» Editorials
March 3rd, 2017
Ritual Protest and the Theater of Dissent

The politics that inform these actions, where not entirely opaque, are based on a semi-spiritual belief that the right recipe of symbolism, passion, and powerful visuals will inspire significant political action that will alter the course of this or that unjust policy or state of affairs. Organizers want to inspire the people who view their protest images on their phones.

November 28th, 2016
trump-in-hard-hat
“I believe Trump like I believed Obama!”
A case study of two working-class “Latino” Trump voters: my parents
By (University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu)

It might be a huge stretch for some anti-racists to view Trump voters as something other than “deplorables,” or, rich, white, racists—but, the hope with this case study is that we might stop and reflect on who gains when we write off not just half the country but a large portion of the working class as racists.

November 21st, 2016
tony-mazzocchi
Mazzocchi and the Moment
By (University of Pennsylvania)

The most immediate challenge we face now is to prepare for what is going to be the political equivalent of a street fight that we’ll have to wage between now and at least 2018 just to preserve space for getting onto the offensive against the horrors likely to come at us from Trump, the Republican congress, and random Brown Shirt elements Trump’s victory has emboldened. At the same time, however, we need to reflect on the extent to which progressive practice has absorbed the ideological premises of left-neoliberalism.

November 17th, 2016
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28:  Presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during  the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado.  Fourteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the third set of Republican presidential debates.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Listening to Trump
By (New York University)

Contrary to how he was portrayed in the mainstream media Trump did not talk only of walls, immigration bans, and deportations. In fact he usually didn’t spend much time on those themes. Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a racist, misogynist, and confessed sexual predator who has legitimized dangerous street-level hate and his administration will almost certainly be a terrible new low in the evolution of American authoritarianism. But the heart of his message was something different, an ersatz economic populism that spoke directly, clearly and emotionally to legitimate working class concerns.

November 6th, 2016
cargocult
Splendors and Miseries of the Antiracist “Left”
By (University of Pennsylvania)

Proliferation of this Kabuki theater politics among leftists stems in part from the dialectic of desperation and wishful thinking that underlies the cargo-cult tendency; it is commonly driven by an understandable sense of urgency that the dangers facing us are so grave as to require some immediate action in response. That dialectic encourages immediatist fantasies as well as tendencies to define the direct goal of political action as exposing, or bearing witness against, injustice.

November 6th, 2016
gary-becker-quotes-4
A Note from “His Collaborator”

The trivial truth is that what they mean by challenging the operation of capitalist markets (i.e. massive downward redistribution) would indeed reduce racialized poverty, for the obvious reason that (as Adolph and I and millions of others keep on tiresomely repeating) precisely because black people are disproportionately poor all efforts of redistribution will disproportionately benefit them. The totally false idea is that a challenge to racial disparities gets you out from under what Reed calls “neoliberalism’s logic.” In fact, unlocking inherited inequality (racialized or not) and achieving real equality of opportunity (hence more upward mobility) is left neoliberalism’s wet dream.

October 11th, 2016
freee-state-jones
Class War in the Confederacy:
Why Free State of Jones Matters
By (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Free State of Jones reminds us of this core truth of class with respect to labor, whether paid or unpaid—the shared material conditions and shared interests of those who are compelled by force or necessity to work.

September 16th, 2016
On the End(s) of Black Politics
By (University of Chicago), (University of Pennsylvania), (University of Illinois at Chicago), (Illinois State University), (Mount Holyoke) and (South Carolina State University)

A politics whose point of departure requires harmonizing the interests of the black poor and working class with those of the black professional-managerial class indicates the conceptual and political confusion that underwrites the very idea of a Black Freedom Movement. The prevalence of such confusion is lamentable; that it go unchecked and without criticism is unacceptable. The essays that appear in this section will critique this tendency and offer in its stead a vision of what we think ought to be.

September 16th, 2016
alternet
How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence
By (University of Pennsylvania)

My point is not in any way to make light of the gravity of the injustice or to diminish outrage about police violence….However, noting a decline—or substantial change in either direction for that matter—in the rate of police killings does underscore the inadequacy of reified, transhistorical abstractions like “racism” or “white supremacy” for making sense of the nature and sources of police abuse of black Americans. Racism and white supremacy don’t really explain how anything happens. They’re at best shorthand characterizations of more complex, or at least discrete, actions taken by people in social contexts; at worst, and, alas, more often in our political moment, they’re invoked as alternatives to explanation

May 24th, 2016
Ultraleftists
Introduction to Against Ultraleftism

Our little group of papers, however, is more directed toward what it still makes sense to call the ultraleft: from those who think that Sanders should never have run as a Democrat to those who, disdaining electoral politics, don’t care who runs as what, from those who think that socialism is insufficiently attentive to the particularities of a universe of paramecially fissioning identities to those who sign up for TIDAL under the impression that corporate mass culture is revolutionary popular culture.

May 24th, 2016
lenin-head-kirghizistan
On Ascending A High Mountain

The voices from below ring with malicious joy. They do not conceal it; they chuckle gleefully and shout: “He’ll fall in a minute! Serve him right, the lunatic!”

May 16th, 2016
brazil-protest-coup
Class Struggle in Brazil:
Who Will Defend the Working Class?
By (Indiana University) and (State University of Ceara - UECE)

The political farce perpetrated against the Brazilian people on Sunday, April 17, when the country’s national congress approved the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is a critical moment in an ongoing class war against the left, labor and the poor. Instead of an exercise in democratic political sovereignty, as the center-right coalition would prefer the rest of the world believe, the congressional vote is a de-facto political coup.

May 16th, 2016
this_changes
The Climate Movement Needs to Get Radical, but What Does that Mean?
A Delayed Review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein
By (Evergreen State College)

The view that capitalism is a style of thinking, progress is a myth, and political contestation is irrelevant to “true” social change belongs not just to this one book but to all the commentators who found nothing to criticize. That’s the real problem.

April 5th, 2016
Jeff Wall, Eviction Struggle (1988)
What We Worry About When We Worry About Commodification:
Reflections on Dave Beech, Julian Stallabrass, and Jeff Wall

In an advertisement, the only intention that matters is to sell a product. All manner of decisions can and do saturate an advertising image, but these are subordinate to the purpose (Zweck) of selling the product. In a successful work of art, all kinds of decisions are subordinate to a larger intention as well; but that intention is analytically identical with the meaning (Zweckmäßigkeit) of the work, so it makes sense to speak of the work as a whole as saturated with intention. As we saw, art-commodities may well bear the marks of industrial processes. A work of art may, on the other hand, choose to exhibit them, which is a different matter altogether. We can tell the difference between bearing marks and exhibiting marks because works of art tell us how to tell the difference, each time.

March 29th, 2016
Vanessa Place
Postscript
on Some Responses to "Would Vanessa Place Be a Better Poet if She Had Better Opinions?"
By (Pomona College)

Everyone involved in this discussion appears to live by the difference between art and life. To my knowledge, no one has suggested that Gone with the Wind is something other than a novel or that Tweeting Gone with the Wind is something other than a work of art. (No reader misrecognized it as a different kind of Twitter account – for example, a moment by moment record of the passing thoughts of Vanessa Place). Nor has anyone started a liberation movement to protect the rights or advance the interests of fictional persons.

February 11th, 2016
reparations
Reparations and other Right-Wing Fantasies
By (UIC) and (University of Chicago)

But in a world where inequality has been increasing and where the fastest growing jobs are mainly the lowest paying ones, why should we be inspired by a vision that instead of promising to pay people better, promises only to make sure that the badly-paid are not disproportionately black or Latino? And that men are just as fucked as women? It’s easy to see the attractions of bourgeois anti-racism and bourgeois feminism for white women and people of color seeking to establish themselves among the (shrinking) bourgeoisie. From their standpoint we should be as concerned that black, Latino, or female-owned businesses are relatively poorer than their white or male counterparts as we are with the growing power of employers to obtain labor on increasingly exploitative terms.

February 11th, 2016
The Case Against Reparations
By (University of Pennsylvania)

The deeper appeal of reparations talk for its proponents is to create or stress a sense of racial peoplehood as the primary basis for political identity. This movement’s psychological project is grounded on two beliefs: first, that rank-and -file black people suffer from an improper or defective sense of identity, and second, that an important task of political action is to restore or correct racial consciousness that the legacy of slavery is supposed to have distorted or destroyed.

February 11th, 2016
Identity Politics: A Zero-Sum Game

This doesn’t mean that gay marriage isn’t a good thing, and it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be vigilant in fighting all kinds of discrimination. It just means that fighting discrimination has nothing to do with fighting economic inequality, and that the commitment to identity politics has been more an expression of our enthusiasm for the free market than a form of resistance to it. You can, for example, be a feminist committed to equal pay for men and women and also be committed to equality between management and labor but, as the example of everyone who’s ever campaigned against the glass ceiling shows, you don’t have to be and aren’t likely to be.

September 26th, 2015
Gone_with_the_Wind
Would Vanessa Place Be a Better Poet If She Had Better Opinions?
By (Pomona College)

Poets and critics have had some trouble discussing Vanessa Place’s piece Tweeting Gone with the Wind. I have a suggestion. Why not say that her piece is poorly written?

April 4th, 2015
image001
Chuy for Mayor
By (University of Pennsylvania)

Most readers will know that Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a longtime progressive and respected elected official, after deciding to enter the mayor’s race at the urging of Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union President whose illness prevented her from running herself, forced Rahm Emanuel into a runoff. Many of you no doubt also know that in a recent poll Chuy scored in a virtual dead heat with Rahm with the election a few days away, on April 7.

January 26th, 2015
selma-movie
The Real Problem with Selma
It doesn't help us understand the civil rights movement, the regime it challenged, or even the significance of the voting rights act
By (University of Pennsylvania)

The victory condensed in the forms of participation enabled by the VRA is necessary—a politics that does not seek institutional consolidation is ultimately no politics at all—but not sufficient for facing the challenges that confront us in this moment of rampant capitalist offensive against social justice, but neither are the essentially nostalgic modalities of protest politics often proposed as more authentic than the mundane electoral domain. It is past time to consider Prof. Legette’s aphorism and engage its many implications. And that includes a warrant to resist the class-skewed penchant for celebrating victories won in the heroic moment of the southern civil rights movement as museum pieces disconnected from subsequent black American political history and the broad struggle for social justice and equality.

December 16th, 2014
Can We Criticize Foucault?
By (Free University of Brussels)

Foucault was highly attracted to economic liberalism: he saw in it the possibility of a form of governmentality that was much less normative and authoritarian than the socialist and communist left, which he saw as totally obsolete. He especially saw in neoliberalism a “much less bureaucratic” and “much less disciplinarian” form of politics than that offered by the postwar welfare state. He seemed to imagine a neoliberalism that wouldn’t project its anthropological models on the individual, that would offer individuals greater autonomy vis-à-vis the state.

October 13th, 2014
Karen-Lewis
Response to Jay and Sustar & Bean
By (University of Pennsylvania)

Both these pieces betray a really naïve or underdeveloped understanding of electoral action, its costs and benefits, the unavoidable messiness of engaging in it. And, by the way, the same messiness applies to all efforts to build and maintain broad alliances, all of which require finding ways to navigate locating points of agreement and looking the other way at least temporarily at potentially serious differences and contradictions.

April 29th, 2014
gabrielgarciamarquez
Forgetting Gabriel García Márquez

We will have had to forget García Márquez in order to read García Márquez, that is, to read in his texts the chronicle of his own decline and death foretold, and thus to read in these texts the very body of literature itself. That would be the condition of his works’ potential actuality.

October 21st, 2013
The Political Ontology of Unemployment: Why No One Need Apply
Reply to Zamora
By (Emory University)

Once the door had been opened onto the phenomena of the chronically unemployed, it appeared there was no closing it. Which is to say, even though the intervening period—at least between 1945 and 1979—was characterized by something wildly different than rank unemployment, nothing about this fact altered the vision of revolutionary progress centered on the figure of the precariat. It would be fairer to say exactly the opposite. The “affluent society,” as Kenneth Galbraith described it in 1958, was the source of endless lament on the Left (the Right’s attitude toward the growing equality in wealth is another, but related, story).

January 5th, 2013
Occupy University
Dude, Where’s My Job?

…if we wanted the unrich to stop being such a (vastly) underrepresented minority in our universities, we’d have to throw most of our current students out. From this standpoint, the most effective version of an occupy movement on campuses like Michigan’s would be one in which the students stopped occupying it and made way for not the 99% but the 75% who have been systematically denied admission.

November 21st, 2012
Beyond JSTOR: nonsite.org as Digital Publisher
By (Emory University)

Video from talk given at Publishing and the PhD, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, October 18.

April 17th, 2012
Associations for Phil Chang
By (University of California, Los Angeles)

In the language of insurance, “inherent vice” is the natural tendency of an object to self-destruct for no apparent reason. The inherent vice of glass or marble objects, for instance, is that they can collapse at any moment; the material is structurally unstable. For photography, and particularly for color photography, the inherent vice of the photograph is that it inevitably tarnishes, no matter how hard we try to slow it down.

March 13th, 2012
Navi
The Work of Art in the Age of its Real Subsumption under Capital

Whatever previous ages might have fancied, we are wise enough to know that the work of art is a commodity like any other. Chances are that we don’t have any very clear idea what we mean by that. Marx, however, does.

October 3rd, 2011
Viktoria Binschtok, Wand 1, 2006
The Beauty of a Social Problem

Unemployment is both a problem and a solution. It’s a problem for the unemployed, who want work, a solution for employers who not only want workers but also want the cheapest ones they can get.

September 3rd, 2011
Project Runway
Money is in the Eye of the Beholder
By (Emory University)

Marie Claire and affect theory; Gombrich and neoliberalism; reparations for the ugly and the continuing hold of Degenerate art.

July 4th, 2011
TremePic
Three Tremés
By (University of Pennsylvania)

Not only is everything that was good about The Wire, such as use of silence and nuance to make points and to evoke the effects of deep structural forces and a narrative that is decidedly and proudly not moved along by music or soap operatic plot devices, bad about Treme; Simon is also in way over his head. His vision has been captured and colonized by the touristic discourse of “real” authenticity.

June 18th, 2011
Edouard Manet, Dejeuner sur l'herbe, 1863
After Hegel: An Interview with Robert Pippin
By (University of Chicago)

The dimension of a free life that Hegel is interested in has not, by virtue of these critiques, been superseded or gone away, unless we have some way of understanding what it would be to actually acknowledge such a departure in life. The postmodernist critique of subjectivity is “overdone” to the extent that it leaves us with no concrete way to understand what the actual position of subjectivity should look like to an agent.

June 12th, 2011
Arthur-Ou
Interview with Walter Benn Michaels on Photography and Politics

So one easy way to put it would be to say that for many people, photography perfectly embodied the theory and practice of the postmodern, whereas for some people, it created the possibility or felt necessity for a critique of postmodernism. Or, to put the point in terms of intentionality: for many people, the photograph embodies the critique of the intentional that we find in theorists as different as Barthes and Derrida, Crimp and Rancière; for others it embodies something like the opposite – the opportunity to re-imagine intentionality.

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