Monday, 21 September 2009

Critical nostalgia?

Today I'm wondering about how we explain what we're doing. Did some fishing around this afternoon, and was reminded of a concept that might do some useful work for us: critical nostalgia. First mention I can find of it is Jim Clifford talking about Raymond Williams, arguing that a focus on the pastoral (or, in our case, the (almost) insolvent, the obsolete) can actually work to 'break with the hegemonic, corrupt present by asserting the reality of a radical alternative'. The objects remember the future that could have been (and still could be).

It might give us a way to confront our misgivings about being too twee and precious head on, and actually fold this element into the project with a critical edge. Anyhow, some interesting work around this concept recently in a whole bunch of different contexts: German film; Northern Ireland's material culture, feminist fiction. Also a new project on 'Nostalgia in the 21st Century' at Strathclyde.

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