Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times

Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times

By: Alexis Shotwell (author)Paperback

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The world is in a terrible mess. It is toxic, irradiated, and full of injustice. Aiming to stand aside from the mess can produce a seemingly satisfying self-righteousness in the scant moments we achieve it, but since it is ultimately impossible, individual purity will always disappoint. Might it be better to understand complexity and, indeed, our own complicity in much of what we think of as bad, as fundamental to our lives? Against Purity argues that the only answer-if we are to have any hope of tackling the past, present, and future of colonialism, disease, pollution, and climate change-is a resounding yes. Proposing a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures, Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems. Being against purity means that there is no primordial state we can recover, no Eden we have desecrated, no pretoxic body we might uncover through enough chia seeds and kombucha. There is no preracial state we could access, no erasing histories of slavery, forced labor, colonialism, genocide, and their concomitant responsibilities and requirements. There is no food we can eat, clothes we can buy, or energy we can use without deepening our ties to complex webbings of suffering. So, what happens if we start from there? Alexis Shotwell shows the importance of critical memory practices to addressing the full implications of living on colonized land; how activism led to the official reclassification of AIDS; why we might worry about studying amphibians when we try to fight industrial contamination; and that we are all affected by nuclear reactor meltdowns. The slate has never been clean, she reminds us, and we can\u2019t wipe off the surface to start fresh-there\u2019s no fresh to start. But, Shotwell argues, hope found in a kind of distributed ethics, in collective activist work, and in speculative fiction writing for gender and disability liberation that opens new futures.

About Author

Alexis Shotwell is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Department of Philosophy, at Carleton University. She is the author of Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding.


Contents Complexity and Complicity: An Introduction to Constitutive Impurity 1. Remembering for the Future: Reckoning with an Unjust Past 2. "Women Don't Get AIDS, They Just Die From It": Memory, Classification, and the Campaign to Change the Definition of AIDS 3. Shimmering Presences: Frog, Toad, and Toxic Interdependencies 4. Consuming Suffering: Eating, Energy, and Embodied Ethics 5. Practicing Freedom: Disability and Gender Transformation 6. Worlds to Come: Imagining Speculative Disability Futures Conclusion: The Point, However, is to Change It Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780816698646
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 264
  • ID: 9780816698646
  • ISBN10: 0816698643

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