What are the real reasons for this nation's unprecedented (in world history) boom in incarceration? Is the prison a tool to fight crime, or does it serve an entirely different purpose? And what about the notion of a prison-industrial complex: does that have any relation to reality? Loïc Wacquant analyzes the rise of the penal state in the context of sustained assaults on welfare and the collapse of the Black ghetto. (Encore presentation.)
Grace Lee Boggs and Angela Davis have thought, written, and acted courageously for decades. In a rare joint presentation on March 2, they spoke about, among other things, Occupy, nonviolence, and grassroots activism. Alex Gilvarry is a relative newcomer to political thinking, but his debut novel follows an immigrant to the US who winds up at Guantanamo.
If you don't have the time or inclination to do your taxes, many national tax-preparation outlets are waiting to help. Or maybe "help" isn't the appropriate word. According to Gary Rivlin, instant tax-prep chains, payday lenders, check-cashing operations, and a host of other outfits are preying on -- and making billions of dollars off of -- the desperately poor. (Encore presentation.)
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.
Scientists and entrepreneurs are working on technologies that would transform -- and are already transforming -- our bodies and human life in ways we might barely recognize. What are the implications of such ideas and practices, ethically and otherwise? Philosopher Slavoj Žižek discusses the perils of transhumanism and biogenetics. Taking a different approach to the future, radical writer Loren Goldner speaks about the lineages of left communism.
The term "community" is everywhere. It is used by those in power -- witness the "business community" -- and those with no power. But what does it actually mean? Should people on the left continue to claim it? Or is it too flawed a concept, with real political dangers attached? Anthropologist Gerald Creed talks about the history of "the community," the explosion of the term since the early 1990s, and why it remains so ubiquitous. (Encore presentation.)