Unfinished Business: a botched anatomy of Culture


Friends, passing readers –

Needless self-promotion for this event I’m organising with a select band of Cultural Studies heroes. Nina Power one confirmed keynote so far. Is this a corpse we’re dealing with? You told me it’d been in the ground for over an hour … so what is this warmth, this life, these spasms of our contorting corpse, its hideous grimaces and jaundiced expression (too much real ale, or free wine?), the froth of “AHRC funding” bubbling on its whitened lips.  Have you delivered a live one? Can we complete our anatomy all the same…?

What you need: an idea, and a certain level of careless gall. Off the record ideas submitted or in the process of so far: Narcolecturing, notes from underground car-parks and malls, the great happiness survey of south London maybe, the academic funding board-game, dangerous traffic detournments on New Cross Road, competitive bonfire-making, apocalytpic rooftop choral singing, indoor fireworks, persona weaponry and the strange death of Neoliberal England. Seven days to get your ideas in. Here’s the brief below:

The Unfinished Business: Undoing Cultural Studies

Two-day postgraduate event in association with CCS, Goldsmiths
4th and 5th July 2011.

Call for contributions.

Cultural Studies is at a critical juncture in the UK: while the government is withdrawing all teaching funds from social sciences and humanities, the growing anti-cuts revolts and occupations since late 2010 are testament to the need for radical thinking. And what of us, the individuals being trained in Cultural Studies right now? There is a radical uncertainty in our lives, in the precariousness of work, in shifting funding priorities and the difficulties encountered in trying to practice and apply cultural studies and critical theory to wider social and political forces. This two-day interdisciplinary event will explore and experiment with the discipline of cultural studies and critical theory, at Goldsmiths and beyond.

Major critical theorists are moving beyond poststructuralism’s supposedly apolitical nature and re-engaging with emancipatory projects of the modernist tradition long thought to be deconstructed. But from a broader perspective, we might contest that one disciplinary turn has followed the other in the last forty years, from the linguistic, over cultural, material to the spatial and so forth. Yet no fixed disciplinary framework is in sight. How do we research and practice cultural studies against this backdrop of unfinishability and uncertainty? If we can avoid irrelevant ambiguity and the temptations of new universalisms, can cultural studies and critical theory become a transforming force in our societies?

The following points might indicate directions, but should not limit them:

  • When is research ‘finished’? Is there something like completed research? And if not, what does this mean for us who are relatively new entrants to the field?
  • What are the limits of cultural studies and critical theory?
  • Does research only take place in the university?
  • Do we consider ourselves cultural workers or students?
  • Has uncertainty and unfinishability become the paradigm of neoliberalism? What are the structures of this relation and how might they be contested?
  • How can we respond to the uncertainty and unfinishability effected by postmodernism and wider Post-Fordist economic shifts? Is it possible to turn them into sites of resistance and emancipation?
  • How does the ideology of risk, radicality and openness heralded by the Cultural Studies as an academic discipline correspond to its institutional framework, its rules and regulations, in which this study takes place?

We encourage retrospectives on student experiences, methodological nit-picking, conference parodies, high theory excavation, classroom disruption and philosophical three-card Monte. Where do we go from here? Papers in the traditional format, film screenings, games, exhibitions, interruptions, debates, and other forms of presentation – lasting up to 20 minutes – are all welcome from postgraduates working in cultural studies and related fields. Participation in the organisation of the event, moderation of panels or preparation of a subsequent publication are highly welcome!
Send abstracts and ideas of 250 words to unfinishedbusiness2011@gmail.com.

Deadline: April 26th. Check unfinishedbusiness2011.wordpress.com periodically for updates, ideas, sketches and news.

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2 thoughts on “Unfinished Business: a botched anatomy of Culture

  1. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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