Book Launch: Pothik Ghosh’s “Insurgent Metaphors” (October 1, 2010)

published by Aakar Books
to be launched on October 1, 2010
Time: 2.00-5.00 pm
Venue: Room No 308, Indian Social Institute (ISI),
10, Institutional Area, Lodi Road, New Delhi
(Near Jor Bagh Metro Station)

Marxism’s cultural turn, which has been prominent in its operation over at least the past four decades, continues to belie the hope it had initially held out. The idea that such a move would eventually pull Marxism out of its ‘ontological crisis’ is on the verge of a miscarriage. That is certainly the case in sub-continental South Asia. Unsurprisingly, therefore, ‘culturally-turned’ Marxism survives as the sign of the very crisis it was meant to surpass. Its canonisation within the academia, and beyond, as a mere analytic of culture has led to the blurring of politico-ideological lines. The quietist impulse that this theory of the science of revolution has, as a consequence, come to share with so-called poststructuralism implies its complete detachment from all notions and conceptions of class and class action.

The 13 essays that comprise this book are envisaged as a small attempt from South Asia – where communitarian postcolonialism and ‘Marxist’ culturalism constitute the most respectable trend in radical theory – to remedy the situation.

A collection of provocative essays on culture in the best tradition of Marxism. By showing how the encounter of culture and class with the moments of critique and autonomy pertains to ever-changing situations, Ghosh highlights the importance of contingency and indeterminacy of any critique and autonomous culture, thereby introducing within Marxism a certain self-reflexivity and open-endedness that makes the proposed theoretical frame special.

Anjan Chakrabarti, Professor, Department of Economics, Calcutta University

The essays in the book cover issues that are of great importance to the praxis of revolutionary transformation at a moment when communist revolutionaries are a major internal security obsession. Readers who persevere will find in this intellectually stimulating endeavour much food for thought because it offers a new vantage point to look at social existence and the need to transform it.

Gautam Navlakha, Democratic rights activist and Editorial Consultant, Economic and Political Weekly

Can history be made as we please? Insurgent Metaphors is that book which has had the ambition to imagine Akhtaruzzaman Elias, Brecht, Augusto Boal, Kafka, Ramvilas Sharma, Ritwik Ghatak and Walter Benjamin in one room, not as competitors, but as texts that talk with each other about our times. The uniqueness of Ghosh’s approach to class derives from the heteroglossia and polyphony of his critical voice. This is why it is important that we listen to him.

Ashok Bhowmick, eminent artist and critic

Pothik Ghosh was educated in Allahabad and has worked as a professional journalist in Calcutta, Lucknow and Delhi. Active with various Left groups, he is currently based in Delhi and is one of the editors of Radical Notes. His monograph, Loss as Resistance: Towards a Hermeneutic of Revolution, too has just been published by Aakar Books as part of the Radical Notes booklet series.

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