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A Critique of Cartographic Reason
Gunnar Olsson
University of Chicago Press, 2007

People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people’s lives.

A spectacular reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist guide to the terrain of Western culture. Olsson roams widely but always returns to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails. A work of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will appeal to an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but also to anyone interested in the history of ideas, culture, and art.


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Amalgamation Schemes
Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism
Jared Sexton
University of Minnesota Press, 2008

Despite being heralded as the answer to racial conflict in the post–civil rights United States, the principal political effect of multiracialism is neither a challenge to the ideology of white supremacy nor a defiance of sexual racism. More accurately, Jared Sexton argues in Amalgamation Schemes, multiculturalism displaces both by evoking long-standing tenets of antiblackness and prescriptions for normative sexuality.

In this timely and penetrating analysis, Sexton pursues a critique of contemporary multiracialism, from the splintered political initiatives of the multiracial movement to the academic field of multiracial studies, to the melodramatic media declarations about “the browning of America.” He contests the rationales of colorblindness and multiracial exceptionalism and the promotion of a repackaged family values platform in order to demonstrate that the true target of multiracialism is the singularity of blackness as a social identity, a political organizing principle, and an object of desire. From this vantage, Sexton interrogates the trivialization of sexual violence under chattel slavery and the convoluted relationship between racial and sexual politics in the new multiracial consciousness.

An original and challenging intervention, Amalgamation Schemes posits that multiracialism stems from the conservative and reactionary forces determined to undo the gains of the modern civil rights movement and dismantle radical black and feminist politics.

Jared Sexton is assistant professor of African American studies and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine.


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A Critique of Machtpolitik, Volume 105
Dana D. Nelson
Duke University Press
The 2004 reelection of President George W. Bush came as a shock to many politically liberal American citizens and intellectuals who opposed his first administration and its controversial policies and politics. Aimed at this “amBushed” political constituency, AmBushed, a special issue of SAQ, dares to ask how Bush’s reelection took so many by surprise and—through an analysis of the Bush administration and how it garners political strength and executes its policies—examines the way in which the political Left may regain its footing. The diverse perspectives—from respected intellectuals and scholars from the United States and abroad—reflect a range of opinions within democracy and intend to stimulate a constructive debate, fostering the development of new strategies to strengthen and improve the political agenda and efficacy of the Left.

One essay argues that the Left has ceded its political vision—forgoing active political organization in favor of simply voicing political criticism of the president—allowing its activist sensibilities and abilities to atrophy. Others explore the Bush administration, its masterful machtpolitik (power politics), its strategic feminization of its opposition, its aggressive expansion of executive-branch powers, and its flirtation with what some have labeled American fascism or totalitarianism; still others reflect on how the Left has insulated itself from both reality and politics. A contributor from South Africa draws parallels between apartheid proponents and their tactics and President Bush. Others analyze “Bush II” as the leader of the Christian Right, as a skillful exploiter and manipulator of the mainstream media, as the chief spokesman for “evangelical capitalism,” and as the world’s most powerful lobbyist for corporate interests.

Contributors. Wendell Berry, Michael Bérubé, Timothy Brennan, Sharad Chari, Matthew A. Crenson, Ariel Dorfman, Thomas L. Dumm, Keya Ganguly, Benjamin Ginsberg, Pierre Guerlain, Stephen Hartnett, Dana D. Nelson, Chris Newfield, Melissa A. Orlie, Stanley G. M. Ridge, Larry Schehr, Nikhil Singh, Neil Smith, Laura Ann Stengrim


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Américo Paredes
Culture and Critique
By José E. Limón
University of Texas Press, 2012

Several biographies of Américo Paredes have been published over the last decade, yet they generally overlook the paradoxical nature of his life’s work. Embarking on an in-depth, critical exploration of the significant body of work produced by Paredes, José E. Limón (one of Paredes’s students and now himself one of the world’s leading scholars in Mexican American studies) puts the spotlight on Paredes as a scholar/citizen who bridged multiple arenas of Mexican American cultural life during a time of intense social change and cultural renaissance.

Serving as a counterpoint to hagiographic commentaries, Américo Paredes challenges and corrects prevailing readings by contemporary critics of Paredes’s Asian period and of such works as the novel George Washington Gómez, illuminating new facets in Paredes’s role as a folklorist and public intellectual. Limón also explores how the field of cultural studies has drifted away from folklore, or “the poetics of everyday life,” while he examines the traits of Mexican American expressive culture. He also investigates the scholarly paradigm of ethnography itself, a stimulating inquiry that enhances readings of Paredes’s best-known study, “With His Pistol in His Hand,” and other works. Underscoring Paredes’s place in folklore and Mexican American literary production, the book questions the shifting reception of Paredes throughout his academic career, ultimately providing a deep hermeneutics of widely varied work. Offering new conceptions, interpretations, and perspectives, Américo Paredes gives this pivotal literary figure and his legacy the critical analysis they deserve.


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The Ascent of Affect
Genealogy and Critique
Ruth Leys
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In recent years, emotions have become a major, vibrant topic of research not merely in the biological and psychological sciences but throughout a wide swath of the humanities and social sciences as well. Yet, surprisingly, there is still no consensus on their basic nature or workings.
Ruth Leys’s brilliant, much anticipated history, therefore, is a story of controversy and disagreement. The Ascent of Affect focuses on the post–World War II period, when interest in emotions as an object of study began to revive. Leys analyzes the ongoing debate over how to understand emotions, paying particular attention to the continual conflict between camps that argue for the intentionality or meaning of emotions but have trouble explaining their presence in non-human animals and those that argue for the universality of emotions but struggle when the question turns to meaning. Addressing the work of key figures from across the spectrum, considering the potentially misleading appeal of neuroscience for those working in the humanities, and bringing her story fully up to date by taking in the latest debates, Leys presents here the most thorough analysis available of how we have tried to think about how we feel.

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Ashes Taken for Fire
Aesthetic Modernism and the Critique of Identity
Kevin M. Bell
University of Minnesota Press, 2007
For years critics have held that literary modernism was both apolitical and solipsistic. While the former charge began to give way with the recession of New Criticism, the latter has grown in strength as a lead-in to the claim that postmodernism is apolitical and solipsistic. Against this backdrop, Kevin Bell surveys fiction by Conrad, Woolf, Faulkner, West, Ellison, and Himes to show that modernism is a sharply philosophical archive. In Ashes Taken for Fire, he argues that modernism exposes cultural identities such as blackness as mere strategies of conforming the self into belonging. Bell’s examination pursues the question of nonidentity through sound, silence, and gesture, treating these as technologies of reading the contradictions, breakdowns, and erasures that constitute subjectivity. His analysis of these texts reveals that the aesthetic investigations they perform undo the logic of cultural identity, devastating such reductive rubrics as “race” or “gender.”Ashes Taken for Fire explores the experience of blackness in both its chromatic/ocular and “racial” registers. For while blackness operates as a standard figural expression for disorientation, its presumably “voided” character is reprojected in this work as an immanent force of possibility and experimentation.Kevin Bell is assistant professor of English and comparative literary studies at Northwestern University.

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Benjamin and Adorno on Art and Art Criticism
Critique of Art
Thijs Lijster
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
This book brings together two of the most important figures of twentieth-century criticism, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, to consider a topic that was central to their thinking: the place of and reason for art in society and culture. Thijs Lijster takes us through points of agreement and disagreement between the two on such key topics as the relationship between art and historical experience, between avant-garde art and mass culture, and between the intellectual and the public. He also addresses the continuing relevance of Benjamin and Adorno to ongoing debates in contemporary aesthetics, such as the end of art, the historical meaning of art, and the role of the critic.

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Book of Abraham Apologetics
A Review and Critique
Dan Vogel
Signature Books, 2021
Said to have been dictated by Joseph Smith as a translation of an ancient Egyptian scroll purchased in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835, the Book of Abraham may be Mormonism’s most controversial scripture. Decades of impassioned discussion began when about a dozen fragments of Smith’s Egyptian papyri, including a facsimile from the Book of Abraham, were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum in 1966. The discovery solved a mystery about the origin of the Egyptian characters that appear in the various manuscript copies of the Book of Abraham from 1835, reproduced from one of the fragments. Some LDS scholars devised arguments to explain what seemed to be clear evidence of Smith’s inability to translate Egyptian. In this book, Dan Vogel not only highlights the problems with these apologetic arguments but explains the underlying source documents in revealing detail and clarity.

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Coloring Whiteness
Acts of Critique in Black Performance
Faedra Chatard Carpenter
University of Michigan Press, 2014
Coloring Whiteness pays homage to the ways that African American artists and performers have interrogated tropes and mythologies of whiteness to reveal racial inequalities, focusing on comedy sketches, street theater, visual art, video, TV journalism, and voice-over work since 1964. By investigating enactments of whiteness—from the use of white makeup and suggestive masks, to literary motifs and cultural narratives regarding “white” characteristics and qualities—Faedra Chatard Carpenter explores how artists have challenged commonly held notions of racial identity. Through its layered study of expressive culture, her book considers how artistic and performance strategies are used to “color” whiteness and complicate blackness in our contemporary moment.

Utilizing theories of performance and critical race studies, Coloring Whiteness is also propelled by Carpenter’s dramaturgical sensibilities. Her analysis of primary performance texts is informed not only by traditional print and visual materials, but also by her interviews with African American theater artists, visual artists, and cultural critics. The book is an invaluable contribution to the fields of theater and performance studies, African American studies, cultural studies, critical race studies, and American studies.

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Counter-Colonial Criminology
A Critique of Imperialist Reason
Biko Agozino
Pluto Press, 2003
This book is about how the history of colonialism has shaped the definition of crime and justice systems not only in former colonies but also in colonialist countries. Biko Agozino argues that criminology in the West was originally tested in the colonies and then brought back to mother countries -- in this way, he claims, the colonial experience has been instrumental in shaping modern criminology in colonial powers.

He looks at how radical critiques of mainstream criminology by critical feminist and postmodernist thinkers contribute to an understanding of the relationship between colonial experience and criminology. But he also shows that even critical feminist and postmodernist assessments of conventional criminology do not go far enough as they remain virtually silent on colonial issues.

Biko Agozino considers African and other postcolonial literature and contributions to counter colonial criminology, their originality, relevance and limitations. Finally he advocates a “committed objectivity” approach to race-class-gender criminology investigations in order to come to terms with imperialistic and neo-colonialist criminology.

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Critique and Cosmos
After Misao Miyoshi
Rob Wilson and Paul A. Bové, special issue editors
Duke University Press
This special issue aims to channel the energies, tactics, critical forces, and comparative poetics Masao Miyoshi (1928–2009) carried out in his work from the 1970s on: coming to terms with his concept of aftering (the act of prolonging and transforming impacts across cultural, political, and disciplinary borders) and its temporal, border-crossing, translational, field-reframing, and revisionary effects. Contributors do not assess his scholarship and photography in any memorial, critical, or honorific sense. Instead, they seek to renew the critical visions that he distributed across various fields, from Asian to Asian American studies and beyond. Each takes seriously the mandate inside Miyoshi's work that cultural criticism envision its work broadly and courageously. Essays address the state of Japan studies; China's role in twentieth-century geopolitics, particularly involving Tibet; the critical ethos of "the planetary" in the Anthropocene; and the Korean film Snowpiercer, whose plot represents an embodiment of killer capitalism.

Contributors. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Arif Dirlik, Harry Harootunian, Reginald Jackson, Mary Layoun, Christine L. Marran, George Solt, Keijiro Suga, Stefan Tanaka, Chih-ming Wang, Rob Wilson

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Critique and Postcritique
Elizabeth S. Anker and Rita Felski, editors
Duke University Press, 2017
Now that literary critique's intellectual and political pay-off is no longer quite so self-evident, critics are vigorously debating the functions and futures of critique. The contributors to Critique and Postcritique join this conversation, evaluating critique's structural, methodological, and political potentials and limitations. Following the interventions made by Bruno Latour, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best, and others, the contributors assess the merits of the postcritical turn while exploring a range of alternate methods and critical orientations. Among other topics, the contributors challenge the distinction between surface and deep reading; outline how critique-based theory has shaped the development of the novel; examine Donna Haraway's feminist epistemology and objectivity; advocate for a "hopeful" critical disposition; highlight the difference between reading as method and critique as genre; and question critique's efficacy at attending to the affective dimensions of experience. In these and other essays this volume outlines the state of contemporary literary criticism while pointing to new ways of conducting scholarship that are better suited to the intellectual and political challenges of the present. 

Contributors: Elizabeth S. Anker, Christopher Castiglia, Russ Castronovo, Simon During, Rita Felski, Jennifer L. Fleissner, Eric Hayot, Heather Love, John Michael, Toril Moi, Ellen Rooney, C. Namwali Serpell

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Critique and the Digital
Edited by Erich Hörl, Nelly Y. Pinkrah, and Lotte Warnsholdt
Diaphanes, 2020
Erich Hörl, Nelly Y. Pinkrah, and Lotte Warnsholdt gather diverse perspectives on one agreed-upon condition: that the computational power of today’s world has fundamentally transformed all aspects of it. The contributors investigate and question not only the possible sites of critique but also of the concept of critique. If there used to be a critical subject constituted in the cultural techniques of modernity, and if digitality indicates itself as a product of modernity while at the same time somehow being its very ending, what are the ramifications? Digitality severely alters the critical subject and its spatio-temporal relations, and it therefore interferes with its potential to be a critical subject. The contributors of this volume ask what critique in the digital age might look like and offer specific examples of critique and critical practices.

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A Critique of Adjudication
fin de siècle
Duncan Kennedy
Harvard University Press, 1997

A major statement from one of the foremost legal theorists of our day, this book offers a penetrating look into the political nature of legal, and especially judicial, decision making. It is also the first sustained attempt to integrate the American approach to law, an uneasy balance of deep commitment and intense skepticism, with the Continental tradition in social theory, philosophy, and psychology.

At the center of this work is the question of how politics affects judicial activity-and how, in turn, lawmaking by judges affects American politics. Duncan Kennedy considers opposing views about whether law is political in character and, if so, how. He puts forward an original, distinctive, and remarkably lucid theory of adjudication that includes accounts of both judicial rhetoric and the experience of judging. With an eye to the current state of theory, legal or otherwise, he also includes a provocative discussion of postmodernism.

Ultimately concerned with the practical consequences of ideas about the law, A Critique of Adjudication explores the aspects and implications of adjudication as few books have in this century. As a comprehensive and powerfully argued statement of a critical position in modern American legal thought, it will be essential to any balanced picture of the legal, political, and cultural life of our nation.


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Critique Of Applied Ethics
Reflections and Recommendations
Abraham Edel
Temple University Press, 1994
"Part One is historically rich and analytically sophisticated. It is unquestionably the best treatment of the applied ethics landscape. In Part Two, the authors have an uncanny sense of the issues and a remarkable ability to demythologize the jargon temple of doom, such that controversial philosophical positions are rendered clear.... I look forward to teaching from this book." --John J. McDermott, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Professor and Head of Humanities in Medicine, Texas A&M University Over the past two decades, applied ethics has turned increasingly toward theories that explore ethical questions faced by a variety of professions and away from classic moral concerns. Abraham Edel, Elizabeth Flower, and Finbarr O'Connor utilize examples of professional, public policy, and personal decision making to illustrate the strengths and limitations of the application of ethics in a rapidly changing world. They first discuss the emergence of applied ethics and how it functions within a philosophical tradition. They are not concerned, however, with solving the problems they expose, but with employing them as a means to critique applied ethics. Using human rights and health and welfare issues, the authors examine the subsequent ethical stumbling blocks that surround the "moral order" of these social concerns. Through a historical discussion of the abundant ethical theories posited since the Enlightenment, they suggest ways to decide which can serve as intellectual tools for applied ethics and consider how knowledge and experience enter into any moral decision. Turning to the factors pertinent in the analysis and solution of moral problems, they dissect the underlying influences on the practice of ethics, the way in which a moral problem is diagnosed and its relevant contexts established, the ensuing conflicts between the concerns of the individual and of society, and the degree of inventiveness in issues of morality. The authors suggest that, instead of viewing theory as a set consequence derived from prior applications, relating theory to practice will engage a process of mutual aid, from which each element will learn, refining and improving the other.

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Critique of Black Reason
Achille Mbembe
Duke University Press, 2017
In Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness—from the Atlantic slave trade to the present—to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity. Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world's center of gravity while mapping the relations among colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial and extractive capital. Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion. With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future. 

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Critique Of Cynical Reason
Peter Sloterdijk
University of Minnesota Press, 1988

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Critique of Exotica
Music, Politics and the Culture Industry
John Hutnyk
Pluto Press, 2000

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Critique of Forms of Life
Rahel Jaeggi
Harvard University Press, 2018

For many liberals, the question “Do others live rightly?” feels inappropriate. Liberalism seems to demand a follow-up question: “Who am I to judge?” Peaceful coexistence, in this view, is predicated on restraint from morally evaluating our peers. But Rahel Jaeggi sees the situation differently. Criticizing is not only valid but also useful, she argues. Moral judgment is no error; the error lies in how we go about judging.

One way to judge is external, based on universal standards derived from ideas about God or human nature. The other is internal, relying on standards peculiar to a given society. Both approaches have serious flaws and detractors. In Critique of Forms of Life, Jaeggi offers a third way, which she calls “immanent” critique. Inspired by Hegelian social philosophy and engaged with Anglo-American theorists such as John Dewey, Michael Walzer, and Alasdair MacIntyre, immanent critique begins with the recognition that ways of life are inherently normative because they assert their own goodness and rightness. They also have a consistent purpose: to solve basic social problems and advance social goods, most of which are common across cultures. Jaeggi argues that we can judge the validity of a society’s moral claims by evaluating how well the society adapts to crisis—whether it is able to overcome contradictions that arise from within and continue to fulfill its purpose.

Jaeggi enlivens her ideas through concrete, contemporary examples. Against both relativistic and absolutist accounts, she shows that rational social critique is possible.


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Critique of Freedom
The Central Problem of Modernity
Otfried Höffe
University of Chicago Press, 2020
In this ambitious book, philosopher Otfried Höffe provides a sophisticated account of the principle of freedom and its role in the project of modernity. Höffe addresses a set of complex questions concerning the possibility of political justice and equity in the modern world, the destruction of nature, the dissolving of social cohesion, and the deregulation of uncontrollable markets. Through these considerations, he shows how the idea of freedom is central to modernity, and he assesses freedom’s influence in a number of cultural dimensions, including the natural, economic and social, artistic and scientific, political, ethical, and personal-metaphysical.

Neither rejecting nor defending freedom and modernity, he instead explores both from a Kantian point of view, looking closely at the facets of freedom’s role and the fundamental position it has taken at the heart of modern life. Expanding beyond traditional philosophy, Critique of Freedom develops the building blocks of a critical theory of technology, environmental protection, economics, politics, medicine, and education. With a sophisticated yet straightforward style, Höffe draws on a range of disciplines in order to clearly distinguish and appreciate the many meanings of freedom and the indispensable role they play in liberal society.

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A Critique of Postcolonial Reason
Toward a History of the Vanishing Present
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Harvard University Press, 1999

Are the “culture wars” over? When did they begin? What is their relationship to gender struggle and the dynamics of class? In her first full treatment of postcolonial studies, a field that she helped define, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the world’s foremost literary theorists, poses these questions from within the postcolonial enclave.

“We cannot merely continue to act out the part of Caliban,” Spivak writes; and her book is an attempt to understand and describe a more responsible role for the postcolonial critic. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason tracks the figure of the “native informant” through various cultural practices—philosophy, history, literature—to suggest that it emerges as the metropolitan hybrid. The book addresses feminists, philosophers, critics, and interventionist intellectuals, as they unite and divide. It ranges from Kant’s analytic of the sublime to child labor in Bangladesh. Throughout, the notion of a Third World interloper as the pure victim of a colonialist oppressor emerges as sharply suspect: the mud we sling at certain seemingly overbearing ancestors such as Marx and Kant may be the very ground we stand on.

A major critical work, Spivak’s book redefines and repositions the postcolonial critic, leading her through transnational cultural studies into considerations of globality.


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The Critique of Pure Modernity
Hegel, Heidegger, and After
David Kolb
University of Chicago Press, 1986
"Modernity" is a troubling concept, not only for scholars but for the general public, for it seems to represent a choice between oppressive traditions and empty, rootless freedom. Seeking a broader understanding of modernity, Kolb first considers the views of Weber and then discusses in detail the pivotal writings of Hegel and Heidegger. He uses the novel strategy of presenting Heidegger's critique of Hegel and then suggesting the critique of Heidegger that Hegel might have made.

Kolb offers his own views, proposing the possibility of a meaningful life that is free but still rooted in shared contexts. He concludes with comments on "postmodernity" as discussed by Lyotard and others, arguing persuasively against the presupposition of a unified Modern or Postmodern Age.

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The Critique of Scientific Reason
Kurt Hübner
University of Chicago Press, 1983
A systematic critique of the notion that natural science is the sovereign domain of truth, Critique of Scientific Reason uses an extensive and detailed investigation of physics—and in particular of Einstein's theory of relativity—to argue that the positivistic notion of rationality is not only wrongheaded but false. Kurt Hübner contends that positivism ignores both the historical dimension of science and the basic structures common to scientific theory, myth, and so-called subjective symbolic systems. Moreover, Hübner argues, positivism has led in our time to a widespread disillusionment with science and technology.

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A Critique of Silviculture
Managing for Complexity
Klaus J. Puettmann, K. David Coates, and Christian Messier
Island Press, 2008
The discipline of silviculture is at a crossroads. Silviculturists are under increasing pressure to develop practices that sustain the full function and dynamics of forested ecosystems and maintain ecosystem diversity and resilience while still providing needed wood products. A Critique of Silviculture offers a penetrating look at the current state of the field and provides suggestions for its future development.

The book includes an overview of the historical developments of silvicultural techniques and describes how these developments are best understood in their contemporary philosophical, social, and ecological contexts. It also explains how the traditional strengths of silviculture are becoming limitations as society demands a varied set of benefits from forests and as we learn more about the importance of diversity on ecosystem functions and processes.

The authors go on to explain how other fields, specifically ecology and complexity science, have developed in attempts to understand the diversity of nature and the variability and heterogeneity of ecosystems. The authors suggest that ideas and approaches from these fields could offer a road map to a new philosophical and practical approach that endorses managing forests as complex adaptive systems.

A Critique of Silviculture bridges a gap between silviculture and ecology that has long hindered the adoption of new ideas. It breaks the mold of disciplinary thinking by directly linking new ideas and findings in ecology and complexity science to the field of silviculture. This is a critically important book that is essential reading for anyone involved with forest ecology, forestry, silviculture, or the management of forested ecosystems.

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A Critique of the Study of Kinship
David M. Schneider
University of Michigan Press, 1984
Schneider challenges the assumptions on which anthropology has depended for the last century by showing that one of the major categories in terms of which social life has been understood is largely untenable. The idea of kinship is subject to penetrating scrutiny. Unlike the proverbial Emperor, it is not that kinship has no clothes. The question is whether there is anything at all underneath those clothes. And even when the clothes appear to be shreds and patches held together by a web of illusions.
The critique uses a novel device in that the same set of ethnographic “facts” are looked at through different theories. This reveals a good deal about the different theories. By the same token, of course, this critique goes into the question of what a “fact” of “kinship” might be and how to recognize one either at home or in the field.
Schneider’s critique also uses history to raise cogent questions about how kinship has been studied. But it is not as 20/20 hindsight that history is used. Due respect is paid to the climate of the time, as well as the climatic changes and the ways in which these helped to create the emperor’s clothes. Right, wrong, or indifferent, Schneider’s study of how the emperor “kinship” was dressed and then redressed as the winds of change threatened disarray, proves challenging to the theories by which anthropology lives, as well as to the specifically privileged domain of “kinship.” The implications of this study for a wide range of problems within theoretical anthropology are striking.

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The Stakes of Form
Edited by Sami Khatib, Holger Kuhn, Oona Lochner, Isabel Mehl, and Beate Söntgen
Diaphanes, 2020
Critique is a form of thinking and acting. Since the end of the 18th century, there has been a dynamization and fluidization of the understanding of form, as concepts such as the break, marginalization, tearing, and opening indicate. As a philosophical problem, the question of form arises in critical theory from Marx to Adorno. Since the 1960s, literary practices have proliferated that generate critical statements less through traditional argument and more through the programmatic use of formal means. At the same time, the writing self, along with its attitudes, reflections, affects, and instruments, visibly enters the critical scene. This volume examines how the interdependence of critique, object, and form translates into critical stances, understood as learnable, reproducible gestures, which bear witness to changing conditions and media of critical practice.

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Deconstructing Dignity
A Critique of the Right-to-Die Debate
Scott Cutler Shershow
University of Chicago Press, 2013
The right-to-die debate has gone on for centuries, playing out most recently as a spectacle of protest surrounding figures such as Terry Schiavo. In Deconstructing Dignity, Scott Cutler Shershow offers a powerful new way of thinking about it philosophically. Focusing on the concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life, he employs Derridean deconstruction to uncover self-contradictory and damaging assumptions that underlie both sides of the debate.

Shershow examines texts from Cicero’s De Officiis to Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals to court decisions and religious declarations. Through them he reveals how arguments both supporting and denying the right to die undermine their own unconditional concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life with a hidden conditional logic, one often tied to practical economic concerns and the scarcity or unequal distribution of medical resources. He goes on to examine the exceptional case of self-sacrifice, closing with a vision of a society—one whose conditions we are far from meeting—in which the debate can finally be resolved. A sophisticated analysis of a heated topic, Deconstructing Dignity is also a masterful example of deconstructionist methods at work. 

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Defying Displacement
Grassroots Resistance and the Critique of Development
By Anthony Oliver-Smith
University of Texas Press, 2010

The uprooting and displacement of people has long been among the hardships associated with development and modernity. Indeed, the circulation of commodities, currency, and labor in modern society necessitates both social and spatial mobility. However, the displacement and resettlement of millions of people each year by large-scale infrastructural projects raises serious questions about the democratic character of the development process.

Although designed to spur economic growth, many of these projects leave local people struggling against serious impoverishment and gross violations of human rights. Working from a political-ecological perspective, Anthony Oliver-Smith offers the first book to document the fight against involuntary displacement and resettlement being waged by people and communities around the world.

Increasingly over the last twenty-five years, the voices of people at the grass roots are being heard. People from many societies and cultures are taking action against development-forced displacement and resettlement (DFDR) and articulating alternatives. Taking the promise of democracy seriously, they are fighting not only for their place in the world, but also for their place at the negotiating table, where decisions affecting their well-being are made.


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Dependency and Crisis in Brazil and Argentina
A Critique of Market and State Utopias
Felipe de Oliviera Antunes
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2024
In the two largest countries in South America, successive waves of structural reforms adopted in the name of development invariably have ended in disappointment. The promise of development never seems to materialize. Dependency and Crisis in Brazil and Argentina examines why. Instead of looking for policy failures, F. Antunes de Oliveira’s focus is on the parameters of the public debate about “development” itself. An unfruitful dispute between neoliberalism and neodevelopmentalism has dominated Brazilian and Argentine political economy debates to the detriment of both countries. Antunes de Oliveira presents a comprehensive theoretical and empirical critique of the neoliberal and neodevelopmentalist structural reform cycles in Brazil and Argentina and applies insights from dependency theory to craft an alternative political economy framework for the analysis of development challenges. 

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Étienne Balibar on Althusser's Dramaturgy and the Critique of Ideology
Elizabeth Weed and Ellen Rooney, special issue editors
Duke University Press

Most readers of Louis Althusser first enter his work through his writings on ideology. In an important new essay Étienne Balibar, friend and colleague of Althusser, offers an original reading of Althusser’s idea of ideology, drawing on both recently published posthumous writing and Althusser's work on the Piccolo Teatro di Milano. Balibar’s essay uncovers the intricate workings of interpellation through Althusser’s essays on the theater. If debates on dialectical materialism belong to a distant history, Balibar suggests, the question of ideology remains crucial for thinking the present.

The issue includes commentaries on Balibar’s essay from five influential scholars who engage critically with Althusser’s philosophy: Judith Butler, Banu Bargu, Adi Ophir, Warren Montag, and Bruce Robbins. This issue reanimates Althusser’s concept of ideology as an analytic tool for contemporary cultural and political critique.


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Double Jeopardy
A Critique of Seven Yüan Courtroom Dramas
Ching-Hsi Perng
University of Michigan Press, 1978
Traditionally, criticism of plays from the Yüan Dynasty (1260–1368) has been dominated by the so-called poetic and socialist schools. Double Jeopardy instead rigorously evaluates a group of plays by aesthetic criteria generated from within the works themselves. It examines seven courtroom plays with special attention to language and the manipulation of dramatic characters—undoubtedly the most reliable indicators of the playwright’s strength and craftsmanship in such a stylized art form as Yüan tsa-chü drama.
The analytical method adopted in Double Jeopardy is textual explication of the conventions of genre and the individual characteristics of each play. The innovation and creative vitality of each playwright emerges through close scrutiny of selected conventional aspects of courtroom dramas: the functions and placement patterns of lyric, verse, and prose as well as the custom of a single singing role and its implication for the presentation of dramatis personae.
Because Yüan drama is driven by conventions, Perng demonstrates a method that can be applied not just to judgment reversal plays but to Yüan dramatic criticism as a whole. In pursuing a method of textual explication, Perng provides a basis on which a larger framework of criticism of Yüan drama may be built.

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Experimental Games
Critique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification
Patrick Jagoda
University of Chicago Press, 2020
In our unprecedentedly networked world, games have come to occupy an important space in many of our everyday lives. Digital games alone engage an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide as of 2020, and other forms of gaming, such as board games, role playing, escape rooms, and puzzles, command an ever-expanding audience. At the same time, “gamification”—the application of game mechanics to traditionally nongame spheres, such as personal health and fitness, shopping, habit tracking, and more—has imposed unprecedented levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life.
Drawing from his own experience as a game designer, Patrick Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games, including StarCraft, Candy Crush Saga, Stardew Valley, Dys4ia, Braid, and Undertale. Beyond a diagnosis of gamification, Jagoda imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced notion of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. The result is a game-changing book on the sociopolitical potential of this form of mass entertainment.

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Feminist Theory
A Critique of Ideology
Edited by Nannerl Keohane, Michelle Z. Rosaldo, and Barbara C. Gelpi
University of Chicago Press, 1982
"A crucial task for feminst scholars," wrote Michelle Rosaldo over two years ago in Signs, "emerges, then, not as the relatively limited one of documenting pervasive sexism as a social fact–or showing how we can now hope to change or have in the past been able to survive it. Instead, it seems that we are challenged to provide new ways of linking the particulars of women's lives, activities, and goals to inequalities wherever they exist."

Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideology meets that challenge. Collected from several issues of Signs–Journal of Women in Culture and Society, these essays explore the relationships between objectivity and masculinity, between psychology and political theory, and between family and state. In pursuing these critical explorations, the contributors–liberal, Marxist, socialist, and radical feminists–examine the foundations of power, of sexuality, of language, and of scientific thought.

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The Force of Truth
Critique, Genealogy, and Truth-Telling in Michel Foucault
Daniele Lorenzini
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A groundbreaking examination of Michel Foucault's history of truth.

Many blame Michel Foucault for our post-truth and conspiracy-laden society. In this provocative work, Daniele Lorenzini argues that such criticism fundamentally misunderstands the philosopher’s project. Foucault did not question truth itself but what Lorenzini calls “the force of truth,” or how some truth claims are given the power to govern our conduct while others are not. This interest, Lorenzini shows, drove Foucault to articulate a new ethics and politics of truth-telling precisely in order to evade the threat of relativism. The Force of Truth explores this neglected dimension of Foucault’s project by putting his writings on regimes of truth and parrhesia in conversation with early analytic philosophy and by drawing out the “possibilizing” elements of Foucault’s genealogies that remain vital for practicing critique today.

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The Head Beneath the Altar
Hindu Mythology and the Critique of Sacrifice
Brian Collins
Michigan State University Press, 2014
In the beginning, says the ancient Hindu text the Rg Veda, was man. And from man’s sacrifice and dismemberment came the entire world, including the hierarchical ordering of human society. The Head Beneath the Altar is the first book to present a wide-ranging study of Hindu texts read through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory of the sacrificial origin of religion and culture. For those interested in Girard and comparative religion, the book also performs a careful reading of Girard’s work, drawing connections between his thought and the work of theorists like Georges Dumézil and Giorgio Agamben. Brian Collins examines the idea of sacrifice from the earliest recorded rituals through the flowering of classical mythology and the ancient Indian institutions of the duel, the oath, and the secret warrior society. He also uncovers implicit and explicit critiques in the tradition, confirming Girard’s intuition that Hinduism offers an alternative anti-sacrificial worldview to the one contained in the gospels.

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Health Care at Risk
A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement
Timothy Stoltzfus Jost
Duke University Press, 2007
In Health Care at Risk Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, a leading expert in health law, weighs in on consumer-driven health care (CDHC), which many policymakers and analysts are promoting as the answer to the severe access, cost, and quality problems afflicting the American health care system. The idea behind CDHC is simple: consumers should be encouraged to save for medical care with health savings accounts, rely on these accounts to cover routine medical expenses, and turn to insurance only to cover catastrophic medical events. Advocates of consumer-driven health care believe that if consumers are spending their own money on medical care, they will purchase only services with real value to them. Jost contends that supporters of CDHC rely on oversimplified ideas about health care, health care systems, economics, and human nature.

In this concise, straightforward analysis, Jost challenges the historical and theoretical assumptions on which the consumer-driven health care movement is based and reexamines the empirical evidence that it claims as support. He traces the histories of both private health insurance in the United States and the CDHC movement. The idea animating the drive for consumer-driven health care is that the fundamental problem with the American health care system is what economists call “moral hazard,” the risk that consumers overuse services for which they do not bear the cost. Jost reveals moral hazard as an inadequate explanation of the complex problems plaguing the American health care system, and he points to troubling legal and ethical issues raised by CDHC. He describes how other countries have achieved universal access to high-quality health care at lower cost, without relying extensively on cost sharing, and he concludes with a proposal for how the United States might do the same, incorporating aspects of CDHC while recognizing its limitations.


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Indians and Anthropologists
Vine Deloria, Jr., and the Critique of Anthropology
Thomas Biolsi
University of Arizona Press, 1997
In 1969 Vine Deloria, Jr., in his controversial book Custer Died for Your Sins, criticized the anthropological community for its impersonal dissection of living Native American cultures. Twenty-five years later, anthropologists have become more sensitive to Native American concerns, and Indian people have become more active in fighting for accurate representations of their cultures. In this collection of essays, Indian and non-Indian scholars examine how the relationship between anthropology and Indians has changed over that quarter-century and show how controversial this issue remains. Practitioners of cultural anthropology, archaeology, education, and history provide multiple lenses through which to view how Deloria's message has been interpreted or misinterpreted. Among the contributions are comments on Deloria's criticisms, thoughts on the reburial issue, and views on the ethnographic study of specific peoples. A final contribution by Deloria himself puts the issue of anthropologist/Indian interaction in the context of the century's end.

Introduction: What's Changed, What Hasn't, Thomas Biolsi & Larry J. Zimmerman
Part One--Deloria Writes Back
Vine Deloria, Jr., in American Historiography, Herbert T. Hoover
Growing Up on Deloria: The Impact of His Work on a New Generation of Anthropologists, Elizabeth S. Grobsmith
Educating an Anthro: The Influence of Vine Deloria, Jr., Murray L. Wax
Part Two--Archaeology and American Indians
Why Have Archaeologists Thought That the Real Indians Were Dead and What Can We Do about It?, Randall H. McGuire
Anthropology and Responses to the Reburial Issue, Larry J. Zimmerman
Part Three-Ethnography and Colonialism
Here Come the Anthros, Cecil King
Beyond Ethics: Science, Friendship and Privacy, Marilyn Bentz
The Anthropological Construction of Indians: Haviland Scudder Mekeel and the Search for the Primitive in Lakota Country, Thomas Biolsi
Informant as Critic: Conducting Research on a Dispute between Iroquoianist Scholars and Traditional Iroquois, Gail Landsman
The End of Anthropology (at Hopi)?, Peter Whiteley
Conclusion: Anthros, Indians and Planetary Reality, Vine Deloria, Jr.

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Islamic Liberalism
A Critique of Development Ideologies
Leonard Binder
University of Chicago Press, 1988
The resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1980s influenced many in the Islamic world to reject Western norms of liberal rationality and to return, instead, to their own tradition for political and cultural inspiration. This rejection of foreign thought threatens to end the centuries-long dialogue between Islam and the West, a dialogue that has produced a nascent Middle Eastern liberalism, along with many less desirable forms of discourse. With Islamic Liberalism, Leonard Binder hopes to reinvigorate that dialogue, asking whether political liberalism can take root in the Middle East without a vigorous Islamic liberalism. But, Binder asks, is an Islamic liberalism possible?

The Islamic political community presents special problems to the development of an indigenous liberalism. That community is conceived of as divinely ordained, and its notions of the good are to be derived from scriptural revelation, not arrived at through rational discourse. Liberal politics would seem to stand little chance of surviving in such an atmosphere, let alone thriving.

Binder responds to the challenge of Edward Said's critique of Orientalism, of a range of neo-Marxian development theorists, of Sayyid Qutb's fundamentalist vision, of Samir Amin's vision of Egypt's role in the Arab awakening, of Tariq al-Bishri's new populism, of Zaki Najib Mahmud's pragmatism, and the structuralism of Arkoun and Laroui. The deconstruction of these varied texts produces a number of persuasive hermeneutical conclusions that are sequentially woven together in a critical argument that refocuses our attention on the central question of political freedom and democracy. In the course of constructing this argument, Binder reopens the dialogue between Western modernity and Islamic authenticity and reveals the surprising extent to which there is a convergent interest in liberal, democratic, civil society. Finally, in a concluding chapter, he addresses the prospects for liberalism in the three major bourgeois states of Islam—Egypt, Turkey, and Iran.

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Knowing by Heart
Loving as Participation and Critique
Anthony J. Steinbock
Northwestern University Press, 2021
Drawing on and developing the phenomenological work of figures such as Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, Knowing by Heart: Loving as Participation and Critique provides an account of the various feelings and feeling‑states that pertain to matters of the heart. Anthony J. Steinbock’s work investigates the special kind of knowing that is revealed most profoundly through love.
Knowing by Heart describes the movement of loving as a participation that bears on all beings. Eschewing the dichotomy of rationalism and sensibility that has dominated discussions of love and emotion, Steinbock understands the heart as a vast schema ranging from the deepest loving to affects and felt conditions. The book brings into focus the importance of a full‑bodied relational account of a normative critique based in emotion. From a phenomenological description of diverse feelings to the normativity of loving as the discernment of the heart, this work evaluates hating’s relation to loving. At the basis of all this is a phenomenological and philosophical anthropology in response to the basic question: In reality, who and what are we?

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Labor Of Dionysus
A Critique of the State-Form
Michael Hardt
University of Minnesota Press, 1994

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Leftist Theories of Sport
A Critique and Reconstruction
William J. Morgan
University of Illinois Press, 1994
The degradation of modern sport--its commercialization, trivialization, widespread cheating, cult of athletic stars and celebrities, and manipulation by the media--has led to calls for its transformation. William J. Morgan constructs a critical theory of sport that shores up the weak arguments of past attempts and points a way forward to making sport more humane, compelling, and substantive. Drawing on the work of social theorists, Morgan challenges scholars and fans alike to explore new spaces in sport culture and imagine the rich cultural and political possibilities to be found in the pastimes we follow with such passion.

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The Limits of Critique
Rita Felski
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Why must critics unmask and demystify literary works? Why do they believe that language is always withholding some truth, that the critic’s task is to reveal the unsaid or repressed? In this book, Rita Felski examines critique, the dominant form of interpretation in literary studies, and situates it as but one method among many, a method with strong allure—but also definite limits.

Felski argues that critique is a sensibility best captured by Paul Ricoeur’s phrase “the hermeneutics of suspicion.” She shows how this suspicion toward texts forecloses many potential readings while providing no guarantee of rigorous or radical thought. Instead, she suggests, literary scholars should try what she calls “postcritical reading”: rather than looking behind a text for hidden causes and motives, literary scholars should place themselves in front of it and reflect on what it suggests and makes possible.

By bringing critique down to earth and exploring new modes of interpretation, The Limits of Critique offers a fresh approach to the relationship between artistic works and the social world.

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Modern Migrations, Black Interrogations
Revisioning Migrants and Mobilities through the Critique of Antiblackness
Edited by Philip Kretsedemas and Jamella N. Gow
Temple University Press, 2024
Modern Migrations, Black Interrogations uses reflections on the Black experience to consider the “unasked question of blackness” in modern migration and movement. The editors and contributors use the lens of Black Studies to show how migration—compelled by force or suggestion, from the transatlantic African slave trade to the Great Migration and the current refugee crisis—has been structured to reinforce white supremacy.

Focusing on antiblackness in immigration and examining restrictions on freedom of movement and on settling alike, chapters address how Black im/mobility operates and how it can be distinguished from that of the migrant and the colonial settler, as well as from the transgressive mobilities of Indigenous populations. Looking at blackness, borders and border practices, and displacement, Modern Migrations, Black Interrogations investigates racialized boundaries that determine immigration policy, citizenship, legality, and inclusion. Additional chapters analyze communities, such as the Haitian diaspora in Miami, antiblackness in the context of Australian migration, and explore literary representations of justice, slavery and Black feminist consciousness.

Modern Migrations, Black Interrogations uses (anti)blackness to rethink the way we understand borders, immigrant identity, barriers to integration, and the dynamics of migrant exclusion, while also providing an understanding of “otherness” for Black populations across nationalities.  

Contributors: Maya Hislop, P. Khalil Saucier, Hyacinth Udah, Paula von Gleich, Tryon P. Woods, and the editors

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Necessarily Black
Cape Verdean Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and a Critique of Identity
P. Khalil Saucier
Michigan State University Press, 2015
Necessarily Black is an ethnographic account of second-generation Cape Verdean youth identity in the United States and a theoretical attempt to broaden and complicate current discussions about race and racial identity in the twenty-first century. P. Khalil Saucier grapples with the performance, embodiment, and nuances of racialized identities (blackened bodies) in empirical contexts. He looks into the durability and (in)flexibility of race and racial discourse through an imbricated and multidimensional understanding of racial identity and racial positioning. In doing so, Saucier examines how Cape Verdean youth negotiate their identity within the popular fabrication of “multiracial America.” He also explores the ways in which racial blackness has come to be lived by Cape Verdean youth in everyday life and how racialization feeds back into the experience of these youth classified as black through a matrix of social and material settings. Saucier examines how ascriptions of blackness and forms of black popular culture inform subjectivities. The author also examines hip-hop culture to see how it is used as a site where new (and old) identities of being, becoming, and belonging are fashioned and reworked. Necessarily Black explores race and how Cape Verdean youth think and feel their identities into existence, while keeping in mind the dynamics and politics of racialization, mixed-race identities, and anti-blackness.

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Other People's Stories
Entitlement Claims and the Critique of Empathy
Amy Shuman
University of Illinois Press, 2010
In Other People's Stories, Amy Shuman examines the social relations embedded in stories and the complex ethical and social tensions that surround their telling. Drawing on innovative research and contemporary theory, she describes what happens when one person's story becomes another person's source of inspiration, or when entitlement and empathy collide.
The resulting analyses are wonderfully diverse, integrating narrative studies, sociolinguistics, communications, folklore, and ethnographic studies to examine the everyday, conversational stories told by cultural groups including Latinas, Jews, African Americans, Italians, and Puerto Ricans. Shuman offers a nuanced and clear theoretical perspective derived from the Frankfurt school, life history research, disability research, feminist studies, trauma studies, and cultural studies. Without compromising complexity, she makes narrative inquiry accessible to a broad population.

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The Past in Ruins
Tradition and the Critique of Modernity
David Gross
University of Massachusetts Press, 2009
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Phylogenetic Ecology
A History, Critique, and Remodeling
Nathan G. Swenson
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Over the past decade, ecologists have increasingly embraced phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relationships among species. As a result, they have come to discover the field’s power to illuminate present ecological patterns and processes. Ecologists are now investigating whether phylogenetic diversity is a better measure of ecosystem health than more traditional metrics like species diversity, whether it can predict the future structure and function of communities and ecosystems, and whether conservationists might prioritize it when formulating conservation plans.

In Phylogenetic Ecology, Nathan G. Swenson synthesizes this nascent field’s major conceptual, methodological, and empirical developments to provide students and practicing ecologists with a foundational overview. Along the way, he highlights those realms of phylogenetic ecology that will likely increase in relevance—such as the burgeoning subfield of phylogenomics—and shows how ecologists might lean on these new perspectives to inform their research programs.

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The Post-Conflict Environment
Investigation and Critique
Daniel Bertrand Monk and Jacob Mundy, editors
University of Michigan Press, 2014
In case studies focusing on contemporary crises spanning Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, the scholars in this volume examine the dominant prescriptive practices of late neoliberal post-conflict interventions—such as statebuilding, peacebuilding, transitional justice, refugee management, reconstruction, and redevelopment—and contend that the post-conflict environment is in fact created and sustained by this international technocratic paradigm of peacebuilding. Key international stakeholders—from activists to politicians, humanitarian agencies to financial institutions—characterize disparate sites as “weak,” “fragile,” or “failed” states and, as a result, prescribe peacebuilding techniques that paradoxically disable effective management of post-conflict spaces while perpetuating neoliberal political and economic conditions. Treating all efforts to represent post-conflict environments as problematic, the goal becomes understanding the underlying connection between post-conflict conditions and the actions and interventions of peacebuilding technocracies.

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Reclaiming Truth
Contribution to a Critique of Cultural Relativism
Christopher Norris
Duke University Press, 1996
Truth, Christopher Norris reminds us, is very much out of fashion at the moment whether at the hands of politicians, media pundits, or purveyors of postmodern wisdom in cultural and literary studies. Across a range of disciplines the idea has taken hold that truth-talk is either redundant or the product of epistemic might. Questions of truth and falsehood are always internal to some specific language-game; history is just another kind of fiction; philosophy is only a kind of writing; law is a wholly rhetorical practice. In Reclaiming Truth, Norris critiques these fashionable trends of thought and mounts a specific challenge to cultural relativist doctrines in epistemology, philosophy of science, ethics, and political theory.
Norris presents his case in a series of closely argued chapters that take issue with the relativist position. He attempts to rehabilitate the value of truth in philosophy of science by restoring a lost distinction between concept and metaphor and argues that theoretical discourse, so far from being an inconsequential activity, has very real consequences, particularly in ethics and politics. This debate has become skewed, he suggests, through the widespread and typically postmodern idea that truth-claims must always go along with a presumptive or authoritarian bid to silence opposing views. On the contrary, there is nothing as dogmatic—or as silencing—as a relativism that acknowledges no shared truth conditions for valid or responsible discourse. Norris also offers a timely reassessment of several thinkers—Althusser and Derrida among them—whose reception history has been distorted by the vagaries of short-term intellectual fashion.
Reclaiming Truth will be welcomed by readers concerned with the uses and abuses of theory at a time when such questions are in urgent need of sustained and serious debate.


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Reforming Public Welfare
A Critique of the Negative Income Tax Experiment
Peter H. Rossi
Russell Sage Foundation, 1976
Shows what happens when a specific social policy is tried out on an experimental basis prior to being enacted into law. By providing a trial of a variety of negative income tax plans carried out over a three-year period in four communities, the New Jersey-Pennsylvania Income Maintenance Experiment was designed to observe whether income maintenance would lead to reduced work effort on the part of those who received subsidies. This book evaluates the final project reportso n the experiment issued by Mathematica, Inc. and the Institute for Reasearch on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. A Publication in the Continuities in Evaluation Research Series.

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The Ruse of Repair
US Neoliberal Empire and the Turn from Critique
Patricia Stuelke
Duke University Press, 2021
Since the 1990s, literary and queer studies scholars have eschewed Marxist and Foucauldian critique and hailed the reparative mode of criticism as a more humane and humble way of approaching literature and culture. The reparative turn has traveled far beyond the academy, influencing how people imagine justice, solidarity, and social change. In The Ruse of Repair, Patricia Stuelke locates the reparative turn's hidden history in the failed struggle against US empire and neoliberal capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s. She shows how feminist, antiracist, and anti-imperialist liberation movements' visions of connection across difference, practices of self care, and other reparative modes of artistic and cultural production have unintentionally reinforced forms of neoliberal governance. At the same time, the US government and military, universities, and other institutions have appropriated and depoliticized these same techniques to sidestep addressing structural racism and imperialism in more substantive ways. In tracing the reparative turn's complicated and fraught genealogy, Stuelke questions reparative criticism's efficacy in ways that will prompt critics to reevaluate their own reading practices.

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Selling the Air
A Critique of the Policy of Commercial Broadcasting in the United States
Thomas Streeter
University of Chicago Press, 1996
In this interdisciplinary study of the laws and policies associated with commercial radio and television, Thomas Streeter reverses the usual take on broadcasting and markets by showing that government regulation creates rather than intervenes in the market. Analyzing the processes by which commercial media are organized, Streeter asks how it is possible to take the practice of broadcasting—the reproduction of disembodied sounds and pictures for dissemination to vast unseen audiences—and constitute it as something that can be bought, owned, and sold.

With an impressive command of broadcast history, as well as critical and cultural studies of the media, Streeter shows that liberal marketplace principles—ideas of individuality, property, public interest, and markets—have come into contradiction with themselves. Commercial broadcasting is dependent on government privileges, and Streeter provides a searching critique of the political choices of corporate liberalism that shape our landscape of cultural property and electronic intangibles.

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Situation Critical
Critique, Theory, and Early American Studies
Max Cavitch and Brian Connolly, editors
Duke University Press, 2024
The contributors to Situation Critical argue for the continued importance of critique to early American studies, pushing back against both reductivist neo-empiricism and so-called postcritique. Bringing together essays by a diverse group of historians and literary scholars, editors Max Cavitch and Brian Connolly demonstrate that critique is about acknowledging that we are never simply writing better or worse accounts of the past, but accounts of the present as well. The contributors examine topics ranging from the indeterminacy of knowledge and history to Black speculative writing and nineteenth-century epistemology, the role of the unconscious in settler colonialism, and early American writing about masturbation, repression, religion, and secularism and their respective influence on morality. The contributors also offer vital new interpretations of major lines of thought in the history of critique—especially those relating to Freud and Foucault—that will be valuable both for scholars of early American studies and for scholars of the humanities and interpretive social sciences more broadly.

Contributors. Max Cavitch, Brian Connolly, Matthew Crow, John J. Garcia, Christopher Looby, Michael Meranze, Mark J. Miller, Justine S. Murison, Britt Rusert, Ana Schwartz, Joan W. Scott, Jordan Alexander Stein

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Tarrying with the Negative
Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology
Slavoj Zizek
Duke University Press, 1993
In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time.

In Tarrying with the Negative, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? No is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment.

Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries.

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Thinking with Kant’s Critique of Judgment
Michel Chaouli
Harvard University Press, 2017

Why read Kant’s Critique of Judgment today? Does this classic of aesthetic theory still possess the vitality to prompt those of us engaged with art and criticism to think more deeply about issues that move us, issues such as the force of aesthetic experience, the essence of art, and the relationship of beauty and meaning? It does, if we find the right way into it.

Michel Chaouli shows us one such way. He unwraps the gray packing paper of Kant’s prose to reveal the fresh and fierce ideas that dwell in this masterpiece—not just the philosopher’s theory of beauty but also his ruminations on organisms and life. Each chapter in Thinking with Kant’s Critique of Judgment unfolds the complexity of a key concept, to disclose its role in Kant’s thought and to highlight the significance it holds for our own thinking.

Chaouli invites all who are interested in art and interpretation—novice and expert alike—to set out on the path of thinking with the Critique of Judgment. The rewards are handsome: we see just how profoundly Kant’s book can shape our own ideas about aesthetic experience and meaning. By thinking with Kant, we learn to surpass the horizon of his thought and find ourselves pushed to the very edge of what can be grasped firmly. That is where Kant’s book is at its most thrilling.


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Uchida Hyakken
A Critique of Modernity and Militarism in Prewar Japan
Rachel DiNitto
Harvard University Press, 2008

The literary career of Uchida Hyakken (1889–1971) encompassed a wide variety of styles and genres, including fiction, ­zuihitsu (essays), war diaries, poetry, travelogues, and children’s stories. In discussing his oeuvre, critics have circumscribed Hyakken to a private literary realm detached from the era in which he wrote.

Rachel DiNitto provides a critical corrective by locating in Hyakken’s simple yet powerful literary language a new way to appreciate the various literary reactions to the modernization of the early decades of the twentieth century and a means to open up a literary space of protest, an alternate intellectual response to the era of militarism.

This book takes up Hyakken’s fiction and essays written during Japan’s prewar years to investigate the intersection of his literature with the material and discursive surroundings of the time: a consumer-oriented print culture; the popular entertainment of film; the capitalist and cultural force of an emergent middle class; a planned, yet sprawling metropolis; and the war machine of an expanding Japanese ­empire. Emerging from this analysis is a writer who relied on the quotidian language of the everyday and the symbols of cultural modernism to counter the harsh realities of modernization and imperialism and to express sentiments contrary to the mainstream ideological rhetoric of the time.


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The Value of Critique
Exploring the Interrelations of Value, Critique, and Artistic Labour
Edited by Isabelle Graw and Christoph Menke
Campus Verlag, 2019
The Value of Critique casts its gaze on the two dominant modes of passing judgment in art—critique and value (or evaluation). The act of critique has long held sway in the world of art theory but has recently been increasingly abandoned in favor of evaluation, which advocates alternate modes of judgment aimed at finding the intrinsic “value” of a given work rather than picking apart its intentions and relative success. This book’s contributors explore the relationship between these two practices, finding that one cannot exist with the other. As soon as a critic decides an object is worthy enough of their interest and time to critique it, they have imbued that object with a certain value. Similarly, theories of value are typically marked by a critical impetus: as much as critique takes part in the construction of evaluations, bestowing something with value can then trigger critiques. Assembling essays from an international array of authors, this book is the first to put value, critique, and artistic labor in conversation with one another, making clear just how closely all three are related.

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The War Game
A Critique of Military Problem Solving
Garry Brewer and Martin Shubik
Harvard University Press, 1979

This book is a fascinating examination of a subject that has enormous consequences but few initiates--the system of military combat simulations and their advocates in defense establishments. The scope and importance of this field may be hinted at each spring during budget debates, but until now no one has made a full public inquiry into the military studies, the analysis system, and the people behind these obscure enterprises.

How did war games come into vogue? Who designs the models that test and measure weapons capabilities--tests whose outcomes their supporters want to use to determine the allocation of millions of dollars, not to mention the deployment of U.S. armaments, around the globe? How are the potential uses of weapons studied when empirical testing is prohibitive or impossible? And what is the state of the war-gaming art and profession?

These are but a few of the crucial questions addressed and answered in this work. The authors interviewed and observed war-gaming professionals in depth, exploring the extent and status of gaming in the defense community and examining these in terms of purpose, means of production, operations, uses, benefits, and costs. Consequently, their book is not simply an analysis but a portrait of the profession. As such, it will serve not only as a blueprint for necessary improvements in the military area but also as the catalyst for future work in diverse areas, since the problems of largescale models examined in a war-game context are now being experienced in such newer fields as energy policy and urban planning.


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