramin. Photo courtesy of Matthew Fung, Traditional Mas Archive

Ep. 62 – Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital Part III

In this episode we (finally!) get to the third section of Rosa Luxemburg‘s The Accumulation of Capital“The Historical Conditions of Accumulation.” This juicy–and oft-quoted section–addresses the ongoing nature of primitive accumulation and the violences of capitalism, the non-capitalist markets required for the expanded reproduction, and the ways this reproduction necessitates imperialism and militarism. The team mulls over what, precisely, Luxemburg means by external, non-capitalist markets (can they be internal to capitalist states? Does she necessarily mean colonized states “abroad”?) We parse the difference between Luxemburg’s “political geography” and “social economy”, the implications of her critique for neo-Marxist framings of neoliberalism, and the ways she enlivens, expands, and reinvigorates Marxist thought. And, most importantly, we raise the eternal question of whether Crate & Barrel is part of Marx and Luxemburg’s schematic Department I or Department II of the capitalist economy. Join us for the final episode of the trilogy!
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.
Additional Links:

 

 

 

Interview: J.T. Roane on Plotting the Black Commons – Epistemic Unruliness 24

After a dissertating hiatus, James returns with a new Epistemic Unruliness interview featuring Dr. J.T. Roane, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Univ. of Cincinnati. The pair discuss J.T.’s article, “Plotting the Black Commons,” recently published in Souls, A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, that reads an archive of Black ecology and social life out of Black folks’ engagements with the Chesapeake Bay estuary in the Tidewater region of Virginia and Maryland. Through multiple reads of “the plot” and “plotting,” J.T. holds up practices of subsistence farming as well as small-scale fishing, oystering, and crabbing traditions as exemplifying a Black epistemology of reciprocity for the commons that stands in distinction to the theologies of dominion and mastery that undergird the logics of white supremacist settler colonialism, and that gave rise to our current climate crises — or as J.T. explains it, “the so-called Anthropocene or the racial capitalocene.” James and J.T. also discuss pedagogical praxis, and James answers a listener email on-air about Afro-pessimist takes on the Anthropocene.

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 intro music, “Post Digital,” from their new album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

 

Ep. 57 – Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom”

In this episode, James, Shadee, and John settle into unsettling the ongoing colonial project with Sylvia Wynter’s “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation–An Argument.” The trio work through Wynter’s textured genealogy that traces the transmutations of the European conception of the human from its early days as a Christian subject within the Latin Church to the emergence of Man1 as a political subject during the Renaissance, followed by the Enlightenment’s Man2 — an evolutionary biological-economical creature that still dominates Western ideologies today. The discussion relates Wynter’s project to post-humanism and Afro-pessimism, and questions whether the problem of antiblack racism is a problem of the human category generally, or if Wynter’s move to rehabilitate the human by thinking it through genres is a more generative tack to take. It also takes on the ways Wynter’s anti-Man humanism engages anticolonial movements in the 1960s.

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. Thanks to listener Jordan F for the Wynter suggestion. 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. We are part of the Critical Mediations network. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Portrait of Jamaican novelist, dramatist, essayist and academic Sylvia Wynter, circa 1970s.”
Found at: http://kalamu.com/neogriot/2016/12/23/pov-are-you-an-intellectual/

 

Interview: Kyla Schuller on Race Science and the Biopolitics of Feeling – Epistemic Unruliness 22

Join John as he interviews Kyla Schuller (Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers) about her new book The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century (Duke UP, 2017). The book develops concepts of impressibility and sentimentalism in order to interrogate practices of race science, race-making, and sex differentiation in 19th century America (and beyond). The conversation opens with an exploration of sentimental biopower and race as a spatio-temporal formation assigning capacities for impressibility and species-progress, the relation of Frances Harper and W.E.B. Du Bois to discourses of heredity, eugenics, impressibility, and more. From there, we open out onto questions of the state, critiques of feminist new materialism, epigenetics, and above all the challenges and promises of biopolitical analysis.

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 intro music, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links: