Ep. 67 – Joel Olson, The Abolition of White Democracy

In this episode, John and Sid are joined by friend of the podcast Danielle Hanley of Rutgers University to discuss Joel Olson’s The Abolition of White Democracy (2004). Our discussion weaves through a number of pressing questions: How does Olson center Du Bois in political theory debates about American democracy and citizenship? In what ways are Olson’s conceptualizations of “race,” “whiteness,” and “white privilege” precisely the kind of theorizations—politically astute, materially grounded, and non-reductive—that our moment calls for? What does Olson’s analysis of the constitutive relationship between race and American capitalism add to theories of racial capitalism? How does Olson’s vision of “abolition-democracy” expand democratic imaginaries and re-think agency and participation in critical race theory? Instead of turning to the work of Robin DiAngelo and Tim Wise, what if liberals interested in understanding and/or undoing “whiteness” read Olson’s prescient work?

Across our conversation, we find that Olson’s elegant work speaks to our historical and political moment in multiple ways and has much to offer the left, theoretically and practically, within and beyond academia.

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. Patreon here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Image of book cover, with the title in alternative red, white, and grey text on a black background

 

Interview: Frank B. Wilderson III on Afropessimism – Epistemic Unruliness 28

In this very special episode, Sid and James sit down with Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III for a lively and wide-ranging conversation about his new highly-anticipated book Afropessimism. Culminating much of Wilderson’s critical theoretical ouevre of the last twenty years, the trio discuss this coming-of-age narrative that chronicles Wilderson’s youthful journey via radical political movements in the US and South Africa and intimate relationships through which Wilderson came to realize his iconoclastic premises of Afropessimism: “Blackness is coterminous with Slaveness…[and] social death” (102). How does Afropressimism view the relation between the libidinal and political economies in generating and sustaining anti-Blackness? Are liberationist-abolitionist projects the ruse of the Human? Should one read Afropessimism as a slave narrative, in anticipation of aporia and oxymoron? And in an Always Already exclusive scoop for our listeners, Wilderson details the wild scene from one memorable night during his stint as a bouncer at Prince’s Minneapolis nightclub.

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, “Desiring Machines,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Image: Photo of Frank B. Wilderson III, facing the camera in a black jacket, with a rock formation in the background

via frankbwildersoniii.com/

 

 

Ep. 66 – Juliet Hooker, Race and the Politics of Solidarity

In this episode, Emily, John, and Sid are joined by friend of the podcast Danielle Hanley of Rutgers University for a discussion of the first half of Juliet Hooker’s 2009 book Race and the Politics of Solidarity. We ask, what is the promise of solidarity and how is it achieved? How does this argument sit differently in liberal theory against democratic theory? What work does the ontological claim of the book do? And it wouldn’t be an episode of the Always Already Podcast without the vulgar Marx question: what about class? Tune in for racial capitalism, whiteness, solidarity in the time of social distance, and more!

Stay tuned for the dramatic return of your (our) two favorite segments: My Tumblr Friend from Canada (but actually from Europe) with an advice question on choosing thesis topics, and a new twist on dream analysis in One or Several (or zero?) Wolves!

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, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

Image of book cover of Race and the Politics of Solidarity

 

Ep. 65 – Race, Capitalism, and Intersectionality

Emily, Sid, and John intervene in the resurgent and lively (and possibly trendy?) discussion on “racial capitalism.” By engaging with four articles–Michael Dawson’s (2016), “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Note on Legitimation Crises and the Racial Order“; Nancy Fraser’s (2016), “Expropriation and Exploitation in Racialized Capitalism: A Reply to Michael Dawson“; Ashley Bohrer’s (2018), “Intersectionality and Marxism: A Critical Historiography“; and Michael Ralph and Maya Singhal’s (2019), “Racial Capitalism“–the team interrogates the theoretical foundations and political stakes around the relationship between capitalism, racial domination, patriarchy, and other modalities of hierarchy and oppression.

We raise questions (and often meet them with additional questions) such as: Is race necessary or contingent to the history and structure of capitalism? How, if at all, does contemporary work on racial capitalism move us past the entrenched class versus identity debate? Is the phrase “racial capitalism” an empty signifier, or does it hold generative political possibilities for the left? Tune in and find out where you end up on these questions and more!
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, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.
Links:
  • The Combahee River Collective Statement
  • Boston Review critical forum on slavery, capitalism, and justice
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, video of “What is Racial Capitalism and Why Does It Matter?” lecture (2017) and essay on Cedric Robinson and racial capitalism
  • Chapter 13 of Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class
  • The Race and Capitalism Project at the University of Chicago
  • Mayra Cotta on Michael Dawson, Nancy Fraser, race, and capitalism
  • Video of Michael Dawson talk “Race, Capitalism, and the Current Crisis” (2019)
  • Ashley Bohrer talk on “Capitalist Confinement” (2016)
  • 2016 panel discussion on Race and Capitalism at U Chicago
  • Michael Ralph discussing his book Forensics of Capital on Left on Black

Ep. 64 – Robin James, The Sonic Episteme: Acoustic Resonance, Neoliberalism, and Biopolitics

This long overdue episode brings James, B, and John together for a discussion of Robin James’s most recent book, The Sonic Episteme: Acoustic Resonance, Neoliberalism, and Biopolitics, focusing on the Introduction and Chap. 1. The AAP team starts with a reparative approach to the text’s central set of questions. What is the qualitative side to neoliberalism’s quantitative, rationalizing regime of knowledge? How does music and its study anticipate and, by dint of metaphor, reproduce the neoliberal mathesis? How does the sonic actually enable the subordination of historically marginalized groups?

To these questions the team has many varied but passionate responses. Some include questions about the book’s large, diffuse archive to question its central critique about capitalism and sound. Others explore the totalizing thematic of “neoliberalism” and its usefulness in discussing pop music, representation, and race, as in the book’s reading of Taylor Swift’s financialized neoliberal whiteness. But all invite listeners to ponder the political consequences of the text’s emphasis on music’s power to alter the allegories theorists use to tell stories about the world we share.

Thanks to Patreon supporter Roddy for the request to read R. James. 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, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Image: Cover of The Sonic Episteme