Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

Editorial

Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

Editorial

Article excerpt

'Slight Anthropologies' has been plucked from Gabrielle Fletcher's challenging and absorbing example of new writing to become the connective tag for this issue. In many surprising ways the essays in this collection evoke an idea of the human as a fragile category. 'Slight' anthropology is here then a study of a particular kind of'mankind' where both the practice and the object are in different ways porous events. As this title touches upon the diverse essays and reviews collected within, the initially deprecating mode (slight) can be seen to operate as a kind of contagion, where one vulnerable project spreads through another and another.

To make the strange familiar and the familiar strange once summed up the cultural translation that underscored the expansive project of early anthropology. Now the ground and textual structures which lie between familiar and strange are simultaneously multiplying and disappearing-they cannot be relied upon to remain only translatively connected. Martin Thomas returns films of Indigenous ceremonies (an item familiar to a museum archive) and sees the images re-ordered into an old/new cultural setting that makes them at home but also strange. For Thomas it is one of the most moving moments he has experienced-himself both a stranger to, but a literal carrier of, culture.

John Frow's essay has a more haunted task: how to write, how to catch the structure of feeling that is always a structure of politics as a familiar world becomes strange? Is Australia now a strange world with which we are familiarising ourselves or a familiar one in which we catch fleeting glimpses of our strange selves? Or is this the wrong way to think (one shift to another) when the changes that occur through careful bureaucracies and forced silences are more cellular and horizontal than an obvious change of regime? The familiar remnant might now only appear on a surface-there being no core of values buried within a system. For Lisa McDonald to look at the intracellular amid the questions of terror and art is now a practice that 'involves a disciplinary sway across themes of t/error and conviction, a momentary and perilous fluency between alteration and resolve'. McDonald ponders: 'After the buildings and bodies fell, I wondered where all the ash went and how long it stayed wherever that was: the interstices of the city, the gutters, the streets, the drains'. …

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