[csaa-forum] Re: terry flew on CS

Graham St John g.stjohn at uq.edu.au
Thu Jan 13 15:40:54 CST 2005

This is an interesting discussion, and perhaps an understanding of cross 
disciplinary disputes over 'culture' can contribute something to it.

 From my experience, the ridiculing or derogation of cultural studies 
research, perhaps close to that which Mark speaks, emanates with regularity 
from the inner regions of what was once the 'science of culture' within the 
academy - anthropology.  The derogation is often coupled with a deep 
skepticism with regard to the legitimacy of the research, or otherwise a 
sense that while the research in question may be cultural - it's 
authenticity is marred by an uncomfortable and perhaps even embarrassing 
proximity to home.

Despite the contemporary complexities of cultural anthropology, and the 
changing contours of that which constitutes 'real anthropology', and thus 
legitimate cultural research, I feel there remains a tendency within 
(Australian) anthropology of a skepticism towards research conducted on 
familiar cultural territory (and thus not directed towards the 'other' over 
which anthropology possesses privileged conceptual ownership) which places 
many researchers (particularly anthro postgrads  conducting variations of 
'anthropology at home') at risk of becoming casualties of a cross 
disciplinary 'culture war'. Breaking down these perceptions and boundaries 
is slow going and difficult - but a necessary task.


At 12:22 AM 1/11/2005, you wrote:
>Good response, Gary. It interests me that cultural studies seems so often 
>to be made an object of ridicule -- just 'media hype' .... etc. To get to 
>the bottom of it, I think we need to look past the Andrew Bolts and Keith 
>Windschuttles and recognise that the tendency can even be found among 
>those who wear the CS label (or, like Geert, to participate in CS 
>discussion lists). Internal criticism of CS has often been coruscating, 
>implying some fundamental error, wrong turn or egregious error. One of the 
>most characteristic positions in relation to CS is a kind of ironic 
>detachment -- 'we wouldn't want to associate ourselves fully with this 
>field, but it can be interesting or amusing to hang on the edges, listen 
>in, throw in provocations from time to time'. (It sometimes seems to me 
>that everyone is doing this. ie. no-one is actually in the middle.)

Dr Graham St John
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies
Level 4, Forgan Smith Tower                phone:  07 3346 9761
University of Queensland                      mobile: 0428 488 889
St Lucia 4072                                       fax:      07 33657184
Queensland, Australia                  http://www.cccs.uq.edu.au
CRICOS provider number: 00025B  
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