[artinfo] #place - a new discussion on location and cultural politics

Danny Butt db at dannybutt.net
Wed Jun 2 12:10:22 CEST 2004

#place is a new discussion on location, cultural politics, and social
technologies. To join in, visit:


Topics covered on #place include, but are not limited to:

* The politics of intercultural communication
* Colonisation, cultural nationalism, 'intranationalism' (e.g.
indigenous sovereignty)
* Regional alliances, globalisation and cultural politics
* Sociology of the knowledge economy
* The mediated experience of physical, social, economic and cultural
* Cultural uses of land and geography (particularly in colonial
* Activism through local, regional and global networks
* The "places" of intellectual work
* Collaborative practices and located positions
* The uneven distribution of information

:::::::  Why #place? :::::::

Location, position, situation and place have become increasingly common
terms in comparative discussions of knowledge and culture.

Many institutions shaping the Western educational and political systems
have claimed the betterment of "humankind" as their goal. The
University in particular framed its contributions as adding to
"humanity's stock of knowledge". Where exactly that knowledge came
from, or went to, was seen to be unimportant. But the beneficiaries of
this "knowledge economy", from a sociological perspective, turn out to
be a select few, and Western ideologies tend to suppress these politics
of intellectual labour. As David Turnbull puts it, in a culture that
prefers the abstract over the concrete, "knowledge has to be presented
as unbiased and undistorted, without a place or knower." Sharon Traweek
calls this knowledge system "the culture of no culture", the desire to
be beyond cultural location.

However, recent social movements can be seen as calls to put knowledge
in its place. Increasingly, the West has been challenged on its habit
of defining "the world" in its own image.  Anti-colonial scholars such
as Linda Tuhiwai Smith have demonstrated that knowledge and research
have been central  to the process of colonisation. The gains from
knowledge production supposedly "for human benefit" have been largely
hidden from indigenous groups, yet all too beneficial for the purposes
of colonial power.

While the colonial project has harnessed communications technologies in
service of its imperial aims, these communications networks are also
fostering new collaborative practices which resist the imperial
worldview. Media networks promise standardisation, but these networks
are also allowing people in different "places" (physical, economic,
social, cultural) to share perspectives and strategies for resistance,
while developing their own sense of place.

The initial aim of #place is to collaboratively develop dialogue around
these issues, share experiences and insights, and ultimately connect
people working on related problems of location and cultural politics.
This aim reflects my experience that people are discussing these issues
between numerous cultures and knowledge traditions, but without a place
that explicitly reflects on that connection. This aim is only a
beginning, however, and the future aims of #place will be determined by
those who join and participate. #place aims to bring many places into

By the end of 2004 a collective will be established from contributors
to guide #place's development. Possibilities for #place in 2005 include
meetings, conferences, publications, and alliances with other groups.

To join #place visit

=> http://www.place.net.nz

or send an e-mail to: place-request at place.net.nz
with the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) in the Subject field,
and follow the instructions you get sent.

#place has been launched by Danny Butt - http://www.dannybutt.net
as part of the Intranation residency at Banff Centre for the Arts -

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