From Birmingham to Angkor Wat: Demarcations of Contemporary Cultural Studies

E. San Juan, Jr.

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

The radical inspiration of Cultural Studies has been betrayed, declares E. San Juan, Jr. In this timely essay, he argues that this betrayal springs from the postmodernist temperament, the “metaphysical turn,” of contemporary Cultural Studies. By exaggerating “the possibility of liberation over the established fact of domination,” Cultural Studies has abandoned fundamental categories such as class and nation in favor of race and gender, among others. The frivolous has overcome the political: commercial icons and rituals are now fantasized to topple the very system that makes their condition possible. “In what sense can this still inchoate and contested terrain called ‘cultural studies,’ distinguished for the most part by formalist analysis of texts and discourses, be an agent for emancipation, let alone revolutionary social transformation, of the plight of oppressed peoples around the world?” In this essay that politicizes as rigorously as it historicizes, San Juan critiques the critics and criticisms of contemporary Cultural Studies whose avocations swing back and forth between the ludic and the ludicrous. With this necessary polemic, San Juan strives to give back to Cultural Studies, as an heir to a radical tradition, its truly radical aspiration.

Keywords

anthropology, contemporary cultural studies, history of cultural studies, postmodernism, travel and tourism

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)