In Brutalism, eminent social and critical theorist Achille Mbembe invokes the architectural aesthetic of brutalism to describe our moment, caught up in the pathos of demolition and production on a planetary scale. Just as brutalist architecture creates an affect of overwhelming weight and destruction, Mbembe contends that contemporary capitalism crushes and dominates all spheres of existence. In our digital, technologically focused era, capitalism has produced a becoming-artificial of humanity and the becoming-human of machines. This blurring of the natural and artificial presents a planetary existential threat in which contemporary society’s goal is to precipitate the mutation of the human species into a condition that is at once plastic and synthetic. Mbembe argues that Afro-diasporic thought presents the only solution for breaking the totalizing logic of contemporary capitalism: repairing that which is broken, developing a new planetary consciousness, and reforming a community of humans in solidarity with all living things.
Preface xi Acknowledgments xvii Introduction 1 1. Universal Domination 9 2. Fracturing 27 3. Animism and Viscerality 40 4. Virilism 58 5. Border-Bodies 78 6. Circulations 91 7. The Community of Captives 105 8. Potential Humanity and the Politics of the Living 125 Conclusion 147 Notes 151 Index 179
“In an argument both elegant and urgent, Achille Mbembe focuses our attention on the African continent, which is not only where the forms of domination and deprivation that increasingly affect the entire globe are most fully deployed but also where the forms of reparation necessary for a future world can be glimpsed.”
~Michael Hardt, author of, The Subversive Seventies
“This is a fantastic translation of a vital text. The poetry, intensity, complexity, and subtlety that we have come to expect from Achille Mbembe’s work are all here in Brutalism.”
~Laurent Dubois, translator of, Critique of Black Reason