Category Archives: Books

Compte-rendu dans Esprit

Un compte-rendu de mon dernier ouvrage en français, Contre-histoire du temps-présent: interrogations intempestives sur la mondialisation, la technologie, la démocratie, vient de paraître dans Esprit. Cliquez ici pour le lire.

Extrait: “Dans la complexité des crises politiques, sociales et économiques que nous vivons aujourd’hui, il semble primordial d’interroger le rôle des concepts qui interviennent dans la construction des représentations qui façonnent notre compréhension du temps présent. Gabriel Rockhill s’engage à relever ce défi en proposant une analyse critique, aussi radicale que détaillée, de concepts majeurs qui déterminent une grande part de notre perception du monde actuel : la mondialisation, la technologie et la démocratie. […]16463808_755714274586756_140596339017406715_o

Cette contre-histoire du temps présent n’est donc pas uniquement une invitation à mettre en cause une image consensuelle du monde contemporain et de ses maîtres-mots. Elle vise à inciter le lecteur à s’interroger sur les structures théoriques ainsi que sur les pratiques politiques et économiques qui produisent une certaine image du monde (où la démocratie serait en l’occurrence systématiquement perçue comme étant l’apanage de l’Occident). Il s’agit ainsi de favoriser une reprise en main de la construction de notre histoire plurielle et profondément hétérogène, comme un certain nombre d’actions micro-politiques et de mouvements sociaux le font valoir un peu partout à travers le monde.” — P.-A. Chardel

Publication of “Counter-History of the Present”

I am very pleased to announce the publication of my latest book, Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy (Duke University Press). This is an English version of Contre-histoire du temps présent: interrogations intempestives sur la mondialisation, la technologie, la démocratie (CNRS Editions), which was also just published. Emily Rockhill and John V. Garner gratiously prepared the English translations of chapter 1 and chapters 2 and 3 respectively, which I reviewed and slightly modified. The rest of the translations are my own. Please see below for Duke’s summary of the book, endorsements, and Duke’s coupon code for a 30% discount.

51GyEIiJWHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Back cover:
“In Counter-History of the Present Gabriel Rockhill contests, dismantles, and displaces one of the most widespread understandings of the contemporary world: that we are all living in a democratized and globalized era intimately connected by a single, overarching economic and technological network. Noting how such a narrative fails to account for the experiences of the billions of people who lack economic security, digital access, and real political power, Rockhill interrogates the ways in which this grand narrative has emerged in the same historical, economic, and cultural context as the fervid expansion of neoliberalism. He also critiques the concurrent valorization of democracy, which is often used to justify U.S. military interventions on the behalf of capital. Developing an alternative account of the current conjuncture that acknowledges the plurality of lived experiences around the globe and in different social strata, he shifts the foundations upon which debates about the contemporary world can be staged. Rockhill’s counter-history thereby offers a new grammar for historical narratives, creating space for the articulation of futures no longer engulfed in the perpetuation of the present.”

“In an era that, according to Lyotard, was supposed to have seen the end of the grand narratives, a grand narrative is spreading according to which globalization, technological development, and democracy are irresistibly marching forward in step. Gabriel Rockhill refutes this apologetic discourse not simply by appealing to growing social polarization, to shantytowns condemned to backwardness, to the toppling of democratically elected governments established by self-styled champions of democracy. Counter-History of the Present is also an occasion for critical reflection on a series of theoretical categories (beginning with that of history) that dominant contemporary thought employs in an apologetic and often Eurocentric sense. In this way, Rockhill’s book is thus an important reference point for understanding and transforming the present.” — Domenico Losurdo, author of War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century

“A high level polemic attacking the current enthusiasm for the notion of globalization—which Gabriel Rockhill regards as a feature of the political imaginary of our time—Counter-History of the Present will be discussed alongside work by Jameson, Harvey, and Lyotard.” — Andrew Feenberg, author of The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács, and the Frankfurt School

For more information, and to order the paperback edition at a 30% discount, please visit and enter coupon code E17ROCKH during checkout.


Review of “Interventions in Contemporary Thought”

Interventions_CoverA review of my book, Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics, was just published here by Cynthía Krkoška-Níelsen. This book was published in hardback in the fall, but it is coming out in paperback this May. Click here to see the announcement.

Excerpt: “An intervention is not simply a more radical or highly innovative way of engaging a text, performing or interpreting an artwork, or revamping political practices. Intervention operates, so to speak, at a deeper level: it seeks to change the historical conditions of possibility and in doing so to change the activity of thought itself and, presumably, what can show up as a viable option or way of acting and being in a particular context. […]  Rockhill’s critique of Eurocentrism is refreshingly nuanced and resists falling into an overly facile binary of oppositions—geographic or otherwise—which then demonizes Europe and seems to assume that “Europe” has a stable, unchanging center. […] While such radical geography continues within the domain of critique discourses of Eurocentrism, it is attuned to the unfixed, center-less character of ‘Europe,’ which it unearths as the ‘site of striated, overlapping and contested spaces’ (31) […read more].”

Intro to Forthcoming Book Online



The introduction to my book Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy, which is forthcoming in early May with Duke University Press, is now available online here. The original French version of the book was recently published by CNRS Éditions. Click here for details.


Welcome to Gabriel Rockhill’s website. You’ll find background information about him, details regarding his books, links to his scholarly and journalistic writings, a list of his media appearances, info about the Critical Theory Workshop, links to activist organizations, contact information, and a running log of his activities (scroll down).

51GyEIiJWHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_41ch4pig7bl-_sx316_bo1204203200_Rockhill_1Final CoverLogique de l'histoirePolitics of Culture and the Spirit of CritiqueCritique et subversioncaratula-norteamericaTechnologies de contrôle dans la mondialisationJacques RancièrePostscript on InsignificancePolitics of Aesthetics
Click images for more information.

Parution de “Contre-histoire du temps présent”

41ch4pig7bl-_sx316_bo1204203200_Je suis ravi de pouvoir annoncer la parution de mon prochain livre, Contre-histoire du temps présent : interrogations intempestives sur la mondialisation, la technologie, la démocratie, chez CNRS Editions. Voici la quatrième de couverture :

« Il est communément admis que nous vivrions une ère mondiale où un réseau économique et technologique relie toujours davantage les quatre coins du globe et où la démocratie s’impose comme la condition nécessaire de la vie politique. Pourtant, cette image d’un âge global aussi avancé que civilisé est loin d’aller de soi ou d’être anodine. Enracinée dans un champ de forces sociopolitiques et économiques, elle sert souvent de véhicule clandestin pour des projets redoutables. Une telle vision du temps présent, ainsi que l’imaginaire historique et politique qui l’a produite, demandent à être interrogés, en particulier les concepts clés de mondialisation, technologie et démocratie. Et ceci non point pour présenter une description alternative de notre époque à partir des mêmes phénomènes de base mais pour développer une contre-histoire visant à reconfigurer le possible historique. Tenter d’ouvrir une brèche pour participer à un véritable futur, autre que celui qui s’impose à nous, en nous enfermant dans le destin intransigeant d’un avenir à subir, tel est l’objet de ce livre. »

Book Published and Now Available

Interventions_CoverInterventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics was published by Edinburgh University Press over the summer, and it is now available in North America (Oxford UP is the distributor).

“These timely interventions challenge us to rethink the role and influence of scholarly discourse and critique. Gabriel Rockhill has developed a highly original, ‘conjunctural’ approach, which consists in reading the works of the French cultural critics and philosophers that are at the core of his expertise, according to a judgment of relevance and urgency that is part of our own historicity as critics and academics. These sharp readings of Rancière, Derrida, Foucault and Badiou are therefore part of a welcome call to arms to revitalize and politicize Anglo-American cultural scholarship.”
– Giuseppina Mecchia, University of Pittsburgh

Table of Contents

What Is an Intervention? Metaphilosophical Critique and the Reinvention of Contemporary Theory

I History
1. How Do We Think the Present? From Ontology of Contemporary Reality to Ontology without Being
2. The Right of Philosophy and the Facts of History: Foucault, Derrida, Descartes
3. Aesthetic Revolution and Modern Democracy: Rancière’s Historiography

II Politics
4. Is Difference a Value in Itself? Critique of a Metaphilosophical Axiology
5. Castoriadis and the Tradition of Radical Critique
6. The Hatred of Rancière: Democracy in the History of Political Cultures

III Aesthetics
7. The Art of Talking Past One Another: The Badiou-Rancière Debate
8. The Hermeneutics of Art and Political History in Rancière
9. The Forgotten Political Art par excellence? Architecture, Design and the Social Sculpting of the Body Politic