Interview: Banu Bargu on the Weaponization of Life

Over at New Books in Global Ethics and Politics, John interviewed Banu Bargu on her recent book. Thanks to the NBN, we are cross-posting the episode here.

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.

 

 

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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. 18 – C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn on Trans Necropolitics

In this episode of Always Already, John and B explore the meaning (and afterlife) of the deaths of trans women of color at home and abroad through through “Trans Necropolitics: A Transnational Reflection on Violence, Death, and the Trans of Color Afterlife” by C. Riley Snorton and Jim Haritaworn. In tackling the larger conceptual framework of necropolitics and biopower, the duo unpack what an ‘afterlife’ does in its circulation amongst competing homonormative and transnormative discourses. How do trans of color lives and deaths come to stand in not for their particular moments, but a more generalized notion of social violence? In that way, do their narratives service larger, homogenizing and thus obviating forces in neoliberalism, gentrification, and LGBTQI community activism? How can the concept of the archive (as both inclusive and exclusive) come to represent our cultural memory, the fund of our social knowledge?

Of course, My Tumblr Friend from Canada invites us to think about a utopian future where power is distributed, affect theory and mental health, and, critically, what breed of dog we perceive ourselves and each other to be.

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 Jordan Cass.

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Ep. 17 – Walter Benjamin on the Concept of History

Welcome back Rachel to the podcast by joining us for our reading of Walter Benjamin’s theses on The Concept of History. Moved by our joint out loud reading at the start and end of the podcast, Rachel, John, and B explore the ways that history, for Benjamin, has become a tool of conquerors–a condition that only historical materialism has the ability to articulate. Yet, can historical materialism become an orthodoxy, homogenizing the past it wishes to liberate? And what other kinds of orthodoxies, ways of reading, and disciplinary attitudes foreclose desubjugating the knowledge of history? In the process of thinking through these and other questions, we explore themes and concepts of messianism, temporality, teleology, agency, class struggle, fragmentation and wholeness, redemption, and more; we also touch on queer temporality, Adorno, Foucault, Levinas, Kathi Weeks, and Lukács.

Of course, Our Tumblr Friend from Canada has plenty of questions, and a cameo from Sid Issar, featuring advice on: a pesky roommate tension; how NOT to reproduce power in the pronunciation of proper names; and how being powerful is not, in itself, always already problematic.

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 Jordan Cass.

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Klee's Angelus Novus (1920), discussed by Benjamin in the 9th Thesis as the Angel of History

Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920), discussed by Benjamin in the 9th Thesis as the Angel of History

Benjamin plays chess with Brecht

Benjamin plays chess with Brecht

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Ep. 8 – Jasbir K. Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages

Join B and John as they welcome back Rachel and collectively explore two chapters from the now-classic text by Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Topics include issues of empire, frames of war, bodies and affect, the concept of homonationalism, as well as the disposability of certain bodies and identities. You’re also invited to listen to Rachel and John spar with B over Puar’s use of affect against Ahmed.

In My Tumblr Friend from Canada, the group gives advice on doing interdisciplinary work and applying to political theory programs, as well as on conference presentations.

Thanks for Nathan J. for suggesting we read Puar. 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.

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Ep.7 – Foucault and Peck on Neoliberalism; Neoliberalism, Race and Securitization in Ferguson, Missouri

Join your faithful podcast hosts B and John as they welcome special guest-host Erika Iverson and delve into neoliberalism. We discuss chapter 9 – on American neoliberalism – from The Birth of Biopolitics by Michel Foucault “Neoliberal Worlds” from Constructions of Neoliberal Reason. Weaving the economic, the political, the state, and the historical ontology of neoliberalism is no small feat–but our hosts take on the challenge with gusto.We explore how to define neoliberalism, whether it should be defined, securitization, neoliberalism and the state, how neoliberalism and racism interact, how to teach neoliberalism, and more. Some of the more contentious and most contemporary topics include racial violence, the protests in Ferguson, MO, and immigration. We hope you enjoy this fascinating look into the connective tissues of neoliberalism(s) and lived experience.

In the “My Tumblr Friend from Canada” segment, we dispense invaluable advice on starting a band (hint: start a queer metal band), and how to say no to things in academia (and how none of us can do this).

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 Ricky Perry of Go-getter and by B.

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