Category Archives: books

Translating Capital in context, politics, struggles

From Subversive Festival Zagreb, May 2014. 

John Hutnyk: Translating Capital in context, politics, struggles
The School of Contemporary Humanities
moderator: Dunja Matić


the dedication, the prefaces, the first sentence, the tenth/eight chapter, the teaching factory, malignant and parasitic, etc…

[errata: New York Daily Tribune, not herald. Fudged Horace and Dante quote, not rude enough about Zombie’s… but otherwise…]

‘Music & Politics’ – Pantomime Terror

‘Music & Politics’ with John Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and Aki Nawaz from Fun-Da-Mental
Wednesday 8th October, 7pm

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Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

Zoogenisis stock in

richardGot new stock in – Contact me or buy via

Edwin Segal’s review of ‘Celebrating Transgression’ from American Anthropologist 2007, Vol 109(1):202-1

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Bitter Tears Revisited – Johnny Cash – Peter La Farge – #cash #LaFarge #musicandpolitics

When he first discovered youtube, my elder son Emile was an avid viewer of videos about locomotive trains, and the very best of these was the ‘Riding the Rails’ documentary on the history of the railways narrated by Johnny Cash.

We must have watched this 30 or more times, and this was while I was getting to know Antonino Pasquale D’Ambrosio’s book A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears - the book IS one of the greats, about the Great, Cash, and Bitter Tears, this Great album (am I overdoing it a bit?) was like a mind worm for many many years. I was glad to meet and hang in NYC bookshops and record stores with Antonino a few years back, (thanks Jen Otter) and now it turns out there is a new covers/tribute album and a documentary film about Bitter Tears coming too. This is excellent news fans. Here is part of what David Kennedy has to say about Bitter Tears and the new revisited album [must get] and the forthcoming documentary:

‘It was during this time that Johnny Cash would find his way to the New York folk scene and, in particular, to the work of songwriter Peter La Farge.  La Farge is not a household name by any means, but it is safe to say that his work is remembered largely thanks to Cash.  While the civil rights movement gained steam in 1963 and ’64, Native American issues began to emerge due to problematic government policies and land grabs that continued the United States’ historic mistreatment of Indians and thievery of their land.  Peter La Farge gave a voice to these issues with a string of protest songs that emerged in parallel with the folk movement’s wholehearted embrace of African Americans’ civil rights movement.  As Johnny Cash (along with several other celebrities) found himself increasingly aware and committed to Native American issues – with demands and circumstances quite different from those of African Americans – the idea formed for yet another concept album, this one sure to cause further tension between Cash and his label.  The seeds of Bitter Tears were sown from a unique set of circumstances, both social and personal, and the record proved to be polarizing and often forgotten among Cash’s body of work.

Heartbeat_GuitarThe social, political and musical context surrounding Bitter Tears is wonderfully captured in Antonio D’Ambrosio’s2009 book, A Heartbeat and A Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears.  D’Ambrosio devotes only a few pages to the actual recording of Bitter Tears (notably, the only time Cash and La Farge spent any significant time together) and instead traces the events and experiences that would lead Peter La Farge to write his songs and Johnny Cash to record them.

Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited was no doubt inspired by D’Ambrosio’s book (he is credited as Executive Producer on the new album), and a forthcoming documentary directed by D’Ambrosio will cover both the original Bitter Tears as well as the tribute album.  However, it was producer Joe Henry who assembled the players and produced Look Again to the Wind, which, in equal measure, is a testament to the talents of both La Farge and Cash (who contributed two originals, “Apache Tears” and “The Talking Leaves,” to Bitter Tears).  Musically, Look Again shares as much (if not more) with La Farge’s original interpretations, which in some cases were nothing more than solo acoustic performances.  As you might expect, Henry did not recruit big-name country stars for the project but rather marquee names from the world of Americana, the genre of music most indebted to Johnny Cash these days.  As Bitter Tears has its roots in the folk scene of the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, it’s only fitting that some of today’s leading lights in folk music –Gillian Welch & David Rawlings and The Milk Carton Kids – provide the musical backbone of most of the tracks here.  Norman Blake, the only living veteran of the original sessions, fittingly contributes a track (as does his wife, Nancy Blake).  Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle represent the generation who most directly inherited the torch from stars like Johnny Cash.  The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens puts here signature on “The Vanishing Race” (the lone tune penned by neither La Farge nor Cash, but Johnny Horton), and Native American artist Bill Millercasts a spell on the title track (a La Farge composition that did not appear on Bitter Tears).  Kris Kristofferson tackles the indelible “Ballad of Ira Hayes,” still the standout song here (and easily the most widely recognized, as it became a staple of Cash’s live repertoire).’ (David Kennedy August 19 2014)















So, if you have. Indeed, revisiting is the occasion of this very visit.a flood of stuff that you need to get into if you have not yet, and a bunch of stuff worth revisiting.

Catch up or rerun, its worth the time – you can read the whole of the Kennedy blog post here. You can get Antonino’s Heartbeat and a Guitar here, buy the original – the Great Johnny Cash – album Bitter Tears album here [a non-Amazon link, sorry Jeff], and the new Revisited album now has a whole FB thing going on here. All in tribute to the memory of Peter La Farge, in itself important.

Books by John Hutnyk

I updated my books page at last, but it still needs some tinkering with, click on any image and please let me know if the links are bust.

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The Rumour of Calcutta

Really pleased that The Rumour of Calcutta is available again, and now with those soft buttery covers that I’d wanted when it was first published way back in 1996.


Diaspora and Hybridity out in Korean


Uneasy Inhabitants


One night two summers ago, I was in a car speeding across the border into the eastern Indian state of Bihar. The unlit, pitch-black freeway didn’t deter traffic from barreling forward at breakneck speeds. In the inevitable accident, a young man was shredded by a truck. A politician showed up, but instead of taking charge, he distracted the police with laughter and gossip.

Preventable death or official callousness is not unique to Bihar, but this particular incident seemed, to me, typical. Bihar is a state that until recently took the troubles that bedevil all of India and amplified them to levels that were unbearable even by Indian standards. In Bihar, an accident was carnage and apathy was criminal neglect. Although matters have since improved, to survive, the poor still traffick their children and the rich still get out.

Few writers are better placed to examine this near-dystopian state of affairs than the novelist Amitava Kumar, a native son, although now a professor of English at Vassar College.

“A Matter of Rats” calls itself “a short biography of Patna,” the capital city of Bihar, but like Kumar’s other books, it is many (perhaps too many) things at once. A memoiristic essay that strives to reconcile his feelings for his hometown — despair on the one hand and concern on the other, for it is where his elderly parents still live. “There is no way to avoid it,” he admits. “When I step on Patna’s soil, I only want to see how much older my parents look.” It is an insider’s alternative to the scornful narratives of Patna made popular by Western writers, and which the author, with even greater scorn, calls “hysteria as travel writing.” It is also an adventure in pursuit of witnesses to stories both real and apocryphal — a 1967 visit by Marlon Brando, the rumor that Napoleon’s bed lies in a decrepit old Patna mansion. (There is a bed in Patna that belonged to a Napoleon, just not that Napoleon.)

It is, in all, an intimate and whimsical book, but one that truly shines when the author turns his gaze to the ordinary people who still live in Patna — the rat catchers of the lowly Musahar caste, the tutor who helps poor children crack the entrance tests to India’s exalted institutes of technology.

The chapter on the rat catchers is the book’s finest, skillfully evoking the circumstances of chaos, filth and absurdity in which even the city’s middle-class professionals are forced to live.

Patna’s vast number of rats, the author tells us in a marvelous bit of anthropomorphizing, appear like “stout ladies on tiny heels, on their way to the market.” Nurses at a city hospital play the radio at night in the hope of keeping the rats from nibbling their toes. The rats haven’t escaped the attention of a local bureaucrat. But instead of trying to get rid of them, he sets himself the loftier ambition of ending anti-rat prejudice. If middle-class people would only appreciate rats, he rationalizes, they would also appreciate the Musahars, who are condemned to catch the rats. A Musahar whom the author accompanies on a rat-catching expedition isn’t holding his breath for change. “High-minded abstractions weren’t among his pressing concerns,” Kumar tells us. “His worry was finding food for that day and the next.”

That food was rats.


A Short Biography of Patna

By Amitava Kumar

116 pp. Duke University Press. $19.95.

Marx Complete Works #firestorm #firesale #Lawrence and Wishart

A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.” 

Well, I had to post something on this because the debate on the accessibility of the texts is important and interesting, and the various statements in the links below are worth reading for what they say about publishing and history, both from the Lawrence and Wishart and from MIA sides.

[I'm amused that so far I've not seen anyone quote the obvious bit of Marx that applies, and which I've used above as banner quote - reader, please insert your own gender correction to the ancient pronouns (if we must get all scriptural about it - the quote is from Theories of Surplus Value - manuscripts of 1863-64, chapter 4, p303 in the Progress Press version)].

The possibility of actually turning a profit on any book nowadays, is of course also up for consideration.

Here from Hist Mat list:

As a consequence of Lawrence and Wishart’s decision to withdraw the Marx-Engels Collected Works (MECW) material under L&W copyright from the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) website, Marxist scholars and activists all over the world have

Following a first petition and Lawrence and Wishart’s response, in 24 hours 700 people signed the following petition, including many leading scholars.

They have asked Lawrence and Wishart to allow Marx’s and Engels’s writings to remain on the MIA website and in the public domain.

“We are very grateful for the work you have done, along with International Publishers and Progress Publishers, translating into English and publishing the MECW. This is an extremely valuable contribution to the workers movement and Marxist scholarship not only in the English-speaking world, but internationally.
MIA has made these works available for free on the web to an even wider public, and they have now become an essential tool for thousands of Marxist scholars and activists around the world.

We fully appreciate the efforts and difficulties that running a small independent publishing house entails. But allowing free access to the MECW on the MIA website does not hinder sales. On the contrary, the publicity it provides increases them, and we would support any attempt to further improve this aspect.

But over and above any commercial considerations, there is a crucial matter of principle at play here. Having been available freely online for ten years, the MECW have become an essential part of the shared knowledge and resources of the international workers movement. We cannot take a step backward.

There is also the real danger that the laudable contribution that Lawrence & Wishart has made in the past would be tarnished. This decision would only damage its reputation without bringing any significant economic advantage.

That’s why we call upon you to reconsider this decision and reach an accommodation which keeps these essential resources in the public domain, where they belong.”

To support this petition, link:

To read Lawrence and Wishart’s response to the first petition, see:

To read the statement of the Marxist Internet Archive collective, see:


NXRB – Mark Perryman


Read it here

Panto Terror reviewed (sandwich)

Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 16.10.41A brief review from Mark Perryman (Philosophy Football) on Socialist Unity where I am sandwiched between words on Arun Kundnani’s book (which I read and think is really good) and Andrew Hussey’s book (which I’ve not yet read):

“Arun Kundnani’s ‘The Muslims are Coming!’ links together the experience of Islamophobia, the framing of extremism/fundamentalism and the ongoing global impact of the west’s so-called ‘War on Terror’. Here the left is grappling with subjects it is more at ease with understanding, though the depth to which it is transformed via that process remains in question. An insight into what that transformation might look like is provided by John Hutnyk’s ‘Pantomime Terror‘ which imaginatively records how popular culture has been affected by a post 9/11 world and on occasion has offered signs of resisting the reactionary, racist, consequences of that process. The urgent necessity for this kind of engagement is established brilliantly by Andrew Hussey’s new book ‘The French Intifada’.”

I regret the reviewers have not noted the critiques of Zizek, Badiou and Buck-Morss in mine, or the importance of Spivak and Adorno to my argument, or the coda on Wagner, but still very good to have. See here. Thanks Mark.

Bad Marxism mini review on goodreads – thanks Malcolm

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Hand Picked Stimulus Respond

I’ve two short bits of writing in this elegant little book from Jack Boulton, Stimulus Respond and Pavement Books. ‘The Politics of Cats’ and the bus part of the intro to ‘Pantomime Terror


draft endorse for forthcoming book by Don Miller “Will to Win”

Will to Win
Don Miller used to set his students a ‘think piece’ instead of an essay question. His commitment to provocations has never waned, and this book on sport is of course about much more than sport – or ‘Sport’, capitalised. From the corruptions of commercial sponsorship, to the druggy self-deceptions of Lance Armstrong or the gladiatorial parallels of big business Olympian chauvinism: Sport as gambling, made for TV (the camera always knows where the action will be), amateur, spectacular, Wagnerian self-parody. The book canvasses topics as varied as the Vatican beautifying Italian victims of Ottoman raiders as intervention in anti-Islamic politics today, to the body-sculpting substance abuse of school kids that put cyclists on steroids to shame – each compared and contrasted to the Australian obsession with winners and losers in swimming, while quoting bush-ranger folk heroes (no need to acknowledge, ‘such is life’) and Georges Perec.
I remember when I was 11 years old and playing for The Rosellas under 12 football team in the Eastern Districts Footy League. It was three-quarter time in the preliminary final and we were one-point ahead. Our coach Mr Scanlon gathered us kids together in a huddle as we sucked at our sliced oranges and he told us: ‘boys, it’s not how you play that counts, it’s going out there to win’. I was shifted from ruck-rover to the back-line, took a lucky mark or two, no-one scored, and the final siren brought pandemonium and glory. We went on the next week to lose the grand final to our sworn enemies Knox Eagles, but even today I meet up with teammates who have lived fulfilling lives and we remember that moment. Sport is formative.
If I were critical, I would say Miller runs over some of the same ground more than once, developing his points, lapping himself perhaps, inspired by the logic of his opening parable about the alternative playbook of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’, so famous from the Kokoda trail (not track?). The problematic redeployment of the ANZAC myth and its ‘one day of the year’ jingoism is skewered here too, alongside duly ironic recognition of the  subcontinental origins of cricket and a judicious lambast of Bradman’s displaced militarism. These really are things to think with, and weighty matters are made light yet serous. Like Sport. Here are films, Proust, speed, repetition, Bentham and excess – the range renders Sport as complex as life. Sport as a labour of life, a play, to win or to lose, as serious as heck. A morality, a life lesson, a local-global parable for all times.





Books vs. Cigarettes 2 [Fuggle]

Sophie Fuggle’s post on the wider context of the Prison Book Ban from her blog Limit Experience is getting some traction on twitter and I was asked to repost it so you might read it too. At least to take a moment to think what kind of malignant and parasitic bureaucracy would sit back while the mugwumps implement their mugwump rule. The original is here.


Books vs. Cigarettes 2

Earlier this week, two news sites featured stories about the banning of books from inside UK prisons. The legislation brought in by Chris Grayling in November put a blanket ban on packages sent in to prisoners. As others who have now taken up the story pointed out – why did none of us pick up on this earlier? The ban of packages just before Christmas is akin to the measures taken by the French prison system in the early 1970s when it banned magazines and newspapers from prisons as well as the famous Christmas packages which allowed families to send in food parcels. This deliberately callous, heavy-handed action aimed at severing links to the outside world is often cited as one of several motiving factors for the work of the Groupe d’Information sur les prisons. To ban a child from sending a parent a homemade card because there might be some form of contraband hidden amongst the glitter and glue seems both archaic and futuristically paranoid. But I would suggest there is something else at stake here. As Charlie Gilmour’s article in the Standard last night points out – if you want to get rid of drugs in prison, get rid of the prison officers overseeing their circulation. Grayling is clearly basing his understanding of how contraband gets into prisons on having once watched The Shawshank Redemption. Moreover, the restriction on books now available in prisons as a result of banning packages should alert us to what is really going on within the prison system – instead of simply reiterating the myth of rehabilitation we have long held onto – we should look more closely at this myth. Why has it suited us, the UK public, to hang on to this myth when so much of what we hear about prisons suggests the opposite? For a start, it sets our prison system apart from what we see going on elsewhere, most notably, the U.S. but becoming a model increasingly transplanted to other Western countries. The warehousing of unwanted, unneeded labour. On a visit to Attica in 2012, I heard a Correctional Officer say ‘I don’t care if they get a degree or watch TV in their cells all day. As long as they don’t cause me any trouble.’ But at least there was the option of study. The prison library at Attica, from what I understand, is incredibly well-stocked particularly with law journals and even those in the Special Housing Unit (solitary) have access to the books via Mark Chapman, Lennon’s killer and self-appointed librarian for the SHU. But coupled with this refusal to recognize rehabilitation as possible within prison, there seemed to be an implicit understanding that people need to be given something to do and that not everyone wants to spend all day pushing weights. So what is different about Grayling’s prison industrial complex? On the one hand, he seems to be fully embracing a U.S.-inflected politics of fear – Grayling’s speech in October 2012, talks about the two strikes rule and evokes a similar right to bear arms (currently without the fire part) in order to protect one’s home and property beyond any reasonable force that led to Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman in February 2012. What Grayling is telling us here is that not only do we have the right to violently and potentially fatally attack those we perceive as a threat, but that we indeed should react in this way. There are people out there who want to take things from us, our hard-earned things, and we should be scared. Moreover, the rising university tuition fees and culture of student debt in the U.K., mean this fear and anxiety extends beyond the mere encroaching on material space to one’s intellectual capital. Grayling expected his speech and seems to expect his subsequent responses to the literary community to be well-received by a wider public, terrified that those in prison will receive the same, if not better access to learning and training than that available to their own children. Immediately, following my visit to Attica in 2012, I was at a conference in Buffalo during which a discussion of degree programmes in prison came up. A member of teaching staff from one if the colleges in Buffalo told us that when she first started there she heard on the grapevine that there was a prison teaching programme offered by the college. She asked a professor in the department how she might get onto the programme and if it was worth her going to talk to the Dean about it. The professor told her to never speak of the programme again. Apparently, there was a time when the college put in proudly on their prospectuses in order to emphasize the role they played within the local community. However, this was received incredibly badly by parents of students who were paying upwards of $40k a year for the same degree. The programme was only able to continue as a result of total secrecy by those involved which meant precluding new members of staff from taking part thus limiting the scope of the programme. The logic amongst parents is fairly obvious: why should they bankroll a programme which would see criminals achieving the same degree as their own children? Why should they be instrumental in turning felons into graduates who would then be competing with their own offspring for jobs? It is easy to see how this logic will be increasingly applied in the U.K. as a means of justifying cuts to education programmes in prisons before seeping into mainstream education. I have heard middle class parents justifying their decisions to ‘remove’ their children from highly regarded state schools based on the argument that such schools do more for ‘underprivileged’ children than their own offspring. The Tory party’s education reforms are always largely taken up with how to privatize state education through the back door. Warehousing begins here. Yet, on the other hand, there is a sleight of hand going on here which means that Grayling is able to channel the notion of rehabilitation hence his use of the phrase ‘Rehabiliation Revolution’ in ways not possible in the U.S. supermaxes. This is why for authors and other writers to scream blue murder about the banning of books is an empty gesture if it is not supported by further analysis as to what is really going on here. A far stronger link between the myth of rehabilitation and prison labour is currently being developed within the U.K. If the prison labour force in the U.S. is increasingly becoming obsolete due to the decline in U.S. manufacturing and pressure of unions not to buy prison-made goods, in the U.K. a whole spate of prison training and apprenticeships are being rolled out which situate prison labour within the continuum of unpaid and underpaid labour which also includes the placements and internships universities charge their students to do in order to get a degree and the workfare programmes imposed on the unemployed. Grayling speech focuses in this respect of the creation of a Timpson’s shop inside a prison (the irony about lockpicking should not be lost here) with the aim of training inmates to work for Timpson’s on their release. This is effectively the state selling slave labour to private industry under the guise of rehabilitation. Grayling is as much an advocate of rehabilitation as Philip Pullman and all the other authors who have come to the rescue of the prison. Only here Grayling recognizes the need to more clearly define the parameters of what constitutes rehabilitation so that this comes to mean the ability to take part in the (unpaid) labour force. More sinister here, is the coupling of such labour with the recognition of the economic value of the criminal subject qua social outcast. Grayling begins his speech by talking about his visit to The Clink,a restaurant run by inmates from Brixton prison. This is not simply about training inmates to cook and wait on customers. This is about capitalizing on the inmate as commodity fetish. To eat at The Clink is to embark on a form of dark tourism lite – to pay top dollar for the frisson of coming into contact with individuals who might have done something terrible whilst legitimizing this voyeurism and vicarious sense of transgression with the feeling you have done something positive to help such deviants by allowing them to serve you and your repulsive, bourgeois friends. The game-show style television programmes which often accompany such initiatives affirm this conflation of prison industry with culture industry. As does the work of charities like the Koestler Trust. If their work seems to go against the grain of what Grayling is proposing, I think more critique is necessary. How is the offenders art programme actually run in different prisons? How much choice in what is produced is given to inmates? Do they even know they are being entered into its competitions? Are they given full ownership of their work or is it deemed to be Her Majesty’sproperty? Does the ability to sell artwork produced while you were locked up mean you will make it as an artist when you get out? I do not want to suggest inmates should not make art whilst in prison and definitely don’t want to endorse Grayling’s view that practical labour such as working in Timpson’s is to be preferred to reading a novel in your cell. What I do want to suggest is the way in which all these activities work together to produce a certain type of subject able to reproduce the myths and discourses of rehabilitation at the same time as be obliged to sell him or herself as a fetish object for consumption by a public unable to think past the looming presence of the prison on society’s bleak horizon.


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Pantomime Terror: Music and Politics by John Hutnyk (28 Feb 2014) 

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Celebrating Transgression by Rao Ursula and John Hutnyk (15 Dec 2005) 

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Dis-orienting Rhythms: Politics of the New Asian Dance Music by Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (1 Jan 1997)

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Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies by John Hutnyk (21 Jun 2004)

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Beyond Borders by John Hutnyk (July 2012)

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Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics by Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (1 Feb 1999)

Pantomime Terror: MIA as Provocateur. Keynote address at International Centre for the Study of Culture, Giessen. 21 Nov 2013

Click on the image to get to Daily Motion to play. 55 mins. Thanks Raul Gschrey: it is on the same material as the last section of the book Pantomime Terror

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Pantomime Terror #music #politics

There’s a whole section on Wagner in this, and some humour. For the record… (you can order by clicking the cover to get to Zero then look for the sales tab lower right):

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Trinkets in Critique of Exotica #trinketization

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Pantomime Terror: Music and Politics

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BLACK STAR – Anandi Ramamurthy

Get this book! My endorsement is truncated on the publishers web page, but I endorse this as absolutely necessary, absolutely needed. A must have to comprehend what needs to be done in these times, renew, learn from the past, reconfigure and invent…

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‘Black Star’s richly illustrated documentation of the political
struggles of the Asian Youth Movements proposes a national heritage
that would be something more than bland old Blighty (Vilayet). The
book’s archive speaks eloquently of a pressing Black politics, and
Anandi Ramamurthy cares for the lessons of anti-racist
anti-imperialist organising. The impasse of twenty-first century
war-on-terror murder-death-kill paranoid keep-calm-and-carry-on
proto-fascist anxiety is skewered by the sharp posters, the
enthusiasm, the dedication, the long vigils, and the styles and
phrasings of all those left-wing uncles and radical aunts who hoarded
boxes of leaflets and pamphlets in back rooms and in attics so they
could one day be retrieved as testimony to a difficult settlement in
multi-racial Britain. That this book retrieves this history as a
living, and urgent, heritage – with the principle of ‘self defense as
no offense’ still prominent – is a absolutely necessary triumph’ – John Hutnyk.

Foucault/Paul by Sophie Fuggle


Also  here.

Boucher writes

‘If materialism means anything, it is that concepts cannot grasp material particulars, qualitative differences and the embodied experience of the individual’


it is not ‘just a matter of coloring-in with different crayons’

Geoff Boucher 2013 Adorno Reframed p59.

Miller and ‘The Reason of Metaphor’

john hutnyk:

Claire aka reader aka Londoner, who may or may not live in ellowen-deeoen, now reads the preface to The Reason of Metaphor, which is the guide book that taught us where to go.

Originally posted on Into Ruins:


Which voice today, Reader, my apologies, which voice am I on?

The Reason of Metaphor: A study in Politics by Donald F Miller. What’s here?

“To him, the play of liminalities always retains the capacity, not merely to decompose a sterile world by decomposing its central metaphors, but also to generate new sets of metaphors that hold the promise of defining a new world.” This from the foreword by Ashis Nandy, p.9.

What a claim! But wait. This is not a claim about what Miller or his book has done, it’s a claim about what Nandy finds Miller to see in ‘the play of liminalities’. I’m pretty much against this phrase entirely, and spellcheck doesn’t like liminalities either, not that I’m siding with spellcheck from now on. Is this what Miller sees there? Is this what I see there? This ‘merely’, as though it would be something mere…

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Pavement Sumbissions

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Submission Guidelines

Pavement books is interested in hearing about any original book projects which eschew the dry, turgid and didactic along with journalistic drivel. Exciting writing with critical depth.

And no slogans or zombies.

We’re particularly interested in projects emerging out of the fields of cultural studies, continental philosophy, urban studies, architecture, visual cultures, literary and film criticism.

Proposals for single-authored and collaborative works should include the following information. Please do not send full manuscripts unless requested.

This should provide a clear indication of the area of focus and the contents of your book.

A concise introduction (1-2 pages) indicating aims, themes and scope of the book.

This should take the form of a table of contents with a short summary (1-2 paragraphs) for each chapter.

Number and type of illustrations proposed, if any. As a rule we do not publish texts in full-colour although may consider doing so in certain circumstances.

Please provide brief biographical details (no more than 100 words) of all authors, editors and contributors involved in the project.

The Market
What is the proposed market and intended readership for the book?

Are there any similar texts currently on the market? How does your book differ from these?

Length of Publication
How many words (including bibliography and index) will the book be?

Date of delivery
How soon can you deliver a complete manuscript?



Beyond Borders – order here

New book to get: Contract and Contagion – Angela Mitropoulos

Contract and Contagion: From Biopolitics to Oikonomia will be out in early October 2012, and can be preordered online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Preface: The Liquidation of Foundations

I. Contingency, Necessity, Performativity

II. Oikonomia
Reading Xenophon in (post-)Fordist Times – Arendt, Foucault: Oikonomia, Biopolitics, or Oikonomia? – Intersection, Domos – Agamben, Foucault, and Dumézil – Locke’s Holy Trinity

Annotation: Insurance, Inoculation

III. Legal, Tender
Genealogy – The Limits of Right – Reproducing Race – Frontier Expansion – Queer Value? – Reproducing Labour-Power – Reproducing Value – Genealogy Otherwise

Annotation: Infrastructure, Infra-politics

IV. Unproductive Circulation, Excessive Consumption

V. Foucault, Neoliberalism, and (the) Intervention
Welfare/Warfare – The Disappearance and Reappearance of Foucault’s Genealogy – Colonial Properties – Household Property and Proper Homes – Foucault, Becker and the New Household Economics – The Re/Production of Human Capital

VI. Proliferating Limits
Points of Exchange – The Boundaries of Oikonomia – Polanyi and Marx – The Gift of Surplus Labour – Patterns of Re/Production – Emerging Markets, Frontiers

Annotation: Affective Labour

VII. Flora and Fortuna

VIII. Neocontractualism, Faith-Based Capitalism
Contagion and Plague – Moral Hazard and the New Covenant – Socially-Necessary Labor, Human Capital and Service Work

IX. Mutuum, Mutare
Usury and the Return of the Dark Ages – The Fordist Domestication of Liquidity – Marx’s Intermundia – Student Debt, Education Bubbles and Speculation – Financial Contagion, Loose Ties and Complex Systems – From Infinite Debt to Endless Credit – Clinamen


UPDATE – pre-order here

Beyond Borders book cover (book available soon)

and discount pre-order here.

book blurb and contents list here:

Beyond Borders book in the shops soon… here is the postcard.

The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza – Eyal Weizman (Verso, just out)

expect a review on NXRB soon.

The Life and Music of A.L. Lloyd. Book event 29 May 2102

Goldsmiths Popular Music Research Units presents

The Life and Music of A.L. Lloyd.

A talk by Dave Arthur to coincide with the publication of his book Bert: The Life and Times of A.L. Lloyd (Pluto Press).

Small Hall Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building

Tuesday 29 May, 5.00pm, followed by drinks in the Senior Common Room.

All Welcome.

Folk singer and folk music collector, writer, painter, journalist, art critic, whalerman, sheep station roustabout, Marxist, and much more – this is the story of A. L. (Bert) Lloyd’s extraordinary life.

A. L. Lloyd played a key part in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s, but that is only part of his story. Dave Arthur documents how Lloyd became a member of the Communist Party, forceful antifascist, trade unionist and an important part of left-wing culture from the early 1930s to his death in 1982. Following his return from Australia as a 21-year-old, self-educated agricultural labourer, he was at the heart of the most important left-wing movements and highly respected for his knowledge in various fields.

Dave Arthur recounts the life of a creative, passionate and life-loving Marxist, and in so doing provides a social history of a turbulent twentieth century.

Dave Arthur is writer, painter, singer and instrumentalist (guitar, banjo and melodeon), writer of plays for stage, community and puppet theatre and Director of the Society for Storytelling.

More details of Dave can be found here

Goldsmiths library houses the A.L. Lloyd Collection and Archive.

Link to Popular Music Research Unit –

Directions here


Back from New York with this haul of bargain (some full price) booty. Especially pleased to have the Cesaire, the Draper, the 50th Anniversary Naked Lunch, Ronnel’s ‘Loser Sons’ and all the Fitzgerald. Ahh, just noticed FSF’s ‘On Booze’ is not there – I also snapped that up for reading on the plane, in between watching flicks and laughing at Branson trying to be Mr popular coming back (down?) to economy to wave and be snapped on the camera phones of travelling Welsh schoolkids from I forget which school (far too well behave for schoolkids – where was the hootin and hollerin they shouldsta learned in America?)

New Cross Review of Books

About NXRB

Book Reviews from the Big Crabapple that is NX, London.

This is a haphazard collection of reviews old and new. Of course we are not competing with any of the other fine book review rags out there from other towns like New York or London, it’s just that…

We will accept contributions where they are by our friends and comrades, where they are really good and so long as they are approved by the unbiased (non parliamentary, ultra-leftist, no touching faith in reformism or the State) editors. We reserve the right to reject (and hunt down, huff and puff, and burn your house etc.) any sexist, racist or pro-capitalist comments or contributions. You know the drill.

We are for reading, for reading in context, for making reading a part of the struggle to transform lives and life – looking for ways to transmute the nasty slime of Capital into something else, something better, whatever it takes. If it takes book reviews too, then here we go. Culture Industry Reconsidered! Film reviews too people – high-brow elitist theory-heavy auto-reflexive hyper-critique inclusive.

Email the editor-ish (you will see, editorial here is a self-organising collective process) John.Hutnyk [at]

Beyond Borders.

Possible blurb for the book on borders (edited volume, nearly done, press details soon)

Beyond Borders – ed, John Hutnyk

This collection of essays, graphics and theatre displaces our understandings of borders so that we cannot look the same way at that which invades our everyday, that which kills and excludes, that which sounds out across divides and that which connects and soothes. Addressing activism, philosophy, film, art and music, the book includes a graphic essay on the Gaza Flotilla and an original play The Detention Centre. Essays by prominent scholars and writers address citizenship, visa queues, the home economy, philanthropy, student fees, transportation, terror, camps, poetic license and more. The book makes a virtue of the chance encounter of creativity with structure so as to invent new angles on the politics of borders and movement, breaking with regulatory thinking and always looking to slip under or over the wire. The border effect is everywhere, even between our pages. We are for rampant transgressions – and an end to borders of death.


And a first stab at an even more abstract longer rave for it:


> The border is not only geography and vision – though a line on the map and the sign at immigration control are our most immediate experiences of control – the border is also a process, an order, an iteration, uneven, performative and aural. The border is not just at the edge or boundary, it is also in the street, in the post, in the pub. The border operates between people. The hand raised to silence the offer of the migrant DVD salesperson who interrupts your quiet enjoyment of a beer – that too is a brutal moment of border control. Although of course we can insist that state boundaries are also porous, continually bypassed, more and less easily, in so many different ways; immigration control still stands as a block to movement and mediation.

>> The resonance of the war and power is strong here – echoing with the sounds of silence, dispossession and death to which our eyes become deaf, our ears have become blind. If we recognize the border is not just the port, but the entire city, as in “everywhere, in everything we do”, in each interaction between people related, somehow somewhere to belonging – how violent this is – if we recognize the border as a wall between us all, then we might see reason to have to reconfigure the very idea of nation, boundary and movement that so distracts us. Here, the border is not just at the edge, but at any port, at the immigration office, in the postal service that delivers the visa, in the police checks, the detention procedure – in the everyday reactions of people to each other even as they stand and stare. So, if we think of the way sound and meaning travels across the border, might we start to develop ways of thinking critically against this geographic boundary – and the old models of nation, culture, race that the border secures. What would it be to ask critically about, and so reject, the way we have fixed the border through property, maps, geography – and so leave that space that has been deaf to other movements, transmissions, resonances. Would this work things differently, otherwise?

>> Is our boundary prejudice built into the structure of the border control? A logic of presence, geography and vision govern the strong sense of truth that belongs to knowledge. We say knowledge is divided into fields (geography) and seem most often to register knowing through a confident designation. We indicate truths by pointing (vision), there is presence in understanding. Now perhaps there is an alternative in the metaphoric code with which we name movement and sound. It may be possible to hear a more critical tone, to raise questions about the assertions of certitude – when critical we say we are not sure we agree, we doubt, we say we do not like the tone. Can thinking through travel, time and sound suggest new ways of linking across the borders between us all – as sound crosses the border in ways that tamper with visual and geographic blocks (pirate radio, music, language, the sound of falling bombs…). But we also say, when critical, that we cannot see the point. Ahh, with this last the too easy divide of metaphor into those that point and assert knowledge through vision and those that question and challenge through sound does finally break down. But perhaps there is something in sound that can suggest more, that allows us at least to listen to another possibility, temporarily opening up ears and minds.

>> But borders are also blocks. And we are complicit in this myopia. The management of the border is a mass participation project operated absentmindedly by all of us all day. Through an overkill of commentary and a shifting, churning hierarchy, the profiles, stereotypes and judgements that are constantly made yet so often denied are the guilty enactment of this regime. Border Police do their work – spot check, detention, deportation – all the better because our everywhere everyday distracted border operation is there in all we do.

> It is often thought, but we could be more precise – that movement across borders of all kinds is a good thing, breaking taboos and genre rules is an unmitigated good. Of course, cross disciplinarity is claimed as a boon (in cultural studies for sure), but clearly other crossings – of capital, of weapons, of imperial power – are not so welcome. Capital moves one way, surplus value extraction another. Cross-border global movement (music distribution, television news, democracy) might not always be a boon. No doubt pirate radio enjoys much approval, but communications media also have a less favourable heritage (radio as used, say, by the National Socialists in Germany) and present (the contemporary normative narrations of ‘democracy’ by the Voice of America, the BBC, or with the televisual uniformity of CNN). A more careful thinking that notes the metaphors of critique, distinguishes movement and sonic registers that affirm or disavow, works to undo that which destroys and divides, fosters that which unites, organises capacity to live otherwise with others…-

>> Beyond Borders is supported by an AHRC Beyond Text programme Network Grant and the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, and is edited volume with work by John Hutnyk, Leila Whitley, Enis Oktay, Angela, Rachel Palmer, Nabil Ahmed, Liz Thompson, Ben Rosenzweig, Ewa Jasiewicz, Raul Gschrey, Rico Reyes, María-José, Carla Mueller-Schulke, Kiwi Menrath, Rangan Chakravarty, Johannes Anyuru and Aleksander Moturri.>

Popular Music and Human Rights

Pantomime Terror in print (see downloads page for the pdf).

This is the flyer for the set: Popular Music and Human Rights 2-vol set

Currently reading Andrew Herscher – Violence Taking Place

While the construction of architecture has a place in architectural discourse, its destruction, generally seen as incompatible with the very idea of “culture,” has been neglected in theoretical and historical discussion. Responding to this neglect, Herscher examines the case of the former Yugoslavia and in particular, Kosovo, where targeting architecture has been a prominent dimension of political violence. Rather than interpreting violence against architecture as a mere representation of “deeper” social, political, or ideological dynamics, Herscher reveals it to be a form of cultural production, irreducible to its contexts and formative of the identities and agencies that seemingly bear on it as causes. Focusing on the particular sites where violence is inflicted and where its subjects and objects are articulated, the book traces the intersection of violence and architecture from socialist modernization, through ethnic and nationalist conflict, to postwar reconstruction.

But here:

On Burning Books

Topical this week, but its always been true that the way the pages crumple one by one as they burn is strangely fascinating….

Via the link is a chapter length text I wrote some time ago (currently under consideration for Space and Culture). Given a certain newsworthiness in relation to the eye-popping-mad pastor Terry Jones, some people might like to read the preview version:

Sexy Sammy and Red Rosie? From Burning Books to the War on Terror.

Abstract: Writing within the sonic register of a soundtrack that plundered the diasporic mindset of a certain ‘London’ massive, Hanif Kureishi was widely criticised for his contribution as writer to two films in the 1980s: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Less lyrically perhaps – and less filmic – Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses was famously set on fire in Bradford in 1989. There is a soundtrack here that can map the anti-racist sexualities, street riots and book-burnings that are taken to mark the mobilization of a diverse and complicated British-Asian presence on the streets of the UK. The point that interests me here is the reconfiguration of the streetscape of diaspora and terror in the years since these films and the burning of the book. The figure of Rosie is interesting because her cultural politics helps occlude an older engagement that was first displaced by identity concerns and is now overwritten with sinister consequences. The street musicians that accompany her urban meanderings embroider affect in a way that segues easily into a culture industry resignation. Burning streets and books (not particularly good in themselves) are replaced with a more virulent racial profiling in contemporary times – a constant anxiety about and accusations against Muslims, and by extension all British-Asians, made uncomfortable (at best, bombed into democracy elsewhere). Sammy forlorn.

Key words: street, queer, riot, British-Asian, book-burning, Kureishi, Rushdie

Continue reading the full chapter here .

Methods and Ethnography

OK, asked for references twice in two days on the same thing, so started thinking what I might reread if I was going to think about methods and ethnography now:

Mitchell Duneier, “Sidewalk” – a thoughtful study of magazine vendors in New York. A bit too worthy and street, but some good stuff on doubt.

James Agee and Walker Evans; “Let us now praise famous men” – if you have not read it, get this first. Simply great. (Try to get the Violette edition, hard back, not the penguin classics ed – though that has an essay by Goldsmiths own Blake Morrison).

Michel Serres; “The Troubadour of Knowledge” – Serres is unique, thinks through parables, does not refernce, says he does not repeat. Makes stuff up, each line a gem. Dunno what its like in French!

Claude Levi-Strauss; “Tristes Tropiques” – speaking of the French – died at 101 last year. This is the classic. Then read part 2 of Derrida’s “Of Grammatology”.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; “Death of A Discipline” – between the lines of a lament for the cold war area experts who have become extinct, a plea for deep language learning that is more than just grammar.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; ‘Righting Wrongs’ from “Other Asias”.

Avital Ronell; “The Test Drive” – Ronell is perhaps the only living American currently possessed by genius, besides Gore Vidal, and she wears great hats.

Michel Foucault; “The Archeology of Knowledge” and “The Order of Things” – never to be forgotten.

Mao Zedong; ‘Report from Hunan’ in “Selected Writings Volume One”. Mao does fieldwork!

Michael Taussig; “My Cocaine Museum” – a latter day arcades for the war torn, drug crazed, exploited and exploiting realm that is now.

Klaus Peter Koepping; “Shattering Frames” – his collected essays on anthropology, a great teacher.

Rao/Hutnyk eds; “Celebrating Transgression” – essays in honour of Klaus Peter Koepping, with my mad musings on William Burroughs included.

Wolff, Kurt; “Surrender and Catch” – not well enough known but worth a look – was Prof at Brandies from 1959 – 1992.

More to come.

For Daisy

One of my nieces in Australia has a high school project which entails asking people: “Do you Like reading – Why,  What does reading do for you, what comes to your mind when you think about reading and What makes a peice of literature – to you?”  So I have responded, no doubt with the overkill of someone playing the favourite far-overseas Uncle (its one of the joys of going back to Australia, seeing the nieces and nephews – some of whom are now grown up proper – I remember one Xmas teaching them how to play Monopoly with anti-corporate rules, no ‘Go to Jail’ and public utilities and expensive Park Lane properties free to visit…. Apparently this was then a hit at school…)

Anyway, here are my responses to Daisy’s questionnaire (do let me know how far I have strayed from all that was probably required):

Hi Daisy. I could talk for ages on reading. How much do you want?

I like reading, I like it for a dozen, even a hundred different reasons. Most important about reading is that it changes the way you think – whether you are reading a novel to get a new perspective on everyday life or something, or if you are reading a book about history or politics so as to understand the world better, more deeply, or even if its a computer manual because you do not know how the damn thing works and you need to fix it, reading is about changing your point of view, changing your outlook, seeing things from another angle. There is NO point in going on if you do not do this. It is about awareness of the world. Sure, in a different world you might be able to get that from television and film, but more often than not the TV and Film we have here is not going to be challenging you to think, merely to sit back and daydream. Of course some film is wonderfully thought provoking – like documentary, good cinema, critical TV shows (West Wing, Battlestar Galactica!) but usually it is writing that is more subtle.

That is what reading does for me – stands out as the repository of all that is interesting and what I might want to know – even what I do not yet know I want to know. A new book  is a chance to find something new in the world – new to me at least, which means new in general because it changes me in new ways. Change is good (who said that?) and reading lets me access it. Quite a privilege really. Imagine a world where we never read. It would be like endless days of eating, fighting and sports – not bad in themselves and for a time, especially if its sunny, but possibly not the only things I wanna do.

What comes to mind is open possibility. Cracking the spine of a new book,opening the first pages, the smell of different books, the idea that someone wrote this, caring for the words, carrying them to the page and arranging them just so (I leave aside the tones of books that are not made with care these days, and the endless dribble of the mainstream press, and the internet – where people present their insipid view about literature and reading and how they feel about it – heh heh.

What makes a piece of literature – the possibility of the new. But really anything that provokes. Its not literature just because its published in the Penguin Classics series or some other authoritative publisher, its literature because its literate, or helps us all become so. There are comic books that are as much this as Moby Dick – itself a book that was largely overlooked while its author was alive, and now is considered the greatest piece of North American literature bar none. So who can say what literature is, now, as what is scrap paper to us now might be something really special quite soon (not that I hold out any hope that these paragraphs would be subject to some astonishing elevation).

Who set you this project? Good thing. Love, Uncle John

Literature and Film Go Wild in the Streets: from Burning Books to the War on Terror.

Abstract for Joel (to be written up by March)

Literature and Film Go Wild in the Streets: from Burning Books to the War on Terror.

Book burning is something close to the heart of novelist Salman Rushdie, whose work, The Satanic Majesties was famously burnt in Bradford  twenty years back (and in India six months earlier) in 1989. This protest is said by many commentators to mark the public articulation and mobilization of a specifically Muslim South Asian presence in the UK (Malik 2009). There is much scholarship on this theme and the changes it rings in: Gayatri Spivak long ago pointed out how ‘the Rushdie affair has been coded as Freedom of Speech versus Terrorism’ (1993:237), and with its long history, the burning of books of course agitated the liberal sensitivities of many commentators who later were all in favour of the bombing of Baghdad, including, presumably various libraries, museums and bookshops. This is not to excuse the fatwa or to enter into the debates about censorship or appropriate handling of Islamic narrative (the six wives of the Prophet as prostitutes was always going to get Rushdie into trouble, as his sales publicist no doubt hoped, but horribly underestimated). The point that interests me here is the reconfiguration of the streetscape of diaspora and terror that this book burning achieved. An outrage reconfigures and then changes shape – as Rushdie’s characters also do – through the context of geo-political intrigue, investing these characters and issues with darker sentiments that is then played out in suburban space. The book burning on the street evokes other street politics – from burning cars and rioting (example: the film Sammie and Rosie get Laid – Frears/Kureishi) through to a more persistent low level everyday anxiety of racial profiling in a surveillance state. Where Spivak attends to a geographic and linguistic ‘really existing’ Asia that has now become the major location for the sharp end of the war on terror, from South East to North East (Philippines, North Korea) and North West to Middle East (Afghanistan, Palestine) we can talk of an expanded reconfigured Asia as host for a the theatre of war (Spivak quotes Koshy 2003:x) that ever more becomes a matter of urban/street conflict in locations like London, Manchester, Bradford and Birmingham. On streets like those of Lewisham, London, this Asia, and the visibility of ‘Asians’ loses geographical specificity and is embodied in the figure of the threatening Muslim: the people of the book become book burners and Jihadis. Various commentators do not seem to agree on how this came to pass or what should be the response, but clearly there can be multiple and varied globalized versionings of terror. The war on terror at home can be seen in the sociological reportage of Malik, Gopinath and Fekete, in the cinematography of Kureishi and Frears, and the theoretical reflections of Chow, Derrida and Sen.

See also here and here.


chinese diaspora adn hybridity

離散與混雜Diaspora and Hybridity –

now available in Chinese (unlike this blog).

(and crikey, babel fish does a bad job of rendering the Chinese title – calling it  “Separate and promiscuous” ?? – but I expect babel hasn’t really got a good grip on Kanji – I know I haven’t – trying to learn some for my Japanese lessons each thursday)

Anyway, I presume a better job has been done by translator: Chen Yixin (more below)



Virinder S. Karla, raminder Kaur, John Hutnyk韋伯,出版日期:2008/01/01

繁體書:共 1 筆搜尋結果 ,分類:社會人文社會學社會群體種族專業書社會/教育/心理社會社會學

相關搜尋:Virinder S. Karla, raminder Kaur, John Hutnyk離散後殖民國族主義國族

原價:280 元 , 優惠價: 95 折,266元 

何謂「離散」與「混雜」?它們在有關種族、文化和社會的當代論辯中,有哪些軸心概念?本書針對離散與混雜的主要論辯,提出了詳盡無疑的政治評估,並在現代社會抗爭與文化脈絡中探討「離散」與「混雜」課題, … more

The translator, Chen Yixin, is:

(MA  in  Women’s  Studies  with  distinction,  University  of  York,  UK)。在英期間研究後殖民女性文學與文化;論文書寫南非後隔離女性英語文學,比較了三位不同族裔之南非女作家的作品。喜歡寫詩、寫小說,從事英語教學與編輯相關工作多年。

Google clouded my book

BAD-MARXISMAccursed Share Adorno Althusser analysis anthropology anti-capitalism archive bad Marxism Bataille Bataille’s Bhabha called capital capitalistchapattis circulationCollege of Sociology colonial commodity communism communist contemporary context critical critique cultural studies debate debt Derrida and Sprinkler dialectical discussion displacement economic Empire engagement essay ethnography example exchange exploitation fascism fieldwork Freud Gayatri Spivak Georges Bataille gift global Goldsmiths College Hardt and Negri Hutnyk hybridity imperialism imperialist India labour learning to learn Leiris Malinowski Maoist Marx’s means metaphorMichel Leiris mode of production movement nation-state offer organisation party perhaps police political possible postcolonial Poverty of Philosophy programme question reading Marx recogniserelation revolutionary seems social solidarity Specters of Marx speed Spivak struggle Subaltern Studies subsumption suggests superexploitation Surrealism Surrealiststheorists theory tion trade trinketisation Trobriand workers writing

So that’s Bad Marxism in a nutshell, shell of nuts, googlenut, whatever. Each word is a live link to a couple of tear out and throwaway quotes, bar food style. Trinketized.

Godard “British Sounds” pt 1

UntitledYou can find Jean-Luc Godard’s “British Sounds” in all its glory on You Tube now. It is worth watching all the way through (6 parts) – from the ‘petroleum of pop music’ and excerpts from the great Shiela Rowbothom to the “gestapo of the humanist university” (they mean LSE). ‘No end to class struggle’ in the centre of the jack. All Godard’s great themes are here – the pan across the line of cars (weekday this time, not ‘weekend’) through to militant Maoist students concocting a twisted sympathy for the devil (Lennon not Lenin) and more. Thanks for the reminder to Iain Sinclair and his great rambling Hackney(ed) dossier (if you haven’t got it yet, get it – and read Sukhdev’s review of Sinclair’s book here). As Sukhdev says: “here’s another reason why Sinclair is such an important writer: he offers readers the critical tools for looking anew at wherever it is that they live.”

Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the new Asian dance music

Reposted from Dark Matter.

by Sanjay Sharma • 8 Mar 09 •

Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the new Asian dance music (1996, Zed books), edited by Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ash Sharma.

This book writes back the presence of South Asian youth into a rapidly expanding and exuberant music scene; and celebrates this as a dynamic expression of the experience of diaspora with an urgent political consciousness. One of the first attempts to situate such production within the study of race and identity, it uncovers the crucial role that South Asian dance musics – from Hip-hop, Qawwali and Bhangra through Soul, Indie and Jungle – have played in a new urban cultural politics …” (Back cover)

To celebrate the landmark edited collection being published over a decade ago, the whole text and individual chapters are available to download as searchable pdf files.

Note: Please be patient while the pdf files download (whole text will take a few minutes).

Dis-Orienting Rhythms – whole text (higher quality, 23MB):
Dis-Orienting Rhythms – whole text (lower quality, 11MB):

Individual Chapters (higher quality):

  • Introduction – Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma
  1. Sounds Oriental: The (Im)possibility of Theorizing Asian Musical Cultures – Ashwani Sharma
  2. Noisy Asians or ‘Asian Noise’? – Sanjay Sharma
  3. Asian Kool? Bhangra & Beyond – Rupa Huq
  4. Remixing Identities: ‘Off’ the Turntable – Shirin Housee & Mukhtar Dar
  5. Psyche and Soul: A View from the ‘South’ – Koushik Banerjea & Partha Banerjea
  6. Re-Sounding (Anti)Racism, or Concordant Politics? - Virinder S. Kalra, John Hutnyk & Sanjay Sharma
  7. Repetitive Beatings or Criminal Justice? – John Hutnyk
  8. Versioning Terror: Jallianwala Bagh & the Jungle – Koushik Banerjea & Jatinder Barn
  9. New Paths for South Asian Identity & Musical Creativity – Raminder Kaur & Virinder S. Kalra

Away With All Gods

Bob Avakian has written the first book in years that makes me actually want to re-read the Bible, but this time as freaky horror show, weirded out fiction and gothic nightmare.

Everyone should read Away With All Gods because it is necessary, critical and timely, but also because it is a book written with joy and humor. Avakian has a whole lot of fun mocking the absurdities of those who should be called `god-botherin fools’ – never better than when he retells old Richard Pryor routines about Cleveland or reminds us of the hypocrisy of Ronald Reagan as Christian leader while wife Nancy reads the tarot. The trouble is that the people who go in for this religious-fantasy foolishness are serious, and they must be stopped. Avakian shows how and why. Pointing out that the myth that Zapata had not been killed and would return to fight again some day was flawed because it overlooked the fact that he was just as dead as was the resurrected Jesus; showing that Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’ movie perpetuates an anti-Jewish slander that the mob killed the son of God; equally critical of contortions such as the one where the Quran is as fair to women thieves as it is to men (`cut off their hands’ if they do not repent); and skewering Christopher Hitchens’ whose critique of religion is just as much an anti-Muslim tirade (‘God is not great’) as is the US War on Terror; Avakian eviscerates all manner of soft thinking on issues that have a mysterious afterlife in popular thought today.

Avakian has answers as to why religious fundamentalism (Christian or Islamic) is on the rise, and he does this not with candles and mirrors, dark robes and incense, but rather a philosophico-political analysis and a program for change. These are things we really need to hear.

Its even for sale here


American Anthropologist reviews our Celebrating Transgression book.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Celebrating Transgression.

Amitava Kumar writes again

A new book – a novel! – by my good friend Amitava Kumar. Get it. Don’t delay. See here for reviews and so forth.

Home Products
February 2007

A film director asks Binod, who is a journalist in Bombay, to produce a portrait of a murdered girl, a poet killed by a politician by whom she is pregnant. The director wants a script about small towns, desire, compromise and intrigue. Probably he wants masala. Subtle and articulate, his sensibility shaped by the classic films of a high-minded and austere boyhood, Binod undertakes to draught a Bollywood story. Unlike Binod is his cousin Rabinder, in Hajipur jail and full of plans. Arrested for turning his cybercafe into a porn parlour, Rabinder is a doer, with dreams of entering films.

Home Products is the story of Binod and Rabinder, brought up as brothers, one a man of hope, the other of appetite, whose ambitions unexpectedly intertwine. As it unfolds, a complex world comes to throbbing life, moving from Motihari where Binod was born, and George Orwell before him; to the Bombay of film, imitation and enterprise; via Delhi, its calm shattered by an assassination and riots.

In the broad sweep of this stunning first novel, acclaimed non-fiction writer Amitava Kumar charts a tale of sexual anxiety and anarchic impulses in a society steeped in crime. Detailing the search among its members for order and artistic brilliance, written with extraordinary inventiveness, Home Products brings aglow the struggle against small-town beginnings. It reminds us gently, and incisively, of our anxieties as middle-class individuals in a middle-class nation.

See his weblog here

Sacred Media Cow

From Somnath over on on “Sacred Media Cow” [SACREDMEDIACOW is an independent postgraduate collective on Indian media research and production at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London]:

Oh Calcutta

Folks, been away from active blogging for a while. Apologies. The PhD writing and thinking alongwith other activities been taking its toll. Hopefully back now.

My thesis concerns itself with two urban news centres, Calcutta (I still cant bear to do away with the colonial imageries) and Mumbai. Been reading a bit about both the cities lately and a book by John Hutnyk called The Rumour of Calcutta is a quite fascinating account of the city and deconstructs the myths around this “city of extremes” created through the views and notions of representations, from foreign travellers on missions of mercy staying at a cheap tourist lodge to travel guides, books and films.

I have also been logging how the media in recent times has been portraying the city. By all accounts, Calcutta has finally come of age. It is the city on the mend. The government is being applauded, the Chief Minister felicitated. Right wing Conservative Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express speaks and applauds the Indian Left and its erudition, the Politburo and its concerns. Sagarika Ghose cant stop gushing in her interview with Buddha Babu. Protests by “nay sayers” are brushed aside as the crumbling city wakes up to a new dawn. These are not my metaphors. So what’s going on.

It is very much like the errant child who has come home. Give it it’s just rewards, bring it into the fold, hand out the sops and make sure it feels welcome. The media house, the corporate entities cant stop falling over each other to felicitate Buddhadev Bhattacharya’s “coming to sense” wisdom and merging Calcutta with the other metros; long live the Left, so long as it can be managed.

Powell’s Books – Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies by John Hutnyk

Powell’s Books – Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies by John Hutnyk: “
Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies
by John Hutnyk
ISBN:0745322662 (More details…)
Available at:Quimby Warehouse
Synopses & Reviews
Book News Annotation:
To Hutnyk (anthropology and cultural studies, Goldsmiths College, UK), figures like James Clifford, Jacques Derrida, Antonio Negri, and other theorists of ‘cultural studies’ have had a substantial impact recently with eclectic, but ‘substantially misconstrued’ versions of Marx. He offers a critique of these theorists, presents a relatively positive re-evaluation of Georges Batailles, and attempts to point the way towards a substantially expanded cultural studies that is able to take on such topics as geo-politics, theory, war, and capitalism. Distributed in the US by the U. of Michigan Press.
Annotation �2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (”


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