Ep.22 – Burka Avenger // Upstream Color

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.











Saba Mahmood’s Politics of Piety; Carol Gould on Interactive Democracy (Part I of Interview)

In this episode B, John, and guest-host Joanna Tice talk about Politics of Piety by Saba Mahmood (Chapters 1 and 5). Everyone was enthralled with this complex work, and we discuss why in terms of Mahmood’s account of agency as it relates to embodiment, religion, and social conditions, her deep engagement from and learning from the practices of the women in the Egyptian mosque movement she studied, and her engagement and critique of Western feminism for its overemphasis on resistance at the expense of understanding actors and their agential practices.

We also interview Carol Gould (Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at The Graduate Center and Hunter College, CUNY) on her forthcoming book, Interactive Democracy: The Social Roots of Global Justice. Our conversation covers contemporary democracy’s failed promises, social ontology, how to justify human rights, Gould’s new “interactive” conceptualization of democracy, and democratizing education.

Finally, we give advice on dissertation anxiety/writer’s block and on what to do if one’s dissertation distances them from their romantic partner.

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.


  • Saba Mahmood’s page at Berkeley
  • Politics of Piety on Google Books
  • Interview with Mahmood on the piety movement
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on poststructural feminist perspective on power
  • Review and critique of the book in Jadaliyya
  • Carol Gould’s homepage
  • Cambridge Univ. Press page for Interactive Democracy