I start this paper with a question that is also a provocation: how sustainable is a cultural studies that does not take account of nature? What I propose is that before we speculate on how this field can engage with the environmental concerns that face us this question must first be asked. For what cultural studies can offer in the face of ecological stress, I will argue, is circumscribed by its own traditions. If the logics or conceptual parameters of the discipline resist an accommodation of the conditions of sustainability then we have little to offer. Yet if this is the case, what is the future of cultural studies given not only the current import of environmental issues but also the challenge that these material circumstances raise to our dominant traditions of research? Through a discussion of the limits of social constructivism and the prevalence of deconstructive critique in cultural studies, this paper thinks through what an alternative practice might be. It looks to the theoretical and practical application of assemblage, or gathering, as a generative tool for cultural research, and speculates that what we need at this time is a double agenda: to make our own discipline sustainable as we mobilize the particular capacities, methods and knowledges of cultural research in response to ecological distress.
Field of Research
199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified