Today the sound of bubbles bursting and great expectations of change make any reflexive intervention seem destined to be untimely: untimely because it may be premised on assumptions that no longer stand, but also because writing brings forth truths that are deflected from plain sight by the brilliant sheen of the bubble.
This issue, however, is an untimely intervention in the best sense. In it the temporalities of academic production, with its lengthy cycle of meditation, research, review, and publication, speak with uncanny, polyphonic precision to a conjuncture that the now dominates to a worrisome degree, reminding us that the overwhelming present was imminent in a past that seems obsolete, and indeed that the present can be apprehended only from the perspective of that estranged past. Here Public Culture offers close cultural studies of the market by Caitlin Zaloom and Shameem Black; essays on bounding spaces in Israel by Daniel Monterescu, on political mediation in Lebanon by Ken Seigneurie, and on the political life of disaster by Michael Ralph; an inquiry into how middle classes are raced, by Gyanendra Pandey; an anthropological examination of color and feeling by Andrew Irving; and an argument for the contemporary valence of realism by Beatriz Jaguaribe. I am proud to present these authors’ works, which provide genuine, sustained reflection on our own historicity.