Issue 158, June 2020 For Keith Tester: In Memoriam

Keith Tester in Memoriam:

(prepublication versions of these memoirs can be are freely available here)

Remembering Keith Tester (1960–2019)

Peter Beilharz

Keith Tester (1960–2019)

Kieran Flanagan

Bauman at the movies

Mark Davis

Encounters with Keith Tester, personal and intellectual

Jack Palmer

Keith Tester – memories of a friendship

Trevor Hogan

The absent presence of friendship

Sian Supski

In friendship with Keith Tester

Izabela Wagner

Keith Tester: In memory

John Carroll

The English twin: Reflections on Keith Tester

Michael Hviid Jacobsen

The intellectual in Auschwitz: Between vulnerability and resistance: (In memory of Keith Tester) Open Access

Arne Johan Vetlesen

The significance of being an intellectual when taken prisoner and sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis is rarely discussed – instead, the importance of being either a Jew or a political prisoner (say, a German communist) is highlighted. By contrast, Jean Amery’s recollections of being tortured and sent to Auschwitz concentrate on his self-understanding as an intellectual. What difference does the identity and outlook as an intellectual make in the extreme circumstances found in Auschwitz? The paper discusses Amery’s views on this question, invoking that of others who have also addressed it, like Primo Levi and Theodor Adorno.


Can the refugee speak? Albert Hirschman and the changing meanings of exile

Volker M. Heins

This article presents a critical reading of Albert O. Hirschman’s typology of exit, voice and loyalty as a heuristic for understanding the changing meanings of exile in the 20th and early 21st centuries. It is argued that Hirschman’s experiences as well as the theory he distilled from them are highly relevant for researchers of forced migration and exile. After first defending the usefulness of Hirschman’s analytical framework for exile and diaspora studies, the article then highlights the need to revise and complicate his approach. Hirschman could not foresee the emerging global possibilities of cultivating ‘the art of voice’, new forms of internal and self-exile as a result of post-fascist versions of authoritarianism, and the growing difficulties faced by refugees including, refugee scholars and writers, to exit their countries and find a safe haven somewhere else. The gaps in Hirschman’s theory are addressed by drawing on insights from the writings of Judith Shklar.

Struggling beyond the paradigm of Neoliberalism

John Welsh

Whilst the Neoliberal alludes to an array of very real material practices and axioms of contemporary capitalism, the concept of Neoliberalism itself has arguably become moribund. Worse, perhaps it has become an asphyxiating and enervating monolith, a ‘ptolemization’ from which our critical thinking cannot escape. The key strategy of the article is to explore the Neoliberalism concept as a ‘mode of telling’, and how the constitutive moments of that concept have been discursively constructed into a hegemonic discursive formation. Whilst the resultant paradigm of Neoliberalism has ironically been constituted out of the identity-thinking and the synthetic historicizing of its very critics, the article searches for alternative avenues of reconstitutive deconstruction, so as to offer both critical optimism and a more effective means of struggle against the material practices of contemporary capitalism. To this end, I shall indicate how overdetermination in conceptualization provides the opportunity to break down identity-thinking and how articulation can translate the material elements of contemporary capitalism into fresh moments of a counter-hegemonic discourse.

Dimensions and antinomies of modernization in the globalized world

Yuriy Savelyev

Existing theoretical interpretations contend that modernization is a global but diverse and multidimensional process. Yet, a systematic analysis of multiple forms of modernity and modernization ‘is the major challenge to current social and political theory’ (Wagner). The paper aims at revealing limitations of current theoretical interpretations of modernization and demonstrating systematically essential features of modernity. I describe the crucial criteria of modernization and suggest an integrated approach within which the most influential theories are simultaneously applied as coherent explanations. Such a synergic application allows identifying concomitant dimensions of modernity and modernization. The proposed approach significantly differs from a prevailing theoretical discourse on modernity and modernization. It demonstrates universal features of modernization along with civilization variability and uniqueness of cultural programs, antinomic emancipation trends, permanence of change and innovations, increase of efficiency, competitiveness and the quality of life. All these dimensions relate to a set of consistent interpretations of a complex multi-effects phenomenon, which minimizes the existing conceptual contradictions. The elaborated model supports the notion of modernization as a continuous transition to novel forms of social order which respond to emerging challenges and global competition while an invariant criterion of modernization is the boost in the capabilities of people to make their choices.

The political unconscious of practice theory: Populism and democracy

Michael Strand

This article attempts a self-clarification of practice theory by providing a genetic history of ‘practice’ as a figure in social thought. This locates two different versions of practice theory in Marx’s ‘practical question’ and Hobbes’ ‘Kingdom of Darkness’, respectively, and shows how both historically comprise a practical critique of testing reason. This article examines how the practical critique performs a dialectic of politicization and depoliticization that finds family resemblances and paradoxical alignments between the political left and right. The article evaluates the strength of the practical critique and asks whether it results in a power politics with both left and right versions.

A map of technopolitics: Deep convergence, platform ontologies, and cognitive efficiency

Michael A. Peters

This paper, based on an invited Thesis Eleven presentation (8 August 2019), provides a ‘map of technopolitics’ that springs from an investigation of the theoretical notion of technological convergence adopted by the US National Science Foundation, signaling a new paradigm of ‘nano-bio-info-cogno’ (NBIC) technologies. This integration at the nano-level is expected to drive the next wave of scientific research, technology and knowledge economy. The paper explores the concept of ‘technopolitics’ by investigating the links between Wittgenstein’s anti-scientism and Lyotard’s ‘technoscience’, reviewing the history of the notion in the work of the Belgium philosopher Gilbert Hottois. The ‘deep convergence’ representing a new technoscientific synergy is the product of long-term trends of ‘bioinformational capitalism’ that harnesses the twin forces of information and genetic sciences that coalesce in the least mature ‘cognosciences’ in their application to education and research. The map of technopolitics systematically identifies the political relations between Big Tech and ‘new digital publics’ to reveal that the new paradigm is based on the supreme value of cognitive efficiency. There are a closely-knit cluster of concerns that frame a map of political issues about the fifth-generation technological impacts on human beings, their bodies and minds, and public institutions, not least the logic of the distribution and ownership of data, information and knowledge, and its effects on democracy.

Book reviews:

Disasters, Risks and Revelation: Making Sense of Our Times

Andrew Simon Gilbert

Reimagining Nations and Rethinking Futures: Contemporary Eco-political Controversies in India and Australia

Haris Qadeer

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