cover of book

Para-Sites: A Casebook against Cynical Reason
edited by George E. Marcus
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Paper: 978-0-226-50438-4 | Cloth: 978-0-226-50437-7
Library of Congress Classification NX180.S6P37 2000
Dewey Decimal Classification 700.9049

Para-Sites, the penultimate volume in the Late Editions series, explores how social actors located within centers of power and privilege develop and express a critical consciousness of their own situations. Departing from the usual focus of ethnography and cultural analysis on the socially marginalized, these pieces probe subjects who are undeniably complicit with powerful institutional engines of contemporary change. In each case, the possibility of alternative thinking or practices is in complex relation to the subject's source of empowerment.

These cases challenge the condition of cynicism that has been the favored mode of characterizing the mind-set of intellectuals and professionals, comfortable in their lives of middle-class consumption and work. In their effort to establish para-sites of critical awareness parallel to the levels of political and economic power at which they function, these subjects suggest that those who lead ordinary lives of modest power and privilege might not be parasites in relation to the systems they serve, but may be creating unique and independent critical perspectives.

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