Category Archives: Interviews

Occupations and The Struggle Over Reproduction: An Interview with Silvia Federici

Max Haiven

Silvia Federici is a veteran activist and writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York.  Born and raised in Italy, Federici has taught in Italy, Nigeria, and the United States and has been involved in many movements, including feminist, education, and anti-death penalty struggles. Her influential 2004 book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, built on decades of research and activism, offers an account of the relationship between the European witch trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the rise of capitalism.

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Occupy Education: An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Sunday, January 8, 2012, at Elliot Bay Bookstore, Seattle, WA

Interviewed by Rahul K. Gairola, Seattle University and University of Washington

 

In January 2012, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak visited Seattle for a number of reasons: to deliver the keynote address of the annual conference of the South Asian Literary Association (SALA), participate on a distinguished panel on the future of postcolonial studies at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), and, among many other things, meet with local scholars, teacher, and students for an informal coffee date at Elliot Bay Bookstore.  Spivak’s many engagements prefaced the recent publication of An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (Harvard UP, 2012), a collection of meditations that together explore the many instances of what she has called “the double bind,” which can be read as the elliptical shuttling between two subject positions where at least one, but more often both, are sites of the other. A double bind, in other words, involves a binary in which two subject positions can simultaneously oppose yet construct one another.  Spivak also describes the double bind as “learning to live with contradictory instructions.”[1]  We can think of this important concept as a function of many other concepts that Spivak has influenced throughout her substantive career: for example, she has famously argued that one can no longer claim subalternity one comes into representation.  This presents a double bind in the sense that we need representation to “know” what it means to be “subaltern,” but that representation itself is precisely that – a re-presentation whose meaning is overdetermined and distorted once it is mediated through a semiotic system of meaning production.  Another example is Spivak’s famous notion of “strategic essentialism,” which presents a double bind since it, on the one hand, recognizes that essentialism of identity is at play, but on the other hand acquiesces that the flattening of identificatory differences is necessary to secure political agency and bind subjects together for resistance tactics.[2]

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The Left at the Moment: An Interview with Michael Bérubé

Part I/Politics in the U.S. Today: What Time is It?

Gabriel Noah Brahm: In early 2009, when The Left at War had just come out, Barack Obama was inaugurated and George W. Bush was finally out of office.  Those were heady days.  The right seemed to be on the run, as you put it in the “Introduction” to your book, which you subtitled “On Time.”  Was the feeling that things were looking up for the left, after eight long years, part of why you there called your book “untimely”?  And if so, have times changed again already, so soon and so quickly?  The book seems very timely, with war still raging and the left still in disarray.[1]

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Michael Perelman, On globalization, economics, and the history of food crises

Michael Perelman is a prolific and compelling scholar of contemporary economics and politics who teaches at California State University in Chico.  He has published 19 books on a wide variety of topics.  Graduating with a degree in agricultural economics, questions of the global inequalities of food production and distribution, both past and present, led Perelman’s to write several early books including Farming for Profit in a Hungry World (1977), Classical Political Economy, Primitive Accumulation and the Social Division of Labor (1983), and Karl Marx’s Crises Theories: Labor, Scarcity and Fictitious Capital (1987).  All three touched on the “environmental, social, and economic costs of the current agricultural system” and the way those costs are disguised by reigning economic paradigms which facilitate the privatization of social wealth.

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Raj Patel, On rights, sovereignty, and suicide

Interviewed by Scott Stoneman

Raj Patel is an activist, organizer and visiting scholar in the Centre for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, as well as a Research Associate at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. He has written extensively on food sovereignty as an ethical injunction and political horizon, and his recent Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System, a compendious and cogent study of the genealogies of our current global food system, has made him a major voice in discourses of food today. In this interview, he considers the ideological implications of “food security,” the limits of rights discourses and technocratic solutions in talking about food politics, the obfuscations of statistical knowledge and the possibility of mass participatory democracy today.

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Julie Guthman, On globalization, neoliberalism, obesity, local food and education

Interviewed by Scott Stoneman

Julie Guthman is an Associate Professor in the Community Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Her pressing and rigorous work has dealt with the ways in which organic farming movements and reform in California strain the boundaries that obtain between nature and capital and between the local and the global (Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California), with governmentality, embodiment and resistance in the age of neoliberalism (“The Polanyian Way? Voluntary Food Labels as Neoliberal Governance,” “Embodying neoliberalism: economy, culture, and the politics of fat” [with Melanie DuPuis]), and the racial assumptions that impinge community projects for the distribution of local, organic food in African-American neighborhoods (“Bringing good food to others: investigating the subjects of alternative food practice”). Her developing research examines the biopolitics of obesity in terms of race, embodiment and the evolution of alternative food practices. Among other difficult questions, in this interview Dr. Guthman offers critical perspectives on the intersection of alternative food and political subjectivity, the social, cultural and bodily impact of neoliberalism, and the possibility of responsible food criticism and radical food pedagogy in a time of crisis.

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Herbert Marcuse's 3-Dimensional Hippopotamus: An Interiew with Documentary Filmmaker Alexander Juutilainen

Alexander Juutilainen is the producer/director of the acclaimed documentary Herbert’s Hippopotamus. This video told the story of Herbert Marcuse’s role in student activism while a Professor at the University of California, San Diego and the virulent response of California politicians and residents. Juutilainen was born in Finland and is of Finnish and Greek/Macedonian descent. He grew up primarily in Denmark and moved to San Diego in 1992 where he began the project on Marcuse.

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Silvia Federici, On capitalism, colonialism, women and food politics

In this interview Federici shares her thoughts on the relationship between
food, agricultural production, women’s work, global capitalist
accumulation and struggle around the world.

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