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Here’s a thought I’m trying to work out. There are three broad levels of social organization: the local, the national and the international. But given economic globalization, migration, the pervasive presence of electronic communication and the wild circulation of ideas/people/goods these realities entail, it would seem that the national, as a category of effectual alliances, is diminishing. It is my impulse to position the national as an artificial subset of the international, marking boundaries where they are mostly falsely maintained. There are concerns and conversations that inflect daily life in the sense of walking down the street, of performing the neighbour. And there are projects and plights that extend further, that involve a relationship to people for whom there is no tangible relationship other than (dis)interest. To demarcate this second kind of sociality at political borderlands seems absurd. Yet, what stands as an obvious counterpoint in the art world is that, in Canada, there is governmental support of culture that has resulted in a vibrant scenography of artist-run centres. This phenomena is neither local nor international. It is a specific consequence of national politics that too rarely translates elsewhere. And so, obviously, the national ain’t nothing, but maybe it’s a lot less than other somethings?

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Hi cheyanne!
    I don’t think there’s anything about your analysis in the first part of this post, where you questions the category of the national, that isn’t commensurate with Canada’s funding for culture. We have to always consider Canada’s grant and subsidy system in an historical context At a political or rhetorical level I think there’s very little difference here between public broadcasting and grants for artists; these are nation-building projects that respond directly to mid-century anxieties about the questionable category of national identity.

    Also, if you haven’t read it already, you should check out this post about occupy wallstreet by Hardt and Negri. I think that it owes a lot of unacknowledged debt to Ranciere but is really interesting in how it positions the relation of occupy to the spirit of historical social movements, and also to contemporary democracy and governance. http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/11/occupy-wall-street-as-a-fight-for-real-democracy/

  2. I wonder if there have been studies conducted that try to map the nationalistic influence of the CBC and the Canada Council? While Brave New Waves, Street Cents and artist-run culture are inextricably bound up in my identity, I am hesitant to admit fellow feeling as some sort of nationalistic pride. I am much more apt to explain away my effectual alliances though other means: shared interests in activity or common visions for the future. It just so happens that these predilections are socially informed, and in turn this culture shaped by nation-building programs. To what extent am I a product of these projects? Curious to consider…

    Also, I appreciate how Hardt and Negri anchor an understanding of the calls for social change in a need to reform democracy. The relationship between politics and economy cannot be undone, and the critique of capitalism as exploitative is vital. But much of the coverage that I’ve come across focuses on corporate capitalism. While this is a worthy target, the calls to reform democracy implicate each of us as citizens. I have no idea what real democracy could look like, but what I do have is a desire and patience to have wild conversations about a world I can’t imagine until we dream it up together. And I love the fact that in this moment, these kinds of speculations are taken seriously.

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