Thoughts on Antonio Gramsci by Michele Filippini

Antonio Gramsci died on the 27th April 1937, 80 years ago today. In this blog, Michele Filippini, author of Using Gramsci: A New Approach dissects the evolving function of Gramsci’s work, exploring the move from a historically conscious reading that shaped politics in practice, to the interdisciplinary appeal of the new theoretical impulse.

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Those who do not produce things (in the wide sense) cannot produce words.

Antonio Gramsci, 1912

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In 1987, Eric J. Hobsbawm wrote an article for the Italian journal Rinascita, informing readers that Antonio Gramsci was among ‘The 250 most cited authors in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index 1976–1983’. This ranking of famous names from the sixteenth century onwards, only included another four Italians: Giorgio Vasari, Giuseppe Verdi, Benedetto Croce and Umberto Eco. The publication date of the index is significant: Gramsci died on 27 April 1937, and as this citing indicates his fame was very much of a posthumous nature, beginning at the end of the Second World War with the publication of the thematic volumes of his prison writings.

So, what happened during the thirty-year period to transform a leading political figure, the Secretary of the Italian Communist Party, imprisoned by the Fascist regime, into a leading intellectual figure for the international left, but also a classic in political theory?

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International Women’s Day Reading List

From feminist theory, to history and contemporary politics, these are some of Pluto’s best books, old and new, that celebrate radical women.

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Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab Carpenter T03129

Revolutionary Learning by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab explores the Marxist and feminist theorisation of knowledge production and learning. From an explicitly feminist perspective, the authors reconsider the contributions of Marx, Gramsci and Freire to educational theory, expanding Marxist analyses of education by considering it in relation to patriarchal and imperialist capitalism.  The reproductive nature of institutions is revealed through an ethnography of schools and pushed further by the authors who go on to examine how education and consciousness connects with the broader environment of public policy, civil society, the market, and other instruments of ‘public pedagogy.’

The book’s use of work by feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial scholars means it will have significant implications for critical education scholarship, but its use value extends beyond educational praxis; providing the tools dissect, theorize, resist and transform capitalist social relations.

 

Captive Revolution: Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle within the Israeli Prison System by Nahla AbdoAbdo T02851

Throughout the world, women have played a part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression, but their vital contributions to revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance are rarely chronicled.

Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and their appalling treatment as political detainees. Through crucial comparisons between the experiences of female political detainees in other conflict; a history of female activism emerges.

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‘Feminism is for Everybody’ bell hooks for International Woman’s Day

bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody is the antidote to every ‘when’s international men’s day?!’ tweet. Designed to be read by all genders, this short, accessible introduction to feminist theory, by one of its liveliest and most influential practitioners, seeks to rescue feminism from esoterism and academic jargon; simplifying, arguing and convincing.

 

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Everywhere I go I proudly tell folks who want to know who I am and what I do that I am a writer, a feminist theorist, a cultural critic. I tell them I write about movies and popular culture, analysing the message in the medium. Most people find this exciting and want to know more. Everyone goes to movies, watches television, glances through magazines, and everyone has thoughts about the messages they receive, about the images they look at. It is easy for the diverse public I encounter to understand what I do as a cultural critic, to understand my passion for writing (lots of folks want to write, and do). But feminist theory — that’s the place where the questions stop. In- stead I tend to hear all about the evil of feminism and the bad feminists: how “they” hate men; how “they” want to go against nature — and god; how “they” are all lesbians; how “they” are taking all the jobs and making the world hard for white men, who do not stand a chance. When I ask these same folks about the feminist books or magazines they read, when I ask them about the feminist talks they have heard, about the feminist activists they know, they respond by let- ting me know that everything they know about feminism has come into their lives thirdhand, that they really have not come close enough to feminist movement to know what really happens, what it’s really about. Mostly they think feminism is a bunch of angry women who want to be like men. They do not even think about feminism as being about rights — about women gaining equal rights. When I talk about the feminism I know — up close and personal — they willingly listen, although when our conversations end, they are quick to tell me I am different, not like the “real” feminists who hate men, who are angry. I assure them I am as a real and as radical a feminist as one can be, and if they dare to come closer to feminism they will see it is not how they have imagined it.

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Video: Jamie Woodcock, ‘Working the Phones’

This week Pluto published Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres, by Jamie Woodcock. The latest in our Wildcat series, the book goes undercover to reveal the daily experiences of workers in one of the country’s most prolific (and least-loved) industries.

In this short video, Jamie expands the motivations and methodology behind Working the Phones.

Jamie Woodcock completed his PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is currently a fellow at LSE. His research interests include: digital labour, technology, management, critical theory, and the sociology of work.

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Working the Phones is available to buy from Pluto Press, here.

The Urgent Legacy of Stuart Hall – Jeremy Gilbert in Red Pepper

The following obituary of Stuart Hall was written by Jeremy Gilbert for Red Pepper. Jeremy is author of Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism (Pluto, 2013). He writes, Hall’s ideas and example are crucial for understanding, and for changing, the twenty-first century world.

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Jeremy Gilbert

The sad loss of Stuart Hall has provoked an entirely appropriate and deserved series of tributes and reminiscences: from those who knew him a little, from those who knew him intimately, and from those whose lives were touched or transformed by his work without necessarily meeting him at all. Thankfully, few if any of these tributes have succumbed to the temptation to declare ‘the end of an era’. My intention here is to insist that no such declaration could be made, except insofar as the death of such a loved and exemplary person can only ever provoke a terrible sense of loss. The work of mourning and commemorating Stuart will carry on for months and years to come. But his legacy remains a dynamic body of ideas, methods and practices which constitute an invaluable resource for critical thought and radical politics, addressing themes which have become, if anything, more urgent than ever as the twenty-first century gets underway.

From his earliest writings in New Left Review, at the start of the 1960s, Stuart tried to persuade the left to pay serious attention to the cultural and social changes that were altering the political dynamics in Britain and the wider world, recognising that phenomena such as the spread of consumerism and commercial youth culture were not short-term blips which could be ignored, or bourgeois deviations which could be simply condemned: they were significant transformations of the terrain on which politics is conducted.  Continue reading