Mon 1.14.13 | Why So Radical?

Tony Michels, Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History NYU Press, 2012

Tony Michels, A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York Harvard U. Press, 2009 (paper)

The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936–1951 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Why were they so radical? What accounts for the disportionate involvement of American Jews in leftist causes, socialist parties, and radical debates? In a new book, Tony Michels traces the significant contributions of Jewish immigrants and their offspring to left-wing theory and movements. Also, Colleen Stockmann discusses New York's Photo League, to which many Jews belonged.

Wed 1.09.13 | Rural, Western, and White

Laura Barraclough, Making of the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege, University of Georgia Press, 2011



Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley brings suburbia to mind, but its landscape and reality are much more complex. Sociologist Laura Barraclough explores how a white, rural settler identity was shaped in the San Fernando Valley -- and how the politics of land use in the region reveal much about how notions of whiteness have been formed in the American West.

Tues 1.08.13 | What's the Matter with Conspiracy Theories?

Peter Staudenmaier, Institute for Social Ecology







From the assassination of JFK to a wide range of theories related to the attacks of September 11, 2001, conspiracy theories seem natural to the left. But should they be? Anarchist historian Peter Staudenmaier discusses the problems with substituting conspiracy theories for radical social critique. He draws on Sigmund Freud, Theodor Adorno, and Franz Neumann, focusing not on the details of any particular conspiracy, but on the problems with the theoretical assumptions on which they operate.

Mon 1.07.13 | Graeber on Money, Honor, Debt, and Freedom

David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years Melville House, 2012 (paper)





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Has money always been used for buying things? Were debt crises in the ancient world addressed in the same way they are now? What does honor and patriarchy have to do with debt? And what should we know about the origins of our cherished modern conceptions of liberty and property? David Graeber considers the tumultuous present in light of the past.

Wed 1.02.13 | Fear, Risk, and Breast Cancer

Robert A. Aronowitz, Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society Cambridge U. Press, 2007




Breast cancer may be the most feared disease that women face: one out of every eight women is expected to get the illness in her lifetime. But how much of that fear is produced not by biology but society? Historian and medical doctor Robert Aronowitz has written a social history of breast cancer from the 19th century to the present. He argues that overzealous screening -- detecting cells that would never advance into full-blown cancer -- has fueled a sense of risk that serves neither patients nor the medical understanding of the disease.

Tues 1.01.13 | Finance Capitalism

We are now in an era of global finance capitalism, says Richard Peet. But what does this mean? What's the relationship between finance capitalism and neoliberalism? Does finance capital exploit differently than industrial capital? And what are finance capitalism's main features and contradictions? Richard Peet explains how we got to this point; he also describes the perils of the current political-economic moment. (Encore presentation.)

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