Call for Submissions.Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies (ACDS) – Special issue on “Modernity”

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Call for Submissions

Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies (ACDS) – Special issue on “Modernity”

“There are a million different ways to define ‘modernity.’ According to some it mainly has to do with science and technology, for others it’s a matter of individualism; others, capitalism, or bureaucratic rationality, or alienation, or an ideal of freedom of one sort or another. However they define it, almost everyone agrees that at somewhere in the sixteenth, or seventeenth, or eighteenth centuries, a Great Transformation occurred, that it occurred in Western Europe and its settler colonies, and that because of it, we became ‘modern.’ And that once we did, we became a fundamentally different sort of creature than anything that had come before.
“But what if we kicked this whole apparatus away? What if we
blew up the wall?”
— David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

“Postmodernism […] senses that something has gone awry in the modern critique, but it is not able to do anything but prolong that critique, though without believing in its foundations […] ‘No future’: this is the slogan added to the moderns’ motto, ‘No past.’ What remains? […] No one has ever been modern. Modernity has never begun. There has never been a modern world. […] Hence the hint of the ludicrous that always accompanies postmodern thinkers; they claim to come after a time that has not even started!”
— Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern

The study of what is called “modernity,” in the academic humanities and social sciences, has underscored the relative strangeness and novelty of institutions that have taken on the appearance of universal and eternal givens. Hierarchy, exchange, and empire all predate modernity, but the State, capitalism, and imperialism can be seen as distinctly modern phenomena. This has provided another conceptual lever for anarchists seeking to dislodge status-quo ideology. However, other voices have raised new questions about just how distinctively modern these phenomena are. In a world where religious movements increasingly enter the void left by “failed States” – even in the supposedly enlightened precincts of the deindustrializing “industrialized world” – Bruno Latour’s suggestion that “we have never been modern” assumes a fresh relevance and perhaps raises problems both for advocates of a “postmodern anarchism” and their modernist critics. For David Graeber, Latour’s offer to blur the sharp distinctions between modern and premodern opens up possibilities for insight and action. But to what extent has anarchism, for better or worse, been “modern” in its commitment to Enlightenment ideals such as emancipation through science, progress, and rationality? In what respects might anarchism, for better or worse, have “never been modern”? Might a re-exploration of modernity open the way to a rethinking of religious anarchisms and “political theology” (a term which, significantly, Carl Schmitt violently appropriates from Mikhail Bakunin)? These and other questions are on our minds as we invite contributions to a special issue of Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies on “Anarchism and Modernity.”

Contributions on any of these themes – and others not listed below –
would be welcomed:

-Anarchist reconsiderations of classic theories/theorists of modernity:
e.g., Weber, the Frankfurt School, Foucault…
-Have anarchists ever been “modern”?
-Nonsynchrony, “development” theory, and anarchism
-Potentials/problems of alternative theories of modernity for anarchism
(e.g., Zygmunt Bauman’s “Liquid Modernity”)
-Industrial civilization/technology
-The ecological crisis
-Indigenous anarchism(s)/anarchist-indigenous alliances
-Anarchists in/and anticolonial struggles
-Anarchism and “the modern subject”
-“When [and where] was modernity?”
-“Political theology” and anarchism
-Anarchism and ritual/ceremony/traditions
-Anarchist critiques of scientific or aesthetic modernity/postmodernity

Please contact Nathan Jun ( and copy Jesse Cohn ( with queries. Deadline for submissions: December 8, 2014.


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