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This report has been make possible due to the generous support of the Australian Research Council, and The University of Queensland

ARC Cultural Research Network:
Cultural Literacies, Cultural Technologies, Cultural Identities, and Cultural Histories

Submission ID No. SR0354670

Please Note: This website was part of the original submission for the Cultural Research Network, and is maintained for archive purposes. Please go to www.uq.edu.au/crn/ for the current CRN website.

The Cultural Research Network's initial disciplinary base will be in cultural, media and communications studies. From this foundation it will build collaborative links with researchers from cultural history, cultural geography, cultural anthropology and creative industries to develop the capacity for innovative research into media and cultural technologies, cultural literacies, cultural histories, geographies and identities. To facilitate interdisciplinary exchange, the network will establish virtual connections, web-enabled databases, travelling master classes, seminars and symposia. The network will circulate people as well as ideas and information, bringing established Australian researchers into direct contact with postgraduates and young researchers in these fields, and pursuing international linkages.

Significance

Humanities disciplines have increasingly directed their attention to the analysis of the production and consumption of culture, interacting with other disciplines in order to research the complex local and global situation of culture. Cultural studies led the way towards exploiting the interdisciplinary potential this represents. Here it provides a broad intellectual and theoretical base upon which to construct an extended multi-disciplinary research network which will host common discussions of method and principle, fostering young academics working across disciplines, improving opportunities for resource sharing, and enabling collaboration on projects of national and international significance.

Background

Research in cultural studies, media studies and communications studies have been the pre-eminent growth areas in Australia over the last decade. Furthermore, Australian researchers have led international developments in cultural studies, creative industries, new media and new technologies, and cultural policy studies. We also have long-standing strengths in Asian cultural studies, cultural geography and cultural history. However, Australian researchers in these fields tend to work alone or within the remit of their individual institutions. Especially at the level of young researchers, research concentrations in one city tend to have little to do with research concentrations in another, meeting only through annual professional associations rather than pursuing project-based collaboration. The network will assist the various interests to inform each other much more productively than they do now.

Activities

The activities proposed for the network include:

  • Decentralised network nodes as well as a central program and convenor
  • A managed website, electronically shared data-bases, video conferencing etc.
  • Focused workshops and symposia involving established and younger researchers to: share information and expertise; generate collaborative approaches to projects, applications and graduate training; bridge boundaries between disciplines and institutions; and forge international connections.
  • Travelling work-in-progress seminars for established and younger researchers, travelling master classes for postgraduates and younger researchers, and project-based colloquia on particular methodologies, approaches, projects or topics.

Collaboration

While many of the participants in this proposal already have a strong record of collaboration within media and cultural studies, this collaboration tends to be localised—often limited to one institution or city, and from within one disciplinary perspective. The network will build from these successful but limited beginnings to generate interdisciplinary collaboration on a national scale: bringing research groups from one city, for example, into sustained and productive interaction with researchers around the country. The network will enable the benefits of collaboration to spread more widely than is currently the case.

In particular, collaborations between the critical traditions of cultural studies and more empirical methods and approaches are still relatively rare, although gradually increasing. By focusing on connections with cultural geography, cultural history and cultural anthropology—and by including participants who have already begun to investigate the links between these disciplines and cultural studies—the network will directly address this situation and accelerate this trend.

At a practical level, the resources gathered by particular modes of cultural research for specific projects—interviews, or media recordings for instance—tend not to be shared or even available to other researchers. Where possible, the network will investigate ways to disseminate information about the existence of such data as well as the means of archiving them in web-enabled databases for more general academic use.

The network will be founded on existing strong personal associations, using them to extend the benefits of collaboration, in particular to the younger researchers and postgraduates who have been poorly served in the past. The current barrier to this kind of enterprise, institution-specific research cultures, can be overcome by a national network directed towards collaborative, interdisciplinary, and inter-institutional relationships. The intellectual pre-conditions for this already exist; the network will provide a way to put it into practice.

Outcomes

The Network will:

  • Exploit the intellectual and interdisciplinary opportunities provided by the conceptual centrality of culture as the shared focus for interdisciplinary humanities research;
  • Connect younger researchers and postgraduates to the best and most innovative work in their field, no matter where it is based;
  • Assist researchers to take advantage of the opportunities provided by existing funding organisations and to better exploit the available linkages with public sector institutions and private industry;
  • Build on the strong reputation that cultural studies, cultural policy studies and creative industries research in Australia enjoys by developing a more collaborative and multidisciplinary research culture for the humanities nationally and internationally;
  • Facilitate project-based collaboration within research nodes, with a view to developing an integrated program of interdisciplinary cultural research projects;
  • Establish a specific support program for postgraduate and early career researchers.

Location

The University of Queensland has a strong track record in competitively-funded research, including major collaborative initiatives such as research centres and research facilities. Established management, financial and administrative systems within the university, including comprehensive, specialist services for research and research training provide quality support to our researchers and research students. The ARC Cultural Research Network will be located in the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies; Professor Turner is the Centre's Director.

The Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies serves a similar research development function for the Arts Faculty at the University of Queensland to that which it will serve in the national network. The Centre facilitates interdisciplinary research through presenting lectures, seminars, master classes and other events as a means of exposing innovative research to those working in a range of disciplines, bringing researchers from various disciplinary approaches into conversation with each other, and developing groups of researchers into coherent research concentrations. One of those concentrations was formalised as the Centre for the History of European Discourses in 2003. The research assistants mentioned in the budget will be located at the CCCS and the University of Queensland will make a cash contribution to the budget of the Network.