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We are witnessing in the last decade of the twentieth century more frequent demands by racial and ethnic groups for recognition of their distinctive histories and traditions as well as opportunities to develop and maintain the institutional infrastructure necessary to preserve them. Where it once seemed that the ideal of American citizenship was found in the promise of integration and in the hope that none of us would be singled out for, let alone judged by, our race or ethnicity, today integration, often taken to mean a denial of identity and history for subordinated racial, gender, sexual or ethnic groups, is often rejected, and new terms of inclusion are sought. The essays in Cultural Pluralism, Identity Politics, and the Law ask us to examine carefully the relation of cultural struggle and material transformation and law's role in both. Written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and theoretical inclinations, the essays challenge orthodox understandings of the nature of identity politics and contemporary debates about separatism and assimilation. They ask us to think seriously about the ways law has been, and is, implicated in these debates. The essays address questions such as the challenges posed for notions of legal justice and procedural fairness by cultural pluralism and identity politics, the role played by law in structuring the terms on which recognition, accommodation, and inclusion are accorded to groups in the United States, and how much of accepted notions of law are defined by an ideal of integration and assimilation. The contributors are Elizabeth Clark, Lauren Berlant, Dorothy Roberts, Georg Lipsitz, and Kenneth Karst.
Vol. 8 (2012) through current issue
“Cultural Politics is a welcome and innovative addition. In an academic universe already well populated with journals, it is carving out its own unique place—broad and a bit quirky. It likes to leap between the theoretical and the concrete, so that it is never boring and often filled with illuminating glimpses into the intellectual and cultural worlds.” Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Moving beyond the boundaries of race, gender, and class, Cultural Politics examines the political ramifications of global cultural productions across artistic and academic disciplines. The journal explores precisely what is cultural about politics and what is political about culture by bringing together text and visual art that offer diverse modes of engagement with theory, cultural production, and politics.
Genealogies of Modernity
What is the body? How was it culturally constructed, conceived, and cultivated before and after the advent of rationalism and modern science? This interdisciplinary study elaborates a cultural genealogy of the body and its legacies to modernity by tracing its crucial redefinition from a live anatomical entity to disembodied, mechanical and virtual analogs. The study ranges from Baroque, pre-Cartesian interpretations of body and embodiment, to the Cartesian elaboration of ontological difference and mind-body dualism, and it concludes with the parodic and violent aftermath of this legacy to the French Enlightenment. It engages work by philosophical authors such as Montaigne, Descartes and La Mettrie, as well as literary works by d'Urf+, Corneille and the Marquis de Sade. The examination of sexuality and the emergence of sexual difference as a dominant mode of embodiment are central to the book's overall design. The work is informed by philosophical accounts of the body (Nietzsche, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty), by feminist theory (Butler, Irigaray, Bordo), as well as by literary and cultural historians (Scarry, Stewart, Bynum, etc.) and historians of science (Canguilhem, Pagel, and Temkin), among others. It will appeal to scholars of literature, philosophy, French studies, critical theory, feminist theory, cultural historians and historians of science and technology. Dalia Judovitz is Professor of French, Emory University. She is also author of Unpacking Duchamp: Art in Transit and Subjectivity and Representation in Decartes: The Origins of Modernity.
The Museum Movement in America, 1740-1870
This volume argues that a small, loosely connected group of men constituted an informal museum movement in America from about 1740 to 1870.
As they formed their pioneer museums, these men were guided not so much by European examples, but rather by the imperatives of the American democratic culture, including the Enlightenment, the simultaneous decline of the respectability and rise of the middle classes, the Age of Egalitarianism, and the advent of professionalism in the sciences. Thus the pre-1870 American museum was neither the frivolous sideshow some critics have imagined, nor the enclave for elitists that others have charged. Instead, the proprietors displayed serious motives and egalitarian aspirations.
The conflicting demands for popular education on the one hand and professionalism on the other were a continuing source of tension in American museums after about 1835, but by 1870 the two claims had synthesized into a rough parity. This synthesis, the "American Compromise," has remained the basic model of museums in America down to the present. Thus, by 1870, the form of the modern American museum as an institution which simultaneously provides popular education and promotes scholarly research was completely developed.
Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas
Daisy Bates (1914-1999) is renowned as the mentor of the Little Rock Nine, the first African Americans to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. For guiding the Nine through one of the most tumultuous civil rights crises of the 1950s, she was selected as Woman of the Year in Education by the Associated Press in 1957 and was the only woman invited to speak at the Lincoln Memorial ceremony in the March on Washington in 1963. But her importance as a historical figure has been overlooked by scholars of the civil rights movement. Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas chronicles her life and political advocacy before, during, and well after the Central High School crisis. An orphan from the Arkansas mill town of Huttig, she eventually rose to the zenith of civil rights action. In 1952, she was elected president of the NAACP in Arkansas and traveled the country speaking on political issues. During the 1960s, she worked as a field organizer for presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to get out the black vote. Even after a series of strokes, she continued to orchestrate self-help and economic initiatives in Arkansas. Using interviews, archival records, contemporary news-paper accounts, and other materials, author Grif Stockley reconstructs Bates's life and career, revealing her to be a complex, contrary leader of the civil rights movement. Ultimately, Daisy Bates paints a vivid portrait of an ardent, overlooked advocate of social justice. Grif Stockley is a staff attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas. He is the author of several books, including Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 1919, Blind Judgment, Probable Cause, and Expert Testimony. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon
The tribute, "el Dia de los Muertos," has become popular since the 1970s when Latino activists and artists in America began expanding "Day of the Dead" north of the border with public, and often artistic, expressions. Regina M. Marchi combines ethnography, historical research, oral history, and cultural analysis to explore the transformations that occur when the tradition is embraced by the mainstream. Day of the Dead in the USA provides insight into the power of ritual to create community, transmit oppositional messages, and advance educational, political, and economic goals.
The Remake in Theory and Practice
Addresses the important role of remakes in film culture, from early cinema to contemporary Hollywood. While the popular press has criticized movie remakes as signs of Hollywood’s collective lack of imagination, the essays in Dead Ringers reveal the centrality and staying power of remakes as a formative genre in filmmaking. The contributors show that the practice of remaking films dates back to the origins of cinema and the evolution of film markets. In fact, remakes were never so prevalent as during the Classic Hollywood period, when filmmaking had achieved its greatest degree of industrialization, and they continue to play a crucial role in the development of film genres generally. Offering a variety of historical, commercial, theoretical, and cultural perspectives on the remake, Dead Ringers is a valuable resource for students of film history and theory, as well as those interested in the cultural politics of the late twentieth century.
By dramatizing the intersection of self-interested capitalism and foundational violence in a mining camp in 1870s South Dakota, the HBO series Deadwood reinvented the television Western. In this volume, Ina Rae Hark examines the groundbreaking series from a variety of angles: its relationship to past iterations of the genre on the small screen; its production context, both within the HBO paradigm and as part of the oeuvre of its creator and showrunner David Milch; and its thematics. Hark’s comprehensive analysis also takes into account the series’ trademark use of language: both its unrelenting and ferocious obscenity and the brilliant complexity of its dialogue. Hark argues that Deadwood dissolves several traditional binaries of the Western genre. She demonstrates that while the show appears to pit individuality, savagery, lawlessness, social regulation, and civilization against each other, its narrative shows that apparent opposites are often analogues, and these forces can morph into allies very quickly. Indeed, perhaps the show’s biggest paradox and most profound revelation is that self-interest and communitarianism cannot survive without each other. Hark closely analyzes Al Swearengen (as played by Ian McShane), the character who most embodies this paradox. A brutal cutthroat and purveyor of any vice that can turn him a profit, Swearengen nevertheless becomes the figure who forges connections among the camp’s disparate individuals and shepherds their growth into a community. Deadwood is quintessentially, if unflatteringly, American in what it reveals about the dark underpinnings of national success rooted not in some renewed Eden but in a town that is, in the apt words of one of its promotional taglines, “a hell of a place to make your fortune.” Fans of the show and scholars of television history will enjoy Hark’s analysis of Deadwood.
Confessions of an Inside Man
In airports and train stations it is not unusual for waiting passengers to be approached by a person who will hand out a brochure or trinket, then indicate that he or she is deaf and ask for payment, anything they can afford. In many instances, the travelers feel pity for the poor unfortunate and dole out a dollar or two, yet most are utterly unaware that these pitiful beggars earn hundred of dollars this way in a matter of a few hours. Dennis Buck knows this unique form of panhandling intimately because, despite holding a degree in computer science and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), he was a deaf peddler for 11 years. In Deaf Peddler: Confessions of an Inside Man, Buck unveils all of the ins and outs of exploiting his “disabilities” to earn easy money. Buck details the day-to-day life of a deaf peddler, including where to go to make the most money in the least time (airports with their constant transient clientele, malls on weekends, and fast food restaurants), how to live on the cheap (wait for people checking out to leave their motel rooms, then sneak in to use the shower), and how to live well when business is good. He also explains how he organized his rounds using a spreadsheet program. Deaf Peddler also provides a historical perspective on deaf peddling as a way for under-educated deaf people to make a living when jobs were hard to find, wages were low, and Social Security did not exist. The “no good” life served as the rationale to many deaf people for peddling, but many more in the Deaf community deplored their actions, and the National Association of the Deaf campaigned to discourage this behavior that reinforced deaf stereotypes. Buck abandoned peddling himself for this reason, but he points out that deaf peddling survives today, frequently in the highly exploitative form of rings of deaf workers completely controlled by oppressive deaf and hearing overseers. Deaf Peddler presents in engaging fashion a little-known cultural phenomenon that offers a revealing turn on the general issue of panhandling in our society today.
How is it that comic books—the once reviled form of lowbrow popular culture—are now the rage for Hollywood blockbusters, the basis for bestselling video games, and the inspiration for literary graphic novels? In Demanding Respect, Paul Lopes immerses himself in the discourse and practices of this art and subculture to provide a social history of the American comic book over the last 75 years.
Lopes analyzes the cultural production, reception, and consumption of American comic books throughout American history. He charts the rise of superheroes, the proliferation of serials, and the emergence of graphic novels. Demanding Respect explores how comic books born in the 1930s were perceived as a “menace” in the 1950s, only to later become collectors’ items and eventually “hip” fiction in the 1980s through today.
Using a theoretical framework to examine the construction of comic book culture—the artists, publishers, readers and fans—Lopes explains how and why comic books have captured the public’s imagination and gained a fanatic cult following.