The Podcast for Social Research

Episode 70 of the Podcast for Social Research is a live recording of the concluding panel of BISR’s July symposium Frankfurt School and the Now: Critical Theory in the 21st Century. To what extent, 100 years later, can critical theory help us make sense of the particular conditions, crises, and prospective futures of the contemporary twenty first-century moment? Panelists Isi Litke, Barnaby Raine, Samantha Hill, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Moira Weigel, and Jodi Dean consider big data and social media, György Lukács, Black Marxism, climate and class struggle, hyper-individualism, optimism versus pessimism, and the objectification of everything. Is interactive media a democratic alternative to a top-down culture industry, or does it actually exacerbate authoritarian dynamics? How can we think about politics and political subjects under conditions of climate change? In what ways does the twenty-first century echo the twentieth? How do we think with critical theory without fetishizing it? What are the political uses of failure? Is there an imperative to hope?

Direct download: goethe_event_podcast_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm EDT

In episode 69 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded (like episodes 67 and 68) at BISR’s recent symposium Frankfurt School and the Now, BISR faculty Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Isi Litke, and Nathan Shields and guests Adam Shatz and Kate Wagner ask about the uses of critical theory for thinking about contemporary culture and cultural production, from Twitter to architecture to media mega-conglomerates like Disney. How does social media structure and even produce certain kinds of discourse (for example, YIMBY vs. NIMBY)? How can Theodor Adorno help us navigate the poles of poptimism and elitism? Why do we feel driven to “stick up” for major movie studios and franchises, and why does doing so feel and code as “progressive”? How can we think about and conduct cultural criticism today? Why are culture and cultural analysis vital to the formation of political consciousness? Can we imagine a culture that’s expressive and productive of freedom, rather than domination?

Direct download: The_Frankfurt_School_and_Contemporary_Culture.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

In episode 68 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded at BISR’s recent symposium The Frankfurt School and the Now, panelists William Paris, Nathan Duford, Eduardo Mendieta, and Paul North tackle the question: What use does Frankfurt School critical theory, a thought movement composed largely of mid-20th-century white men, have for contemporary thinking about race, sex and gender? The conversation touches on, among other things, the Frankfurt School’s amalgam of Marx and Freud; the patriarch as racketeer (the threatening figure who protects the woman from himself); the pitfalls of moralism and the fetishization of suffering; Walter Benjamin’s paradoxical understanding of the “tradition of the oppressed”; and Frantz Fanon’s notion of race as a pathology of time (that is, the denial of our capacity to live, in the future, in a different sort of world). How can we understand the seemingly inextricable relationship between gender panic and normativity and authoritarianism? What will race come to mean in the context of a warming planet (which most threatens black and brown people in the global south)? Who are the thinkers who have taken up Frankfurt School critical theory and pushed it in feminist directions?

Direct download: Critical_Theory_from_Below.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EDT