Author: Joe Lockard
Joe Lockard is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University, where he directs the Anti-slavery Literature Project. He is the co-editor of Iraq War Cultures (Peter Lang, 2011) and the author of Watching Slavery: Witness Texts and Travel Reports (Peter Lang, 2008). Lockard teaches early American literature, early African American literature, comparative ethnic literatures, and social protest literature.

Protestations against individual instances of violence ignore their origins. Tellingly, they often indulge hypocrisy: this is an outrage against the norm, or so the logic goes. But, as long as it remains unnoticed, the norm remains violence. Israeli government denunciations of ex-IDF officer Shalom Eisner are a perfect case in point. (More…)

Nathan Englander’s new collection of short stories normalizes bad politics. The author’s inability to engage with critical difficulties within American Jewish and Israeli culture leaves key stories littered with futile symbolism. It’s too simple to suggest that Englander lacks courage. (More…)

When newspapers first disclosed that one percent of the US population was imprisoned or on probation, credible reports allege that prosecutors at Maricopa County Attorney’s office celebrated with cheers and calls to “Go for two percent!”  That is what team spirit looks like in this age of mass incarceration. (More…)

When it was clear that the Mubarak government was on its last legs, and the Egyptian revolt was succeeding, I estimated that Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel would last only two or three years.  I was wrong. It will probably be abrogated even more quickly.  The consequences will prove a disaster for Israel, Palestine, the Middle East and the world. (More…)

Campaigns to reinforce public morality solidify weakening structures of oppression. Their existence is sufficient evidence of this point. Were public morals to meet the approbation of of the so-called authorities, there would be no need for such corrective efforts. But prescriptive morality is by nature a political tool, meaning that supposed general moral inadequacy is a function of its usefulness. (More…)

Arizona murdered its rivers and poured the remains onto cotton fields and golf courses.  Some of the largest water engineering projects on the planet have gone into producing suburban swimming pools and green lawns. Today’s Arizona could not exist without the diversion and destruction of its river system.  Over 90 percent of the state’s river system has disappeared. (More…)

What do the different forms of unrest that have proliferated in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America have in common? Recently, Judith Revel and Toni Negri published The Common in Revolt, one of the more lucid and penetrating essays analyzing recent and current social protests, revolts, riots, and street politics. A characteristic of such provocative essays is that they demand responses and help shape public debate. (More…)

The north entrance to Yuyuantan Park in Beijing’s Haidian district is not the main entrance.  After passing through a working-class neighborhood of three and five-story brick apartment buildings, this entrance is at the bottom of a sloping street lined with fruit-sellers and hawkers.  On one side of the street, an old neighborhood is being demolished; on the other side, new apartment buildings have arisen.  These buildings are handsome, understated, some of the most expensive in Beijing, and the residence of the new neoliberal elite. (More…)

About fifty meters east from the D exit of the Suzhoujie station on Beijing’s Number 10 metro line, is a small alley market. You walk along the main street, take a gated entryway for five meters, and there, parallel to the street, is a narrow alley with two stands. The first sells vegetables. The second sells peaches, apples, and lychee. A third uses crates on the sidewalk to sell brown hen and salted blue duck eggs, together with oil, pasta and a couple of common kitchen items. (More…)

I was standing in line at the Mahane Yehuda post office in Jerusalem.  When my turn came I asked the clerk, a young woman, for stamps.  She put a sheet of stamps on the counter.  The Postal Authority had just printed a new series of stamps commemorating West Bank settlements.  I pushed the stamps back. “Give me others, please” I said. (More…)

Several blocks away from our apartment in Beijing’s Haidian district, a retro ‘red’ restaurant stands alongside the street. Its walls are decorated with photos of Mao Tse Tung and Zhou Enlai along with applauding Communist Party cadres. All the famous faces are here, with many enlarged photographs hanging on the walls and dining booths. (More…)

Bruno Schulz was a genius. He invented his own language and sensibility.  His narrative style and its fantastic voice create a complex reality, much like the piled-high small shops he describes.  Schulz has been mislabeled ‘the Polish Kafka,’ a mistake because Franz Kafka had a far more specific social vision that addressed relations between citizen and state.  For Schulz, the subjects were self, family, neighbors and the cityscape surrounding them all. His best-known work, The Street of Crocodiles, repeatedly articulates a sense of foreboding. (More…)