Ep. 51 – Anna L. Tsing on Capitalism, Mushrooms, and the End of the World

In this episode, Emily and John are joined by a new guest and friend of the podcast Joseph Bookman for a lively discussion of Anna L. Tsing‘s book The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Join us as we try to unpack Tsing’s conceptualization of “salvage capitalism,” as we think through her use of “precarity,” and as we ruminate on the relationship between form and content in the book. Is there a politics of salvage capitalism and precarity to be drawn out of this work? Does the book’s form – a “riot of short chapters” – change the way we might critically engage with its arguments? Is capitalism always already about ruin and salvage? Plus, a very on-topic dream about a fancy cabin in the woods (capitalism, nature, and Freud – oh my!).

Thanks to listener @conteanth for the request to discuss Tsing.

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 for the intro music, to Bad Infinity for the music in between segments, and always already to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

Anna L. Tsing
New Republic review of the book.
Interview with Anna Tsing for “Allegra Laboratory”
Anna Tsing keynote on “Landscapes and the Anthropocene”
Epistemic Unruliness 14: Joanna Steinhardt on mushrooms and ecological movements
Matsutake mushrooms



Interview: Neil Roberts on Freedom as Marronage – Epistemic Unruliness 6

Thanks to our friends at the New Books Network, we are cross-posting John’s interview with Neil Roberts for New Books in Global Ethics here. Enjoy!

What does it mean to be free?  How can paying attention to the relationship between freedom and slavery help construct a concept and practice of freedom that is “perpetual, unfinished, and rooted in acts of flight” (181)? In his book Freedom as Marronage (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Neil Roberts (Africana Studies, Religion, and Political Science, Williams College) explores this and many other questions. Proceeding from and working with the concept and practice of marronage – modes of escape from slavery emerging from the Caribbean – Roberts articulates a theory of freedom that is historically specific while having trans-historical reverberations, and that is attentive to lived experiences of freedom and slavery. In doing so, he engages histories of the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, diaspora, the Haitian Revolution, and American slavery. Arguing for the need to creolize political theory and philosophy, Roberts also takes up the thought and practice of W.E.B. DuBois, Hannah Arendt, Philip Petit, Frederick Douglass, Angela Davis, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Edouard Glissant, Rastafari, and much more.





Ep. 29 – Frank B. Wilderson III on Cinema and the Structure of US Racial Antagonisms

In this episode, John, B, and Emily gather for a discussion about the ontology of blackness in Frank B. Wilderson III’s book Red, White, and Black: Cinema and the Structure of US Antagonisms, and in particular his analysis of the film Monster’s Ball. Bear with us as we again (attempt to) flex our critical theory chops in the visual text genre! We spend time unpacking Wilderson’s ontology, and his important distinction between the grammar of alienation and exploitation in emancipatory discourses versus the ontology of suffering of slavery. How is this distinction related to those of conflict/antagonism and identity/ontology, and to (the unspeakability of) ethics? We talk through his extensive interrogation of the dissonance between the narrative structure of the film and its strategies of cinematic form, discuss whether the film implicitly recognizes the limitations of its own grammar of suffering, and analyze the film’s (in)famous sex scene. Our conversation ends by answering new co-host James Padilioni Jr.’s question about freedom.
Also in this episode, a complex Tumblr Friend advice question about the academia’s co-optation of radical theorizing, and some more One or Several Wolves dream analysis about the job market (except this time with more Kelis). It is clearly a common trend among our dreamer-listeners. Enjoy!
Thanks to Eric T. for suggesting 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. This episode’s music by Jordan Cass and by B.




Ep.4 B-Sides: Laclau, continued

Join us for the continuation of our conversation on Ernesto Laclau. In relation to his “Universalism, Particularism, and the Question of Identity” and “Why Do Empty Signifiers Matter for Politics,” we discuss the relationship of empty signifiers to freedom, agency, and politics, what feminist theory, intersectionality, and new materialism might have to say to Laclau’s work, and critique his account of particularity as it relates to gender.

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 Aultman.