ARB Recommends: From the Intellect Books 2020 Catalog

ARB Recommends is a regular column of ARB that covers seasonal catalogs from indie, trade, and academic publishers, highlighting the kinds of books our editors, contributors, and readers want to read. As a publication devoted to radical critical engagement with the world—and devoted to reviewing books and media that do this—it only makes sense for ARB to support publishers by showcasing the work they and their authors do.

ARB Recommends also serves as a “what to review” guide for those interested in contributing to ARB. Like what you see here? Reach out to us to review it!


This entry of ARB Recommends takes a look at the 2020 catalog for Intellect. The full catalog can be downloaded here. Note that in the US, their books are available via University of Chicago Press. The books below emphasize cultural history, and cultural and media studies, dealing with capitalism, colonialism and issues of race, gender, queerness, and their intersections. Click the book images for links to buy.


Radical Mainstream: Independent Film, Video and Television in Britain, 1974–90

Colin Perry
August 2020 / £90.00 / 190 pp.

Radical Mainstream examines independent film and video cultures in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s in the context of capitalism, patriarchy, racism, colonialism and homophobia. It explores how radical discourse can impact on dominant cultural forms such as television, using public sphere theories to examine relations between counterpublics and social change.

How belfast got the blues: A Cultural history of music in the 1960S

Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff
December 2020 / £29.00 / 550 pp.

An engaging and dynamic reconsideration of Belfast’s long-ignored contributions to the popular music and cultural politics of the 1960s. In an expansive socio-cultural history, Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff explore how popular music engaged with and influenced the global cultural and political currents of the decade. The popular history of Northern Ireland has been overshadowed by the violence of the Troubles. How Belfast Got the Blues offers a corrective, reconsidering the period before 1969 and arguing that popular music in Northern Ireland was central to the politics of the time, in ways not previously understood or explored. By intertwining politics, culture and unexplored key personalities, the authors reexamine this radical decade and the complex but essential relationship between music and identity.

Red Creative:
Culture and Modernity in China

Justin O’Connor & Xin Gu
December 2020 / £26.00 / 316 pp.

Explores China’s cultural economy over the last twenty years, particularly through the lens of its creative hub of Shanghai. Raises questions about the nature of contemporary ‘creative’ capitalism and the universal claims of western modernity, offering new ways of thinking about cultural policy in China.Taking a long-term historical perspective, it analyses the ongoing development of China’s cultural industries, examining the institutions, regulations, interests and markets that underpin the Chinese cultural economy and the strategic position of Shanghai within it. In-depth and illuminating, revealing the limits of western thought in understanding Chinese history, culture and society.

THE CULtural meaning OF ALEPPO: A LANDSCAPE RECOVERY OF THE ANCIENT CITY

Giulia Annalinda Neglia
December 2020 / £40.00 / 180 pp.

Through a capillary documentation of the palimpsest of Aleppo – of the peculiar characteristics of its courtyard houses and the neighbourhoods of al-Bayyada, Bab Quinnesrin and al-Farafira – The Cultural Meaning of Aleppo is a theoretical and practical handbook for architects, urban planners and restorers alike. Through this analytical discussion of the city’s urban fabric, Giulia Annalinda Neglia introduces the concept of the cultural urban landscape acting as a ‘cohesive territorial organism’ nourished by different cultures, in which contrasting scales of land, city and neighbourhood are interconnected in a fractal state. With a focus on retaining the uniqueness and diversity of this historic urban landscape, which bore witness to the rich cultural history of Syria and the Middle East as a whole, Neglia maps a future reconstruction that focuses on cultural continuity, tradition and the reestablishment of a crucial social memory.

The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Why Are We All Gagging?

Cameron Crookston (ed.)
March 2021 / £80.00 / 240 pp.

Examines the profound effect that RuPaul’s Drag Race has had on the cultures that surround it: audience cultures, economics, branding, queer politics and all points in between. Once a cult show marketed primarily to gay men, it has drawn both praise and criticism for its ability to market itself to broader, straighter and increasingly younger fans. The show has created an explosion of aspiring queens in unprecedented numbers and has had far-reaching impacts on drag as both an art form and a career. This study engages with the question of how Drag Race has affected local, live cultures, fan cultures, queer representation and the very fabric of drag as an art form in popular cultural consciousness.

Lesbians on Television: New Queer Visibility & The Lesbian Normal

Kate McNicholas Smith
January 2021 / £80.00 / 206 pp.

The twenty-first century has seen LGBTQ+ rights emerge at
the forefront of public discourse and national politics. A unique and layered account of the complex dynamics in the modern moment of social change, drawing together social and cultural theory as well as empirical research, including interviews and multi-platform media analyses. Structured around case studies of popular British and American television shows featuring lesbian, bisexual and queer women characters – The L WordSkins, GleeCoronation Street and The Fosters – it has a detailed analysis of the shaping of a new ‘lesbian normal’ through representations of lesbian teenagers, cheerleaders, wives and mothers amongst other LGBTQ+ figures.

a cultural history of the disneyland theme parks: MIDDLE-CLASS KINGDOMS

Sabrina Mittermeier
December 2020 / £24.00 / 280 pp.

When the first Disneyland opened its doors in 1955, it reinvented the American amusement park and transformed the travel, tourism and entertainment industries forever. Now part of a global vacation empire, the original Disney park in Anaheim, California, was joined by complexes in Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Spanning six decades, three continents and five distinct cultures, the first comparative study of the parks is an interdisciplinary examination, setting them in their proper historical context and exploring the distinct cultural, social and economic landscapes that defined each one at the time of its construction, and the role of class in the success or failure of each park.

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