Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle
“An extraordinary volume that provides nothing less than a detailed cognitive mapping of the terrain for everyone who wants to engage in radical politics.”—Slavoj Žižek, author of Living in the End Times
“Keywords for Radicals recognizes that language is both a weapon and terrain of struggle, and that all of us committed to changing our social and material reality, to making a world justice-rich and oppression-free, cannot drop words such as ‘democracy,’ ‘occupation,’ ‘colonialism,’ ‘race,’ ‘sovereignty,’ or ‘love’ without a fight. —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“From its thought-provoking Introduction though its energizing accounts of the tensions underlying our most prized concepts, Keywords for Radicals will be indispensable to any scholar or activist who is serious about critique and change.”—Stephen Duncombe, editor of Cultural Resistance Reader
“A primer for a new era of political protest.” —Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity
“This keywords upgrade puts powerful weapons into revolutionaries’ hands. Unexpected entries expand into new terrain.… Indispensable.” —Jodi Dean, author of The Communist Horizon
In Keywords (1976), Raymond Williams devised a “vocabulary” that reflected the vast social transformations of the post-war period. He revealed how these transformations could be grasped by investigating changes in word usage and meaning. Keywords for Radicals—part homage, part development—asks: What vocabulary might illuminate the social transformations marking our own contested present? How do these words define the imaginary of today’s radical left?
With insights from dozens of scholars and troublemakers, Keywords for Radicals explores the words that shape our political landscape. Each entry highlights a term’s contested variations, traces its evolving usage, and speculates about what its historical mutations can tell us. More than a glossary, this is a crucial study of the power of language and the social contradictions hidden within it.
Contributors include Patrick Bond, Silvia Federici, John Bellamy Foster, Joy James, Ilan Pappé, Justin Podur, Nina Power, Mab Segrest, and over forty others.
Kelly Fritsch is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto.
Clare O’Connor is a doctoral student in Communication at the University of Southern California.
A.K. Thompson teaches social theory at Fordham University in New York.