Regimes of the social: Rosenburg on Kotkin

I’m a big fan of Cliff Rosenberg’s work on police  as a mechanism of power operating through and in the name of the social.  His work on immigration at the beginning of the 20th century in France is one of the bases for my own concept of a “post-social police,” by way of contrast with the police reforms i witnessed in the early 21st.  So I was pleased to see that he made an explicit connection between regimes of the social in a recent review of Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Mountain:

Did population policy under Stalin differ, in any fundamental respect, from those of inter-war France or other Western countries? In a radical rethinking of the Soviet experience, Stephen Kotkin said no. Magnetic Mountain moved the field of Soviet history past an increasingly sterile cold war standoff between the so-called new social history and the totalitarian school. With the social history generation, Kotkin insisted on seeing the Soviet project from the perspective of ordinary people, subject to the same kind of forces that applied throughout Europe. He had no truck with ideas like oriental despotism or Russian exceptionalism, but, with the totalitarian school, he took ideology seriously, presenting everyday life and high politics within a single analytical frame. To do so, he drew eclectically on a range of theoretical perspectives, above all on the work of the late Michel Foucault. Foucault often implied that Auschwitz and the Gulag were the logical outcome of the Enlightenment project, but his primary goal was to illuminate the corrosive, coercive nature of liberal reform efforts in Western Europe, to puncture their claims to universality. The vast bulk of his corpus avoided the twentieth century. Kotkin, by contrast, used Foucault’s perspective directly on the Soviet system itself.

Population Politics, Power and the Problem of Modernity in Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Mountain

Sing along at home

The view
Courtesy Zeynep Gursel

In order to spurn me on when I need writing inspiration, and as its own form of procrastination, I created a Spotify playlist of all the songs I remember listening to while while in France during my dissertation research.  Now I’ve learned that you can embed Spotify playlists into WordPress posts, so you’re all in luck and can play along at home:

At the Den of the Sick Lion: Radkau on Weber

Max Weber
Max Weber: a biography by Joachim Radkau (Polity Press)

In one of Aesop’s fables a fox comes to the den of a sick lion. the lion calls out for him to enter, but the cunning fox remains outside. ‘Why won’t you come in?’ the lion asks. And the fox answers: ‘I’d come straight away if I didn’t see a lot of tracks going in but none coming out.’. In Horace’s version: ‘Vestigia terrent‘, ‘The footprints are scary’; it has become a familiar quotation. Weber gave the impression of a sick lion to those who saw him during his illness–though certainly a lion without danger. This ‘vestigia terrent‘ kept going through my head as I ventured deeper into the field of Weber studies. Was it wise of me? Doubts rose up again and again. here too there were many tracks going in but few coming out. I had been used to conducting research on open ground, on the outer edges of the social sciences fraternity. But now Weber had landed me right at the centre, where space is tight and you can feel the elbows pushing.

“At the Den of the Sick Lion,” in Max Weber: a biography by Joachim Radkau

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Thank You Congress for Increasing Funds for the Social Sciences

Originally posted on American Anthropological Association:

Please write to your Senators and House Representatives to thank them for enacting a fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bill that provides increased funding to federal science agencies important to social and behavioral science researchers.  In addition to protecting research budgets, the FY 2014 omnibus bill was free of troublesome policy riders that would have been harmful to the social science research enterprise. Through the Consortium of Social Science Association’s (COSSA) portal, you can find out how your representative voted and send a personalized thank you note.  Please take a moment to thank your elected officials for their efforts to come to final agreement on FY 2014 spending and preserve social science.

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Marilyn Strathern on Rabinow, Sahlins, Haraway, Newton, Stengers…

V0016252 Credit: Wellcome Library, London An allegorical monument to Sir Isaac Newton and his theories on prisms. Line engraving by L. Desplaces after D. M. Fratta after J.B. Pittoni, D. Valeriani and G. Valeriani. By: Owen Mac Swiney after: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Giuseppe Valeriani, Domenico Valeriani, Louis Desplaces and Domenico Maria Fratta
V0016252 Credit: Wellcome Library, London
An allegorical monument to Sir Isaac Newton and his theories on prisms. Line engraving by L. Desplaces after D. M. Fratta after J.B. Pittoni, D. Valeriani and G. Valeriani.
By: Owen Mac Swiney after: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Giuseppe Valeriani, Domenico Valeriani, Louis Desplaces and Domenico Maria Fratta

Marilyn Strathern has an article in the latest issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and, per usual, it hurts my head and will take some time to unpack, traversing the work of Paul rabinow, Marshall Sahlins, Donna Haraway, Isaac Newton, Isabelle Stengers and others in just a few short pages.  When it comes to Strathern, usually this effort is far exceeded in its rewards.  For now, one passage caught my eye, on the work of “relation” in Paul Rabinow’s writing:

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“Community Policing” in the Oxford English Dictionary

Just happened to be looking this up today in the OED:

community policing n. policing at a local or community level; spec. a system of policing by officers who have personal knowledge of and involvement in the community they police.

1934   New Castle (Pa.) News 20 Feb. 16/3   Major Adams asserted that the modern principles of community policing are based on antiquated methods.
1973   Times 24 Sept. 2/6   Community policing, at present one of the most controversial talking points in Andersontown.
2000   P. Beatty Tuff i. 4   The mayor think rhyming sound bites, community policing, and the death penalty going to stop fools from getting paid.
Not sure exactly who major Adams is or what he’s about, but it is interesting to think that the newness of “community policing” was in question even way back in 1934.  Of course, I’m also not sure what Adams meant by “community policing” had anything to do with what we mean today, or even by the second (1974) entry.

a blog about post-social policing, anthropology, science studies and more

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