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L.M. FINDLA Y Retailing Petits Recits or Retooling for Revolution? Cultural Studies and the Knowledge Industries in Canada In this paper I aUelnpt to clarify and strengthen connections between cultural studies and left politics in the contelnporary Canadian context, employing first an extended scare tactic and then re-narrativizing a few of the scenes of reason. Rather than engaging continuously and directly with Canadian practice, I revisit the Nazification of Germany, following the lead of those relnarkable advocates of a working-class public sphere, Negt and Kluge (1994), whose Jpoint of departure [for contemporary cultural studies and production] remains the public sphere of 1933 that could be'conquered by National Socialism' (Negt, qtd Polan, 38). I rely mainly on historical ilnplication followed by sUlnmary exhortation, counting on others to develop or discard or critically translate my views and strategically Eurocentric emphasis as part of their own efforts to stimulate cultural studies inside and outside the Canadian academy. As they do so, I hope that these others will continue to attend to precedents like the Birminghaln School's work in England, bearing in tnind Stuart Hall's caution about the portability of cultural studies across the Atlantic (Hall, 285) and the consequences of the Thatcherite assault on institutions and disciplines insufficiently aligned with competitiveness and personal independence; and that these others will continue to look south of 'the' border too, but even lnore warily, to a COlll1try without much of a political left but with a bOOlning culture of criminality and a thriving crime control industry which at least one criminologist sees as threatening a reprise of the Holocaust (Christie, 79ff, 163ff), a country with en,trenched habits of intin1idating or co-opting other sovereign states, yet a country which, as Sara Suleri acerbically relnarks in Profession 93, abounds in and acts upon 'standard cliches about cultural studies, which would have [American scholars] looking only at weather, advertiS€lnents, and pincushions when [they] are not too busy buying extravagant costumes to wear at the MLA convention' (17). Academic dissent can only too readily be reduced to mendicancy or transfonn itself into decor. Meanwhile, complicity remains a taint frOlll which none of us is free. Let us first reconsider what is at stake in cultural production and reception , aided by the extreme but far from irrelevant instance of emergent UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 64, NUMBER 4, FALL 1995 494 L.M. FINDLAY fascism in Hanns Johst's Gernlan drama, Schlageter. I will then situate culture in relation to some of the oppositional yet functionary discourses of current capitalism, especially postmodern theories of petits nIcits (Lyotard, 102, etc) and of the 'specific intellectual' (Foucault, and other advocates of micropolitics). To such theories I will oppose a theory of elTIancipatory social narrative positioned (after Marx and Ricoeur [see Findlay]) between the lwninous instance and the grand design, and grounded in cultural studies as the most promising (though not an uncritically affinnative or naively utopian) site for institutional change and a renewed cultural politics. Cultural studies - permeable, institutionally marginal, protean - is, by virtue of being so constituted, arguably the lTIOst likely source of COlTIlllunitarian and national imaginaries capable of mediating difference while resisting the most oppressively normalizing practices of Canadian Confederation. I will conclude with SOlTIe remarks about the Canadian academy (in many of its traditional disciplines) qua retail trade in intellectual comlnodities, a trade authorized increasingly by the related rhetorics of specialization, excellence, andglobalizatioll but sorely in need of retooling, re-industrialization, and selective re-nationalization in order to reverse and lnore aptly 'revolutionize' the allegedly post-industrial appropriation of the academy by new technologies controlled by a few transnational corporations - an appropriation that has, for instance, made it easier for Canadian humanists and social scientists to acquire through federal funding agencies additional word processors and printers than to secure release tinle that would expedite research a~d writing. 'When I hear the word UCulture" I reach for l11y revolver.' A year ago I had a vague sense of whose words these are and the view of culture they articulate, but I wanted to know more and to know it more securely. After considerable digging and reflection, doubts and alnbiguities still surround...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 493-505
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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