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Elisabeth Anker: “Ugly Freedoms”, Spaces of Refusal, and De-idealizing Freedom




Elisabeth Anker is a professor of American Studies and Political Science at George Washington University. Her first book, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom lays a groundwork for analyzing freedom-based narratives in popular culture. The theme is extended in her 2022 book Ugly Freedoms, which is the basis for our conversation.


Essentially, Professor Anker argues that the word “freedom” can have multiple interpretations, and while it might be tempting to try and decide which freedom is right and which is wrong, a more useful approach is to figure out ways to create a sense of freedom that does not entail stomping on other people. The word itself presents as a contested space, and the goal should be to define the word in more ethical and humane ways, rather than cloaking savagery and barbarism in the ideal sense of freedom.


Our discussion can be found here:


More information about Elisabeth Anker can be found here:

and here:


And her book Ugly Freedoms can be found here:


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