IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies: Volume 3 – Issue 2
Editor: Professor Holger Briel, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Published: November 12, 2018
Welcome to the IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies Volume 3 Issue 2. The issue showcases the breadth of Cultural Studies today, with contributions on China, Japan, Indonesia, England, South Africa and the USA. Going beyond the geo-cultural dimension though, it also addresses issues of (multi-) disciplinary history and development. A number of contributions address and challenge recent moves in cultural studies theory and attempt to realign older theories with newer developments. This is far removed from any kind of revisionism or the nostalgic hankering for an imagined community; rather, it highlights the fact that while theory and its applications move on, something is always lost when new regimes of thought come in. As such, it amply demonstrates Adorno's wish to be at one with fallen theories, but only in the moment of their fall.
The issue opens with Anna-Marie Jansen van Vuuren’s Challenging the Mythical Boer Hero Archetype in Anglo-Boer War Short Films, a text on four recent South African films on the Anglo-Boer war. After a short introduction on the history of Boer filmmaking in South Africa, it then takes a closer look at recent films on the topic. Jansen van Vuuren comes to the conclusion that these films represent a culture change in Boer filmmaking: rather than cementing the Boer hero legend further, as traditional films had done before, these films deconstruct this myth through a wide range of cinematographic tools, including humour.
In their Interdisciplinary Working Relationships of Health Care Staff in Late 20th Century Britain: A Cultural Study of Practices from the Past and Implications for the Present, Angela Turner-Wilson, Richard Fisher, Holly Crossen-White, and Ann Hemingway consider the changing culture in the British Health Care system through the lenses of oral history interviews with recently retired British health care workers. It becomes clear that the felt cohesion, the “family-feeling”, is memorialised as having been much stronger in the past. It is also interesting to read that, perhaps unsurprisingly, doctors have a much weaker memory than “lower” health care workers of the strict and often hurtful hierarchies at work in 1960s British hospitals.
The next text also takes past experiences as its starting point. Christina Belcher's thought-provoking Culture Through Children’s Picture Books: A New Kind of Reading or A New Kind of Child? is a study of children’s picture books through the last 30 years. She postulates that a number of rewrites of these books have significantly changed the goalposts. If 30 years ago, these texts propelled the western nuclear family into the centre of the narrative, nowadays, this family has broken up. Authority has often shifted to children themselves, with adults on playing the court jester. She also questions whether the adaptation of such books for TV or film is always positive. As an example she cites films on autism, which portray autistic children as super heroes while neglecting to mention the serious challenges such children face on a day-to-day basis, something texts are much better at. Lastly, she decries the intrusion of technology as a desirable fetish into recent children’s picture books, leading to a de-personalisation and the advocacy of a technological determinism potentially detrimental to children’s well-being and healthy development.
Median Mutiara’s Managing Boundaries between (Dirty) Work and Church Life for Indonesian Migrants in Japan engagingly discusses the bifurcation of social roles among the Indonesian-Japanese immigrants in Japan of today through careful choice of attire and personal hygiene. Reminiscent of the special status Sundays have enjoyed among many disenfranchised groups of Christians throughout the centuries, Mutiara demonstrates that this kind of work-church split does still exist among communities today, but also shows that these kinds of behaviour are not solely based on religious rites; rather, they have striking repercussions for the performances of and in social strata as well.
The last text, Cultural Particularism and Intercultural Communication: The Case of Chinese Face by Paweł Zygadło invites us to reassess the notions of face-saving and face-losing in Chinese society. Based on cultural and anthropological thought by Boas, Mead and others, it puts out a challenge to a superficial and misunderstood multiculturalism and argues for a close reading of cultural texts. It then goes on to do so via the practical analysis of the concepts of face-saving and face-losing in contemporary China, using case studies as a tool.
About the Journal
The IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies solicits scholarship in the broad areas of culture, social development, the arts, digital communities, philosophy and similar.
While much of the journal's focus rests on Asia, it encourages contributions from all across the globe, thereby establishing links between intercultural and transcultural phenomena and analysing them. Asia is a continent constantly evolving within a restive world and it is the aim of this journal to provide challenging and incisive commentary to accompany this process.
We welcome submissions related to cultural studies from academics, practitioners and professionals within the field.
Dr Holger Briel
IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies