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Shukaitis, Stevphen and David Graeber (Eds.) with Erika Biddle. Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations/Collective Theorization. Oakland: AK Press, 2007. Pp. 320. $21.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1904859352 Reviewer: Dave McAllister [Article copies available for a fee from The Transformative Studies Institute. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.transformativestudies.org ©2009 by The Transformative Studies Institute. All rights reserved.] Global capitalism and the neo-liberal politics that sustain it first forced the “enclosure of common lands,” Gaye Chan and Nandita Sharma relate in their article examining radical papaya planting in Hawai'i, and then the “enclosure of our imaginations” (184). It is to shatter these structures of globalism and peel “back bursts of time for collective reshaping of social life” that Stevphen Shukaitis, David Graeber and Erika Biddle edited Constituent Imagination (32). The title defines both who is fighting the structures and how: constituent as essential, the matter from which a thing is made, not in the sense of being represented by elected officials. The constituent part of society is people, especially subaltern ones, their bodies and their intimate knowledge of their own oppression. Imagination is the ability to generate moments of opposition to modern capitalism; to find, research and strengthen the nodes of counter-power and attack weak points in the global economy. The title suggests not one road map to revolutionary action, but a multiplicity of thoughts, routes, peoples and ideologies that “provide forms of antagonism interpreted through new figures of militancy and the convergence of knowledge and action in the construction of the common” (64). A key concern throughout numerous articles is the relation of academics to militants and the formers' participation in militant action. Should researchers maintain an objective distance from their subjects, or should they become active participants in struggle? The answer by the anthropologists, sociologists and journalists here is a resounding yes to the second question. The combination of research and political action, so long as the work is an authentic collaboration, a collective enterprise beDave McAllister teaches history and African-American Studies at Ursinus and the College of New Jersey and changes diapers in Collingswood, NJ, while hoping for Americans to wake up. 1937-0229 ©2009 Transformative Studies Institute 101
workers and global capital. The university is an important locus in these struggles because of its role in the construction of knowledge and knowledge workers for global capital. The University is a key production center in the post-Fordist economy. Maribel Casas-Cortés and Sebastían Cobarrubias use their experiences at the University of North Carolina to demonstrate practical examples of how to struggle against hegemony. the workers for the service and financial sectors. BRE uses autoethnography to explore “the realm of the posthuman. even 'thugs' and 'pests. It is their work. Wright Mills' admonition that “unless sociology works at the level of biography it does not and cannot work at the level of structure. not simply because activist-researchers work there. activism is not another part of their lives outside their professions. His counter to the embedded intellectual is not the independent thinker but a transformation of the relationship between power and academia..” a process of wandering the 102 . offering the examples of researchers funded by the Department of Defense and journalists embedded in military units during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. deviants. BRE takes seriously C. It is their scholarship. To illustrate the centrality of the University in the world economy.Dave McAllister tween observer/subject.'” and treated as sub-human. radicals at the University made these maps through “drifting.” and demonstrates his own interactions with radicals and their movements at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa and 2002 meeting of the World Social Forum in Barcelona. Jack Bratich turns the question of objectivity on its head. scholar/peasant. Jeffrey Juris argues for practicing a militant ethnography. Not only does it give students the skills (or “general intelligence”) to work in global corporations. scholars can target areas of weakness and harness the power of global connectivity to fight it. Studying mass communications. what he calls “a collective reflection about activist practice and emerging utopian imaginaries. sociologist and homeless man himself.” where the poor are “labeled criminals. yields radical challenges to power and more-informed scholarship. with an intimate knowledge of the circuits and intersections of global capitalism. providing. For the contributors to this collection. but its research significantly augments those same companies and state police and military forces. students. in part. A homeless activist. Casas-Cortés and Cobarrubias offer a project of collaborative cartography – literally mapping the links between the University. noting that mainstream scholarship and journalism is actively engaged in sustaining the capitalist system. Building on the work of Precárias a la Deriva in Madrid and Colectivo Situaciones in Argentina. etc. researcher/militant.” using his own experiences on the streets of Toronto as a basis to discuss the state's repression of the poor and opportunities for mass resistance.
and microevents to be the guide” for their route and eventual map (117). so that it can be “laid siege to” and “infiltrated” (124). These “driftings” and the maps they inform create connections between all-too-fragmented workers and expose the weak points in the University structure itself.” this is frustrating and confusing. but there is never the assumption that one way of viewing the world is better than another (as long as they all look to tear down the structures of capitalism). interaction. and it is the very multiplicity of proposed possible actions. ideology. it would turn one example into a Method. and to specify how these interactions should occur would force “thinking on behalf of everyone or leading everyone” and would deny the knowledge and strength of oppressed peoples themselves (83). And yet. The closest they come is the use of Colectivo Situaciones' “research militancy. Likewise the specific examples offered here are often overly vague because the process of explication might shape the very route of future action. temp contracts [and] racialized hiring. it is like reading a cookbook that lists ingredients. 103 . Discussions with janitorial staff uncover the “withheld pay. or even best-practice to achieve the goal of the common. and different authors highlight the importance of some theorists over others. as ironic as it may sound. Genealogies of Resistance. especially the editors' introduction and the first section called “Moments of Possibility. This is a purposely ambiguous collaboration between academics and militants.Theory in Action campus “allowing for encounters. from Foucault to the Autonomists. I would not want it presented in any other way. they are free to imagine any form of possible protest. collective research. but not the steps for cooking. Research militancy occurs as an interaction between engaged scholars and oppressed people at specific historical moments and circumstances. conversations. As anarchists the editors refuse to offer a theory. These militant cartographies are the best example of the path the editors argue for – engaged. militant. The theoretical influences are given.” while engagement with military contractors and recruiters on campus unmask the “political economy of the military/academic/industrial complex” (123).” but this is never clearly defined. The editors are not presenting a finished cookbook about how to create the common. So long as the interactions produce the sustenance needed to fight global capital. “with a capital 'M'” (80). This cartography is but one path for academics and militants to take. It is only through reading example after example in the remaining sections of the book that the meanings of research militancy are understood. For the reader going through the beginning of this book. that is both the weakness and strength of the book.
we must keep our imaginations open because the creative collaborations we make just may strike at capitalism. from the electronic communication of radicals to the angry lyrics of punk rock. This means continuing to forge connections with oppressed peoples and other militants and researchers to create ingenious attacks on global capital. Antonio Negri suggests that it is global corporations and states themselves who react to militant action. The editors give some indications of the wide swath of action produced in this manner. and academics and militants alike need to keep imagining new spaces and times for militant action. 104 .Dave McAllister It is a necessarily open-ended process. crafting rules and regulations to halt the ever-changing and cunningly creative resistance offered against them. If this is so. from the planting of papaya trees on public land to knitting as a means of protest.
ISBN 978-1904859352 Dave McAllister 45 66 77 86 91 96 101 Journal of the Transformative Studies Institute . Samir. Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt. 288. Stevphen and David Graeber (Eds. $21. Oakland: AK Press. 320.Volume 2 Number 4 October 2009 Theory In Action IN THIS ISSUE 1 7 29 Introduction. 2008. Michael Moore: A Love Story? Corey Dolgon Fighting the Good Fight: The Janitor’s Strike at the University of Miami Christian A. By Amin. 110. Robin L. Zed Books: London and New York. Schlaerth and John W. Oakland: PM Press. $60 (hardcover). 2008. Staughton and Daniel Gross. Murphy Resurrecting Smelser: Collective Power.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1604860337 Ian MacMillan Book Review: The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century. Williams Religious and Ethnic Identities: The Romaniote (Greek) Jews in the US Nicholas Alexiou Book Review: Labor Law For the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear Of The Law. 160. Pp. By Lynd. By Shukaitis. 2007. $10 (paperback). 2008. New York: Monthly Review Press. Pp. Pp. Pp. $34 (paperback). Generalized Belief.. ISBN 978-1848130197 Maike Garland Book Review: Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations/Collective Theorization.) with Erika Biddle. By Riley.I. ISBN 978-1583671726 Patrick Kane Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. and Hegemonic Spaces Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur Revolution in Epistemology? Feminist Challenges to Epistemic Authority in the Aftermath of 1968 Iris Mendel A Capitalist World? Mapping the Limits of Market-Ism Colin C.
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.Dedicated to Michael Moore and all activist film makers.
Editor-in-Chief John Asimakopoulos. University of Connecticut Book Review Editors Eric Buck. SUNY-Canton Assistant Editors Corey Dolgon. Sociatecture Eva-Maria Swidler. Worchester State College Deric Shannon. CUNY-Bronx Editor Ali Shehzad Zaidi. CUNY-Bronx Editorial Collective William Armaline Stanley Aronowitz John Asimakopoulos Liat Ben-Moshe Steve Best Marc Bousquet Eric Buck Graham Cassano Vanny Chang Ward Churchill Jay Corwin Abraham DeLeon Corey Dolgon Luis Fernandez Ben Frymer Victoria Fontan Uri Gordon Carol Gigliotti Richard Van Heertum Dave Hill Joy James Patrrice Jones Paul Jonker Caroline Kaltefleiter Lisa Kemmerer Ruth Kinna Elsa Karen Márquez-Aponte Mechthild Nagel Anthony Nocella. Villanova University Founding Editor John Asimakopoulos. II Jesus Lopez Pelaez Jose Palafox Michael Parenti Eri Park Emma Pérez Clayton Pierce Andrew Robinson Deric Shannon Jeffrey Shantz Stephen Sheehi Kyung Ja (Sindy) Shin Stevphen Shukaitis Eva-Maria Swidler Caroline Tauxe Bill Templer Sviatoslav Voloshin Richard J White Ali Shehzad Zaidi .
New York: Monthly Review Press. By Shukaitis. By Riley.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-1904859352 Dave McAllister October 2009 7 29 45 66 77 86 91 96 101 . 2007. Oakland: AK Press. ISBN 978-1604860337 Ian MacMillan Book Review: The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century. $34 (paperback). Pp. $60 (hardcover). Michael Moore: A Love Story? Corey Dolgon Fighting the Good Fight: The Janitor’s Strike at the University of Miami Christian A. Staughton and Daniel Gross.. By Amin. No.I. 2. Robin L. 2008. Pp. 320. 2008. and Hegemonic Spaces Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur Revolution in Epistemology? Feminist Challenges to Epistemic Authority in the Aftermath of 1968 Iris Mendel A Capitalist World? Mapping the Limits of Market-Ism Colin C. $21. 288. Zed Books: London and New York. Murphy Resurrecting Smelser: Collective Power. 4 1 Introduction. ISBN 978-1583671726 Patrick Kane Book Review: Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. Schlaerth and John W. Oakland: PM Press. Generalized Belief. Pp.) with Erika Biddle. 160. Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Minnie Bruce Pratt. By Lynd. $10 (paperback). Pp. Samir. 2008. ISBN 978-1848130197 Maike Garland Book Review: Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations/Collective Theorization. Stevphen and David Graeber (Eds.CONTENTS Vol. 110. Williams Religious and Ethnic Identities: The Romaniote (Greek) Jews in the US Nicholas Alexiou Book Review: Labor Law For the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear Of The Law.
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