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Encountering Althusser: Politics and Materialism in Contemporary Radical Thought



Katja Diefenbach, Sara R. Farris, Gal Kirn and Peter D. Thomas

384 pp.

ISBN 978-1-4411-5213-8

£18.74 paperback

Publication date: January 2013

Encountering Althusser

Encountering Althusser


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Short description

French philosopher Louis Pierre Althusser (1918 -1990) helped define the politico-theoretical conjuncture of pre- and post-1968. Today, there is a recrudescence of interest in his thought, especially in light of his later work, published in English as Philosophy of the Encounter (Verso, 2006). This has led to renewed debates on the reformulation of conflicting notions of materialism, on the event as both philosophical concept and political construction, and on the nature of politics and the political.

Encountering Althusser was edited by Sara Farris, Katja Diefenbach, Gal Kirn and Peter Thomas. It is a collection of diverse and original essays written by leading scholars that aims to provide a new assessment of Althusser’s thought, especially in relation to contemporary debates. Organized in four sections that represent the main currents in Althusser’s scholarship, the book discusses materialism and the different formulations of the relationship between politics and philosophy, Althusser’s interpretations of political thinkers (including Machiavelli, Deleuze, Lacan and Gramsci), the resources he provides to critique political economy and politics in post-Marxist thought, and the theorization of ideology and politics.

Encountering Althusser is a groundbreaking resource that highlights Althusser’s continuing relevance to contemporary radical thought.



Michele Cangiani, Katja Diefenbach, Sara R. Farris, Isabelle Garo, Pascale Gillot, G.M. Goshgarian, Giorgos Fourtounis, Gal Kirn, Katja Kolšek, Mikko Lahtinen, Rastko Močnik, Warren Montag, Vittorio Morfino, Ceren Özselçuk, Rastko Močnik, Ozren Pupovac, Peter D. Thomas, André Tosel, Panagiotis Sotiris, Caroline Williams, Frieder Otto Wolf.



“A rich and profound overview of Althusser’s thought, absolutely precious for a contemporary reconstruction of Marxism and for a relaunching of its analytical and political potentials.” — Maria Turchetto, President of the Cultural Association Louis Althusser

“The first time I encountered ‘aleatory’ Althusser, I almost could not believe it … How could ‘Science’ engage with the ‘postmodern’, with the radical change in the conditions of the revolution, without falling into renegacy? Here it is: the aleatory served precisely this purpose: a new tactic for an old strategy. Althusser showed us a new path, which is now being taken up again by a new generation” — Antonio Negri, co-author of Empire (2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009)

“Is Althusser coming back, like a ghost out of oblivion, bringing with him one of the last attempts to ‘reconstruct’ Marxism from the inside with great style? Yes, but it’s an unexpected Althusser, one who bears the entire ‘underground history’ of materialism in philosophy and opens the way for a new political thought. Under the guidance of a new generation of critical leaders, let us be surprised.” — Étienne Balibar, co-author of Reading Capital (1970)

“The present volume, thoughtfully edited, gathering a large and diverse group of remarkable international scholars and tackling a sweeping range of Althusserian problems with intellectual courage and acuity, presents the most serious collective effort so far in this ‘return to Althusser’, a return which can never be just a return but requires a reinvention. I feel confident it will set a landmark.” — Mladen Dolar, author of A Voice and Nothing More (2006)

“This book offers a welcome return to the creative theoretical practice of Louis Althusser to whom so much contemporary radical thinking owes a largely unacknowledged debt.” — Katherine Gibson, co-author of A Postcapitalist Politics (2006)


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