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Open access

Surplus population in-situ

Brick kiln labor and the production of idle time

Pratik Mishra


The article follows how migrant brick kiln molders are affected and adapt to short and long periods of suspension of work. In brick kilns near Delhi, involuntary idle time is revealed as an important modality of surplus extraction. While idleness is prevalent within many forms of work, idle time in the brick kilns operates at the intersection of other relations, namely, piece-rate wages, debt bondage, and capital's control over social reproduction space and time. It enables capital to flexibly move workers in and out of paid labor while extracting unpaid work and acts as an in-situ mode of rendering workers relative surplus population. Through enacting literal wagelessness and perpetuating wageless life, the article reads idle time as a time regime of capital, breaching and producing instabilities within workers’ life and leisure.

Open access

Theorizing peripheral labor

Rethinking “surplus populations”

Tom Cowan, Stephen Campbell, and Don Kalb


 Critical scholarship on twenty-first century capitalist development has called attention to certain structural limits on employment growth. Large populations excluded from formal employment are seen to eke out a precarious subsistence in informal economies, seemingly “surplus” to the needs of capital. This article, by contrast, aims to recast labor in the “peripheries,” not as an externalized quantity redundant to emerging economic formations, but rather as integral if often hidden features of capitalist value extraction. Rethinking, in this way, “surplus populations,” we argue for particular attention to the heterogeneity of contemporary capitalist labor arrangements and to associated patterns of ideological devaluation, which underpin capitalist markets in the South and East as well as in peripheralized spaces in the North and West.

Restricted access

(There Is) Nothing Like a Dane

Gertrudes at Elsinore and Elsewhere

Kiki Lindell Tersmeden


This article gives a brief account of the two-hundred-year-old performance history of Hamlet at Elsinore Castle; this is followed by a discussion of Gertrude as portrayed in nine English or English-speaking Hamlets at Elsinore, beginning with Olivier and the Old Vic in 1937 and concluding with Cape Town Theatre Company eighty-five years later, in 2022. The article discusses different aspects of how Gertrude (as seen through the prism of these particular Hamlet productions) has been portrayed on stage, drawing attention to the fact that, particularly in productions with a star actor in the title role, Gertrude has often been neglected, ignored or marginalised by the director, or else objectified and sexualised for the benefit of the audience: aged down, dumbed down or otherwise commodified.

Open access


The Role of Norms and Moderation in Cultivating (Anti)democratic Incel Identities

Jennifer Forestal


Incels (short for “involuntarily celibate”) have recently gained notoriety for their aggressive, often violent, misogyny, yet incels were not always an antidemocratic social group. They thus pose a challenge for thinking about democracy and identity in (anonymous) digital environments: how can we create spaces for marginalized social groups while ensuring the resulting identities remain democratic? While many scholars point to technological affordances or corporate content moderation policies as providing some solutions, in this article I propose a more democratic approach. Drawing from incel wikis and archived forum posts from two early incel communities—IncelSupport and LoveShy—I argue that a community's social norms, and the moderation practices required to sustain them, are user-directed interventions that have outsized effects in shaping group identities in democratic ways.

Free access

Touch and Go

The Politics of Hapticity, Affect, and Embodiment

Andrew J. Ball

This issue of Screen Bodies features articles that contribute to a group of closely related critical concerns, namely, the existential and political significance of tacticity, feeling, and the representation of embodied experience. In her article, “Feeling Like Death,” Caitlin Wilson examines the aesthetic strategies Agnes Varda employs in two early films, La Pointe Courte (1955) and Le Bonheur (1965), that emphasize “textures and tactility” in the portrayal of mortality, death, and mourning. Wilson shows how Varda uses haptic imagery and calculated cinematic techniques to convey an experience of grief that is “palpable as well as visible.” Wilson persuasively argues that Varda depicts the embodied feeling of mortality to create a heightened sense of intimacy between the films’ characters. Similarly, in her timely article, “Gut Feelings,” Jennifer Jasmine White argues that Sheena Patel challenges the trend towards emotional indifference or “flatness” in the emerging genre of “internet novels.” In contrast to the affectless, numb, and apathetic heroine characteristic of novels like Lauren Oyler's Fake Accounts (2021) and Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018), Patel's I'm a Fan (2022) features a more realistically emotional protagonist. White argues that the novel functions as an intervention that opposes affective indifference and the political apathy it inspires. She writes that most examples of the so-called internet novel, that is, literature that focuses on social media, influencer culture, and characters who are chronically online, suggest highly mediated social experience leads to emotional and political malaise. Patel rejects this trend and instead centers “the feeling body,” the embodied experience of life online, and the political agency it fosters.

Restricted access

Toward an Ecology of Disentanglement

Jozef Keulartz


The relationship between nature and culture is a major theme in the philosophical discourse on the Anthropocene. The best-known movements within Anthropocene thinking are ecomodernism and posthumanism. Both movements distance themselves from the idea that nature and culture are strictly separate domains. In the Anthropocene, this separation no longer appears tenable; nature and culture have become inextricably entangled. The world consists exclusively of hybrids, compositions of both human and nonhuman entities. Ecomodernists and posthumanists are of one mind in their criticism of the traditional nature movement, which believes that it can return to a past when nature and culture were still distinct entities and there was such a thing as “pristine” nature. I will argue that denying the possibility of any decoupling between humans and nonhumans will result in the latter being severely curtailed in their freedom to autonomously shape their own lives, and I will therefore argue for what I like to call an “ecology of disentanglement.”

Restricted access

Trans* Joy as Resistance

Possessor, Tangerine, and Affective Trans* Embodiment under Capitalism

Saturn Sigourney Rage


Theorist Lauren Berlant defines inconvenience as an affect, one exerted by dominant forces onto subordinate populations. In the same way subordinate populations exert inconvenient affects as well, creating a dynamic of dominant and subordinate inconvenience through which social power relationships may be understood. Following this structure, this article charts the dominant and subordinate affects exerted by capitalism and trans* bodies, respectively, and how capitalist oppression responds to and shapes trans* embodiment. Through an autotheoretical lens, this relationship is here examined in the 2020 film Possessor and the 2015 film Tangerine, highlighting the points of interaction between trans*ness and capitalism's state structures of domination and oppression. Ultimately, I point to trans* joy as an affect that presents a danger to capitalism's domination, providing space for trans* persons to thrive.

Restricted access

Västanå Teater's 1996 Hamlet

Anna Swärdh


Hamlet opens on a question – ‘Who's there?’ – asked by a sentinel of Elsinore Castle. In the Swedish regional theatre company Västanå Teater's 1996 adaptation of the play, the question kept returning, and it became symbolic of the production's focus on the uncertain and seemingly mysterious movements of political power. This article explores how changes to plot and text worked together with various forms of stylisation to present a society in which strict hierarchies of class, age and gender operated in tenson with Machiavellian corruption and theatrical seeming. Borrowing localised aesthetic expressions from several traditions and cultures (Norwegian/Nordic, Icelandic, East-Asian, Italian/European), the production adapted Hamlet to speak to local concerns, while simultaneously highlighting themes and issues present in the play.

Open access

Virgin Oil Lands Conquered?

The Project of Historical Memory on the Territory of Yugra

Ksenia Barabanova


The historical memory of Siberia is heterogeneous and diverse; different parts of this region have their own emphases in the politics of historical memory. This article focuses on the historical memory of Yugra (a historical territory roughly coterminous with the Khanty-Mansiiskii Autonomous Okrug), as it is from this territory that the development of Siberian oil lands began. Oil has become the central focus of memory for the northern region of Western Siberia, and oil workers are symbols of territorial development in Yugra. The creation of the oil and gas complex is portrayed as a victory over nature, and oil workers are portrayed not only as pioneers who opened the region, but also as soldiers.

Open access

A Visual Semiotic Analysis of Schoolbooks in the Tuvan Language

Uğur Altundaş


The Tuvan language is a South Siberian Turkic language spoken by the Tuvan people who live in the Republic of Tyva, an autonomous republic in the South Siberian region of Russia. The Republic of Tyva is a bilingual region where both Russian and Tuvan are spoken. However, Russian is the dominant language, and therefore Tuvan has fallen to the status of a second language for the Tuvan people. In such an environment, the teaching of Tuvan as a native language is of great importance. In this article, two primary schoolbooks used in the teaching of Tuvan have been considered from the aspect of visual semiotics. Through this article, I aim to show the effects of visual semiotics on native language education.