[csaa-forum] the sixties

Peter Eckersall eckersal at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Jun 4 09:51:29 CST 2007

Dear Stephen, CSAA list,

A number of us - Vera Mackie, myself and others in Australia  
internationally have been working in the 60s for a few years now -  
for me the 60s in japan, but I have also done some work on Australia  
(where the 60s begins late-more 1970s).   I edited a special Japan:  
The ends of the 1960s  issue of Performance Paradigm  
(www.performanceparadigm.net) that includes essays by many of the  
leading scholars on 60s culture and Japan.  I also published  
Theorizing the angura space: Avant-garde performance and politics in  
Japan 1960-2000 (Brill 2006) that deals with the question of the new  
left and theatre and how things are reworked during and since the 1960s.

What we have today as a politics is very much the smokescreen for  
corporate capitalism as you say but we need to theorise how this is  
as a much a creation of the 1970s left and the conflation of  
countercultural subjectivities with individualism and materialism as  
it is the post 1980s rise of right.

This project has been around awhile and new contributions, ideas and  
most of all critiques that relate politics to action are necessary.

Peter Eckersall

On 04/06/2007, at 9:18 AM, Stephen Muecke wrote:

> The Sixties Revisited
> There are many reasons for a renewed interest in the sixties. The  
> worst reason is, of course, for superannuated baby-boomers to  
> indulge in nostalgia, the best is for people born, say in the  
> eighties, to analyse a period where there were real and effective  
> languages of political contestation, which could be taken even to a  
> national scale (Mai '68, the Cultural Revolution in China, student  
> movements toppling the governments of Sth Korea and Thailand,  
> national liberation movements against colonialism).
> In terms of culture there were radical forms of experimentation in  
> everyday life, the birth of ecological movements, homosexuality was  
> legalised, a stunning new visual style emerged in in iconography,  
> fashion, fine arts and cinema. Popular music came of age in the USA  
> and the UK, and there was a new cosmopolitanism of youth movements.  
> In science and industry plastics emerged, the transistor made  
> electronics portable, Man walked on the Moon, nuclear met counter- 
> nuclear...
> Today, in repudiation of the sixties, the world seems engulfed by a  
> neo-liberal market-driven culture which has narrowed the language  
> of political analysis. Conservative opinion-makers are busy  
> characterising the sixties as a time of looney left excess, a  
> smokescreen perhaps for the excesses of global corporate capitalism  
> today.
> Are the current forms of political and cultural activism derived  
> from the sixties? Community-based localist or micro-activisms,  
> autonomists, hackers and bloggers, ferals and sub-cultural  
> communities?
> Serious research should determine how cultural and political  
> analysis of this four-decade-old history can sort out continuities  
> and discontinuities. Most world leaders grew up in the sixties, so  
> the period still has a hold on their unconscious: Can they let it  
> go? Can people in their twenties and thirties teach them to look at  
> the present more clearly?
> The question I’d like to put to the List, perhaps with a view to a  
> seminar, is who in Australia is working on the sixties (really the  
> late 50s to the early 70s)? Who is prepared to work up a topic?  
> There is the potential for interesting Asian links—see Inter-Asia  
> Cultural Studies issue of December last year, ‘The Asian Sixties’.
> Stephen Muecke
> Director, Transforming Cultures Centre
> Humanities and Social Sciences
> University of Technology, Sydney
> Box 123 BROADWAY NSW 2007 Australia
> Ph: +61 2 9514 1960
> Fx: +612 9514 4344
> mb 042 5261 232
> http://www.transforming.cultures.uts.edu.au/
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Dr Peter Eckersall
Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies
School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne

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