Book Reviews

The Challenge of Anti-Racist Feminism

A review of States of Race: Critical Race F eminism for the 21st Century
Sharmeen Khan

Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith, and Sunera Thobani (eds). S tates of Race: Critical Race F eminism for the 21st C entury. Between the Lines, 2010.

In 2010, the arrival of a boat full of Tamil refugees to Canadian shores triggered the racism that permeates all levels of Canadian society. Narratives…

From UTA Number Twelve

Canada’s Imperialist Project

A review of Imperialist Canada
Anthony Fenton

Todd Gordon. Imperialist Canada. Aribeiter Ring Publishing, 2010.

Canada’s increasingly muscular role in global affairs has generated much discussion in recent years. The reason is not difficult to discern: never before in Canadian history has the country waged a counterinsurgency war abroad for…

From UTA Number Twelve

Decolonizing the Airwaves

A review of Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada
Kristin Schwartz

Andrea Langlois, Ron Sakolsky & Marian van der Zon (eds.), Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada, New Star Books, 2010.

When I told people I was reviewing Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada they asked: “There’s pirate radio in Canada?” Well, there is. In fact, recently…

From UTA Number Twelve

Ordinary Revolutionaries

A review of Crack Capitalism
Harry Thorne

John Holloway. Crack Capitalism. Pluto Press, 2010.

In his new work of political theory, Crack Capitalism, John Holloway offers a passionate philosophical defence of the “ordinary people” who he describes as “rebels” and “revolutionaries” (5). Holloway’s heroes are not political…

From UTA Number Twelve

Words Matter

A review of Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle
Steve D'Arcy

Kelly Fritsch, Clare O’Connor, and AK Thompson, eds., Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle (Oakland: AK Press, 2016).

What then is time?” Augustine wondered in his Confessions. “If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I…

From UTA Number Nineteen

Transforming the World, Transforming Ourselves

A review of Living for Change: An Autobiography
Salmaan Khan

On October 5, 2015, Grace Lee Boggs passed away at the age of 100. A revolutionary, author, social activist, feminist, and philosopher, G.L. Boggs was a coordinating figure who played a key role in many political movements in the US since the 1940s. For this issue of Upping the Anti we wanted to…

From UTA Number Nineteen

Anti Fascism: 100 Years in the Streets

Shane Burley

A review of
M. Testa, Militant Anti-Fascism. AK Press, 2015; and Dave Hann, Physical Resistance. Zero Books, 2013.

“Make America Great Again.” It was as if no one saw it coming until the rhetoric of palingenetic ultranationalism, what Roger Griffin labeled the core “nationalist myth” that…

From UTA Number Eighteen (published Aug 2016)

Confronting Injustice: From Individual Activists to Collective Organizers

A review of Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in an Age of Individualism
Karl Gardner

Precisely at a time when we need it most, bold and imaginative activism has made itself difficult to find. It is not the case that activism in general is short in supply. One finds, in fact, that activist ideals and vocabulary have securely made their way into everyday life. But this has happened…

From UTA Number Eighteen (published Aug 2016)

Undocumented: Making State Violence & Professional Complicity Visible

A review of Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention
Jenna Loyd

Undocumented is a powerful book that leaves you feeling uncomfortable. Pages are filled with sketches by author Tings Chak, who documents the interior and exterior of migrant detention facility spaces which are usually unseen or invisible within Canada and other nation-states. Chak’s drawings are…

From UTA Number Seventeen

Resurgence not Recognition

A review of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition
Craig Fortier

My experience with Indigenous struggle has been through solidarity and support work as a member of migrant justice, anti-capitalist, and queer movements in Toronto. So when I was asked to contribute a review of Dene scholar Glen Coulthard’s book Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial…

From UTA Number Seventeen

Critique and Experimentation: Anti-Authoritarian Organizing Strategies in Anglo-America

A review of Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements
Tyler McCreary

The world is running amok. Police-based, economic, military, political, and environmental crises assault the masses of humanity with increasing frequency and intensity. People are struggling. From police shootings of racialized youth to people losing their homes, from the disproportionate burden of…

From UTA Number Seventeen

Liberation as Medicine: Lessons from Radical Health Workers

A review of Comrades in Health: US Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home
Jannie Wing-sea Leung

To read this book review in full, order your copy of Upping the Anti here.

From UTA Number 16

Gay Gentrification and the Thin Pink Line

A review of Safe Space: Gay Neighbourhood History and the Politics of Violence.
Patrick DeDauw

To read this book review, get your copy of the recent Upping the Anti here.

From UTA Number 16

Making Alternative Worlds: Journeys into Third Space

Theresa Warburton

In many of the anarchist and feminist spaces of which I have been a part, narratives of the rise of women of colour feminisms were uncritically adopted from mainstream feminist history. Because of this, the work of feminists of colour was often articulated as “anti-racist feminism.” As I…

From UTA Number Fifteen

Organizing From a Place of Love

Rebecca Tumposky

One of the defining historical challenges for left social movements has been our capacity to engage shifting material and political conditions, which not only create new political terrain to negotiate but also generate new forms of class contestation and social divisions. In the United States,…

From UTA Number Fifteen

Black Revolutionary Communism Today

A review of Defying the Tomb.?Kersplebedeb, 2010.
Steve da Silva

“If each generation does not produce another George Jackson, let us produce at least someone among us who will remind the world of him.”
-Kumasi, a San Quentin comrade of George Jackson and founder of Black August.

Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson certainly reminds me of George Jackson. He was…

From UTA Number Thirteen

Against Representation

A review of Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent. ?AK Press, 2010.
Alex Khasnabish

Today, hardly anyone wants to talk about a “diversity of tactics.” Given the debate’s frequently abstract, ideological, and circular nature, that’s probably a good thing. At the height of the alter-globalization movement (AGM) in the early days of this new millennium, the principle of a…

From UTA Number Thirteen

“Are You Willing to Let the Work Transform You?”

A review of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence within ?Activist Communities. South End Press, 2011.
Kate Klein

To be honest with you, I’m afraid to write this review. Over the past four months, I’ve opened and closed this Word document countless times, typing a sentence and then deleting it again. I’ve had numerous tear-filled conversations with friends and exes, and bombarded my editor with…

From UTA Number Thirteen

What Comes Between Us

A review of Introduction to Civil War
Etienne Turpin

This challenging text operates as an intervention and has consequences for the ways in which activists and organizers understand the social and political civil war that extinguishes any possibility of neutrality. The epigraph that opens the first section of Tiqqun’s Introduction to Civil War is…

From UTA Number Eleven

Dangerous Conflation

A review of Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism
Chandra Kumar

Michael Keefer’s Antisemitism Real and Imaginedis a timely, well-researched and well-argued collective work that is much needed, especially in Canada. In addition to four chapters by Keefer, the bookcontains 19 shorter contributions from various Canadian activists, academics, and organizations…

From UTA Number Eleven

Queering the Cold War

A review of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation
Tim McCaskell

A good book raises questions. As I was reading the early chapters of Kinsman and Gentile’s The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation, I found my mind drifting back to the early 1960s. Trudging home from school through the snow in the village of Beaverton, Ontario, I knew…

From UTA Number Eleven

Return of the Sun

A review of The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left Behind
Sara Falconer

The incarcerated know firsthand the brutal realities of repression in capitalist society, so it is no coincidence that some of the most important revolutionary writing has come from behind bars. The voices of prisoners have had a tremendous impact on movements in “free” – or, as prisoners…

From UTA Number Ten

Toward the “Next Liberation Struggle”

A review of Revolutionary Traveller: Freeze-Frames from a Life, Arbeiter Ring, 2009.
Noaman G. Ali

From 1964 to 1974, the people of Mozambique waged an historic armed struggle against the Portuguese colonialism that had intervened in their lands for centuries. The militants of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, FRELIMO, operated from their rear bases across the northern border in…

From UTA Number Ten

Another World is Possible

A review of You Don’t Play with Revolution: the Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James. AK Press, 2009.
Pat Harewood

You Don’t Play With Revolution is a thought-provoking and challenging collection of writings and lectures by one of the most important public intellectuals of the 20th century: Marxist theorist, anti-colonial activist and cultural critic C.L.R. James. Edited by David Austin, the book is comprised…

From UTA Number Ten

Imperial History, Liberal Response

A review of The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, RED/Fernwood Publishing, 2009
Jerome Klassen

Over the last two decades, activists on the Canadian left have confronted two major trends in Canadian foreign policy. The first involved the free-trade agreements of the 1990s and the international expansion of Canadian capital as part of the globalization agenda. As a result, Canada became highly…

From UTA Number Ten

Polemics for the People?

A review of The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History, Volume 1: Projectiles for the People. PM Press/Kersplebedeb, 2009.
Jeff Shantz

The Red Army Faction (RAF) is one of the last half-century’s most talked about and least understood radical left groups. An anarchist colleague, upon hearing that I was reviewing this book, felt compelled to ask why, as an anarchist, I would bother to spend any time reading about – much less…

From UTA Number Nine

Fanning the Flames

A review of Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. AK Press
Sean Benjamin

Written by two members of the South African Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), Black Flame is the first volume of a projected two-volume work on the history of the global anarchist movement and the theories that have emerged from it. The authors begin by framing the core principles of what…

From UTA Number Nine

The New Abolitionists

Erika Meiners

Women, specifically women of colour, are one of the fastest growing prison populations in the US. In Illinois, the state where I currently reside, between 1983 and 2002 the number of women in prison for drug related crimes skyrocketed from 32 to 1,325, a 4,041% leap.1 This growth is mirrored across…

From UTA Number Four

Not Just a Smear Tactic

Matthew N. Lyons

In July of 2006, Bluestockings bookshop in New York City announced it was hosting a workshop for social justice activists on “opposing anti-Semitism in the movement.” The announcement sparked a heated online discussion on New York’s Indymedia website. Some people asked if the workshop was…

From UTA Number Five

Death of a Dichotomy: Tactical Diversity and the Politics of Post-Violence

Anna Feigenbaum

In a 2001In These Timesarticle on the FTAA demonstrations in Quebec City, Abby Scher, like many others, reflected on the effective interplay between protesters’ violent and non-violent tactics. She ended her discussion with the question: “Is Quebec… a wonderful demonstration of ‘a diversity…

From UTA Number Five

Black Power From the Inside

A review of We Will Return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975.
Chris Harris

Toronto’s Black community has long suffered a crisis of increasing poverty, racism, and violence. This is largely the result of the oppression that African-Canadian people have endured through the implementation of neoliberal policies and the expansion of both the police state and the prison…

From UTA Number Five

Get Rich or Die Tryin’

A review of A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture
Reviewed by Bryan Doherty

For years, John Hagedorn has made the honest study of gang culture and its institutionalization the cornerstone of his research and work. With A World of Gangs, he provides a valuable primer on the overall character of major gangs, building upon his previous work, including People and Folks, Female…

From UTA Number Seven

Coming to Terms With Commodity Culture

A review of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy
Jen Angel

Stephen Duncombe’s compelling book, Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, analyzes the ways in which political groups engage the public and communicate their messages. Duncombe is both an activist and a scholar, currently teaching the history and politics of media and…

From UTA Number Seven

Motivating the Nihilists

A review of Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance
Reviewed by Alejandro de Acosta

Simon Critchley, a philosopher in the Continental vein, offers us Infinitely Demanding, a brief text in which he aims to explicate a possible movement from ethics to politics, and from commitment to resistance. It serves as an index of what is promising and what is a dead end, both ethically and…

From UTA Number Seven

Defending Zizek’s Map

A review of In Defense of Lost Causes
Reviewed by Neil Balan

In UTA 6, the editorial collective called for “good maps” and “the ability to think historically…”1 Slavoj Zizek’s In Defense of Lost Causes provides an answer to the call. His capacity for historical thinking – “to think from two points at once” - is at the core of his defense of…

From UTA Number Seven

Highly Mediated

A review of The Political Economy of Media
Reviewed by DT Cochrane

As with all things under the control of capital, the mainstream media aims for profitability. Under the current dominant model, media profitability depends on advertising, which fosters an important relationship between media owners and the rest of Big Business. According to Internal Revenue…

From UTA Number Eight

Voices of Freedom

A review of Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movement to Free US Political Prisoners
Reviewed by Ernesto Aguilar

In my office, stuffed in a green hanging file folder on four sheets of yellow legal paper is the original manuscript for “We Will Rise Again,” Alvaro Luna Hernandez’s manifesto on the Chicano Mexicano experience, his case, and the fight against colonialism. When I received “We Will Rise…

From UTA Number Eight

Digging Up Autonomia

A review of Autonomia: Post Political Politics
Reviewed by Frank Edgewick

The original “movement of movements,” Autonomia grew out of the Italian student and worker mobilizations of 1968. It included migrant workers, feminists, and the unemployed. In 1977, it exploded into open revolt in the industrialized north of Italy. It made important links between theory and…

From UTA Number Eight

Solidarity and Responsibility

A review of Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i
Reviewed by Katy Rose

The contemporary migrant justice movement has done an admirable job educating sectors of the Left and sustaining struggles to address the concerns of migrant workers. Grappling with questions of racism, workers’ rights, imperialism and gender oppression, the migrant justice movement has…

From UTA Number Eight

A Tool Against Apartheid

A review of Canada’s Economic Apartheid
Reviewed by Scott Neigh

It is far too easy for those of us on the left to respond to a piece of political writing by fixating on what we feel it lacks. This often means that instead of critiquing from a place of respect and deep listening, we compose itemized lists of real or imagined political shortcomings and fail to…

From UTA Number Six

Fighting the Co-optation of Resistance

A review of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Reviewed by Chris Keefer

The Revolution will not be Funded is a collection of 16 essays from activists and scholars that deals with the contradictions of operating within the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), a system that has rapidly come to characterize the organization of civil society. The NPIC has been…

From UTA Number Six

Toward Autonomous Feminist Politics

A review of Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology
Reviewed by Alexis Shotwell

Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology came out in October 2006. Along with The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, (see review in this issue), this book offers us the kind of fierce, sharp analysis we need for doing meaningful political work. Both books were…

From UTA Number Six

Of Capital and Compromise

A review of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Reviewed by David Calnitsky

The brilliance of Naomi Klein’s latest work, The Shock Doctrine, lies in its near boundless applicability. Rather than merely offering a coherent narrative to explain the apparent incoherence of the politics of occupied Iraq – her original objective, which itself is no simple task – the…

From UTA Number Six

Getting Over Guilt

A review of Taking Responsibility Taking Direction: White Anti-Racism in Canada
Reviewed by Scott Clarke

How can toward activists move from a cycle of guilt and inaction over racism to developing anti-racist politics that effectively challenge white supremacy in Canada? Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-Racism in Canada is a timely and critical look at the anti-racist politics of…

From UTA Number Four

Local and Organic

A review of Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism
Reviewed by Kimiko Inouye

In Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism, bell hooks and Amelia Mesa-Bains discuss critical perspectives on the social conditions of African and Latin American communities in the United States. Homegrown takes up issues related to multiculturalism, art, pedagogy, socio-economic oppression,…

From UTA Number Four

Guilty Indulgences

A review of Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society
Reviewed by Sharmeen Khan

I read Inga Muscio’s first book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence a few years ago when I wasn’t really in the mood for a “love the cunt” diatribe. I was never one to look lovingly at my own cunt while making vagina cookies for the annual showing of the Vagina Monologues. But the reason I…

From UTA Number Three

After the Storm

A review of Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity
Reviewed by Yutaka Dirks

Sam Green’s 2005 Academy Award nominated documentary The Weather Underground brought the armed struggle organization of the same name to film festivals and theatres across North America. With Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, Dan Berger provides us with…

From UTA Number Three

The Sociology of Confrontation

A review of Sociology for Changing the World: Social Movements/Social Research
Reviewed by Scott Neigh

It is perhaps Marx’s most oft-quoted piece of wisdom – that while the philosophers had interpreted the world, the point was to change it. Marx’s words were never intended to give the impression, however, that we must choose between understanding the world and changing it; both are absolutely…

From UTA Number Three

Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat

Reviewed by Tyler McCreary

First published in the early 1980s to inform and empower people of colour struggling against the white capitalist hegemony of American society, Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat remains a relevant historical materialist interrogation of “whiteness” that has much to offer our…

From UTA Number Two

Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation

Reviewed by Karl Kersplebedeb

Ending women’s oppression is crucial to the struggle for human liberation, but serious investigations of why women suffer distinct forms of oppression, and why rape and other forms of violence play such an integral role in this oppression, have generally been beyond the scope of most left…

From UTA Number Two

Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Feminist Revolution

Reviewed by Kirat Kaur

Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Feminist Revolution is Judy Rebick’s attempt to provide a historical account of the second wave of the mainstream feminist movement in Canada. Rebick, herself an active participant in the latter part of this movement and a well known feminist today, is arguably…

From UTA Number Two

A View of Freedom: Alfie Roberts Speaks

Reviewed by Adrian Harewood

In the fall of 1995, the top writers in Canada’s Black literary firmament gathered at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa to take part in the Black Writers Conference. Andre Alexis, Dionne Brand, George Elliott Clarke, Cecil Foster, Claire Harris, Nalo Hopkinson, and Makeda Silvera were just…

From UTA Number Two

Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

Reviewed by D. Oswald Mitchell

One approach to understanding the democracy of the multitude is as an open-source society, that is, a society whose source code is revealed so that we can all work collaboratively to solve its bugs.

- Hardt and Negri, Multitude

After the unprecedented commercial and critical success of Michael…

From UTA Number One

Undoing Gender

Reviewed by Erin Gray

In Undoing Gender, Judith Butler develops upon her earlier work in gender and queer theory. Butler, a professor in Rhetoric, Comparative Literature, and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is best known for her groundbreaking book Gender Trouble, in which she outlined her…

From UTA Number One