Archives for October 2012

Labouring Under Whiteness

This text explores the history and forms of working class racism in Britain  since the beginning of the Industrial revolution  up to the present. It examines the way the English working class was positioned as a both a ‘backbone of the nation’ and a ‘race apart’ in the dominant discourse and how this shaped  the internal development of its culture and politics, especially within the labour movement. It was written for a  collection edited by Ruth Frankenberg Dislocating Whiteness  published in 2002 and can be viewed here:  White Labour

The Idea of the University and the Intellectual in the Age of the Knowledge Economy

The Idea of the University in the Age of the Knowledge Economy / The Idea of the Intellectual in the Age of the Knowledge Economy. The advent of  a globalised knowledge economy has transformed the  conditions of  intellectual  work over the past twenty five years. These two texts examine different aspects of the situation. The first looks at the impact on the university and its research cultures, especially the humanities departments; it  is argued that   the advent of the modularised curriculum and a ‘post modern’ pedagogy  weakened  the traditional divisions of academic labour, and  helped  encourage new  forms of inter-disciplinarity required and promoted by the knowledge economy. The ‘community of scholars’ has, in turn, been increasingly transformed into an adjunct of the enterprise culture, as academics queue up to offer their services to the corporate sector. The second text  surveys  debates on the  role of the intellectual. It begins by [Read More…]

On Pseudonyms

 This essay briefly surveys  the history of the   pseudonym, its  changing contexts  and uses, and  draws on Kripke’s theory of baptismal naming to consider some of the implications for understanding the games people play with identity. The paradox of the literary pseudonym, that it takes on a new lease of life once it is revealed, is discussed, and  also its function as a virtual identity. View the text here:  Essay on Pseudonyms

Apprenticeship a la Mode

The work of Jean Lave has  made use of the term ‘apprenticeship’ to characterises how people learn  from each other  within face to face communities of practice. At the same time the government  has introduced a system of ‘modern apprenticeship’ to provide training in  many white collar and service occupations, as well as in the traditional skilled manual trades. This text introduces  a  theoretical model for understanding  apprenticeship as a general cultural paradigm shaping gender and generational  relations within traditional  working class communities, and examines its transformation in the  transition to a post industrial, post Fordist occupational structure. Originally published in Apprenticeship- towards a new paradigm of learning ( ed P Ainley) Kogan Page 2002 You can view the document here:  Apprenticeship a la Mode

Reading Room Only: Memoir of a Radical Bibliophile

Five Leaves Press Nottingham April 2013 Political activists  are popularly  supposed to be  wild eyed visionaries or ranting dogmatists  who spend their time manning  real  or imaginary  barricades. Bibliophiles, in contrast, are expected     to be quiet retiring  academic types who send their whole lives in libraries and can only relate to the world at second hand  through books. In this memoir, Phil Cohen, alias Dr John of the London Street Commune, and erstwhile Professor of Cultural Studies  at the University of East London,  explodes these stereotypes as he re-traces his   chequered career from blitz kid  to public school dropout,   from hippy squatter  to cultural theorist, and from  urban ethnographer   to poet, through his obsession with books. 

Tricks of the Trade – Issues in MultiCultural Education

Tricks of the trade  (text) In the 1990’s I ran a series of projects designed to develop a cultural studies based approach  to anti-racist education, to get away from the moral, doctrinaire and frankly authoritarian methods and rationalist pedagogies that were then in vogue. In this text I outline the theory and method of an alternative approach, illustrated with examples of the classroom practice. Read the full text here:  Tricks of the Trade This  video was made to accompany the teaching materials , and explore some of the thinking behind the project. Tricks of the Trade  Matrix Image:  This is a photo-montage ‘Anansi Rap attack’ designed by Peter  Dunn, which was used as a trigger for classroom artwork as part of the Tricks of the Trade Project.  Click on the image to view it full size.

Its Racism Wot Dunnit – Some Notes on Theory’s Other Scene

This text was written for a course  developed for the Open University by Ali Rattansi and James Donald on ‘Race, Culture and Society’ in the 1990’s. The course  sought to bring to bear  some of the new ‘post structuralist thinking  about  discourse, power and culture  on issues of ethnicity  and identity politics  that were then dominated by essentialist and reductive  concepts of who and what was ‘racist’ and this text develops  this critique especially in relation to anti racist education. Read the full text here:  Racism Wot Dunnit

Psychoanalysis and Racism – Reading the Other Scene

I was asked by John Solomos to write a chapter for his ‘Blackwell Companion on Race and Ethnic Studies’ giving a critical survey of psychoanalytic theories  of race and racism. These theories were viewed with great suspicion, some of it justified, by the Anti Racist Left, although much of their dismissive attitude  was based on ignorance or misunderstanding. I wrote an essay which  introduced the main  theories of Freud and the post Freudians, as well as Kleinian and Lacanian concepts. The work of Fanon and the Frankfurt school is discussed at length, as well as more recent work by Daniel Sibony and Julia Kristeva. The focus of the argument is on rethinking the notion of Unconscious racism, and understanding the role of phantasy and desire in   the working of the racist imagination. Read the full text here:  Psychoanalysis and Racism Reading the Other Scene

Yesterday’s Words, Tomorrow’s World: Issues in Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoption was one of the most fraught and contest areas of social welfare policy in the 1990’s in Britain. In this essay commissioned for a book about  adoption policy I survey the history of the debate  about adoption  and about race, focussing on their critical points of intersection. The discussion deconstructs essentialised notions of ethnic identity and the official adoption story  as a teleological tale of bad beginnings leading to happy endings.  This is contrasted with the notion of adoptive identity as a site of multiple negotiations mediated by what Freud called the family Romance.  The text was written for a collection on  adoption policy   In the Best Interests of the Child published in 2002. Read the full text here:  Yesterday’s Words

Methods in Dialogue / Finding the Way Home

This video illustrates some of the innovative methods used in a research project which explored young people’s sense of place and identity  in two deprived neighbourhoods in London’s Docklands. The aim was to provide a  space of representation in which the young people felt free to express their fears and anxieties, whether through artwork, or the  stories they told about the everyday  incidents of their lives. The implications of this approach for current debates about research methodology in the social sciences are explored.   It is linked  to the discussion on inter-disciplinarity developed in Chapter four of Borderscapes.