This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Andreas Umland [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Book Notes Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, 268 pp., USD 29.95, ISBN 0-69112654-2 (hbk). Reviewed by Amentahru Wahlrab (Illinois State University).
Liberals, according to Wendy Brown, “identify with the aristocrat holding his nose in the agora, not with the stench” (178). Regulating Aversion critiques the recent phenomenon of liberal tolerance, noting that tolerance reifies that which we do not like (p.47). To be tolerant one must be in a position of power—tolerance is a one way street (p.178). The dark side of tolerance designates “difference” as “dangerous in its nonliberalism (hence not tolerable) or as merely religious, ethnic, or cultural (hence not a candidate for a political claim)” (p.174). Thus, tolerance becomes a veil that covers a purifying, conquering urge—the contemporary version of the civilizing mission: “the native, the fanatic, the fundamentalist, and the bigot are what must be overcome by the society committed to tolerance” (p.184). Ultimately, tolerance talk depoliticizes or securitizes that which is inherently political. Wendy Brown takes her readers on a genealogical journey of tolerance that winds its way through Freud, the Museum of Tolerance, the War on Terror and the state. She offers a sustained, relentless critique of a concept that has been offered up as the silver bullet against the horror of collective violence by most contemporary liberals and proponents of multiculturalism. Regulating Aversion, at times, leaves the reader wondering if there is anything that can be done to prevent or limit the amount of violence witnessed around the world. However, for those who must receive an answer to the question “what is to be done?” Brown offers cautious hope: “we can contest the depoliticizing, regulatory, and imperial aims of contemporary deployments of tolerance with alternative political speech and practices” (p. 205). If the