Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism, book manuscript under contract with Continuum. Expected publication in summer of 2013.
This book examines the phenomenon of “lifestyle politics” among contemporary anarchist activists. Drawing on personal interviews, observation, and discursive analysis, the author interrogates how individual habits are constructed as prime sites of political intervention alongside more conventional forms of activism. The book explores a variety of lifestyle practices, from personal consumption to stylistic self-presentation to sexual relationships. It also addresses the controversy around “lifestylism” among self-identified anarchists, considering notions of authenticity in the legitimation of different forms of radical activism, as well as the various ways that structural privilege intersects with activist practices and identities. The findings and theoretical advances presented here shed new light on our understanding of politics, identity, subcultures, and contemporary social movements.
This article examines practices of anti-consumption deployed by anarchist activists as tactical actions within their overall projects of political and subcultural resistance. Drawing on existing literature on anti-consumers, my own interviews with anti-consumers, and analysis of materials that circulate in support of anti-consumption, I explore both the material and discursive effects of anti-consumption within a specific political subculture. I offer a typology of motivations for anti-consumption among activists, as well as a discussion of how overlaps and conflicts between various motivations complicate assessments of lifestyle-based resistance. I ultimately argue that the analysis I offer can prove helpful to political projects that utilize consumption-based tactics, in the construction and evaluation of effective activist strategies.
This article explores the articulation of queer sexuality with anarchist identity. Drawing on interviews and participant observation in the contemporary North American anarchist movement, I show that queer critique is typical among self-identified anarchists. Anarchist movement culture serves as a medium for the circulation of discourses around sexuality and anarchist identity, as well as supports individuals in their own queer practices of resistance against dominant sexual norms. However, subcultural investments in notions of authenticity may serve to detract from the political potential to be found within anarchist culture. This article ultimately concludes that the strong movement culture and its investment in authentic identity can prove useful for anarchist political projects, but that ‘anarchonormativity’ must be wielded strategically, taking into account its many potential effects.
“‘Me, Only Better!’: Reality Makeover Television and Post-Feminist Gender Ideology.” In Race/Gender/Media, ed. Rebecca A. Lind. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2010.
This chapter analyzes reality makeover shows as products of a post-feminist culture. I argue that the site of women’s empowerment is often the commercial sphere, and that shows such as The Swan and Extreme Makeover perpetuate the ideology that individualist consumption is an important means of feminine empowerment.
This essay examines the connections between the Miss America pageant and reality makeover television shows. We argue that televised performances of gender have shifted focus from the intensely scripted, out-of-touch Miss America to reality makeover shows that normalize cosmetic surgery as a means to become the ‘ideal’ woman. While both spectacles offer their viewers performances of femininity, these performances need to be understood as emerging from the cultural and political conditions in which they are produced. This difference in presentation of the subjects of beauty pageants and makeover programmes speaks respectively to the changing role of media in the normalization of performances of femininity, as well as to the affiliation of many young women with post-feminist politics in the United States.