Special Issue 2025: Knowledge and Power


Vera Keller, Kelly Whitmer and Ted McCormick will be guest editing the 2025 Special Issue titled: "Knowledge and Power: Projecting the Modern World". 

The Panama Canal, a study of the silkworm, a sugar plantation, the South Sea Bubble, an industrial workschool; these seem to have little in common. But these, and other disparate interventions from around the globe, share a common epistemology relating knowledge and power in a specific dynamic; that epistemology is that of projects. A category new to the early modern period yet still structuring the world around us, projects offer tools for critical and historical analysis of the large-scale entangled changes that made modernity. They were, to borrow a phrase from Foucault, technologies of power that shifted, in a short span of time, many of the mores, valences, spiritual ends, and epistemic values associated with the modern world. Yet, even as projects claimed to offer new mechanisms for eradicating waste, solving problems, and realizing untold profits by mobilizing underutilized people and materials, they engineered large-scale devastation. The history of projects centers the violence and ignorance built into economically rationalized visions of the future. Projects were not the ineffectual, laughable schemes many satires suggest, but were integral to global capitalism, epistemic and financial risk-taking, and environmental degradation. Our special issue shows what those impacts were, how projects were configured as forms of knowledge, and how they interrelated with a global landscape of risk, possibility, and agnotology. Addressing their damaging legacies requires critically exploring projects as modes of intervention in the world.