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)
Join us for the rest of our discussion of The Politics of Piety by Saba Mahmood. B, John, and guest co-host Joanna Tice talk about Mahmood’s engagement with Judith Butler in her text, the ethics and epistemology of researching, whether intersectionality has left out religion, and the question of ethical agency.
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions to submit? 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.