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By Janet Roitman

Situation is all over: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Congo; in our housing markets, funds markets, monetary structures, nation budgets, and sovereign currencies. In Anti-Crisis, Janet Roitman steps again from the cycle of problem construction to invite not only why we claim such a lot of crises but additionally what kind of analytical paintings the concept that of challenge allows. What, she asks, are the stakes of "crisis"? Taking responses to the so-called subprime personal loan quandary of 2007-08 as her working example, Roitman engages with the paintings of thinkers starting from Reinhart Koselleck to Michael Lewis, and from Thomas Hobbes to Robert Shiller. within the technique, she questions the bases for claims to main issue and exhibits how difficulty features as a story machine, or how the invocation of concern in modern bills of the monetary meltdown permits specific narratives, elevating definite questions whereas foreclosing others.

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2 These narratives are structured in terms of a quest for the “roots,” “origins,” and “causes” of the crisis; none hesitate over the matter of positing the term “crisis” itself. All are concerned to unearth the history from which we have become alienated: they hope to reveal the “secret origin” (Lewis 2010, 1), the “deeper causes” (Skidelsky 2009, 4), the “underlying contradictions” (Harvey 2011, 89), the “hidden history” (McLean and Nocera 2010)— all of which have led to distortions or deviations from a proper or more correct historical progression.

47 The concept of critique, as understood by the end of the eighteenth century—that is, not as criticism of the state or of political policy, but as a judgment of the validity of institutions and concepts themselves— informs this manner of understanding the relationship between theory and practice. 48 Hypocrisy lies in the simultaneous “critique of all power” and yet the desire to achieve “the power to judge all mankind” (Edwards 2006, 438). In that sense, perpetual critique—of oneself via moral conscience and of the world against a standard of reason—is coterminous with a perpetual state of crisis.

And what history? Koselleck’s account clearly serves the self-­narration or self-­constitution of “modernity” as (sovereign) History. And, alongside the question of “other people’s” histories, or other histories, is the issue of taking myriad ontic possibilities into account, of displacing humanist or human-­centric history. As Kathleen Davis maintains regarding such narration and its attendant practice of periodization, “the paradox of a self-­constituting modernity is folded into the cut of periodization itself, and the ‘modern’ can emerge as unproblematically sovereign” (2008, 87).

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Anti-Crisis by Janet Roitman


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