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In Keywords (1976), Raymond Williams devised a "vocabulary" of culture and society that reflected the vast social transformations marking the post-war period. Although these transformations could not be perceived directly or all at once, Williams revealed how they could be grasped by investigating changes in word usage and meaning. Following Williams, we ask: what vocabulary might illuminate the social transformations marking our own contested present? How do these words shape the political imaginary of today’s radical left?

Bringing together the insights of dozens of scholars and committed troublemakers, Keywords for Radicals constellates a vocabulary of contested words that shape today’s political landscape. Beginning from a consideration of the current radical context, each entry highlights a term’s contested variations, traces the evolution of its usage, and speculates about the radical implications of particular term-use trajectories.

More than a glossary, Keywords for Radicals makes clear that contests over word usage and meaning are themselves meaningful. By forcing words to reveal the underlying social contradictions they symptomatically express, the contributors to this volume provide an important new vantage on the terrain—and the stakes—of contemporary struggle.

I believed the old aphorism, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” until I read Raymond Williams’s Keywords, which taught me that a word is like a moving picture watched by a thousand people. Words are not self-evident, they are not eternal truths, but reflect, reveal, conceal, delimit, and produce meaning all at once. By extending Williams’ original project, Keywords for Radicals recognizes that language is both a weapon and terrain of struggle, and that all of us committed to changing our social and material reality, to making a world justice-rich and oppression-free, cannot drop words such as “democracy,” “occupation,” “colonialism,” “race,” “sovereignty,” or “love” without a fight.

—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

An extraordinary volume which provides nothing less than a detailed cognitive mapping of the terrain for everyone who wants to engage in radical politics.

—Slavoj Zizek, author of Living in the End Times

Not since Raymond Williams’ groundbreaking classic Keywords has there been such a valuable guide to the world within our words. From its thought-provoking Introduction though its energizing accounts of the tensions underlying our most prized concepts, Keywords for Radicals will be indispensable to any scholar or activist who is serious about critique and change. Finally, a worthy successor to Williams!

—Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy

Crafted by scholars and activists whose work has both influenced and inspired me, the succinct essays in Keywords for Radicals will be invaluable for political education workshops, reading groups, and classrooms. Drawing on first-hand experience in a wide range of movements, the genealogies that inform these investigations are sure to provoke insight and further the development of contemporary resistance struggles.

—Dean Spade, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

In the tradition of Raymond Williams, Keywords For Radicals offers a primer for a new era of political protest. As the editors remind us, language changes, and debates over word usage become more or less intense depending upon the era. Paying careful attention to keywords matters more now than ever, and Keywords for Radicals is everything you need to enter into this vital arena of struggle.

—Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity

This keywords upgrade puts powerful weapons into revolutionaries' hands. Unexpected entries expand into new terrain. Critical omissions incite scrutiny and critique. The impressive array of contributors suggests the converging of an invisible party of the radical left. Indispensable.

—Jodi Dean, author of The Communist Horizon

Marshaling an impressive range of radical voices, this multi-authored collection tackles the new vocabularies of neoliberal capitalism while providing fresh new takes on classic concepts. No mere word list, this book is a crucial window onto radical politics today.

—Lisa Duggan, author of Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence and American Modernity

Leaving neologisms to the advertisers, here everyday words are rather seen as the mute battlegrounds of older antagonisms, each one a testy dialogue across vernacular history. Selective, cheeky, hip, this is Raymond Williams' Keywords for the generation of Occupy, Zapatismo, and the Coming Anarchy—the partisan labor of movement activists bearing witness to the wisdom of engagement.

—Timothy Brennan, author of Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right