Environment Working Group

From Keywords for American Cultural Studies
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Contact Miriam Bartha to join this collaboratory

Collaboratory Working Group Description: Cultural Studies Praxis Collective

The Cultural Studies Praxis Collective (CSPC) is a multi-year collaboration of faculty and academic staff across at Univeristy of Washington, Bothell (UWB), University of Washington, Seattle (UWS), Cascadia Community College (CCC), and Bellevue Community College (BCC). Our long-term goals are to generate and disseminate new research on the multiple locations of the humanities, to initiate and institutionalize curricular innovation across the four campuses, and to build and develop arts and cultural pathways for community-based research and teaching.

We pursue these goals by working with a wide variety of organizations and projects, including the the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies at UW Bothell and the Institute on the Public Humanities for Doctoral Studentsat UW Seattle. For more on the membership of the CSPC and its activities, see CSPC.

Our leading questions

  • How can the best critical cultural work generate creative and collaborative practices across communities?
  • How can scholars in diverse educational institutions in the Pacific Northwest build sustainable pathways for this type of collaborative praxis?

Our keywords

community, culture, public, professional, humanities, art, creativity, research, knowledge, collaboration, work, practice, resource, and development.

A number of these keywords will be quite familiar as "Keywords" within and for cultural studies: art, community, culture, development, knowledge, work, and public appear in one or more of the original (Williams) or recently edited (Bennett, Grossberg, & Morris; Burgett/Hendler) Keywords collections; they are broadly recognized terms shaping critical knowledge, debate, and inquiry in the domains of culture and society.


In seeking to shift dominant formations in American Cultural Studies towards praxis, however, the CSPC has foregrounded collaboration, and particularly collaborative knowledge production across sites that include but do not necesssarily center the university. It has focused on developing the networks and capacities that enable productive cross-sectoral collaborations and inquiries. One of the words that has emerged to talk about this development activity and its relation to other kinds of culture work is "skill."

"Skill" might be counted as an "unacknowledged keyword" of American Cultural Studies in that its genealogies are embedded in its institutional contexts of education and work, art and industry. It is not, however, a keyword that organizes current inquiry in the dominant formation of cultural studies, which, like the tradition of the humanities, organizes expertise and professional identity largely through the mastery of subject knowledge. Indeed, in this context, discussions of "skill" can appear anti-intellectual or narrowly vocational. One of the purposes of this keyword project is to reflect critically and pragmatically on the discourse of "skills" and its implications for cultural studies education and training, particularly its function and limits in enabling transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration and understanding.


Open Invitation

One of the reasons to experiment with this "collaboratory" form of knowledge production around "skills" is that it extends the projects of the CSPC, which has focused on collaborations that include collaborative writing. I hope to enlist the collective knowledge of the faculty/staff collective regarding skills and practice. In addition, I hope to invite the input of the Simpson Center staff (of which I am a member) who have collaboratively enabled and supported the collective's work in various measures for the past three years. Other "Keywords" instructors are also invited to contribute and extend these discussions.

Note: My reading of the wiki as a collaborative genre is that it tends towards a neutral consensus (the encyclopedic model), or towards contestatory overwriting that displaces and replaces various takes. Because I've created a heavy stump page here that follows the interpretive lead of Keywords' precedents, I might suggest that this wiki could be used to make something that is instead multi-vocal. Contributors might extend what is here by adding and writing through various parts, but they also might add a separate voice that answers back or qualifies existing statements, much as an interview format, or a play/dialogue format would.

Collaboratory Lead: Miriam Bartha, University of Washington

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