Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change

Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change

Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change

Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change

Synopsis

There are now new experiences of space and time; new tensions between globalism and regionalism, socialism and consumerism, reality and spectacle; new instabilities of value, meaning and identity - a dialectic between past and future. How are we to understand these? Mapping the Futures is the first of a series which brings together cultural theorists from different disciplines to assess the implications of economic, political and social change for intellectual inquiry and cultural practice.

Excerpt

This book grew out of a conference which grew out of a journal-BLOCK-that first appeared in 1979. BLOCK was edited by a group of art historians with extra-curricular interests. It was intended not only to 'address the problems of the social, economic and ideological dimensions of the arts in societies past and present', but to contribute to an interdisciplinary study of representation in general, beyond the limits of art history as that was conventionally understood. In this, it was one more sign of the times; one of a number of similiar initiatives aiming to introduce into the field of visual culture a more rigorously materialist and political analysis. Ten years and fifteen issues later, it seemed to us that we had helped to achieve a useful merging and enriching of politics, cultural theory and aesthetics; but also that that original moment had, for various reasons, passed.

BLOCK tried to be timely as well as theoretical; to address popular as well as high culture; to apply the perceptions developed in some disciplines to analyses in others. This could produce problems for writers, editors and readers alike. Feelings ran high; it was hard to be rigorous, accessible and relevant in the 1980s without being occasionally opaque, dogmatic or beside the point. We like to think we managed it on the whole. We were much xeroxed (the ultimate accolade). Others will judge.

BLOCK, of course, has a material history of its own. The core group of editors has stayed almost unchanged since 1979. It is not a house journal, but all of us teach in the School of Art History and Related Studies at Middlesex University, and have benefited from the support of immediate colleagues as well as of a more dispersed circle of regular contributors and friends. All these people-and hence BLOCK itself-have suffered from cuts in resources in higher education. There are fewer writers, harder pressed, who, in consequence, publish less. The editors teach across a variety of courses in art history, design history, cultural studies and film: the contents and methodologies of which have grown out of work on BLOCK and found expression in it. On these courses, too, there are rapidly increasing student numbers and diminishing resources.

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