Surrealism was not merely an artistic movement to its adherents but an “instrument of knowledge,” an attempt to transform the way we see the world by unleashing the unconscious as a radical, new means of constructing reality. Born out of the crisis of civilization brought about by World War I, it presented a sustained challenge to scientific rationalism as a privileged mode of knowing. In certain ways, surrealism’s critique of white, Western civilization anticipated many later attempts at producing alternate non-Eurocentric epistemologies.
With Making Trouble, sociologist and cultural historian Derek Sayer explores what it might mean to take surrealism’s critique of civilization seriously. Drawing on a remarkable range of sources, Sayer first establishes surrealism as an important intellectual antecedent to the study of the human sciences today. He then makes a compelling and well-written argument for rethinking surrealism as a contemporary methodological resource for all those who still look to the human sciences not only as a way to interpret the world, but also to change it.