Your suggestions, please

Here is the deal: I will be heading off in December to the university in lovely Nishville (yes, I know! The home of Louis and Šaban Bajramović!), where I will have the job of helping the local sociologists improve their program in sociology of culture. The plans are ambitious: for creating a regional MA program in cultural studies (together with other universities in the region) concentrated on the Balkans to, more immediately, putting together a new textbook for sociology of culture. This is one of the results of isolation over the past several years: contacts need to be rebuilt, curricula are fifteen years out of date, and contemporary textbooks and readers need to be put together. It is not just Serbia -- there are no new culture textbooks in Croatia or BH either. Yes, this means I will be maintaining another blog silence for most of December.

This is where you come in. I have a budget from the foundation that is sponsoring our cooperation to bring them publications in sociology of culture that are essential for bringing the curriculum up to date, and portions of which might be excerpted and translated to be included in the textbook. What should I buy them? We are defining sociology of culture broadly -- for example, political sociology and sociology of religion are fair game, together with the usual topics. I have a sense that "border studies" might make for some good analogies, and our friend at Phronesisaical has given some good suggestions.

So, what would you like them to get? What texts do you think need to be in a new reader? The criteria are: 1) they should have been published between 1990 and the present, 2) they should be helpful in understanding the production, character and social life of culture, and 3) they should be, if not about the Balkans, about something for which comparisons and analogies will be useful in the Balkans. My finger is on the "order now! button.


Catherine said...

Another exciting project of yours, Eric!

I hope some of these suggestions will be worthwhile - this isn't at all exhaustive, just what occurs to me at far too early a time in the morning...!

On culture in an international context, Arjun Appadurai probably ought to be in there even though he's a bit too optimistic for my liking. Mike Featherstone 'Undoing culture' (1995) might be helpful on concepts of globalisation and postmodernism and would point you to more authors on the topic.

If you want to do anything on culture and national identity, put in some texts which look at the reproduction and contestation of the nation through social practice. Eg. Michael Billig's 'Banal nationalism' (1995) which has inspired Tim Edensor's 'National identity, popular culture, and everyday life' (2002). I've also found parts of Douglas Kellner's 'Media culture' useful.

Talking of the media, Nicholas Abercrombie and Brian Longhurst 'Audiences' (1998) are trying to construct a theory of contemporary society based on Debord's 'society of the spectacle'. Not entirely successful, but they've got a lot to say. On TV, Roger Silverstone 'Television and everyday life' (perhaps also John Hartley, but I have problems applying his later work to a Balkan context - though it might be just me...); John Urry 'The tourist gaze' (2002) on tourism; and I wouldn't presume to recommend texts on music to you! I note you mentioned border studies - Hastings Donnan and Thomas Wilson 'Borders' (1999) is a good introduction there and would lead you to more.

In terms of political anthropology, I'm sure the great Colovic is on your list already! Dunja Rihtman-Augustin was just as insightful in 'Ulice moga grada' (2000), and maybe something from Reana Senjkovic 'Lica drustva, likovi drzave' (2002) as well. Zdislaw Mach's 'Symbols, conflict, and identity' is 1992, but would complement these regional texts.

Eric Gordy said...

Thank you, Catherine!