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Against the Romance of Community

2002
Author:

Miranda Joseph

Against the Romance of Community

An unexpected and valuable critique of community that points out its complicity with capitalism

Miranda Joseph explores sites where the ideal of community relentlessly recurs, from debates over art and culture in the popular media, to the discourses and practices of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. She shows how community legitimates the social hierarchies of gender, race, nation, and sexuality that capitalism implicitly requires. Exposing the complicity of social practices, identities, and communities with capitalism, this truly constructive critique opens the possibility of genuine alliances across such differences.

Against the Romance of Community signals a new moment for critical theory. Rich and compelling, there is no text quite like it.

José Esteban Muñoz, author of Disidentifications: Queers of Color and Performance of Politics

Community is almost always invoked as an unequivocal good, an indicator of a high quality of life, caring, selflessness, belonging. Into this common portrayal, Against the Romance of Community introduces an uncommon note of caution, a penetrating, sorely needed sense of what, precisely, we are doing when we call upon this ideal.

Miranda Joseph explores sites where the ideal of community relentlessly recurs, from debates over art and culture in the popular media, to the discourses and practices of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, to contemporary narratives of economic transformation or "globalization." She shows how community legitimates the social hierarchies of gender, race, nation, and sexuality that capitalism implicitly requires.

Joseph argues that social formations, including community, are constituted through the performativity of production. This strategy makes it possible to understand connections between identities and communities that would otherwise seem disconnected: gay consumers in the United States and Mexican maquiladora workers; Christian right "family values" and Asian "crony capitalism." Exposing the complicity of social practices, identities, and communities with capitalism, this truly constructive critique opens the possibility of genuine alliances across such differences.


Against the Romance of Community

Miranda Joseph is associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Arizona.

Against the Romance of Community

Against the Romance of Community signals a new moment for critical theory. Rich and compelling, there is no text quite like it.

José Esteban Muñoz, author of Disidentifications: Queers of Color and Performance of Politics

Joseph works at the cutting edge, exquisitely balanced between political economy and poststructural theory. She makes important contributions to a range of contemporary debates about the limits of identity politics; the politics of multiculturalism vs. diversity; discourses of globalisation, nation, postnation. Her movement between everyday politics and theory is stunning.

Geraldine Pratt, University of British Columbia

Recuperating the radical potential of community through a process of cultural critique is precisely Miranda Joseph’s goal in Against the Romance of Community. Expertly moving between and bringing together Marxist and poststructuralist theory, Joseph seeks to understand the ongoing attraction of concepts of community in contemporary culture and theory.

College Literature