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The Pedagogics of Post/Modernity: the Address to the Child as Political Subject and Object

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter explores questions of the subjectivities elaborated within accounts of postmodernity by juxtaposing readings of two theorists of contemporary politics and philosophy, Lyotard and Benjamin, who explicitly invoke and address childhood in their analyses. While Benjamin analyses the cultural and political strategies of modernity in his (1929–33) radio broadcasts for children, Lyotard1 claims to explain the postmodern condition to children. I will explore areas of convergence as well as difference that give rise to correspondingly different politics, and politics of childhood. While both accounts threaten to indulge in a romanticization which reinstitutes a model of the subject as abstracted from cultural-political contexts, this abstraction is also used to invoke the possibility of a subversive political imaginary. These familiar rhetorical devices therefore maintain a theme of the child as quintessential or idealized subject within postmodern as much as modern accounts — albeit for contrasting analytical purposes.

Keywords

False Memory Radio Broadcast Emphasis Original Political Intervention French Edition 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    J-F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Explained to Children: Correspondence 1982–5 (London: Turnaround, 1992).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. Antze and M. Lambek (eds), Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (New York/London: Routledge, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
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  4. 4.
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  5. 5.
    Scandalously, the thesis was finally rejected by Horkheimer, as revealed in Adorno’s edited collection of Benjamin’s correspondence (reviewed by F. Jameson in London Review of Books, 3 August 1995, pp. 8–9).Google Scholar
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  22. 35.
    See E. Burman, ‘Developmental Psychology and the Postmodern Child’, pp. 95–110 in J. Doherty, E. Graham and M. Malek (eds), Postmodernism and the Social Sciences (London: Macmillan, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 36.
    E.g. G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (London: Viking Press, 1977),Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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