Critical Responses to the Cultural Politics of Convergent Planetary Crises
This ongoing series of research probes returns to a familiar and long-standing issue in cultural studies as well as in the critical humanities and social sciences — the omnipresence of crises in our lives and in our contemporary institutions. These have been multiplying, entangling and escalating with alarming persistence and at a planetary scale in recent years: Climate change and innumerable other manifestations of deep ecological transformations and breakdowns with their devastating consequences for human livelihoods; the democratic deficit and the continued erosion of the legitimacy of democratic institutions and processes; the attendant resurgence of virulent sexist and racist populisms; the undermining, also, of “modern” institutions of expertise across cultural, scientific, political and economic sectors through the dictates of money and market advantage; and the proliferation of diverse social crises ranging from the homelessness, hunger and immiseration connected with speculative price bubbles climaxing in the subprime mortgage and 2008 world financial crises, to growing “structural” unemployment, refugee migrations, pandemics, war, terrorism, structural violence of all kinds etc. We have now long lived in an age where crises are both normal and normalizing. Economic, political, cultural, social, personal crises today increasingly collapse together into situations of toxic shock that intensifies repression and processes lives into toxic waste. This collection of essays therefore explores contemporary crises in relation to the TOXIC: a label or warning that signifies thresholds of intensity and channels of relationships. The TOXIC names the contradiction of crisis made normal and turned into the accumulated violence of interlocking systems of oppression.