“Inhabiting Cultures”

2017
editorial project
(Journal of American Studies)

This forthcoming special issue of the Journal of American Studies on inhabiting cultures will offer an expanded context for scholarly activities. By “inhabiting cultures” we refer to hybrid work that strikes a critical stance, but simultaneously participates in the very thing under critique. In other words, researchers are embedded in real ways in the objects/subjects under investigation, so that the work both critiques and proliferates a particular kind of culture. The late anthropologist Ivan Karp has hinted at this through the notion of public scholarship in which professional and vernacular languages are always in conversation, making boundary crossing an ethical imperative to the production of research. Historian Howard Zinn also invoked the phrase “public scholarship” to articulate the coincidence of his research and politics. More recently, a group has emerged from New York University that describes its work as “militant research,” or research that is explicit about its politics. It further posits that changes in thought are provoked only by changes in real action. “Inhabiting Cultures” seeks to proffer examples of culturally engaged forms of inquiry in order to reflect on some of the problems and politics of scholarship.