[csaa-forum] Message from Nick Couldry to the CSAA Conference

baden.offord at scu.edu.au baden.offord at scu.edu.au
Mon Nov 22 19:55:47 CST 2010

'A Scholarly Affair'

The grip of neoliberalism on all sorts of public institutions, not just universities, is tightening in many countries, with the alibi of the still-unfolding global economic and financial crisis. In Britain, as George Monbiot has recently pointed out, the huge deficit caused by the need to prop up a delinquent banking sector in late 2008 provides good cover for our new conservative/liberal Coalition government to introduce as 'common sense' radical new marketization in the health, university and other sectors. 

The Browne report published in October 2010 not only frees up student fees so that they are likely to treble, but more fundamentally removes all long-term government subsidy for teaching except in priority areas: medical sciences maths, priority languages (don't worry, media and cultural studies won't even get a look in here, nor will any arts, humanities and social science subjects!). Students are being encouraged to make future course decisions exclusively on the basis of the future salaries a course will generate, while in the meantime university finances are profoundly destabilised: it is highly dubious whether in the long-term more choice for students will result, but in good neoliberal style, 'more student choice'  is the selling point of these reforms.

In the UK then the critical voice of cultural studies has never been more needed to expose the underlying logics of strategies of governance, and in articulating alternative values. Only through values that directly challenge the hegemony of neoliberalism can effective political, cultural and social opposition be built to the destruction of public institutions including, but not limited to, the university. 

I realise that such struggles are hardly unfamiliar to scholars in Australasia, with the Howard years still fresh in everyone's memory. And, as I know from recent visits, you are still doing inspiring work, extending the boundaries of what cultural studies can still mean and achieve. 

The themes of this coming CSAA conference that Baden Offord and others have so skilfully orchestrated are testimony to your ongoing struggle against the hegemonic authority of market logics. 

I wish I could be there with you, in order to draw much-needed inspiration. Since I can't, here's all the very best for a vigorous and heretical few days of discussion.


CSAA Conference
7-9 December 2010
Byron Bay
Website: http://www.scu.edu.au/research/cpsj/asa/index.html
Please join us for this annual gathering and also renew your CSAA membership.

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