Para-sites: A Casebook Against Cynical Reason

Para-Sites , the penultimate volume in the Late Editions series, explores how social actors located within centres of power and privilege develop and express a critical consciousness of their own situations. Departing from the usual focus on ethnography and cultural analysis on the socially marginalized, these pieces probe subjects who are undeniably complicit with powerful institutional engines of contemporary change. In each case, the possibility of alternative thinking or practices is in complex relation to the subject's source of empowerment. These cases challenge the condition of cynicism that has been the favoured mode of characterizing the mind-set of intellectuals and professionals, comfortable in their lives of middle-class consumption and work. In their effort to establish para-sites of critical awareness parallel to the levels of political and economic power at which they function, these subjects suggest that those who lead ordinary lives of modest power and privilege might not be parasites in relation to the systems they serve, but may be creating unique and independent critical perspectives.