Resistance and neoliberal cultural studies

It is increasingly fashionable for a certain brand of Cultural Studies to declare, "resistance is irrelevant."

This brand of cultural studies, I term as "neoliberal Cultural Studies," re-fashions cultural studies as superficial definition of cultural artefacts in the service of the global free market. Inherent here is the agenda of knowledge production to serve the neoliberal turn.

The surface-level description of cosmopolitanism, hybridity, and cultural heritages in global markets is re-worked into the ideology of the free market, depicting the collaborative possibilities that are opened up through the expansion of the free market. Culture, and the knowledge about culture, in this depiction is worked into the global logics of the free market. Depictions of contexts and objects immersed in these contexts uncritically reproduce market-driven logics describing global flows.

Depictions of consumption practices for instance offer celebratory narratives of the opportunities opened up by the market. Celebratory depictions of churches as sites for market expansion in culturalist terms are peddled as Cultural Studies. Branding campaigns for Asian authoritarian regimes in terms of cultural heritage promotion are depicted in the language of cultural studies.

This celebratory promotion of the market logic goes hand-in-hand with the declaration that resistance is dead. Pronouncements about the futility of resistance strategies are re-invented as the new radical position under "neoliberal Cultural Studies."

The sustained attack on resistance in cultural studies is aligned with the overarching agenda of this grant-oriented, pragmatic turn in cultural studies to appeal to the market and thus establish its hegemony in the contemporary environment of the neoliberal expansion of the University. To write the death of resistance is to make oneself appealing to funders, to increasingly market-serving authoritarian states, and to private foundations.

To write the death of resistance is to turn culture and its production as an uncritical collaborative tools that serve the market.

Culture, defined in the economic logics of the market, can then be reproduced in branding campaigns, heritage marketing, city promotion, promotion of the arts, as an instrument that enables the global diffusion of the free market logic.

in sum, the removal of resistance from cultural studies enables its hegemonic turn, gutted from the radical possibilities imagined through cultural sites of creation. 


Grace said…
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