Martin, Randy (L.) 1957-
MARTIN, Randy (L.) 1957-
Born October 5, 1957, in Los Angeles, CA; married Ginger Gillespie; children: Oliver, Sophia. Education: University of California—Berkeley, A.B., 1979; University of Wisconsin, Madison, M.S., 1980; City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D., 1984. Politics: Democrat.
Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, assistant professor of sociology, 1985-87; Bard College, Annandale, NY, visiting assistant professor of sociology, 1987-88; State University of New York, Purchase, lecturer, 1988-89; Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, began as assistant professor, became full professor and department chair, 1989-2000; New York University, New York, NY, associate dean of faculty and interdisciplinary programs, professor of art and public policy, 2000—.
Also began editorial collective in 1984 and became coeditor in 2000 for Social Text; on editorial board for Dance Research Journal; chair and program committee of New York Marxist School, 1995-98.
HRI fellowship, University of California, 1993; Distinguished Teacher Award, Pratt Institute, 1994.
Performance As Political Act: The Embodied Self, Bergin & Garvey (New York, NY), 1990.
Socialist Ensembles: Theater and State in Cuba and Nicaragua, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.
(Editor) Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1998.
Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1998.
Financialization of Daily Life, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.
On Your Marx: Relinking Socialism and the Left, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
Also contributor of scholarly articles to numerous publications.
A sociologist and postmodernist academic, Randy Martin has explored the unstated politics of dance, the state of the modern university, and the ways that financial institutions and the pursuit of money have changed our entire culture and society. In other writings, he has also called for a renewal of leftist politics through drawing on its Marxist past.
In Performance As Political Act: The Embodied Self, Martin first explores modern dance as a vehicle for reclaiming authenticity and political empowerment in the face of mental domination by the Western mass media. In addition, he looks at the use of Soviet and American political theater to counteract mental corruption through physical representation. Socialist Ensembles: Theater and State in Cuba and Nicaragua explores these dynamics in other communist settings. In Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics, Martin further expounds on the curious links between dance and political postures. As Signs contributor Alexandra Carter explained, "Dance, Martin claims, has the potential to offer 'certain moves' out of the schisms between (social) structure and (individual) agency that has bedeviled most cultural analyses." By looking at the audience, critics, and performers themselves, as well as examining everything from MTV to aerobics classes, Martin explores the political dynamics of dance and the use of dance as a metaphor—and sometimes an influence—for the wider political culture.
In Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University, Martin turns the critical gaze on his own profession, bringing together a series of essays by academics increasingly concerned about the direction their universities are taking, as the bottom line has come to dominate higher education. Tuition increases, a growing reliance on academic "gypsies," and rapid growth in college bureaucracies threaten the once noble mission of the university to impart true wisdom to its students. In Martin's view, this reduces the university faculty to a kind of service proletariat increasingly judged by their "productivity." Martin himself looks to academic unionization to reverse the trend, and the volume's other authors provide "accessible and appealingly impassioned economic, historical, and sociological analyses of academic labor," according to Andrew Carpenter in the Antioch Review. Robert Weissberg, a contributor to the American Political Science Review, was less impressed with the contributors and their pieces: "This is a book directed to the postmodern faithful.… Turgid prose often disguises simplistic, polemical arguments. An unashamed sense of entitlement is pervasive." Still, Weissberg noted, "the persevering reader can uncover some items of merit," including a piece on increasing corporate managerialism at American and Australian universities.
In Financialization of Daily Life, Martin's subject is nothing less than the modern economy and the ways in which it impacts society at large. "As this interesting book … suggests, the Western world today is awash with money and is obsessed with the processes of acquiring, borrowing, securing and transferring money. Financial transactions now dominate economic exchanges to an extent not known before," as a Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare reviewer explained. Martin's purpose is to describe the impact of that change and the reasons for it. First, he looks to the change from Keynesian to monetarist economics, symbolized by President Richard Nixon's repudiation of the gold standard and the dramatic growth of international finance since then. From there, he goes on to describe the impact that modern banking and finance, and the much greater access to credit, has on ordinary citizens who find themselves much more at risk than previously so. He also looks at the increasing popularity of business news shows and financial self-help books as indicators of the new importance of fiscal decision-making for the average American. In addition, Martin describes the impact of high-interest financial institutions on low-income neighborhoods and how this growth in debt among the impoverished is reshaping social policy. As the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare reviewer concluded, "This is an important book which deserves to be widely read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, March, 2000, Robert Weissberg, review of Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University, p. 194.
Antioch Review, summer, 2000, Andrew Carpenter, review of Chalk Lines, p. 373.
Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, December, 2003, review of Financialization of Daily Life, p. 208.
Signs, autumn, 2001, Alexandra Carter, review of Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics, p. 271.*