Professor John Hutnyk BA PhD
Academic Director, Co-convenor of MA Creating Social Media, Co-convenor MA Critical Asian Studies
+44 (0)20 7919 7061
Summary of Research
Three single authored monographs (1996, 2000, 2004) each often reviewed and cited, and marking distinct research areas: urban studies, music and politics, politics and theory. One co-authored book (Diaspora and Hybridity 2005) and four edited book collections (1996, 1999, 2006, 2012), each making openings for new research. With regard to my longstanding investigations into the politics of tourism and urbanism, both the monograph The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation (Zed books 1996) and the edited collection "Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics" (Zed 1999) were widely reviewed. Since the mid 1990s I have been researching on transnational/diasporic music and politics. Producing a monograph "Critique of Exotica: Music Politics and the Culture Industry" (Pluto 2000), the co-authored book Diaspora and Hybridity (Sage 2005), the edited collection "Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the New Asian Dance Music" (Zed 1996) and special issues on "Music and Politics" in the journals Postcolonial Studies (Vol 1,3 1998) and Theory, Culture and Society (17.3 2000). A forthcoming book, pantomime Terror will take this work into the area of contemporary policing, the politics of Islamophobia and geopolitical intrigue (zero 2013). My work in the volume Bad Marxism: Cultural Studies and Capitalism" consolidates my research at the intersections of politics, cultural studies and philosophy, which continued with the special festshrifft volume " Celebrating Transgression: Method and Politics in Anthropological Studies of Culture" (co-edited 2006) on anthropological method and will soon be supplemented by a book of essays called Proletarianisation (2013) and a future large volume on Marx's Capital, drawn from my Spring term lecture course on the same. A recent edited collection called Beyond Borders (Pavement books 2012) collects new work on the politics of migration, and continues.
My current research interests include: revolutionary movements, especially South Asia; global knowledge production and the history of ideas, trinkets, archives and collections; architectural style and urbanization; trade routes, ports and the administration of commercial(ized) lives with multiple ‘locations’ (co-constitution and triangulation of sites); history of work and technology, especially with regard to mode of production debates; illicit trade and ‘piracy’ as catalyst for neo-liberal incursion; the politics of prisons and confinement.
Research in six areas is of particular interest at present:
- in terms of globalizing knowledge production, important scientific investigation and ‘collecting expeditions’ as well as key literary studies and publications which can be sourced to Bengal. For example, the first printed edition of the 1001 Nights was at Fort William College on the Hooghly in 1814 (ed: Shaikh Ahmad ibn-Mahmud Shirawani), as well as a second four volume edition (ed: William Macnaughten 1839) used by Burton for his translations (1885-86). In terms of collecting, this too must be sourced from the ‘other’ end than usually acknowledged. What labour and whose labour goes into collections, such as, for example, the Horniman Museum in South London which holds important records and collections of musical instruments related to Chhau dance traditions of Bihar and West Bengal, although conspicuously uninterested in practitioners.
- in terms of architecture, the buildings of the East India company have significant resonance with those in other port cities such as Manchester and Melbourne largely by way of shared commercial enterprise in multiple locations. This is a record of connections amongst the global sites of early colonization that can sometimes be seen in buildings still standing (this is easier for later periods of course, compare the neo-Baroque of Calcutta’s Metropolitan Building on Jawaharlal Nehru Rd with Manchester’s ‘India House’, Melbourne’s State Savings Bank of Victoria, and the London War Office Building on Whitehall etc.).
- co-constitution of the Caribbean trade with the East India trade: the global connection reaches back to the earliest days – Job Charnock having ‘rented’, with military support, three villages on the Hooghly from 1690, The British had purchased land in Hooghly with silver gleaned from the sale of slaves in the West Indies (note: Charnok is not the ‘founder’ of Calcutta and the city was not ‘built by the British’ but by local labour. Reference mention of Saptagram in Bipradas Pipilai’s Manasa Mangala 1495).
- the changes in production narrative of the established scholarship might be reworked from the other end. In The Age of Revolution Hobsbawn notes that until the industrial revolution Europe had always imported more from the East than it had sold there (Hobsbawn 1975:34) and Marx notes the ruin of handicraft through the advent of machine production which ‘forcibly converts [the colonies] into fields for the supply of its raw material. In this way East India was compelled to produce cotton, wool, hemp, jute and indigo for Great Britain (Marx 1867/1967:451). The clue here is that these exports, crafts, conversions and re-organizations had to involve workers in situ – the changes were not produced from afar, but rather sourced on site. A history of labour, labour force, forms of work and workplace change, will look quite different if read from the ‘other’ end of colonialism.
- the Opium trade. This is often written up in terms of British gunboat diplomacy, but it is also curious how important the controversy was in Europe, how much of the sensibility of European public life was governed by events abroad. Marx, among many, also mentions the opium trade, recommending the Chinese ‘celestials’ legalize the drug so as to undermine the English traders. The baneful impact of opium is not only felt in China, but in India the trade ‘forces the opium cultivation upon Bengal, to the great damage of the productive resources of that country’ (Marx 1958 New York Tribune).
- colonial incarcerations – the development and adaptation of coercive punishments, legal protocols, discipline and incarceration. From the ‘Black Hole’ to contemporary terror laws’. Given the central role of the city in later political intrigues – Calcutta’s early ‘bad reputation’ is undeserved and should be countered. Thus if the Black Hole story must be told, it can be in a critical version: Marx calls the incident a ‘sham scandal’ (Marx 1947:81). In an extensive collection of notes made on Indian history, Marx comments that on the evening of June 21, 1756, after the Governor of Calcutta had ignored the order of Subadar Suraj-ud-duala to ‘raze all British fortifications’ in the city:
"Suraj came down on Calcutta in force ... fort stormed, garrison taken prisoners, Suraj gave orders that all the captives should be kept in safety till the morning; but the 146 men (accidentally, it seems) were crushed into a room 20 feet square and with but one small window; next morning (as Holwell himself tells the story), only 23 were still alive; they were allowed to sail down the Hooghly. It was ‘the Black Hole of Calcutta’, over which the English hypocrites have been making so much sham scandal to this day. Suraj-ud-duala returned to Murshidabad; Bengal now completely and effectually cleared of the English intruders" (Marx 1947:81, my italics).
Marx also reports on the subsequent retaliation against and defeat of Suraj-ud-duala by Lord Clive (‘that Great Robber’ as he calls him elsewhere Marx 1853/1978:86), and Clive’s 1774 suicide after his ‘cruel persecution’ by the directors of the East India Company (Marx 1947:88). There seem to be very good reasons to conclude that the black hole incident is counterfeit. The single report from a ‘survivor’ some months after Clive’s savage response to Suraj-ud-duala’s occupation of Calcutta - the famous/notorious Battle of Plassey - reads very much like a justification forged to deflect criticisms of brutality on the part of the British forces.
Current Book projects include: Pantomime Terror; Proletarianisation, Capital, Trinketization. All forthcoming. For some downloadable texts, see http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/texts/
1986, BA (HONS), Anthropology, First, Deakin University
1994, PhD, Political Science, University of Melbourne
2013 Convener of MA Creating Social Media and MA Critical Asian Studies
2013 MA course option, Capitalism and Cultural Studies - see here.
2013 PhD Seminar
2013 PhD Co/supervisions: Carrie Clanton, Rana Brjentes, Kiwi Menrath, Rico Reyes, Jeff Heydon, Rachel Palmer, Leila Whitley, Karen Tam, Alix Brodie, Jennifer Otter, Lindsay Polly Crisp, Heidi Hasbrouck, Marianne Damoiseau, Kevin Molin, Lisa Baldissera, Claire Reddleman, Macon Holt, Fotis Kazis, Simon Barber, Moritz Altenreid, Anisha Ahmed, Aecio Amaral
PhDs completed: Saule Goode – ‘The Sans-Papiers Struggle against Exclusion: Politics in a Parisian Banlieue’ (Anthropology); Howard Potter – On memory and Holocaust in a former Work Camp in Eastern Germany (Anthropology); Ji Yeon Lee - On South East Asian Cinema and Directors (Cultural Studies); Nicola Frost – On Indonesian Separatist Movements Working in Australia (Anthropology); Atticus Che Narrain – Film in Guyana. (Anthropology); Craig Smith – Pedagogic Practice in Art. (Cultural Studies); Theresa Cronin – Cinema Space; Sarah Sonner – Photography and Decay (Cultural Studies); Joel McKim – Souvenirs. (Cultural Studies); Daisy Tam – philosophy of slow (Cultural Studies); Theresa Mikuriya – Photographic history (Cultural Studies); Jeff Kinkle – Debord, Spectacle and capital; Tom Bunyard – Debord’s Spectacle and identity; Cristobal Bianchi – art poetry, events; Alexander Schwinghammer War Reporting and Mediality; Alison Hulme Ethnography of Pound shops and trinkets; Elena Papadaki – curatorial art practice and objects; Richard Iveson – Animals; Enis Oktay – Night-time Economy of Berlin...
Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies. Pluto Press, London (June) 2004
Critique of Exotica: Music; Politics and the Culture Industry. Pluto Press: London. 2000
The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation. Zed Books, London. 1996
Diaspora and Hybridity (co-authored with Virinder Kalra and Raminder Kaur). Sage: London 2005
Celebrating Transgression: Method and Politics in Anthropological Studies of Culture (co-ed with Ursula Rao). Berghahn: Oxford 2006
Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics. (co-ed with Raminder Kaur). Zed Books: London. 1999
Dis-orientating Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music. (co-ed with Sanjay Sharma & Ashwani Sharma). Zed Books: London. 1996
Beyond Borders (edited - Pavement books, 2012).
'Music and Politics' special issue of Theory, Culture and Society Vol 17 no 3 2000 (co-ed with Sanjay Sharma)
'Music and Politics' special issue of Postcolonial Studies Vol 1 no 3 1998, (co-ed with Virinder Kalra)
'Publicity' section in the journal Left Curve No 29 2005 www.leftcurve.org
From here, an incomplete list of academic articles (quite a few old ones still to be scanned yet) ... More to come…
‘Proletarianisation’ in New Formations 2013
with Tom Henri ‘Contexts for Distraction’ Journal of Cultural Research 2012
‘Beyond Television Studies‘, South Asian History and Culture, 3:4, 583-590 – 2012
‘Poetry After Guantanamo‘ – in Social Identities Volume 18, Issue 5 pp. 555-572 - 2012
‘Sexy Sammy and Red Rosie‘ in Space and Culture – 2012
Interview by State of Nature: - http://www.stateofnature.org/johnHutnyk.html - 2010;
Critique of Everything - Journal of the Finish Anthropological Society - 2011
Undercover transportsPDF - from What Does a Chameleon Look Like? eds Menrath & Schwinghammer - 2011;
‘Pantomime Paranoia in London, or, “Look Out, He’s Behind You”‘ from Popular Music and Human Rights, ed Ian Peddie - 2011 - by grace and favour of the publisher;
‘NDTV 24 X 7, the Hanging Channel: News Media or Horror Show?’ in Contemporary Indian Media and the Politics of Change, London: Routledge. Published 2011;
Tourism: Trinketization and the Manufacture of the Exotic from Battleground: The Media, 2 vols - 2011;
with Laura King, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Gaius Baltar’ from Breaching the Colonial Contract: Anti-Colonialism in the US and Canada, ’Chapter Twelve – King and Hutnyk‘ [spoilers to end of BSG S03E20) - 2009;
The Politics of Cats from Stimulus Respond 2007;
Culture from Theory Culture Society New Encyclopedia Project 2006;
an article on Asian Communists in the UK from Social Identities 2005;
a piece on Fun*Da*Mental from South Asian Popular Culture 2005;
Hybridity from Ethnic and Racial Studies 2005;
Photogenic Poverty: Souvenirs and Infancy from the Journal of Visual Culture 2004;
The Chapatti Story from Contemporary South Asia 2003;
Bataille’s Wars from Critique of Anthropology 2003;
Jungle Studies from Futures 2002;
talesfromtheraj13 (1)- Rethinking Marxism 2001;
Capital Calcutta from City Visions eds Bell and Haddour 2000;
'Culture Move' on ADF: in Ghadar May 2000;
Complicity from the Assembly catalogue 2000
Resettling Bakun: Consultancy, Anthropologists and Development, Left Curve 23, 1999
Adorno at Womad from Postcolonial Studies 1998;
The Authrority of Style Social Analysis No 21 1987
These adn more downloadable texts here http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/texts/