Autobiography, ‘Nation-ness,’ and the ‘Global Now’: Mapping the Commons of the post-9/11 American National Psyche (A Curriculum Inquiry Project)

JoVictoria Nicholson-Goodman


The call to address curriculum in terms of the ‘local to global/global to local’ cultural and environmental commons—“those material and cultural spaces that belong to everyone” (AAACS CFP, 2009)—requires some conceptual finesse. This is due in part to the presumption inherent in this call that there are yet, in reality, ‘material and cultural spaces’ at the intersection of the global and the local that ‘belong to everyone’ in an age in which the ownership society has been taken to global scale, the bases for preserving cultural autonomy are increasingly made elusive by ‘neocapitalism’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 20), and the captains of commerce and industry are plundering the cultural and natural resources of the entire planet.

However, the need for conceptual finesse is also due to the fuzziness of the idea that cultural and environmental spaces ‘belong to everyone’ in a de facto sense: that is, in relation to an established foundation of use and/or participation rights supported by genuine and actionable public consensus. Such rights, as we know, have been the focus of struggles for access by people(s) everywhere, and belonging has become a major diacritic of our times. These issues form the core of concerns in this paper, since the focal point here is how the commons of nation-ness has come to be disputed in the ‘global now’ (Appadurai, 1996, p. 2) and how autobiography (Pinar, 2000/1975, 2004, 2006) may assist in understanding the fray—in this case, the fray of post-9/11 American being, becoming, and belonging. To elaborate how such a study may serve as a curriculum inquiry project requires a few words about focus and method.

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