Genealogies of Knowledge I

  • Jonathan Evans (Presented paper)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description of Activity

Presented paper:


In his more recent work, Australian-born cultural and media theorist McKenzie Wark takes the role of archaeologist and gatekeeper, digging out theories and scholarship that have been overlooked to develop his own aesthetic and political ideas and create a genealogy of those ideas. This paper will discuss how Wark’s writing selectively contributes to the afterlife of ideas through repurposing them as part of his own argument. Earlier work, including the investigation of the mediatization of global flows of information in Virtual Geography (1994) and the technology focused The Hacker Manifesto (2004) and Gamer Theory (2007), interacted with other scholarship but focused on the creation of concepts. His more recent work has, however, shifted towards an explicitly dialogic methodology of recovering and repurposing existing ideas. In two popularising books on the Situationists, The Beach Beneath the Street (2011) and The Spectacle of Disintegration (2013), Wark critically re-evaluates the writings of the Situationist International and its various off-shoots, questioning how the political and aesthetic ideas that they developed in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s can be made relevant and useful for the contemporary moment and its distinctive problems. Wark’s next book, Molecular Red (2015), builds his theories for the Anthropocene through a dialogue with other writers, dragging their work into a different perspective and discourse: much of his argumentation relies on readings of fiction by Andrei Platonov and Kim Stanley Robinson, thereby effecting an epistemological translation of ideas from fiction to politically inflected critical theory. In addition, Molecular Red revisits critical thinking by the Bolshevik thinker Alexander Bogdanov and Donna Haraway’s feminist science studies. Wark therefore combines fiction with theory, science with humanities in a series of translations that aim to develop a possibility for new thinking and new action. Drawing on Lefevere’s (1992) positioning of translation in relation to other forms of rewriting, I will argue that these books employ translation in both the literal sense (of texts from one language to another) and a wider sense as ideas and concepts are reapplied in new contexts that can help shape contemporary political and critical debate.
Period8 Dec 2017
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • critical theory
  • translation
  • spreadable media