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Creativity and Academic Activism

Creativity and Academic Activism: Instituting Cultural Studies

Meaghan Morris
Mette Hjort
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Creativity and Academic Activism
    Book Description:

    This work explores in detail how innovative academic activism can transform our everyday workplaces in contexts of considerable adversity. Personal essays by prominent scholars provide critical reflections on their institution-building triumphs and setbacks across a range of cultural institutions. Often adopting narrative approaches, the contributors examine how effective programmes and activities are built in varying local and national contexts within a common global regime of university management policy. Here they share experiences based on developing new undergraduate degrees, setting up research centers and postgraduate schools, editing field-shaping book series and journals, establishing international artist-in-residence programs and founding social activist networks. This book also investigates the impact of managerialism, marketization and globalization on university cultures, asking what critical cultural scholarship can do in such increasingly adversarial conditions. Experiments in Asian universities are emphasized as exemplary of what can or could be achieved in other contexts of globalized university policy. Contributors include Tony Bennett, Stephen Ching-Kiu Chan, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Douglas Crimp, Dai Jinhua, John Nguyet Erni, Josephine Ho, Koichi Iwabuchi, Tejaswini Niranjana, Wang Xiaoming, and Audrey Yue.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-839-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Instituting Cultural Studies
    (pp. 1-20)
    Meaghan Morris and Mette Hjort

    This is a book about the role played by creativity, collective invention and imaginative academic activism in “instituting” Cultural Studies as a new disciplinary practice over the past twenty years. More broadly, it is also a volume of stories in which internationally well-known scholars in the humanities and social sciences look back on what they now consider to be key moments of their trajectories as institution-builders, in the process reflecting in often personal terms on the art of the possible in academic life. Variously based in Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United...

  6. Institutional Culture: A Manifesto with Rules
    (pp. 21-24)
    Mette Hjort and Meaghan Morris

    The global flow of dubious ideas has taken its toll on many a university, with hyperactive bureaucratic systems increasingly colonizing other forms of institutional culture. In many an institution, time-consuming and ritualized exercises in surveillance and monitoring dissipate the energies of staff . Increasingly required to live according to a bureaucratic clock that segments time in ways that are inhospitable to immersion and flow, teachers and researchers find creativity and real thought more and more elusive. The culture of permanent bureaucratic distractions is instituted at a real cost, for more often than not it brings with it a culture of...

  7. 1 The Desire for Cultural Studies
    (pp. 25-40)
    Tejaswini Niranjana

    My chapter focuses on the new institutional spaces in which the culture question is gaining prominence in the Indian higher education scenario. I begin by providing a sketch of the emergence of Cultural Studies in the Indian context against the backdrop of the crisis in higher education. For the sake of convenience, I will draw on my own institutional trajectory.

    Ten to twelve years ago, in the mid-1990s, I was inside the academy, teaching in a mainstream English department of a major Indian university. However, my practice as a cultural theorist was marginal to it, being the target of much...

  8. 2 Social Movements, Cultural Studies, and Institutions: On the Shifting Conditions of Practices
    (pp. 41-54)
    Kuan-Hsing Chen

    Drawing on my own involvement over the past 20 years, in this essay I pinpoint the shifting dynamics between social movements, Cultural Studies and institutions. My initial observation is that, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the driving forces and inspirations for Cultural Studies in Asia came from engagements in social and political movements; the institutionalization (in quite diverse forms) of Cultural Studies from the late 1990s onward has redefined the field as both an intellectual movement and a set of institutional practices. This shift is over-determined by the aggressive power of a neo-liberal economy, the disenchantment with political...

  9. 3 Life of a Parasite: One Survival Story in Cultural Studies
    (pp. 55-66)
    Josephine Ho

    Opening the Cultural Studies and Institution conference at Lingnan University in 2006, Meaghan Morris described Cultural Studies as a “gadfly,” as “something inconsequential and not taken seriously, though both deadly and charming” — certainly an apt description of the role of Cultural Studies as it irritates by challenging accepted frames of mind and established structures of power.¹ Here I use another organism also known to be a persistent irritating nuisance —“the parasite” — to help explain the existence and operation of certain critical gatherings of Cultural Studies within Taiwan’s institutions of higher education.² Though almost always precarious, such existence penetrates deep into...

  10. 4 The Assessment Game: On Institutions That Punch Above Their Weight, and Why the Quality of the Work Environment Also Matters
    (pp. 67-88)
    Mette Hjort

    Increasingly required to demonstrate their relevance to society, their fitness for purpose, and their ability to justify the allocation of public monies to their sector, universities have become more or less willing players in a high-stakes game called Assessment. There are variations on this game, of course, for it can be played on a purely national level, on a global scale, on a voluntary or required basis, and with players variously pre-selected in terms of key traits. Quality assurance and research assessment exercises are examples of the game of Assessment being played on a national level, but with reference to...

  11. 5 Three Tough Questions of Cultural Studies: The Case of the Program in Cultural Studies at the University of Shanghai
    (pp. 89-104)
    Wang Xiaoming

    Cultural studies as an academic and intellectual activity only began to flourish in the Chinese mainland near the end of the 1990s and at the beginning of the new millennium, thus lagging at least ten years behind Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the mid-1990s, several keen scholars such as Dai Jinhua were adopting research methods similar to Cultural Studies in their research on film and urban popular culture, and there were those like Li Tuo who openly advocated the development of Cultural Studies. These efforts did not generate widespread echoes at first. However, when Cultural Studies finally arrived it quickly...

  12. 6 Doing Cultural Studies: Critique, Pedagogy, and the Pragmatics of Cultural Education in Hong Kong
    (pp. 105-124)
    Stephen Ching-Kiu Chan

    As a context-specific project, Cultural Studies in Hong Kong takes shape within a set of frameworks defined by the post-colony’s proximity to the dynamic social and cultural changes in mainland China, as well as the accessible networks linking it to parallel developments in the Asia-Pacific region, where humanities education, cultural economy, and cultural citizenship all encounter new challenges under neo-liberalism.¹

    What can we learn from the teaching of culture as an institutionalized critical project? As I raise this rather mundane question, I am concerned about how the intellectual and educational project that grows in the name of Cultural Studies has...

  13. 7 Coordinates, Confusions, and Cultural Studies
    (pp. 125-138)
    Dai Jinhua

    In the course of the 1980s, Cultural Studies emerged as one of the most popular of the humanities and social science disciplines in Europe and the United States. It is regarded as having waged a cultural war on the globalization of capitalism and the neo-liberalist/Washington consensus. However, ironically enough, the route traveled by Cultural Studies in regions outside Europe and the United States coincided with the spread of globalization. In fact, the introduction of Cultural Studies into China occurred simultaneously with the process of China’s involvement in globalization.

    During the post-Cold War period in the 1990s, Cultural Studies was introduced...

  14. 8 Uses of Media Culture, Usefulness of Media Culture Studies: Beyond Brand Nationalism into Public Dialogue
    (pp. 139-156)
    Koichi Iwabuchi

    Often, Cultural Studies is criticized for its over-politicization of culture. Rather than deeply appreciating culture’s aesthetic value or its tranquil presence in people’s everyday life, researchers tend to be preoccupied with analyzing and comprehending it in terms of their own aspirations to engage with cultural politics. However, since culture as a form of meaning construction and a process of communication is ubiquitous in all social activities — which necessarily are power laden — culture extends its relevance and strategic usefulness to spheres beyond itself. As George Yúdice argues, culture has become an expedient “resource” that allows various social actors to pursue their...

  15. 9 Way Out on a Nut
    (pp. 157-174)
    Douglas Crimp

    In his conversation with Daniel Buren at the Guggenheim Museum in conjunction with Buren’s 2005 exhibition, The Eye of the Storm: Works in Situ, art historian Alex Alberro raised the question of color in Buren’s work by suggesting that Buren’s palette seemed very French — related to, for example, Matisse.¹ The comparison to Matisse’s palette was mentioned again in a panel discussion two weeks later about Buren’s work, Couleurs Superposées: Act IV, performed at the Guggenheim on the opening weekend of The Eye of the Storm.² I suppose the reference to Matisse in both cases was meant to bring to mind...

  16. 10 Who Needs Human Rights? Cultural Studies and Public Institutions
    (pp. 175-190)
    John Nguyet Erni

    My goal in this chapter is to attempt to bring about an articulation between Cultural Studies and public law in order to better understand the changing and complex political context that continuously shapes contemporary ethical debates. More specifically, I am trying to forge a closer relation between Cultural Studies (especially the social movement bent of the field) and human rights (especially critical legal theory as well as the pragmatic practices of the field) — seeing that both share a commitment to social justice work — at a time of enormous global uncertainties and egregious erosion of liberties. I know this is a...

  17. 11 From Gatekeepers to Gateways: Pragmatism, Politics, Sexuality, and Cultural Policy in Creative Singapore
    (pp. 191-212)
    Audrey Yue

    On May 2, 2009, more than three thousand people, mostly women, attended a four-hour-long meeting at a convention hall in Suntec City in downtown Singapore. They had come for an extraordinary general meeting called by the old supporters of the country’s foremost feminist non-government organization (NGO), the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), to vote out a group of female corporate Christian fundamentalists who had earlier taken over the executive running of the organization. As both sides debated and tactics of all sorts were put out on display, these highly charged hours saw #awaresg, the Twitter channel for...

  18. 12 Culture, Institution, Conduct: The Perspective of Metaculture
    (pp. 213-228)
    Tony Bennett

    What does it mean to be concerned with the institutional conditions and affiliations of Cultural Studies? What form do these take? What implications do — or should — they have for the ways in which Cultural Studies is conducted? In taking these to be the guiding questions for this collection, I shall approach them as part of a larger set of issues concerning the relations between culture, institution, and conduct. For this purpose, I interpret culture as a historically specific set of relations in which particular forms of expertise are entangled with institutional practices in forming and re-forming social conduct in varied...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 229-262)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-282)
  21. Index
    (pp. 283-298)