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Critical Arts: south-north cultural and media studies

16.05.2019 14:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

UNDER FIRE (short articles)

The post-millennium world has seen a rapid escalation of violent conflicts in the Middle East, West, Central and some areas of Southern Africa, and ongoing civil wars, refugee migrations on unprecedented scales and human rights abuses in a variety of other regions across the world. As a means to engage these developments, Critical Arts instituted a new Section, “Under Fire” in 2002. This is in keeping with its interpretation of cultural studies as a form of praxis, of experience, and of strategic intervention, in which individuals find themselves caught up in broader process over which they may have little or no control. The aim of this section is to invite short (anything up to 2000 words) theorised autobiographies, authoethnographies, and dramatic narratives of what it is like living under fire, of the relevance of cultural studies in such circumstances, and how it could be deployed to challenge such conditions. The original Call emanated from a number of unsolicited submissions we had been receiving from colleagues in Palestine and Zimbabwe, letters from friends in Israel, and marginalised groups in South Africa, and from academics whose research and work is pilloried by hostile authorities. The exigencies of being under fire make it hard to find the discursive space in which participants can catch enough breath to speak the truths of their own participation:

  • When does a culture of resistance lose focus, becoming a culture of violence as an end in itself?
  • At what point can one recognize when legitimate defence against violence has suddenly become indistinguishable from the Warsaw Ghetto?
  • How can we turn war-talk into justice-talk, without provoking war-mongers to renewed efforts?
  • In a world with a global view of even the most local eruption of violence, how can those under fire on opposite sides of the street, the valley, the river, the sand dune find enough space to escape the solidarities of occupation, of resistance, and develop a language of restitution, restoration, Reformation, in the face of corporate and state reaction?
  • Closer to our own sites of research, when does academic managerialism and bureaucratisation of research become offensive, anti-humanist and self-destructive? The academic enterprise is under fire itself, as are many employed within it.

“Under Fire” offers such a space, and we do not expect to define what will make submissions acceptable or not. The object is for those who have had enough, to speak in the ways they believe those across the camp or the corridor might attend to them. The “Under Fire” submissions should reflect not just the pressures of a personal involvement within a context of oppression, occupation, or resistance; it should carry a clear indication of just how this involvement tests the cultural studies tradition. In this “test” the writers’ experience can draw not only on the cultural studies method of examining texts in relation to contexts, but should also use the writer’s own context as the critical touchstone for pushing the cultural studies envelope.

For more see:

Some Recent Under Fire Postings:

Njabulo Ndebele, They are Burning Memory

Chris Merrett, Marx, Labour and the Academy

Brenden Gray, Neoliberalising Higher Education

And the essay that started the section in 2002:

Lena Jayyusi, Letters from the Palestinian Ghetto, 8-13 March 2002

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions should be made online via ScholarOne Manuscripts at (in cases where internet connectivity is not conducive to a ScholarOne submission, we will still accept manuscripts submitted via email to the Critical Arts office. Send to David Nothling at and/or editor-in-chief, Keyan Tomaselli, at Submissions should be original works not simultaneously submitted elsewhere, if up to 2000 words in length including any references. Referencing should be done according to the Chicago manual of style (see attachment).

Critical Arts URLs:

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Critical Arts Home Page:

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