Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848-2011

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    Jesse S. Cohn

    Publisher: AK Press

    Year: 2014

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 375 pages

    ISBN: 9781849352017

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What anarchists demanded from art was what they demanded from all aspects of their political lives: that it should, as much as possible, embody the principle in the practice, the end in the means. While prefiguring a post-revolutionary world, anarchists simultaneously created a richly textured "resistance culture" to sustain their ideals and identities amid everyday lives defined by capital and the state, allowing an escape from domination even while enmeshed in it. Underground Passages investigates and interrogates these creations across the history of the movement. Whether discussing famous artists like John Cage or Diane DiPrima or unknown and anonymous anarchist writers, Cohn shows how aesthetic shifts both reflected and influenced political and economic ones. This is cultural criticism at its best—and most useful.

What People Are Saying

“There is, quite literally, nothing like this book available. Various studies of anarchist culture do exist, some quite good, but none approach the breadth or depth of Jesse Cohn’s study. He is able to do something different: explore what forms of anarchist resistance culture in different places and times have had in common, and therefore what made them specifically anarchist. —Kenyon Zimmer, author of Immigrants against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America

“Readers [of Underground Passages] will appreciate how anarchist culture (poetry, songs, fiction, plays, illustrations, and films) was by no means monolithic in approach or rationale, since different anarchist creators at different times saw the importance of making anarchist resistance culture relevant to particular settings or ‘deterritorializing’ it to give it a more global feel that fit with the transnational and internationalist dimensions of global anarchism.” —Kirwin Shaffer, author of Black Flag Boricuas: Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897–1921

About the Author 

Jesse Cohn is the author of Anarchism and the Crisis of Representation: Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, Politics, and an associate professor of English at Purdue University North Central in Indiana.


Part I Resistance and Culture

Introduction: Of Tunnels and Theaters 1

1. The Reader in the Factory 27

Part II Speaking to Others: Anarchist Poetry, Song, and Public Voice

1. The Poet’s Feet 67
2. The Devil’s Best Tunes 91
3. Two Crises of Language 105
4. “A Need Without A Hope” 121
5. Fight or Flight? 133

Part III “Out of the Bind of the Eternal Present”: Anarchist Narrative

1. White Rooms 151
2. Varieties of Estrangement 161
3. Outcast Narratives 177
4. From Cretinolandia to Common-Sense Country 193
5. Stronger Loving Worlds 209
6. From Terre Libre to Temps de Crises 221
7. Barbarizing Visions 233
8. A Social Spectacle? 245
9. The Mirror Stage 269

Part IV Breaking the Frame: Anarchist Images

1. Virile Bodies 283
2. “He Peddles Signs”: Words and Images 301
3. “Evolution Is Not Over Yet”: Visual Narrative. 317
4. The Stuttering Image: Anarchist Cinema 343

Conclusion: Lines of Flight 379

Tags: AK Press ....... anarchism ....... anticapitalism ....... cultural studies ....... Jesse Cohn ....... Jesse S. Cohn .......