Translating Culture: The Economy of Articulation and Confinement

Jamal Eddine Benhayoun, (Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetuan, Morocco)

"Culture" is a key concept that is capable of re-inventing itself as a history of culture itself. Our contemporaneity, our postmodernism and postcolonialism seem to be entrapped within the very word we naively think we master and are capable of investing with our own presuppositions. The trends of our thinking, the turns in our cultural and ideological attitudes, our modernity and postmodernityŠcome face to face within the circumference of the notion "culture." The heterogeneity, ambivalence and sophistication of our current cultural practices are homogenised and simplified‹even emptied‹within the word "culture". This is, perhaps, a very cynical, unsympathetic and pessimistic way of defining and commenting on our contemporary cultural articulations. Nevertheless, this shows that "culture" is an extremely resilient word, always enabled by those same forces that seek to eliminate it or at least reduce it to a residue within the realm of language. Of course, the fact that our heterogeneous discursive practices are all at once circumscribed within a singular concept such as "culture" reveals how much inarticulate we are as postmodernists that always pride ourselves on issues of culture and on our abilities of taking language to its furthest extremes of signification. As this paper will argue, our languages, our writings, our inscriptions, our arts, fashion shows, architectural designs and industrial innovations have not yet developed into articulation, and, as such, the concept culture is, in this sense, a limit to heterogeneity and diversity‹shockingly a space of confinement.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001