dePICTions volume 2 (2022):
U.S. vs. … (Un-)American Crossings and Appropriations
How is knowledge ex/im-ported? What happens to knowledge when it lands in the hands of those who didn’t produce it and who aren’t even located where it was produced? Not all knowledge operates in what one could call an ethereal and exclusionist way, like, for example, pure mathematics, where the “producer” and “consumer,” just like the location of production and consumption, can be considered nearly irrelevant and arbitrary. Especially the human sciences and arts cannot be fully understood without some insight into the “producer” and/or “consumer” of the knowledge as well as their respective settings and intellectual cultures.
In 1946, Les temps modernes ended its first year of publication with its first topical number (actually a double number: 11-12), focused on the United States of America. The title was simply U.S.A., and a vast number of scholars dedicated their attention to the Myths, the People, and the (political) Situation of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” As an In Memoriam, and in the attempt to stay faithful to the tradition of the French critical review, dePICTions also dedicates an early volume (this only being our second one of many more to come) to the same inspiring topic. Contrary to Les temps modernes, however, this volume does not focus on American distinctiveness, but on (attempted) American appropriations of foreign socio-cultural and political traditions.
It is my pleasure to present the work of Philip Alcabes, François Cusset, Judith Ellis, Mike Grimshaw, Anxhela Hoxha-Çikopano, and Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte, whose articles are joined by Yonca Talu’s interview with Paul Felten and Joe DeNardo. The images of appropriation depicted by this varied group of authors and stemming from architecture, film, literature, music, philosophy, and psychoanalysis offer a glimpse into the myriad ways that intellectual traditions interact. If the first volume of dePICTions allowed us a humbling glance at the development of ideas within a restricted time period and individual intellects, the second volume expands on this by showing us how ideas, and even thought itself, evolves as it is appropriated and further developed in new lands.
Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte