[Site cover photo: Diana al-Hadid, Nolli’s Orders, 2012. Piece made from polymer, gypsum, fiberglass, steel, wood, polystyrene, plaster, aluminum foil, pigment. Photo by Jason Wyche.]
“Why We Appear”
Statement by Abram Johannes Frederick Lutes:
“Why We Appear”, so titled was the manifesto of the League Against Imperialism (LAI) published in the first edition of the organization’s theoretical paper, The Anti-Imperialist Review in 1931. Peripheral Thought, like the Review, is a journal based in the global core (Canada specifically) which seeks to elucidate a coherent theoretical defense of anti-imperialism, as well as examine the workings of empire. Thus, without implying any delusions of grandeur, Peripheral Thought sees itself in the tradition of the Anti-imperialist Review.
Peripheral Thought “appeared” out of the desire to contribute to counter-hegemonic writing on a platform much more open, accessible, and diverse than traditional academic avenues. Much of the original articles on this website have originally been composed as essays or research papers for the author’s studies, which have been reworked to be available to a public, digital audience.
On the language of “Periphery” and “Core”
“…all plots are united; they are waves that seem separate, and yet they mingle.”
– Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
The name Peripheral Thought refers to a Periphery in world-systems theory, a framework we draw from frequently in our analysis. The “global periphery” under capitalism is synonymous with the global south; the vast majority of the world, composed of colonized nations engineered to serve global empire and transnational capital, which at this current juncture in history is centered in the United States and to a lesser extent Canada, Great Britain, and the European Union. The exploitation of the periphery’s natural and mineral resources, land, and labor, sustains the dominance of the “core” countries, particularly their elite. The name Peripheral Thought emphases this site’s commitment to challenging the dominance of American and American-influenced theory in our understandings of the contemporary world, and sustain an intellectual foundation in those frameworks and theories developed or inspired by the struggle of the periphery.
Occasionally, we will play with the metaphor of core and periphery as a means of drawing out insights about the impact within the core countries of sustaining and expanding empire. In particular the relationship between empire and neoliberalism/ late capitalism, alienation, knowledge and identity production, militarization, settler colonialism and “internal” colonialism, and working class and (anti) free-trade, politics.
As of February 2018, Peripheral Thought will contribute to this broad mission by featuring articles, book and journal excerpts, and news reports as well as original written and multimedia content specifically discussing:
- socialism/communism and other anti-systemic movements
- the economic and cultural decline of neoliberalism and the rise of China
- global and local working class resilience and survivance
- globalization and anti-globalization/ nationalism, borders, and sovereignty
- transnational capitalism and liberal imperialism
- Indigeneity, and economic and intellectual Indigenization and Canadianization movements.
- Latin America, (neo) extractivism, and the politics of South-South cooperation
- Research ethics, especially Participatory Action Research
- the political economy of knowledge production in higher education, especially student movements, freedom of thought and expression, and ideological hegemony
We approach these themes from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing out the best from sociology, anthropology, and political economy while grounding our theory in the practical science of social investigation and analysis. We do this because we understand that examining empire and imperialism is impossible within the confines of a single social science. To scrutinize empire whilst illuminating effective resistance requires examining everything from global supply chains, down to the everyday experiences of farming a plot of land or mortgaging a house, and back up again.
We also do this to challenge preconceived prejudices and dogmas, both those held by the subjects of our criticisms, and those we hold ourselves. We understand that this intellectual journey into the inner workings of the system which rules us will uncover truths which make us uncomfortable. Thus, Peripheral Thought encourages both its readers and contributors to leave their assumptions at the door and engage in a spirit of serious but comradely debate. We of course have our own politics and our own conceptual limitations, and reluctantly adopt the necessary responsibility to prohibit submissions and comments which purport unsubstantiated prejudice or explicitly perpetuate oppressive stereotypes. Overall, however, this is an open journal of anti-imperialist dialogue and solidarity.
In summary, the concerns of this website, broadly understood, are a critique of imperialism, neoliberalism, and globalization, and the development of anti-imperialist perspectives on global and local social problems.