Estudos Culturais e ACD

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Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis: Histories, Remembering and Futures. Terry Threadgold (Cardiff) Abstract In this paper I have explored some of the histories which inevitably connect, but also differentiate, critical discourse analysis and cultural studies. I have argued that both are strongly influenced by the versions of critical theory which have been characterised as 'postmodernism' and 'poststructuralism' and that both could benefit not only from some serio
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  ISSN 1615-3014 Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis:Histories, Remembering and Futures. Terry Threadgold (Cardiff)Abstract In this paper I have explored some of the histories which inevitably connect, but alsodifferentiate, critical discourse analysis and cultural studies. I have argued that both arestrongly influenced by the versions of critical theory which have been characterised as'postmodernism' and 'poststructuralism' and that both could benefit not only from someserious engagement with the several disciplines from which their interdisciplinarity is derivedbut also from some further in depth exploration of the critical theory which informs them andwhich they have often 'translated' or 'co-opted' in reductionist ways. I have also argued thatthe claims sometimes made for critical discourse analysis are inflated and that without seriousethnographies and attention to the theorisation as well as research of contexts those claimscannot really be sustained. On the other hand 'resignification' or the cultural politics of CDAare important agendas and we need to do much more work on establishing exactly how socialchange can be effected through the kinds of work CDA could do. My conclusion is that weneed to reframe and recontextualise the ways in which we define and perform CDA and thatthat will involve bringing cultural studies and critical discourse analysis together inproductive new ways with other disciplinary and theoretical formations and with properattention to the new and different global and local contexts in which we work. 1 Introduction Of the three key terms in the first half of my title, not one is ubiquitously well defined, orunderstood in the same ways, in the different national, global, disciplinary or interdisciplinarycontexts in which each may actually be discursively or performatively produced and enacted.Cultural Studies has been defined as an interdisciplinary endeavour 'concerned with theanalysis of cultural forms and activities in the context of the relations of power whichcondition their production, circulation, deployment and, of course, effects.' (Bennett 1998:60)This definition, broad as it is, might also cover a whole range of other kinds of disciplinaryand interdisciplinary endeavours: media and communication studies, some forms of semiotics,and work in any of the many disciplines - e.g., Anthropology, Sociology, Education,Philosophy, History, Geography, Linguistics - influenced in the last twenty years of thetwentieth century, and heavily critiqued and rewritten, by the same forms of critical andcultural theory that formed cultural studies itself. It is this kind of complexity that caused   Linguistik online 14, 2/03 ISSN 1615-3014 6Angela McRobbie to talk of the 'messiness of cultural studies' (1992: 722). In all of theseplaces certain theoretical assumptions are now taken for granted: a social constructionist viewof language; the idea that realities and subjectivities are constructed in and by language; thatsubjects construct themselves and the worlds they inhabit in their everyday uses of language;that power relations are constructed and deconstructed through these processes; that what wecall the social and culture are similarly constructed and deconstructed; that this activity ischaracterised by narrativity, that changing narratives, telling stories differently, might changethe social world and that the goal of work on and with language is a politics committed tosocial change through what Eco (1979) would have called a semiotic labour on and with texts.Media Studies, for example, if we allow that the media involve 'cultural forms and activities'through which power relations are constituted, in its current 'production, text, reception'model, fits Bennett's definition of Cultural Studies and is in fact often a part of what CulturalStudies does (Durham/Kellner 2001). Media Studies however as we shall see below doesoften include content and discourse analysis as part of its repertoire, something that is morerare in Cultural Studies.What Cultural Studies (Grossberg/Nelson/Treichler 1992; Gray/McGuigan 1993; Bennett1993; Morley/Chen 1996; Curran/Morley/Walkerdine 1996; Storey 1996) usually does not do is canonical literary texts, since it was set up historically in many places in direct oppositionto the perceived class-based elitism of literary studies. Literary Studies (Valdes/Miller 1985;Rice/Waugh 1989) on the other hand, or English Studies in those places where that term hasremained undeconstructed by postcolonial theory, also formed and rewritten under theinfluence of critical theory, actually now shares with cultural studies the understandings andtheories of language I have summarised above. Cultural Studies is also remarkably lacking inhistory (Steedman 1992). It does offer varying kinds of engagement with critical theory (seebelow), at one time almost as much of a challenge to literary studies as cultural studies itself was, and engages in intermittent skirmishes with Critical Discourse Analysis: but 'discourseanalysis' in Cultural Studies is derived from poststructuralist philosophies and theories and isnot the same thing as Critical Discourse Analysis.Critical Theory is also often characterised both within and without Cultural Studies as'poststructuralism' or 'postmodernism' and increasingly seen as having to do loosely with 'alinguistic turn' in the human sciences (as described above) which had strong effects inCultural Studies and which is now, for those who characterise it thus, either thankfully almostbehind us or something that we should endeavour to forget, or a continuing problem (Norris1992, 1993; McRobbie 1994). On the other hand, current forms of Critical Discourse Analysisare almost all strongly influenced by Critical Theory and have been consequently largelyrewritten as enterprises in the same period that Cultural Studies has been coming toprominence and becoming institutionalised.To be asked in this context to write about the relevance of Critical Discourse Analysis toCultural Studies is therefore to ask for a good deal of clarification of some of these issues andthen some hard decisions about relevance, pragmatics, and the new contexts in which weteach and learn. In my case, it has also forced me to remember the arguments I made in 1997  Terry Threadgold: Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis ISSN 1615-3014 7about the issue of linguistics and critical discourse analysis in relation to feminist theory(Threadgold 1997). Why was it that feminist theory never used linguistics, unless of coursethe feminist theorists were linguists, and did poststructuralist forms of linguistics haveanything to offer feminist theory? Theoretically, many of the issues are similar to the issuesraised now by this question in relation to cultural studies. However, they now need re-thinking in the context of nation states made porous by new technologies and economicglobalisation, and at the local level, communities, and classrooms, reconstituted by flows of licit and illicit bodies, information and capital, in ways which we have hardly begun totheorise. Kondo (1990), Wilson/Dirlik (1995), Lowe (1996), Gordon (1997), Baker Jr.,Diawara/Lindeborg (1996), and Saldivar (1997) are among the very few texts which haveseriously begun to address these issues. We have become more or less adept in these contextsat re-imagining and homogenising our students as 'markets' to be attracted by lists of qualityassurance defined 'aims and outcomes' promising economic benefit and a secure future. Thequestion of the relevance of Critical Discourse Analysis to the teaching of Cultural Studiesrelates to a different kind of pedagogic agenda, one based on a vision for the future and a newnarrative of what it is that we are about which needs to be constructed out of some of thecomplexities and confusions within which we now work, all of which have histories whichalso need to be remembered. 2On 'Adding' CDA to Poststructuralist Cultural Studies A recent book by Barker/Galasinski (2001) provides me with a complex but typical exampleof the way some of these issues play themselves out in practice: and of the difficulties andproblems inherent in trying to separate cultural studies and critical discourse analysis (CDA)in their current forms in order to argue that what cultural studies does would be done betterwith 'the addition' of CDA. This is what the book argues. It is subtitled 'A Dialogue onLanguage and Identity', a focus with which I have much sympathy, especially since we aretold that it resulted from events in the authors' biographies through which they foundthemselves respectively 'dislocated' culturally or positioned as 'legal alien' (2001: 22-23).Having recently experienced the first myself in a migration the other way, from Australia toWales, and currently working on precisely these issues, I have found the book extremelyvaluable. That said, I want to explore for a minute the way it does its work, because it issymptomatic of the issues with which we have to deal in asking the question about CDA andCultural Studies.The first chapter is constructed as a review and summary of what Saussure, Barthes, Derridaand Foucault (critical theory) have contributed to the 'philosophy of language' currentlyinforming work in Cultural Studies. It is both a 'position' chapter and an introduction(2001:2). But the critical theorists are not the only other characters in this narrative. RaymondWilliams is compared to structuralism (2001: 4-5), Hebdige's (1979) semiotic work on youthculture with Paul Willis's (1977: 1978) commitment to ethnography (2001: 6-7), andstructuralist work is seen as succeeded by audience and consumption studies, and a concernwith the relationship between media and culture (2001: 7-8). There are two arguments here:first that work on the practices and beliefs of ordinary men and women is a form of progress   Linguistik online 14, 2/03 ISSN 1615-3014 8beyond structuralism and semiotics, and second that although it involves 'talk' and 'speechtexts' (2001: 8), none of this work shows any evidence of 'detailed language analysis'.The reading of 'Poststructuralism and the Crisis of Representation' which follows begins withthe critique of ethnography (Clifford/Marcus 1986), which rewrote it as a literary genre and aconversation, but could not use the tools of structuralist semiotics because by then these 'werethe subject of attack by Derrida and poststructuralism' (2001: 9). An account of Derrida'scritique and influence follows and its tenets (p. 21) are generally accepted by the authors withthe difference that they see this kind of work as having produced a 'high textualism' whichrejects any kind of 'ethnographic or empirical work' (2001: 11). Derrida's influence in culturalstudies, feminisms, postcolonial theory and new Marxisms is acknowledged but his influenceis argued to have been 'not wholly benign' and is said to have 'little practical use' politically,being a 'new language' intelligible only to 'an elite intelligentsia' (2001: 11-12). First, Derridahas always understood that deconstruction cannot escape empiricism (Spivak 1988: 292) andargued that the politics of deconstruction is precisely about unsettling, displacing hegemonicconceptual systems in order to effect social change. (1972/1982: 329). Let me quote Derridahere: I do not believe I have ever spoken of indeterminacy whether in regard to meaning oranything else. Undecidability is something else again. ... I want to recall that undecidability isalways a determinate oscillation between possibilities (for example, of meaning, but also of acts). These possibilities are highly determined in strictly concern situations (for example,discursive - syntactical or rhetorical - but also political, ethical etc.) They are pragmaticallydetermined. The analyses that I have devoted to undecidability concern just thesedeterminations and these definitions, not at all some vague indeterminacy . I say undecidability rather than indeterminacy because I am interested more in relations of force,in everything that allows, precisely, determinations in given situations to be stabilised through adecision of writing (in the broad sense which I give to this word which also includes politicalaction and experience in general. (1988: 148) It is because some people have understood Derrida's 'new language' as being about many of the things proponents of CDA regard as a crucial part of a cultural politics and have beenprepared to struggle with language in order to unsettle the huge stabilities of discourse thatfeminists, postcolonial theorists, queer theorists and other radical groups have in fact founddeconstruction to be of immense political value. The very politics of identity which isdeveloped in Barker/Galasinski could not have been articulated without the 'new'/difficult'language' that deconstruction provided. They argue themselves after all for a cultural politicsinvolving writing new stories with 'new languages' (2001: 61). It is too easy then to repeat thecliches about Derrida whose most recent writings on Algeria, globalisation/peace, continue togive the lie to the argument that deconstruction lacks political usefulness (2002)/if we, theproponents of CDA are not prepared to struggle with 'new languages' when we find them wehave to ask who out there will be so prepared?In Barker/Galasinski an account of Foucault follows the critique of Derrida, with the criticismthat his work has been used more 'to inspire studies of ... discipline' than ... 'power to' (2001:14), that it does not, in other words, provide a theory of agency. Wittgenstein/Rorty are then
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