Essay Archives

Public Narratives & Symbolic Power

May 30th, 2010

The Disintegration of the Public Sector: Recasting Public Conversation

Submitted by Tony Judt, New York University

One striking consequence of the disintegration of the public sector has been an increased difficulty in comprehending what we have in common with others. We are familiar with complaints about the ‘atomizing’ impact of the internet: if everyone selects gobbets of knowledge and information that interest them, but avoids exposure to anything else, we do […]

November 20th, 2009

Affect, Noise, Silence, Protest: Ambient Citizenship

Submitted by Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago

Intensely political seasons spawn reveries of a different immediacy. People imagine alternative environments where authenticity trumps ideology, truths cannot be concealed, and communication feels intimate, face-to-face. In these times, even politicians imagine occupying a public sphere where they might just somehow make an unmediated transmission to the body politic. “Somehow you just got to go over […]

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