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C.L.R. James: Brett St Louis & Arun Kundnani

Brett St Louis and Arun Kundnani join Eleanor Penny to discuss the life, work and legacy of radical scholar C.L.R. James.

5 October 2023

C.L.R. James: Brett St Louis & Arun Kundnani

VersoBooks · C. L. R. James | Brett St Louis & Arun Kundnani

Welcome back! After a short end-of-summer break we’re happy to bring you season two of The Verso Podcast - newly relaunched earlier this year. We hope you enjoyed the bonus episodes we released in the interim period, but now we’re back in full force with a brand new run of episodes for you to sink your teeth into. We have some really exciting stuff coming up for you over the next few months so be sure to stay tuned!

This week's discussion centres on a foundational figure in the domains of decolonial, marxist, and pan-African thought - C.L.R. James - whose work spanned polemic, playwriting, fiction, history, and critical theory, and continues to have a seismic impact on discussions around class, culture, empire, capital, race, and revolution. 

Our host, Eleanor Penny, is joined by Brett St Louis and Arun Kundnani, to talk about the life, the work, and the legacy of this radical scholar, in a wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from the history of Haiti, to the relationship between race and class, and the future of internationalism.

Brett St Louis is currently a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths University of London, and has formerly held positions at University of Bristol and at the University of California, San Diego.

He works in the area of race critical theory, with a focus on racial eliminativism - tracing the genealogy of racial scepticism whilst developing a critique of racial realism. He is an editorial board member of the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies, and New Formations, and he is the author of Rethinking Race, Politics, and Poetics: CLR James’ Critique of Modernity.

Arun Kundnani is a writer and author of multiple titles, including The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st century Britain, The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror, and, most recently What is Anti-racism? And Why It Means Anti-Capitalism, published by Verso Books this year. He is a former editor of the journal Race & Class, was a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, and has been active in antiracist movements in Britain and the United States for three decades.

C.L.R. James’ writing wasn’t a project of armchair philosophising, he was actively organising throughout a lifespan that saw two world wars, the Russian revolution, successful national liberation projects across the colonised world, and the global reorganisation of capitalism that was mobilised in response. These histories unfolding around him shaped and sharpened his approach to questions of the nature of power, and how the working class could come to govern itself. 

We hope you enjoy this riveting chat about the real inheritors of the enlightenment, decolonisation, the state, and about the huge and continuing impact of C.L.R. James’s work.

Join us next week for the second episode of season two of The Verso Podcast, where we’ll be talking cryptocurrency, NFTs, Silicon Valley libertarianism, and the reinvention of money in the digital age, with Rachel O’Dwyer and Edward Ongweso.

See all Verso Podcast episodes here. Listen via your preferred podcast platform.


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