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Archive for the 'Featured Book' Category

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Emigrating to Mars or Returning to Earth

The Traveler's Guide to Space

“[E]stablishing colonies on Mars will be the hardest, most expensive, most dangerous, and most transformative emigration experience in human history. Every aspect of human society will have to be modified or reinvented, including agriculture, water collection and purification, mining, manufacturing, construction, transportation, communication, medicine, reproduction, social activities, cultures, religions, education, economy, emergency
responses, recreation, policing, alcohol production, and protection from radiation, to name a few.” — Neil Comins

This week, our featured book is The Traveler’s Guide to Space: For One-Way Settlers and Round-Trip Tourists, by Neil F. Comins. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the final chapter of the book, in which Comins looks at the possibility of colonizing Mars from the point of view of a potential colonizer.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Traveler’s Guide to Space!

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The Traveler’s Guide to Space

The Traveler's Guide to Space

“Once you get through the initial adjustment period, the fun begins, but with the caveat that just not everything you enjoy on Earth will be fun out there and things that you wouldn’t think if doing here, such as talking to someone who is upside down in front of you, or eating food that is floating, rather than on a plate, will be interesting experiences.” — Neil Comins

This week, our featured book is The Traveler’s Guide to Space: For One-Way Settlers and Round-Trip Tourists, by Neil F. Comins. Today, we are happy to present a guest post by Comins introducing some of the ideas in his book.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Traveler’s Guide to Space!

The Traveler’s Guide to Space
By Neil F. Comins

The era of civilian and commercial space travel has arrived, with paying tourists visiting the International Space Station and private companies developing rockets and other hardware to be used in space. Building on the knowledge about living in space gained over the past 65 years, countries and companies are making real plans to visit and perhaps colonize our Moon, as well as visiting other bodies in space, such as nearby asteroids and passing comets.

As exciting and romantic as such adventures are, none of them are as simple, straight-forward, or accessible as, for example, journeys to countries half way around the world. The latter trips basically require: arranging accommodations and activities; booking flights; getting a passport and visa (if necessary); getting any necessary inoculations and a supply of the medicines you need, along with medical insurance if necessary; letting your credit card company know you are making the trip, and, packing. Each of these things can be accomplished in a matter of minutes to hours, with the whole process taking perhaps a week, and much less time for the seasoned traveler. Preparing for a trip into space, whether just a quick ride above the boundary that defines space and back, a trip into orbit, one in which you leave Earth’s thrall, will require months, or even years of preparation, depending on the voyage. Astronauts preparing to go to the International Space Station today train for more than two years.

Virtually every aspect of life changes when you go into space. Adjusting to living out there, whether for a few days or a lifetime, is uncomfortable as your body gets acclimated to the lack of gravity, called microgravity. Besides the space sickness and physical changes in your body that microgravity causes, you will find that eating, another one of the pleasures on Earth, is a notably different experience in space, too. Food tastes much blander out there and so food that is crafted to be consumed in space is often accompanied by stronger spices than you would consider using on Earth.

Once you get through the initial adjustment period, the fun begins, but with the caveat that just not everything you enjoy on Earth will be fun out there and things that you wouldn’t think if doing here, such as talking to someone who is upside down in front of you, or eating food that is floating, rather than on a plate, will be interesting experiences. If you ever dreamed of flying like superwoman or superman, you will have the opportunity to do that in space, or at least to float weightlessly from one side of a room to another. You will also be able to heft and even throw people who, on Earth, would weigh much more than you do.

Next time you have sex, I invite you to think about the role gravity plays in your interactions with your companion. Microgravity changes many aspects of sexual relations, so substitute technology will have to be developed in order for you to be able to do it, much less enjoy it, up there.

Obviously, space journeys to different destinations will take different lengths of time and each will present you with different experiences and opportunities at your goal. Space travel will require, among other things, significant training on getting along with people from different cultures, countries, races, religions, and philosophies. You will also have to learn to make good use of your time on extended journeys, to prevent boredom, which can actually become dangerous.

Because every world that will be available to visit this century is different in size, composition, shape, and surface features, what you can see and do will depend intimately on your destination. Without a doubt, the most exotic, glamorous, and diverse world that may be on that list is Mars. However, the challenges involved in providing a viable habitat there, as well as reliable landers and, for those making round trip journeys, vehicles to return to orbit are substantial.

In The Traveler’s Guide to Space: For Round-Trip Tourists and One-Way Settlers, I explore all these aspects of space travel in the near future and much more. I also discuss activities and experiences available on different worlds in our astronomical neighborhood. The book is written both for people interested in going into space and anyone else who would like to see the big picture of space travel.

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Book Giveaway! The Traveler’s Guide to Space

The Traveler's Guide to Space

“There is no other book for the popular reader that addresses the many serious challenges involved in deep space travel. Understanding these issues is essential for anyone with an interest in space exploration. The Traveler’s Guide to Space does an excellent job at looking at the whole picture, from space tourists to one-way colonization; from physical to psychological challenges.” — Robert Geller, University of California, Santa Barbara

This week, our featured book is The Traveler’s Guide to Space: For One-Way Settlers and Round-Trip Tourists, by Neil F. Comins. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Culture Industry 2.0, or the End of Digital Utopias in the Era of Participation Culture

Sociophobia

“With the next distraction only a click away, patience for things that require effort evaporates. Anyone who doesn’t have quick responses to complex questions is promptly and publicly punished by a withdrawal of Likes. But is the medium responsible? Is it the human condition as such? Is the anthropological and technological constellation an overlay over background political and economic interests?” — Roberto Simanowski

This week, our featured book is Sociophobia: Political Change in the Digital Utopia, by César Rendueles, translated by Heather Cleary, with a foreword by Roberto Simanowski. Today, we are happy to present Simanowski’s foreword, in which he discusses the radio and Bertolt Brecht’s reaction to it, the timing of the coming of the internet, and Rendueles’s criticism of “Internet-centrists” and “cyberutopians.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Sociophobia!

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Postnuclear Capitalism

Sociophobia

“We disparage consumerism, populism, and the finance economy but see them as the last bastion against today’s version of the barbarians at the gates. We live in constant fear of anthropological density because the only alternatives to liberal individualism we know are fundamentalism and the squalor of the megaslums. As though there were nothing between the headquarters of Goldman Sachs and the Buenos Aires shantytown known as Villa 31.” — César Rendueles

This week, our featured book is Sociophobia: Political Change in the Digital Utopia, by César Rendueles, translated by Heather Cleary, with a foreword by Roberto Simanowski. To start the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt on what Rendueles terms “postnuclear capitalism” from the book’s first chapter.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Sociophobia!

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Sociophobia: Political Change in the Digital Utopia, by César Rendueles

Sociophobia

“Rendueles’s book transcends the national context in which it was written, and, without exaggeration, goes to the heart of the contemporary problem of political organization, as it concerns radical protest and resistance movements. The refreshing aspect of Sociophobia is its sober approach to the role of new media in fomenting alternative political structures.” — Michael Marder

This week, our featured book is Sociophobia: Political Change in the Digital Utopia, by César Rendueles, translated by Heather Cleary, with a foreword by Roberto Simanowski. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Thoughts on Rapture by Iliazd (Ilia Zdanevich)

Iliazd’s Rapture is one of the upcoming titles in the Russian Library, a new series that seeks to demonstrate the breadth, variety, and global importance of the Russian literary tradition to English-language readership through new and revised translations of premodern, modern, and contemporary Russian literature.

Rapture

Today Veniamin Gushchin, CC ’18, Russian Library Intern responds to Rapture by Iliazd, translated by Thomas J. Kitson

The term emigrant, as opposed to the more commonly used immigrant, is inherently backwards facing, focusing on the country of origin rather than the destination. In the popular imagination, the immigrant arrives in a land of opportunity, while the emigrant flees from an oppressive regime, hopelessly yearning to return to their past. Though the two words have vaguely the same meaning, though the distinction in writing is but a few letters and in pronunciation is often barely detectable, the terms are antonyms due to the complex set of relationships an individual has with their countries of departure and arrival.

As the son of Russian immigrants that grew up in a bilingual and bicultural environment, I am very sensitive to this distinction. My parents immigrated to the United States in the 90s for greater job opportunities in the field of medicine and made the deliberate choice – mostly to spite my grandmother, who believed such efforts to be in vain – to raise me speaking Russian and aware of my cultural heritage. From watching the Soviet version of Winnie the Pooh before Disney’s to listening to tapes of the actor Innokenty Smoktunovsky reading Eugene Onegin on road trips, my parents recreated a small island of Russian culture in our home. They spoke of their Soviet past with a mixture of nostalgia and disillusionment, as many Russians do. My childhood experience was one of continually balancing my parents’ past with the pressures to assimilate to American culture. Living in suburban Maryland rather than in an immigrant enclave like Brighton Beach, my sole source for my Russian identity was my parents, my only chance to use my Russian my home. As a result, preserving this heritage grew in significance. Now, studying Russian literature in college, I seem to have come to some sort of compromise between these identities. Nevertheless, I do often feel as if I am still that child coming back from school to my parent’s home, part of and distant from both worlds. More importantly, my experience is different than those of denizens of Brighton, than those whose heritage becomes but a percentage mentioned in discussions of ethnic background.

To turn things back a century, and three waves of Russian migration, the tension between cultural preservation and assimilation is reflected in the most prolific Russian émigré writers, Ivan Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov. Especially in the works of the nomadic Nabokov, nostalgia for an idealized version of prerevolutionary Russia is central to the artist’s identity. In terms of assimilation, even in Paris, Bunin wrote exclusively in Russian and interacted mostly with his immediate circle of fellow emigrants. Though Nabokov appears to have shown a greater degree of adaptability, becoming internationally renowned as a writer in English, his constant relocation – the only “Nabokov house” is in St. Petersburg where his family lived before the Revolution – betrays his inability to settle down and fully reconcile his lost past with the present. The idealization of this prerevolutionary period has influenced perceptions of the Soviet Union and imperial Russia both abroad and in Russia. More recently, post-Soviet discourse, exemplified in artistic expression such as Govorukhin’s film “Russia That We’ve Lost,” returns to portraying the turn of the twentieth century as a time of cultural brilliance and sophistication. These notions about the first wave of Russian immigration and that era have become so widespread that they have come to represent its dominant narrative.

The figure of Ilia Zdanevich, or Iliazd, complicates this simplistic view of the reactionary emigrant. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, his first act of migration was to Petrograd, where he became involved in a number of avant-garde artistic groups associated with the movement of Russian Futurism. His reason for migrating to Paris was to establish new artistic relationships between the nascent Soviet avant-garde and similar artistic movements in Paris, such as Dada and surrealism. Both political and artistic, he stands in contrast to the more conservation Nabokov and Bunin. While the latter two writers proudly continued the traditions of Russian nineteenth century literature, Zdanevich eagerly embraced the possibility of reshaping and developing his genre. Despite his efforts, however, once the Soviet government turned against the avant-garde, Iliazd found himself in “poetic reclusion,” effectively exiled despite having emigrating for an entirely different set of reasons. Nevertheless, the artist continued to live in Paris, collaborating with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Léger, developing a reputation in the European art world and, at least in part, assimilating.

Rapture is a doubly nostalgic novel, set in Iliazd’s native Georgia and written as an allegory of the Russian Futurism movement. Published in a doubly distant Paris, it is a thick mixture of avant-garde and traditional folklore, of Russian, Georgian, and Western influences that is impossible to fully separate into its constituent elements.

This new translation of Rapture allows Anglophone readers to experience Iliazd’s complex and thrilling artistic vision for the first time ever. In addition to placing the novel on the same shelf as the modernist masterpieces of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Thomas Mann, the publication of this translation complicates the simplistic binary between emigrant and home country present in the most influential narratives about this era. Iliazd’s voice joins the already dominant voices of Bunin and Nabokov to paint a more detailed and nuanced portrait of the first wave of Russian immigration in Paris. Immigration, emigration, and migration are all messy concepts, crossing the boundaries of identity as much as geopolitical borders. Each individual within these processes has a unique relationship to both the country of arrival and departure, the experience only able to be captured in polyphony.

Want to learn more about Rapture? Join the event TODAY, May 4, cosponsored by the NYU Jordan Center and PEN America World Voices Festival, with translator Thomas Kitson and scholar Jennifer Wilson. “What’s Old is New: Gender and Power in Iliazd’s Neglected Rapture

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Brother Mocius’s Funeral

Rapture

“Brother Mocius’s funeral was performed not by parish priests, but by monks who turned up from his own monastery, as well as from the monastery he’d been traveling to. The monks didn’t share lay opinion as to the ascetic’s violent death, since the expression in the dead man’s eyes bore witness that he had seen death, while people who die violently supposedly don’t see it; but since the monks weren’t convinced even of this (to Luke’s distress), they decided, in order to avoid any ambiguity, to accept the locals’ petition and bury the holy fool in the cemetery there. No one showed up for the funeral.” — Iliazd

This week, our featured book is Rapture: A Novel, by Iliazd, translated by Thomas J. Kitson. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the third chapter of Rapture.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Rapture!

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Book Giveaway! Rapture, by Iliazd

Rapture

“Magical… like a wizard’s spell.” — Aleksandr Goldshtein, Nezavisimaia Gazeta

This week, our featured book is Rapture: A Novel, by Iliazd, translated by Thomas J. Kitson. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Introducing Remains of Life

Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

“As one of the first contemporary literary works to address the scars left by the Musha Incident and its brutal suppression, the novel stimulated a renewed dialogue and cultural debate about the incident in Taiwan. After centuries of oppression, the indigenous peoples of Taiwan remain largely marginalized, and Remains of Life is one of the few literary works by an ethnic Chinese writer to address the plight of the island’s original occupants under both the Japanese colonizers and the Nationalist regime.” — Michael Berry

This week, we are pleased to feature two exciting new works of literature in translation: Meeting with My Brother, by Yi Mun-yol, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, and Remains of Life, by by Wu He, translated by Michael Berry. Today, we are happy to present Michael Berry’s introduction to Remains of Life.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win both Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life!

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Introducing Meeting with My Brother

Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

“In his literary work, and in his private life, Yi not only responds to themes directly relevant to himself; he is also profoundly aware of the contemporary predicament of Korea—currently ranked the sixth most “wired” nation on the planet according to Bloomberg—in the age of the Internet and media manipulation. It is not only the younger generation of Koreans that is ruled by consumerism, narcissism, and hunger for fame and fortune. Yi’s work seems to be designed precisely to be disillusioning, and perhaps even traumatic, to such a readership because it dares to go against the grain of both popular and normative thinking.” — Heinz Insu Fenkl

This week, we are pleased to feature two exciting new works of literature in translation: Meeting with My Brother, by Yi Mun-yol, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, and Remains of Life, by by Wu He, translated by Michael Berry. Today, we are happy to present Heinz Insu Fenkl’s introduction to Meeting with My Brother.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win both Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

The Musha Incident

Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

“[B]ut who would have imagined that the ‘civilized savages’ would turn around and send their civilized planes, cannons, and poisonous gases to the ‘savage primitives’ to show them the true face of civilization; customs and rituals in the end led to a horrifying and destructive cycle of revenge, the result was the historical-political entity known as the ‘Musha Incident’…” — Wu He

This week, we are pleased to feature two exciting new works of literature in translation: Meeting with My Brother, by Yi Mun-yol, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, and Remains of Life, by by Wu He, translated by Michael Berry. Today, we are pleased to present an excerpt from the beginning of Remains of Life.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win both Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life!

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Madame of Yanji

Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

“She lowered her voice and sneaked a quick glance toward the kitchen. ‘You’re from Seoul, so I’m sure you’ve heard,’ she said quickly, ‘but do you know how I scrounged to make that money? I made it washing bloody underwear for prostitutes and getting groped by drunkards while I was bussing tables at a hostess club. What else but money would make a married woman put up with that sort of thing?’” — Yi Mun-yol

This week, we are pleased to feature two exciting new works of literature in translation: Meeting with My Brother, by Yi Mun-yol, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, and Remains of Life, by by Wu He, translated by Michael Berry. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from Meeting with My Brother.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win both Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life!

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

Meeting with My Brother and Remains of Life

“Yi Mun-yol is one of South Korea’s most gifted writers, and this translation gives his simple style all of the elegant force it can bring to bear. This story of two brothers who find each other only after their defector father has died balances the weight of the country’s history on their meeting as effortlessly as only a master could achieve. Compelling and essential reading.” — Alexander Chee, author of the novels The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh

“After spending ten years living in seclusion, Wu He began publishing a series of short stories, novellas, and novels that culminated in the publication of Remains of Life. The novel stands as a singular statement, at once profound and powerful, that could only come from the brilliant literary imagination of Wu He.” — Chu T’ien-wen, author of Notes of a Desolate Man

This week, we are pleased to feature two exciting new works of literature in translation: Meeting with My Brother, by Yi Mun-yol, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang, and Remains of Life, by by Wu He, translated by Michael Berry. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Soul Dollars

Down the Up Staircase

“Harlem was full of contradictions for anyone who dared to look. Mamie Canty, my mother’s seamstress, was also a fulltime bookie for Harlem kingpin Nicky Barnes, one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Introducing Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“We owned a three-story brownstone in Harlem, the kind built for a rising moneyed class. Now it stood as a testament to our family’s rise and demise over the century. Its walls echoed the voices of three generations of a black middle-class family: the hard-won glories of my grandfather, the whispered regrets and concessions of my parents, the fall from grace of their firstborn, and the wrenching blow that came with the death of their second.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“Bruce D. Haynes’s story is a classic American tale—which combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story.” — Jeffrey Toobin

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. In today’s post, an excerpt from an article published at The Huffington Post, Choi-Fitzpatrick explains why he took his unique approach to researching modern slavery.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

I often get asked why I wrote a book about contemporary slaveholders. Once people get over the fact that slavery still exists they want to know who on earth is out there, right now doing what it takes to exploit their fellow humans in the worst sort of way?

At the moment the contemporary anti-slavery movement has raised over a billion dollars, reduced the vulnerabilities of untold millions, and brought thousands out of exploitation. Yet we know little about the individuals committing these crimes. I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years and can tell you this: we know as much about slaveholders today as we did about victims two decades ago; hardly anything.

I set out to change that. In conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people—perpetrators and their victims, local government officials and rights activists—a picture of the life and times of contemporary slaveholders began to emerge.

In case after case, slaveholders targeted by human rights groups told me that they missed the old days. They told me that they wished for a brighter future for their children but that they themselves had been overlooked. Rights groups, broad economic factors, powerful political players, and even their victims, now had all the power.

Some solutions to slavery and trafficking are easier to see once we factor in what slaveholders think. Recognizing that they themselves are only doing what they can to get by doesn’t justify criminality and abuse, but it does suggest that some more traditional development solutions—alternative livelihood projects and microcredit included—may hold potential for emancipation among both perpetrators and victims. Of course. for freedom to be sustainable minds must be changed—that’s why it’s as important as ever to focus community organizing and human rights empowerment efforts at grassroots struggles for freedom.

The goal is not to equivocate between bonded labor and impoverished slaveholders, but instead to emphasize that slavery is relational, emancipation is complex, and the goal of ending slavery in our lifetime will require strategies that address the reality of the situation rather than the way it may appear in our imagination.

Read the article in full at The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

What do slaveholders think?

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. Today, we are happy to present a short excerpt from an article by Choi-Fitzpatrick published at Aeon.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

What do slaveholders think?: It is everywhere illegal yet slavery persists in many corners of the global economy. How do its beneficiaries justify it?
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

Withholding pay and limiting opportunities to mobilise are important strategies for controlling workers. But all of this is done for the workers’ own good, Aanan insists. Though landlords complain about alcohol, such indulgences are also tactics for increasing debt. Rowdy festivals allow workers to blow off steam, effectively directing frustration away from their abusers. These events also allow workers to spend what little money they have, increasing the likelihood that they will remain dependent on the landlord’s line of credit.

When asked if he needs the workers or the workers need him, Aanan explains that: ‘The worker is my cash machine, my fate.’ In this one statement, he has captured a central contradiction inherent in most human-rights violations worldwide: exploitation takes place at the intersection of culture and capital, in the overlap between relationship and extraction, at the moment where care and exploitation intersect.

Long accustomed to power, slaveholders work hard to sustain their status and baulk at any hint of equality. One previously powerful employer confided to me that his community was in decline. ‘In the olden days … labourers used to work in their fields, they used to think of their work,’ he told me. Now, however, they freshen up after work and drink coffee and tea while talking about ‘unnecessary things’, an opportunity for democratic discourse that is ‘deviating their minds’.

The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.

Read the article in full at Aeon.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets

What Slaveholders Think

“It is imperative to understand variation in exploiters and exploitation as well as the exploiters’ own perspectives on how their lives are changing. Perhaps we will then better understand the difficulties involved in securing sustainable emancipation.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. To start the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from Choi-Fitzpatrick’s first chapter: “In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets.”

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