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: Michael Sawyer on the Political Philosophy of Malcolm X – Epistemic Unruliness 29

In this episode, Sid and John have the pleasure of talking with Dr. Michael Sawyer about his new book, Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X. Offering a systematic account of Malcolm X’s philosophy, Sawyer surfaces the distinctive radical humanism suffusing Malcolm X’s thought. Against the backdrop of ongoing anti-Black state and vigilante violence, we ask: What are the stakes of reading Malcolm X as a political philosopher, and what does it mean to be “Black minded”? How does Malcolm X theorize and practice the body as a site of Black subjectivity and self-sovereignty in the face of white supremacy, especially in white supremacy’s expression through the violent policing of Black bodies? In ways is Malcolm X a “bridge” between W.E.B Du Bois and Franz Fanon, and what do we learn from reading Malcolm X through Audre Lorde? What are the resonances and differences between Malcolm X’s conception of the New Human and the anti-humanism of Afro-pessimism? How should we grasp his often misunderstood notions of Black nationalism, violence, and revolution? Our conversation works though these pressing questions, clarifying the complexity, continued relevance, and radical horizon of Malcolm X’s political and philosophical critique of the white supremacist social order. We close with Sawyer’s reflections about contemporary struggles against white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

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, “Third Precinct on Fire“; always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Photo courtesy of Michael Sawyer

 

Malcolm X behind the counter at a restaurant, photographing Cassius Clay.

One of the images analyzed by Sawyer in the book.
Photo originally by Bob Gomel/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images; sourced from http://fightland.vice.com/blog/cassius-x-when-muhammad-met-malcolm

Interview: Kyla Schuller on Race Science and the Biopolitics of Feeling – Epistemic Unruliness 22

Join John as he interviews Kyla Schuller (Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers) about her new book The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century (Duke UP, 2017). The book develops concepts of impressibility and sentimentalism in order to interrogate practices of race science, race-making, and sex differentiation in 19th century America (and beyond). The conversation opens with an exploration of sentimental biopower and race as a spatio-temporal formation assigning capacities for impressibility and species-progress, the relation of Frances Harper and W.E.B. Du Bois to discourses of heredity, eugenics, impressibility, and more. From there, we open out onto questions of the state, critiques of feminist new materialism, epigenetics, and above all the challenges and promises of biopolitical analysis.

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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