Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Culture Machine

Established in 1999, Culture Machine (CM) is an annual, online, open-access journal that presents itself as a site of “fundamental research” in cultural studies and cultural theory, with a goal to undercut existing paradigms and assumptions of the field. Based in the UK, the editorial board of CM is dominated by younger scholars such as Gary Hall, Clare Birchall, Joanna Zylinska and Jeremy Gilbert (all featured in the 2006 New Cultural Studies anthology). In opposition to the prior generation of cultural studies journals, such as Social Text, CM explicitly rejects any particular agenda or project (cultural, theoretical, social, ethical or, perhaps most interestingly, political) and retains a traditional system of peer-review. Despite this, many of the articles published in CM seem to favour a lighter, playful style of scholarship which would seem to indicate a common editorial tone.

Central to CM is a particular focus upon issues of “experimentation.” While the journal seems to follow the recent trend towards themed issues – all 11 issues of CM have been themed – articles often take up familiar themes such as “biopolitics” and “deconstruction” in unusual ways, whether through shifts in interpretation and emphasis (for example, biopolitics is understood in terms of scientific biology, such as biotech, cellular biology and drugs) or through experimental forms of presentation, particularly with respect to new media. In recent years the journal seems to have become increasingly concerned with new media, both as a site that speaks to wider cultural concerns, and as a means to offer new forms of more open-ended, speculative and risk-taking scholarship.

Even more interestingly, CM seems willing to let these experiments fail if they’re not working out, as evinced in their somewhat abandoned supplementary projects, such as the under-stocked Csearch Archive, and the Interzones, a section for non-standard forms of scholarship (which mostly consists of shorter or longer, lyrical or polemic pieces). They do, however, retain their rolling reviews section, which takes advantage of the ease of online publishing to stay as up-to-date as possible, and the more unorthodox wiki-inspired Liquid Theory project (

1 comment:

  1. And, in direct contradiction of what I state above, today CM sent out a call for new contibutions for the Interzones section.