Edited with an introduction by Jeffrey R. Di Leo and Uppinder Mehan

Capital at the Brink: Overcoming the Destructive Legacies of Neoliberalism

    II. Literature, Culture, and the Self II. Literature, Culture, and the Self > 9. The Post-Political Turn: Theory in the Neoliberal Academy

    9. The Post-Political Turn: Theory in the Neoliberal Academy

    Neoliberalism has cast a long shadow over the US academy. Mirroring the flexibility championed by the economic ideology, neoliberalism’s impact on the academy in the last thirty years has taken a number of different forms and provoked a number of different responses. In the field of literary and cultural studies, these responses have taken forms both material and ideological, from the growth of non-tenure track labor, the reduction of tenure line positions, the emergence and then attenuation of the academic star system, the destruction of employee benefits, the rationalization of teaching based on FTEs (or faculty time equivalents), the preoccupation with conceptions of subjectivity and culture that are flexible and in continuous transformation, and the growth and then partial retreat of politicized scholarship, including scholarship that takes neoliberalism itself as an object of critique.

    While each of these areas of neoliberalism’s influence deserves analysis, and indeed have been analyzed by a range of different scholars, including the other contributors to this volume, in what follows I want to take up the last: the growth and partial retreat of politicized scholarship in the academy. The transformation of academic theory over the past thirty years is one way to chart this political movement and its relationship to neoliberalism. The responses to neoliberalism in academic theory have ranged from the conscious to the unconscious, the symptomatic to the quietistic, and the resistant to the compliant. Indeed, the theoretical responses have been almost as varied as the ideological and material transformations produced by neoliberalism itself.

    In what follows, then, I want to trace a certain dominant trajectory of contemporary theory from the politicization of culture and language in what Philip Wegner terms the “long nineties” to the potential depoliticization emerging in our own present moment. [1] In contrast to this worrying de-politicizing trend, I will posit the hopeful emergence of counter-trend of newly materialist scholarship that takes up the political engagements of the long nineties, but in a more materialist direction that holds the potential to challenge the dematerializing ideology of neoliberalism itself, with its emphasis on financialization and what Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri term “biopolitical” or so-called “immaterial” labor (i.e. affect, service, and intellectual labor). [2] Thus, the signifier “post-political” in this paper has an ambiguous valence: it can either describe a retreat from politics altogether or the possibility of a materialist theoretical politics that moves beyond the largely cultural politics of the long nineties.

    Before developing this argument further, however, I should provide a quick account of how I am conceptualizing neoliberalism. My account of neoliberalism is influenced equally by Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics and David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Foucault’s prescient genealogy of neoliberalism, delivered as series of lectures in 1978 and 1979 and posthumously published in 2004, traces its emergence out of German “ordoliberalism” in the immediate postwar moment. [3] In his account, neoliberalism represents the most recent manifestation of what he calls biopolitics, or the political-economic management of “man-as-species,” consisting in “making live and letting die.” [4] This power emerges alongside political liberalism in the nineteenth century as a form of what Foucault terms governmentality, but it is transformed within the workings of neoliberalism, such that the market, rather than political governmentality, becomes the privileged domain of measuring and regulating human worth. Central to this new calculus of human worth is the category of “human capital,” which quantifies and rationalizes all human activities and human life itself. [5]

    If Foucault charts the long trajectory of the political economic transformations that lead to neoliberalism and its calculus of human worth, Harvey’s account emphasizes neoliberalism as a conscious and class-inflected ideological and political-economic project in the present. This project has had two aims: to reorganize contemporary capitalism, “by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, [and what are imagined to be] free markets, and free trade”; and to “re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.” [6] Central to this second goal is the dynamic of what Harvey, reworking Marx’s account of primitive accumulation, calls “accumulation by dispossession,” or the appropriation of various forms public, private, and commonly held wealth by corporations and economic elites. [7] Thus neoliberal accumulation not only works through wage suppression via the so-called freeing up of markets but also by the wholesale appropriation of wealth via privatization of public goods and services, of what Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt call the “common” (or wealth that is collectively and directly owned, outside of the reach of both the state and corporations), and by redefining waged work as unwaged work. [8] Drawing on both Foucault’s and Harvey’s account enables me to theorize neoliberalism as both a subjectifying, social calculus on one hand, and an ideological and political-economic project on the other.

    Academic Knowledge in the Neoliberal Present

    These neoliberal dynamics have taken on a specific form in the US academy. For those humanists and social scientists who experienced the relative privilege of tenure, the key enemy in the long 90s appeared to be neoconservatism rather than neoliberalism. The wars were primarily cultural, and the struggle was around the content of knowledge within and against various disciplines, rather than the political-economic organization of higher education itself. As Marc Bousquet has demonstrated, for the growing academic proletariat (the ever growing ranks of adjunct professors), the material war being waged on the public university by neoliberalism was evident much earlier than it was for those of us who have been sheltered by the relative protections of tenure and tenure-line positions. [9] It has only been with what I want to call the second phase of neoliberalism in the last ten or so years (a phase in which the dynamics of accumulation by dispossession function not only by the privatizing of public jobs and public services but even more by the destruction of wage-labor and the concomitant growth of unwaged work) that it is clear to all but the most privileged actors that the basic threat to academic work is not cultural but economic. And yet, we let the cultural be thoroughly subordinated to the economic only at our peril. While we need to resist the economic on its own terms, we also need to hold out for the partial autonomy of the cultural and the scholarly, if only to maintain a cultural, intellectual, and scholarly position from which to not only critique the present but also to imagine and begin the work of constructing a different economic and cultural future.

    Before attending to the way in which the notion of political scholarship has changed and been partially replaced by what I am calling post-political scholarship in this second phase of neoliberalism, I want to quickly define the major features of the neoliberal university in the present. These are: 1) the war against university professors and tenure itself as part of the more general war against teachers (this war has both cultural dimensions, such as right-wing populism that mixes anti-intellectualism with a worship of so-called market solutions, and directly economic ones, such as the destruction of employee benefits and protections, like the ones we are experiencing right now in Illinois); 2) the redefinition of the public university system as a whole along the lines of skills training and uncritical vocationalism (as opposed to a critical or workerist vocationalism), which goes hand-in-hand with the redefinition of teachers as customer-service workers; 3) the redefinition of the work of scholarship as unpaid labor that is owned by the university and by various corporations or, alternately, as the generation of free content for the work speed up produced by what Jodi Dean describes as “communicative capitalism”; 4) The casualization of the labor force as part of a more general drive towards casualization, unwaged labor, and the complete blurring of the lines (and not in a utopian way) of labor and leisure. [10]

    Cultural Politics in the Long Nineties

    Now that I have briefly discussed neoliberalism and its impact on the academy, I am in a place to chart the transformations of politically-engaged theory and its relationship to neoliberalism in the humanities and social sciences in the last thirty years. Politics, and its closely related cognate, the political, have been central signifiers within theoretical work done in the last thirty or so years in the academy. In the heyday of the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, the signifier “political” often represented a shorthand for the kind of engaged scholarship and academic activism that was central to struggles around canons and cultures that characterized the era. Christopher Connery argues, in his Introduction to The Worlding Project, that this was a moment marked by the canon wars, the advent of postcolonial criticism, and the emergence of cultural studies in the US. He asserts that cultural studies in particular inflected the specific manifestation of the political central to academic work in the 80s and 90s: “In its US incarnation, Cultural Studies represented the political turn, but eclectically: it included the turn to popular culture and identity politics of various kind and was, as Jameson suggested, a ‘desire’ more than a field.” [11] The Worlding Project itself, edited by Connery and Rob Wilson, feels like a late and compelling expression of this political turn, combining a cultural studies attention to popular cultures and political movements with a more recent engagement with globalization and transnationalism.

    The specific meaning of the signifier, political, in the moment of the political turn enabled a lot of important work to be undertaken in the academy, not the least of all was the hard-won notion that all scholarship is indeed political (whether consciously or unconsciously so) and that the engaged or activist scholar should be conscious of the political import and effects of her work. As a product of the literature program at UCSC that produced The Worlding Project, with its emphasis on world literature and cultural studies, the kinds of work undertaken by the authors in the volume hold special places in my heart and my scholarship. Much of my own work is informed by the kinds of politicized cultural analysis enabled by the political turn. If what Connery names the political turn is one designation for the fusion of culture and politics that reached, perhaps its apex in the mid-nineties, other names for it are what Fredric Jameson’s has deemed the cultural turn, what Richard Rorty designated the linguistic turn, and what Jameson, along with many others, has also termed postmodernism. [12]

    While each of these designations carry slightly different resonances, and emphasize different aspects of the work of theory and scholarship, together they suggest the parameters of engaged scholarship in the long nineties. This was scholarship that privileged culture and language as key terrains of political struggle. Even the Marxism of this moment advanced an understanding of the economic as newly cultural and semiotic, arguing that, in Jameson’s words, the base and superstructure “collapse back into each other.” [13] Central to this moment was the practice of critique, for even as Adorno was often dismissed by cultural studies practitioners for his elitism, a version of his practice of critique, as necessarily separate from praxis, became the default mode for cultural criticism.

    The work enabled by the political turn was both valuable and necessary. Indeed, much of this work, when not disenabled by neoliberal pressures within the current academy, continues to do vital work in the present. In terms of the politics of subjectivity, signification, and representation, such forms of cultural critique are indispensable. Yet, as this description suggests, the political turn of the 1990s had limitations as well as advantages. As Marxist critics of postmodernism such as Jameson and Harvey as well as well as new materialists such as Diana Coole, Samantha Frost, and Levi Bryant have pointed out, the politics of the long nineties was often confined to or at least imagined through the frames of culture and language. [14] This emphasis on culture and language as exclusive spaces of political and social struggle disenabled all forms of materialist politics and even materialist inquiry other than the weak materialisms represented by cultural materialism and the materiality of the signifier. Thus, for work that wanted to explore the material dimensions of ecosystems, political economy or the political shaping of biological life itself, the version of politics enshrined by the political turn was as constraining as it was liberating. Indeed, the cultural turn itself, can be read as a symptom of the first phase of neoliberalism in two distinct ways: 1) the emphasis on language as constructive echoes the turn towards financial speculation as a seemingly parthenogenetic form of wealth generation; 2) the malleability of subjectivity celebrated by social construction, as Harvey notes, echoes the flexibility of just-in-time production practices in post-Fordist neoliberalism. [15]

    Still, in situating the epicenter of this cultural version of political work in the long 90s, I do not want to unintentionally participate in the very process of depoliticization that this essay critiques. As we know from the forms of knowledge enabled by the political turn, descriptive histories, like all narratives, can become subtly prescriptive, enforcing the very dynamics they mean to critique. Yet, as the twin legacies of Marxist and Foucauldian thought teach us, there can be no effective politics or political struggle without a careful attention to the material and discursive circumstances in which we find ourselves thinking, working, and acting. Thus, the history I offer in this paper is meant to trace historical tendencies rather than absolutes, and attend not only to the attenuation of certain formations or possibilities but also the opening up of others. Moreover, to resist the logic of neoliberalism, which began in the moment of the political turn but has become ever more pervasive and violent in our so-called age of austerity (i.e. abundance for the rich and austerity for everyone else), the point is not to celebrate each new theoretical or academic development as an epochal shift that renders what came before so much used up human capital. Such a commodified view of knowledge is one of the dangers of the recent language of “turns” if not used carefully. Indeed, the proliferation of the very language of turns (the turn turn if you will!) may be one symptom of academic production under the second phase of neoliberalism and communicative capitalism. Given the pressures of instant communication and the ever more immediate obsolescence of commodities under communicative capitalism, it is not surprising to find academia itself becoming part of the general speed-up that dictates the movement of life in the present. Rather than surrendering to the logic of this speed up, we need to preserve what was best from earlier moments even as we attend to the transformed situation and possibilities of the present.

    The Post-Political Turn in the Present

    The most immediate intellectual symptom of the full-scale neoliberal assault on the academy is the turn away from political work (especially the cultural version of politics that I described earlier). This turning away from the political has both negative and potentially positive valences. Much of how we interpret the turn away from the political hinges, of course, on how we define the political itself. Taking the broad definition of politics as encompassing all political work, and not just the understanding of cultural politics enshrined in the long nineties, the turn away from politics can only be interpreted dispiritingly as a negative effect of the second phase of neoliberalism in the academy.

    Such a negative version of the post-political turn (what might more accurately be called the “apolitical turn”) is evident everywhere in contemporary scholarship, from Stephan Ramsay’s mantra that the digital humanities “involves moving from reading and critiquing to building and making,” through the invocation of a scholarship of “wonder” as an antidote to critique advocated by object-oriented ontologist Ian Bogost, to the wholesale substitution of the concept of the ethical for the political and the ecological for the economic in a range of recent scholarship. [16] All of these theoretical moves, as dialectical correctives, have something to recommend them. Indeed, as Bruno Latour has argued in his ambiguous piece of the same name, “critique has run out of steam,” at least as an isolated and non-dialectical practice. [17] Moreover, it is important to engage the ethics upon which our political commitments are grounded, even as the category of the ethical as a discourse has to be interrogated, in turn, by the political with its attention to power, exploitation, and inequality. Similarly, academic theory, for too much of its history, has remained disengaged from the ecological, even as what Latour and Jane Bennett term “political ecology” has to be understood as distinct yet intertwined with political economy, if we are to provide effective accounts of the violence of ecological degradation and economic exploitation. [18]

    Yet the versions of this “post-political” work being advocated by writers such as Ramsay and Bogost rarely see themselves in such dialectical terms. Bogost’s chapter, entitled “Wonder,” from Alien Phenomenology, is perhaps the most symptomatic version of the apolitical turn, with its account of how the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, which chronicles the production of specialty cakes for folks who can drop a hundred grand on a cake, manifests more satisfying materialism than HBO’s celebrated chronicle of the class and race stratified United States, The Wire. [19] This version of Bogost’s scholarship thus represents one of the dangers of the explosion of posthumanist scholarship in the present. If the promise of posthumanism is an expanded conception of the political, one that, in Latour’s account and in the account of more political OOO scholars such as Bryant, takes into consideration nonhuman as well as human actors, then the danger it represents is a symptomatic turning away from the human altogether as a way of warding off any reckoning with the degradation of human possibility and knowledge under neoliberalism. If the work of Bogost and some other posthumanists seems like a defensive formation in relationship to the neoliberal assault on the academy, the work of some digital humanities seems, typically, much more affirmatively neoliberal. Indeed, the shift from critique to making and building (rather than a dialectical or even discontinuous emphasis on both as they challenge and transform each other) feels very much like the shift that the forces of neoliberalism are asking the humanities as a whole to make: no more preoccupation with citizenship (global or otherwise), critical thought, or imagining a different social or economic order; we need to just make and do. Knowledge should be purely applied rather than mixing the applied with the theoretical and speculative.

    If such an “apolitical turn” threatens to replace the cultural version of political scholarship that was central to the long 90s (even as the latter work continues, though, in less prestigious and more embattled ways), the signifier, political, has interestingly begun to migrate into a more specific usage, one associated with another body of theory and scholarship that has gained interdisciplinary prominence in the new century: this is the work associated with theories of “the political.” Spearheaded by the return to prominence of political theory in philosophical thought in the last twenty years, from the revaluation of older theorists like Hannah Arendt and (most ambiguously) Carl Schmidt through the emphasis on the political in theories of biopower and the biopolitical proffered by Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito, and the posthumous Foucault, the international prominence the version of Deleuzian Marxism associated with Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Franco Berardi and and Maurizio Lazzarato as well as to the new work done under the signifier of communism by Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žizek, Jodi Dean, and Bruno Bosteels, this newer deployment of the political emphasizes a philosophical approach to matters political, often moving beyond specific political programs to inquire about the very constitution of the political itself. [20] Bosteels describes the “‘return of the political’ in European philosophy in the last few decades” in the following way: “Precisely what is at stake … is the very question of the relation between politics and philosophy, which is but one instance among others of the relations between the real and the thought of the real.” [21] Thus, the turn to the political is less about immediate political struggle and more about theorizing the conditions under which philosophy can be adequate to the political present. The work primarily takes the form of a meta-theoretical speculation on the possibility of a political philosophy itself. Still, to the degree that such a “thought of the real” takes the material force of the real (I’m assuming here that the usage of the signifier in this case is not strictly Lacanian) as its site of engagement it holds real promise as well.

    To broadly and problematically generalize about writers who are very distinctive in their approaches, this work, while perhaps representing the reduction of the signifier “political” to a specific field, holds advantages over the more culturalist understanding of politics that was central during the long 90s. These include: 1) an understanding of politics that extends beyond symbolic and cultural struggle and toward the political-economic transformation of global society as such; 2) in the work of the theorists of biopolitics, an understanding of life itself as an object of theorization and political-economic intervention, one that, as I have already shown, can open out to a critical engagement with neoliberalism; 3) an affirmative (as well as critical) vision that moves beyond the paralysis that can be produced by pure critique and cultural relativism; 4) in the case of Dean and Hardt and Negri, an engagement with new forms of symbolic and affective labor and the way in which they betoken the return of accumulation by dispossession as a central dynamic of neoliberal capitalism.

    Yet, while much of this work advances an important political vision and represents some of the political possibilities that open up as we move beyond the cultural and linguistic turns, too much of it is preoccupied almost exclusively with the categories of the subject and the political as severed from the material and the political-economic. Indeed, Badiou’s work is particularly marked in this regard. His emancipatory vision, as articulated in The Communist Hypothesis and in his different essays in the two Idea of Communism collections, is organized largely around the twin categories of the Subject (understood as a category that “cannot be reduced to an individual”) and the Idea (which Badiou defines as “an operative mediation between the real and symbolic”). [22] Thus, Badiou’s revolutionary vision (what Bruce Robbins’ nicely calls his “millenarian Marxism,” although I’m not sure how much Marxism there finally is in it) tends to privilege ideas (in an explicitly Platonic register) and the subject pole of the subject/object dialectic (“Balibarism!”). Indeed, Badiou’s materialism, in contrast to his idealism which is everywhere central to his vision, is relegated primarily to the category of the State, which he defines in the present as being made up of “the capitalist economy, the constitutional form of government, the laws (in the judicial sense) concerning property and inheritance, the army, the police.” [23] Even Badiou’s, most celebrated category, the “event” is more transfigurative than materialist. It is the counterfactual production of a “glorious body.” [24]

    Badiou’s collapsing of the economy into the state is telling. His vision thus emphasizes a largely political definition of both capitalism and communism, where the economy (and its relationship to various material ecologies) is a distant afterthought. For all of their differences, Hardt and Negri’s accelerationist vision of the transformation of biopolitical capitalism into a communism of the multitude shares with Badiou this privileging of administrative forms, what they term “Empire,” as the site of appropriation and oppression (I hesitate to say exploitation, since to my mind this is a concept tied to economics rather than politics). [25] While Hardt and Negri’s vision in other ways has much to recommend it, from the detailing of biopolitical capitalism and so-called immaterial production, to a much more thoroughly political-economic account of the development of the productive forces under neoliberalism, it is striking that their revolutionary vision is entirely focused on the dismantling of a political entity.

    The question of the state is certainly a pressing one under neoliberalism and as it has become increasingly allied with the corporate and financial sectors over the past twenty years to form what Harvey describes as the “state-finance nexus” or “state-corporate nexus” in most places around the world. [26] It makes sense in such a context to situate the state, and not just the economy, as a locus of struggle. Yet, the disdain of the state shared by both Badiou and Hardt and Negri (as well as by resurgent forms of anarchist theory in the present) can itself be read as a symptom of neoliberalism: in providing a radical critique of the state such theories unintentionally contribute to the neoliberal destruction of the social democratic state, the welfare state, and of other versions of state-based socialism.

    The Materialist Opening

    Given the subjectivist and idealist limits to much of this recent theorizing about the political, perhaps our post-political moment in the academy can be understood not exclusively as a closing-down or a silencing, but also as opening up a space for the possibility of a new kind of materialist work, one not entirely circumscribed by the linguistic, and the cultural, and, indeed, the political as conceptual place holders. While, these categories are crucial and indeed we need to continue to fight for their validity for any socially committed scholarship, they have also done as much to circumscribe scholarship as enable it in the past thirty years.

    This at least has been the argument advanced by a range of recent work in what Diana Coole and Samantha Frost term the “new materialisms,” from the material feminism championed by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman, to the object-oriented ontology of Levi Bryant and Graham Harman, the political ecology of Bruno Latour and Jane Bennett, the speculative materialism and realism championed by a range of new continental philosophers, work in affect studies by Lauren Berlant, Kathleen Stewart, and others, as well as ongoing work in political-economy by David Harvey, Immanuel Wallerstein, Aníbal Quijano, Saskia Sassen, and the theorists of economic production published in Another Production is Possible, edited by Boaventura de Souza Santos. [27] While these writers are extremely diverse and share as many (if not more) disagreements as they do points of convergence, as well as, in the case of some of the speculative materialists and realists, a wavering commitment to politics, their shared commitment to materialism suggests the possibility for a new organizing principle for politically engaged theory in the present. Central to these different forms of materialism is a commitment to pushing beyond the limits of language and culture as placeholders for the social as such in order to engage the impact that ecological, political-economic, bodily, and object-based materialities on our ecologically and economically crisis-ridden present. Or as Coole and Frost put it: “We share the feeling current among many researchers that the dominant constructivist orientation to social analysis is adequate for thinking about matter, materiality and politics in ways that do justice to the contemporary context of biopolitics and global political economy.” [28] Such a materialism might help to counteract the ideology of dematerialization (what I elsewhere call avatar fetishism) that is one of the central logics of neoliberalism and communicative capitalism. [29] . A politics based around this new materialist opening would move beyond symbolic struggle and toward a politics that takes the insistence of the material itself as its political measure.

    Thus, at its best, this new materialist work, when grounded in a careful attention to both political economy and political ecology, enables us to imagine the relationships among bodies, affects, subjects, objects, ecologies, and the world economy (as well as of course, among culture and language as in part different registers of the material) in ways that move past pure critique and toward a project of building a new political, economic, and ecological future. Thus, the emphasis in the digital humanities on building and making is not wrong, but it cannot be at the expense of critiquing and analyzing. These are different parts of a dialectic that are only separated from each other at the peril of the possibilities represented by both poles. Such a reactivated dialectic would not only take into consideration the way in which various materialities exceed, exist in tension with, and place limits on (as well as interpenetrate with) the domains of culture and language, but also refuse to turn the material turn into an argument for either a new vitalism or a new determinism. Such a reactivated dialectic would also take the depredations of neoliberalism in the academy as its first target, even as it also tries to imagine and enact alternate political and economic forms of praxis that move beyond the endgame of pure critique.

    This political economic praxis might take some of the forms chronicled by Boaventura de Souza Santos in his innovative edited volume, Another Production is Possible, which examines new forms of labor internationalism, including forms of successful cooperative production in Portugal and India, the solidary economy in Brazil, and other alternative production systems. As de Souza Santos himself recognizes, these often local movements of counter-production need to be linked up to larger and more global transformations: “In such case, only the interconnection of local action and alternative strategies of incorporation or resistance at a regional, national, or global scale can save local initiatives faced with capitalist competition.” [30] It is here where the global political economy pioneered by world-systems economists such as Wallerstein, Quijano and Giovanni Arrighi, as well as social geographers such as Harvey become crucial. We need to think collectively and globally if we are really going to challenge the economic and ecological devastation of the present. It is towards such a collective vision that Badiou in his reactivation of the signifier communism is perhaps pointing, but I am less concerned with the signifiers around which such a collective vision might be oriented and more concerned with the political, social, and theoretical labor needed to produce real material economic, ecological, and social change on both local, regional and global levels.

    Such, to me is the promise of the materialist opening in the present moment of theory. In order to make this materialist opening matter, we will have to build links between political economy and what Latour terms “political ecology” (even though Latour himself problematically wants to replace the former term with the latter), or the recognition of all actors in any given collective, human and nonhuman. We will also have to do the theoretical work of linking theories of matter to materialisms of the political economic and political ecological sort. This work is beyond the scope of this essay, but it is one of the genuinely progressive possibilities represented by the material turn. The materialist opening, then, is perhaps the moment of dialectical possibility within the otherwise dispiriting prospect of a truly post-political academy.

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    1. Philip Wegner, Life Between Two Deaths: US Culture in the Long Nineties (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009), p. iii.return to text
    2. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 28-29.return to text
    3. Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, Trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Picador, 2008), p. 103.return to text
    4. Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collége de France, 1975-1976, Trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), p. 243, 247.return to text
    5. Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 226.return to text
    6. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 2, 19.return to text
    7. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, p. 178.return to text
    8. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), p. viii.return to text
    9. Marc Bousquet, How the University Works: Higher-Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York: NYU Press, 2008), p. 90-124.return to text
    10. Ibid., p. 120.return to text
    11. Christopher Leigh Connery, “Introduction: Worlded Pedagogy in Santa Cruz,” The Worlding Project: Doing Cultural Studies in the Era of Globalization, Rob Wilson and Christopher Leigh Connery, eds. (Santa Cruz, CA: New Pacific Press, 2007), p. 1-11, p. 5.return to text
    12. See Fredric Jameson, The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998 (London: Verso, 1998); Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991); Richard Rorty, The Linguistic Turn: Essays in Philosophical Method (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). return to text
    13. Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, p. x.return to text
    14. See the following texts: Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, p. 1-54; David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), p. 39-65; Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, “Introducing the New Materialisms,” New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 1-43; Levi Bryant, The Democracy of Objects (Ann Arbor: Open Humanities, 2011), pp. 1-33.return to text
    15. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, p. 54.return to text
    16. Stephan Ramsay quoted in Matthew K. Gold, “The Digital Humanities Moment,” Debates in the Digital Humanities, Gold, ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), p. x; Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), p. 113.return to text
    17. Bruno Latour, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004): 225-248, p. 225.return to text
    18. Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), p. 94; Bruno Latour, Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, Trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), p. 246-247.return to text
    19. Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, p. 113-146.return to text
    20. For two differently situated accounts of this work on the political, see Bruno Bosteels, The Actuality of Communism (London: Verso, 2011) and Roberto Esposito, Living Thought: The Origins and Actuality of Italian Philosophy, Trans. Zakiya Hanafi (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012). return to text
    21. Bruno Bosteels, The Actuality of Communism, p. 80, 81.return to text
    22. Alain Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis (London: Verso, 2010), p. 232, 246; Alain Badiou, “The Idea of Communism,” The Idea of Communism, Costas Douzinas and Slavoj Žižek, eds. (London: Verso, 2010), p. 1-14; Alain Badiou, “The Communist Idea and the Question of Terror,” The Idea of Communism 2: The New York Conference (London: Verso, 2013), p. 1-11. return to text
    23. Alain Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, p. 243.return to text
    24. Ibid., p. 244-245.return to text
    25. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, p. xi. See also, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s discussion of the republic of property and social democracy as two state forms that appropriate the common in Comonwealth, p. 3-21. The term “accelerationism” comes from Noyes, The Persistence of the Negative, p. 5. return to text
    26. David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 204.return to text
    27. On material feminisms, see Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman, eds., Material Feminisms (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2008); on speculative materialism and realism see Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman, eds., The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (Melbourne: re.press, 2011); on recent work in affect theory see Patricia Ticineto Clough with Jean Halley, eds., The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007) and Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds., The Affect Theory Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); for a brief introduction to world-systems analysis see Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).return to text
    28. Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, “Introducing the New Materialisms,” p. 6.return to text
    29. See Christopher Breu, Insistence of the Material: Literature in the Age of Biopolitics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), pp. 22-23.return to text
    30. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, “Introduction: Expanding the Economic Canon and Searching for Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization,” Another Production is Possible: Beyond the Capitalist Canon, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, ed. (London: Verso, 2006), p. xxxix.return to text