When the Center Is on Fire
Passionate Social Theory for Our Times
272 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: June 1, 2008
272 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
In this lively and provocative book, two feminist public sociologists turn to classical social thinkers—W. E. B. Du Bois, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Émile Durkheim—to understand a series of twenty-first century social traumas, including the massacre at Columbine High School, the 9/11 attacks, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, and Hurricane Katrina. Each event was overwhelming in its own right, while the relentless pace at which they occurred made it nearly impossible to absorb and interpret them in any but the most superficial ways. Yet, each uncovered social problems that cry out for our understanding and remediation.
In When the Center Is on Fire, Becky Thompson and Diane Harriford assert that classical social theorists grappled with the human condition in ways that remain profoundly relevant. They show, for example, that the loss of "double consciousness" that Du Bois identified in African Americans enabled political elites to turn a blind eye to the poverty and vulnerability of many of New Orleans's citizens. The authors' compelling, sometimes irreverent, often searing interpretations make this book essential reading for students, activists, generations X, Y, and Z, and everybody bored by the 6 o'clock news.
When the Center Is on Fire is a much-needed contribution to sociological understandings of contemporary U.S. society as shaped by global capital and imperialism. The authors reanimate social theory and put it to the test in imaginative and innovative ways. . . . Their readings of classical social theory help us recover a humane, life-giving, and connective social ethic that can fruitfully counteract the dehumanization, atomization, and emptiness uncovered by events that have shaken the United States in the new millennium.~Monisha Das Gupta
- Introduction: An Offering ... Can We Talk?
- Part One. Consciousness: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina
- Chapter One. Condoleezza Rice, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Double Consciousness
- Chapter Two. Hurricane Katrina and Historical Memory
- Part Two. Spirit: The 9/11 Attacks
- Chapter Three. The 9/11 Attacks and Max Weber
- Chapter Four. Moments of Grace/Grace Undermined
- Part Three. Labor: The Abu Ghraib Prison Abuses
- Chapter Five. Karl Marx and Alienation
- Chapter Six. Looking for Species Being: Trauma and Its Consequences
- Part Four. Body: The Columbine School Shootings
- Chapter Seven. Émile Durkheim and Embodiment in the Age of the Internet
- Conclusion: Regeneration