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ItemLiterature, culture, mirrorsFROW, JOHN ( 1997)John Frow responds to Simon During Simon During proposes – as I read it – six sets of reasons for the shift within departments of English from traditional literary studies towards cultural studies. The first is the academic appropriation of a tradition of Romantic anti-academicism stretching from Wordsworth to Dada. The second is a new mode of subject formation by which students are trained as consumers of cultural goods. The third is the valorization of social identities perceived as marginal within a traditional academic framework. The fourth is the development of new regimes of student choice, reflected in changed patterns of enrolment. The fifth is the emergence of a policy framework designed to enhance national economic competitiveness. The sixth is a regime of training which prepares students for jobs in the cultural sector.
ItemIntroductionHealy, Chris (Cambridge University Press, 1997)As a collection of British colonies and then a nation, Australia came into existence as a product of both colonialism and modernity; proud of its fancied youth and eager for the fruits of civilisation, enamoured with progress yet yearning for tradition. Historical accounts of Australia have equally been products of colonialism and modernity. More often than not, the mission of history has been to remember the triumph of colonising a continent and forming a modern nation state with destiny on its side. While the historical legacies of colonialism and modernity remain palpable, many of the dreams of colonialism and modernity lie in ruins. This is a book from these 'ruins' in the sense that it discusses both the colonial past of former colonies and the colonising of indigenous people in Australia. But ruins are never simply gone or in the past; ruins are enduring traces; spaces of romantic fancies and forgetfulness where social memories imagine the persistence of time in records of destruction. Thus this book is about the past in the present, it is written from within contemporary cultures of history. It moves from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal accounts of Captain Cook, jumps to the installation of history in museums and school curricula, glides through the historiography of archetypal historical events. This is a book with strong hopes for history and social memory. My interest is not in hammering home the constructedness of history, nor in the important task of diversifying and proliferating accounts of neglected historical actors but in thinking historically about existing social memory. It is a gesture towards learning to inhabit landscapes of memory which are, in part, landscapes littered with ruins; some archaic and others nightmarish, some quaint simulations and others desperate echoes. I imagine such a landscape of memories not as homeless place for lost souls but a ground from which new flights of historical imagination might depart and to which they might return, differently.
ItemCultural studies and the neoliberal imaginationFROW, JOHN ( 1999)What remains of the liberal vision of a common public culture in a world of asserted differences? What mechanisms of consenting or dissenting identification sustain a democratic public sphere when politics becomes spectacular? And isn’t the representation of publicness always the performance of a division, an exclusion, a minoritization? In order to put the issues that I think are at stake in these questions as pointedly as I can, let me take as a brief example the rhetoric deployed in Australia at the moment by a politician called Pauline Hanson. Hanson is a right-wing populist in the mould of Le Pen, appealing to a broad working-class and rural constituency who have been damaged, and feel damaged, by the downsizing effects of globalization, by the decline of the rural sector, and by what they perceive to be favorable treatment given to indigenous and immigrant Australians. Her politics of grievance is expressed most economically in two statements: “All Australians should be equal,” and “All Australians should speak English.” The first of these statements means: “Indigenous people should not claim a separate cultural identity, nor the separate forms of political and economic recognition that might flow from it.” The second (which has its American counterparts in, for example, the Californian legislation deeming English to be the sole language of official business) means: “Asian migrants are not welcome in this country because they steal jobs from white people.” These are demands for cultural commonality and for shared civic values; they are at once perfectly reasonable and deeply racist. Note, however, that their illiberal force is expressed in the language of Enlightenment civility: the principles of the equality of citizens, of resistance to privilege, of the rule of law, of civic responsibility. To make this point is not to condemn that language but to say that its uses are always strategic, positional, overdetermined by the secondary codes that translate it for particular knowing audiences.