State and Culture
Cultural politics and policies have defined the modern national state since the late 18th century—and their relevance in the post-national era is now, paradoxically perhaps, only growing. The course offers a critical and historical overview of politics and policies of culture through the modern era, until the radical transformations of the most recent period. How and when did culture become an object of public policies and political concern? How and when did matter of knowledge become matter for identification? Is this politicization best explained as a product of imperialism, nationalism, commodification, class relations, race relations, inter-state relations, bureaucratic growth, rationalization, field dynamics, political ritual, or organizational differentiation? What is the difference between fascist, socialist, and liberal cultural policies, if there is any at all? How does cultural governance work in the post-national era, in a context of intense privatization, commodification, marketization, dematerialization, and quantification? What happens of schools, museums, concert halls, art markets, historic districts, cultural centers, heritage sites, national and local identities, art funding—among many other objects of modern political/cultural concern—in such context? How shall we map and understand the global governance of culture as it exists today, through the multiplicity of public, private, and non-governmental organizations operating at various geographic scales? Such are some of the questions we’ll discuss and, when possible, answer through the class.
The first half of the course lays the ground for discussion through 1. a systematic historical survey of the state-culture connection between early Modernity and the 1970s; and 2. a systematic review of the most useful concepts and theories available in the social sciences (drawing from sociology and anthropology more particularly but also from political science and IR). In the second half of the course we’ll look at the contemporary issues raised by and through “culture,” its economy, its management, and its regulation.
- Substantive skills: Students learn to approach cultural governance through an interdisciplinary lens, conveying more particularly: critical conceptual tools permitting to interpret and explain cultural governance in sociologically and anthropologically grounded ways (socio-anthropological approach); knowledge of the history of culture as an object and sector of public policy (socio-historical approach); knowledge of the major issues and actors of contemporary cultural policy (public policy and IR approach).
- Portable skills (1): Development of analytical, synthetic and critical skills.
- Portable skills (2): Blog writing, writing social science for a broader audience; creating and using a blog; familiarization with academic online media.
The assignments are designed to spread the work load throughout the semester, and in particular to avoid the usual end-of-semester panic over assignments and personal projects.
--Attendance, preparedness and participation (20% of final grade): You’re expected to come prepared to discuss assigned readings. One or two absences won’t be penalized. The participation grade will be down-graded by one letter grade/additional day of absence. Keep your right to not show up for serious occasions.
--Leading discussion (20 % of final grade): Each student will be discussion leader for at least a session. This responsibility entails coming to class with a set of discussion points suggested by the weekly readings. The points will be circulated by Friday night the week before a given session.
-- Blogging (60%): Students will produce 2 blog posts of approx. 1500 words (+/-20%) in the course of the semester. We’ll book contributions in order to collect at least one post every week. We’ll initially post contributions on a host web site of our creation dedicated to the class’ output (address to be shared in the introduction session). The goal is ultimately to “place” posts on other, more public sites at a later stage, if possible. Candidate sites include blogs hosted by the CEU as well as various groups and actors in the academic field (such as sociology.org, asaculture.org etc). Consider this an exercise in public sociology which replaces the traditional end-of-term paper. We’ll read posts as they are produced. We will discuss them during the sessions allotted for that purpose in the schedule below. Writing requirements are somewhat similar to those of a paper—posts should be academic/intellectual/expert pieces, offering to examine a problem that is clearly stated, through an argument solving the problem in a balanced way (i.e. in a way that is dialogical and takes into account a variety of approaches and answers). If writing for online media allows more freedom in tone than traditional academic venues, they also require a degree of readability, by an educated (yet not necessarily specialist) public, that sets them apart from your usual academic paper. No jargon will be tolerated. Any subject that has to do with the state/culture nexus is welcome, but topics should as much as possible relate to some area of collective concern—whether news or current issue relevant to a community out there. Posts will come with a small bibliography of academic and other sources as well. They will be subject to the same kind of scrutiny as a regular essay, minus the stylistic adjustments that might be required by the genre.