This editorial note introduces the translations that follow of two pieces written in fall 1956 by Aimé Césaire: his speech "Culture and Colonization," delivered at the first Congrès International des Ecrivains et Artistes Noirs, hosted by the journal Présence Africaine in Paris in September, and his open letter to Maurice Thorez in October, in which he resigned from the French Communist Party. The editorial note places the two pieces in the context of the political currents of French colonialism at the time (on the eve of the Algerian revolution) and of Césaire's own development as a politician and writer. In particular, it highlights the links between these documents and his well-known book Discourse on Colonialism (1955), which is widely considered to be one of the classics of anticolonial thought.»
Social Text Collective Member
Brent Hayes Edwards
Authored by Brent Hayes Edwards:
June 21, 2010 2:31PM
December 17, 2009 4:46PM
From its inception, SOCIAL TEXT has regularly published work in translation. Although translations have perhaps been less prominent than in some other journals (the early New Left Review, New German Critique, and Telos, for example), the commitment to making significant texts in foreign...»
October 30, 2009 8:20AM
The story of the SOCIAL TEXT collective begins with the desire to establish a counterpoint to possessive individualism, creating a means for valuing collaborative engagement against the singular authorship of genius; later it would come to stand against the deadening metric of disciplinary accountability as well. The editorial collective foments a deliberative process that aims to set its own context and hence to make something generative of its internal disciplinary difference.»
October 30, 2009 4:20AM
Literature has been part of the purview of SOCIAL TEXT since the journal's inception, although the literary has never been presumed to be its paradigmatic or primary object of study. Moreover, from issue 4 (1981) through issue 39 (1994), the journal not only published scholarship on literature, but also sporadically published poetry and fiction. There are intriguing parallels between the experimentalism of the essays in the journal, especially in the rubric of short, theoretical pieces called "Unequal Developments" featured in early issues, and the experimentalism of the poetry and fiction.»
October 30, 2009 2:20AM
Despite the divergence between the accounts given by Stanley Aronowitz and Fredric Jameson of the origins of the name SOCIAL TEXT, it is worth exploring the use of the phrase in the work of Henri Lefebvre. Even if it is ultimately a false cognate, the chapter titled "The Social Text" in the second volume of his CRITIQUE OF EVERYDAY LIFE (1961) is an intriguing intertext for the journal, especially given the importance of the category of the "everyday" in its early issues. The occasional invocation of the title phrase in SOCIAL TEXT articles over the years might be described as heuristic rather than categorical: an ongoing, dialogic effort to limn an arena of investigation, rather than the attempt to define once and for all an aspect of a broader social field.»
Co-authored by Brent Hayes Edwards:
This issue gathers recent work in postcolonial criticism and theory. The perspectives represented and contexts considered (South Africa, Canada, the United States, India, Pakistan) are the result of an especial--and still all-too-uncommon--effort to attend to scholarship produced in the global South, rather than simply entrenching further the association of postcolonial studies with a relatively narrow coterie of metropolitan migrants. At the same time, in bringing together work engaged with subaltern studies historiography in India (particularly the contributions of Sanjay Seth and Rosinka Chaudhuri) and work explicitly concerned with U.S. imperialism and contemporary globalization (particularly the contributions of Pius Adesanmi and Mark Driscoll), the issue poses once more a question raised by the last Social Text special issue on this topic--published in 1992, in the wake of the first Gulf War--around the theorization of the postcolonial itself.1 Vigorously questioned in that setting in now-classic essays by Ella Shohat and Anne McClintock, the term postcolonial may have proven itself to be most useful precisely when it is placed under severe pressure, angled to highlight the necessarily uneasy relationship between colonial past and neocolonial present, history writing and current critique, cultural studies and political economy, as a task or problematic rather than a method or map.2 In 1992 Shohat noted what she termed the "puzzling" absence of the term postcolonial in the rhetoric of the academic opposition to the Gulf War (in contrast to commonly invoked terms such as imperialism and even neocolonialism). She wondered in response whether something about the rubric of the postcolonial "does not lend itself to a geopolitical critique"; in the open-ended present of the "war on terror," the relative invisibility of explicitly postcolonial analysis must beg the same question.3»
At the dawn of the new millennium, humanity is rapidly approaching a signifi cant but insuffi ciently acknowledged milestone: by 2007, UN demographers say, more than half the world's population will live in cities.1 On a scale that dwarfs previous experience, urban spaces have become cosmopolitan entrepôts through which vast quantities of capital, goods, information, and people fl ow daily. Contemporary cities, it should be noted, are also the primary sites for natural resource consumption and environmental pollution. The cradles of civilization, cities now lie at the core of a potential ecological crisis. In her scholarship on the "global city" (initially focused on New York, London, and Tokyo), Saskia Sassen has noted the destabilizing impact of the city's increasing centrality on older spaces of governance such as the nation-state.2 Over the past fi fteen years, the global cities model has infl uenced much social science research on the global economy as a network of overlapping fl ows between urban spaces. But the global cities of the developed world are an increasingly anomalous embodiment of the urban realm and public space. In fact, 95 percent of urban population growth during the next generation will occur in cities of the developing world. By 2010, for example, Lagos is projected to become the planet's third-largest city, after Tokyo and Mumbai. By 2025 it is predicted that Asia will contain nearly a dozen "hypercities" (with populations of 25 million or more), including Mumbai, Jakarta, Dhaka, and Karachi.3 Such predictions suggest the inadequacy of recent attempts to theorize globalization by focusing on cities in the developed world. Many of the twenty-fi rst century's gravest ecological, political, and social issues will gestate and mature in the urban spaces of the developing world.»
The essay provides a short introduction to the special anniversary issue of Social Text, explaining the protocol for the "keyword" essays that make up the majority of the issue: each contribution takes up particular points (single essays) or threads (themes in a number of essays over the years) in the publication history of the journal as starting point for a consideration of broader issues of knowledge production, critique, or methodology. The introduction begins with a discussion of the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Social Text, and recounts the origins and history of the journal in some detail. The piece describes the ways the editorial collective has functioned since 1979, both in the production of the journal itself and in a variety of other activities (including meetings, soirÃ©es, and conference panels). The introduction also discusses some of the major shifts in the organization of SOCIAL TEXT, including its affiliations since the mid-1980s with the CUNY Graduate Center, Rutgers University, and Columbia University (which have provided in-kind support and funded the managing editorial position) and with the University of Minnesota Press and Duke University Press (which have published the journal's book series and the journal itself).
Photo by Jorge Alberto Perez.»
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About Brent Hayes Edwards
Location: New York, NY
Bio: Brent Hayes Edwards teaches at Columbia University and is a co-editor of Social Text.