Untimely Italians: A Profile of The Italian List and Interview with Alberto Toscano

When someone begins to study European philosophy and theory, or Continental philosophy as the unhelpful designation goes, the focus is usually on the traditions of French and German philosophy (leaving the term analytic to denote the work of the British, those living on that island off the coast of Europe proper). The relationship between this kind of national identity and those philosophers varies. Oftentimes the position of these philosophers disappoint us, as with Bergson during World War I writing about “French spirit” needing to overcome the “German barbarism” or Heidegger during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany doing much the same with more horrific results. But there is something to naming these traditions if only because the way in which language and location shapes one’s thinking, to say nothing of the importance of particular political situations that arise within these fictional but nonetheless efficacious spaces of the various nation-states. Italian philosophy has largely been ignored by those anglophone readers interested in European thought. This despite the fact that the fictional element of the nation-state is perhaps nowhere better on display than Italy, which never quite coalesced its various cultures into a singular Italian culture the way that French republicanism did. This creates an interesting dynamic and leads to a different style of philosophy. This seems to me to hold especially true for leftwing theorists and perhaps arises from what Roberto Esposito identifies as the clear manifestation of antagonism within the Italian context. Nothing like Italy the nation-state exists except through the process of conflict, the creation of antagonism that continues when Italy the nation-state has to become a part of Europe the economic union.

Italian philosophy has long been an interest for many authors here, with Adam’s work on Agamben and my own less intenstive work on Negri, as well as with many of our readers. We have here discussed Esposito’s attempt to reclaim the distinctiveness of Italian philosophy, already mentioned, and many readers will be familiar with the collection edited by Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano The Italian Difference with re:press. So I was excited to see that Alberto was editing a new series called The Italian List with Seagull Books (which has the support of the University of Chicago Press, but apparent autonomy from the usual deadends of academic publishing). While the list has published three shorter texts by Agamben, I wanted to highlight the lesser known figures that Alberto and Seagull Books were bringing to a new audience. In what follows you will find a conversation between Toscano and myself as well as a few side remarks where I provide some summary information about the texts. Because of the length of this post I have also generated it as a PDF for those who prefer that medium for reading longer texts. Read the rest of this entry »

Theologian, Token, Troublemaker: Casting Female Identity in Academic Career Development

This is a guest post from Kate Tomas, DPhil candidate in Theology at Oxford University. It continues the discussion opened by Marika in her post from yesterday. – APS

I read Marika’s post on the SST Gender, Feminism and Theology panel, and as the woman who raised the issue in the first place, (and subsequently had a bad experience as a consequence), I feel the need to respond.

The organizers of the panel, along with Dr Matthew Guest, who was one of the men on the panel, attempted to fix the PR problem I had raised. Their solution was to find a woman – any woman – to be physically present. As Marika knows, I think tokenism is bad, and that tokenism requires tokens, and tokens are actively formed, not simply found. Tokenism complicates women’s agency, and we have to be aware of this when being asked to be a token. 

Having said that, I really think Marika was put in a difficult situation by being asked to be the token. Those who asked her occupied (and occupy) positions of power. Like me, Marika was a graduate student (now a Dr following her viva) and like hundreds of other graduate students, we are both looking for jobs. The organizers of the panel have jobs. They are also potentially in positions to give jobs. As Marika wrote she has ‘often felt that subtle pressure to play nice in both academic and Christian contexts; and I have felt it at SST specifically.’ Asking a female graduate student to be the token woman on a previously all-male panel, just because you have been called out, is more than subtle pressure. Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle: In Translation Seminar Series and Crowdsourcing

Michael O’Rourke is capitalizing on the presence of three Laruelle translators being in Europe around the same time and has organized a series of seminars. The information for that is below, but we do need your help to make this happen. Our budget, which only includes the cost of travel for the speakers to Dublin as we will be sleeping on Michael’s couches with his cats, comes to about $700 for the three of us. We will be recording these seminars and broadcasting them via my podcast and can make excerpts of the drafts available as well. As a side note, for those who have enjoyed the three episodes of the podcast, this will also support the podcast as it will facilitate interviews with some other folks in Dublin and Berlin (where I will be coming from). So, if you can, please consider supporting this seminar series and the podcast by donating via PayPal.

Laruelle: In Translation

Organizer: Michael O’Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin)

Dublin, July 2014 (venue tbc)

In July 2014 a series of events will be on held on the work of François Laruelle in the company of three of the foremost experts on his work:  Alex Dubilet, Joshua Ramey and Anthony Paul Smith. The events will showcase three forthcoming translations of Laruelle’s work and the translators of these texts will guide us carefully through them.  As well as providing an advance preview of these books  the sessions will also be a unique opportunity to study Laruelle in detail with his translators and explicators. Advance copies of excerpts of the texts will be made available to participants and all three events will be recorded and audio made available on-line afterwards through the My Name Is My Name podcast. Other confirmed participants include the Laruelle scholar and artist Alice Rekab.

Saturday July 5: Joshua Ramey (Grinnell College, USA) will guide a seminar on his forthcoming translation of Mystique Non-Philosophique à L’usage des Contemporains/ Non-Philosophical Mysticism for Today

Sunday July 6: Anthony Paul Smith (La Salle University, USA) will lead a seminar on his forthcoming translation of Introduction au Non-Marxisme/ Introduction to Non-Marxism

Saturday 26 July: Alex Dubilet (University of California, Berkeley, USA) will provide a session on his co-translation (with Jessie Hock) of Théorie Générale des Victimes/ General Theory of Victims

Universalism and Its Discontents: Thursday, June 5th 12pm EST

Some of you all may enjoy watching a discussion take place between Peter Wolfendale and myself, moderated by Deneb Kozikoski, for the Fixing the Future series of seminars and conferences. Universalism and Its Discontents will be a free one-hour lunch discussion (for those of us on the East Coast anyway!) where we are going to discuss #accelerate with a particular focus on the recent description of their upcoming summer school “Emancipation as Navigation: From the Space of Reasons to the Space of Freedoms” Also, for those who can’t watch live, it will be archived on YouTube for your enjoyment and my eternal embarrassment.

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CFP: Inviting Paper Proposals on Race/Racism and Revolution.

Friend of the blog and Villanova PhD student Mark Westmoreland is looking to put together a panel for a UPenn conference. Please see the details below, including his contact information.

The Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs
2014 Conference OCTOBER 9–11, 2014
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University

I am trying to form a panel on the theme of Race/Racism and Revolution broadly construed. An individual paper might involve the idea of race as political identity in decolonial movements. Or one might speak to the role of race in Négritude or Créolité. Another might consider race and issues such as profiling, imprisonment, education, or healthcare. Or another might highlight the conflicting interactions between life philosophy and racial biologism. If you are interested, the please email me a 250 word abstract by May 25th. I can be reached at mark [dot] westmoreland [at] villanova [dot] edu

The General Announcement:
The 2014 AGLSP CONFERENCE will explore the theme of REVOLUTIONS. The conference will be held in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. The university Franklin founded is also the home of ENIAC —the first computer that revolutionized the face of modern technology. Papers are welcome from multiple disciplines. Special consideration will be given to papers which combine the perspectives of various disciplines. We invite papers that explore a wide range of viewpoints on the topic of REVOLUTIONS, including the following: • Political • Technological • Economic • Scientific • Religious • Cultural / Artistic • Educational • Social • Sexual • Present and future revolutions

Congratulatory Drinks Are in Order

Some pretty momentous events occurred this week in the lives of one of editors, Beatrice Marovich, and for one of our book event participants, Marika Rose. They both successfully defended their dissertations! In lieu of gifts, please direct job offers their way. Congratulations Drs. (for all intents and purposes) Marovich and Rose.

Podcast: My Name Is My Name w/ APS

I’ve been talking about starting a podcast for awhile now and finally launched it yesterday. You can follow the Tumblr page or subscribe to the RSS feed. For those who enjoy listening to my lectures that I sometimes post here, I’ll be posting them there from now on (the first episode is the audio of my New School lecture from March on theological personhood and race), but the focus of the podcast will be conversations with other people I find interesting. I would like to work up to some larger productions for book reviews and the like, but we will see how it goes. A few technical issues in this as I am still learning the editing software, but I hope you guys find it interesting and please get in touch if you want to recommend someone to be interviewed on the show.


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A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought Event at DePaul University (Thursday, May 15th @ 6pm)

Just got word of the final details of this from Liam Heneghan. Very excited about this and if you’re in Chicago please get in touch with me.

We are proud to welcome Anthony Paul Smith back to DePaul to celebrate the publication of his book: A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought.

Anthony is DePaul Department of Philosophy alum and a Fellow of the Institute for Nature and Culture. Anthony is Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of La Salle University (Philadelphia, USA).

His  book is available here and a series of blog posts discussing the book are archived here.

The format of our event will be a series of responses to the book from faculty and graduate students ranging from Religion, Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, Environmental Science and Studies, Philosophy, the Institute for Nature and Culture.  This will be followed by a response by Anthony!  Then I suppose we shall retire to continue our deliberations over a beverage!

When: Thursday, May 15th 6:00pm;
Where: McGowan South Rm 204.

Please RSVP to lheneghan@gmail.com so I can judge if we need a bigger room.

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New Podcast from Liam O’Donnell and Joshua Alvarez

Longtime reader of the blog Liam O’Donnell is launching a new podcast where he and Joshua Alvarez discuss recent films from the perspective of two kids deeply entrenched in the hardcore punk scene here in Philadelphia. It’s called CINEPUNX and it promises ot be of interest to readers of the blog who look forward to our movie posts. 

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“We still don’t know if it is a joke or not”: Final Reflections on A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature Book Event

“Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.” – James Baldwin, “Faulkner and Desegregation”

At the end of this book event I wanted to offer a final reflection. It isn’t clear to me if such a work is a token of my gratitude or an imposition that people read yet more of my words. But I hope here to express my gratitude for all the care each of the respondents showed in their posts. Anyone who has ever published knows that it is an event laden with anxiety. Will they hate it? Will they mock me? Will they understand me? Will anyone even read it?! So to be read in such a kind way by so many friends was truly humbling and I am thankful to all of them for taking time to pay me this honor. Perhaps more importantly were the challenges that they put forward to me. These remind me again of the perversity of nature as present in our thinking. Nothing is ever finished, nothing is ever done, but neither does nothing need to be finished or done. So I can go about the work of thinking again and again, with the knowledge of a kind of salvation given in the secret that there is nothing to save. Only, instead, is there a World to breakup and in that breakup we may find a kind of fidelity to the earth, a kind of uncovering of the earth that lies beneath the World, and upon that earth we may find each other and the grace that exists there even amidst the violence that will remain. Read the rest of this entry »


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