I will be presenting and discussing chapter two of Counter-History of the Present , entitled “Are We Really Living in a Technological Era?,” at Yale University on Friday April 6th, 2018 at 12 p.m. (Loria, 190 York Street, Room B-50). The event is organized by the Internet Culture Working Group and co-sponsored by the Marxism and culture Working Group. In addition to discussing this chapter and framing it in relation to the overall project of a counter-history of the present, I will outline my current research on the subterranean history of the national security state’s manipulation of the intellectual and cultural means of production.
I presented the following lecture at Missouri State University on March 22, 2018: “Critical and Radical Theory: Toward the Reinvention of Critique in the Current Conjuncture.”
This paper proposes a critique of critical reason. Neither a full-scale rejection nor a simple internal modification, such a critique seeks to foreground both the strengths and limitations of some of the dominant strategies, methodologies and sociopolitical orientations of critical theory, broadly construed. The ultimate goal is hence affirmative and productive: to rethink critical social theory for the 21st century.
Although the general stakes of the paper touch on issues integral to ‘continental’ philosophy since at least Kant, it will specifically concentrate on the Frankfurt School heritage. It takes Horkheimer’s canonical essay, “Traditional and Critical Theory,” as its palimpsestic reference point in order to sketch the lineaments of a radical theory. Understood as an attempt to reflexively reinvigorate social theory beyond its now institutionalized forms of ‘traditional critical theory,’ it questions the latter’s persistent Eurocentrism and phallocentrism, its academic distance from political praxis, its contemporary professionalization as a brand of moral and political philosophy, and its gradual withdrawal from the daunting project of an analysis of society in toto (from psychic forces and aesthetics to political economy and history).
The overall objective of the paper will thus be to work through one of the major critical traditions in continental philosophy in order to push beyond it, subjecting it to a critique that aims at honing a radical edge too often dulled by the institution of ‘critical theory.’
Please join the Radical Education Department (RED) and some of our allies for the event listed below. If you can’t make it, stay tuned for a video recording of the event.
Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St., Philadelphia
March 15, 2018, 7 p.m.
The Radical Education Department (RED) is hosting a discussion about anti-fascist education in both senses of this expression: i) educating ourselves about the deep and broad history of anti-fascism; and ii) mobilizing education as a weapon for anti-fascist struggles today.
The discussion will explore the connections between fascism, capitalism, the patriarchy, and racism, as well as the ways that liberal ideology abets fascist movements by misrepresenting issues such as violence and free speech. It will also point out the importance of linking the many sites of antifascist struggles at universities, prisons, public monuments, and beyond. Ultimately, the discussion will map possibilities for countering a rising tide of fascism with a broad radical left politics that isn’t only on the defensive but goes on the offensive!
This event has been organized by John-Patrick Schultz and Gabriel Rockhill, who are founding members of RED, an autonomous collective dedicated to the construction of a radical internationalist Left through the training and federation of its cultural warriors. They will be joined in the conversation by two longstanding activists: Ania Loomba, who has recently been involved with the Campus Antifascist Network, and Kempster (Ghani) Songster, co-founder of The Redemption Project. For more information and/or to get involved: https://radicaleducationdepartment.wordpress.com.
I will be presenting a paper, entitled “Radicalizing Critical Theory beyond the Eurocentric Lodestone of Frankfurt,” at SPEP on October 19. It will be part of a panel that I am very proud to have co-organized with Romy Opperman and Verena Erlenbusch, entitled “Decolonial Genealogies of Critical Theory.” Click here for the full program.
It was an honor and pleasure to present the keynote listed below at Loyola University Chicago’s Philosophy Graduate Conference. A special thanks to Yiran Zhang for organizing and coordinating everything.
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.
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 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 array 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
The provisory program for the Critical Theory Workshop / Atelier de Théorie Critique, which is an intensive research collaborative that I run in Paris over the summer, has been set. Click here to read in full. The list of invited guests includes Marielle Macé, Patrice Maniglier, Peter Skafish, Philippe Corcuff, Sophie Wahnich, Alice Canabate, Marie Goupy, Jennifer Ponce de León, Jean-François Bayart, Andrew Feenberg, Bernard Stiegler and Özgür Gürsoy. Participants in this year’s workshop come from approximately 12 different disciplines and 15 cultural backgrounds. Click here to read their profiles.