The student exchange I'm about to embark on is a joint program organised by the Centre for Cultural Research (CCR) at UWS where I'm studying and the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden (ACSIS). Professor Johan Fornäs, Director of ACSIS, has invited myself and some Post doc students who are visiting ACSIS to participate in an exercise of reflecting on the state of interdisciplinary and critical cultural research in the context of our home countries with particular attention to the following:
- Current developments in the field, concerning research policy, resources and/or intellectual trends
- Most pressing threats and dangers to the field
- Best arguments for cultural studies and cultural research
He has suggested that we write this in two parts - a short essay at the beginning of the visit and a final essay towards the end which would build in any insights from the period of stay in Sweden.
This exercise is a very timely one for me for a number of reasons. Starting my Phd at the beginning of this year has also meant a return and re-engagement with 'cultural studies' after many years away from University. Over the last six months I have actively (and sometimes passively) been making connections and building bridges between my past and current experiences to understand what cultural studies is now, how it has changed and what it means in relation to my own project.
So, with some trepidation and a bout of nerves, I am tackling this exercise in my blog. Why blog it? Well, partly because this journey to Sweden (and the various exercises, meetings, expeditions, contacts and nights out that it may comprise) is a pivotal dimension of my PhD experience and the original raison d'etre of this blog. I have a practical motive too. A blog entry is an effective marker representing the starting point for my reflections on this topic and a point to return to later when I write up the second essay. There is another reason why I'm blogging this exercise and that's because I would love to hear from other bloggers, be they students or not, in Australia or elsewhere, with their views on these questions about 'cultural studies'...