Proposal for presentation in Kolkata – 15 December 2009 at the Cultural Preservation Workshop

Preserves Takes More than Standard Time: Internationalism, Corporate Citizenship, and Security Fear – John Hutnyk

I am wondering if preservation-talk is confined to certain areas and domains and should be either expanded or done away with. This is not just a two-part provocation, but in between the calculations of intervention and documentation, can we talk of continuities of action, of commitment, of engagement or – conversely – the loss of these – preserve solidarity, preserve the party form, preserve the international… And what is the difference between preserve and re-institute/renew? Corporate preservation and gentrification on the one hand, and Nietzsche saying ‘what is falling down should be pushed’ on the other. Old forms abandoned in some cases, others guarded by right. I would like to describe three different contexts in which these issues seem pertinent: a) the work of internationals in relation to NGOs, activist groups and political struggles that perhaps need an ‘about face’ to escape a drain on scarce resources ‘on the ground’; b) the hijack of community, participation and care by corporate and commercial interests who proudly announce their token initiatives in press release and annual report (what I will call ‘glossy anthropology’); c) and the disjunct of heritage funding and political context, using the London Underground and the security situation in the War on Terror as example.

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