The Alienated Subject

On the Capacity to Hurt

2022
Author:

James A. Tyner

A timely and provocative discussion of alienation as an intersectional category of life under racial capitalism and white supremacy

James A. Tyner offers a novel framework for understanding the alienated subject, situating it within racial capitalism and white supremacy. Directly addressing current economic trends and their rhetoric of xenophobia, discrimination, and violence and drawing insight from sources including Marxism, feminism, existentialism, and critical race theory, he develops a critique of both the liberal subject and the alienated subject.

From the divisiveness of the Trump era to the Covid-19 pandemic, alienation has become an all-too-familiar contemporary concept. In this groundbreaking book, James A. Tyner offers a novel framework for understanding the alienated subject, situating it within racial capitalism and white supremacy. Directly addressing current economic trends and their rhetoric of xenophobia, discrimination, and violence, The Alienated Subject exposes the universal whitewashing of alienation.

Drawing insight from a variety of sources, including Marxism, feminism, existentialism, and critical race theory, Tyner develops a critique of both the liberal subject and the alienated subject. Through an engagement with the recent pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, he demonstrates how the alienated subject is capable of both compassion and cruelty; it is a sadomasochist. Tyner goes on to emphasize the importance of the particular places we find the alienated subject and how the revolutionary transformation of alienation is inherently a spatial struggle. Returning to key interlocutors from Sartre to Fromm, he examines political notions of distance and the spatial practices of everyday life as well as the capitalist conditions that give rise to the alienated subject.

For Tyner, the alienated subject is not the iconic, romanticized image of Marx’s proletariat. Here he calls for an affirmation of love as a revolutionary concept, necessary for the transformation of a society marred by capitalism into an emancipated, caring society conditioned by socially just relations.

James A. Tyner is professor of geography at Kent State University and a fellow of the American Association of Geographers. He is the author of several books, including War, Violence, and Population: Making the Body Count, winner of the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Work in Geography, as well as Dead Labor: Toward a Political Economy of Premature Death (Minnesota, 2019).

Contents

Introduction

1. A Flourishing, but Mortal Life

2. The Alienated Subject

3. The Intersectionality of Alienation

4. Whose Lives Matter?

5. The Emancipated Subject

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index