The Podcast for Social Research
The Podcast for Social Research
The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
From Plato to quantum physics, Walter Benjamin to experimental poetry, Frantz Fanon to the history of political radicalism, The Podcast for Social Research is a crucial part of our mission to forge new, organic paths for intellectual work in the twenty-first century: an ongoing, interdisciplinary series featuring members of the Institute, and occasional guests, conversing about a wide variety of intellectual issues, some perennial, some newly pressing. Each episode centers on a different topic and is accompanied by a bibliography of annotations and citations that encourages further curiosity and underscores the conversation’s place in a larger web of cultural conversations.
Practical Criticism No.47—Nirvana
In episode 47 of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Nirvana for Rebecca Ariel Porte. They talk pop avant-gardes, Kurt Cobain’s voice, exhausted croons, experiments in sound, experiments in masculinity, depression and melancholy, Burton’s anatomy of melancholy, developing variation, word play, disillusion and disaffection, and Nirvana's Gen X musical legacy in the sonic avant-garde and depressive realism of the (largely feminine and queer) singer-songer writers of today. Songs include: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"; "The Priest They Called Him" by Kurt Cobian and William S. Burroughs; "Pennyroyal Tea"; "All Apologies" and Mitski's "Your Best American Girl." P.S. Our (Millennial) editor Cora would like to note that Mitski is indeed a proper Millennial, not Gen Z as indicated in the episode. PPS.  Omitted further thoughts on the class nature of Nirvana hopefully forthcoming. You can read Ajay on generational and class politics in "OK, OK, Boomer: The Critical Theory of Contemporary Angst."
Aug 27
2 hr 33 min
Practical Criticism No. 48—Björk
In episode 48 of the Podcast for Social Research's "Practical Criticism" series, Rebecca Ariel Porte plays Björk for Ajay Singh Chaudhary. They converse about pop avant-gardes, Bruegel's *Land of Cockaigne,* utopian fantasies of Iceland, islands and the insular, the state of emergency, music designed to be remixed, protean pop personae, female friendship, nascent solidarities, music as muse, and why Björk is more like Taylor Swift than you'd think.
May 18
1 hr 55 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 48: Christine Smallwood's The Life of the Mind
In the 48th episode of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR faculty (and co-founder) Christine Smallwood joins Abby Kluchin, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Michael Stevenson, and Suzanne Schneider for a wide-ranging discussion of her acclaimed debut novel The Life of the Mind. In a two-part conversation, Christine sits down first with Abby to discuss the novel's characters, themes, and influences (George Eliot, Thomas Mann, Melanie Klein, and, perhaps unconsciously, Antonio Gramsci and Walter Benjamin), before joining Rebecca, Ajay, Michael, and Suzy to ponder what it means today, with the academy in crisis, to live a "life of the mind." Questions considered include: What is depressive realism? How does the central character Dorothy relate to both professional and bodily failure? Why, in a book titled The Life of the Mind, does much of the writing concern the body? What distinguishes “overthinking” from critique? Can reading and thinking make us better people? And if not, how can we understand the “necessary luxury” of living, at least partly, a life of the mind?
May 13
2 hr 2 min
Practical Criticism No. 41—One Big Country Song
In episode 41 of the Podcast for Social Research's "Practical Criticism" series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Locash for Rebecca Ariel Porte, who has no idea what the object of the week will be. They discuss pop country, meta-country, bro country, bubblegum country, crossover appeal, national imaginaries, projections of unity and masculinity, David Allan Coe, Lady A, the culture industry, Nashville songwriting, clean and dirty production, cliché, and dorito engineering.
Mar 23
2 hr
Practical Criticism No. 11—Claude Debussy
In this episode of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay plays Debussy’s “Jardins sous la pluie” for Rebecca, to whom the object of the week is, as usual, a surprise. Their conversation ranges over virtuosity, empty and full, tone painting, modern music, play, omission, peopling the world of your solitude, Shakespeare’s Richard II, Adorno, and Proust. n.b. This episode indirectly cites the excellent pandemic playlist that Jacob Gordon is in the process of compiling. 
Mar 23
1 hr 1 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 47: Who Needs A World View? Raymond Geuss in Conversation
Who needs a world view? Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Michael Stevenson, and Rebecca Ariel Porte welcome world-renowned philosopher Raymond Geuss for a wide-ranging discussion of Geuss’s most recent book. They explore Geuss’s understanding of what a world view is; the history and habit of the worldview in Western philosophical, political, and aesthetic thought, the problems and pathologies of certain kinds of systemic thinking; and alternative conceptions for thinking and philosophizing. Conversation also ranges over Geuss's engagement with Critical Theory, and the thought and legacy of the late philosopher Sydney Morgenbesser, teacher to Geuss and spiritual godfather, of a sort, to BISR.
Mar 5
2 hr 2 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 46: At Year's End with the Angel of History--2020 in Review
Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Lygia Sabbag Fares, Michael Stevenson, Rebecca Ariel Porte, and Suzanne Schneider look back on 2020 in cultural objects: what artifacts from the catastrophe of history lingered with them and which will they be salvaging for the coming year? Discussion ranges over children's media,  experimental performances of Beethoven, sourdough, samba-canção, Sianne Ngai, Spiritfarer and Deathstranding, Robert Walser's fairy tales, and critical theory, always. The conversation coalesces, unexpectedly, around questions of storytelling-- how we narrate the present and how we narrate the immediate past--and why pessimism does not necessarily mean fatalism. 
Dec 25, 2020
2 hr 20 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 45: Empire and Capital
On Thursday and Friday, October 22nd and 23rd, BISR, along with numerous partners, conducted a two-day teach-in and symposium, Empire in Crisis, dedicated to exploring the scope, function, and possible futures of U.S. imperialism. The 45th episode of the Podcast for Social Research is a recording of Friday's introductory teach-in session: "Empire and Capital: Policing Global Production." Drawing on works by Rosa Luxemburg, Herman Mark Schwartz, Michael Kalecki, and Ellen Meiksins Wood, among others, BISR's Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Lygia Sabbag Fares examine the close, perhaps necessary, connection between capitalism and imperialism—specifically, U.S. imperialism. Does capitalism require imperialism, whether to open new markets, to maintain existing markets, or, even, to generate domestic demand? As forms of capitalism change, do forms of imperialism change, too? What does capitalism have to do with "endless war"? What is "imperialism of the dollar"? Does empire pay? Please note, the readings for “Empire and Capital", as well as every other teach-in session, can be accessed here. You can download here by right-clicking here and “save as,” or look us up on iTunes. This episode of the podcast was edited by Cora Walters. If you enjoyed the podcast, please consider supporting our Patreon page.
Nov 13, 2020
1 hr 52 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 44: The Overdetermined Election
The 2020 U.S. presidential election is often called “the most important” of our lifetime. It may also be the most overdetermined. In episode forty-four of the podcast, BISR’s Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Asma Abbas, Nara Roberta Silva, Alyssa Battistoni and Cora Walters discuss the 2020 presidential election and place it in historical, global, political, economic and ecological context.    What forces, trends, and contradictions have brought us to our present moment? Are we at a crossroads? Will the crisis persist regardless of the outcome? Where do we go from here?  
Oct 30, 2020
2 hr 2 min
Podcast for Social Research, Episode 43: A Short Course in Neoliberalism
On June 25th and 26th, 2020, in response to the protests convulsing the nation in the wake of the racist killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, among countless others, BISR conducted a two-day teach-in, free and open to the public, in which faculty explored issues and concepts that contextualize the crisis of American racism, criminal justice, and dispossession. This episode is a recording of the session called “A Short Course in Neoliberalism.” With special reference to Philip Mirowski's Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste BISR's Raphaële Chappe, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and Cora Walters explore the economic, political, and ideological frameworks of neoliberalism. How should we understand neoliberalism's policy implications, broadly writ, when it comes to capitalism, legal systems, the state, work, individual experience, and collective activity? What does neoliberalism have to do with policing and the carceral system? Please note, the readings for “A Short Course in Neoliberalism”, as well as every other teach-in session, can be accessed here. You can download here by right-clicking here and “save as,” or look us up on iTunes. This episode of the podcast was edited by Cora Walters. If you enjoyed the podcast, please consider supporting our Patreon page.
Sep 24, 2020
1 hr 31 min
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