In this special crossover episode, James, John, and Emily are joined by Conor, Grace, and Josh from the Unsupervised Thinking podcast. We discuss several chapters from Rebecca M. Jordan-Young’s book Brain Storm: the Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences with these folks who are actual scientists. Join us as we try to situate and work out the central aims and contributions of this book. Our conversation spans from questions about audience and the relationship of science and technology studies to the practice of science, to broader questions about the rigidity of disciplinary boundaries, and the post-truth era. Give the episode a listen, and then go and check out Unsupervised Thinking!
Remember to support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment. 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 Leah Dion and to B for the music. Get the mp3 here.
How can we explain the “occlusion of embodied power” and “lack of attention to race, gender, and sexuality” in the discipline of political science, a field “that claims power as a central analytical concept” (17)? In her new book, Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics (Routledge, 2016), Mary Hawkesworth (Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University) brings intersectionality, feminist theory, and post- and de-colonial theory to bear on the mainstream study of politics. She argues for the need to move away from customary concepts of “power” and “the political” that mask state practices that construct various forms of hierarchy. These concepts and the methodologies and epistemologies they give rise to, she argues, lead the discipline unable to grapple with issues such as the carceral state or the violence of nation-building. At the same they cover over the ways that “racialization and gendering have been constitutive of knowledge production within the discipline” (17). In the interview, Hawkesworth discusses these conceptual practices of power as well as how intersectional attention to embodied power can reclaim the study of politics.
This week Emily, Rachel, and John read Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak‘s collection of essays In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. We focus on three essays in particular: “Feminism and Critical Theory,” “The Politics of Interpretations,” and “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” discussing Spivak’s methodological approach to literary theory, the politics of textuality, her use of the word “evidence” in each essay to uncover different elements of the challenges–and politics–of literary interpretation, and her critiques of Marx, Julia Kristeva, Edward Said and Partha Chatterjee, among many others. The conversation also ponders over the different (?) kinds of readings Spivak engages in the essays, and what they mean for doing ‘theory.’ In My Tumblr Friend from Canada, we answer two questions from one of our listeners, dealing with advice for graduate school and, yes, our favorite music. Listen and share your thoughts!
Thanks to listener Hanna for suggesting we read this text. 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. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to B for the music.
What are the multiple meanings, ambivalences, possible risks, and potentials for transformation that arise from interrogating empathy on a transnational scale? Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent) thinks through these complex questions in her new book, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). The book ambitiously traverses multiple disciplinary and intellectual boundaries, drawing together feminist and anti-racist social theory, media and cultural studies, international development texts and practices, scientific studies of empathy, the political rhetoric of Barack Obama, business books on empathy, and more. In doing so, Pedwell queries empathy as a social and political relation that cannot be separated from power, conflict, oppression, and inequality. This book explores the ways that empathy is a contested term employed transnationally in various ways and on behalf of various political and social interests, traces the ways that empathy might be translated and felt differently.
In this episode of Always Already, Emily, John, and B engage in a little film analysis for their first time on the show (and possibly in their lives!) Starting with the Pakistani cartoon Burka Avenger, your critical team struggles to uncover whether there is a reproduction of liberal rights discourse. Is there a colonized narrative behind the superheroine, whose full burka cloaks her schoolteacher identity as she confronts evildoers with books and pens and the ancient arts of inner peace? Always Already then tackles the highly abstract movie, “Upstream Color,” wondering WTF?, linking its metaphysics from Descartes to its more clearly metaphorical references to rape, trauma, and agency in a completely confusing world. What does it say, we ponder, about the relationships between human animals, non-human animals, and nature? We also deconstruct a dream about a plane in autopilot, and determine each others’ Star Wars characters. Don’t miss it!
Thank you to Brett for suggesting we watch Burka Avenger, and to Carter for asking after Upstream Color. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer on the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by Rocco & Lizzie and by B.
Interview with Haroon, the creator of Burka Avenger + debate on the show on India’s NDTV
Guest co-host Amy Schiller joins John (and B, kind of) to discuss essays from This Sex Which is Not one by Luce Irigaray, as well as a short passage from her Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche. The conversations open with Amy’s ‘vagina park’ overview of Irigaray’s project, seamlessly segueing into discussing Irigaray’s feminist critique of phallogocentrism in Western reason, ontology, and epistemology and the status of the feminine in her writing. The dialogue moves on to explore her appropriation of Marx in the discussion of the exchange of women as well as the critique of her essentialism and the ethics of redeeming problematic feminist pasts. The discussion ends by juxtaposing Irigaray with Nietzsche and with Beauvoir.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions for the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B.
John is without Rachel and B, so he brings in some very special guests for this Václav Havel bonanza. First, Jeff Graves – a former co-host with John on a podcast of yore – joins to discuss Havel’s essay Power of the Powerless and play The Garden Party. They discuss ideology as it relates to performativity, everyday life and the constitution of reality, how Havel illustrates ideology in the play, how much reappropriation of Marx there is in the essay, and Havel’s notion of power. There’s also a dramatic reading from the play, and John & Jeff bring back old segments and schticks from their podcast past. Then, John interviews Sara Lyons – a NYC-based theatre artist and director – to talk about the performance of The Garden Party she directed. Their conversation explores the challenges of directing this play, what it tells us about the relationship between identity, social structures, and language, the gender politics of a feminist artist engaging not-particularly-feminist work, and more. Jeff comes back for the final segment, where he and John give advice on New Year’s Eve Parties (belated advice in this instance), friendship jealousy and nostalgia, and holiday presents you don’t like.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions for the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B and by Jordan Cass.
Official Vaclav Havel website (in English or Czech)