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Presentation
Gramsci visits the library: Hegemony in the stacks
No-Fly Zones & Molotov Cocktails: 18th Annual Graduate Student Conference. Department of Modern Languages and Literatures/Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism. Western University (2016)
  • Paul G. St-Pierre
Abstract
Librarians have long cultivated a professional image of affable, fair-minded neutrality and dedication to community service. However, as a theoretically impoverished discipline that largely eschews the conscious examination of power relations, this pluralist self-image conceals deeper ideological blind spots. Libraries are products of state policy, and despite their apparent benevolence, conceal a role in promoting dominant ideologies. As an educational institution, the library can be considered what Althusser calls an Ideological State Apparatus with an important role in indoctrinating the population.
 
This paper explores librarianship through a Gramscian lens, looking at librarians as subaltern organic intellectuals who often uncritically participate in an historic bloc that privileges the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism. Using examples from public and academic libraries, it exposes ways in which librarians act through their collections and services to unconsciously marginalize under-represented groups, as well as how they counterintuitively play a part in supporting the enclosure and commodification of information by large commercial publishing houses.
 
Yet all is not lost.  There are many instances of librarians contesting censorship, surveillance, and capitalism in the public interest. Librarians must take advantage of their intermediate position between the bosses and the masses, actively participating in power struggles over the control of information and knowledge, striving for praxis in their vocation.  Scientia potential
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Keywords
  • Libraries,
  • Power relations,
  • Public goods,
  • Antonio Gramsci,
  • Hegemony,
  • Praxis
Publication Date
March 10, 2016
Citation Information
Paul G. St-Pierre. "Gramsci visits the library: Hegemony in the stacks" No-Fly Zones & Molotov Cocktails: 18th Annual Graduate Student Conference. Department of Modern Languages and Literatures/Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism. Western University (2016)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul_st-pierre/9/
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY International License.