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Are we really living in a shrinking world? Is it true that diversity is on the decline everywhere? Are we condemned to live on a planet without difference or hope? The Expanding World challenges the basic notion of a shrinking world in current debates around globalization and argues that it informs ways of thinking and doing which are deeply damaging to the emergence of a progressive politics.
The work proposes instead a new kind of politics based on a notion of an expanding rather than a shrinking world. This implies a different way of looking at the world and a different way of doing politics.
The Expanding World is fundamentally about looking more closely at what is around us and acting on that knowledge. His sympathies tend almost invariably towards the marginalised and the maligned. But Benjamin rejects the voyeurism of distress in favour of seeing each of these as an unwanted illumination of deeper societal faults.
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In his piece on the Mississippi floods, which uncannily anticipates the events around Hurricane Katrina, in , Benjamin charts the acute social and racial tensions in the New Orleans hinterland and the brutal use of state force in dealing with the problems posed by extensive flooding. His interest lies primarily in what is unnatural about natural catastrophes, namely the actions of privileged groups in making a bad situation demonstrably worse.
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Photography or cinema or radio did not simply convey content in different ways. They created different ways of seeing or hearing.
Observations about the preparation of ice cream in India and about English fashions, about first names and about samples of strange appetites, about the use of flogging by diverse peoples. If Sofanti had trained his Spectrophone on the author of his own lines he would, no doubt, have been similarly perplexed. No subject was beneath the dignity of comment. Lichtenberg: A Cross Section was never broadcast.
By February all hope of future work for radio had disappeared.
The Expanding World : Towards a Politics of Microspection
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