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Introduction: Some Versions of Cultural and Critical Theory (1996)


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.00002.x


It is the trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond. At the century's edge, we are less exercised by annihilation – the death of the author – or epiphany – the birth of the “subject.” Our existence today is marked by a tenebrous sense of survival, living on the borderlines of the “present” for which there seems to be no proper name other than the current and controversial shiftiness of the prefix “post:” postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism . ( Bhabha, 1994 , p. 1) In one of his witty fictions of futile human efforts to give order to knowledge, Borges describes a Chinese encyclopedia's categories of animals as “(a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (1) et cetera , (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies” ( Borges, 1974 , p. 708). It is not surprising that the many recent attempts to define the field of cultural studies seem no less whimsical than this, since culture is simultaneously such an elusive and all-encompassing idea. In 1952 the distinguished anthropologists A.L. Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn published the most comprehensive assessment of culture as a term and an idea. They carefully distinguished ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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