Vol. 3, No. 3 (2020)
This issue plumbs the currents of contemporary politics and violence, and offers powerful rethinkings of critique and belief in ordinary life. On subjects ranging from the abject rhetoric of Matteo Salvini to emergent discourses of resilience, essays from Étienne Balibar, Lorenzo Bernini, and Rodrigo De La Fábian offer a picture of global power in action. A roundtable on Talal Asad’s work on Wittgenstein and the Qur’an brings together leading voices in the study of religion.
Capping the issue are dispatches from global student movements and an artistic intervention from the KUNCI Study Forum and Collective.
Vol. 3, No. 2 (2020)
Essays in this issue explore the violence behind contemporary spectacle and the possibilities of radical aesthetics, unsettling our understanding of regimes of the sensible in the process. Subjects range from feminist protests to the films of Felipe Cazals, from the art of Maria Eichhorn to Beckett’s Endgame. Critical encounters and aesthetic contributions provide new angles on Puerto Rico's people's assemblies, survivors of the Armenian genocide, and Goya's relevance to Brazil's political realities.
Vol. 3, No. 1 (2020)
Contributors to this issue address problems ranging from the emergence of new fascisms to the liberal and authoritarian logics of self-ownership, and from the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions to the powers of literary fiction. The issue also features a set of critical encounters and artistic interventions that complement and formally complicate these scholarly contributions.
Vol. 2, No. 3 (2019)
This issue examines the entanglements and aftermaths of colonialism, Apartheid, and genocide in our moment of forced displacements, techno-surveillance, and global authoritarian ethno-nationalism. The essays connect seemingly disparate legacies of racialized violence; they negotiate continuities and discontinuities between events and aftermaths; and they offer various openings for imagining the future, the un-thought, and the not-yet-imagined.
Contributors to the issue include Vilashini Cooppan, Paul Gilroy, David Theo Goldberg, Marianne Hirsch, and Debarati Sanyal. Their essays examine the roles of both memory and critique in our understanding of political time. They ask how the legacies of slavery, empire, colonial extraction, and genocide continue to shape contemporary political contexts, and they turn to a range of historical and artistic archives in order to remember and imagine otherwise. In “Rhythm in the Force of Forces,” for example, Gilroy turns to anti-Apartheid jazz and Black Atlantic music as sites of resistance for our current moment. In his essay “Coding Time,” Goldberg analyses the conjunction of technology, security, and racism and develops an algorithmic ontology that parts ways with the posthuman. And in “Stateless Figures,” Hirsch finds possibilities for a counter-monumental form of memory in the work of contemporary women artists responding to the experience of statelessness.
A dispatch from Sudan by Elsadig Elsheik considers the aftermath of the popular uprising that deposed Omar Al-Bashir in 2018. Artistic interventions by Bouchra Khalili and Jane Taylor offer further, compelling perspectives on the questions addressed throughout the issue: the confluence of times, the task of critique, and the commitment to justice.
This issue of Critical Times is guest edited by Debarati Sanyal.
Vol. 2, No. 2 (2019)
Walter Benjamin’s 1921 essay “Toward the Critique of Violence” has been newly translated by Julia Ng and Peter Fenves (forthcoming Stanford University Press), providing a new opportunity to consider its language, argument, and contemporary relevance to the problem of legal violence. This first thematic issue published by Critical Times, titled "What Is the Critique of Violence Now?" reflects the collective work of a group of international scholars who met to discuss the text paragraph by paragraph in Rijeka, Croatia, in the summer of 2018, and who sought to combine close readings with a general reflection on the political relevance of the essay for today’s political world.
The concept of legal violence proved central to each of these considerations, and the task assigned to each other was to discern, if possible, the echoes of contemporary legal violence in the account that Benjamin gave nearly one hundred years ago. Although the essays in this collection range from etymological to legal and political analysis, they each seek to think through Benjamin's essay in light of new modes of reading and from various geo-political conditions. For instance, some essays consider the administrative forms of violence characteristic of border politics, the use of the law to sanitize and execute forms of violence, and the continuing problem of treating law as if it were the antithesis of pre- or extra-legal violence. When and if the laws of a regime are instruments of violence, then violence is hardly external to law, but becomes the form of violence generally recognized as justifiable. These essays work through the language and movement of Benjamin’s text as it resonates with the present, considering the possibility of nonviolence as civil technique and as a potential of language that exceeds instrumental and informational frameworks.
The artwork by Palestinian visual artist Sharif Waked gives architectural form to the force of legal violence.
This issue of Critical Times is guest edited by Petar Bojanić, Peter Fenves, and Michelle Ty.
Vol. 2, No. 1 (2019)
The second volume of Critical Times welcomes Samera Esmeir from the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley as its new editor. Esmeir is a scholar of legal humanities, and her research focuses on the Middle East. She is the author of Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History, published by Stanford University Press in 2012. She is presently working on a book manuscript entitled The Struggle That Remains: Between the World and the International.
This second volume opens with a special section on the work of Saba Mahmood, who passed away on March 10, 2018. The short contributions found in this section consider Mahmood’s influence on anthropology, history, the legacies of critique, political economy, secularism, feminism, and humanism. In the “Scholarly Essays” section, three distinct but overlapping themes are pursued: the critical situations of universities in India, South Africa, and Chile, the punitive dimensions of neo-liberalism in Argentina, and public mourning as a political right in light of the disappearance of Mexican student activists from Ayotzinapa in 2014. We include as well poetry, commentary, and visual art that attends to loss, space, poetry, and the image.
Vol. 1, No. 1 (2018)
This inaugural volume of Critical Times takes the pulse of the current global political condition, engaging with contexts marked both by the crisis of liberal democratic regimes and by the emergence of new authoritarian political and cultural formations. Some of the essays in this issue analyze the sudden consolidation of right-wing populisms, their underlying totalitarian undercurrents, and the attendant shattering of the political and juridical regimes of truth that held sway until recently. Other contributions aim at exploring the popular potential for progressive forms of governance on the left, observing its current achievements and pitfalls, or seeking radical precedents in the historical past.