What is the relationship between state power and self-destructive violence as a mode of political resistance? In her book Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia University Press, 2014), Banu Bargu (Politics, The New School) analyzes the Turkish death fast movement and explores self-inflicted death as a political practice. Amid a global intensification of the “weaponization of life,” Bargu argues for conceptualizing this self-destructive use of the body as a complex political and existential act. In doing so, she theorizes a reconfiguration of sovereignty into biosovereignty and of resistance into necroresistance. To accomplish this, the book innovatively weaves together political and critical theory with ethnography in a way that enables the self-understanding and self-narration of those in and around the death fast movement to speak to canonical thinkers and concepts.
Is the scientific value of objectivity in conflict with the social justice commitment to diversity? In her latest book, Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry (University of Chicago Press, 2015),Sandra Harding (Education and Gender Studies, UCLA) argues not only that objectivity and diversity need not be in conflict, but that good research ought to be committed to both values at the same time. The book draws on a rich array of scholarship, spanning from 20th century philosophy of science to contemporary studies in indigenous and postcolonial philosophy and activism. It is an intricate study of the ways in which objectivity, positivism, and secularism are all deeply intertwined with their social contexts and historical moments. The book ultimately advocates a science that is both responsive to a methodological requirement for strong objectivity, and originates in local communities.
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John interviews Abbas Jaffer, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology at Harvard University on his dissertation project, New Tracks: Digital Publics and Contemporary Music in Pakistan. They talk about how interactions around music and digital media generate publics in Pakistan, how to conceptualize affect and digital affect, the complicated political effects of music production and these digital publics, cyberethnography, the relationship between methodology, theory, and ethics, and more.