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Zhandarka Kurti

is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Prelude to a Hot American Summer

In the unfolding of social antagonism which drives human history there are spectacular moments when a hitherto-invisible threshold is crossed and great masses who have long appeared to suffer in silence thrust themselves onto center stage to claim their place as breakers of chains and makers of history. The 2010 self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi was one such event. The 2016 plan to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline across sacred indigenous land and water was another.

Second Chances in the Era of the Jobless Future

STAND WITH MEEK MILL greets me on a billboard as I drive along Philadelphia’s I-95 and the Vine Street Expressway. Downtown, a local city SEPTA bus passes by, advertising similar messages of support.

The Dangerous Seduction of Reform

While the original incarnation of Black Lives Matter focused on blocking infrastructure, like highways and bridges—ostensibly to wake up a slumbering public to the brutal reality of American policing, and press for reforms that would make Black lives matter in the eyes of the law—this time around protestors have unleashed an often frontal attack on symbols of carceral power: police precincts, courthouses, department of correction buildings, to name a few. As these rotting avatars of social control draw increasing fire, sometimes it seems that anything is possible but a return to the status quo that they serve to prop up. 

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues