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Thread: Cultural Studies and Postcolonialism

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    Default Cultural Studies and Postcolonialism

    There may be difficulties about cultural studies, and some of then have been rehearsed here, and I agree that we need to take a long hard look at the theoretical situation. But at the same time one of the achievements of the past twenty years has been the opening up of postcolonial theory, and in the UK that is due in no small part to the work of people like Stuart hall, who was of course one of the main movers in the Birmingham School. Zizek and other Mitteleuropean backwoodsmen might scoff at the value of the analysis of cultural difference but any overeducated arsehole like me who lives in inner london and listens to the pirates knows in theor bones and earlobes that Paul Gilroy and Homi Bhabha have a more vital take on what is going on as Badiou or Luc-Nancy.

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    for 'as' read 'than'

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    Nicely and concisely put. This was my (meandering) point in the 'Rationality' thread, though you've gotten right to the core of it.

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    I think that cultural studies departments share the same feature as those of all other academic disciplines (including philosophy): Most of the material they produce is a self-aggrandizing, onanistic waste of time but if you look hard enough, you'll come across people doing interesting and useful stuff.

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    With all due respect and a dose of self-deprecation, we bloggers are pretty much living in a glass house when it comes onanism and self-aggrandisement. And really, academic disciplines are often a lot like musical genres - one part scenius, one part ego, one part adaptation to overly rationalised institutional structures. Faculty and administration usually aren't on the same page. Overall, it's pretty hard to make an accurate generalization about "all...academic disciplines", particularly if you do look closely at them.

    But that's not the issue here. Meltmoth is raising an important point to the effect that post-colonial theory has achieved an uncommon political relevance (inside and outside of academia) in recent years, and that this is due in no small part to the efforts of people like Hall and Gilroy who are pretty much synonymous with cultural studies. Race and ethnicity were not previously given much attention by Western theorists. Among other things, CS and PCT have shown postmodernist intellectuals that they're often not as original as they may like to believe, given that colonised peoples have been deconstructing European modernity for centuries. In effect, it's often a matter of 'us' catching up to 'them.' This work has also forced major re-evaluations in other disciplines including Sociology, Anthropology, English, Musicology, etc. in much the same way feminism has. This seems like useful stuff to me and you don't really need to look that hard to find it.
    Last edited by nomos; 16-11-2004 at 12:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autonomicforthepeople
    With all due respect and a dose of self-deprecation, we bloggers are pretty much living in a glass house when it comes onanism and self-aggrandisement. And really, academic disciplines are often a lot like musical genres - one part scenius, one part ego, one part adaptation to overly rationalised institutional structures. Faculty and administration usually aren't on the same page. Overall, it's pretty hard to make an accurate generalization about "all...academic disciplines", particularly if you do look closely at them.
    I think you miss my point. I wasn't claiming that the people who inhabit humanities departments are, for the most part, egotistical wankers; rather that the material they are coerced into producing is a waste of time because, instead of being allowed the leeway to work properly and carefully on their areas of speciality, the structure of academia (at least in the UK and USA) forces them to be continually productive. As a result, you have people constantly churning out half-baked ideas in (self-aggrandizing) conference papers and (onanistic) primers and introductions to this, that, and the other when, if given the time and resources, they are perfectly capable of producing better and more interesting material. I contend that this is a an accurate generalization, although as I said, there are exceptions.
    Last edited by johneffay; 16-11-2004 at 11:59 AM. Reason: Spelling

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    Stuart Hallís library, for sale at Housmans
    http://www.housmans.com/blog/?p=2650

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    Quote Originally Posted by sufi View Post
    Stuart Hallís library, for sale at Housmans
    http://www.housmans.com/blog/?p=2650
    It's the bits that haven't gone to an archive/institution apparently.

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    more on that here: http://www.ccl.bbk.ac.uk/stuart-halls-library/
    It felt like a glimpse not just of Stuart Hall’s library, but of the library of an era. After Samuel’s ‘lost world of British Communism’, perhaps this is ‘the vintage world of British Cultural Studies’. That intersection of education, crime, society, media seems so poignantly representative of Hall, but he in turn thus feels representative of a milieu and period. Admittedly, a few texts here were more contemporary, from the last twenty years – but not many. The general impression was of a historic deposit, from a world three, four and five decades back in which people at polytechnics, art schools and new universities worked furiously to think these issues through and produce this printed stuff – often pamphlets and articles, as well as full-blown books
    Last edited by sufi; 16-05-2016 at 12:01 PM.

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    I went to Housmans yesterday and now own Stuart Hall's old copy of this:



    Which is cool because I'd been meaning to read it for like 20 years or something. They didn't have much of his stuff left but apparently there is another load being put out over the next few weeks.

    Also Housmans is well worth supporting and if you haven't been there for a while the basement is now lovely.

    You can (and should) buy the new Datacide there too...

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    In terms of the comments about self-aggrandisement upthread, this is undoubtedly true. The plethora of academic writing about punk in recent years has been ridiculous, but you can't blame people for trying to make a living out of something they love I guess.

    For me the big issue with cultural studies is the total inversion of the usual class myopia. There is now no going back to the bad old days of history being just about kings and music being just about opera.

    If the price you pay for that is some terrible writing and people over-theorising about Rizzle Kicks then that is probably OK.

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