'Problematizing Critque' is a forthcoming volume by editor Tom Boland as part of the Journal of International Political Anthropology's 'Series on Contemporary Mimetic Revival' by series editors Agnes Horvath and James B. Cuffe.
“This is the great age of critique, and to critique, everything must submit.” (Kant)
If modernity is the great age of critique, how are we to understand critique as a cultural phenomenon? While critique is a perennial activity for many intellectuals and academics, what if it were constitutive of modern society more generally? Theoreticisations of critique abound in increasingly specialised debates, but how often do we problematise critique, by posing the question of critique as a phenomenon worth studying in itself?
Rather than enter into a series of convoluted attempts to become reflexive about critique, another approach is to bracket the aporias around ‘critique’ and assume that it is something of a social phenomena – complex, fine-grained, local, and interpenetrating with other elements – and hence amenable to empirical investigation. What is to be learned through tracing the history of critique, and what would that genealogy contribute to our present practices of critique? Is it possible to conduct an ethnography of critique, and how does critique appear in the light of anthropological theories? Can aesthetics themselves be analysed as critical transformations of meaning, and is it possible to trace the genealogical interpenetration of art and criticism?
Once we approach it as a social phenomenon, critique may appear as many things simultaneously; as a discourse with political consequences, as a dynamic force in historical developments, as a mode of social organisation, or as an incitement to constitute the self as a critic. Within classical and contemporary social theory there are sources for a non-critical sociology. More importantly; how is critique constitutive of modernity, even of contemporary crises?
This collection of essays welcomes submissions which problematise critique.
Submissions should conform to standard Harvard referencing style, with an upper word count limit of 9,000.
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