Political Concepts

9780823276714: PDF
Release Date: 2nd January 2018

Number of Pages: 288

Series Idiom: Inventing Writing Theory

Fordham University Press

Political Concepts

A Critical Lexicon

Essays by major contemporary figures in political philosophy, anthropology, and cultural studies presenting an original reflection on the question what is a particular concept (classic concepts in politics as well as newly politicized concepts) and asking what sort of work a rethinking of that concept can do for us now.
PDF / £32.00

Deciding what is and what is not political is a fraught, perhaps intractably opaque matter. Just who decides the question; on what grounds; to what ends—these seem like properly political questions themselves. Deciding what is political and what is not can serve to contain and restrain struggles, make existing power relations at once self-evident and opaque, and blur the possibility of reimagining them differently. Political Concepts seeks to revive our common political vocabulary—both everyday and academic—and to do so critically. Its entries take the form of essays in which each contributor presents her or his own original reflection on a concept posed in the traditional Socratic question format “What is X?” and asks what sort of work a rethinking of that concept can do for us now.

The explicitness of a radical questioning of this kind gives authors both the freedom and the authority to engage, intervene in, critique, and transform the conceptual terrain they have inherited. Each entry, either implicitly or explicitly, attempts to re-open the question “What is political thinking?” Each is an effort to reinvent political writing. In this setting the political as such may be understood as a property, a field of interest, a dimension of human existence, a set of practices, or a kind of event. Political Concepts does not stand upon a decided concept of the political but returns in practice and in concern to the question “What is the political?” by submitting the question to a field of plural contention.

The concepts collected in Political Concepts are “Arche” (Stathis Gourgouris), “Blood” (Gil Anidjar), “Colony” (Ann Laura Stoler), “Concept” (Adi Ophir), “Constituent Power” (Andreas Kalyvas), “Development” (Gayatri Spivak), “Exploitation” (Étienne Balibar), “Federation” (Jean Cohen), “Identity” (Akeel Bilgrami), “Rule of Law” (J. M. Bernstein), “Sexual Difference” (Joan Copjec), and “Translation” (Jacques Lezra)

Adi Ophir is Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University and a Visiting Professor at the Cogut Center for the Humanities and the Program for Middle East Studies at Brown University.

Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research. Stoler is the director of the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry. She taught at the University of Michigan from 1989-2003 and has been at the New School for Social Research since 2004, where she was the founding chair of its revitalized Anthropology Department.
Stathis Gourgouris is Professor of Classics, English, and Comparative Literature and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University He is the author of Dream Nation: Enlightenment, Colonization and the Institution of Modern Greece and Does Literature Think? Literature as Theory for an Antimythical Era and editor of Freud and Fundamentalism (Fordham).

Gil Anidjar is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Religion at Columbia
University. He is the author of: Semites: Race, Religion, Literature (2008); The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy (2003); and Our Place in al-Andalus’: Kabbalah, Philosophy, Literature in Arab Jewish Letters (2002)..

Étienne Balibar is Professor Emeritus of Moral and Political Philosophy at Université de Paris X–Nanterre and Anniversary Chair of Contemporary European Philosophy at Kingston University. He is author of Reading Capital (with Louis Althusser [Verso, 1965]), and his most recent books include Equaliberty (Duke University Press, 2014), Violence and Civility (Columbia University Press, 2015), Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology (Fordham University Press, 2016), and Secularism and Cosmopolitanism: Critical Hypotheses on Religion and Politics (Columbia University Press, 2018).
J. M. Bernstein is University Distinguished Professor in Philosophy at The New School for Social Research in New York City.
Jacques Lezra is Professor and Chair of Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His books include Untranslating Machines: A Genealogy for the Ends of Global Thought; Wild Materialism: The Ethic of Terror and the Modern Republic (translated into Spanish and Chinese); and Unspeakable Subjects: The Genealogy of the Event in Early Modern Europe. With Emily Apter and Michael Wood, he is the co-editor of Barbara Cassin's Dictionary of Untranslatables.