On Precarity and the Freedom f-r-o-m Security

Ana Vujanović (2016)

A review of the book State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious by Isabell Lorey, published by Verso in 2015.

 

The political theorist Isabell Lorey is one of the most striking European voices in the recent debate on precarity and precarization – terms that describe the systematic inequalities wrought by neoliberalism in the name of financial crisis and austerity, and which lead to such recent phenomena as militarized violence and xenophobia. For reference, Lorey draws from political and biopolitical theory, feminism, gender and postcolonial studies, as well as the interventions made by social and political movements, such as Euromayday, Occupy, and 15-M. This invigorating intersectionalism has created a potent critical platform for analyzing the present moment.

State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious is Aileen Derieg’s translation of Lorey’s book Die Regierung der Prekären (2012). It is her first book to appear in English, though she is the author of numerous works of cultural and political theory in German. Here Lorey is particularly concerned with the neoliberal “state of insecurity” and how it relates to the process of precarization. Lorey’s long-term research on precarity leads her to the question of neoliberal government, of government through and by insecurity. The first line of the book makes this clear: “If we fail to understand precarization, then we understand neither the politics nor the economy of the present” (1).

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(Cultural) Workers Gone Political

Ana Vujanović (2014/15)

This article presents a brief discussion on contemporary artists citizens. It will examine the public life, and the political activity in particular (vita activa), of the critical cultural worker in neoliberal capitalist society. Here, a critical cultural worker—theoretician, artist, curator, journal editor, cultural producer, etc.—means the one who wants and tries to be political,[1] hence the cultural worker gone political. The purpose of the article is to unpack, through discussing dubious politicality of the critical cultural worker, a tension between the work and the politics in today’s society, and to propose a few thoughts on what the politics today could be and how it could look like once we recognize its classical definition as socially and historically inadequate.

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