Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002)
A sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher, theorist of power.
Introduced a number of concepts, among them: cultural, social, symbolic forms of capital, cultural reproduction, habitus, symbolic violence.
Was born to a family of a postal worker. Bilingual from early childhood: the language at home was Béarnese, a Gascon dialect. Studied philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, together with another Louis Althusser, another reknown philosopher. In a year after his graduation, he was conscripted into the French Army in 1955. He was deployed to Algeria during its war of independence. His first book is called "The Socieology of Algeria"; as an anthropologist, he worked with the Kabyle peoples.
He worked in the University of Paris, at the University if Lille, was Director of Studies the École Pratique des Hautes Études, the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France.
He was vocal in his political views, and spoke about the necessity to speak out against neoliberal discourse. It shaped him as a scholar. He said, "sociology is a martial art."
His works include "Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture" (with Jean-Claude Passeron), "Forms of Capital," "Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste," "Language and Symbolic Power," "An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology" (with Loïc Wacquant, "On Television" and many other.
Loïc Wacquant (born 1960)
A student and co-author of Pierre Bourdieu.
A sociologist, specializing on urban sociology, poverty, racial inequality, an anthropologist.
Born in France, PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago, currently a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ideas: ghetto as extrajudicial prison and prison as judicial ghetto, creating together "carceral continuum." Within this continuum African-Americans now live, which makes it "the first prison society in history."
Works: "The Body, the Ghetto, and the Penal State," "Deadly symbiosis: when ghetto and prison meet and mesh," "Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity," "Body and Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer," and other.
Is it possible to see physical violence as a symbolic violence given that Bourdieu seems to explicitly situate the realm of symbolic violence beyond physical as such? If yes, how is it possible, if no, why?
Is all symbolic violence necessarily gendered violence?
is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She received her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz in 2002 and her J.D. at UC Irvine School of Law in 2013.
Her publications include: Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances (2008), Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (2005) and Sacred Sites, Sacred Rites (1998)
She is also the editor of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, Beyond the Nonprofit Industrial Complex, and co-editor of The Color of Violence, The Incite!
In July 2015, Smith attracted attention for claiming contradictory Cherokee identity without enrollment neither lineal descent. However, she answers in a declarative statement in her blog:
“I have always been, and will always be Cherokee. I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true. My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities.”
1. Andrea Smith exposes successful experiences such as Sista II Sista that fights against not only sexual violence at home, but also violence from the state through police. Bourdieu argues that a relation of domination only works with the complicity of dispositions that are the products of the structures. The action of Sista II Sista recruiting young women to attend freedom schools with an integrated mind-body-spirit framework, in your opinion, is what Bourdieu is referring to the dependency on the perpetuation or transformation of the structures as the only way to break out the system?
If home is an unsafe place for women, to what extent Andrea Smith and Pierre Bourdieu have a different approach to deal with that?
BIO: Veena Das is an anthropologist and gender theorist. She has written extensively on violence, particularly with regard to the generative nature of the discourse (both academic and colloquial) around violence. Her ethnographic work is considered ‘autoethnographic’ to the extent that it is largely based in her native India. Das’ ethnography, Life and Words, considers the relationship between gender and political violence, and the formation of subjectivities. Rather than analyze ‘spectacular’ or extra-ordinary locations of dialectical relations in India and Pakistan, she focuses on everyday lived experiences and their influences in moving ethnography away from binary discussions of victims and perpetrators. Instead, this descent into the ordinary lived experiences of her interlocutors encourages theoreticians to consider subjects as simultaneously powerful and vulnerable.
Das has been Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at the John Hopkins University since 2000, and she serves on the Executive Board of the Institute of Socio-Economic Research on Development and Democracy in India. She has also taught at the University of Delhi and at the New School for Social Research.
Violence, Language, Body, Voice, Suffering, Pain, Witnessing, Sovereignty, and Nationalism.
Some questions to help us critically engage our reading of Life and Words:
1. What form(s) of “resistance” does Das explicate in this text?
2. How does the act of “witnessing” relate to notions of “voice” and “silence” in the text in relation to Das’ experiences attempting to document the narratives of women affected by the Partition?
3. What is the significance of Fatherhood, Husbandry in the formations of India and Pakistan—and to a larger extent, the nature of Sovereignty, according to Das?
4. Is violence always gendered? What different forms of violence does Das bring to bear in her ethnography?
5. What is “pain” or the experiences of “pain” in the context of imagination and corporeality (i.e., Chapter 3)? Is there a gendered division of these experiences?
By Valerie and J. Wells
About the authors:
Joseph-Achille Mbembe was born in Cameroon in 1957. He got a Ph.D. in History at the University of Sorbonne in Paris and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques. He is currently at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Etymology to consider:
Questions from authors’ background & etymology:
Though both authors were educated in Europe, Agamben was born in Italy 3 years before WWII ended, and Mbembe was born in present-day Cameroon 3 years before it became independent from France and Britain. How do you think the context of their childhood environments and later schooling influence their perspectives?
Etymology shows that “sovereign power” literally means “to be able to be above.” How does this influence your understanding of those words and that phrase? What does it mean to be above another person? Is hierarchy necessary for organizing groups of people?
Etymology shows that law refers to something fixed, and truth refers to something constant. What does this say about the relationship between law and truth? And if justice is the administration of law, what does this say about justice?
Questions from the reading:
What are some differences & similarities in how Mbembe and Agamben use or refer to Foucault's biopower?
What is the role of citizenship in the relationship between the State and violence? How is state violence justified?
How do the authors view homo sacer, and what do you consider to be the sacred human life?