Announcing Volume 2, Issue 1 of Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory

The International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs is pleased to announce the first issue of volume two of Critical Times, now published with Duke University Press at https://read.dukeupress.edu/critical-times. Critical Times is a peer-reviewed, open access online journal that seeks to foreground encounters between canonical critical theory and various traditions of critique emerging from other historical legacies, seeking to present the multiple forms that critical thought takes today. We publish essays from different regions of the world in order to foster new paths of intellectual exchange and reformulate the field by accounting for its regional and linguistic inflections. The journal is published three times a year and invites submissions in the form of essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection, transnational exchange, and political reflection and practice.

In early 2019, Critical Times welcomed Samera Esmeir as its new senior editor. Esmeir is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley and periodically lectures in graduate programs at Birzeit University in Palestine. She brings to the journal her extensive background in law, social history and theory, rhetoric, and political theory and politics, as well as her scholarly interests in the legal humanities, including the history and present of the Middle East.

The newest issue of the journal opens with a special section of memorial essays and testimonies on the life, work, and legacy of Saba Mahmood, who passed away on March 10, 2018. The short contributions to this section consider Mahmood’s influence on anthropology, history, the legacies of critique, political economy, secularism, feminism, and humanism. Contributors include Webb Keane, Judith Butler, Joan Wallach Scott, Mayanthi Fernando, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Samuli Schielke, and Didier Fassin.

The issue also features a group of scholarly essays that reflect on the critical situations of universities in various parts of the world. In “What is the University For?” Premesh Lalu considers the structuring effects of “apartheid reason” and its ties with the legacy of the Kantian university, making the case for freedom as a resource for the future. In “The Non-Modern Crisis of the Modern University,” Willy Thayer analyzes the Kantian university from another angle, arguing that the years of dictatorship in Chile coincide with the restructuring of the autonomous or “epic” university, its remaking as an institution saturated by and inseparable from the market. Nivedita Menon challenges the exclusionary structures of existing disciplines in her critique of the institutional transformations of Indian universities in “The University as Utopia: Critical Thinking and the Work of Social Transformation,” which argues for the importance of situated knowledge generated from local contexts.  In “Ayotzinapa: Truth and the Economy of Mourning,” Rosaura Martínez Ruiz recounts the recent history of the forty-three students disappeared from a rural teacher-training college in Mexico, asking about public mourning as a political right in an Arendtian sense, one that depends on documented, factual truth.

In “The New Neoliberal Turn in Argentina: Omnipotence, the Sacrificial Mandate, and the Craving for Punishment,” Gisela Catanzaro and María Stegmayer draw attention to the interlocking relationship between the entrepreneurial and the punitive dimensions of neo-liberalism in Argentina, producing a new idea of sacrifice. This article is published in both English and Spanish.

The artistic interventions collected in this issue include five poems by the Iraqi poet, novelist, and scholar Sinan Antoon, published in both English and Arabic, and translated by the poet himself. Antoon is well-known for his writing and translations on war, loss, and memory. In her drawings and artist’s reflections, “Take Care of Yourself” and “Class Notes,” Alice Attie gives critical theories spatial form on the page.

The next two issues of the journal, scheduled for release in the fall of 2019, are thematic. The second issue of volume two features a collection of essays on Walter Benjamin’s “Toward the Critique of Violence” that address its significance for the political present. The third issue is titled “Time and Politics in Contemporary Critique: Entanglements and Aftermaths,” and it considers the new directions in memory studies in relation to contemporary global challenges, including the legacies of apartheid, civil war, borders, migration, and statelessness.

Please visit the Critical Times website for more information on the journal and on how to contribute. Inquiries can be sent to criticaltimes@berkeley.edu.

Critical Times is supported by a grant to the University of California, Berkeley from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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