The current research areas within the Department are presented under each heading in the menu. The areas are interdisciplinary and may vary over time.
Cultural Heritage, Image and Narrative
In recent decades, ‘cultural heritage’ has emerged as one of the key concepts of critical cultural study. The research area Cultural Heritage, Image and Narrative contextualises how heritage and archival material, especially in oral, corporeal and visual form, impact on knowledge production, individual and collective identity, values and power relations. Building on interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Cultural Sciences and the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Gothenburg, we explore democratic issues pertaining to cultural heritage. This includes cultural expressions in a wide range of material and intangible cultural heritage, from everyday routines and traditions to the use of narrative and re-consumption. More specifically, studies focus on how images (in a broad sense), life stories and archives can enable people to understand themselves, their communities, their contexts, their pasts, their aspirations and their futures in new and constructive ways.
Cultural Media Studies
Cultural science research into film and gaming is based around a film studies perspective on the history, theory and methodology of the audiovisual media. The field has solid empirical and philosophical foundations, and is both locally and internationally based, and socially and technically oriented. The research conducted within the Department involves film analyses from a feminist philosophical perspective, historical studies of various kinds of documentary film, audiovisual analyses of moving image media, psychological and aesthetic studies of mobile media platforms, historical/aesthetic analyses of game mechanics, analyses of films for children and young people, and locally rooted projects concerning archives and the conservation of films and games in partnership with cultural institutions and companies.
Dance and Music Cultures
The research conducted in the area of dance and music cultures is rarely about dance and music per se, often focusing instead on everything surrounding these two common and important cultural expressions. When, where and why is music heard and performed, and by whom? The same questions apply to dance: who dances what, when and why? Some of these issues are always addressed in some form, but rarely or never do they all appear in the same project or study.
Practically everyone encounters dance and/or music in some form. Music in particular is all around us almost all the time, but dance is also something that everyone relates to, whether or not they dance themselves or watch performances. The plethora of opinions about dance and music are what make these cultural expressions an interesting object of study.
Those of us researching dance and music cultures at the Department include musicologists, ethnologists and art historians.
The City – Culture and Democracy
The city is a place of meaning-making practices that generate various forms of spatiality. Within the research area of The City – Culture and Democracy, studies focus on governing strategies: marketing, urban development projects and cultural planning, as well as on people’s everyday use and re-use of urban space. The role of architecture, art and culture in urban development is analysed, along with everyday culture and geographies of the city. Governing cities is largely about spatial distribution of resources, making questions of democracy particularly relevant. Themes of segregation, gentrification and the function(s) of public space are used to analyse how power and influence are negotiated and distributed among different actors and stakeholders.
Transnational Activism: Gender and Sexuality
The research group studies activism, feminism, queer and trans movements in both local and transnational contexts. At the heart of this research are questions about how political subjectivity, community and resistance arise through activist practice. Decoloniality, racism, capitalism, neoliberalism and the relationship between religion/secularism and North/South are of particular interest. South Asia, Latin America, Turkey, Russia and Scandinavia are some of the geographical starting points. The research group contributes to feminist theory and methodology by posing questions such as: How can transnational movements be studied beyond organisations? Can knowledge gained through video-archives challenge and renew academic knowledge production? How can resistance be theorised as a space for interactions between micro and macro levels? What can we learn from the tensions surrounding concepts like civil society, gender equality and human rights?
Visual Culture encompasses a wide range of visual expressions in various media and display contexts. The field is not restricted to the examination of artifacts, but also turns its attention to vision and perception and the position of the beholder. Contemporary phenomena are studied, as well as the visual culture of bygone eras. The disciplines most closely associated with the field include art history, film studies and media studies, but visual culture is also a common theme in gender studies, history, history of ideas and philosophy, as well as in several other disciplines.
Youth and Popular Culture
The main focus of the research field Youth and Popular Culture is directed towards the life conditions of the modern individual and their need for a sense of meaning and community. Contemporary social and cultural processes of change – such as globalisation and mediatisation – have led to the dissolving of traditional patterns of identity once connected to class, gender, ethnicity, nation and religion. The central interest for our research is to study how children, young people and adults use symbols, styles, cultural codes and consumption, and the production and uses of music, dance, film and fashion, to deal with changes in their contemporary life world. By putting phenomena like these into their social and historical contexts, we can study their functions and understand them as signifying practices. Seen through this kind of theoretical lens, these cultural phenomena can all be seen as symbolic expressions for the struggles of the contemporary individual to deal with and understand the life conditions of late modernity.