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ROSS LECKIE The Contested Terrains of Politics and Pleasure in Cultural Studies At the recent 'Cultural Studies in Canada Conference' at the University of Toronto in the spring of 1994, two phenomena emerged that marked the territory of cultural studies in a distinctive and telling fashion. The first was the proliferation of cultural studies genealogies, attelnpts to create originary histories that, while admittedly not intended to be proprietary, were clearly intended to manage, or one might even say stage-lnanage, the production of the space that cultural studies occupies. And if this tendency contains an implicit patrolling of the borders of cultural studies, then the second phenomenon, the inscription of spaces at the boundaries of cultural studies from which one might position oneself as simultaneously outside of cultural studies and in the vanguard of cultural studies' theoretical developments,"suggested an unease and even an open defiance of the potential hegemony of cultural studies, as a single cultural entity with its own heritage, over marginalized activist groups. The genealogies tended to corne from tenured professors who seemed concerned with delineating their positions in relation to the institutional spaces that cultural studies might invade. Those positioned at the margins of cultural studies tended to be sessionals and students engaged in identity politics and concerned witl~ how gay and lesbian, feminist, minority, or postcolonial activism might be promoted 0r resisted by an institutionalized cultural studies umbrella. The historical paths traced by the genealogies, habitually passing through Binningham, often had as their intent a liberal political negotiation , fearing, on the one hand, that a translation frOln the British political context into that of North American academic professionalism would result in what Stuart Hall calls a 'slack form of pluralism' (292), while being nervous, on the other hand, about the Marxist political activism articulated in Hall's championing of Gramsci's 'organic intellectual' (281). The genealogies have their own fonn of currency, and identify their academic positioning by rehearsing sets of names and " historical locations. Alternatively, those positioning themselves at the edges of cultural studies frequently glossed over a convenient contradiction between the oppositional role of critiquing a homogeneous and institutionally conservative cultural studies and the vanguard role of theorizing the politics of a heterogeneous and activist cultural studies. TIus positioning was UNlVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 64, NUMBER 4, FALL 1995 486 ROSS LECKIE undoubtedly motivated by a political tactic, that of branding cultural studies a moribund liberal exercise unless it ll1akes space for the politics of the identity group. And perhaps this tactic in turn stems from Etienne Balibar's insight into the way a demand for political rights involves going to the very limits of delnocracy, for the idea of 'equaliberty,' as he calls it, the need for a politics of both freedom and equality, necessarily implies moving from 'limitative, mutually exclusive rights to expansive, mutually multiplying powers' (212). The situated practice of these two versions of cultural studies I think has much to do with an interchange analogous to de Certeau's notions of strategy and ~actics (34-9). The cultural studies strategists are already exalnining lneans by which cultural studies Inight be disciplined, OT, at the very least, systematized into a relatively stable set of relations with the traditional academic disciplines, both intellectually and institutionally, even as they disclaim such a role. The result is often talk of recoi1figurations , multiplicities, diversities, unsettling borderlines, and so on, that does not ask who inhabits these fault-lines or what their political interests are. This version of cultural studies, to borrow de Certeau's words, 'postulates a place that can be delimited as its and serve as the base from which relations with an exteriority cOlnposed of targets or threats (customers or competitors, enemies, the country surrounding the city, objectives and objects of research, etc.) can be Inanaged' (36). Against these strategies, or perhaps 'disinterested' in these strategies, are those who actually live along the borderlines as they are created by the politics of the larger social context. Diversities and unsettled borders, after all, are not the creation of the intellectual imagination drawing and redrawing ideational indetenninacies in its own image. If the borders are evershifting , it is because people are...


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