Karen Kennedy, Deeply Felt: Ref ections on Religion & Violence within the Anarchist Turn
Sparsnas, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2015; 238pp; ISBN 978132642295
Deeply Felt, by Karen Kennedy, is a book about a trajectory in anarchist thinking and action: 'the anarchist turn' as exemplified in the book The Anarchist Turn (2013) edited by Blumenfeld, Bottici, and Critchley. Simon Critchley brought together a breadth of anarchist writers on post-anarchist subjects for a conference in 2011. Deeply Felt is a study of three authors that Kennedy identifies as within that turn; people she identifies as religious anarchists.
Kennedy is an off-grid environmentalist living in Australia who wrote the book as a version of her research Masters in 2012. Kennedy is studying authors in a contemporary post-anarchist tradition who recognise the roles that religious symbolism, spirituality, and the imagination might play in emerging ideas of what anarchism means. Her subjects are David Graeber, Timothy Morton, and Simon Critchley. It is not clear why she chose these three men rather than other contemporary writers: they make fascinating subjects but so might others.
Kennedy states that the aim of her book is to argue that 'the re-articulation of love, evident in contemporary "left" anarchism, is expressed through the interconnections between anarchism, religion, and nonviolence' (p3). She wants to know whether religion plays a significant role in anarchism and whether that role is in making nonviolence a priori to the anarchist turn. Kennedy uses the term religion broadly rather than just institutionally to mean the organised symbolic world of collective spirituality. Kennedy structures the book simply with three chapters, one for each of the authors she describes.
In her chapter on Graeber we can see that Kennedy is a thorough master of her subject. She demonstrates a detailed understanding of his academic contributions and their significance for anthropology and political sciences. She understands his academic contribution against the background of his involvement in the Occupy Movement and his debt activism through Rolling Jubilee. Outlining the disagreement between Graeber and Hedges regarding the Black Bloc's impact on protests is a helpful way of drawing out what Graeber really thinks about both nonviolence and the role of the imagination for example. The chapter is a helpful reflection on his work but overplays his commitment to nonviolence at times.