The geographies of capitalism, a king of Geography, and the destruction of political dreams

Camila Bassi with her take on the despicable events at my university (Warwick) over the past few weeks.

Anaemic On A Bike

“It would be difficult to deny the difficult days that the world is going through. One might say that the four horseman [sic] of the apocalypse have moved from a quiet trot to a full gallop and this increase in activity has been accompanied by the rise of Right-wing politics of various kinds which are clearly associated with a series of state and corporate ideologies and practices that must be denied any more room in the world and that, in time, must be rolled back.” (Nigel Thrift and Ash Amin, What’s Left? Just the Future, 1995, 236)

Did you foresee when you were writing this, Nigel, the danger of you becoming a horseman of capitalism? When naming as a value for the Left, “a constant and unremitting critical reflexivity towards our own practices” (Amin and Thrift, 1995, 221), at what point did you relinquish and decide on the other side? In proposing for the Left, “an…

View original post 979 more words

Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left

A review of Amin and Thrift’s upcoming title ‘Arts of the Political’.

Mobilizing Ideas

By Mark Trekson

Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left, by Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, isn’t exactly beach reading, but to those interested in a novel effort to link a wide range of political theory to practical politics, it is an interesting and (surprisingly—given the theoretical range it covers) engaging read. With apologies to Claude Levi-Strauss, this is the sort of book that is “good to think with,” especially for readers willing to use its engagement with political thought as a jumping off point for further reading or as a way to understand their own activism in  a new way. That said, while this is a book about social movements, those looking for a direct engagement with what I would consider to be the main currents in social movement theory  (both contemporary and historical) will be disappointed.

Amin and Thrift, at least in the United States…

View original post 950 more words

Anticipatory politics

8 years before Barnett wondered whether Thrift wanted to pursue a political project in his notion of affect, here he is, arguing for a political project of the notion of affect (in the affirmative):

This ‘politics of the half-second delay’ has the potential to expand the bio-political domain, to make it more than just the site of investment by the state or investments by transnational capitalism. It may well explain the deep affective investments that are made by so many in a politics of nature, investments which move far beyond the cognitive and which are often figured as a restitution of all that has been lost. Perhaps…the outcome might be figured more accurately as new appreciations and anticipations of spaces of embodiment, best understood as a form of magic dependent upon new musics of stillness and silence able to be discovered in a world of movement.

Taken from his 2000 paper, ‘Still life in nearly present time: the object of nature’ in Body and Society. The abstract is available here, but I can’t find a freely downloadable version I’m afraid.

Political Affects in Public Space II

I said I’d return to make a few comments on the Barnett (2008) paper I read yesterday (direct link to that post here). He understands the Thriftian notion of affect in two registers and calls up a number of problems:

1. under the critical vision of the politics of affect.

Are all affectual outcomes bad? Because that’s what Barnett thinks Thrift gets at for a large part. If affect matters politically it’s because ‘it opens up new surfaces for the exercise of manipulation’ (198). But Barnett says that excitement, joy, fear, compulsion, shame etc. ‘have no a priori political valence at all’ (198) and as such can’t be deemed bad per se. It’s a process of interpreting the outcomes from these affects that have the political dimension. Thrift needs to consider this in order to qualify this dimension.


2. under the affirmative vision of the politics of affect.

The spaces of affect can be progressively appropriated in order to realise new ‘configurations of feelings’ (198). But why is Thrift making these somewhat covert attempts to open up political regimes of affect? Surely their value only comes from the kinds of political projects that are ongoing and are directed to anyway (’emotional liberty’, ‘ethos of engagement’ 198)? Thrift needs to engage with these political dimensions outright if he wants to make a project of the spaces of affect. Although something tells me that’s not what he wants to do. But Barnett says if that is what Thrift intends, then he has to clarify the implications of it for democratic principles (liberty, free-speech etc.), and for the people who should be participating in this process of commanding the spaces of affect (i.e. every single citizen).