Since its inception, CCSR has promoted multi-disciplinary debates which engage with the politics of the popular as a site of power struggles, new social movements and their cultural expression, and the analysis of emerging cultural forms with a particular emphasis on the cultural changes emerging from neoliberal economics in a global context.
Therefore, in the fiftieth anniversary year of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, the time is right to launch a book series which encourages a return to the core project of Cultural Studies: to examine the culturopolitical, sociopolitical, aesthetic and ethical implications of international cultures. This concern drives our proposal to publish books covering key thematic issues and looking at a variety of cultural forms from city spaces to music and visual cultures. We will commission work that engages with the lived reality of politics and cultures and is alert to possibilities for social change – to ‘understand … the present in the service of the future’ (Grossberg, 2010: 1). Our interest is in writing that analyses cultures as sites of power, which explicitly engages with the materiality and variety of cultural forms, and looks at new, emerging and radical cultures. The series will be published by Rowman & Littlefield International. We welcome proposals which:
- Engage with contemporary issues of culture and multidisciplinary debates
- Further understanding of culture as a field; its politics, history and changes
- Develop methodologies that produce radical perspectives on contemporary culture
- Offer arguments for understanding culture and political change
- Contextualise a variety of cultural forms within social and political structures
- Produce new critical theories of cultural production and consumption
- Assess Cultural Studies as a political project
Topics may include:
- Contemporary cultural forms and their radical potential
- Geopolitics, Psychogeographies and Cultural Studies across national borders
- Cultural Communication and Irreconcilable Ethnicities
- Cultural change and resistant practices
- Cultural studies and the future of the university
- New political formations of race, gender and sexuality
- New cultures articulated by transgendering and transsexuality
- New perspectives on war, conflict and forced migration
- New theoretical approaches to cultural change and relational aesthetics
- Global politics and postcolonialism in contemporary local contexts
- Science, technology and cultural forms
- Radical politics and new forms of community
- Affect, trauma and cultures of memorialization
- Biocultures and Biopolitics
- Cultures of Eugenics and Genetics
- Cultures of Evolution and Devolution
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Stuart Hall, the globally-respected and much-loved public intellectual and giant of cultural studies, who has just died, had a huge influence on the development of Sociology and Cultural Studies at the University of East London.
UEL (then still North East London Polytechnic) was the first university in the UK to establish an undergraduate degree in, and later a department of, Cultural Studies. The BA, launched in 1980, was developed by a group of UEL staff several of whom had had strong links with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham, the unit directed by Stuart Hall. Continue reading Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies at UEL
Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film by Anat Pick
Simone Weil once wrote that “the vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence.” With these words, she established a relationship among vulnerability, beauty, and existence that transcends the boundaries separating the species. Her conception of a radical ethics and aesthetics could be characterized as a new “poetics of species,” that forces us to rethink the significance of the body, both human and animal. Exploring the “logic of flesh,” or how art and culture use the body to mark species identity, Anat Pick reimagines a poetics that begins with the vulnerability of bodies, not the omnipotence of thought.
Offering a powerful alternative to more personalist visions of morality, Pick proposes a “creaturely” approach based on the shared embodiedness of humans and animals and a postsecular perspective on human-animal relations. She turns to literature, film, and other cultural texts that prioritize the inhuman and challenge the familiar inventory of the human (consciousness, language, morality, and dignity). She reintroduces Weil’s crucially important work and its elaboration of themes such as witnessing, commemoration, and collective memory, and she moves away from assumptions about animal “otherness” and nonhuman subjectivities. Pick identifies the “animal” within all humans, emphasizing the corporeal and its issues of power and freedom. In her creaturely view, powerlessness is the point at which both aesthetic and ethical thinking must begin.
On 3rd July, 2010, CCSR committee member Debra Benita Shaw spoke at the University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies conference The Emergence of the Posthuman Subject. She delivered a paper entitled ‘Posthuman Remains: Contemporary Biopolitics and the Consumption of Undeath’ which interrogated the fascination with life extension techniques and how they can be understood in terms of the way that neoliberalism constructs contemporary subjectivities.
CCSR committee member Debra Benita Shaw and Sarah Baker, a former doctoral candidate at UEL, attached to CCSR, who was recently awarded her PhD, presented papers at the 8th Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, June 17th – 21st, 2010. Sarah’s paper, called ‘Retro Homes and the Value of ‘Authentic’ Iconicity’ discussed the results of ethnographic research among ‘retro’ enthusiasts in the UK. Debra’s paper, ‘Investment Strategies in the Genomic Domain: The Life Cycle of homo oeconomicus’ presented the results of ongoing research into the connection between evolutionary psychology and contemporary neo-liberalism.
Started in 1996 in Tampere, Finland, the Crossroads Conferences were to fill what was felt to be a gap in the international cultural studies community. Since then it had become one of the most important international conferences in cultural studies where scholars from all five continents get together to exchange their scholarly insights as well as to get in touch with different cultures. Organized by the Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), Crossroads conference is now held every two years in different parts of the world: Birmingham in UK, Illinois in US, Istanbul in Turkey and Kingston in Jamaica. This was the first time it had been held in East Asia