Category Archives: Books

Book Event at the Slought Foundation

An author-meets-critics session that will take place on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia. Entitled “Radical Imaginaires,” the discussion will be based on my two most recent books: Counter-History of the Present and Interventions in Contemporary Thought.

Event Description
This symposium brings together leading scholars in the fields of political theory, intellectual history, comparative literature and aesthetics to discuss two recent books by philosopher Gabriel Rockhill: Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy (Duke UP, 2017) and Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (Edinburgh UP, 2017 for the paperback edition). These works, whose contents are outlined below, perform a tectonic shift in the theoretical coordinates that frame our understanding of the contemporary. Cutting across multiple fields and debates, they intervene to propose both a novel form of theoretical practice and alternative conceptual models for understanding the multidimensionality of the current conjuncture as a force field of social struggle.

Counter-History of the Present dismantles the widespread belief that we are living in a
democratized and globalized era intimately connected by a single, overarching economic and technological network. Arguing that it fails to account for the experiences of billions 51GyEIiJWHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_of people around the world, Rockhill interrogates the ways this political narratology has emerged in connection with the neocolonial expansion of neoliberalism, which often seeks to mask the oppressive dynamics of global capital behind the value-concept of democracy. He thereby puts into relief the development of a technico-democratic mission that historically mirrors the role played by the civilizing mission during the grand era of colonialism. Proposing a counter-history that simultaneously counters the narratives of this imperial mission and develops a new grammar for historical and political imaginaries, the book creates space for the articulation of futures no longer engulfed in the prison of the colonial present.

Interventions in Contemporary Thought is a collection of essays that rethink the state and stakes of contemporary theory. By resituating theoretical work in a broader force field of culture and power, Rockhill develops an alternative historical model for understanding intellectual developments and proposes incisive, iconoclastic interventions into a broad rockhill_1-2array of current debates. These include a detailed dismantling of the sequential historical narrative leading from the structuralism of Foucault to Derrida’s post-structuralism; a radical critique of the political implications of the philosophy of difference; a meticulous reassessment of the force and limitations of the work of Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou, and Cornelius Castoriadis; and a retrieval of architecture and public art, which have been largely excluded from certain contemporary theoretical debates on art and politics. Drawing on and developing his earlier work in Radical History & the Politics of Art, the book as a whole thereby proposes to modify the very framework for thinking the historical relation between aesthetics and politics.  Continue reading

Recension de “Contre-histoire du temps présent”

Une recension de mon dernier livre, Contre-histoire du temps présent: interrogations intempestives sur la mondialisation, la technologie, la démocratie (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2017), a été publié sur le site Lectures/Liens socio. Cliquez ici pour la lire.

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Extrait:
« Le livre de Gabriel Rockhill apporte une contribution très éclairante, et stimulante, à la réflexion sur le temps et l’histoire à partir d’une démarche originale. La notion de contre-histoire remet en question l’idée d’un seul et unique présent, qui se définirait par un concept unique ou des caractéristiques communes. D’emblée, l’auteur insiste sur le fait que sa “contre-histoire” ne vise pas à la singularité. Outre la réflexion qu’il propose autour de l’histoire et de l’actualité, l’ouvrage invite à reconsidérer la méthodologie historique de façon à en faire un “phénomène multidimensionnel”, c’est-à-dire bien loin d’une conception de l’histoire temporelle […la suite] ». – Suzanne Dumouchel

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 dukeupress.edu/counter-history-of-the-present 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].”