Cameroonian scholar Achille Mbembe has a new book titled Brutalism forthcoming in January 2024. Part of the eminent Theory in Forms series, the book will be published by Duke University Press in the U.S. and UK, and Wits University Press in South Africa.
Although it was first published in 2020 in French, this 2024 English edition is translated by Steven Corcoran. In Brutalism, Mbembe invokes the architectural aesthetic of brutalism to describe our current capitalist moment, caught up in the pathos of demolition and production on a planetary scale.
Just as brutalist architecture creates an affect of overwhelming weight and destruction, Mbembe contends that contemporary capitalism crushes and dominates all spheres of existence. In this digital era, capitalism has made humanity artificial and machines human. This blurring of the natural and artificial presents a existential threat which precipitates the mutation of the human species into a condition that is at once plastic and synthetic.
However, Mbembe argues that Afro-diasporic thought presents the only solution for breaking the totalizing logic of contemporary capitalism: repairing that which is broken, developing a new planetary consciousness, and reforming a community of humans in solidarity with all living things.
Read the free introduction to the book here.
Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe is well known for his writings on colonialism and African histories and politics. He is Research Professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is author of Necropolitics, On the Postcolony, Critique of Black Reason and more.
Congrats to Mbembe on the upcoming book! Preorder here.