Cultural Critique Online

by Cesare CasarinoFrieda EkottoMaggie HennefeldJohn MowittSimona Sawhney

Welcome to Cultural Critique Online, the open-access online section of Cultural Critique. This journal provides a forum for creative and provocative scholarship in the theoretical humanities and humanistic social sciences. Transnational in scope and transdisciplinary in orientation, the journal strives to spark and galvanize intellectual debates as well as to attract and foster critical investigations regarding any aspect of culture as it expresses itself in words, images, and sounds, across both time and space. The journal is especially keen to support scholarship that engages the ways in which cultural production, cultural practices, and cultural forms constitute and manifest the nexus between the aesthetic, the psychic, the economic, the political, and the ethical intended in their widest senses. While informed by the diverse traditions of historical materialism as well as by the numerous critiques of such traditions from various parts of the globe, the journal welcomes contributions based on a variety of theoretical-methodological paradigms. Cultural Critique Online on Manifold expands Cultural Critique’s existing web presence to include new open-access book reviews, short articles, interviews, and more.

Cover design by Jeenee Lee

Frame 3: September 2022



  • Cover of Capital is Dead—as in Freud’s Dead Father?

    Capital is Dead—as in Freud’s Dead Father?Marx in the Era of Informatized Capital

    by A. Kiarina Kordela

    In this piece I engage with McKenzie Wark’s Capital is Dead: Is this Something Worse? in an attempt to clarify certain central concepts in Marx’s theory that I consider indispensable to understanding today’s era of informatized capital. While Wark claims that we are past capitalism and that, accordingly, Marx is obsolete in grasping and acting within today's socio-economical world, I argue that today we are actually experiencing a culmination of capitalism as conceived by Marx and that, accordingly, his work could not be more apposite. In the first section I set Wark’s argument in dialogue with Kojin Karatani who has already addressed the question regarding Marx’s relevance to informatized capitalism. In the second section I address the meaning of and the relation between the concepts of, on the one hand, essence, abstract, and eternity, and, on the other hand, change, concrete, and historical time, as they present themselves in Marx’s historical materialism. The last section argues that informatized capital amounts to the overlap of the forces and relations of production, and that this overlap enables unforeseen levels of economico-affective exploitation, as anticipated by Marx’s concept of surplus labor.

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Frame 2: June 2022

Cultural Critique Books

  • Cover of Book launch and panel for “The Rhythm of Images: Cinema Beyond Measure,” by Domietta Torlasco

    Book launch and panel for “The Rhythm of Images: Cinema Beyond Measure,” by Domietta Torlasco

    by Maggie Hennefeld, Cesare Casarino

    Panelists Tom Conley, Akira Mizuta Lippit, John Mowitt, Tiziana Terranova, and Amy Villarejo join author Domietta Torlasco to discuss “The Rhythm of Images: Cinema beyond Measure,” the latest title from the Cultural Critique Books series with University of Minnesota Press. Moderated by Cultural Critique editors Cesare Casarino and Maggie Hennefeld.

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  • Cover of Revisiting Non-willing Freedom: How Gandhi Matters Today

    Revisiting Non-willing Freedom: How Gandhi Matters Today

    by Ajay Skaria

    Already in his own time, and ever more so in the last four or decades, Gandhi’s politics have been subjected to powerful critiques from the left. While many of these critiques are entirely correct, they can, if made too quickly, also obscure from us what is most radical about Gandhi—the way he questioned a will-centered politics. Such a questioning remains indispensable for a left and democratic politics today, even it must necessarily proceed by relinquishing many of Gandhi’s specific formulations and positions. Thinking with Gandhi, this essay addresses four questions: what is a politics that affirms the will of the people? What is distinctive about “parliamentary swaraj” as a form of will-centered politics? What would be involved in a politics that relinquishes the will? Finally, what is the relation between these two politics—between the politics that affirms the will and the one that relinquishes the will.

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Frame 1: January 2022


  • Cover of Revisions of Ontology

    Revisions of OntologyOn Nahum Dimitri Chandler’s “X—The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought”

    by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    “Revisions of Ontology” demonstrates how Nahum Dmitri Chandler uses early Derrida and Hortense Spillers, and of course his own considerable reading skills, to establish that W.E.B. Du Bois’s work shows that difference is ontologically irreducible. It dwells at length on Chandler’s staging of the aporia of exemplarity in Du Bois’s diversified use of autobiography as argument. It comments on the individual readings at length and critically. It comments on “between”-ness as it is taken as the structure of feeling of all that Du Bois wrote. It shows how Chandler shows that, for Du Bois, “double consciousness” is not only a loss but also the gain of a “second sight.” It reveals how the name “African-American” emerges as a catachresis to name the global subject of an undecidable and indefinite future. It unfolds Chandler’s perceptive reading of Du Bois’s reading of John Brown as African-American.

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In the Conjuncture

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  • Cover of From “Plessy” to Ferguson

    From “Plessy” to Ferguson

    by George Lipsitz

    The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and the responses to it evidence a long-standing pattern in U.S. law, history and culture of not only condoning injustice but disavowing its very existence. The many miscarriages of justice in this case reveal that the nation has never really moved beyond the forms of racial domination articulated in the Dred Scott and Plessy Supreme Court cases decided during the regimes of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. When considered in the context of how the racialization of space and the spatialization of race create cumulative vulnerabilities for aggrieved individuals and groups, what transpired during and after the killing of Michael Brown is only one more instance of slavery unwilling to die.

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  • Cover of Michael Brown, Ferguson, and the Ghosts of Pruitt-Igoe

    Michael Brown, Ferguson, and the Ghosts of Pruitt-Igoe

    by Roderick A. Ferguson

    The roots of Michael Brown’s murder lie partly in the contentious struggles around the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, a struggle that produced the discursive and material conditions whereby black life in the St. Louis suburbs would be degraded and managed by white authorities.

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  • Cover of Street/Crime

    Street/CrimeFrom Rodney King’s Beating to Michael Brown’s Shooting

    by Paula Rabinowitz

    More than twenty years ago, video of four police officers beating Rodney King seemed proof positive of brutality by predominantly white police forces against African American citizens. However, in their trial for the beating, the four defendants successfully used the tape, examined frame by frame, to argue that Mr. King was the aggressor. Their acquittal sparked a violent uprising in Los Angeles. Once again, after the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer, images of the demonstrations responding to widespread police violence in the black community rerouted guilt away from the perpetrator, who was exonerated by a grand jury, and onto those expressing their rage on the streets.

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  • Cover of In the Wake

    In the Wake

    by Paul Youngquist

    This essay offers a historical meditation on the death of Michael Brown. It situates contemporary violence against blacks in the legacy of chattel slavery, invoking the incident of the slave ship Zong to help explain the abandonment to violence of black life. The work of Giorgio Agamben provides a theoretical backdrop to help account for its frequency. The meditation ends with an instance of found poetry derived from the official report of Michael Brown’s autopsy.

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  • Cover of Unbearable Blackness

    Unbearable Blackness

    by Jared Sexton

    This article offers an appreciation of the political problems confronting the “Black Lives Matter” campaign against anti-black state violence in and beyond the United States, especially regarding the question of multiracial solidarity. It suggests that a black feminist conceptualization of reproductive justice offers the most adequate framework for explaining the culture and institution of policing. In legal determinations of life and death, the history of racial slavery presents an aporia running across the political spectrum, generating a range of figurative peculiarities in the modern discourse of freedom. The contemporary “pro-life” movement provides a case in point.

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