Cultural Autonomy
344 pages, 6 1/2 x 9
3 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Jan 2011
Release Date:01 Apr 2010
Release Date:01 Jan 2011

Cultural Autonomy

Frictions and Connections

UBC Press

In recent years, globalization has challenged concepts such as local culture and cultural autonomy. And the rampant commodification of cultural products that has accompanied the global turn has called into question the way we define culture itself. Have these developments transformed the relationship between culture and autonomy? Have traditional notions of cultural autonomy been recast?

Cultural Autonomy showcases the work of scholars from multiple fields of interest who are exploring new ways of understanding the critical issue of globalization and culture. By defining culture broadly – as a set of ideas or practices that range from literary criticism and the work of public intellectuals such as Edward Said to Greenpeace, Zapatismo, and skateboarding – they trace how issues of cultural autonomy have played out in various areas, including the human rights and environmental movements and among indigenous peoples. Although the contributors focus on the marginalized issue of autonomy, they offer a balanced perspective – one that reveals that globalization has not only limited but also created new forms of cultural autonomy.

A theoretically sophisticated collection, Cultural Autonomy redefines and carves out new terrain for debate about autonomy and culture in an age of globalization.

This book is required reading for anyone interested in exploring the limits and possibilities that globalization offers culture.

Petra Rethmann is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University. Imre Szeman is Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and a professor of English and film studies at the University of Alberta. William D. Coleman is CIGI Chair in Globalization and Public Policy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo.

Contributors: Eric Cazdyn, Arif Dirlik, Anna Greenspan, Heike Härting, Peter Hitchcock, Alex Khasnabish, Neil McLaughlin, Wren Nasr, Susie O’Brien, Colin Scott, Tim Sedo



1 Introduction: Cultural Autonomy, Politics, and Global Capitalism / William D. Coleman, Imre Szeman, and Petra Rethman

2 Our Ways of Knowing: Globalization – The End of Universalism? / Arif Dirlik

3 Bioeconomics, Culture, and Politics after Globalization / Eric Cazdyn

4 Globalization, Postmodernism, and (Autonomous) Criticism / Imre Szeman

5 The World, the Literary, and the Political / Peter Hitchcock

6 Global Public Intellectuals, Autonomy, and Culture: Reflections Inspired by the Death of Edward Said / Neil McLaughlin

7 The Politics of Indigenous Knowledge in Environmental Assessment: James Bay Crees and Hydroelectric Projects / Wren Nasr and Colin Scott

8 Global Humanitarianism and Racial Autonomy in Roméo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil / Heike Härting

9 Global Activism and the Visual Grammar of Nature / Petra Rethmann

10 Making Big Noise: The Northern Resonance of Zapatismo / Alex Khasnabish

11 Anti-Fascist Gluttons of the World Unite! The Cultural Politics of Slow Food / Susie O’Brien

12 Autonomy on the Market: China and India Change Tracks / Anna Greenspan

13 Dead-Stock Boards, Blown-Out Spots, and the Olympic Games: Global Twists and Local Turns in the Formation of China’s Skateboarding Community / Tim Sedo

Notes and Acknowledgments; Works Cited; Contributors; Index

Find what you’re looking for...

30% off all UBC Press books through December 31, 2022. Use code BRRR30 at checkout.

Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Current Catalogue
Fall 2022 catalogue cover
Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.