An interdisciplinary network of academics, writers, artists and scientists.
The ‘Re-‘ Interdisciplinary Network brings together researchers, teachers, writers and artists and scientists whose interest in cultural reproduction, repetition and reference extends beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and the university/public divide.
Currently funded as a Mellon-Newton Research Network at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge, we run seminar series, lectures and workshops that bring together speakers from different disciplinary backgrounds to stimulate open-ended participant discussion. These events are open to the public, and building relationships beyond the university is a priority.
From adaptation, preservation, and memorial to brand and social media ‘sharing’, our primary research aim is to explore whether different socially-driven practices of repetition have meaningfully related structures, implications, and dynamics.
We bring different disciplines into conversation to encourage thinking beyond specific vocabularies and disciplinary agendas. Cross-disciplinary discussions are designed to interrogate and situate ideas such as originals, copies, canons, icons, objects, traditions, authenticity, translation, memory, museums, archives etc. We are interested in the similar relations of identity and power they perform. From adaptation, preservation, and memorial to brand and social media ‘sharing’, our primary research aim is to explore whether different socially-driven practices of repetition have meaningfully related structures, implications, and dynamics.
We think current and past discussions in the arts and humanities about the iterative nature of culture could usefully inform understandings of the digital present. In a post-truth environment we need new models of expertise. The digital sphere has until recently been seen via the imaginative terms of science and technology (‘data’), but is pre-eminently a human, collective and performative phenomenon. So ‘Re-‘ is also interested in bringing to bear established discussions in the Arts and Humanities on understanding our current era of rapid change, as a fertile resource of instances, observations, methods, and caveats.
The ‘Re-‘ Network’s ultimate goal is to help equip the public with a more fluent grasp of how cultural repetition, both historically and in the present, offers an identity, frames a particular worldview, implies a consensus, and performs a persuasive past.
Beyond Originals and Copies: hierarchical relations of ‘originals’ and their copies as a western and nineteenth-century view of culture.
Technologies of Reproduction: how different technologies of reproduction afford different types of social and political relations. Compared to Embodied Practices of Reproduction explored in creative workshops.
Iteration as Persuasion in the attention economy (to be published as a special issue of the AI and Society Journal).
Upcoming ‘Re-‘ topics include:
Canons vs icons: different kinds of aggregation (category, label, type). Canon-formation driven by collective capacities to recognise, vs. institutional gatekeepers.
Reprint: looking at the social agencies and impacts of different eras and types of publication – rethinking what books can be and do, especially when revived.
Performing archives: the interdependence of archive and event; how archives engage with the future, not just the past, and co-constitute the items they collect.
Traditions: seeing traditions as a collusive practice rather than a thing – the traditional. What is the difference between tradition, fashion and virality?
Chronologies: imaginaries of sequence – comparing calendars, seasonality, shapes of history – line vs Medieval circle vs interruption etc. The timeline in Western culture.
Nostalgia: embodied and disembodied place, record, and re-enactment. The new term ‘retraditionalise’. The emotional nature of digital public spaces.
Re-exhibition: the performing object, museology, architecture as palimpsest, site-specificity, the agency of objects.