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Dean’s Essay Among Most Popular in LA Review of Books

Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean’s essay appears on the Los Angeles Review of Booksyear-end list of its 15 most popular articles from 2020.

In “Neofeudalism: The End of Capitalism?” — published online in May — Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean considers “the possibility that capitalism has mutated into something qualitatively different,” investigating the “tendencies in the present [that] indicate that capitalism is transforming itself into something worse.”

Dean’s essay, included in the LARB’s “version of the People’s Choice Awards,” is among the 15 most popular articles to have appeared on the site in the past 12 months. Online and in print, LARB offers “rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts.” In addition to “Neofeudalism,” LARB’s “Best of 2020” list includes writing on politics and religion, Afropessimism, Tolstoy, reality television, isolation during COVID and the U.S. Civil War.

An expert in contemporary political theory, Dean writes that the term “‘neofeudalism’ has emerged to name tendencies associated with extreme inequality, generalized precarity, monopoly power and changes at the level of the state.”

Examining “contemporary capitalism in terms of its feudalizing tendencies,” she explains how the tech sector and the self-reinforcing nature of the digital economy — propelled by governmental emphasis on “competitiveness” — exacerbate financial and social inequality and “the insecurity and anxiety of an overwhelming sense of catastrophe.”

Read the full essay.

Dean is the author or editor of 13 books, most recently Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging (Verso, 2019) as well as Blog TheoryThe Communist HorizonDemocracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies and Crowds and Party, among others. A recipient of the Colleges’ 1998 faculty award for scholarship, she has been invited to present her work at conferences, museums and universities around the world and has published articles in renowned scholarly journals and periodicals. She was a 2013-14 fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University and has also held the Erasmus Professorship in Philosophy at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She was awarded a Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Fellowship for 2020.

Dean, who holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Columbia University and B.A. from Princeton, joined the HWS faculty in 1993. Against the backdrop of political theory, her courses engage students in everything from climate change to feminism. In addition to her teaching duties, Dean served as director of the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice from 2012 until 2020.