Our opium wars, art under an empire of unpayable debts and the order of the derivative

Three new pieces that have either come out or will come out soon:

1. A shorter piece, “Our Opium Wars: The Ghost of Empire in the Prescription Opioid Nightmare” will soon be published in Third Text.

The prescription opioid crisis in the United States is among the worst human-caused public health disasters in modern history, with over 500,000 dead and by some estimates almost 5% of the American population ‘misusing’ these drugs. This article supplies some unusual resources for understanding that crisis and the way it inherits a legacy of empire, now transfigured for a corporate age. From the museums funded by the sale of these drugs to the British-led Opium Wars to the present-day racialised dimensions of the epidemic, much can be gained from dwelling with its tangled and haunted complexities. The article concludes with a consideration of Susan Buck-Morss’s reading of Walter Benjamin’s meditations on the aestheticisation of politics in an age of what she calls capitalist anaesthetics.

2. A longer piece, “The Art of Unpayable Debts: Poisoned reproduction, financial sovereignty and settler colonial bonds” will soon be published in a collection titled The Sociology of Debt, edited by Mark Featherstone, due out this year from Policy Press.

3. A medium-length piece, “The Order of the Derivative: Representing and Being Represented by Financialization’s Sociality” in a collection titled Screening Economies: Money Matters and the Ethics of Representation edited by Daniel Cuonz, Scott Loren and Jörg Metelmann.