This issue of Public Culture advances three of the Editorial Collective’s aspirations in its recent years of work: circulating important work in translation to English, serving as a forum for polemical intervention, and furthering the analysis of the social life of images.
Public Culture is deeply grateful to Todd Meyers and Stefanos Geroulanos, who undertook the demanding endeavor of translating the work of Georges Canguilhem. We are proud to be the forum for the first circulation of this text in English, and we remain committed to engaging proposals for the translation of important and innovative work.
This issue also dedicates special attention to current polemics. The first intervention in this genre, in our “Doxa at Large” section, is chosen from a discussion prompted by the Social Science Research Council’s exciting initiative on debating secularism and critique, with contributions by Stathis Gourgouris and Saba Mahmood. Their essays develop in an editorial format a theme that has occupied the pages of our journal in the past. The second, more sustained intervention is a dossier edited by Alex Jeffrey, Colin McFarlane, and Alex Vasudevan on Afflicted Powers, a manifesto and extended argument published by the RETORT collective that has attracted the attention of prominent figures in a cross-section of disciplines, ranging from geography to communications and literature. We are delighted to present some of the most insightful and analytically rich interventions in this debate.
The question of spectacle and images, which is key to the discussion of Afflicted Powers, is also engaged in two essays, by Shannon Mattern and Nancy Florida, on historicity, particularly images of the future, in national self-fashioning. Taken together, these pieces help us imagine an archive of the national image, from the work of publicity designers to that of politically militant artists to the photographic genres generated by tourism, self-representation, and state projects of national documentation.
The issue leads with an article by Roland Marchal, adapted for Public Culture by Janet Roitman, on the war and crisis in Chad and Darfur. The journal maintains its commitment to sustained criticism of the contemporary social process throughout.