We continue to be delightfully surprised at the quality of the pieces that are submitted to Spectra, as well as their depth and range. Attempting to corral the topics assembled in this issue under a theme, outside their shared interdisciplinary commitment, would diminish their respective distinctiveness. And yet, the overwhelming use of critical theory to identify potentials, hope, reimagine economies and spaces, to re-historicize and work towards more just social praxis is unquestionably a commonality between works. As we arrange these articles from our home at Virginia Tech in the midst of activist teach-in's and lectures confronting Charles Murray's pseudoscience and Ben Shapiro's confused interpretation of free speech, we are reminded of the pressing need for thoughtful, critical work grounded in the experiences of young scholars around the world.
Addressing the implications and manifestations of economics and labor representation, we offer two articles. Despite objections from many on the Left, Rebecca Hollender affirms the Commons as a transformative political notion for imagining and developing alternative forms of post-capitalism. Johannes Kuhnert embraces disciplinary naiveté and argues that ethnographic sociology research stands to benefit from engaging with Hannah Arendt, especially the notions of labor, work, and action she developed in The Human Condition.
Our second group of essays speak broadly to representation, specifically, gendered misrepresentations. Jessica A. Martin argues that much remains to be explored at the intersection of pornography studies and transnational theory, specifically in the global transfers of narratives, norms, and texts that impact how societies understand the body at its most intimate moments. Mona Faysal Sahyoun discusses the ways in which long-standing stereotypes of African-American women are engaged with, as well as disrupted, in the Toni Morrison novel Sula.
Placing conversations about representations, hegemony, and governance in practice, we offer two articles. Brent Lucia argues that the proliferation of overlapping Englishes is not necessarily a hegemonic process, but one that allows for contested and positive transformations of identity and culture. He investigates how Hip-Hop pedagogy represents one important facet of this multiplication of English dialects and corresponding cultural and identity transformations. And in his article, Alec Clott explores whether the notion of restorative justice, tied as it is with the values and processes of civil society, associational democracy, and deliberative democracy, should be considered a constituent part of collaborative governance models.
Benedikt Panknin reviews Fiscal Austerity and Innovation in Local Governance in Europe, and while commending the edited volumes informational value, he takes the collected articles to task for privileging bare information over a more critical engagement with the quality of the changes that have occurred to financial and social systems during the EU's recent spate of fiscal and governance crises. In her review of Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism, Mary Ryan discusses how the individual copes with inhabiting neoliberalized Western societies by seeking and clinging to promises that can only ring false.
This issue also continues the effort to seek ways of incorporating artistic media with scholarly texts. We have intermittently sought to do this (see especially issues 2.2 and 4.2), but are now seeking to more fundamentally integrate the two. This is not purely for aesthetic reasons though we do acknowledge the importance of an aesthetic sensibility for social science and humanities research. Rather, we hope a more robust attention to visual, audio, and media based art may serve as the starting point a conversation between two seemingly different forms of creative engagements with the world we inhabit. We hope our newly and more firmly established attention to the creative practices which inspire, inform, and provoke critical engagements is understood as an intentional dedication to transdisciplinary practices.
We appreciate your continued support-- via readership, authorship and distribution of SPECTRA-- as we work to offer a public space for emerging and established scholars to present theoretically rigorous work.
Sascha Engel (firstname.lastname@example.org), editor emeritus