A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory
Edited by Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, & Sherry B. Ortner
The intellectual radicalism of the 1960s spawned a new set of questions about the role and nature of "the political" in social life, questions that have since revolutionized nearly every field of thought, from literary criticism through anthropology to the philosophy of science. Michel Foucault in particular made us aware that whatever our functionally defined "roles" in society, we are constantly negotiating questions of authority and the control of the definitions of reality. Such insights have led theorists to challenge concepts that have long formed the very underpinnings of their disciplines. By exploring some of the most debated of these concepts--"culture," "power," and "history"--this reader offers an enriching perspective on social theory in the contemporary moment.
Organized around these three concepts, Culture/ Power/History brings together both classic and new essays that address Foucault's "new economy of power relations" in a number of different, contestatory directions. Representing innovative work from various disciplines and sites of study, from taxidermy to Madonna, the book seeks to affirm the creative possibilities available in a time marked by growing uncertainty about established disciplinary forms of knowledge and by the increasing fluidity of the boundaries between them. The book is introduced by a major synthetic essay by the editors, which calls attention to the most significant issues enlivening theoretical discourse today. The editors seek not only to encourage scholars to reflect anew on the course of social theory, but also to orient newcomers to this area of inquiry.
The essays are contributed by Linda Alcoff ("Cultural Feminism versus Post-Structuralism"), Sally Alexander ("Women, Class, and Sexual Differences in the 1830s and 1840s"), Tony Bennett ("The Exhibitionary Complex"), Pierre Bourdieu ("Structures, Habitus, Power"), Nicholas B. Dirks ("Ritual and Resistance"), Geoff Eley ("Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures"), Michel Foucault (Two Lectures), Henry Louis Gates, Jr. ("Authority, [White] Power and the [Black] Critic"), Stephen Greenblatt ("The Circulation of Social Energy"), Ranajit Guha ("The Prose of Counter-Insurgency"), Stuart Hall ("Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms"), Susan Harding ("The Born-Again Telescandals"), Donna Haraway ("Teddy Bear Patriarchy"), Dick Hebdige ("After the Masses"), Susan McClary ("Living to Tell: Madonna's Resurrection of the Fleshly"), Sherry B. Ortner ("Theory in Anthropology since the Sixties"), Marshall Sahlins ("Cosmologies of Capitalism"), Elizabeth G. Traube ("Secrets of Success in Postmodern Society"), Raymond Williams (selections from Marxism and Literature), and Judith Williamson ("Family, Education, Photography").
Nicholas B. Dirks is Professor of Anthropology and History, Geoff Eley is Professor of History, and Sherry B. Ortner is Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies, all at the University of Michigan.