This blog post represents an effort at engaged anthropology in which the anthropologist Ida Susser is working with the scholar/activist Kevin Poperl in the analysis of a new form of social intervention.
As anthropologists, we strive to speak up for the often marginalized and underprivileged populations we study. Aiming to do so rigorously by heeding the structures that create and reproduce the injustices we witness, many of us have found our way to the critique of capitalism by Karl Marx and his followers. Moishe Postone introduced cohorts of anthropologists and others who were drawn to his cross-disciplinary courses at the University of Chicago to Marx and critical theory. While his writings have inspired scholars and activists worldwide and across the social sciences and humanities, Postone had also paved a path from Marxian theory to empirical critique that ethnographic fieldwork is well poised to accomplish.
Editorial note: This text was submitted by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous; he has informed us that “this version of Viktor’s tale has been embellished in accordance with conventions of the genre (but also beyond them); at the same time, experts have ascertained that this version is not to be confused with the “fake news” that became so widespread in this era; all personal names and place names have been verified; they are real and authentic.”
Sacrifice zones—abandoned, economically shattered places, with growing social and health problems—are spreading in historically white rural areas and small towns across the United States. Rural decline, rooted in economic restructuring and financialization, exacerbates racial resentment and fosters regressive authoritarian politics.
This is a story about how a well-meaning liberal American professor can end up becoming an active propagandist for right-wing forces attempting to destroy a feminist revolution.
Fifty years after student protests shook much of the Cold War world, in the “West” and in the “East,” “Global 1968” has become the catchphrase to describe these profound generational revolts. West Berlin, Paris, and Berkeley spring to mind prominently, and most memorable behind what was then the Iron Curtain were the events of the Prague Spring. For most commentators and scholars, these events in the Global North appear to have constituted “Global 1968.”
Daniel Rodgers has written the latest would-be obituary for neoliberalism as a category of analysis, hot off the press in the first 2018 issue of Dissent magazine. Like Rajesh Venugopal and Bill Dunn before him, he creates a typology of the term’s use before concluding its analytical and political uselessness. Personally, I remain invested in seeking greater precision for the term rather than discarding it. The transformations, competing definitions, and contradictions of a term like liberalism or socialism have not led us to jettison those terms, so why this one?
As we sit here in Barcelona, a historic center of anarchism and left resistance, the questions debated in the most recent Focaal special section “Exploring the urban commons” confront us. As demonstrators take to the streets following the unauthorized referendum for Catalonian independence, many of the people involved are fighting for a new independent state, others are demanding a people’s right to choose, and still others are protesting police brutality and the legacy of Franco represented by the current ruling party. Is this an instance of commoning, or is it an instance of nationalist exclusivity? The dilemma of the relation of nationalism to progressive liberation is an old one, but always historically contingent, and appearing in a new form in this exploration of the commons.