Sunday, June 14, 2009

Accessible Scholarship: Popular vs. Academic Culture

The Consortium on Human Rights and Expressive Culture will hold its next online discussion with the theme: "Accessible Scholarship: Popular vs. Academic Culture" from June 23rd to June 30th on its Google Groups discussion page. Participants will discuss the documents from the reading list below, and should prepare 3-5 in depth questions to raise during the discussion that relate to her/his work. Contributors are welcome to recommend supplements to the reading list until June 15th. In addition to posting one's own questions, each participant should expect to respond to at least one other contributer's post. Prior to the discussion, a list of questions and issues to think about will be circulated to all contributors. Please confirm your participation in this online discussion in order to receive further instructions and uploaded documents.

Reading List for Discussion 2

June 23rd to June 30th, 2009

1)*Taylor, Mark C. 2009.
“End the University As We Know It” The New York Times. April 26th, 2009.

Focus especially on his 1st and 4th steps in creating a more “agile, adaptive, and imaginative” academia. Taylor’s suggested steps have the potential to create a bridge between public and academic knowledge.

2) Benedict, Ruth. 1946.
The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture.

3) Mead, Margaret. 1935.
Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies.

These are to be skimmed. Many of Mead’s writings were designed for popular consumption (The Nation, The New York Times, Redbook). As a result, much of American popular knowledge of culture and anthropology lives in the tradition of Mead’s culture and personality studies. On the other hand, Benedict’s national character studies, such as The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, have informed the ways that both popular knowledge and national intelligence operate with respect to culture. We are looking at both The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and Sex and Temperament in order to discuss how to create accessible scholarship while avoiding the manipulation or exploitation of one’s research for a political, economic, or militaristic campaign.

4)*Ngugi wa Thiongo. 1982.
Devil on the Cross. London: Heinemann Press.

To be skimmed alongside

5)*Ngugi wa Thiongo. 1986.
“The Language of African Literature” in Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Portsmouth: Heinemann Press pp. 4-33.

Ngugi brings into sharp relief issues of language and accessibility (of literature) in the postcolonial African context. Whether it is the politics of writing in Kikuyu vs. Swahili vs. English, or simply scholarly language vs. common language, the responsibility of the writer is made apparent.

6)*Thomas, Nicholas. 1991.
“Against Ethnography” Cultural Anthropology (6) 3: 306-322

Thomas argues that anthropology must find a different form of writing, and should not rely on ethnographies, which have a tendency to exoticism and universalism. In creating a different form of representation loosened from the constraints of ethnographic methods, anthropologists can potentially create a more accessible form of scholarship, one which does not overlook the multiple ways of understanding concepts.

7) Rosling, Hans. 2006.
Hans Rosling Shows The Best Stats You've Ever Seen Also,

Rosling calls for more accessible knowledge, particularly of statistics and technology, in his presentation on health and development.

8)*Johnston, Joseé. 2008.
“Struggles for the Up and Coming: Challenges Facing New Food Scholars and Food Scholarship” Food, Culture & Society 11 (3): 269-274.

Johnston discusses the necessity of interdisciplinary research in food studies, but this argument may also be applied to studies of expressive culture in a broader sense, and could perhaps create greater accessibility in the scholarship of expressive culture.

9)*Gingras, Jacqui and Lara Tiro. 2008.
“Mandarin Peelings and Lola’s Tinola: Exploring Subjectivity and Belonging Through Cultural Food Narratives” Food, Culture & Society 11 (3): 375-399.

Raises the possibility of an alternative form of anthropological representation, i.e. cultural narratives, rather than traditional scholarly writings or ethnographies. This should be read alongside Thomas’s “Against Ethnography.”

* Reading will be forwarded to participants

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