Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Some Long Awaited For Philosophical Titles

This is one of those times where it seems that several long awaited for academic books from France are coming out in English. Some of these are translations of works that have been in French for decades. Others are titles that have only have recently been released in French, but were in the archives of the authors instead.

1. Michel Foucault--History of Sexuality, Vol. 4: Confessions of the Flesh.
If you are interested in why the long delay of the fourth volume of the History of Sexuality, along with a good review of the book itself, I highly suggest reading this review from Stuart Elden.
But here is the summary from the book:
Brought to light at last--the fourth volume in the famous History of Sexuality series by one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, his final work, which he had completed, but not yet published, upon his death in 1984.
Michel Foucault's philosophy has made an indelible impact on Western thought, and his History of Sexuality series--which traces cultural and intellectual notions of sexuality, arguing that it is profoundly shaped by the power structures applied to it--is one of his most influential works. At the time of his death in 1984, he had completed--but not yet edited or published--the fourth volume, which posits that the origins of totalitarian self-surveillance began with the Christian practice of confession. This is a text both sweeping and deeply personal, as Foucault--born into a French Catholic family--undoubtedly wrestled with these issues himself. Since he had stipulated "Pas de publication posthume," this text has long been secreted away. However, the sale of the Foucault archives in 2013--which made this text available to scholars--prompted his nephew to seek wider publication. This attitude was shared by Foucault's longtime partner, Daniel Defert, who said, "What is this privilege given to Ph.D students? I have adopted this principle: It is either everybody or nobody."

2. Jacques Derrida--Geschlecht III: Sex, Race, Nation, Humanity.
This is the third, out of four, Geschlecht works, and it was recently recovered in Derrida's archive. The first one, "Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference," and the second one, "Heidegger's Hand" (which is important for us animal scholars), can both be found in the second volume of Psyche. Geschlecht IV, "Heidegger's Ear" can be found in the collection Reading Heidegger. (One more quick note is that the new set of Derrida lectures, Life Death, is also forthcoming).
A significant event in Derrida scholarship, this book marks the first publication of his long-lost philosophical text known only as “Geschlecht III.” The third, and arguably the most significant, piece in his four-part Geschlecht series, it fills a gap that has perplexed Derrida scholars. The series centers on Martin Heidegger and the enigmatic German word Geschlecht, which has several meanings pointing to race, sex, and lineage. Throughout the series, Derrida engages with Heidegger’s controversial oeuvre to tease out topics of sexual difference, nationalism, race, and humanity. In Geschlecht III, he calls attention to Heidegger’s problematic nationalism, his work’s political and sexual themes, and his promise of salvation through the coming of the “One Geschlecht,” a sentiment that Derrida found concerningly close to the racial ideology of the Nazi party.
Amid new revelations about Heidegger’s anti-Semitism and the contemporary context of nationalist resurgence, this third piece of the Geschlecht series is timelier and more necessary than ever. Meticulously edited and expertly translated, this volume brings Derrida’s mysterious and much awaited text to light.

3. Gilles Deleuze--Letters and Other Texts

This is the third collection of shorter Deleuze works edited by David Lapoujade (following up Desert Islands and Two Regimes of Madness).
A posthumous collection of writings by Deleuze, including letters, youthful essays, and an interview, many previously unpublished.
Letters and Other Texts is the third and final volume of the posthumous texts of Gilles Deleuze, collected for publication in French on the twentieth anniversary of his death. It contains several letters addressed to his contemporaries (Michel Foucault, Pierre Klossowski, François Châtelet, and Clément Rosset, among others). Of particular importance are the letters addressed to Félix Guattari, which offer an irreplaceable account of their work as a duo from Anti-Oedipus to What is Philosophy? Later letters provide a new perspective on Deleuze's work as he responds to students' questions.
This volume also offers a set of unpublished or hard-to-find texts, including some essays from Deleuze's youth, a few unusual drawings, and a long interview from 1973 on Anti-Oedipus with Guattari.

4. Gilbert Simondon--Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information, and Volume II.

5. Édouard Glissant--Treatise on the Whole-World AND Introduction to a Poetics of Diversity AND The Baton Rouge Interviews.

6. And a German one, Theodor Adorno--Aspects of the New Right-Wing Extremism

Monday, June 1, 2020

Race and Animal Studies

There are a few new books out on the intersections of Black Studies and Animal Studies, and joins a longer list of works on race and animal studies. I thought it could be helpful to put together this list.

1. Just out now is Joshua Bennett's Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man.

The summary for the book:
A prize-winning poet argues that blackness acts as the caesura between human and nonhuman, man and animal.Throughout US history, black people have been configured as sociolegal nonpersons, a subgenre of the human. Being Property Once Myself delves into the literary imagination and ethical concerns that have emerged from this experience. Each chapter tracks a specific animal figure―the rat, the cock, the mule, the dog, and the shark―in the works of black authors such as Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Jesmyn Ward, and Robert Hayden. The plantation, the wilderness, the kitchenette overrun with pests, the simultaneous valuation and sale of animals and enslaved people―all are sites made unforgettable by literature in which we find black and animal life in fraught proximity.
Joshua Bennett argues that animal figures are deployed in these texts to assert a theory of black sociality and to combat dominant claims about the limits of personhood. Bennett also turns to the black radical tradition to challenge the pervasiveness of antiblackness in discourses surrounding the environment and animals. Being Property Once Myself is an incisive work of literary criticism and a close reading of undertheorized notions of dehumanization and the Anthropocene.

2. Also just out is Zakiyyah Iman Jackson's Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World.
The book summary:
Argues that blackness disrupts our essential ideas of race, gender, and, ultimately, the human.Rewriting the pernicious, enduring relationship between blackness and animality in the history of Western science and philosophy, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World breaks open the rancorous debate between black critical theory and posthumanism. Through the cultural terrain of literature by Toni Morrison, Nalo Hopkinson, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler, the art of Wangechi Mutu and Ezrom Legae, and the oratory of Frederick Douglass, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson both critiques and displaces the racial logic that has dominated scientific thought since the Enlightenment. In so doing, Becoming Human demonstrates that the history of racialized gender and maternity, specifically antiblackness, is indispensable to future thought on matter, materiality, animality, and posthumanism.
Jackson argues that African diasporic cultural production alters the meaning of being human and engages in imaginative practices of world-building against a history of the bestialization and thingification of blackness―the process of imagining the black person as an empty vessel, a non-being, an ontological zero―and the violent imposition of colonial myths of racial hierarchy. She creatively responds to the animalization of blackness by generating alternative frameworks of thought and relationality that not only disrupt the racialization of the human/animal distinction found in Western science and philosophy but also challenge the epistemic and material terms under which the specter of animal life acquires its authority. What emerges is a radically unruly sense of a being, knowing, feeling existence: one that necessarily ruptures the foundations of "the human."

These two new books join several other monographs on the intersections of race and animal studies.

3. Aph Ko's 2019 Racism as Zoological Witchcraft: A Guide to Getting Out.

4. Also in 2019 we had Lindgren Johnson's Race Matters, Animal Matters: Fugitive Humanism in African America, 1840-1930

5. Bénédicte Boisseron's 2018 Afro-Dog: Blackness and the Animal Question

6. Julietta Singh's 2018 Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements

7. Aph and Sly Ko's 2017 Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters 

8. And lastly, Claire Jean Kim's 2015 Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age

In addition to these several monographs, there have also been more than a few edited volumes on these issues. These include:

1. The 2020 collection, Colonialism and Animality: Anti-Colonial Perspectives in Critical Animal Studies edited by Kelly Struthers Montford and Chloë Taylor.

2. The 2019 collection Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation, edited by Julia Feliz Brueck.

3. The 2017 collection, Veganism in an Oppressive World: A Vegans-of-Color Community Project, also edited by Julia Felix Brueck.

4. And of course, A. Breeze Harper's 2009 collection, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society.

And of course, these are only books (and probably not all of the books), there are plenty more chapters and articles that address these issues. Hopefully, as animal scholars, this work will challenge a tendency in the field to simply engage in what Alexander Weheliye, in Habeas Viscus, correctly pointed out as "the not so dreaded comparison."