In the latest instalment of the virtual Occupy library on the Through Europe blog, Ariella Azoulay, author of From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, selects her favourite radical books:
Teacher of visual culture and contemporary philosophy at the Program for Culture and Interpretation, Bar Ilan University.
Benjamin, Walter(1969) – Illuminations
Benjamin’s explicit discussion in the last chapter – “Theses on The Philosophy of History” – on writing history from the perspective of the “oppressed” and the implicit understanding of history as incomplete, was a moment of illumination for me as an Israeli Jew born to be identified with the oppressors.
Arendt, Hannah (1958) – The Human Condition
Arendt’s understanding of the common is the most challenging contribution to the re-invention of civil practices to oppose the national-sovereign ones that rule our lives.
De Gouges, Olympe (1994) – “Black Slavery” (included in Translating Slavery – Ed. Kadish, Massardier-Kenny)
A French revolutionary of the 18th century, known mainly for he “Declaration of the rights of woman and female citizen”, wrote the most challenging political text of the 18th century. In this particular theater play, written seven years before the onset of the French Revolution, she stages a double resistance of a black slave and a woman, in a way that redefines community in opposition to the colonial power.
Arendt, Hannah (1951) – Origins of Totalitarianism
This book reconstructs the way our world was shaped by colonialism and imperialism that made change possible only within the limits of the existent nation-states. The civil movements of today are the expected outcome of the world described in this book which was not dismantled after the Second World War.
In other selections Norman Finkelstein selects Noam Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians and Karl Marx’s Capital:
Chomsky, Noam (1983) – Fateful Triangle
The book is perhaps a little outdated now, but it exerted a huge influence on me upon its publication because of its near-perfect synthesis of facts, reason and passion. I am told that Prof Chomsky wrote the whole book in six months at night after work. A remarkable achievement.
Marx, Karl (1867) – Capital
I read all three volumes as a young man, the first volume four times, the other volumes twice each. I cannot say I learned anything from CAPITAL, in the sense that I came to understand the inner-workings of the capitalist system. But reading it did hone my analytical skills. I copied the volumes out paragraph by paragraph in the left-hand column of several notebooks, and commented on each paragraph in the right-hand column. I learned how to take apart a book and dissect its logic and coherence. I tried the same thing with David Ricardo’s PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY but got stuck in the chapter on profits.
Visit Through Europe to read the selections in full.
A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950
Ariella Azoulay. Translated by Charles S Kamen
Beautifully presented photobook, featuring 200 rarely seen photographs from the Palestinian Nakba (1947-50). Includes original text from the author.
“From Palestine to Israel will confirm Azoulay’s status as one of the politically boldest theorists at work in the field of visual studies today.” – Jacqueline Rose
“Ariella Azoulay’s scholarship is a rare achievement. Truly interdisciplinary, she marshals material from photography, history and political theory to offer an incisive political critique of the discourses through which we understand Israel-Palestine. The result is the most original conceptualisation of photography, history and politics and their connections that we have seen for a very long time.” – David Campbell, Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies
A Critical Introduction
A careful and comprehensive study introducing the ideas of Hannah Arendt to students in the social sciences.
“Hannah Arendt: A Critical Introduction presents an original and highly developed perspective on the influence of Arendt’s thinking on the social sciences, just as scholars in a number of related disciplines are beginning to rethink the relevance of Arendt’s work beyond political theory.” – Dimitris Papadopoulos, Reader in Sociology and Organisation at the University of Leicester and co-author of Escape Routes (Pluto, 2008)
“An excellent, accessible and readable introduction to Arendt’s political theory, taking the reader on a fast but well structured journey through Arendt’s most important contributions to debates about modernity, culture, violence and the state. This book does much to recover the work of a thinker who is often unjustly neglected in the contemporary canon.” – Dr Wallace McNeish, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Abertay
The United States, Israel and the Palestinians
Noam Chomsky. Foreword by Edward W. Said
‘The most ambitious book ever attempted on the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians … a great and important book.’ Edward Said
“The most ambitious book ever attempted on the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians … a great and important book.” – Edward Said
“Brilliant and unscrupulous.” – Observer
Clear and comprehensive guide to one of Marx’s greatest works, Capital, written in a highly accessible style.
Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho
‘This expert guide to the political economy of Marx’s Capital has always been the very best available.’ – David Harvey
“This expert guide to the political economy of Marx’s Capital has always been the very best available. … It is thoroughly recommended not only for beginners but to anyone interested in the applicability of Marxian theory to the parlous condition of contemporary capitalism.” – David Harvey, author of Limits to Capital and The Condition of Postmodernity
“For almost thirty years, Marx’s Capital has provided an invaluable introduction to Marx’s great work. … It should be compulsory reading for all serious students of economics.” – Professor Simon Clarke, University of Warwick