get it here: http://zedbooks.co.uk/node/13018
get it here: http://zedbooks.co.uk/node/13018
Early morning inspired read from China:
How comfortable life would be for them if they could rid themselves of such obsessions and go to work, walk, eat and sleep at ease. They have only this one step to take. Yet fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers, friends, teachers and students, sworn enemies and even strangers, have all joined in this conspiracy, discouraging and preventing each other from taking this step.
This is of course from Lu Xun:
A Madman’s Diary
Written: April 1918
Source: Selected Stories of Lu Hsun, Published by Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1960, 1972
Transcribed: Original transcription from coldbacon.com
HTML Markup: Mike B. for MIA, 2005
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Two brothers, whose names I need not mention here, were both good friends of mine in high school; but after a separation of many years we gradually lost touch. Some time ago I happened to hear that one of them was seriously ill, and since I was going back to my old home I broke my journey to call on them, I saw only one, however, who told me that the invalid was his younger brother.
“I appreciate your coming such a long way to see us,” he said, “but my brother recovered some time ago and has gone elsewhere to take up an official post.” Then, laughing, he produced two volumes of his brother’s diary, saying that from these the nature of his past illness could be seen, and that there was no harm in showing them to an old friend. I took the diary away, read it through, and found that he had suffered from a form of persecution complex. The writing was most confused and incoherent, and he had made many wild statements; moreover he had omitted to give any dates, so that only by the colour of the ink and the differences in the writing could one tell that it was not written at one time. Certain sections, however, were not altogether disconnected, and I have copied out a part to serve as a subject for medical research. I have not altered a single illogicality in the diary and have changed only the names, even though the people referred to are all country folk, unknown to the world and of no consequence. As for the title, it was chosen by the diarist himself after his recovery, and I did not change it.
Tonight the moon is very bright.
I have not seen it for over thirty years, so today when I saw it I felt in unusually high spirits. I begin to realize that during the past thirty-odd years I have been in the dark; but now I must be extremely careful. Otherwise why should that dog at the Chao house have looked at me twice?
I have reason for my fear.
Tonight there is no moon at all, I know that this bodes ill. This morning when I went out cautiously, Mr. Chao had a strange look in his eyes, as if he were afraid of me, as if he wanted to murder me. There were seven or eight others, who discussed me in a whisper. And they were afraid of my seeing them. All the people I passed were like that. The fiercest among them grinned at me; whereupon I shivered from head to foot, knowing that their preparations were complete.
I was not afraid, however, but continued on my way. A group of children in front were also discussing me, and the look in their eyes was just like that in Mr. Chao’s while their faces too were ghastly pale. I wondered what grudge these children could have against me to make them behave like this. I could not help calling out: “Tell me!” But then they ran away.
I wonder what grudge Mr. Chao can have against me, what grudge the people on the road can have against me. I can think of nothing except that twenty years ago I trod on Mr. Ku Chiu’s1 account sheets for many years past, and Mr. Ku was very displeased. Although Mr. Chao does not know him, he must have heard talk of this and decided to avenge him, so he is conspiring against me with the people on the road, But then what of the children? At that time they were not yet born, so why should they eye me so strangely today, as if they were afraid of me, as if they wanted to murder me? This really frightens me, it is so bewildering and upsetting.
I know. They must have learned this from their parents!
I can’t sleep at night. Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.
Those people, some of whom have been pilloried by the magistrate, slapped in the face by the local gentry, had their wives taken away by bailiffs, or their parents driven to suicide by creditors, never looked as frightened and as fierce then as they did yesterday.
The most extraordinary thing was that woman on the street yesterday who spanked her son and said, “Little devil! I’d like to bite several mouthfuls out of you to work off my feelings!” Yet all the time she looked at me. I gave a start, unable to control myself; then all those green-faced, long-toothed people began to laugh derisively. Old Chen hurried forward and dragged me home.
He dragged me home. The folk at home all pretended not to know me; they had the same look in their eyes as all the others. When I went into the study, they locked the door outside as if cooping up a chicken or a duck. This incident left me even more bewildered.
A few days ago a tenant of ours from Wolf Cub Village came to report the failure of the crops, and told my elder brother that a notorious character in their village had been beaten to death; then some people had taken out his heart and liver, fried them in oil and eaten them, as a means of increasing their courage. When I interrupted, the tenant and my brother both stared at me. Only today have I realized that they had exactly the same look in their eyes as those people outside.
Just to think of it sets me shivering from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.
They eat human beings, so they may eat me.
I see that woman’s “bite several mouthfuls out of you,” the laughter of those green-faced, long-toothed people and the tenant’s story the other day are obviously secret signs. I realize all the poison in their speech, all the daggers in their laughter. Their teeth are white and glistening: they are all man-eaters.
It seems to me, although I am not a bad man, ever since I trod on Mr. Ku’s accounts it has been touch-and-go. They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character. I remember when my elder brother taught me to write compositions, no matter how good a man was, if I produced arguments to the contrary he would mark that passage to show his approval; while if I excused evil-doers, he would say: “Good for you, that shows originality.” How can I possibly guess their secret thoughts—especially when they are ready to eat people?
Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it. In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it. I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: “Virtue and Morality.” Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words—”Eat people.”
All these words written in the book, all the words spoken by our tenant, gaze at me strangely with an enigmatic smile.
I too am a man, and they want to eat me!
In the morning I sat quietly for some time. Old Chen brought lunch in: one bowl of vegetables, one bowl of steamed fish. The eyes of the fish were white and hard, and its mouth was open just like those people who want to eat human beings. After a few mouthfuls I could not tell whether the slippery morsels were fish or human flesh, so I brought it all up.
I said, “Old Chen, tell my brother that I feel quite suffocated, and want to have a stroll in the garden.” Old Chen said nothing but went out, and presently he came back and opened the gate.
I did not move, but watched to see how they would treat me, feeling certain that they would not let me go. Sure enough! My elder brother came slowly out, leading an old man. There was a murderous gleam in his eyes, and fearing that I would see it he lowered his head, stealing glances at me from the side of his spectacles.
“You seem to be very well today,” said my brother.
“Yes,” said I.
“I have invited Mr. Ho here today,” said my brother, “to examine you.”
“All right,” said I. Actually I knew quite well that this old man was the executioner in disguise! He simply used the pretext of feeling my pulse to see how fat I was; for by so doing he would receive a share of my flesh. Still I was not afraid. Although I do not eat men, my courage is greater than theirs. I held out my two fists, to see what he would do. The old man sat down, closed his eyes, fumbled for some time and remained still for some time; then he opened his shifty eyes and said, “Don’t let your imagination run away with you. Rest quietly for a few days, and you will be all right.”
Don’t let your imagination run away with you! Rest quietly for a few days! When I have grown fat, naturally they will have more to eat; but what good will it do me, or how can it be “all right”? All these people wanting to eat human flesh and at the same time stealthily trying to keep up appearances, not daring to act promptly, really made me nearly die of laughter. I could not help roaring with laughter, I was so amused. I knew that in this laughter were courage and integrity. Both the old man and my brother turned pale, awed by my courage and integrity.
But just because I am brave they are the more eager to eat me, in order to acquire some of my courage. The old man went out of the gate, but before he had gone far he said to my brother in a low voice, “To be eaten at once!” And my brother nodded. So you are in it too! This stupendous discovery, although it came as a shock, is yet no more than I had expected: the accomplice in eating me is my elder brother!
The eater of human flesh is my elder brother!
I am the younger brother of an eater of human flesh!
I myself will be eaten by others, but none the less I am the younger brother of an eater of human flesh!
These few days I have been thinking again: suppose that old man were not an executioner in disguise, but a real doctor; he would be none the less an eater of human flesh. In that book on herbs, written by his predecessor Li Shih-chen,2 it is clearly stated that men’s flesh can he boiled and eaten; so can he still say that he does not eat men?
As for my elder brother, I have also good reason to suspect him. When he was teaching me, he said with his own lips, “People exchange their sons to eat.” And once in discussing a bad man, he said that not only did he deserve to be killed, he should “have his flesh eaten and his hide slept on. . . .”3 I was still young then, and my heart beat faster for some time, he was not at all surprised by the story that our tenant from Wolf Cub Village told us the other day about eating a man’s heart and liver, but kept nodding his head. He is evidently just as cruel as before. Since it is possible to “exchange sons to eat,” then anything can be exchanged, anyone can be eaten. In the past I simply listened to his explanations, and let it go at that; now I know that when he explained it to me, not only was there human fat at the corner of his lips, but his whole heart was set on eating men.
Pitch dark. I don’t know whether it is day or night. The Chao family dog has started barking again.
The fierceness of a lion, the timidity of a rabbit, the craftiness of a fox. . . .
I know their way; they are not willing to kill anyone outright, nor do they dare, for fear of the consequences. Instead they have banded together and set traps everywhere, to force me to kill myself. The behaviour of the men and women in the street a few days ago, and my elder brother’s attitude these last few days, make it quite obvious. What they like best is for a man to take off his belt, and hang himself from a beam; for then they can enjoy their heart’s desire without being blamed for murder. Naturally that sets them roaring with delighted laughter. On the other hand, if a man is frightened or worried to death, although that makes him rather thin, they still nod in approval.
They only eat dead flesh! I remember reading somewhere of a hideous beast, with an ugly look in its eye, called “hyena” which often eats dead flesh. Even the largest bones it grinds into fragments and swallows: the mere thought of this is enough to terrify one. Hyenas are related to wolves, and wolves belong to the canine species. The other day the dog in the Chao house looked at me several times; obviously it is in the plot too and has become their accomplice. The old man’s eyes were cast down, but that did not deceive me!
The most deplorable is my elder brother. He is also a man, so why is he not afraid, why is he plotting with others to eat me? Is it that when one is used to it he no longer thinks it a crime? Or is it that he has hardened his heart to do something he knows is wrong?
In cursing man-eaters, I shall start with my brother, and in dissuading man-eaters, I shall start with him too.
Actually, such arguments should have convinced them long ago. . . .
Suddenly someone came in. He was only about twenty years old and I did not see his features very clearly. His face was wreathed in smiles, but when he nodded to me his smile did not seem genuine. I asked him “Is it right to eat human beings?”
Still smiling, he replied, “When there is no famine how can one eat human beings?”
I realized at once, he was one of them; but still I summoned up courage to repeat my question:
“Is it right?”
“What makes you ask such a thing? You really are . . fond of a joke. . . . It is very fine today.”
“It is fine, and the moon is very bright. But I want to ask you: Is it right?”
He looked disconcerted, and muttered: “No….”
“No? Then why do they still do it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about? They are eating men now in Wolf Cub Village, and you can see it written all over the books, in fresh red ink.”
His expression changed, and he grew ghastly pale. “It may be so,” he said, staring at me. “It has always been like that. . . .”
“Is it right because it has always been like that?”
“I refuse to discuss these things with you. Anyway, you shouldn’t talk about it. Whoever talks about it is in the wrong!”
I leaped up and opened my eyes wide, but the man had vanished. I was soaked with perspiration. He was much younger than my elder brother, but even so he was in it. He must have been taught by his parents. And I am afraid he has already taught his son: that is why even the children look at me so fiercely.
Wanting to eat men, at the same time afraid of being eaten themselves, they all look at each other with the deepest suspicion. . . .
How comfortable life would be for them if they could rid themselves of such obsessions and go to work, walk, eat and sleep at ease. They have only this one step to take. Yet fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers, friends, teachers and students, sworn enemies and even strangers, have all joined in this conspiracy, discouraging and preventing each other from taking this step.
Early this morning I went to look for my elder brother. He was standing outside the hall door looking at the sky, when I walked up behind him, stood between him and the door, and with exceptional poise and politeness said to him:
“Brother, I have something to say to you.”
“Well, what is it?” he asked, quickly turning towards me and nodding.
“It is very little, but I find it difficult to say. Brother, probably all primitive people ate a little human flesh to begin with. Later, because their outlook changed, some of them stopped, and because they tried to be good they changed into men, changed into real men. But some are still eating—just like reptiles. Some have changed into fish, birds, monkeys and finally men; but some do not try to be good and remain reptiles still. When those who eat men compare themselves with those who do not, how ashamed they must be. Probably much more ashamed than the reptiles are before monkeys.
“In ancient times Yi Ya boiled his son for Chieh and Chou to eat; that is the old story.4 But actually since the creation of heaven and earth by Pan Ku men have been eating each other, from the time of Yi Ya’s son to the time of Hsu Hsi-lin,5 and from the time of Hsu Hsi-lin down to the man caught in Wolf Cub Village. Last year they executed a criminal in the city, and a consumptive soaked a piece of bread in his blood and sucked it.
“They want to eat me, and of course you can do nothing about it single-handed; but why should you join them? As man-eaters they are capable of anything. If they eat me, they can eat you as well; members of the same group can still eat each other. But if you will just change your ways immediately, then everyone will have peace. Although this has been going on since time immemorial, today we could make a special effort to be good, and say this is not to be done! I’m sure you can say so, brother. The other day when the tenant wanted the rent reduced, you said it couldn’t be done.”
At first he only smiled cynically, then a murderous gleam came into his eyes, and when I spoke of their secret his face turned pale. Outside the gate stood a group of people, including Mr. Chao and his dog, all craning their necks to peer in. I could not see all their faces, for they seemed to be masked in cloths; some of them looked pale and ghastly still, concealing their laughter. I knew they were one band, all eaters of human flesh. But I also knew that they did not all think alike by any means. Some of them thought that since it had always been so, men should be eaten. Some of them knew that they should not eat men, but still wanted to; and they were afraid people might discover their secret; thus when they heard me they became angry, but they still smiled their. cynical, tight-lipped smile.
Suddenly my brother looked furious, and shouted in a loud voice:
“Get out of here, all of you! What is the point of looking at a madman?”
Then I realized part of their cunning. They would never be willing to change their stand, and their plans were all laid; they had stigmatized me as a madman. In future when I was eaten, not only would there be no trouble, but people would probably be grateful to them. When our tenant spoke of the villagers eating a bad character, it was exactly the same device. This is their old trick.
Old Chen came in too, in a great temper, but they could not stop my mouth, I had to speak to those people:
“You should change, change from the bottom of your hearts!” I said. “You most know that in future there will be no place for man-eaters in the world.
“If you don’t change, you may all be eaten by each other. Although so many are born, they will be wiped out by the real men, just like wolves killed by hunters. Just like reptiles!”
Old Chen drove everybody away. My brother had disappeared. Old Chen advised me to go back to my room. The room was pitch dark. The beams and rafters shook above my head. After shaking for some time they grew larger. They piled on top of me.
The weight was so great, I could not move. They meant that I should die. I knew that the weight was false, so I struggled out, covered in perspiration. But I had to say:
“You should change at once, change from the bottom of your hearts! You must know that in future there will be no place for man-eaters in the world . . . .”
The sun does not shine, the door is not opened, every day two meals.
I took up my chopsticks, then thought of my elder brother; I know now how my little sister died: it was all through him. My sister was only five at the time. I can still remember how lovable and pathetic she looked. Mother cried and cried, but he begged her not to cry, probably because he had eaten her himself, and so her crying made him feel ashamed. If he had any sense of shame. . . .
My sister was eaten by my brother, but I don’t know whether mother realized it or not.
I think mother must have known, but when she cried she did not say so outright, probably because she thought it proper too. I remember when I was four or five years old, sitting in the cool of the hall, my brother told me that if a man’s parents were ill, he should cut off a piece of his flesh and boil it for them if he wanted to be considered a good son; and mother did not contradict him. If one piece could be eaten, obviously so could the whole. And yet just to think of the mourning then still makes my heart bleed; that is the extraordinary thing about it!
I can’t bear to think of it.
I have only just realized that I have been living all these years in a place where for four thousand years they have been eating human flesh. My brother had just taken over the charge of the house when our sister died, and he may well have used her flesh in our rice and dishes, making us eat it unwittingly.
It is possible that I ate several pieces of my sister’s flesh unwittingly, and now it is my turn, . . .
How can a man like myself, after four thousand years of man-caring history—even though I knew nothing about it at first—ever hope to face real men?
Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men? Save the children. . . .
1. Ku Chiu means “Ancient Times.” Lu Hsun had in mind the long history of feudal oppression in China.
2. A famous pharmacologist (1518-1593), author of Ben-cao-gang-mu, the Materia Medica.
3. These are quotations from the old classic Zuo Zhuan.
4. According to ancient records, Yi Ya cooked his son and presented him to Duke Huan of Chi who reigned from 685 to 643 B.C. Chieh and Chou were tyrants of an earlier age. The madman has made a mistake here.
5. A revolutionary at the end of the Ching dynasty (1644-1911), Hsu Hsi-lin was executed in 1907 for assassinating a Ching official. His heart and liver were eaten.
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More sentences that did not make the cut (from chapter two of Panto Terror):
The insurrection in the suburbs is not directed against the theoretical posturing of the self-regarding masters, but where the street demands something more than theory, bad theory is tolerated only so long as it does not succeed. Unfulfilled as yet, there is a threatening promise here. A lumpen justice storms the stage. Critics superfluous, Adorno applauds.
These might be reflections and critiques of the more or less prejudicial ways codes are filtered and sequenced in the psychological structures of the authoritarian personality today There is always the possibility of extending the study to account for historical differences in the way authoritarianism takes differing forms in different periods. Exactly that missing theory of mediation for which Adorno berated Benjamin’s Arcades assemblage might also displace the tendency to think in terms of vision not sound, and to accept the old methods forever, the old masters, and new – as if the once radical theorists retain critical intensity for all times.
There is a battle for attention and the production of images on all sides is just a part of the workings of an ‘attention economy’ or an ‘attention theory of value’ (Beller 2006:201). I want this value to illustrate and be illustrated in the workings of this writing, the ways writing works…
This is an old story – music and politics back in the day: in the 1970s a band called ‘The Lumpen’ were a cultural offshoot from the Black Panthers: “comrades who liked to harmonize while working Distribution night in San Francisco to ‘help the work go easier’ (another tradition). We had all sung in groups in the past, Calhoun having performed professionally in Las Vegas, and it just came naturally. I don’t remember just how it came about, but Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, suggested that this could be formed into a musical cadre. Elaine Brown had already recorded an album of revolutionary songs (‘Seize the Time’) in a folk singing style, and this quartet singing in an R&B or ‘Soul’ form could be a useful political tool. Some folks don’t read, but everybody listens to music”
More recent work on Chinese urban street culture continues in a similar manner. Michael Dutton’s great book Streetlife China applauds the organised creativity of lumpen criminal subcultures struggling to survive in the informal and black economy as China advances its new capitalist regime, with deformed Deng-ist characteristics (Dutton 1999).
Back to Paris in 1848 then. In his book on that city, economist geographer David Harvey spends very little time with Marx on the streets, and rarely mentions the Eighteenth Brumaire, perhaps reluctant to draw anything but the most general macro conclusions. Conversely, but similar, his critique of readings of Benjamin cannot relate fragments of the Arcades project to the whole – echoes of Adorno but without the close comradely involvement or ‘Arcades orthodoxy’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, Benjamin/Adorno 1994/1999: 284). Nevertheless, Harvey shows that after the revolutionary disturbances of 1848 came Baron Haussmann and his wider streets project, which has to be understood as the policy response of the ruling class (Harvey 2003:3). Of course this was not simply straightforward – even if the roads, the new boulevards cutting through working class areas, were. In a somewhat hyperbolic mode, Harvey writes of 1848: ‘Before, there was an urban vision that at best could only tinker with the problems of a medieval urban infrastructure; then came Haussmann, who bludgeoned the city into modernity’ (Harvey 2003:3). This for Harvey: ‘Tradition has to be overthrown, violence is necessary, in order to grapple with the present and create the future’ (Harvey 2003:15).
Harvey points to a ‘greater degree of spatial segregation, much of it based on class distinctions’ in the wake of Haussman’s remodelling of the city (Harvey 2003:239).
The point is not to perfect a history of 1848 or 1871, but to explore ways in which the events of that time might help us think differently about our own. I am thinking then of the boulevard as ramparts, and the way this offers a perspective marked by class and militarism. What is it to look along the vista of the new Paris in the 1860s? Just as today the view of New York has been remodelled in significant ways, as Joel McKim argues in his studies of memorial and architectural competition over the Twin Towers site (McKim 2008:83). Indeed, what was it to look up at the planes as they hurtled into the twin towers, or, equally, as they fly far above, the planes that drop what Habermas calls ‘electronically controlled clusters of elegant and versatile missiles’ (in Borradori 2008:28). To get New Yorkers to stop and stare was significant, but it is also a privilege compared to those who do not have the time to do anything but run for cover.
The intellectuals, sociologists and commentators want a more inclusive France. The meaning of the former is secured by the latter – the secret dependence of democratic politics upon nationalist enjoyment takes varied forms, whether it be the novelty of the ‘third way’ politics, the love-thy-neighbour posturing of multicultural tolerance, or ‘radical’ reforms – drop the debt campaigns perhaps – even ‘Struggles for cultural recognition … [are] secretly supported … by compliance in deed, if not in words, with nationalistic rituals’ (Boucher 2004:160). The best these modes of ‘politics’ can claim is to be the human face of the obscene enjoyment generated by the capitalism-nationalism nexus. Žižek points to the need to break from these supplements to destroy the logic of their excessive unconscious attachments – discursive unity is secretly supported by venal enjoyment (Žižek 2004b:164) and he would have done with this kind of ‘rainbow coalition’ against populist fundamentalism in order rather to ‘aggravate’ class difference into class antagonism (Žižek 2004b:186).
In 1972 Eldrige Cleaver wrote:
“The real revolutionary element of our era is the Lumpen, understood in its broader sense. What is lacking is a Lumpen consciousness, consciousness of the basic condition of oppression being the Lumpen condition and not the proletarian condition. In order for the revolutionary movement to progress, the Lumpen must become conscious of themselves as the vast majority, and the false proletarian, working class consciousness must be negated.” (Cleaver 1972)
theme – trinket – introduction
repetition of theme – short version, long version, large and small
relation to whole
development – fate – of theme as it changes
repetitions – in different registers
rhythm, tempo, volume, intensity
reversal, dynamic, relation of components, inversion of same
further development of the whole, structure as anagram of specificity
differential overall structures and framing
being able to locate each element in the overall context
asymmetry, exceptions, incommensurables
Rustom Bharucha reports that the Progressive Writers Association has its origins, according to ‘its most distinguished founder- member Mulk Ray Anand’ in ‘the expatriate community of India students in London, who had charted their first manifesto as “progressive” writers in 1935 in a Chinese restaurant’ (Bharucha 1998:29)
Bharucha, Rustom 1998 In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activision in Inidia Delhi: Oxford UP
For the record… A drab day, in which I have been consigned to routine tasks, like updating my publications list. Gets a little sketchy towards the end because I cannot be listing all the small mags stuff (some of this can be downloaded link to the left, others I’d have to send you, still others need to be scanned by the oompa-loompas one day soon)…
Books (single authored)
1996 The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation. Zed Books, London. ISBN 18649408X
2000 Critique of Exotica: Music, Politics and the Culture Industry London: Pluto Press ISBN 0 7453 1597 6
2004 Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies London: Pluto Press, ISBN0-7453-2266-2
2005 Hybridity and Diaspora, (With Raminder Kaur and Virinder Kalra) London: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-7397-4
1996 Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (co-edited with Sanjay Sharma and Ashwani Sharma). Zed Books, London. ISBN 1856494705
1999 Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics London, (co-edited with Raminder Kaur) Zed books. ISBN 1856495620
2006 Celebrating Transgression: Method and Politics in Anthropology (with Ursula Rao) Oxford: Berghahn. ISBN 1-84545-025-6
2012 Beyond Borders London: Pavement Books ISBN: 978-0-9571470-0-3
1987 Melbourne Journal of Politics (with Nick Lane), Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne
1987-1988 Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation – Journal of the Department of Anthropology, University of Melbourne – 3 volumes as editor in chief.
1991 The Consuming Subjects of Education. La Trobe University Education Research Journal
1998 special issue – Postcolonial Studies Vol 1 No 3 – ‘Diasporic Music and politics’. ISSN No. 1368-8790
2000 special issue – Theory, Culture and Society vol 17 (3) – ‘Music and Politics’ ISSN 0263-2763
2005 special section PubliCity in the journal Left Curve USA – a samizdat style insert in this journal containing 30 articles from 19 different countries.
2006 ‘Problematising Global Knowledge, special issue (2 volumes) Theory Culture and Society Vol 23 (2-3) ISSN 0263-2764
2007 the second special section PubliCity in the journal Left Curve USA – a samizdat style insert in this journal containing 12 articles from 9 different countries.
1991 ‘Strategy, Identity, Writing: An interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’, in Sarah Harasym (ed), The Post-Colonial Critic, (USA) Routledge, New York, pp 35-49. ISBN 0415901707
1996 ‘Introduction’ (with Sanjay Sharma and Ashwani Sharma) in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London, pp 1-14. ISBN 1856494705
1996 ‘Re-Sounding (Anti)Racism, or Concordant Politics? Revolutionary Antecedents’ (with Virinder Kalra and Sanjay Sharma) in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London. pp 127-155. ISBN 1856494705
1996 ‘Repetitive Beatings or Criminal Justice?’ in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London, pp 156-189. ISBN 1856494705
1997 ‘Adorno at Womad: South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity-talk’ forthcoming in Werbner, P and Modood, T. (eds.) Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Anti-Racism, London, Zed books, pp 106-136. ISBN 1856494241.
1999 ‘Argonauts of Western Pessimism: Clifford’s Malinowski’ in Steve Clarke (ed) Travel Writing and Empire: Postcolonial Theory in Transit, London: Zed books pp 45-62. ISBN 1856496287
1999 ‘Introduction’ (with Raminder Kaur) in Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (eds) Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemorary Cultural Politics London, Zed books pp 1-13. ISBN 1856495620
1999 ‘Magical Mystical Tourism’ in Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (eds) Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemorary Cultural Politics London, Zed books pp 94-119. ISBN 1856495620
1999 ‘Semifeudal Cybercolonialism: Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia’ in Bosma, J et al (eds.) Readme! Filtered by Nettime: Ascii Culture and the Revenge of Knowledge New York: Autonomedia,. pp 315-321
2000 ‘Capital Calcutta: Coins, Maps, Monuments, Souvenirs and Tourism’ in Bell, D and Haddour, A (eds) City Visions Longman ISBN: 0582327415
2003 ‘Musik für Euro-Maoisten: Über die richtige Behandlung der Widersprüche bei Pop-stars’ in Kunstwerk und Kritik, Jour Fixe Initiative Berling (hg), Munster: Unrast-Verlag pp 111-143
2006 ‘The Dialectics of Here and There: British Asian Communism’ in Ali, Kalra and Sayyid (Eds) A Postcolonial People, Hurst, ISBN: 1850657963
2006 ‘Deathening Silence: The Terms of (Non) Political Commentary’ Basu, D and Lamelle S Eds The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip-hop and the Globalisation of Black Popular Culture London: Pluto Press ISBN 978-0745319407
2008 ‘Martin Heidegger Goes to the Movies’ in David Held and Henrietta Moore eds., Culturl Politics in a Global Age: Uncertainty, Solidarity and Innovation, Oxford: One World 112-120 ISBN: 978-1-85168-550-9
2008 ‘Tourism and the Selling of Cultures’ in Robin Anderson and Jonathan Gray eds., Battleground: the Media (2 Vold) vol 2 Westport: Greenwood Press: 513-519 ISBN 978-0-313-34169-4
2009 ‘Translating Appearance: On the First Sentence of Das Kapital’ in Tom Bunyard ed., The Devils Party London CCS pp50-54 ISBN 978-1-4452-1822-9
2010 ‘Hybridity’ in Kim Knott and Sean McLaughlin Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities London Zed books pp59-62 ISBN 978-1-84277-948-4
2010 (with Laura King) ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Gaius Baltar: Colonialism Reimagined in Battlestar Gallactica’ in Arlo Kemp fed., Breaching the Colonial Contract Springer pp237-250 ISBN978-90-481-3888-3
2011 ‘Pantomime paranoia in London or, ‘lookout he’s behind you!’’ in Peddie (ed) Popular Music and Human Rights, Volume I: British and American Music, London: Ashgate
2011 ‘Undercover Transports’ in Menrath and Schwinghammer eds What Does a Chameleon Look Like? Topographies of Immersion, Cologne: Herbert Von Halem Verlag.
2011 ‘NDTV 24X7, the Hanging Channel: News Media or Horror Show’ in Batabyal, Chowdhry, Gaur et al Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change, London: Routledge.
2011 ‘Critica de tudo’ in Tatiana Amendola Sanches ed., Estudos Culturais uma abordagem pratica Sao Paulo: Editora Senac pp99-209 ISBN 978-85-396-0141-7
1987 ’The Authority of Style’, Social Analysis, 21:59-79. ISBN 0133977X
1988 ‘Castaway Anthropology: Malinowski’s Tropical Writings’ Antithesis, 2(1):43-56. ISSN 10303839.
1989 ‘Customs Review of Public Culture; The U.S. and Africa in Melbourne’ Public Culture 2(1)Fall: 130-136. ISSN 08992363
1989 ‘Clifford Geertz as a Cultural System’ Social Analysis 25:91-119. ISBN 0133977X
1990 ‘Comparative Anthropology and Evans-Pritchard’s African Photography’ Critique of Anthropology 10(1):81-102
1992 ‘Cinematic Calcutta: Camera Angles on the City’ Agenda Special issue, Dec:68-72 ISSN 10331115
1992 ‘Articulation and Marginalia: Making Spaces for Other Voices in Our Institutions’ New Literatures Review Winter-South:104-116. ISSN 03147495
1993 ‘Calcutta Cipher: travellers and the city’ Social Analysis 32:53-65. ISBN 0133977X
1993 ‘Noir Sociology: Can Academics Map Los Angeles’ Left Curve 17:26-33. ISSN 01601857
1994 ‘Thinking With Berger: Local/Global and Dialogue in Modernity As Exile by Nikos Papastergiadis’, New Literatures Review, 27: 91-103. ISSN 03147495
1996 ‘Media, Research, Politics, Culture’ Critique of Anthropology 16(4):417-428. ISSN 0308275X
1997 (with Virinder Kalra and Sanjay Sharma) ‘Fun^Da^Mental Politics: the New Asian Dance Music and its Revolutionary Antecedents’ Left Curve 21:54-64. ISSN 01601857
1997 ‘email@example.com’ Space and Culture 2:95-122. ISSN 12063312
1998 (with Virinder Kalra) ‘Music and Politics – introduction to the special section’ Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):335-37. ISSN No. 1368-8790
1998 (with Virinder Kalra) ‘Brimful of Agitation, Appropriation and Authenticity: Madonna’s “Asian Kool”‘ in Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):339-355. ISSN 1368-8790
1998 ‘Clifford’s Ethnographica’ Critique of Anthropology 18(4):339-378. ISSN 0308-275X
1998 ‘Adorno at Womad: South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity-talk’ Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):401-426. ISSN 1368-8790
1999 ‘Resettling Bakun: Consultancy, Anthropologists and Development’ Left Curve 23:82-90. ISSN 0160-1857
2000 ‘Hybridity Saves: Authenticity and/or the Critique of Appropriation’ in Amer-Asia 25(3):39-58 ISSN 0044-7471
2000 (with Sanjay Sharma) ‘Music and Politics: Introduction to the Special Section’ in Theory Culture and Society 17(3):57-65 ISSN 0263-2763
2000 ‘Music for Euro-Maoists: On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among Popstars’ in Theory Culture and Society 17(3):141-163 ISSN 0263-2763
2002 ‘Jungle Studies – the State of Anthropology’ in Futures 34(1):15-31 ISSN 0016-3287/01
2002 Tales from the Raj’ in Rethinking Marxism, vol. 13(3-4):119-136, ISSN 0893-5696.
2003 ‘Bataille’s Wars: Surrealism, Marxism, Fascism’ Critique of Anthropology, 23(3):264-288 ISSN 0308-275X
2004 ‘The Chapati Story: How Hybridity as Theory displaced Maoism as Politics in Subaltern Studies’ Contemporary South Asia 12(4)481-491 ISSN 0958-4935
2004 ‘Photogenic Poverty: Souvenirs and Infantilism’ Journal of Visual Culture, 3(1):77-94 ISSN 1470-4129
2005 ‘The Dialectics of European Hip-Hop: Fun^da^mental and the Deathening Silence’ South Asian Popular Culture 3(1):17-32 ISSN 1474-6689
2005 ‘Hybridity’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(1):79-102, ISSN 0141-9870
2005 ‘Panoramas of Asia and the Electronic Hearth: Michael Palin’s Connection’ Journal of the Moving Image 4(Nov):32-62
2006 ‘The Dialectic of Here and There: Anthropology ‘At Home’ and British Asian Communism’ Social Identities 11(4):345-361 ISSN 1350-4630
2006 ‘Culture’ main entry for culture section in Theory Culture and Society Vol. 23(2–3): 351–375 23 ISSN 0263-2764
2007. Pantomime Terror Diasporic Music in a Time of War. Journal of Creative Communications, 2(1-2), pp. 123-141.
2011 ‘Critique of Everything’ in Soumen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 36(3)71-75
2012 ‘Beyond Television Studies’ Rountable essay in South Asian History and Culture 3(4):583-590
2012 ‘Sexy Sammie and Red Rosie’? From Burning Books to the War on Terror’, Space and Culture 15.2, pp164-176
2012 ‘Poetry After Guantanamo: M.I.A.’ Social Identities 18.5, pp. 555-572
2012 ‘Contexts for Distraction’ Journal For Cultural Research (Special issue on the August 2011 uprisings in London). DOI:10.1080/14797585.2012.756248
2013 ‘Proletarianization’ in New Formations (special issue on Bernard Stiegler)
other publications, review essays and conference proceedings, magazines etc.
1986 (journal article) ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain: Politics and Knowledge in Ethnography’, Melbourne Journal of Politics, 18:126-141.
1988 (journal article) ‘Lévi-Strauss as a Cultural System: Geertz’s Chapter on Tristes Tropiques’ Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation, vol. 1, No. 1.
1989 (journal article) ‘The Third Body: Black Art on (Re)View in London’ Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation vol. 3
1990 (conference papers) ‘Introductory Essay’ The Consuming Subjects of Education La Trobe.
1992 (journal article) ‘Photogenic Calcutta- Instamatic Anthropology’ In Media (India) July.
1992 (journal article) ‘Writing for the Space Cadets: reviewing the urban west’ Melbourne Journal of Politics 21:151-167
1992 (conference publication) ‘Value for Money: Giving the $ign to the Bourgeoisie’ IIR Higher Education Summit, Sydney, Australia.
1993 (conference publication) ‘Photogenic Calcutta’ in Postmodern Cities, University of Sydney Department of Architecture and Urban Design.
1993 (conference publication) ‘Technological Dreamtime: the advanced technology park for Redfern’ in Postmodern Cities University of Sydney Department of Architecture and Urban Design.
1994 (conference review) ‘African Research Futures: Post-Colonialism and Identity’ Anthropology Today 10(4):24-25.
1995 (journal article) ‘Writing Calcutta: Travelling with Lévi-Strauss and Gunter Grass’ Kolkata 2000, (India) June pp 31-47.
1996 (Web E-Journal) Review of Bill Martin Humanism and its Aftermath: The Shared Fate of Deconstruction and Politics New Jersey, Humanities Press 1995 in Sociological Research Online 1(4) <www.socresonline.org.uk/1/4/hutnyk.html>
1996 (book review) Martin Stokes (ed) 1994 Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place, Anthropological Notebooks: (Društvo Anthropologov Slovenije) 11(1)146-148.
1997 (occasional paper) ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ Manchester Papers in Social Anthropology No 6, 49pages
1997 (book review) Les Back 1996 New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: racisms and multiculture in young lives, Sociological Review, 45(1)
1997 (book review) Cohen, 1996 Cambridge Survey of World Migration in Race and Class, Vol 38, N0 3
1997 (book review) Spivak 1996 The Spivak Reader in Self, Agency and Society 1(2):178-180.
1998 (book review) Ang 1996 Living Room Wars: Rethinking Media Audiences for a Postmodern World in Sociological Review 46(3):594-598.
1999 (web E-journal article, with Anna Har) ‘Languid, tropical, monsoonal time?: net-activism and hype in the context of South East Asian politics’ in SASKI No. 6. http://www.saksi.com/jul99/huynyk.htm
2000 (web E-Journal article) ‘Culture Move: On Asian Dub Foundation’ in Ghadar: the Forum of Indian Leftists 4(1), May 1 2000 www.proxsa.org/resources/ghadar/v4n1/edit.html
2000 ‘Complicity’ catalogue essay for ‘Assembly’ RCA/Goldsmiths
2000 (debate publication) ‘The Right to Difference is a Fundamental Human Right: Against the Motion’ contribution to GDAT debate No 10, with Corry, S, Jean-Klein, I, Wilson, R, ed Wade, P. The Right to Difference is a Fundamental Human Right University of Manchester, pp40-52 ISBN 0-9527837-3-8. Reprinted in Left Curve No 23, 2001
2001 (journal article in translation) ‘Dog-Tribe’ – Swedish translation of a chapter from Critique of Exotica in Glanta 3. 2001.
2001 (Magazine article, with Virinder Kalra), ‘Postcolonial London’ Seminar, (India).
2005 (journal report) ‘Show Neon Fashion’ – Left Curve ‘Publicity’ section article. Volume 29: 106-107. (California)
2005 (Encyclopaedia entry) ‘Calcutta’ in Vinay Lal and Ashis Nandy eds The Future of Knowledge and Culture New Delhi: Penguin pp 20-25 ISBN 0-67-005813-0
2007 (Magazine article) ‘The politics of Cats’ in Stimulus Respond – e-journal – http://www.stimulusrespond.com
2010 Catalogue essay for Steel Sculptures – Sokari Douglas Camp, London: Douglas Camp Pubs
2013 Pantomime Terror: Diasporic Music and the Politics of Fear. 60,000 monograph,with Zero
2013-14 Colour TV: B&W Life, 45,000 word monograph on culture and film.
2013 Communists Must Write 80,000 word book of essays with Minor Compositions
2013 (?) Trinketization
2014 (?) Capital and Film
a text from 25 years ago – my first published piece on anthropology, metaphor, writing, fakery, rhetoric and circularity, and a bit about Morocco, names, and Rabinow.
just out in South Asian History and Culture – Message me to get a pdf sent (first 50 will get one):
John Hutnyk (2012): ‘Beyond Television Studies‘, South Asian History and Culture, 3:4, 583-590
Just found this in the 2010/1 issue of Third Text on Cinema in the Muslim World. Worth a second look:
I believe the text is free to download/read online, via this link here. Thanks for the shout out credit Ali Nobil Ahmad, gonna read the rest of the issue asap.
a piece on MIA, now available as a pre-print citable version on email request (first 50 only). Shoot me a line to get the code.
a piece on MIA, now available as a pre-print citable version on email request (first 50 only). Shoot me a line to get the code.
Click here to see more:
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] gold.ac.uk
Three near overlapping events in thee next 10 days for Centre for Cultural Studies people at Goldsmiths:
Write Now! BER-CPH-LON PhD Symposium (Feb 9-11 2012)
You have to, you want to, you need to Write Now!
But how do you publish?
In an atmosphere of loneliness, alienation, rejection, competition, anxiety, hierarchy, nepotism and jealousy, how does the “early career scholar” (re)negotiate the imperative to produce? Given the increases demands of the academic publishing industry, how can we avoid labouring under illusions, false promises and unrealistic expectations?
And yet the pleasures of the text, new platforms and opportunities for publishing and sharing, are there before us.
Open to Goldsmiths PhD candidates of all departments.
Practical aspects of working towards a book publication will be a core part of the symposium.
Bring your ideas, texts, criticism.
no charge (supported by the Goldsmiths Annual Fund).
Deleuze, Philosophy, Transdisciplinarity
Goldsmiths, 10th-12th February
Plenary Speakers: Jean-Claude Dumoncel, Eric Alliez, John Mullarkey, Laura Cull, Anne Sauvagnargues
Invited Speakers: Giuseppe Bianco, Andrew Goffey, Marjorie Gracieuse, Tatsuya Higaki, Christian Kerslake, Iain MacKenzie, Stamatia Portanova, Nathan Widder
Organised by the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London (Masa Kosugi) and the Faculty of Humanities and School of European culture and Languages, the University of Kent (Guillaume Collett)
We are now entering a new phase of Deleuze studies which seeks to understand the specificity of Deleuze’s mode of philosophising. This is necessary, firstly in order to establish an account of his work’s developments and ruptures which is neither reductive nor partisan and secondly, to be able to better situate Deleuze within the context of contemporary thought. While the concept of immanence has recently been seized upon as the way of measuring Deleuze’s philosophical development (Kerslake, 2009; Beistegui, 2010), this conference would like to shift the focus to another yet closely interrelated problematic, which is the concept of philosophy and its essential relation to transdisciplinarity.
What precisely does Deleuze understand by the term ‘philosophy’? In The Logic of Sense, Deleuze states that ‘Philosophy merges with ontology, but ontology merges with the univocity of Being’ (p. 205, Continuum, 2004). Does philosophy have privileged access to a univocal Being that is itself non-philosophical, and which subsumes not only philosophy but also philosophy’s preconditions – what The Logic of Sense refers to as the ‘sciences’ of logic, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis, as well as art? Does Deleuze and Guattari’s re-formulation of this problematic in What is Philosophy? contradict the earlier Deleuze when it appears to posit a more extrinsic relation – or interference – between philosophy, science, and art, all three of which open up to Chaos, which they claim is equally distinct from the preconditions of philosophy, science and art (nonphilosophy, nonscience, nonart)? Are we to understand Deleuze’s concept of philosophy as essentially and inherently transdisciplinary, and if so, how? What is at stake here is the possibility of establishing a ‘common ethico-aesthetic discipline’ (Guattari, Continuum, 2000) and the role of philosophy in such a project.
We aim to have a wide range of papers converging on the concept of philosophy found in Deleuze’s work and dialoguing with the problems we have alluded to. Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Deleuze and the history of philosophy: his methodology, his conception of the history of philosophy, his readings of specific philosophers and thinkers
- The place of science and logic in Deleuze’s philosophy
- The place of art in Deleuze’s philosophy
- Deleuze and non-philosophy, and the role of the pre/post-philosophical in his philosophy
- Shifts in Deleuze’s readings of particular philosophers, and more generally in Deleuze’s own concept of philosophy, throughout his career
- The critical assessment of Guattari’s influence on Deleuze’s philosophy
Registration is free but please contact us (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) early if you would like to attend the conference.
**The event is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the School of European Culture and Languages and Faculty of Humanities, the University of Kent, the Centre for Cultural Studies Goldsmiths, and the Graduate School, Goldsmiths, University of London **
Anthropologist Michael Taussig talks about the relationship between writing, culture and time.
“I began began doing fieldwork in 1969. I have returned every year” says Mick Taussig. His writing has spanned a wide range of issues ranging from the commercialization of peasant agriculture to a study of exciting substance loaded with seduction and evil, gold and cocaine, in a montage-ethnography of the Pacific Coast of Colombia. His most recent book ‘I Swear I Saw This’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011) records reflections on the fieldwork notebooks he kept through forty years of travels in Colombia. Taussig considers the fieldwork notebook as a type of modernist literature and the place where writers and other creators first work out the imaginative logic of discovery.
Two quotes from Theories of Surplus Value Vol 1.
‘a writer is a productive laborer not insofar as he produces ideas, but insofar as he enriches the book-seller who publishes his work, or insofar as he is a wage-labourer of a capitalist entrepreneur’
This article is one in an issue becoming quite the popular. Having published a commissioned (unpaid) article with Elsevier – it was called ‘Jungle Studies’, and after proofreading they replaced the phrase ‘For fuck’s sake’ with ‘For God’s sake’ – I know, there are several levels of gah! – I am keen to point out that many publishers are not scum and open access is making some headway, but…
Good material for our forthcoming workshop on publishing and alternative formats for ‘Early Career Researchers’, and I’ve something else coming out on the topic soon.
Read the comments on this piece too – here.
January 13, 2012
In an article that many of you will now have seen, Heather Morrison demonstrated the enormous profits of STM (Scientific, Technical and Medical) scholarly publishers. The figures are taken from her in-progress dissertation which in turn cites an article in The Economist. It all checks out. I emphasise this because I found the figures so hard to believe. Here they are again: profits as a percentage of revenue for commercial STM publishers in 2010 or early 2011:
- Elsevier: £724m on revenue of £2b — 36%
- Springer‘s Science+Business Media: £294m on revenue of £866m — 33.9%
- John Wiley & Sons: $106m on revenue of $253m — 42%
- Academic division of Informa plc: £47m on revenue of £145m — 32.4%
So it’s evident that profits on the order of 35% are pretty typical for commercial STM publishers, and that Elsevier’s figures are not an aberration. Not only that, but all four of these companies’ profits as a proportion of revenue are still increasing — by 2.4%, 4%, 13% and 3.3% respectively. The U.K. Office of Fair Trading noted back in 2002 that “the overall profitability of commercial STM publishing is high, not only by comparison to ‘non-profit’ journals (which is not surprising), but also by comparison to other commercial journal publishing”.
I wanted to be sure that I was assessing this fairly, so I looked through Elsevier’s annual reports for the last nine years — happily, they make them available, if not particularly easy to find. What I found is that they have been consistently bringing in profits in the region of 33% throughout the last decade. Specifically:
- 2002: £429m profit on £1295m revenue – 33.18%
- 2003: £467m profit on £1381m revenue – 33.82%
- 2004: £460m profit on £1363m revenue – 33.75%
- 2005: £449m profit on £1436m revenue – 31.25%
- 2006: £465m profit on £1521m revenue – 30.57%
- 2007: £477m profit on £1507m revenue – 31.65%
- 2008: £568m profit on £1700m revenue – 33.41%
- 2009: £693m profit on £1985m revenue – 34.91%
- 2010: £724m profit on £2026m revenue – 35.74%
(I have not been through the same exercise for Springer, Wiley or Informa, but there is no reason to expect that the results would be any different.)
What does it all mean?
Yes, publishers have a right to make a living. Not only that, but they have a right to make as big a profit as the market can bear (though of course when they form a cartel that distorts the market monopolistically, that changes things).
But here’s what it means to scientists that Elsevier’s profit is 35.74% of revenue:
- When you pay $37.95 to download a PDF from an Elsevier journal, $13.56 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When you pay $3000 to have your submission to an Elsevier journal appear as open access, $1072.20 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When your library pays $1.7m for a bundle of Elsevier-journal subscriptions, $607,580 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When you or your library pays Elsevier $23783 for any reason, that is enough for them fund Representative Caroline Maloney’s $8500 bribe to co-sponsor the evil Research Works Act, out of their profits alone.
You just have to ask yourself whether that’s where you want your money going.
And though this workshop is open only to Goldsmiths Berlin FU and Copenhagen Doctoral School PhDs (its a training workshop) we’d not be adverse to hearing from interested persons. So here is the cfp: