Art beyond Itself: Anthropology for a Society without a Story Line

Duke University Press
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First published in Spanish in 2010, Art beyond Itself is Néstor García Canclini's deft assessment of contemporary art. The renowned cultural critic suggests that, ideally, art is the place of imminence, the place where we glimpse something just about to happen. Yet, as he demonstrates, defining contemporary art and its role in society is an ever more complicated endeavor. Museums, auction houses, artists, and major actors in economics, politics, and the media are increasingly chummy and interdependent. Art is expanding into urban development and the design and tourism industries. Art practices based on objects are displaced by practices based on contexts. Aesthetic distinctions dissolve as artworks are inserted into the media, urban spaces, digital networks, and social forums. Oppositional artists are adrift in a society without a clear story line. What, after all, counts as transgression in a world of diverse and fragmentary narratives? Seeking a new analytic framework for understanding contemporary art, García Canclini is attentive to particular artworks; to artists including Francis Alÿs, León Ferrari, Teresa Margolles, Antoni Muntadas, and Gabriel Orozco; and to efforts to preserve, for art and artists, some degree of independence from religion, politics, the media, and the market.
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About the author

Néstor García Canclini is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. Born in Argentina, he has lived in Mexico for many years. He is an anthropologist and cultural critic originally trained as a philosopher. Among the many books that he has written, those available in English are Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity, Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflict, Transforming Modernity: Popular Culture in Mexico, and Imagined Globalization, which is published by Duke University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Jun 17, 2014
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9780822376972
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Criticism & Theory
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Felix Cohen, the lawyer and scholar who wrote TheHandbook of Federal Indian Law (1942), was enormously influential in American Indian policy making. Yet histories of the Indian New Deal, a 1934 program of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, neglect Cohen and instead focus on John Collier, commissioner of Indian affairs within the Department of the Interior (DOI). Alice Beck Kehoe examines why Cohen, who, as DOI assistant solicitor, wrote the legislation for the Indian Reorganization Act (1934) and Indian Claims Commission Act (1946), has received less attention. Even more neglected was the contribution that Cohen’s wife, Lucy Kramer Cohen, an anthropologist trained by Franz Boas, made to the process.

Kehoe argues that, due to anti-Semitism in 1930s America, Cohen could not speak for his legislation before Congress, and that Collier, an upper-class WASP, became the spokesman as well as the administrator. According to the author, historians of the Indian New Deal have not given due weight to Cohen’s work, nor have they recognized its foundation in his liberal secular Jewish culture. Both Felix and Lucy Cohen shared a belief in the moral duty of mitzvah, creating a commitment to the “true and the just” that was rooted in their Jewish intellectual and moral heritage, and their Social Democrat principles.

A Passion for the True and Just takes a fresh look at the Indian New Deal and the radical reversal of US Indian policies it caused, moving from ethnocide to retention of Indian homelands. Shifting attention to the Jewish tradition of moral obligation that served as a foundation for Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen (and her professor Franz Boas), the book discusses Cohen’s landmark contributions to the principle of sovereignty that so significantly influenced American legal philosophy.
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