“Wow, a whole blog on post-hegemony.” (John McGowan)
My name is Jon Beasley-Murray and I work at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, with interests in cultural and political theory and Latin American Studies.
Amazingly, this blog has been going for over ten years (since 2005). Sometimes I have updated it assiduously. Increasingly, I have been more lackadaisical. Nonetheless, over the years I have written many hundreds of entries. I once tried to compile a sort of index, which is very incomplete. But use the search bar, explore the tags and categories to the right, and you will find everything from commentary on current events, to drafts of things that I am writing, to scattered notes on music or photography. In recent years, however, this has mostly been a place for brief reviews of books that I have read either for research or teaching purposes.
If this blog has a guiding thread, this would be a series of reflections on hegemony, posthegemony, and related matters.
There are many sloppy uses of the term “hegemony,” which is sometimes simply employed as a substitute for “dominance” or “power.” It has, however, a more precise meaning in the work of Italian Antonio Gramsci, for whom it indicated the relationship between coercion and consent within structures of domination. I am particularly interested the Argentine Ernesto Laclau’s extensive theorization of the concept. Laclau’s work, which has been influential both for Cultural Studies and more recently for political movements such as Syriza in Greece, stresses the ties between hegemony and populism. Yet I argue that hegemony is a symptom of populism that does not really help us understand how politics works. For in fact, “There is no hegemony and never has been.”
As for “posthegemony,” I have published a book on the subject. There, I combine Gilles Deleuze’s concept of affect, Pierre Bourdieu on habit, and Toni Negri’s multitude, both to explain what comes (historically) after hegemony now that the concept is clearly inadequate, and (analytically) to displace hegemony by redescribing processes for which the term had previously seemed adequate. In short, In place of either coercion or consent, I am interested in how affect and habit can both shape bodies and subjectivities, harmonizing them with social norms, and also unfold into the disruptive powers of the multitude. Along the way, I explore case studies taken from Latin America: Peronism in Argentina, Shining Path in Peru, the FMLN in El Salvador, and New Social Movements in Chile, with brief detours via Colombus and Chávez. A motto: “Something always escapes.”
My other projects include “Projections” (with its own blog), concerned with the ways in which Latin America has figured in Hollywood and European cinema. I have also been working on “American Ruins” for a long time. And more recently on something on “Literature and Posthegemony” that has yet to find itself a better title.
I am not sure who reads this blog–or who reads blogs at all these days. I used to count these things much more carefully that I do now, but for what it’s worth the site gets over 20,000 visits a year.
It has always been my hope that this blog might become a gathering place for others with similar interests to my own, and to some small extent it has been. But by some distance, my most visited post is on Réquiem por un campesino español, and I suspect that is simply because this is a text often set in introductory Spanish literature courses (such as A-Level in the UK), and my entry happens to have found itself on the first page of Google results for panicked students wanting a quick summary. And good luck to them.
I’m also (even more sporadically) on Twitter as @jbmurray.
Questions, suggestions, observations, complaints, praise? Leave a comment or email.