New Book Series from Duke University Press

19th Sep 2017

T H E O R Y in F O R M S


Nancy Rose Hunt | Achille Mbembe | Juan Obarrio

THEORY IN FORMS welcomes manuscript submissions by scholars and creative writers working on global and transnational spaces, whether in “Africa,” the Global South, or beyond. We are committed to publishing the very best in history, politics, aesthetics, postcolonial theory, and the global humanities, whether produced by historians, anthropologists, political theorists, literary critics, philosophers, fiction or non-fiction writers, or artists. Substantial monographs as well as long essays or forceful, petite “primers” (40-50,000 words) are welcome as are ingenious histories, ethnographies, égohistoires, historical novels, or translations. Shorter texts might press forth a critical concept, extend a highly teachable microhistory or fable, or make a timely political intervention.

Two horizons motivate this new book series at DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS. One is the political. Ours is a planetary time of colossal human departures out of spaces of war, destitution, and longing. The contemporary is enduring as a long moment awash with deep structures, instants, and events, with harsh racializations, securitizations, and xenophobia. We wonder about recurrence, foreshadowing, dispersion, duplication, and circulation. How have Africa’s currents, predicaments, and afflictions prefigured global and domestic shifts? Empire, extraction, displacement, exclusion, death, waste, and the necropolitical – but also life, motion, creation, and refusal – urge for thinking more acutely about singularities and repetitions in these troubling times. We seek books that range both in and well beyond this space long named “Africa,” with new attentions to emergent margins and subjects. Today’s contours beckon for novel investigations as well as innovative transfigurations into forms.

A second horizon is about theory and form. A bundle of words linked to place, scale, the global, and the postcolonial saturates academic discourse, suggesting a need for fresh thinking and language. Ethnographic history has long been an experimental genre that combines concepts and methods, refines theory, and engages myths, historicities, and violence. Scholars of Africa have long attended to subaltern perceptions, images, secrets, embodiments, even song, while disclosing the speech of dissidents and their practices of freedom. Less explicit has been the influence of an enduring writerly practice:history & form. This old, vital, philosophical theme cuts across fields and resonate with the textures of an avant-garde. It gave us microhistory,lieux de mémoire, and experimentations with granularity, poetics, and the essay form. Many are turning to temporality: duration, immediacy, the aleatory, and futures. We urge for complex play with structure, time, and surfaces to enable readers to sense sound, hue, fault lines, and imaginaries.

Mostly, we invite solid, beautiful, surprising, and perplexing work. Ours is a time when “Africa” and the “Global South” are all too material, yet also ethereal, fictive spaces. At this stark juncture, we also are witnessing a new ferment over live, mixed methods, with critical historians, anthropologists, essayists, and artists borrowing across domains, with implications for process, engagement, and layouts alike. This aesthetic and methodological rush promises to move across the humanities and social sciences in uneven waves of quality and productivity as new forms of experimentation renew sociology and enliven anthropology and history. The same wave will challenge some out of old conventions or complacencies, while visual and science studies surely will continue to thrive and inspire.We note: method and analysis more than ever conjoin the unfamiliar, the startling, and the disruptive. Such unrest has implications for forms of telling, for modalities of composition and interjection, and for means of tracking the effects of the political. While writers and scholars translate these new heuristics and devices into political, visual, and literary texts,THEORY IN FORMS will enable a new edge in practices of writing, curation, and assemblage, and also in modes of reading and seeing.

THEORY IN FORMS is a new Duke University Press book series,  now under contract and seeking book proposals and submissions. For more information, a longer series précis, or to arrange submissions of prospectuses, TOCs, and draft introductions, please contact one or more of the series editors,,, and/or DUP Associate Editor, Elizabeth Ault,