Monday, May 18, 2009

Review of E. SAN JUAN's book RACISM AND CULTURAL STUDIES (Duke U Press) by Prof. Azfar Hussain


On E. SAN JUAN's Racism and Cultural Studies (Duke University Press)

by Dr. Azfar Hussain



This is a superb, outstanding intervention not only in the domain of cultural studies as such, but also in the fields of ethnic studies, American studies, and even political economy. This book exemplarily demonstrates what an engaged, rather a fiercely mobilized, historical-materialist critique can do. Indeed, enacting a productive and even admirably militant dialectic among the political, the historical, and the theoretical, E. San Juan, Jr. doesn't merely challenge the dangerous culturalism of metropolitian cultural studies on the one hand and the economic determinism of traditional political economy on the other, San Juan also powerfully theorizes and accentuates a "permanent cultural revolution" against capitalism, imperialism, racism, and patriarchy--variously interconnected as they are today.

While I commend the richness and rigor and range of E. San Juan's undertaking, I also see a politically significant "tricontinentalist" (Che Guevara's term) dimension and direction in his book. For San Juan foregrounds a staggeringly wide constellation of emancipatory theories and practices from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, simultaneously engaging and ranging beyond their Anglo-American and European counterparts. He knows, of course, all the ins-and-outs of contemporary "post-al"--postmodernist-poststructuralist-postmarxist-postcolonial--theories and dogmas; but, more significantly, San Juan exemplarily mobilizes theorists-activists from the "third world"--say, for instance, from the Cuban Jose Marti to the Peruvian Jose Carlos Mariategui to the Filipino Jose Maria Sison, including others such as W.E. B Du Bois, Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, C. L. R. James, Maria Lorena Barros, Rigoberta Menchu, and Leslie Marmon Silko, to mention but a few. Indeed, the book challenges and unsettles the "West" as the dominant, privileged site of the production of theory and practice. I recommend the book to anyone interested in radical theory and practice today."

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