Caribbean Carnival Complex – Epistemic Unruliness 25

In this special installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James brings you a student-assembled episode produced by some the intrepid undergraduates who took his spring 2019 Swarthmore College course, “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.” This course and the podcasts presented here focused on the Caribbean Carnival Complex — a heuristic that has emerged within Caribbean cultural studies that takes the Carnival performance season common across the region as a metonymic expression of a fractalized Caribbean identity, history, culture, and cosmology.

Drawing on complexity studies, chaos theory, the Blackened Afro-Caribbean phenomenology and kinaesthetics of Frantz Fanon, as well as participant-observation at Philadelphia’s El Carnaval de Puebla, this episode plunges listeners into the “Caribbean of the senses” (Benítez-Rojo 1992) through an exploration of the embodied, choreographic archives carnavaleros use to generate and transmit forms of knowing (Roach 1996). This performance modality, called “playing Mas” in the Anglo-Caribbean (Browne 2018), centers the affective immediacy but rhetorical indirection of communicative forms like masking, veiling, costuming and other dramaturgical aspects of Caribbean mytho-poesis. The Caribbean Carnival Complex entails a fugitive praxis that emerges from the fragments of liberatory-emancipatory potential made sensible and perceptible by mass street rituals.

A special thank you to the students who worked on the following segments:

  • “Culture Chat” – Liv Elmore, Alejandra King, Jayna Jones, Megan Ruoff
  • “Caribbean Curries” – Arpita Joyce and Catherine Williams
  • “Sounds of El Carnaval de Puebla en Filadelfia” – Edna Olvera and Miryam Ramírez (click here for a .pdf of their listening notes)

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. 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 Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Being in the World,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Syllabus for “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.”

The Traditional Mas Archive, an online resource for festival drama in the Caribbean region.

Blue Devils of Paramin. Photo courtesy of Matthew Fung, Traditional Mas Archive

Ep. 58 – Mariana Ortega on Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self

After a year of dissertating, graduating, and professor-ating, B reunites with Emily and John as they all discuss Mariana Ortega’s book In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self. Why did B suggest this book for the group? Was it because of their rekindled affinity for Heideggerian phenomenology? Maybe. Is Latinx Feminism and narrative space for marginalized lived experiences more important than ever? Definitely. So join the Always Already team as they examine a number of Ortega’s claims to the multiplicitousness of the self. What is being-in-worlds compared to being-between-worlds? How does the the everyday praxis of “hometactics” provide a basis for being-at-ease? Emily, John, and B provide a few ways of situating the answers to these questions within everyday life through a close reading of Ortega’s brilliant and at times visceral text.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. 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. We are part of the Critical Mediations network. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital” from their new album FutureCommons, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Ep. 53 – Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society

In this episode of AAP, Rachel, Emily, and John tackle a special request from Patreon supporter Alex. We discuss Byung-Chul Han‘s The Burnout Society, positioning the account alongside other contemporary theories of neoliberalism. We interrogate the relationship of the disciplinary society to what Han posits as the achievement society, think through the consequences of his view for democracy, and question the ‘view from nowhere’ in the text. Along the way, we get into his engagements with Hannah Arendt and Friedrich Nietzsche, unpack his use of the terms ‘negativity’ and ‘positivity’ as they relate to violence and power, and tire ourselves out engaging his chapter on tiredness. And we, of course, ask our favorite AAP question – how (if at all) can the argument account for dynamics of race, class, gender, and (neo)colonialism? Plus! A very beautifully vivid dream that harkens back to a recent text discussion on mushrooms.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. 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 Bad Infinity for the intro music, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

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Cover of The Burnout Society

Byung-Chul Han

Ep. 50 – Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway

In this especially agentic episode, Emily, John, and B attempt to meet Karen Barad halfway–examining three chapters from her major work, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Exploring how the concepts of agency, quantum theory, feminist science studies, and “the real” might be updated through Barad’s notion of intra-action, the team tackles everything from Barad’s agential realism right down to the heart of whether “yous dudes” can be a thing. Along the way, they puzzle over the difference between a phenomena and an apparatus, ask what a Barad-influenced interpretation of liberalism would be, explore how Barad can influence our pedagogy, and quasi-heatedly debate the relationship of Barad’s work to phenomenology,  They even have time for Emily’s favorite segment, One or Several Wolves–in this installment, bears, poop, a dog iPhone, and a sense of belonging are all found in a listener’s recurring dream from childhood.

Thanks to listener Marianne in Norway for the request to read Barad!

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, and to B for the outro music. Get the mp3 of the episode here.

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Ep. 43 – Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

In our first text-discussion episode in a while (sorry podcast fam!), John is joined by two special guest hosts, his Beloit College colleagues M. Shadee Malaklou (Critical Identity Studies) and Michelle Bumatay (French). We discuss Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, focusing on the Introduction, “The Man of Color and the White Woman” (chap. 3) and “The Lived Experience of the Black Man” (chap. 5).  How does anti-blackness make black ontology impossible? How does the white gaze phenomenologically fix and objectify and reify? How does Fanon link temporality, racism, colonialism, and psychic structures? How does Fanon critique the white Continental philosophical tradition? All this and much more, including finding out which one of us has a ‘Humanism is a Racism’ bumper sticker.

Later on, we’re joined by Robin Zebrowski (Cognitive Science at Beloit) to help give some advice on deciding to apply for grad school and analyze a dream about a spectral boss, tree canopies with glass walls, and telepathy.

Remember to support us on Patreon to help offset/reimburse the cost of our fancy new microphone, which we have named Lacan. 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, Rocco & Lizzie, and B for the music. Get the mp3 here.

 

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Ep. 41 – Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony

On this week’s episode we read Achille Mbembe’s On the Postcolony, focusing in particular on the Introduction and Chapters 5 and 6. We begin by discussing Mbembe’s analysis of the historical trajectory of Christian conversion and the divine libido in Chapter Six, “God’s Phallus” and its connection to Mbembe’s broader critique of rationality as constructed through eurocentric Enlightenment philosophy. We then attempt to discern Mbembe’s proposed methodology for thinking Africa after the colony without negating–but rather moving beyond mere relationality to–Western colonial depictions of Africa as hollow, devoid of reason, chaotic. We also discuss Mbembe’s use of the word ‘colony’ as it relates to violence, death, materiality and time. During everyone’s favorite segment, My Tumblr Friend from Canada, we offer our thoughts on how to address a delicate conversation with an academic advisor. Listen in as we dig into this rich and important text!

Remember to support us on Patreon to help offset/reimburse the cost of our fancy new microphone, which we have named Lacan.

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.

 

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Ep. 19 – Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and The Invisible

On our episode this week we discuss The Visible and the Invisible (1968) by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, focusing specifically on “The Intertwining–The Chiasm” (whaaa! How do I pronounce that word?!). We first read salacious quotations peppered throughout this text, then explore what questions about objectivity, sensation and experience Merleau-Ponty attempts to answer throughout. We delve into what he potentially reveals about an ontology of the flesh, discussing the significance of his work for political transformation and feminist epistemology. We conclude this episode with two stellar questions, one from Izzy in Kentrucky dealing with the muddled yet fruitful world(s) of theory/practice/praxis, and the other from Sid in Canada, who poses to us some juicy hypotheticals. Stay tuned for our latest!

Thank you to Joe S. for suggesting we read this Merleau-Ponty! 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 and by Ricky Perry.

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