Dr Christiaan de Beukelaer.
Dr Christiaan de Beukelaer is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy and Head of the MA in Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne. He is currently working on two research projects: one explores the role UNESCO plays in global cultural policy-making; and the other focuses on the revival of sailing vessels as a means to decarbonise the shipping industry.
Prof van Staden, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, welcomed Dr de Beukelaer. “The University is honoured to host a reputable and illustrious scholar such as Dr de Beukelaer. Today's topic emanates from the book Global Cultural Economy authored by Christiaan de Beukelaer and Kim-Marie Spence, which emerged from the desire to tell different stories, and to think about the evolution of the cultural economy in a truly global perspective. We are looking forward to your knowledge on this very important topic,” he said.
Beukelaer’s insights at the seminar included a reflection on the Global Cultural Economy. He firstly deliberated on the “global”, “cultural” and “economy”, rather than localised creative industries; and secondly, he argued that cultural economy comes in many shapes and forms, as well as different ideological and theoretical underpinnings, that often remain unspoken.
Drawing on his multi-cited research experience, Dr de Beukelaer explained that the book explores a variety of examples, from nepotism in Bollywood to the national standing of Jamaican Dancehall, the emergent music industry of Ghana to the economics of K-Pop.
“More interesting is that the book continues to make a significant contribution to the decolonising of the cultural economy in theory and practice,” he said.
Additionally, Dr de Beukelaer indicated that their research on the cultural economy across countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia found a common thread - a perspective on what the cultural economy should be. He mentioned five distinctive perspectives on the cultural economy that have been identified as crucial tools to recognise bias and ideology in cultural industries policy, research, and advocacy, namely:
- The Celebratory perspective, which provides an optimistic (and at times wilfully uncritical) account of the role ‘creative industries’ (they rarely use ‘cultural industries’) can play in cities, regions, countries and the world.
- The Aspirational perspective building on the celebratory perspective in its optimism, but projects these successes into the future. Creative city strategies are a good example, as this aspirational strategy inevitably leads to diminishing returns.
- The Refusenik perspective - builds on a refusal to reduce artistic and cultural value to the ‘economy’ and refuses to see culture as merely another economic driver.
- The Agnostic perspective which is driven by detailed empirical work and does not start from an ideological or a priori evaluation of the sector. It may lead to extrapolations and discussions of the broader political economy of the cultural industries.
- The Reflexive perspective exploring the contemporary conditions of cultural production and consumption, and the policy settings that shape them, through the cultural industries.
In conclusion, Prof Nalini Moodley-Diar, Executive Dean at the Faculty of Arts and Design, thanked Dr de Beukelaer and the University community for participating in the engaging and productive dialogue on global economy, cultural and creative industries.