Issue1, Volume 4
The Editorial Collective of Cultural Landscapes: A Cultural Studies Journal is proud to present its readers with a fourth volume of some interesting work in Cultural Studies. The present volume, like the first one, displays the journal's special and unwavering commitment to publishing the work of emerging scholars and student researchers in the field of contemporary cultural studies.
SAMANTHA GAYLE HAMLIN
The infamous images of torture from Abu Ghraib prison have become emblematic of the role of the United States military in Iraq. The discourse around the photographs int eh Western corporate media, and in a majority of academic discussions, centers primarily around the torture of Iraqi men at the hands of white American women, despite overwhelming evidence that sexual violence was also committed against Iraqi women. In this project, I trace 'Western' colonial/imperial gendered violence against women through a genealogical interrogation of the pervasive role that colonial pornographic photography played in categorizing colonial subjects in the American occupation of the Philippines and the French occupation of Algeria. Employing a transnational, anti-racist feminist perspective, I examine the ways in which the production and circulation of the Abu Ghraib photos perpetuate a colonial declaration of the supremacy of a constructed Western white masculinity predicated upon the ideological construction of 'inferior' colonized subjectivities and racist sexual violence against women. I argue that European and American imperial powers use photography as a tool to establish psychological and physical dominance over colonized peoples through raced and gendered compulsory visualization.
In this feminist intervention, I interrogate Dora the Explorer, the popular pre-school TV program and the brand associated with it, in order to better understand the gender roles and subjectivities that Dora appropriates and (re)produces. Drawing on third wave feminist scholarship, this social semiotic analysis examines the ways in which Dora the Explorer presents a contradictory image of Dora as, on the one hand, an empowered, curious and active female subject and a traditional, feminine subject, on the other. I claim that the Dora brand ultimately and effectively resolves this contradiction by enabling the latter representation through its dainty, ultra-feminine products. This hegemonic (re)production of traditional gendered, feminine subjects, I argue, is both informed and propagated by the political economy of contemporary American society and culture.
The Reagan era in American politics was shaped in large part by the ideology of neo-liberalism. In this paper, I demonstrate that the popular action films in the 1980s were shaped by this ideology as well. Motifs of privatization, deregulation, and individualism resonate through both the rhetoric of Reagan and the films of action's biggest start, Arnold Schwarzenegger's roles of the time as well as his political career as governor of California, on the other. Further, I perform a close textual reading of the films Commando and Predator. The covert foreign interventions these films depict are compared to the real US interventions in Nicaragua and Granada. In the final section, I trace the neo-liberal "action" tendency as it enacts itself in video games, recent foreign interventions, the rhetoric of military recruitment, the Schwarzenegger governorship, and the valorization of Reagan after his death.
This paper seeks to read the 1986 film Blue Velvet as an attempt to render the notion of the American dream as an ideological force of individual negation. I argue that the discourse of the American dream is structured around the nuclear family, upward mobility, and homeownership, but that the latter have been usurped by or have colluded with the powerful force of appearances. Blue Velvet's setting is the archetypical American town seen in many other films or TV shows. Director David Lynch unmakes the pervading negative force of the dream by instilling motifs of surrealism and film noir in to the narrative. Through a deployment of Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytical framework, the dream's control over the subject becomes clear. The American dream is the language of Blue Velvet, trapping the characters in its undeniable grasp.
This project is fundamentally about some of the processes of identity formation and subjectivity constitution in the era of globalization. It is also a critique of Donna Haraway's cyborg theory, a critique which argues for another type of subject(ivity), a (post)-cold war subjec(ivity), or what I call -- for lack of a better word -- "the techno-subject." Haraway's cyborg theory, I argue, tends to overlook the importance of history and historical context. By engaging in the texts of science fiction writer William Gibson, I map out a new type of globalized individual-subject that is symptomatic of (post)-cold war politics. This new subject encounters -- and has to live with -- three kinds of crises: a crisis of history; a crisis of identity, and finally, a crisis of community. .