Sunday, October 17, 2004

New Publication: Shock and Awe: War on Words

Bregje van Eekelen, Jennifer González, Bettina Stoetzer, Anna Tsing, eds.

If you don’t know what to say about global war, you need a dictionary. Shock and Awe: War on Words (New Pacific Press: Fall 2004) is just that: a keywords book that participates in a battle over the imagination, acknowledging the force of words, concepts, and images in framing our everyday lives. Located in the borderlands between scholarship and public culture, it re-appropriates our vocabularies by exploring the political trajectories of world-making words, projects, and images.

You hear yourself use the word terrorism, and uncannily find yourself participating in its life, its proliferation, its reality. Willy-nilly you’ve become a participant in a world-making project of anxiety and antagonism. While it is impossible to completely give up on terms like peace, family, and security, to use them is to become a stranger in one’s own world. Yet how can we envision an alternative if our very imagination, the very definition of “the social” and the shape of “the political” are under attack?

Rather than being merely shocked and awed, a group of contemporary thinkers and creative artists put their writings on the line. The contributors range from UCSC scholars Angela Davis and Donna Haraway, artists (Martha Rosler, Emily Jacir, and Lynn Randolph), anthropologists (Dame Marilyn Strathern, Renato Rosaldo), historians (Carol Gluck, Sven Linquist), to prose writers (Alix Kates Schulman, Kathryn Chetkovich), and from political scientists (Wendy Brown, James Scott, Mike Davis), Indonesia’s public intellectual Goenawan Mohamad, to literary critics (Geeta Patel, Mary Louise Pratt), and poets (Adrienne Rich, L.R. Berger). They present fragile genealogies, situated vocabularies, visual provocations and poetry. Tearing apart powerful representations or reclaiming them from being instruments of discipline, exclusion and imperialism, these short interventions populate, recapture, and enliven our sense of the political.

The project concludes that there is hope for the most overused words, and life for the most neutral-sounding concepts, such as:

America (as imagined from elsewhere), anti-terror legislation, barbarian, chicken, civilization, consumer, democracy, economic recovery, exit, family of patriots, fear, fences, homeland, iRaq, Islamic Feminism, lip, military-industrial complex, nomads, patriot, peace, pirate, race, security, speech, streamline, them, time, us, we, words.

Politics is, of course, not only about getting out to vote, but also about seizing the means of imagination. Please help us spread word of these alternative genealogies, fragments of everyday life, glimpses of social histories, and stories of mistranslation and encounter.

You can order the book, ISBN 0-9712546-0-5, at the Literary Guillotine, 204 Locust Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, 831-457-1195; securely through; or by downloading an order form from IAFR or from

Feminist Provocations Series

Volume One

Published by New Pacific Press and the
Institute of Advanced Feminist Research at the
University of California Santa Cruz


Itty Abraham · Raymond Apthorpe · Dalit Baum · Amita Baviskar · Jonathan Beller · L. R. Berger · Iain Boal · Margaret Brose · Wendy Brown · Sean Burns · Wendy Call · Jeremy M. Campbell · Ben Carson · Kathryn Chetkovich · Martha Collins · Christopher Connery · Wendy Coxshall · Angela Y. Davis · Mike Davis · Hilla Dayan · Joseph Dumit · P. A. Ebron · Bregje van Eekelen · Lieba Faier · Kathy E. Ferguson · Courtney L. Fitzpatrick · Jonathan Fox Carla Freccero · Carol Gluck · Myra Goldberg · Jennifer González · Lisbeth Haas · Donna Haraway · Sharon Hayes · Engseng Ho Karen Z. Ho · Donna Hunter · Emily Jacir · NeEddra James · Sushma Joshi · Afsaneh Kalantary · S. Eben Kirksey · Morgen J. Lennox · Sven Lindqvist · Lydia H. Liu · Krista Geneviève Lynes · Bahíyyih Maroon · Julia Meltzer · Helene Moglen · Goenawan Mohamad · Annemarie Mol · Carole Simmons Oles · Geeta Patel Mary Louise Pratt · Vicente L. Rafael · Lynn Randolph · Maple Razsa · Adrienne Rich · Lisa Rofel · Renato Rosaldo · AnnJanette Rosga · Martha Rosler · James K. Rowe · Warren Sack · Larry Schwarm · James C. Scott · Alix Kates Shulman · Bettina Stötzer Marilyn Strathern · Neferti Tadiar · Kasian Tejapira · David Thorne · Jude Todd · Anna Tsing · Phyllis Turnbull · Yasushi Uchiyamada · Neerja Vasishta · Kath Weston