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Cultural governance and pictorial resistance: reflections on the imaging of war

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2004

Extract

If we assume that the state has no ontological status apart from the many and varied practices that bring it into being, then the state is an artefact of a continual process of reproduction that performatively constitutes its identity. The inscription of boundaries, the articulation of coherence, and the identification of threats to its sense of self can be located in and driven by the official discourses of government. But they can equally be located in and driven by the cultural discourses of the community, and represented in sites as ‘unofficial’ as art, film and literature. While such cultural locations are often taken to be the sites of resistance to practices of government, their oppositional character is neither intrinsic nor guaranteed. Indeed, states have often engaged in or benefited from practices of cultural governance. As Michael Shapiro argues, cultural governance involves support for diverse genres of expression to constitute and legitimise practices of sovereignty, while restricting or preventing those representations that challenge sovereignty. In this sense, cultural governance is a set of historical practices of representation – involving the state but never fully controlled by the state – in which the struggle for the state's identity is located.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2003 British International Studies Association

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