Political concepts

A new edition (in fact the second) of Political concepts, an online magazine, includes – among many other fine things – essays by Susan Buck-Morss on Civilization, Ariella Azoulay on Revolution, Hagar Kotef on Movement and Uday Mehta on Violence.

The first edition included Ann Laura Stoler on Colony (a must-read, dazzling combination of economy and brilliance) and Adi Ophir on Concept (a characteristically artful, original and lapidary contribution).

Buck-Morss Civilization

The editors explain the project like this:

Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon is a multidisciplinary, web-based journal that seeks to be a forum for engaged scholarship. Each lexical entry will focus on a single concept with the express intention of resituating it in the field of political discourse by addressing what has remained unquestioned or unthought in that concept. Each entry will serve as a short defining essay for a concept. Through their argumentative strategies and employment of the concept in question, entries will aim to reconfigure a concept, rather than take for granted the generally accepted definitions of that concept or the conclusions that follow from them.

Political Concepts does not predetermine what does or does not count as a political concept. Our aim is to expand the scope of what demands political accounting, and for this reason we welcome essays that fashion new political concepts or demonstrate how concepts deserve to be taken as politically significant. It is our view that “politics” refers to the multiplicity of forces, structures, problems, and orientations that shape our collective life. Politics enters the frame wherever our lives together are staked and wherever collective action could make a difference to the outcome. As no discipline possesses an hegemony over this critical space, we welcome submissions from all fields of study.

We consider Political Concepts to be “a critical lexicon” because each contribution resituates a particular aspect of political meaning, thereby opening pathways for another future—one that is not already determined and ill-fated. The term “critical” in our title is also meant quite literally: Political Concepts is a forum for conversation and constructive debate rather than the construction of an encyclopedic ideal. Each entry will therefore be appended by a curated Replies section that will be updated frequently in order to maintain an ongoing exchange.

I suspect this is – or rather ought to be – the model for any future dictionaries of geography…

More to the point, though, there is now such a wealth of these online platforms that it seems clear that more and more of us want to engage with audiences beyond disciplinary boundaries and beyond the academy altogether – look, for example, at berfois, books & ideas, fast capitalisminterstitial, laterallimn, or warscapes – and that, as we become dissatisfied with conventional modes of publishing (and their often grotesque marketing models) and with ill-designed, textist forms of presentation, the death-knell of the old-style (not even retro) academic journal is sounding loud and clear.

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