garcía canclini and lear

Back to García Canclini.

How do you conceive of your audience? As consumers, in the neoliberal model? Where we are organized by our purchase preferences, and where preference is guided (bound) by corporations? As a nation – in the sense of being monolithic (mono-linguistic?) and itself in control of the discourse? Or – as GC suggests, as a new kind of citizenry – where we communicate across the consumer landscape but reach to action through embodied practices, insisting on history and manifesting the present?

Today’s photo from Theatre of Yugen’s production of Cordelia, at the middle of the Soulographie cycle… a Noh-based adaptation of Lear.

Quotes from GC – taken from Consumers and Citizens.

We are leaving behind the era in which identities were defined by ahistorical essences. Today, instead, shaped by consumption, identities depend on what one owns or is capable of attaining. (p.16-17)

In the past, the state provided the framework (albeit unjust or biased) that contained the variety of forms of participation in public life. Nowadays, the market brings together these forms of participation through the medium of consumption. We need to respond with a strategic concept that can articulate the various strands of citizenship so that they complement each other in the new and the old settings of the state and the market. (p.22)

Disillusioned with the state, party, and union bureaucracies, the publics turn to radio and television to receive what citizen institutions could not deliver: services, justice, reparations, or just attention. (p.23)

Political and economic decisions are now made according to the seductive immediacy of consumption, or in line with a free-trade ethos stripped of any memory of its errors, or on the basis of the frenzied importation of the latest models. As if past experience did not teach anything, these policies lead to foreign debt and a crisis in the balance of payments. (p.18)

The diminishing effectiveness of traditional and enlightened forms of citizen participation (parties, unions, grassroots associations) is not offset by the incorporation of masses as consumers or as occasional participants in spectacles that political, technological and economic power brokers offer in the media.

We might say that as we leave the twentieth century, the societies that organize us as consumers for the twenty-first century return us to the eighteenth as citizens. (p.24-25)

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