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Qui Parle, Volume 29, Number 2, December 2020

Vol. 29 | No. 2 | December 2020


How the Critique of Heaven Confines the Critique of the Earth
Mohamad Amer Meziane

This essay examines the effects of the critique of religion on the critique of capital and how the former confines the latter. It asks: What remains of the concepts of alienation or fetishism if they all stem from an anthropology of religion that seems to be criticized? If religion ceases to refer to an anthropological essence and is criticized as a European colonial concept, then what happens to the critique of capital? It argues that what Marx considers the condition for critique seems to be the blind spot of Western Marxism. Without a critical analysis of how the concept of religion is constructed and how religion is thus described as a human invention, Marxism cannot know itself. If Marx is a “critic of the critique of religion,” this gesture must apply to Marx as well as to Marxism itself. The critique of capitalism might need an alternative foundation if the anthropological concept of religion that supported it collapses. It is therefore impossible to maintain the critique of capital as it is while refusing the critique of religion that lies at its foundation.

Read now at Duke University Press

Otherwise than Blackness: Feeling, World, Sublimation
Tyrone S. Palmer

This essay thinks through the centrality of the concept of “the World” to theorizations of affect and the presumed correlation between feeling and world—that is, the notion that affective experience is necessarily generative of world(s)—that operates as an uninterrogated maxim in both contemporary and classical theories of affect. Focusing on the figure and question of the World and its grammars of relation(ality) and becoming, this essay considers the implications of an insistence on worlding in the context of anti-Blackness. It argues that the sustenance of the very concept of the World necessitates a foreclosure of Black affect’s destructive drive. Black affect is therefore an impossibility within the World, as that unbearable negativity which drives us toward its necessary destruction. In light of this, the essay argues further that the tendency toward an uncritical embrace of affect as a mode of world-forming within strains of Black critical theory—represented by turns to “the otherwise”—performs a sublimation of Black affect’s radical negativity, as encapsulated in the desire for the End of the World.

Read now at Duke University Press

A Living Community: Theorizing Immunity from the Autoimmune
Ohad Ben Shimon

This article proposes a theorization of immunity from an embodied autoimmune perspective. Arguing through what it identifies as the limitations in current clinical immunology explanations and politico-philosophical theories of immunity, the article seeks to embody, rather than metaphorize, the theoretical stakes of current immune theory. As a counterargument to dominant theorizations of immunity that pathologize or metaphorize the autoimmune bodily experience, the article forwards a more spacious, material, and affirmative theorization of the body. As the author supplements existing immune theory with their own emergent and embodied theory, they develop an autoimmune methodology based on their experience of living with an autoimmune disease. Part personal narrative, part speculative autoimmune theory, the article ultimately calls for a practice of self-care aimed at coming to tolerate the disagreeing community of the autoimmune body as it challenges normalized notions of what self and other, immunity and community, ease and disease mean.

Read now at Duke University Press

“South Africa Is the Land of Pet Animals”; or, The Racializing Assemblages of Colonial Pet-Keeping
Anna Feuerstein

This essay analyzes two late Victorian texts by white women colonists in South Africa—F. Clinton Parry’s children’s book African Pets (1880) and Annie Martin’s memoir Home Life on an Ostrich Farm (1890)—to nuance understandings of animality as racialization. By reading representations of colonial pet-keeping, the essay shows how the racializing tendencies of Western humanism—especially within slavery and colonialism—manifest within gendered animal-human relationships and help construct both Blackness and whiteness. It focuses on pet-keeping in the colonies to explore understandings of animal-human relationships within the Victorian empire and thus revises Achille Mbembe’s taxonomy of colonial animality. Moving beyond comparison and the tendency to group multiple kinds of dehumanizing practices within slavery and colonialism under the term animalization, the essay suggests that the assemblage is a more productive way to read the many layers of dehumanization taking place within colonial contexts. By analyzing constructions of Blackness, whiteness, and the animal together, it argues that within the animalization and dehumanization projected from the white colonist, we can move beyond reading only for anti-Blackness and locate significant moments of Black fugitivity, wherein Blackness escapes the racializing logics of Western humanism.

Read now at Duke University Press

Workers Entering the Prison: Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008) as Imperial Labor Film
Christopher McGowan

This article argues that Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008) represents an unexpected but compelling mutation of the genre of postindustrial labor film. Hunger depicts the protests of Irish republican prisoners inside the Maze Prison that culminated in the 1981 Irish hunger strike. At the same time, the film develops an extended representation of the labor of the prison workers who beat, humiliate, care for, and counsel the prisoners throughout the protests. By combining and reworking the genres of labor film, prison film, and Irish Troubles film, Hunger imagines the prison as a microcosm of a deindustrialized Northern Irish economy where labor has left the factory and become conjoined to the disciplinary power of the state, either as police work or as care work. In this way, Hunger attends to the “spirit” of what Lenin called the “labor aristocracy,” here reduced to the work of maintaining the very boundary between itself and those excluded from it. McQueen’s attention to the body and to the affective dimensions of labor and struggle, the article argues, allows Hunger to achieve a uniquely committed, totalizing representation of the political economy of Northern Ireland.

Read now at Duke University Press

Cover: Londi Lion, Black World II, 2020.

Volume 29.2 is available at Duke University Press and Project Muse. Qui Parle is edited by an independent group of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and published by Duke University Press.