Archive for June, 2009

The Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies at The University of Sheffield is hosting:

Modernity and the Return of Religion

Friday, 03 – Saturday, 04 July 2009

This is the first workshop in a series to be organised by the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies at the University of Sheffield, the purpose of which will be to analyse aspects of modernity in the 21st century. The conference will be held at the Humanities Research Institute, 34 Gell Street, Sheffield S3 7QY.

Since its inception, capitalist modernity has been accompanied by the suspicion that it is unable to satisfy the apparently deep human need for a sense of community and common purpose. Today, after the demise of the Eastern bloc and its social utopia, religious belief and action have re-appeared, promising to fulfil this need. The most visible manifestation of this is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Even its rationalist opposite, however, which a century after Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud again seeks to unmask “the God delusion”, is testimony to the renewed vigour of the religious world-view. But what exactly is the relationship between religion and social utopianism? Is religion a substitute for social harmony, or a Vorschein (Bloch) of a better world, or something else still? Can it somehow ground or anchor modernity, or is a genuinely modern religion doomed forever to remain within the domain of individual subjectivity? And what is the role of Islamic fundamentalism in all this? Is a social order based on religion of necessity totalitarian? What, finally, are the philosophical problems that are at stake here? Does the return of religion require us to rethink “Western” notions of rationality and progress?

The workshop brings together sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, theologians, and philosophers to address these issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The conference is organised by Henk de Berg, Professor of German, and Peter Thompson, Director of the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies.

Peter Thompson introduces Atheism in Christianity by Ernst Bloch. Bloch is one of the most important German Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century and one of the great theorists of utopia. Atheism in Christianity is published on 6 July.

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Nathaniel Mehr has reviewed Judith Butler’s Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? for Red Pepper:

“Frames of War is a searching examination of the intellectual frameworks informing the double-standards which pervade contemporary political, journalistic and academic discourses on the violence of the so-called ‘war on terror’….”

The book has also been reviewed in Morning Star by Gwyn Griffiths.

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Jacques Rancière’s new book The Emancipated Spectator (due in November) has been reviewed in the latest Radical Philosophy.Verso 9781844673438 Emaciated Spectator

“What we are given is, above all, a figure of the spectator whose capacities to sense and think are greater than we have – since Lacan, Debord, Irigaray and other French ‘denigrators’ of the spectacle – been prepared to conceive.”

Also in the latest issue of Radical Philosophy is an article by Jacques Rancière on the photographic image and a review by Alberto Toscano.

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E-flux carries an interview with ex-member of the Situationst International Raoul Vaniegem by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.

“Obrist:  At the outset of your relationship with the SI, there was the figure of Henri Lefebvre. What did he mean to you at the time? Why did you decide to send him poetic essays?

Vaneigem:  I found Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life captivating. verso 9781844671915 a critique of everyday life When La Somme et le reste [The Sum and the Remainder] was published, I sent him an essay of sorts on “poetry and revolution” that was an attempt to unify radical concepts, Lettrist language, music, and film imagery by crediting them all with the common virtue of making the people’s blood boil. Lefebvre kindly responded by putting me in touch with Guy Debord who immediately invited me to Paris. The two of us had very different temperaments, but we would agree over a period of nearly ten years on the need to bring consumer society to an end and to found a new society on the principle of self-management, where life supersedes survival and the existential angst that it generates.”

Also forthcoming from Verso: The Situationists and the City edited by Tom McDonough.

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Verso 978-1-85984-332-1 Close UpHamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, author of Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present and Future and editor of Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema, writing on Iran here and his latest commentary on the election crisis here.New Press Brown PB revision

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In the fourth part of his 7-part blog, Critchley reads Heidegger’s attempt to answer: How do we find ourselves in the world, and how can find our freedom here?

Being and Time, part 4: Thrown into this world is now available to read on Guardian Cif belief here.

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Arrighi, GiovanniGiovanni Arrighi passed away on Thursday 18th June. He was one of the foremost scholars of the history and future of capitalism, and author of The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times and Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century. A conference was recently held in his honour in Madrid. Earlier this year David Harvey interviewed Giovanni for New Left Review about his life’s work and it can be read here.

Verso 9781844671045 adam smith in beijing small

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See the new Verso Autumn 2009 catalogue on our website now, for the period from September 2009 to March 2010.2009_autumn_list_cover

You can download the catalogue from the site.

If you would like to be sent a hard copy, please email enquiries AT verso.co.uk with your address.

A free copy of Ghada Karmi’s In Search of Fatima to the first person who can name the artist who created the image for the front cover of the catalogue. (Competition open only to those outside of North America, finishes on Monday 29th June.)

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Slavoj Žižek contributed to Support for the Iranian People 2009:


Slavoj Žižek

This piece is copyright-free. Please distribute widely.

When an authoritarian regime approaches its final crisis, its dissolution as a rule follows two steps. Before its actual collapse, a mysterious rupture takes place: all of a sudden people know that the game is over, they are simply no longer afraid. It is not only that the regime loses its legitimacy, its exercise of power itself is perceived as an impotent panic reaction. We all know the classic scene from cartoons: the cat reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. When it loses its authority, the regime is like a cat above the precipice: in order to fall, it only has to be reminded to look down…

Read in full.

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Frames of War: The Politics of Ungrievable Life is The Times Higher Education’s Book of the Week.

Frames Grid.qxd:Layout 1

The reviewer,  Angela McRobbie, professor of communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, writes:

“To propose that Judith Butler is one of the world’s leading thinkers – a feminist philosopher whose writing has influenced a wide domain of disciplinary fields inside the academy as well as political culture in the outside world – is hardly contentious. We are, many of us, deeply indebted to a body of work that has illuminated issues at the very core of life, death, sexuality and existence. The tone of Butler’s work conveys a modesty within urgency, a truly delightful need for precision, for caution as to how we proceed when intervening in matters upon which so much is at stake.” Read full article.

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