The PEN Literary Awards are the most comprehensive in the United States. Each year, with the help of its partners and supporters, PEN confers nearly $315,000 to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children's literature, translation, drama, and poetry.
On April 11, 2016, PEN honored the winners for its 2016 Literary Awards at a ceremony held at The New School in NYC. Winners included Toni Morrison, Mia Alvar, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lynn Nottage, and more.
This discussion with Ashley Dawson, Eben Kirksey, Julie Livingstone, Anne McClintock, Rob Nixon, and Jovana Stokic will probe imaginative horizons to illuminate concrete sites of biocultural hope. This conversation will orbit around two freshly published books: Extinction: A Radical History by Ashley Dawson and Emergent Ecologies by Eben Kirksey. As other species are snuffed out, possible futures for humans look bleak. Can radical political transformation bring an end to the sixth mass extinction event? As some charismatic creatures are being saved in zoos, captive breeding facilities, and cryogenic banks, a multitude of others are disappearing as they are disregarded or actively targeted for destruction. How should we love in a time of extinction? What practices of care can keep those who we love in the world?
Ashley Dawson is professor of English at the College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center. His work examines the literature of migration, including movement from postcolonial nations such as Jamaica and Nigeria to the former imperial center and from rural areas to mega-cities of the global South like Lagos and Mumbai. He is the author of Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain, and co-editor of Democracy, the State, and the Struggle for Global Justice; Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and the National Security Campus; and Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism. At present Dawson is at work on a book about urban culture and imperialism and on a history of twentieth-century British literature. He is currently web co-editor of the journal Social Text.
Author Peter Frase in conversation with Alyssa Battistoni at Verso Books in Brooklyn, October 13, 2016.
Join Jacobin and Verso Books for the official launch of Jacobin Editor Peter Frase's Four Futures: Life After Capitalism.
One thing we can be certain of is that capitalism will end. Maybe not soon, but probably before too long; humanity has never before managed to craft an eternal social system, after all, and capitalism is a notably more precarious and volatile order than most of those that preceded it. The question, then, is what will come next?
In Four Futures, Frase imagines how this post-capitalist world might look, deploying the tools of both social science and speculative fiction to explore what communism, rentism and extermininsm might actually entail.
Could the current rise of the real-life robocops usher in a world that resembles Ender's Game? And sure, communism will bring an end to material scarcities and inequalities of wealth—but there's no guarantee that social hierarchies, governed by an economy of "likes," wouldn't rise to take their place. A whirlwind tour through science fiction, social theory and the new technologies are already shaping our lives, Four Futures is a balance sheet of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if those movements fail.
We were joined in London by Beth Noveck (@bethnoveck) who discussed her book "Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing". Filmed in February 2016
ABOUT THE BOOK
Government "of the people, by the people, for the people" expresses an ideal that resonates in all democracies. Yet poll after poll reveals deep distrust of institutions that seem to have left "the people" out of the governing equation. Government bureaucracies that are supposed to solve critical problems on their own are a troublesome outgrowth of the professionalization of public life in the industrial age. They are especially ill-suited to confronting today's complex challenges.
Offering a far-reaching program for innovation, Smart Citizens, Smarter State suggests that public decision making could be more effective and legitimate if government were smarter—if our institutions knew how to use technology to leverage citizens' expertise. Just as individuals use only part of their brainpower to solve most problems, governing institutions make far too little use of the skills and experience of those inside and outside of government with scientific credentials, practical skills, and ground-level street smarts. New tools—what Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertise—are making it possible to match the supply of citizen expertise to the demand for it in government.
Drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines and practical examples from her work as an adviser to governments on institutional innovation, Noveck explores how to create more open and collaborative institutions. In so doing, she puts forward a profound new vision for participatory democracy rooted not in the paltry act of occasional voting or the serendipity of crowdsourcing but in people's knowledge and know-how.