Change and the politics of certainty

By Jenny Edkins

Change and the politics of certainty


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1903-2
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £22.50
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Society & social sciences / International relations, Politics


How do we transform the world when we are ourselves inescapably part of it? If we cannot know what makes the world the way it is, or what impact our actions will have, where do we begin?

Renowned politics scholar Jenny Edkins explores the imperative for change in a world filled with inequality, violence, persecution, and injustice - and the difficulties faced in bringing it about.

Over the course of ten chapters Change and the politics of certainty examines our varied responses to questions such as aid in times of famine; opposition to the Iraq War; humanitarian intervention; the memorialisation of 9/11; enforced disappearance; and calls for justice after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Drawing on insights from the author's life and on the work of playwrights and filmmakers, the book interrogates the ideas of thinkers including Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall, Eric Santner, Elaine Scarry, Carolyn Steedman and Slavoj Zizek.

Tackling themes such as the fantasy of security, contemporary notions of time and space, and ideas of humanity and sentience, this accessible book is essential reading for all who strive for a better world.


'Only Jenny Edkins has the breadth of curiosity and knowledge to reveal relationships between the post-disaster politics of the Grenfell fire and the international responses to famine. This is a book for our times.'

Cynthia Enloe, author of The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging Persistent Patriarchy

'Jenny Edkins takes us on a transformative journey into the subtleties of a politics without certainty. Powered by a quiet anger at the injustices of this world, her essays artfully resurrect modes of life that would "otherwise vanish without a trace." This book exemplifies what it means to slowly, hopefully, on day-to-day terms, undo a patently colonial world.'

Himadeep Muppidi, Betty G.C. Cartwright Professor of Political Science & International Studies, Vassar College

'In this carefully written book Edkins draws together strands of inquiry across her career to expose the ethical tensions of pursuing justice on behalf of a universalised, unprovincialised subject -- the "We". Traversing multiple topics and various scales of analysis, Edkins argument provokes intimate and difficult questions for the academic committed to studying political change.'

Robbie Shilliam, Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University


1. Objects among objects
2. Intellectuals as experts
3. The final core of uncertainty
4. Humanitarianism, humanity, human
5. Memory and the future
6. Loss of a loss
7. Tracing disappearance
8. Stardust
9. Grenfell Tower fire
10. From one world to another


Jenny Edkins is Professor of Politics at The University of Manchester

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