[csaa-forum] Re: terry flew on CS

gary hall gary.hall at connectfree.co.uk
Tue Jan 11 00:03:11 CST 2005

Hi Geert,

> Left or right, one thing is certain: cultural studies is a deeply
> Anglo-Saxon discipline with a very specific set of histories.
> I have followed the attempt to establish 'cultural studies' in countries
> such as Germany, The Netherlands and France. It's hilarious as the
> 'culture' concept in these places has a long and rich tradition, which
> goes way beyond what a certain R. Williams in the UK did or did not do
> in the sixties and seventies. It's hilarious because 'culture' in the
> these countries was a somewhat dusty notion, if not straightout
> conservative. Popular culture was studied, yes, in a moral fashion, so
> there was nothing new about that approach either.

Yes, but isn't what you're saying complicated by the fact that at least one version of that
specific set of histories of 'British cultural studies' includes the arrival in Britain of
émigrés from Nazi dominated Europe such as Norbert Elias, Arnold Hauser, Adolph Lowe, Karl
Manneheim and Karl Polyani? (See Tom Steele's The Emergence of Cultural Studies 1945-65,
for example). I'm not interested in providing yet another (counter) narrative of cultural
studies' origins with this. Just pointing out you can't so simply and easily contrast the
two traditions: 'British cultural studies' is in this sense already European (among other

> The german media theorist Friedrich Kittler wrote a whole book about
> this in which he defended the older, 19th century study of culture,
> against the Brittish, class and pop obsessed 'cultural studies'. He
> defends his own branch called Kulturwissenschaften (cultural sciences).

That's interesting. I've only had a chance to glance at this book in German. I'd be
interested to know which British cultural studies texts Kittler refers to specifically?

> Cultural studies is itself a media hype.

But isn't this idea of cultural studies itself media hype?

> It's a meme with a very
> interesting track record, yet hard to transplant into other cultural
> context. Japan is another example of this.

That might be true. But then again, what about Koichi Iwabuchi in Japan, Kuan-Hsing Chen in
Taiwan, Meaghan Morris's recent work in and on Hong Kong, as well as cultural studies work
in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the list goes on? And that's just some versions of the
'discipline' that are most recognizable as being related to 'Anglo-Saxon' cultural studies,
as you're calling it. There's also those versions (some of which I think Ned may have
alluded to, perhaps not), both within Anglo-Saxon influenced cultures and beyond, which
doesn't always call itself, or get designated or accepted as, 'cultural studies'.

Best, Gary

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