[csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz

Laknath Jayasinghe think_broadly at yahoo.com.au
Fri Jul 28 12:37:37 CST 2006

  Sorry. I really do apologise for the repeat post, but that should read: "not remain on separate islands...".

Laknath Jayasinghe <think_broadly at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
    Hi all--and good afternoon.
  Actually, to be fair, I know Emma; and I know that both her politics and her heart is firmly planted in the right place. Although there are some things I could pick apart in the article, she does make a legitimate criticism--that cultual and media studies researchers should also engage with the broad community. I thoroughly agree with that. We do much exciting work in fresh and interesting areas, but quite often it seems that the ideas just don't get out to the broad public. Of course, given the climate of Nelson-Bishop, McGuiness and Bolt, the task is more difficult. We have to be more creative and more persistent.
  In fact, this is something that Graeme Turner alluded to in a paper he delivered in 1999, arguing that--apart from the academic stuff we do--we should be doing more work in the 'public sphere', the broad public sphere, that is. I take my cue from him. I believe that we should build academic bridges, but remain on separate islands. The mass media here in Oz, from both my professional and academic experience, are open to articles and letters that take new and exciting ideas to the public--from all political positions. Of course, language must be modified and the ideas recrafted and tailored to the audience; very few allusions to Bhabha, Butler or Bourdieu here!  
  Also, must we always 'dichotomise' our debate into 'left / anti-left' etc.? I remember having a brief chat with Toby Miller after he presented a paper here  in Melbourne a few months ago, and he was aghast at the polarity of discourse in some Australian cult studs work. Much of the work we do is so inspiring--politically, ethically and academically. I know I'm guilty of this at times, but does our politics move within frames of the "either/ or"; or is it really a case of a trillion shades of grey? 
  Were the Cronulla Beach rioters, for example, "racist"? I don't think so. We need a more nuanced language to describe contemporary Australian, indeed global, politics. Left and right (and upper, middle, working class etc) seem such ancient terms and they so imprecisely get at what is really going on in contemporary everyday life. What do these terms mean, particularly at the level of a rapidly globalising and shrinking everyday? Perhaps commercial research organisations such as Roy Morgan Research and AC Nielsen are more on the ball in terms of describing and classifying some of the social and cultural trends in contemporary Australia. 
  I recently completed my MPhil in cultural studies at UQ, where I examined masculinities in Nick Cave's early performances. Now I'm at Unimelb's Melbourne Business School, researching a PhD in marketing (using much cultural and media studies research, by the way). It's certainly a more conservative space from the one I previously moved within. Ian Harper, an economist over here at MBS, was recently appointed by John Howard to chair the IR / Fair Pay Commission. Does that mean I must abdicate my "left-ish" politics? I certainly hope not!
  Anyway, look forward to hearing the many and varied takes on this issue.

Laknath Jayasinghe
BSc, BBus (Mktg), MPhil

PhD student (Marketing)
Melbourne Business School
The University of Melbourne 
200 Leicester Street 
Carlton 3053 

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