—Sam Adler-Bell focuses on labor and mass incarceration.
“Response to Vivek Chibber,” by Bruce Robbins. n+1, January 9, 2014.
This piece by Columbia English professor Bruce Robbins represents the latest volley in a months-old academic dust-up inaugurated by the publication of Vivek Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (Verso 2013) in March. Thanks to the miraculous hype machine at Verso Press—the hip wizards of leftist publishing, imbuing new books about Marxism with the cultural relevance of a Radiohead album—the fashionably unfashionable quality of Chibber’s central argument (that universal history in a Marxist mode is not only possible but necessary), and the pugnaciousness of Chibber’s attack on venerated Subaltern Studies historians like Partha Chatterjee and Ranajit Guha, the book has become something of a lightning rod. And it’s been fun to follow the little squirmishes: Axel Andersson’s piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Robbins’s review in n+1, Chibber’s response to Robbins in Jacobin, Robbins’s response to Chibber (above), not to mention a moderated debate between Chibber and Chatterjee at NYC’s Historical Materialism conference—which Verso live-tweeted as if it were a WWE prizefight (“Y’all ready for the Chibber/Chatterjee cage match that’s about to start? #postcolonialism”).
—Dustin Christensen focuses on Latin American politics and sports.
“Mexico States Leave Millions on the Table, Thwart Police Reform,” by Patrick Corcoran. InSightCrime, January 14, 2014
The Mexican government has recently deployed troops and federal police to the southwestern state of Michoacán in an attempt to disarm vigilante “self-defense” groups. These groups have sprung up in the area during the last year to combat both corrupt local police forces and the Knights Templar drug cartel. Patrick Corcoran has an excellent piece about local governments’ failure to spend some $190 million in federal funds available last year for vetting local police forces. Using this money would be a huge first step towards improving local policing capacity, filling the institutional gap that makes armed vigilante groups necessary in the first place.