editorial: volume 1
The journal Imperium is designed to further debate and discussion on interdisciplinarity in the context of the pedagogy of media (and cultural) studies, and post-colonial studies. While theoretical advances in the two fields have expanded the boundaries of traditional canons in particular subjects such as English literature, the impact of such advances at the pedagogic level remains limited. Have the three fields established themselves as distinctive subject areas? Is there a broad consensus on the identity of the territorial coverage (literally and metaphorically) of the field(s) and pedagogic methods that illustrate specific methods and modes of enquiry? A quick look at the different courses on offer in universities would reveal a less than ideal emphasis on aspects of methodology or pedagogical structures, especially in matters of curriculum.

The University of Luton, where Imperium is based, has been active over several years in evolving delivery methodologies and pedagogic frameworks appropriate to new and largely vocational courses. The editors, both Field Managers at the University, draw on their experience of the extensive Modular Credit Scheme and interdisciplinary framework within the Faculties and hope to provide a platform for sharing good practice across academia in a wide range of national and international contexts. At the same time, there is a need to critically examine issues in terms of the growth of particular fields in particular institutional environments. For example, in the UK, media and post-colonial studies were pioneered mostly by ‘new’ (post-1992) universities – mostly former Polytechnics. However, the role of some of the ‘old’ universities and individual scholars who work(ed) in them, should not be under-estimated. We hope debates within Imperium will illuminate/address the tensions between disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods of generating, consuming and disseminating knowledge. We also intend to strike a middle path between attitudinal polarisations: between those who find intellectual rigour and solid learning only in the long-established disciplinary approaches (to whom others fields/subjects are ‘non- subjects’ or, as famously stated, ‘a Disneyland for the weak-minded’) and those who site progress and progessiveness only in hybridity, margins and borders (and under-acknowledge the contributions of the so-called ‘white, male, middle-class and dead’!)

The title Imperium has been chosen to highlight these tensions, especially in the field of post-colonial studies. The subject itself is unevenly developed across different Imperia. Given the development of the field in relation to the British Empire, it is natural that many of the theoretical debates and specialised studies deal with former British colonies, dominions and, more recently, with parts of the UK itself. Other European countries that have had their own Imperia, such as France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, have made less use of such disciplinary paradigms, although the analyses of some intellectuals who have been locked in those Imperial relationships – Frantz Fanon, for example – illuminate discussions in the English-speaking academy.

Extending the discussion further in time and space, one can find even less use of the post-colonial theoretical formulations of Imperia inthe non-European world – say, for example, in modern Japan – or to the Imperia that provided the model for many latter-day European Imperia – the Roman Empire. Imperium will, therefore, attempt to widen the scope of post-colonial studies by covering Imperial experience in a range of historical situations, which also implies including those expressions in English and other languages (however, as the language of the journal is English, any use of languages other than English will be provided with translations as appropriate).

Boer War Memorial, Bedford

We should also consider the expanding, yet limited, range of disciplines that have contributed to these debates. The strength of the field is still rooted in the historical origins in literary studies, history and politics. A perusal of the discussions/contributions in the post-colonial web lists and other publications demonstrates the osmosis of ideas into fields such as education, economics and the visual arts. Imperium will encourage such spread/cross-fertilisation of ideas by proactively commissioning articles/reviews in new areas.

Imperium will also stress the common themes and techniques shared by post-colonial studies and media studies. These include the strong influence of cultural studies and the interdisciplinary nature of the two fields. However, there are specific areas of media studies that have been influenced by post-colonial developments such as the emergence of diasporic media and local complexities of production, consumption and dissemination of media products in post-colonial countries/contexts. Also, studies focusing on the increasing market share (and influence) of media productions from countries such as Brazil in Portugal and India in the UK – with, for example, the multiplex cinema in Luton using one cinema hall almost exclusively to screen Bollywood movies – would be relevant to Imperium

Verulamium Museum, St Albans

The physical location of Luton is an ideal place to examine the crossroads of Imperia in a contemporary context. Not far to the south of Luton lies the historic town of Verulamium, the site of Roman conquest and Celtic resistance. And not far to the north lies the town of Bedford with a statue commemorating the memory of soldiers who died to defend an Imperium in one of its outposts during the South African War of 1899-1901. Right at the heart of Luton lies an imposing monument, General Motors (Vauxhall) car factory, representing a non-territorial Imperium now threatened with closure by the impositions of a transatlantic economic ideology.

Vauxhall Car Factory, Luton

The first volume of Imperium, however, also has a historical context, as it reflects the successful post-colonial studies seminar programme run at the University over the last three years. The contributions, therefore, are intentionally diverse.

Ian Spring takes a UK perspective through
a historical account of media representations of a peripheral community, whilst Daya Kishan Thussu outlines recent media developments in India in a diasporic context. John Brannigan takes a literary-historical approach to the identification of a colonial and post-colonial Ireland. Marfusa Shams outlines a theoretically important cultural and pedagogic issue in disciplinary paradigms. Narendra Bhana gives a historical, social and political account of the national and economic identity of South African Indians, whilst Zafar Khan offers a thoughtful and provocative account of the political and cultural crisis at the heart of Kashmiri identity.

For the future, there will be two issues of the journal a year, in December and July. Each will include articles, photo-essays, and reviews of books, exhibitions, music and films. One issue will focus on a specific topic and one will concentrate on general issues, but with a special concern for interdisciplinary methodology in media and post-colonial studies.

Additionally, we hope to host two moderated discussion forums running for two months each during April-May and November-May, the former will deal with particular themes and the latter with interdisciplinarity. The moderators will provide a summary of the discussion for the issues in December or July as appropriate.

While we would like to make use of the exciting possibilities of scholarly communication over the Internet, we would also like to address issues of digital divide(s) that could result in some potential scholarly work left virtually unseen, unheard and unengaged. To this end we will attempt to provide in the near future a printed version of Imperium to university libraries with no access to the Internet. As we are a non-profit making initiative, we are looking for ways to meet the downloading /printing costs and postage. More on that as Imperium continues its march!

Balasubramanyam Chandramohan

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