New Formations

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 0950-2378 / 1741-0789
Published by: Lawrence and Wishart (10.3898)
Total articles ≅ 471
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Latest articles in this journal

Nicholas Pisanelli
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 185-188;

Joe Jackson, Claire Westall
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 5-9;

Michael Niblett
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 113-133;

This article examines the relationship between economic and cultural dependency. Its analysis is framed by Enrique Dussel's methodological insistence on the international transfer of surplus value as the essence of dependency. Beginning with an examination of the heyday of classical dependency theory in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1960s and 1970s, the article moves on to consider the increasing importance accorded culture as a site of power and struggle, focusing on the work of Sylvia Wynter. The second half of the article turns to the literary registration of dependency. Arguing that literary works can provide a barometric reading of the pressures of underdevelopment in advance of political-economic analyses, I consider Patrícia Galvão's Parque Industrial (1933) and Olive Senior's 'Boxed-In' (2015). Published, respectively, some forty years either side of the heyday of dependency theory, these paradigmatic fictions are examples of both the diagnostic and active role of literature in responding to the depredations of dependency.
Michael E. Sawyer
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 189-192;

Michael Gardiner
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 78-93;

This essay suggests that British liberalism itself has an addictive core. It describes opiates as a particular carrier of this addiction, and follows them from the Edinburgh-based opium trade of the early nineteenth century to their rebound in the Edinburgh of the 1980s. Opiates are such a telling carrier of British liberal authority because they take on a dual historiographical and physical role, affirming both the rise of individual ownership and the understanding of that individual through an addictive self-interest. An accompaniment to and analogue for British globalisation, opiates show how entrepreneurship and dependency have been bound together. This essay describes how a hardening of Scottish Enlightenment ideas in the early nineteenth-century expansion of opium was echoed in the late twentieth century, as liberalism reformed for the post-industrial economy and Edinburgh reabsorbed the combined 'dependency-entrepreneurship'. Both the 1830s opium that extended the reach of British liberal values and the 1980s heroin that accompanied post-industrial decline have their own heroic smuggling, virtuous entrepreneurialism, and 'property progressivism'. Both demand the reform of personal time in economic terms, first in a kind of Smithian productivity, second in a relentless search for opportunity against a background of mass unemployment. An opiate neoliberalism, moreover, becomes paradigmatic for the financialisation of personal relationships we experience in the twenty-first century, and the normalness of progressive pseudo-communities joined in individual self-interest. A number of dramas of the 1980s Edinburgh epidemic realise this, exposing the debilitation underside in virtuous progressive self-interest, and returning to the foundations of Scottish Enlightenment and British liberalism as a whole. Of these dramas, this essay returns to Shoot for the Sun (1986), Trainspotting (1993) and Looking After Jojo (1998), and asks what opiate entrepreneurialism says about our own ongoing 'historiographical addiction'.
Michael Watts
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 10-42;

There is an active academic and policy debate over whether and how oil producers – as exemplars of a larger set of Global South development problems associated with 'resource dependency' – can be associated with a number of 'pathologies' or deficits (corruption, poor economic growth, conflict) that are seen as expressions of a much-wider global addiction to petroleum and natural gas. Equally, there is a vibrant set of regulatory and policy interventions designed to render the oil and gas sector more transparent and accountable through modalities like the extractive industries transparency initiative (EITI). In both cases, the language of dependency and addiction is endemic. The socalled 'resource curse' and oil's commodity status as 'the devil's excrement' are exemplary expressions of oil's apparently seductive yet catastrophic properties. Oil dependency and oil addiction have become central to the discourse – a planetary discourse in effect, of the Anthropocene and forms of life within it. This article explores how discourses of dependency and addiction have been put to work, and with what effect, in the debate around the oil and gas global assemblage. It shows how in the case of dependency (and here it is largely the dependency associated with oil-producing or petro-states such as Saudi Arabia or Nigeria) there are often unacknowledged and deep registrations of the word's meanings which are embedded in liberal governance. Much of this dependency talk, I will argue, locates the problem in a series of failings (which oil both overdetermines and facilitates) associated with liberal views of the self, of political economy and the state. In the case of oil dependency as an addiction, I attempt to draw out how an understanding of addiction as a social (and systemic) issue, rather than a property of individual consumers or the pathological-addictive character of particular commodities, sheds light on how oil is built into hydrocarbon capitalism, and what it will take to, as it were, break the habit of large-scale oil consumption.
Jeff Diamanti
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 43-62;

This article argues that the economic abstraction of fossil fuels into the medium of the market after 1973 makes its force and function in the global economy difficult to see, in the way that the source of a penumbra is obscured by the distribution of its effects over the visual field, but that Shell's invention of a unique (and now widely adopted) technique for scenarios thinking on the cusp of the 1970s oil crises helps us see the emergence of that recursive futurity in media res. Hence, while the eventual dominance of energy futures trading would, by the end of the 1980s, come to hold the present and future of the global economy to the concrete and abstract materialism of fossil fuels, the focus in this essay is on a novel form of writing that same future strategically and analytically moments before the energy market is restructured. The genealogy offered is of the so-called 'decision scenario' invented by Shell and it is interesting today for its redefinition of oil from commodity to medium of the market as such, narrating an emergent concept of oil that would eventually get actualised and operationalised in the financial sector over a decade later – even as it would recede from view in discussions of neoliberalism, the post-industrial, and postmodern culture.
Lisa Blackman
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 156-180;

This article focuses on the activism of the Walterton and Elgin Action Group (WEAG) who successfully campaigned against attempts by the UK Conservative government in the 1980's to sell off their council homes to private tenders. Focusing on their inventive and creative actions, and the composition of the group not usually associated with militancy, the article takes the formation of WEAG as an example of affective politics and the cultivation of a housing commons-through-difference. What was foregrounded and became important were the relations of mutual dependence and care that existed and could be mobilised to stir collective action across categories of race, class, gender, disability and age. These relations existed at the nexus of personal histories including those of migration, poverty, displacement, social exclusion, homelessness, neglect and discrimination. These histories were mobilised within an area that had a strong history of community development and activism, and amongst a diverse group of tenants who had shared, yet different histories of displacement, suffering, and struggle having been forced to live in substandard conditions with little hope for the future. The Homes for Votes scandal and the WEAG campaign hover at the edges of the Grenfell tower tragedy in the present, making links across shared geographies and histories, particularly of displacement and suffering as well as community activism and politics, reminding us of what was and is possible beyond the devastation and neglect symbolised by the charred remains of the tower.
Published: 1 March 2021
New Formations, Volume 103, pp 134-155;

This article examines 'hydro-dependency' in the neo-liberal era, exploring the cultural patterning and representations corresponding to the socio-ecological relations organising the extraction, production and consumption of water, both as commodity and as energy in the neo-liberal regime of the capitalist world-ecology. I investigate how specific infrastructures of riparian water management and hydropower – the pipeline and the dam – are mediated in world-literary hydropoetry and hydrofiction and the ways in which they are depicted as producing path-dependence and asymmetric distribution, often through tropes that evoke pathologised social addiction or exhaustion. However, I also demonstrate how texts reconceive water in terms of interdependence and hydrosocial interrelation, thus countering the hegemonic discourses through which flowing water is transformed into exchangeable, quantifiable commodities or forms of energy. As such, I argue that these water-insurgent texts turn on a dialectical tension between hydrodependency and autonomy that mediates the contradictions facing the appropriation strategies of the neo-liberal hydrological regime.
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