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Eleventh Annual Cultural Studies Conference: "Cultural Studies and Activism"

Friday, February 9 and Saturday, February 10, 2007
University Club’s Presidents Room, Indiana Memorial Union


"We need different ideas because we need different relationships.”
—Raymond Williams

As we step into the inaugural years of the twenty-first century,  activism appears to exist both everywhere and nowhere.  On the one hand, activism has proliferated as the range of global and local  practices has diversified across space and time, topical agendas, and by more voices than previously recognized within and outside various forms of institutional power. On the other hand, the fatalistic and apathetic tones of public discourse, media representations, and cultural attitudes about activism—particularly in the United States—overshadow the significant contributions of grassroots mobilization in response to shifts in structural power at the local, national, and international levels. Yet, this ongoing tension between the evidence of activism's proliferation and pronouncements of its ineffectualness has not muted the stakes of activism itself. Natural disasters, wars, political repression, economic disparity, identity-based oppression, environmental injustice, and a multitude of other devastating and often deadly conditions of everyday life continue to provoke individuals and collectives to act in order to survive and, ideally, to bring about a more just world.

Since its inception in the fifties, Cultural Studies has sought to articulate a passion for social justice and academic knowledge production. The topic of this year’s conference, “Cultural Studies and Activism,” seeks to foster a robust and critical conversation about the symbolic, material, and affective stakes of activism by refocusing attention on Cultural Studies' vigorous and vital commitment to initiating and facilitating social change. Through presentations that address activism in the contexts of corporate and state power and environmental abuse, we hope to encourage debate on different modalities of activism, the contingent vocabulary of activism (e.g., “resistance,” “transgression,” or “dissent”?) and more broadly, on the necessity of challenging or reassessing what Stuart  Hall calls “the politics of intellectual work." Panelists will consider the ways in which an activist culture of critique remains marginalized, celebrated, and/or useful today, and reflect on the promises and perils of scholarship on activism.

Conference Schedule

Friday, February 9, 4:00-5:30pm

  • Introductory Remarks, Purnima Bose
  • Keynote Address: Soyini Madison, UNC


Ted Striphas, Communications and Culture

Judi Nitsch, English

Deepa Kumar, NYU Moderator: Pat Brantlinger, English

12:00pm-12:45pm Buffet Lunch


Phaedra Pezzullo, CMCL.

Scott O’Bryan, History and EACL, “Plotting the Future: Japan, the Club of Rom and the Idea of Limits in the Late Twentieth Century.”

Angana Chatterji Moderator: Rick Wilk, Anthropology 


Lee Moscowitz, Journalism

Laura Lyons, U. of Hawaii

Nick Cullather, “The Jane Fondazation of Anti-War Activism: Vietnam and After.” Moderator: TBA