Issue 20.1 marks the twentieth anniversary of Theory & Event.
Founded in 1997, the journal was intended to be a fast-responding imbrication between contemporary events and complex political theorizing (including the then-cutting-edge subtitle, “an online journal of political theory”). In this spirit, for this anniversary, we have engaged in three different ways of celebrating this twenty-year milestone.
The first is a look back at the founding of the journal through the implications of the present. What is T&E for younger scholars, academics whose intellectual careers postdate its founding? In other words, we wanted the perspectives of those for whom the journal has always been present. As a gesture toward (and recognition of) the past, and inspired by a conversation with Wendy Brown and William Connolly about the emergence of the journal, we asked a number of such theorists to select an essay from the first five volumes of the journal and engage its insights and influences. As the reader will quickly realize, these are neither summaries nor histories, but continued engagements with the persistent issues raised by the original work. Each scholar’s contentions and critique of ideas from a generation ago continue the intellectual project of the journal.
Second, we present a translation of a central work concerning Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze has always been one of the touchstones for Theory & Event, and François Zourabichvili was one of his most pointed and insightful interlocutors in France. His essay, “Deleuze and the Possible: on Involuntarism in Politics,” summarizes much of what made his work on Deleuze critical to a generation of French scholars: sensibility’s relation to perception and aesthetics, the emergences of minoritarian revolutions, the centrality of “ill will.” Ultimately, Zourabichvili argues, the politics of possibility must become unmoored from presumptory action, a lesson particularly important in today’s world. As the T&E tagline, taken from Deleuze, reminds: “Philosophy’s sole aim is to become worthy of the event.”
Third, we have several essays forming a symposium on Neil Roberts’ Freedom as Marronage. The scholars who responded to this work examine the way that Roberts’ book conceptualizes freedom as something that is relative to the condition of slavery. They engage with his understanding that the experience of slavery in the Caribbean, helped [End Page 1] to determine, and continues to determine, the nature and possibility of freedom under conditions of oppression and hierarchy. Far from being a peripheral event in terms of contemporary western understandings of freedom and personhood, the experience of slavery remains with us. These essays respectfully engage with Roberts’ work to both challenge him and to think further with him about marronage as a set of political practices that expand the options and the sense of agency for individuals and communities who face similar conditions in our own time. Taking seriously an emergent new book in the field of Caribbean Studies and post-colonial theory, this symposium emphasizes emergent thought, connecting the actual experience of slavery to the contemporary political context in our 20th anniversary issue.
Issue 20.1 concludes with two review essays, and four reviews. In the review essays section, Devin Penner engages with Jodi Dean’s Crowds and Party, and The Communist Horizon. Miguel Vatter discusses three books on Leo Strauss: Jeffrey A. Bernstein’s Leo Strauss—On the Borders of Judaism, Philosophy, and History; Grant Havers’ Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy—A Conservative Critique; and Robert Howse’s Leo Strauss—Man of Peace. Finally, in the book review section: Thea N. Riofrancos reviews Judith Butler’s Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly; Char Roone Miller reviews Steven Johnston’s American Dionysia: Violence, Tragedy, and Democratic Politics; Fanny Söderbäck reviews Elaine P. Miller’s Head Cases—Julia Kristeva on Philosophy and Art in Depressed Times; and Hidefumi Nishiyama reviews Simone Browne’s Dark Matters—On the Surveillance of Blackness. [End Page 2]