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Critically Examining the Past and the “Society of the Spectacle”

Social Studies Education as a Site of Critique, Resistance, and Transformation


Brad J. Porfilio and Michael Watz


Silvia Nagy-Zekmi


Cultural agency operates and is mediated through social structure. This chapter analyzes the loss of indigenous cultural agency, exemplified by the case of the Machu Picchu ruins in Peru.1 The loss is experienced through the commodification of historical spaces (monuments, ruins, for example), both in the literal sense of the physical space and in the metaphorical sense of the social and historical elements mediated through such space. The Machu Picchu ruins have been disallowed historical uniqueness (i.e. the cultural agency tied to its historical, Inca past), becoming instead a generic image for popular consumption. Indigenous identities have come to be enacted and reconstituted into a variety of individual, national, and international cultural spheres, that in turn, are interpreted within the colonizing dichotomy of European-ness and alterity. Keeping the basic distinction of space between deadspace and thirdspace in mind, it must be noted that, although Machu Picchu remains the central focus, the loss is by no means limited only to this particular historical site.

American Nightmare

Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism


Douglas Kellner

Explaining the Donald Trump phenomenon is a challenge that will occupy critical theorists of U. S. politics for years to come. Firstly, Donald Trump won the Republican primary contest and is now a contender in the U. S. Presidential Election because he is the master of media spectacle, which he has deployed to create resonant images of himself in his business career, in his effort to become a celebrity and reality-TV superstar, and now his political campaign. More disturbingly, Trump embodies Authoritarian Populism and has used racism, nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the disturbing underside of American politics to mobilize his supporters in his successful Republican primary campaign and in the hotly contested 2016 general election.
The Trump phenomenon is a teachable moment that helps us understand the changes and contour of U. S. politics in the contemporary moment and the role of broadcast media, new media and social networking, and the politics of the spectacle. Trump reveals the threat of authoritarian populism, a phenomenon that is now global in scope, and the dangers of the rise to power of an individual who is highly destructive, who represents the worst of the 1 percent billionaire business class who masquerades as a “voice of the forgotten man” as he advances a political agenda that largely benefits the rich and the military, and who is a clear and present danger to U. S. democracy and global peace.
The book documents how Trump’s rise to global celebrity and now political power is bound up with his use of media spectacle and how his use of authoritarian populism has created a mass movement beyond his presidency and a danger to the traditions of U. S. democracy as well as economic security and world peace.

Pierre Destrée

Interpreters generally take Aristotle to have totally downplayed the role of the spectacle, and since music is part of the spectacle, it is implied (although rarely explicitly stated) that he must also have considered music as a negligible detail not really worth considering when writing the