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attention to the contexts (historical, cultural, social) in which theories are produced. The ways in which class was elided in cultural studies’ move from England to the United States have been well-rehearsed. Less attention, however, has been paid to the extent to which issues of race, gender, and sexuality appeared in the British tradition of cultural studies and how these structuring absences or presences traveled to US cultural studies. In your essay, provide a map of the presence/absence of race, gender, and sexuality in British cultural studies. How did these carry over into the US context? What are the epistemic legaices of these traveling theories? What are their theoretical traps, in Said’s words? Feminism, with its focus on the intersections of race and class, is often described as infiltrating and interrupting cultural studies in the 1970‘s. In Stuart Hall‘s canonical biography of the field, he describes feminism as breaking into the house of cultural studies, and shitting on his table. In US cultural studies today, and its mythology produced through the nexus of Hall and Grossberg, the shit has been cleared from the table, and a table cloth draped over to hide the stain — particularly in the field as it is canonized in traditional disciplines like Anthropology and Sociology. How, this question asks, did we arrive at this point? Can epistemic legacies explain the elision of gender, race, and sexuality? Using Said‘s notion of traveling theory, which argues that theoretical appropriations are always haunted by the sociohistorical epistemic conditions of their original conjuring, I will show that the elision of women in US cultural studies stems from the British Cultural studies general project, and that the absence of race in US cultural studies is the product of a version of power theorized in such a way that it calculates on a frictionless plane lacking material relations of force. Sexuality in this history is subsumed by both critical race theory and feminist theory, as those political queer theories outside of normative adjustments make their emancipatory claims through gender – not through sexuality. My goal in this question is to tell a different history of cultural studies, one in which feminism is located as the central protagonist. I begin, however, by recounting the Oedipal trilogy myth, so as to establish the epistemic grounds in which the elision of women and race occurs – a product of the Leavisite tradition, as I will show. I then layout the map of feminist thought in tension and struggle with cultural studies during the 1960‘s, 18 years before it would break into the house with its hybrid of psychoanalysis and Marxist theory contained in Women Take Issue. I then describe the field of black British cultural studies as recounted by Houston Baker, but – in tension with Baker – show the importance of Hazel Carby and Pratbile Parmar, two feminist of color, for predicting and challenging cultural studies‘ theories of race and gender. In the second half of this question, I recount the ways in which feminist cultural studies arose out of mass communication oriented fields in the US, and the challenges it faced in terms of the institutional constellation within which it was imported. I do so through discussing the tensions between feminist materialist technological critique of Emily Martin and the cyborg theorizing of Donna Haraway, and the work of Carol Stabile and Anne Balsamo. I conclude this section with the rise of intersectionality and feminists of color around issues of technology, and the way this arises more out of American studies than US cultural studies itself. Mythology 1
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 If men produce history but not in conditions of their own making, John Storey argues that cultural studies examines the cultural enactments of this history and the ways that practices are product and productive of historical formations. A post-war field of study, cultural studies arose out of three sites: Leavisite literary criticism, the birth of the New Left, and the praxis of adult education. The New Left was a product of a fundamental schism in Marxism and party politics, amplified by the Soviet occupation of Hungary. The New Left arose out of a concern that the party‘s focus on ownership and distribution caused it to ignore the ways in which capitalist antagonisms continued to haunt the supposedly revolutionary politics. This pushed figures like Raymond Williams and EP Thompson to turn away from doctrinal Marxism to a more humanist approach, and from the Marx of Capital to the Marx of the 1944 manuscripts. Tom Steele argues that cultural studies found its site for political organization in Adult education classes. The Universities in the late 40‘s and 50‘s absorbed the Workers Education Association‘s role in providing nighttime education to the labor force. A fundamental debate existed between whether to raise class-consciousness through social science (worker agenda) or teach the humanities for the development of humanity (university agenda). Thompson, Williams, and later Hall, saw this as a false division, and attempted to do both. The adults, however, were not steeped in a tradition of classics, and so the humanist site of exploration was the culture of the masses. Education was aimed at finding emancipatory politics within a popular culture not produced by, but for the populace – and this is the fundamental difference between cultural studies and Frankfurt critical theory. In terms of theory, Hall states that cultural studies arose out of a tension with Leavisite literary criticism. Leavis, a conservative theorist in the postwar decline of British greatness, argued that language was the central site of cultural formation, not what is said necessarily as what ‗what is said‘ says about the health of British-ness. Leavis argued that the importing of American cultural and the mass culture that had taken hold of the world, and was to blame for the decline in British culture. Popular culture was to be expunged from the academy, and high culture returned to its proper place – both preconditions for the return of British greatness. This argument was absorbed into cultural studies in two ways. Language, in both, is central in the development of culture. Hoggart drew from this framework in order to argue that the import of American culture, and the mass-ification of high culture, was being used to close a cultural gap in service of erasing the widening economic divisions between the classes. Mass culture, he argued, de-radicalized groups like Teds through American cultural standards like that of the jukebox. The juke box, placed in a milk bar, itself the product of a moral crisis over working class youth drinking alcohol, presented an affordable reason for youth to buy into middle class culture that other was unaffordable – a 5 pence song brought them to a place where they wouldn‘t be able to afford an espresso. The result could be measured in a decline in class-consciousness and the language used to describe experience. Only adopting Leavis‘ approach to language, Williams argued that based on the meta-level meaning, society could be seen engaged in three revolutions: industrial, economic, and cultural. The third was the most important, as culture, as a whole way of life and not simply and elite holding, shaped the ways in which the other two were framed – potentially in emancipatory ways. The structure of feeling, the sense of life, which was embedded not least of all in language, which if altered accordingly could produce particular forms of consciousness. In the canonical retelling of this history, Grossberg argues that cultural studies proceeds in dialectical fashion. When Marxism confronts humanism, the sublimation is a cultural studies of Hoggart/Williams. This cultural studies is then confronted by Althusserian structuralism and its critique of the state in the 1970‘s – at the end of which Feminism ‗breaks 2
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 in‘ with psychoanalysis. It is from this that EP Thompson emerges as a central figure in cultural studies history. For Thompson, ideology could not be complete, nor could culture be a whole way of life, otherwise there would be no class consciousness at all – class consciousness, which Thompson describes as the product of experience and not economic categories, is not in the upper-class' best interest. Instead, culture, not ideology but also not neutral and static, is a whole way of struggle. He best makes this argument in ―The moral economy of the English crowd in the 18th century.‖ Class, as an experience, requires that history be told from the peasant‘s standpoint. Where previous historians had described the hunger riots of the 18th century as irrational, Thompson points to the ways in which they arose out of an ideological conflict between the moral expectations that peasants had of the market, and the accumulation of surplus that drove grain merchants to sell outside of the market. Rioting, the peasants would go to the mills, and destroy grain. Thought of as irrational by other historians, Thompson argues instead that this is an economically rational approach, in that it decreases the surplus available for sell outside the market, driving down the prices of grain. And it is only through this perspective that the hunger riots can make sense. The sublimation of the cultural studies of Thompson and Althusserian structuralism was a cultural studies focused on practice and ideology. Under the leadership of Stuart Hall, the CCCS shifted to a Gramscian theory of culture, in which it was no longer the case that practice was a dead site of politics (Althusser), but rather a constant negotiation of the symbolic systems of consent (hegemony, Gramsci). Following this theoretical shift, cultural studies moved to the United States, as I will discuss in the second half of this question. For now, I will leave it with the rise of hegemony as the central concept of cultural studies. Feminism and a different (hi)story In this section, I will argue that feminist thought in many ways prefigures the supposed dialectical progression of cultural studies history. I will trace its growth starting with the work of Juliett Mitchell, through the introduction of psychoanalysis, and finish with the method and methodological critiques of British feminists at the CCCS. Juliett Mitchell‘s 1966 ―Women, the longest revolution‖ exist in tension between feminist thought and socialism. Feminist, she suggest, have mistakenly posed patriarchy as an ahistorical and monolithic whole, which consequently makes its resistance seem futile. And, although New Left political analysis, with its focus on language, offers a way of historicizing patriarchy as a historical formation produced by capitalism, figures like Williams have failed to account for women at all – in part, a legacy of women‘s issues being ignored if not wholly invisible to theorists. In Politics and Letters, Williams goes so far to place the fault of crumbling democracy on women‘s fleeing from the home, this fleeing overdetermined by economic/labor needs and mass culture. Mitchell argues, in 1961, that the family, and patriarchy at large, must be theorized historically through the language used to describe women as tied to the home. Women‘s liberation, in turn, requires revolution within 4 interlocking structures: production (position in labor), reproduction (position in family), sexuality (position in objectification/pleasure), and domesticity (nature of double labor requirements). This fourth area extends Willims‘ sites of revolution. The canonical absence of Mitchell‘s engagement with Williams, published in New Left Review shortly after the books production, reveals an obvious elision within the mythology of cultural studies. 13 years before feminists ―interrupted‖ cultural studies from the ―outside,‖ Mitchell was engaged with the absence of gender in the work of Williams. With all the language about re-appropriating feminists like Hoggart and Williams as feminists‘ sites of theorizing, a bibliographical history reveals the ways in which what first needs to be done is a re-introduction of feminist to the development of cultural studies as a field. Arguably, in 3
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 Leavisite tradition, the culture that marked the greatness of society was that of men. And while Williams and Hoggart critiqued the culture taken to be the measure of society, they failed to engage with the subjects that were taken to be the producers and subjects of that society — a cautionary tale not much different than that alluded to by Said in 1983 in Travelling theory. In 1973, Shelia Rowbatham used this argument, and Williams‘ approach to language as a site for political resistance and domination, to describe a tension between women‘s consciousness and men‘s world at two levels. The first is at the level of experience. Oppression, she argued, was theorized abstractly be men (the world of theory), while it was a historical experience of women (consciousness). It was only by embracing this contradiction as a site for theorizing that the second level could be realized. Media, she argued, controlled by men, presented a fantastical image of women that was often in contradiction to her lived experiences. If women could take hold of the means of representation, she argued, this site of contradiction could be mobilized as a site for consciousness raising about capitalism. Revolution of the entire system, for both men and women, relied on a working-class women‘s revolution, as working class women experienced oppression that was both sexual and class-oriented. A revolution not overthrowing both of these was destined to reproduce capitalism and women‘s objectification. Rowbatham‘s critique spurred an engagement with advertisements crafted and aimed at women that took hold in feminist cultural studies. Juliet Mitchell would take advertisements and argue that it was not enough to theorize the material contradiction that these presented women, but the ways in which they functioned to establish a subjectivity that was purely a man‘s woman. Feminist criticism needed a theory of how sexed identities were formulated, and psychoanalysis, in order to be successful in providing such a theory, needed to be radically historicized as part of structures formulated in and by capitalism. This tension was further expressed in the 1978 Women Take Issue. Women take issue was a collaborative product of the women‘s group that formed in 1974 at the CCCS. Janice Winship, in the working papers vol. 2, recounts that the group served a dual function: first, as a site for radical theorizing of women‘s role in society, and second as a support group necessary to deal with the hyper-masculine theoretical agenda of the center. The volume, while pushing against men‘s theoretical agenda ignorant of issues of gender, was also constrained by this agenda: the work of the women‘s group was left following the concerns of the male owners of the theoretical means of production – subculture, commercial culture, simply asking the ―what about women?‖ to fill the gap of all the other fields. It is this way that feminism was, in the CCCS formation, subjugated knowledge. The question ―what about women‖ is prominent in the theoretical tension of the issue. Marxist feminists examine the problem of gender in Marxism. First, the ways in which the dualisms of production/consumption, public/private, were often reliant on the subjugation of women in the domestic sphere; the most interesting critique of capitalism, in which it was theorized that women were not ‗real‘ laborers in the sense that their labor did not produce surplus value, was that capitalism could render secondary and unimportant the labor of women required for the reproduction of society, yet alone capitalism. Second, there was a deep tension with psychoanalysis, which argued as Mitchell had for a materialist theory of unconscious subject formation. It was in this second area that Judith Williamson and Janice Winship developed their respective works. Williamson argued, analyzing how advertisements and semiotic and ideological systems worked to produce women as subjects. Ads, she argued, obscured real social issues regarding material relations, such as jobs and wages, in the construction of false differences between fashion and commodity culture. The fact that such differences could be constructed differentially and repetitively, however, meant that structures were the product of ideological projects, and not of signifying practices – language, in the 4
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 Lacanian sense, did not produce fully sexed subjects. Although the conclusion of Williamson‘s work is certainly useful, the basis that women are produced as subjects by ads is faulty – didn‘t womens‘ subjectivity exist before advertisements? Weren‘t historical forms of oppression historical? Winship takes this point up in particular, arguing that advertisements depend on an already-ness, the ideological pre-position of subjects. Women, in short, bring archetypes to ads, which they mobilize in the re-production of subjects. What is interesting about advertisements, Winship describes returning to Rowbatham, is the way in which they produce contradictory images of women — the sexy domestic housewife, for instance. The perfect woman, she argues, is a man‘s fantasy woman, and thus no woman, ever able to live in that contradictory space without being effected by the structure can exist. Women‘s oppression is the product of a connection between untenable structures, which create unpractice-able practice. Winship‘s argument, in many ways, prefigures Hall‘s theory of articulation, particularly in the ways that structures and practices are connected and disconnected through ideological projects in the service of amplifying and creating particular types of subjects — despite the article being written two years before Hall would write ―Race, articulation…‖ Articulation as a concept, as I will describe Hall describing, was the product of the confrontation between psychoanalytic structural Marxism and materialism, and the adoption of Gramscian politics – while it sat dormant and undiscovered in the Feminist work that Hall had failed to account for. Beyond the Marxist and Psychoanalytic tension, feminist cultural studies also fostered a space in which method and methodology were radically challenged. Where the mythology of cultural studies is that David Morely introduced ethnography as a way to address the assumptions made in Hall‘s encoding/decoding theory. However, feminists had long been concerned with the nature of real, historical experience in an ethnographic or autoethnographic framework. Angela McRobbie‘s work on ethnography points to this contradiction, and the ways in which even as ethnographers, the subculture schools miss the crucial elements of experience by not reflexively addressing the ways their lives are embedded in the stories they tell. Willis‘ recount of lads in school, and the way that they construct and reproduce an antiintellectual working class culture, fails to account for the graphic sexual violence that finds itself described through the book. Willis‘ own interest in class jades his analysis of the reproduction of subjects that must be accounted for as both gendered and classed according to McRobbie. Simultaneously, Hebdige fails to address the ways in which resistance through subculture is the privileged site of men, and the ways in which that resistance is formulated through the use of women‘s bodies as sexual objects, and women‘s labor as mothers. While the mass media focus on cultural studies was divided between women=ads, men=news and broadcast, Figures like Dorothy Hobson, Elizabeth Wilson, and Ian Ang pushed the field to consider women‘s soap operas and fashion as important places of the production of class subjects and hegemony. Wilson in many ways pioneered the way out of psychoanalysis, by arguing that the separation of material oppression and symbolic oppression figured by the Lacanian turn, which also saw the moment of language acquisition the moment of subjugation, figures like Mitchell made resistance an impossibility in the same way that the biological inferiority made it impossible. Black British Cultural Studies As feminist cultural studies arose out of a struggle with Williams‘ theory, so to did black British cultural studies. The field was haunted by a Leavisite tradition that dismissed the culture of peoples of color as irrelevant and trash — seen most clearly in the work of cultural critics like TS Eliott and George Orwell. Gilroy argues as much in calling out Williams as a participant in the postwar racism of Enoch Powell, and its importation into cultural studies. 5
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 Williams, writing engaged political essays at the time of the British Nationality Act of 1948, Williams never addressed the ways in which British-ness was defined as white laborers, all but denying the existence of Black Britons. Roxy Harris argues that Williams‘ ignorance around issues of race is even more surprising, given Hall‘s introduction to the cultural studies New Left as a Rhodes Scholar early in the ‗50‘s. Where feminist cultural studies had argued for a historicization of the types of gender oppression symptomatic of capitalism since the 1960‘s, black cultural studies began the fight against racial oppression as if normative politics had been ignored until the 1970‘s. Black British cultural studies interrogated the standard cultural studies objects – culture, class, the state – were implicated with notions of imperialism, racism, and ethnicity. Black-ness as used by cultural studies scholars did not reflect the critical reclamation of ―Black‖ that had been undertaken by African Americans in the United States, but was wholly imported as a theoretical term by scholars to describe the entirety of the return of the repressed colonial subjects in the post-war years — Asian, African, Indian. It is around this central tension that Black British cultural studies forms. Stuart Hall argues that the field should be understood in two phases: the first creating counternarratives about black British-ness for mainstream representations, and the second confronting the limitations of black-ness. This first category is heralded by Stuart Hall‘s engagement with race and colonialism in the 1977 ―Pluralism, race, and class in Caribbean society.‖ He argues that structures germane to capital are not simply colored by race, but work through race. More succinctly, race is a modality of class existence. This idea is made clearer in his later work ―Race, articulation, and societies structured in dominance.‖ Racism, he argues, must be analyzed in one specific place at one specific time, as the ways in which race and labor are articulated differs based on context. Hall attempts to provide a theoretical base that challenges the monolithic and ahistorical conceptualization of racism – familiar to Mitchell‘s work – and allows scholars to ask how racism has been articulated differently amidst changes in the mode of production. How, as Winship asked two years prior, are practice and structures combined in contradictory ways at moments of transformation in the political order? Preceding the formulation of articulation, the CCCS had begun asking issues about the production of Black Britons. Policing the crisis was an early analysis of the importation of the US concept of mugging to the UK, and the ways in which the US crisis over and around African American crime reverberated in the UK. The connection between Black and danger was the product of a complex system of connections between newspapers and courts constructed by white elites who saw the social welfare given to former colonial subjects as a compromise to their way of life. Through newspaper editorials, white elites constructed a language to describe the imposition of blacks on their way of life. Reporting about mugging as a crime, reporters began drawing on this language and pointing to it in a way that conferred neutrality upon it. And, adopted by judges because of its neutrality, the language was used to reproduce a structure in which black Britons were not the victims of structural inequities, and crime not a symptom of societal decline; but a system in which blacks were the perpetrators of crime, and crime the real threat to society. Policing the crisis was less a study of race and racism as it was a study of media representations. In The Empire Strikes Back, however, Hall, Gilroy, and other scholars engage with race and racism as the objects of study, arguing that the rise of the authoritarian state was both product and productive of the racism of the 1970‘s aimed at denying the existence of colonial subjects and colonial debts. And, although the volume is often cited as a concern for race and racism, it is also the site of some of the earliest theorizing of intersectionality in cultural studies. Here, I‘d like to focus on the work of Hazel Carby and Pratbile Parmar, two 6
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 women of color who in many ways prefigure the compromise of ―black identity‖ in 1987 by 5 years. Hazel Carby‘s frequently cited piece from the volume examines the ostracism that black students face in school, alluding to gender in many places but never focusing on the unique experience of gender and race. In ―White Woman Listen,‖ however, Carby borrows from the Combahee River Collective in the United States to argue that women face race and class as deeply entangled experiences, inseparable from one another. White feminists, in their critique of patriarchy as the product of men and capitalism, failed to address the ways in which white men and women both benefitted from imperial relations. Revolution had to consider, returning to Mitchell‘s intervention, the ways that women of color had long been responsible for the reproduction of the British household for which white women took credit. But, this history is principally that of Briton women of African descent, and although similar structures exist for colonized others, it is one unique to this community of women. Pratbile Parmar argued from a similar historical stance that feminism needed to examine the ‗right to work‘ and labor as a site of resistance, with an understanding the women of color have always been part of the labor force as differentially treated. Parmar‘s critique, however, is more aimed at the contradiction that exists in the devaluing of imperial labor than feminism itself. The idea of cheap Asian labor, she argues in a way that predates Lipsitz‘s similar argument 16 years later, is a product of a structural system that a) fails to protect immigrant labor, and value it as equal to the labor of ‗white‘ Britons, and b) fails to account for the ways in which the family demands created by structural inequality makes this ―cheaper labor‖ unreliable and in many ways not so much cheaper. Parmar argues that his is a historical product of the imperial labor of women of color from India, Asia, and Africa. As such, both Carby and Parmar allude to a distinction between women of color, and the collapse of blackness as a total identity. Hall‘s ―New Ethnicities,‖ on the tails of Salman Rushdie‘s Satanic Verse, reveals the ways in which Blackness is itself a problematic elision of different imperial experiences. It is, in part, as I alluded to in the introduction to this section, the problem with importing categories like Black-ness from the United States. But, as Paul Gilroy would argue, it is also the product of an ideological project that aimed to conflate the internal divisions and antagonisms of the Black community in order to better manage them. As Thatcher took office, however, the dire economic straits created a context in which Black was divided between those who were valuable labor, and those who were dangerous – a tension that because apparent in The Empire Strikes Back. This division and compromise gave rise to two areas of interrogation: local politics and diasporic studies. Paul Gilroy engaged in both. There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack examined the ways in which figures like Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams, in conceptualizing a black good vs. a white evil, failed to not only account for divisions within the ―black‖ community, but also removed any agency from imperial subjects – a structural reproduction of the political world. By considering communities individually, or enclaves, Gilroy argues that it becomes possible to see how the Black petit bourgeois benefitted from some instances of class-induced racism, and reproduced it as such at the same time as being denied the privilege from that system. And, although alluding to a crisis written about by Carby in 1982, he fails to cite her work on intersectionality – providing only one citation to her work on education and race. US Cultural Studies Stuart Hall would deliver his ―Cultural studies and its theoretical legacies‖ talk at the ICR at University of Illinois in 1990. As part of this conference, and the subsequent collection, 7
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 the questions and responses of attendees were recorded. Following ―Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies‖ bell hooks discusses the terror that arises in theoretical spaces hostile to the empirical language of oppression, and the ways that the conference, while claiming its existence as a political oppositional space, reproduced this structure of violence at the abstract level. Understanding the history of feminism in cultural studies, and the ways in which Black cultural studies – mainstreamed in the popular mythology of the CCCS – erased the work of women of color and feminists before them brings an interesting resonance to hooks‘ concern. In this section, I want to interrogate the importing of cultural studies to the United States, as it is told in the canonical representation of Lawrence Grossberg as the figure who introduces it into the US context. Cultural studies was a difficult fit into the academy in the United States, where departments founded on identity politics had already existed outside of a central ‗field,‘ and in a historical context where identity politics were being challenged as the cause for the collapse of the left. It was the CCCS focus on popular mass media that made it compatible with Communication Studies, as well as that much of the left had found intellectual homes in mass communication departments. It is important to note here, as Douglas Kellner does, that cultural studies does not equal popular culture studies; the former is marked by a form of emancipatory politics that the other is lacking in. In this final section of the question, I will describe the ways in which feminists entered communication-cultural studies (as described by Grossberg) with an emphasis on technology. I will describe how the area unfolded, through a conflict over the materiality of the body in terms of gender. And, concluding the section, I will discuss contemporary work on gender and race, and the ways it owes its consciousness to a blending with the American studies tradition. Elizabeth Long argues that the import of British cultural studies to the US allowed for womens‘ studies scholars to move beyond the film and psychoanalysis as sites for theorizing, to popular forms of mass media from a Marxist perspective. This tension is seen in Teresa de Lauretis‘ work, as she describes the two dead ends of film theory politically. Structuralism, she argues, is premised on an assumed neutrality of recipients of meaning that ignores the ways in which systems of signs are gendered and politically ordered; one simply need look at the way women serve as vehicles for meaning – not sites of it – in Levi-Strauss‘ kinship. On the other hand, psychoanalysis does indeed create gendered subjects, but does so from a psychobiological theory of symbology in which women are defined by the lack of a penis, and the constant striving to make up for it. It is only in a materialist highbred of the two that feminist theorizing of the media subject can continue – recalling Mitchell and Winship‘s similar call. These material conditions forced feminists to consider the ways in which the materiality of media itself – technology – structured gendered interactions. A debate was had over the materiality of the body between two figures: Donna Haraway and Emily Martin. Haraway‘s now famous cyborg manifesto argued for a concept of posthumanity, the always already unification of animal and machine. In this posthumanity, Haraway argues, all distinctions are denaturalized into a difference-in-sameness or sameness-in-difference. In this cyborg world, old theories of politics cannot hold because power is not oppressive but productive – we are used, just as the computer is used by the person who thinks themselves separate from it. This cyborg require us to move beyond the antagonisms central to Marxist theory to the irony and juxtaposition and contradiction of poststructural philosophy via Baudrillard and others. It further requires that we conceive of power as always productive and not repressive, always possible to be used fro the micro, but always to the same macro ends – biology as a technology in the Deleuze-ian sense. Emily Martin argued, contra the cyborg theory, that technology did not create new posthuman bodies, nor did it alleviate the material conditions around the body; instead, it amplified the ways in which the lines between bodies were drawn. Examining 8
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 medical technology, Martin argued that the feminine body was often constructed as passive and the male body as active – as in the portrayal of the egg and the sperm. Women‘s bodies, similarly, were things to be viewed with technologies, while men‘s bodies were sites of integration. It is this tension in medical technology that ―Shooting mother‖ deals with. Carol Stabile it is medical technology that enables the transformation of the mother‘s body from a benevolent spirit into an inhospitable wasteland. This shift is the product of visual representations of fetal autonomy, used in the service of New Right politics, and its disarticulation of woman and mother is historically unprecedented. The wider book project examines the tension between technophilia and technophobia produced between ecofeminist thought and work like that of Donna Haraway‘s. The denial of technology, and idea that women are passive users, is the product of not just a passive ideology of feminity, but also a denial regarding the way women in lower classes have always already been cyborgs. Simultaneously, thought, theorizings like that of Haraway‘s ignore the ways in which cyborg bodies are composed and valued in different ways according to class, race, and gender. By using a frictionless plane of power – popular amongst the brotherhood of poststructuralists – Haraway loses track of how cyborgs are organized for particular purposes, and only celebrated at the expense of ―other models.‖ This thread is further developed by Anne Balsamo. In an attempt to make reconcile Stabile‘s anti-Foucault-ian politics with Haraway‘s denaturalization of the body, she argues that the autonomy of mother and child is the product of surveillance. Being surveilled in a way similar to doctors, nurses, and the mother, the child becomes an effective site for the harvesting of power. In this process, Balsamo argues, women‘s bodies are configured differently than men‘s. And throughout her book, she examines the entanglement of technologies and conceptualizations of the body, describing the bodies of Body Builders, thought to be natural to the core, are deeply cyborg, and how moral crises regarding AIDS are deeply enwrapped in the technological development of culture. More contemporary work examines the ways in which race and gender interact in the production of bodies. Lisa Nakamura‘s work in Electronic Elsewheres continues with the theme of fetal photography to examine the ways in which women produce avatars of themselves as pregnant in online forums. Her more recent volume on the internet examines the ways in which, regardless of how digital we‘ve become, the colorline still persists as a division in society. Because technologies are never neutral, embedded in them are particular ways of being in the world, as Leo Marx had argued, the digital world will not become this utopian space. Technology, she argues, is a systematic way of doing things that operates mediating between users and techniques in the reproduction of specific forms of oppression. Gender and race become themselves part of the technology for control. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, for whom race functions itself as technology, further supports this. Technology here refers to the ways in which the racialized gendering of society is itself a technology that one uses, even as one is used by it. The contemporary concern for race and gender as intersecting is the product of, not so much cultural studies, but American studies. If one looks at cultural studies outside of the direct fields of critical race theory and feminism, it appears that the field has lost a political edge. Leading authors, like Jonathan Sterne, who teach politically motivated courses and politically engage in and against education politics, write books that are absent a concern for power beyond the Foucault-ian argument that it is productive and not repressive. In its early distinction by scholars like Lawrence Grossberg, cultural studies in communication was the radical field while its English and American studies versions were seen as reproductive of structural problems in capitalism. Now, however, American studies appears as a site of political 9
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 resistance while communicational cultural studies focuses on philosophical problems of history and technological change – not to say that one is ‗better‘ than the other, but that the original British intent to combine these tracks of thought has fallen by the wayside as politics and philosophy diverge in the field. Cultural Studies, briefly, entered the field of American Studies – at the time that it was referred to as American Civilization – through the work of the final strand of feminist cultural studies I described above regarding women‘s television and fashion. In particular, its translation to the American context can be seen at the nexus of Modeleski‘s and Radway‘s work on romance novels. Where Modeleski conceptualized romance novels as a medium for escape that was driven by an Oedipal mirroring of the sexual symbolic drive, Radway argued that they provided a more material escape from reality and a site of resistance against constant interpellation to men‘s worlds. Through this import, and the ways in which cultural studies spread through American studies via the political work of feminist research, cultural studies maintained its political edge. Work in intersectionality like Nakamura combines the feminist approach to technology in communicational cultural studies with the concern for politics and race that grew out of American studies. Scholars of race, namely Thomas Guglielmo and George Lipsitz, who built from the work of critical white scholar Richard Dyer in the UK, were foundational to this merger. Guglielmo examines the ways in which, despite their own rhetoric, Italians were considered white on arrival in the United States. Integral to this story is the way in which white-ness was a social category deployed discursively, while race was a biological and regional distinction made on the body. One could be white, but not be White, and such was the case for Italians, who benefitted from white privilege in their acceptance in ‗white only‘ spaces, but were still the victims of harsh forms of racism. What the history of Italian race and color reveals, according to Guglielmo, is that color has long been a shifting category deployed by whites in the material oppression of other races; the ascension to white-ness in the White imagination was often used as collateral to recruit other races in the struggle against African American communities. Lipsitz‘s work, done before Guglielmo‘s, on the possessive investment in whiteness reveals how whiteness has often been used in the material struggles against not ethnic or racial others, but against the working class. Writing about immigration law, Lipsitz describes how it is used to create a climate of terror amidst immigrant labor to deter them from organizing unions, and to create hostilities amongst working class individuals, to drive down wages. Immigration laws in this way have been designed to insure the unimpeded importation of low wage labor in order to drive down wages for all workers, while politicians blame immigrants for the economic catastrophes, and crashing wages, that arise from low wages. Finally, both of these works are indebted to Richard Dyer‘s white, which examines an intersectionality of white-ness and masculinity that falls out of both Guglielmo‘s and Lipsitz‘s work. Dyer argues that whiteness is not equal across genders, and that men are the true universal subjects of whiteness. This is because white men struggle with the internal forces of dark and light, according to Christian mythology; not all Christians are white, argues Dyer, but all whiteness is Christian. By nature of this struggle, however, men worry of their own sexual potency and project this on racialized others: being of the mind, yet struggling with the body, white men fear that they will not be able to reproduce in the same way that beings just ‗of the body‘ – as Africans are posed by religiously fueled colonial beliefs – means that white male subjectivity poses a challenge to the ultimate reproduction of whiteness, or the threat that nonwhite reproduces better. It is from this construction of the white subject that the possessive investment in white-ness, and its consequential alignment politics are brought into relief. Conclusion 10
Bryce Peake – Exam Day 3 Here we find ourselves back in the United Kingdom, where whiteness and the theorization of race, gender, and class progressed as mainstream to cultural studies. And, while cultural studies has struggled with the theoretical baggage it picked up from Leavis, the British paradigm has in many ways moved beyond it toward radical theories of technological utopians and economic dystopians. Articles recounting the exchange and disparate trajectories of British and US cultural studies, are yet to be written and mythologized. But crucial for these narratives will be an examination of the relationship and intellectual exchanges between the two, and the ways in which the internationalization of cultural studies affected both. Was all of cultural studies, as Bauman argued, simply the temper tantrum of educated colonial legislators losing the monopoly over cultural production to business, or is there a truly revolutionary element? What are we to make of the devolution to populism in the United States described by Todd Gitlin, and were our British counterparts constantly revising their projects and directions based on the depoliticized trajectory of US Cultural Studies? And, finally, is the globalization of cultural studies an imperialistic trend of knowledge domination, or does it highlight the ways in which cultural studies was always imperial, as the praxis pedagogues of the Birmingham school described by Steele benefitted from unacknowledged intellectual exchanges with colonial immigrants forced to the UK by the collapse of colonial economies (a return of the über repressed of sorts)? These are all questions, revolving around politics and the international, that cultural studies will have to confront with materialist answers – which themselves will be forced to confront race, gender, and class.
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