Lisa’s latest – and long awaited – book, Selfish Women, will appear with Routledge in summer 2019.
This book proceeds from a single and very simple observation: throughout history, and up to the present, women have received a clear message: we are not supposed to prioritize ourselves. Indeed, the whole question of “self” is a problem for women – and a problem that issues from a wide range of locations, including, in some cases, feminism itself. When women espouse discourses of self-interest, self-regard, and selfishness, they become illegible. This is complicated by the commodification of the self in the recent Western mode of economic and political organization known as “neoliberalism,” which encourages a focus on self-fashioning that may not be identical with self-regard or self-interest.
Drawing on figures from French, US, and UK contexts, including Rachilde, Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher, and Lionel Shriver, and examining discourses from psychiatry, media, and feminism with the aim of reading against the grain of multiple orthodoxies, this book asks how revisiting the words and works of selfish women of modernity can assist us in understanding our fraught individual and collective identities as women in contemporary culture. And can women with politics that are contrary to the interests of the collective teach us anything about the value of rethinking the role of the individual?
It can be preordered on Amazon.co.uk here or from the publisher’s website here.
Lisa has worked on a third exhibition project with Navine G. Khan-Dossos. “There Is No Alternative”, which previewed on 4th June at The Showroom, Paddington, London, explores the visual branding of the UK government’s ‘Prevent’ Strategy. It raises subtle questions about whether there really are any alternatives (as per the title, borrowed from a soundbite by Margaret Thatcher) to this counter-terrorism technology. The exhibition will operate as a ‘pre-criminal’ space in which these ideas can be explored and reflected upon.
Two fully painted walls feature Prevent logo-inspired designs, while dossiers of documents, including a folder of the artist’s research, are provided on central tables for visitors to read and interact with. (Visitors are invited to write on post-its and add them to the documents.) Lisa has curated a dossier of documents on mental health practitioner debates about Prevent which features on one of the four tables.
More wall paintings will take place over the course of the next two months, such that new ‘windows’ will overlay the current murals. A series of public-facing events will also be held to coincide with and contribute to the work of the exhibition, including workshops and talks designed and hosted by a number of collaborators. On 17th July Lisa will organise a panel debate on how the implementation of Prevent impacts upon freedom of expression and public mental health. More details to follow soon.
Lisa’s piece on Shamima Begum for the Birmingham Perspective appeared today. Writing it offered Lisa a chance to bring together and explore concerns central to her two current research projects: on the cultural understanding of women and extremism (or what she terms “(s)extremism”) and on the dangers of a shift in public discourse away from facts and reason and towards (knee-jerk) feelings – a cornerstone of populism and anti-intellectualism.
Lisa and Lara Cox have published a co-edited Special Issue of the journal Paragraph, of which Lisa is an editor, on the subject of Queering the Second Wave. The Special Issue has simultaneously been published as a stand-alone book by Edinburgh University Press.
It examines various ways in which the work of feminists writing in the 1970s and ’80s, including Shulamith Firestone, Marilyn Frye, and Gloria Anzaldúa, are prescient for the queer theory of later decades, despite the obvious ideological differences between them.
In the book, a number of world-leading and emerging Foucault scholars examine the thinker’s ongoing relevance for fields such as literature, critical race studies, queer theory, and ecology. They explore how Foucault offers unique and enduring insights for understanding concepts as broad as subjectivity, neoliberalism, sex, and ethics.
Lisa’s chapter examines the popular genre of true crime in light of Foucault’s writing on the figure of the criminal. Lisa examines how the methodology Foucault describes in I Pierre Rivière…(1976), which considers murder cases as anthropological dossiers about the mores of their time, has not been widely taken up. She proposes a reading of texts documenting the Moors Murders case, published from the 1960s to the present day, as examples of a Foucauldian murder dossier.
Lisa has collaborated with the artist Navine G. Khan-Dossos, whose work engages with the cultural treatment of women as both targets and perpetrators of violence. Navine contacted Lisa after having read her book The Subject of Murder, which theorizes the ways in which Western culture struggles to understand the figure of the exceptional violent woman.
On 31st October, Lisa participated in a filmed public conversation with Navine at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, the site of Navine’s installation Echo Chamber, a non-representational engagement with the case of Samantha Lewthwaite, the British female Islamic convert and assumed terrorist.
More collaborations between Lisa and Navine are planned.
On 18th October, Lisa attended an event at the Horse Hospital in London to celebrate the launch of Joanne Ebenstein’s lavishly illustrated new book Death: A Graveside Companion(Thames and Hudson, 2017) which contains an essay on “Eros and Thanatos” by Lisa.
On 11 May 2017, an article which cited an interview with Lisa appeared in the Times Higher Education. The article, about the rise of the right-wing in Europe and its threat to intellectual freedoms in general, and the discipline of Gender Studies in particular, drew on Lisa’s interest in questions of liberalism, freedom, and censorship.