Scholars Program - SummerCulture
San Juan, Puerto Rico
“Contesting Colonialism” was the theme of SummerCulture 2015. It was hosted by Anilyn Díaz at Universidad de Puerto Rico and the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe along with Federico Subervi. Puerto Rico inhabits a singular set of circumstances that bring culture repeatedly to the forefront. Shaped by the surrounding Caribbean region, a strong African migration and status as a former Spanish colonial territory, it has since 1898 been a colony of the United States and remains so today. Relegated as a war bounty and without consultation or consent of its people made part of the US empire, today it operates under the official guise of the Estado Libre Asociado, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and is administered by the US military structure, postal system, commerce, FCC and multiple other federal agencies. Puerto Ricans thus experience an unusual conundrum: they consider themselves a distinct people but are part of the American political system; they have US citizenship but are not represented in the US Congress; and they live on land that is neither independent nor part of the United States. How do these circumstances affect Puerto Rican culture? The contested role of the nation state in relation to empire building and the transformation from colonial to (neo)colonial status as well as the history and current ongoing economic crises that have both thwarted the Island’s growth and driven emigration constitute Summerculture’s focus. “Contesting Colonialism” stretches across cultural, legal, political and socio-cultural domains to address local and regional implications of the Island’s status in terms of identity formation, demographic changes, electoral politics, media and culture.
“City Narratives of Modernity” was the focus of SummerCulture 2014 and was hosted by Antonio Monegal at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. The program covered the general areas of: Politics of Memory, Catalan Nationalism in a European Context, Building a City of Cultures and An Economic, Political or Cultural Crisis. Barcelona provided the landscape for tracing the geographical and historical tensions that illustrate the complex transformations undergone by Spain, by Catalonia and by the city itself. Behind the façade of what has become in recent decades a major tourist destination and a successful “brand” lies the negotiation between Barcelona’s different roles: as a modern cosmopolitan city with a provincial soul, as an open society with a recent past of subjection to a dictatorial regime, as the capital of a nation without a state in opposition to and competition with the central capital of the state, as the decades-long center of progressive public policies now threatened by a major social and economic crisis. These local issues are the expression of global ones, and those who participated in the SummerCulture program explored the connections between these specific responses and the broader questions relevant to other contexts.
“National & Transitional Culture Flows & Place” was hosted by Aphra Kerr at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and it critically explored how our understanding of culture generally, and the production of cultural products and services more specifically, has changed over time, given the influence of globalization and place. The program concentrated on three broad themes: History (colonialism, emigration, religion, language, memory), Places, Flows and Borders (territorialisation and re-territorialisation of cultural products, services and people , translation, localization, nomadic/mobile workers, transnational online communities, creative cities) and Dominant and Alternative Media Representations (constructing, mediating and negotiating identities, diversity, difference, multiculturalism, hybridity, visibility, omission).
Durban/Capetown, South Africa
“Immersion and Inversion: Rethinking Critical Social Issues from a Southern Perspective” was hosted by Ruth Teer-Tomaselli at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. The program enabled doctoral students to focus on two aspects of the country – immersion (a proximate understanding of the social-economic-political-cultural and environmental challenges facing the region) and inversion (the inversion of ‘traditional’ power relationships in communication scholarship and research). There were three main foci: Memory, History, Commemoration and the Public Imaginary; Sexuality, Health Education and Communication Challenges; and State, Media and Society all of which were examined during two weeks of seminars, site visits, guest lectures and field trips. Watch a video on SummerCulture 2012 here.
“Turkey: Culture, Conflict and Harmony” was the emphasis of SummerCulture 2011 took place in Istanbul. Hosted by Halil Nalçaoğlu at Istanbul Bilgi Üniversity, the program focused on three main axes: From Constantinople to Istanbul, The City of Culture, Conflict and Harmony, Parade of Cultural Identities: The Cultures of Migration in Turkey and Culture and Conflict: The Issue of Minorities. The axes inspired tours, visits, guest lecturers and workshops focused on these themes. Watch a video on SummerCulture 2011 here.
Hong Kong, PRC
"Becoming ‘Hong Kong, China’: Mutations in Urban Culture, Media, and Nationalization" was the theme of SummerCulture 2010, and it took place in Hong Kong and was hosted by John Erni at Lingnan University. Before 1997, Hong Kong – a predominantly Chinese society – was a British colony known for its global/local “success” as a key regional hub of finance, urban development, and media freedom. After 1997, when the city was reverted to China, a rapid re-articulation of its identity shifted to a tripartite configuration: national/local/global. Over the past 13 years, the city has seen major changes in the key trope of “mutation,” evidenced by complex discursive and material manifestations. The politics of mutation signals the dynamics of part/whole, unity/fragmentation and continuity/change. If “Hong Kong, China” is now the formal designation for the city of 7 million people – with “One Country, Two Systems” as its official administrative formula – how do we understand its mutating urban life, media ecology, and the whole politics of (re)nationalization? The SummerCulture program explored this question through lectures, workshops, museum visits, and cross-border fieldtrips to Shenzhen and Macau.
"Transformations and Relocations Down Under: Dynamism and Change in Media, Communication, Politics and Culture on the ‘Other’ Side of Asia" was hosted by John Hartley at Queensland University of Technology, and Michael Bromley from Queensland University, Australia. Moving from the assumption that Australia is a big continent with a small population; it has a pristine environment but per-capita carbon emissions second only to the USA; a white settler community with Western roots but the most diverse population (by country of origin) on earth; it is located in the Asia-Pacific but retains an Anglo-American public life. SummerCulture explored various complexities in the Australian self-image: Australia has an advanced economy but it is over-dependent on resources shipped to China; it has free trade but protected values (‘wowserism’); it has a history of pioneering democratic innovation (secret ballot, votes for women) but a long-lasting White Australia policy; it has egalitarianism and mateship but "Fourth World" Indigenous deprivation; it has openness to globalised culture and media but community intolerance. In short, Australia is what America is becoming – more diverse, more ‘provincial,’ more open, more dependent on the world. As the world faces epochal change – from the ‘American Century’ to the ‘Chinese Century’ – SummerCulture 2009 explored the transformations that follow from relocating familiar content to exotic contexts.
Tampere, Finland & St. Petersburg, Russia
"Communicating a Culture In-Between" discussed the state of in-betweenness as it takes shape in the Finnish context. Co- hosted by Risto Kunelius and Kaarle Nordenstreng at the University of Tampere, Finland, SummerCulture explored the cultural, social and political implications and consequences of being wedged between East and West, High and Late Modernity, National and Post-National Identities and Mass Mediated/Networked Communication environment, all of which made Finland a fertile case study for examining contemporary cultural contexts. The site of the program, Finland (and the city of Tampere), served as a focus through which several key tendencies of contemporary developments were articulated, including the transnationalism/globalization of a Northern European nation state, its politics and culture. The program situated the nation state and its new political realities as part of both global developments and Europe (or the European Union). It also looked at media and communication in the context of the development of the Nordic welfare state and its current challenges. All of these broad cultural themes and the tensions embedded in them were studied and discussed with a special focus on communication, media and journalism. In addition to crossing borders conceptually, the program spent two days of its time on a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, in order to highlight the Russian influences in Finland.
"(In)Visible Culture: Cultural Conflict and Portuguese Society" was a program of inter-cultural academic exchange between the Annenberg School for Communication and the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisbon, Portugal. Annenberg students joined host Isabel Gil and to examine several issues pertaining to the history and culture of Portugal. Topics of study included Portugal's experience with religious and authoritarian politics, the colonial war, national identity and its linkages with race and gender, the 1974 revolution, the ascendance of sports as a national marker, territorial expansions, and the exclusion of migrant workers, gypsies and others from national culture, particularly at a time when Portugal's entry in the EU has taken over public discussion.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The inaugural SummerCulture program, “Culture and Politics in Argentiona” was hosted by Elizabeth Jelin at IDES (Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social) in Buenos Aires. It explored how Argentina has experienced culture under the context of state terrorism. Over the course of the two weeks, SummerCulture addressed the issue of culture under conflict in Argentina in a program that included academic seminars and field trips to cultural sites and museums.