Edited by UWM Professor and former C21 Director Richard Grusin (English), this volume originates from our 2019 conference of the same name.

Challenging several key concepts of the twenty-first century, including precarity, securitization, and resilience, this collection explores the concept of insecurity as a predominant logic governing recent cultural, economic, political, and social life in the West. The essays illuminate how attempts to make human and nonhuman systems secure and resilient end up having the opposite effect, making insecurity the default state of life today.

Unique in its wide disciplinary breadth and variety of topics and methodological approaches—from intellectual history and cultural critique to case studies, qualitative ethnography, and personal narrative—Insecurity is written predominantly from the viewpoint of the United States. The contributors’ analyses include the securitization of nongovernmental aid to Palestine, Bangladeshi climate refugees, and the privatization of U.S. military forces; the history of the concept of insecurity and the securitization of finance; racialized urban development in Augusta, Georgia; Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and the consequences of the Marie Kondo method; and the intricate politics of sexual harassment in the U.S. academy.

Contributors: Neel Ahuja, U of California, Santa Cruz; Aneesh Aneesh, U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Lisa Bhungalia, Kent State U; Jennifer Doyle, U of California, Riverside; Annie McClanahan, U of California, Irvine; Andrea Miller, Florida Atlantic U; Mark Neocleous, Brunel U London; A. Naomi Paik, U of Illinois, Chicago; Maureen Ryan, U of South Carolina; Saskia Sassen, Columbia U.

The Big No

Edited by UWM Professor Kennan Ferguson (Political Science), this volume originates from our 2017 conference of the same name.

What does it mean to refuse? To not participate, to not build a better world, to not come up with a plan? To just say “no”? Against the ubiquitous demands for positive solutions, action-oriented policies, and optimistic compromises, The Big No refuses to play. Here leading scholars traverse the wide range of political action when “no” is in the picture, analyzing topics such as collective action, antisocialism, empirical science, the negative and the affirmative in Deleuze and Derrida, the “real” and the “clone,” Native sovereignty, and Afropessimism.

In his Introduction, Kennan Ferguson sums up the concept of the “Big No,” arguing for its political importance. Whatever its form—he identifies various strains—the Big No offers power against systems of oppression. Joshua Clover argues for the importance of Marx and Fanon in understanding how people are alienated and subjugated. Theodore Martin explores the attractions of antisociality in literature and life, citing such novelists as Patricia Highsmith and Richard Wright. François Laruelle differentiates nonphilosophy from other forms of French critical theory. Katerina Kolozova applies this insight to the nature of reality itself, arguing that the confusion of thought and reality leads to manipulation, automation, and alienation. Using poetry and autobiography, Frank Wilderson shows how Black people—their bodies and being—are displaced in politics, replaced and erased by the subjectivities of violence, suffering, and absence. Andrew Culp connects these themes of negativity, comparing and contrasting the refusals of antiphilosophy and Afropessimism.

Thinking critically usually demands alternatives: how would you fix things? But, as The Big No shows, being absolutely critical—declining the demands of world-building—is one necessary response to wrong, to evil. It serves as a powerful reminder that the presumption of political action is always positive.

Contributors: Joshua Clover (U of California Davis and U of Copenhagen), Andrew Culp (California Institute of the Arts), Katerina Kolozova (Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Skopje), François Laruelle, Theodore Martin (U of California, Irvine), Anthony Paul Smith (La Salle U), Frank B. Wilderson III (U of California, Irvine).

Past Books

See the rest of the books in this series: