Cultural Forms in Global Circulation


In a world that is transnationally connected through migration, markets, and media, our intellectual maps, cultural policies, and academic departmentalization still rely heavily on categories and labels of identification—defined not in terms of interdependence, but territorial fixation, national origin, and “authentic” heritage. Recent critiques suggest that our attempts to think beyond national borders and fixed social domains have been shaped by naïve notions of global and local, of flow and circulation, and of how cultural forms are produced, owned, and valued. When sites of production, translation, and reception are dispersed world wide, each shaped by global/local assemblages of language, interest, and capital, how do we adequately document the complex ways that objects circulate between them?

Our discussions considered models of “circulation” and related concepts as they stand at the forefront of our respective fields. Rather than simply juxtaposing or defending them, however, we used the cross-disciplinary and theoretically-grounded nature of our discussions to explore the limitations of existing approaches. A common formulation is that the locus of capital and culture has shifted from production to circulation; this new emphasis on circulation in many disciplines, corporations, and states has, however, promoted fascinating reifications, such that "circulation" and "communicative technologies" themselves seem to have agency and to be responsible for societal and cultural transformations. We found, to our amazement, that they shared a number of problematic, undisclosed presuppositions in common.  Transcending established boundary-work practices that promote the illusion of autonomy between disciplines and between “the academy” and “the real world” with intimate understandings of unequal exchanges of knowledge between social domains, thus enabled us to begin to generate new ways of enabling scholars to handle the complexities of the twenty-first century.
Thursday, April 3, 5-7 p.m.
223 Moses Hall
"The Role of the Archive in the Circulation of Folklore"
Pertti Anttonen
Repondents: Deniz Göktürk and Mario Wimmer

Friday, April 11, 4-6 p.m.
282 Dwinelle Hall
"Compasso. Poetic Orientation in Modernity's 'Grand Sea of Being'"
Burkhardt Wolf
Respondent: Chenxi Tang
For centuries, perhaps since the emergence of poetry itself, Western culture has engaged in the project of “writing the sea,” or hydrography, and within this project the compass has played a fundamental role. This lecture presents a brief introduction into the cultural history of the compass and shows how, ever since its first use, the compass has guided specific techniques of writing and notation and has been both poetically and epistemically productive. It argues this claim through a historical argument reaching from Dante’s reception of the Odyssey and Ripa’s Iconologia to Bacon, who considered the compass one of his age’s emblems, and to the technological thinking of Heisenberg and Heidegger.