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.
In this episode, James is joined by Simone Kolysh, PhD candidate in Sociology from The Graduate Center, CUNY. Their conversation focuses upon pedagogy as radical praxis, and ranges from ways to check privilege in the classroom, how to strive towards “safe zone” moments, trigger warnings, and navigating the neoliberal academy as a scholar-activist. If you need a reminder as to the critical and important role engaged educators can play in transforming social thoughts and habits, give a listen! Find Simone Kolysh on the web here, on twitter here, and on academia.edu here.
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. Get the mp3 of the episode here. Thanks to Leah Dion and to B for the music.
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, John, Emily, and B get down to the brass tacks of an affirmative biopolitics in Roberto Esposito’s book Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy. After exploring what Esposito’s project and method are, generally, the team wonders: Is it Nietzsche-the-ironist (ahem…B) and/or Nietzsche-the-dark-eugencist who offers a more generative analysis of biopolitics’ beginnings? We leave that to the listeners to decide. The team then dives into developing the stakes of an affirmative biopolitics (whatever that means) through the darkest moments of modernity, namely Nazism (with a few digs at Heidegger). Emily rightfully asks where the HELL are all the feminist political thinkers in all of this (tsk tsk Esposito). And John is dismayed by the passing remarks about Mbembe’s work on necropolitics. Our new dream interpretation segment (!) – One or Several Wolves – features an interpretation of a dream involving werewolves and Sara Ahmed. And our Tumblr Friend from Canada wants to know about rice and our use of the word ‘productive’.
Thank you to Craig for suggesting we read this text! 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 B and by Rocco & Lizzie.
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)
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.