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Sensible politics mclagan cover

Media Studies, Politics

Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Politics

Meg McLagan
Yates McKee

Edited by Meg McLagan, Yates McKee

664 pp

16 color illus.

116 black and white illus.

Published: October 2012

6 x 9




ISBN: 9781935408246

Political acts are encoded in medial forms — feet marching on a street, punch holes on a card, images on live stream, tweets — that have force, shaping people as subjects and constituting the contours of what is sensible, legible, visible. Thus, these events define the terms of political possibility and create terrain for political actions.

Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism considers the constitutive role played by aesthetic and performative techniques in the staging of claims by nongovernmental activists. Attending to political aesthetics means focusing not on a disembodied image that travels under the concept of art or visual culture, nor on a preformed domain of the political that seeks subsequent expression in media form. Instead, it requires bringing the two realms together into the same analytic frame.

Drawing on the work of a diverse group of contributors, from art historians, anthropologists, and political theorists to artists, filmmakers, and architects, Sensible Politics situates aesthetic forms within broader activist contexts and networks of circulation and in so doing offers critical insight into the practices of mediation whereby the political becomes manifest.

Contributors include: Barbara Abrash, Negar Azimi, Ariella Azoulay, Amahl Bishara, Judith Butler, Eduardo Cadava, Jonathan Crary, Ann Cvetkovich, Faye Ginsburg, Sam Gregory, Zeynep Devrim Gürsel, Roger Hallas, Andrew Herscher, Sandi Hilal, Kirsten Johnson, Liza Johnson, Thomas Keenan, Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Jaleh Mansoor, Yates McKee, Meg McLagan, Alessandro Petti, Hugh Raffles, Felicity D. Scott, Kendall Thomas, Leshu Torchin, Eyal Weizman, Benjamin J. Young, Huma Yusuf, and Charles Zerner.

“Essential reading for activists!” — London School of Economics Review of Books

Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism decodes and dissects the multiple interconnections between visual culture and the domain of the political. And it does it in a series of texts that are far-reaching, bold and never predictable. I’ll recommend this book for anyone interested in activism, politics, social science, culture or/and visual art.”  —

“Photographs, maps, videos, reports, charts, spaces, and bodies—these and many other material things assemble into what the editors of this remarkable volume call an ‘image-complex’ that conditions how we know what we know, and what we do with that knowledge. Sensible Politics is a practical, theoretical guide for thinking and acting in the aesthetico-political register that puts art and politics together with rigor, imagination, and urgency. For anyone concerned with these matters, this is not just an interesting book, or a useful book. It is a necessary book.”  — Reinhold Martin, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University

Sensible Politics seeks to attend to the dispersion of aesthetics across the multiple institutional and discursive networks and platforms that constitute political action in the present. And so it does! Sensible Politics confounds our current divisions of the aesthetic and the political and challenges scholars and activists —scholaractivists and activistscholars—to rethink the political potential of images as they are absorbed by the concrete apparatuses of contemporary regimes of governmentality.”  — Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism