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Jeremy Gilbert introduces this issue of New Formations, which brings together a typically diverse selection of work in contemporary cultural studies and critical theory, as well as a major translation project of direct interest to ongoing debates in the field.
This article seeks to theorise boredom in the wake of the new technological modes of capture and commodification that have emerged in a digital network culture, by focusing on the popular ‘What to do When You’re Bored’ sub-genre of YouTube video tutorials that are addressed largely to female teenage audiences.
Zara Dinnen, Sam McBean
Zara Dinnen and Sam McBean contribute to thinking about the emergence of the face in digital culture.
Manuela Rossini, Michael Toggweiler
Manuela Rossini and Mike Toggweiler introduce New Formations 92: Posthuman Temporalities.
This paper examines the political-ontoepistemological-ethical implications of temporal dis/junction by reading insights from Quantum Field Theory and Kyoko Hayashi’s account of the destruction wrought by the Nagasaki bombing through one another.
Franziska Aigner, Jonathan Beever, Martin Paul Eve, Griselda Pollock
Reviews by Franziska Aigner, Jonathan Beever, Martin Eve and Griselda Pollock.
Sara Farris, Catherine Rottenberg
Sara Farris and Catherine Rottenberg introduce New Formations 91: Righting Feminism.
In this essay I reflect on a sample of a relatively new literature that has emerged in recent years on the growth of ‘womenomics’ and what Adrienne Roberts has called ‘transnational business feminism’. Are these developments a triumph for the influence of feminist activists around the globe? Or do we see them as yet another classic attempt by the agents of capitalist globalisation to contain the energies of women and turn them to the advantage of the bottom line? I look at some examples of TBF on the part of Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Levi-Strauss, and the Nike Foundation; at the debate among feminist scholars over whether neoliberal feminism is ‘really’ feminism; at the rise of the concept of ‘empowerment;’ and finally, at some elements that TBF leaves out of the picture, including the neoliberal assault on social reproduction; the extreme exploitation of women workers, from Walmart to Export Processing Zones; the retreat from class analysis under neoliberalism; and the continuing effects of ‘structural adjustment’ on countries in the North like Greece subject to the ravages of the international financial order. I conclude with a call to the international male left to be as welcoming and as creative toward the ideas and the activism of the international women’s movement as their corporate adversaries.
Niall Gildea, Joe Darlington, Simone Natale, Debra Benita Shaw, Sean Phelan
Books reviewed: David Wills, Inanimation: Theories of Inorganic Life, Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, 318pp; $30.00 paperback. Trebor Scholz, Uberworked and Underpaid: How Workers are Disrupting the Digital Economy, New York, Polity Press, 2016, 242 pp. Esther Leslie, Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Liquid Form, London: Reaktion, 2016, 296pp, £25 hardback.
This essay examines how the critical theory of photography has, at least since Barthes and Sontag, developed a default position that is routinely suspicious of the political and aesthetic value of images of the dead, even as the archive of images of the dead continues to accumulate and to shock. Photographic theory seems to share the post-war assumptions that death has been eclipsed by modernity, sequestered away and rendered taboo. The project here is to give a sense of the array of photographic practice that exists in stark opposition to these assumptions, and indeed in the contemporary moment seems actively to stage an argument with the thesis of the ‘eclipse of death’. It considers work ranging from Sally Mann and Luc Delahaye to the recent projects of Edgar Martins.
This article explores representations of autoerotic death in a range of discursive fields: the media, forensic pathology, the psy sciences, literary fiction, and internet humour. It adopts a broadly Foucauldian approach to the study of the topic; i.e., rather than interrogating what sexual practices leading to autoerotic death mean, or what motivates people to experiment with these ‘extreme’ practices, it explores instead what attitudes towards autoerotic death tell us about normative cultural understandings of sexuality and gender. The article interrogates the ways in which gender norms and roles are at play in the apprehension of autoerotic fatalities, marking some of the men who die in this way as effeminate, failed men; while others are represented as hyper-masculine misadventurers. It also discusses why the rare female autoerotic fatality troubles assumptions about the nature and role of women. The biases guiding definitions of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sexuality and gender are thus revealed in particularly striking ways by moving the focus of interrogation away from the pathologised practices and the bodies they produce, and onto the discourses that pronounce about them.
Books reviewed: Ben Anderson, Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, 194pp, £65.00 hardback Maurizia Boscagli, Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism, New York and London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 279pp, £16.99 paperback Elizabeth Chin, My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries, Duke University Press, 2016, 239pp, £19.99 paperback Tonino Griffero, Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces, translated by Sarah de Sanctis, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, 174pp, £65.00 hardback
This paper explores avenues for resistance to precarious and exploited labour in the cultural sector. It investigates the potential of worker co-operatives to help improve working conditions and radically reimagine cultural work.
Sociable curiosity - wondering and finding out about others (empathetic curiosity), and being curious with them (relational curiosity) - can draw people together, bridging differences and social distances.
This special issue explores some of the ways in which austerity can be construed as capturing, shaping, and (dis)organising the future. It addresses the futures that austerity has begun to assign to certain subjects and to embed in the societies they live in.
Rebecca Bramall, Jeremy Gilbert, James Meadway
This is the edited transcript of a conversation between Rebecca Bramall, editor of this special issue, Jeremy Gilbert, editor of New Formations, and James Meadway, who at the time was chief economist of the New Economics Foundation and is currently advising shadow chancellor the exchequer John McDonnell in a consultancy capacity.