The most recent issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, “On Entrepreneurship: Immaterial Labor and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century,” volume 114, issue 3, edited by Imre Szeman and Dan Harvey, addresses the gap in contemporary cultural research on enterprise and the entrepreneur. Contributors to this issue interrogate the ways in which the idea of entrepreneurship and the figure of the entrepreneurial subject functions politically, economically, and aesthetically. This issue continues the investigation from a cultural studies, humanities, and social science perspective first introduced by Foucualt’s preliminary work in the 1970s. Topics include the entrepreneurial university, entrepreneurial journalism, cultural labor and class composition, objectivization of the self in social media, decommodification, and the birth of the ontopreneur. Browse the table of contents and read the introduction to the issue.
Entrepreneurial Selves: Neoliberal Respectability and the Making of a Caribbean Middle Class is an ethnography of neoliberalism. Bridging political economy and affect studies, Carla Freeman turns a spotlight on the entrepreneur, a figure saluted across the globe as the very embodiment of neoliberalism. Steeped in more than a decade of ethnography on the emergent entrepreneurial middle class of Barbados, she finds dramatic reworkings of selfhood, intimacy, labor, and life amid the rumbling effects of political-economic restructuring. She shows us that the déjà vu of neoliberalism, the global hailing of entrepreneurial flexibility and its concomitant project of self-making, can only be grasped through the thickness of cultural specificity where its costs and pleasures are unevenly felt. Freeman theorizes postcolonial neoliberalism by reimagining the Caribbean cultural model of ‘reputation-respectability.’ This remarkable book will allow readers to see how the material social practices formerly associated with resistance to capitalism (reputation) are being mobilized in ways that sustain neoliberal precepts and, in so doing, re-map class, race, and gender through a new emotional economy.
Jesse Weaver Shipley’s recent book, Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music is an ethnography of hiplife, a popular Ghanaian music genre. Hiplife mixes hip-hop beatmaking and rap with highlife music, proverbial speech, and Akan storytelling. In the 1990s, young Ghanaian musicians were drawn to hip-hop’s dual ethos of black masculine empowerment and capitalist success. They made their underground sound mainstream by infusing carefree bravado with traditional respectful oratory and familiar Ghanaian rhythms. Living the Hiplife is an ethnographic account of hiplife in Ghana and its diaspora, based on extensive research among artists and audiences in Accra, Ghana’s capital city; New York; and London. Jesse Weaver Shipley examines the production, consumption, and circulation of hiplife music, culture, and fashion in relation to broader cultural and political shifts in neoliberalizing Ghana.
Shipley shows how young hiplife musicians produce and transform different kinds of value—aesthetic, moral, linguistic, economic—using music to gain social status and wealth, and to become respectable public figures. In this entrepreneurial age, youth use celebrity as a form of currency, aligning music-making with self-making and aesthetic pleasure with business success. Registering both the globalization of electronic, digital media and the changing nature of African diasporic relations to Africa, hiplife links collective Pan-Africanist visions with individualist aspiration, highlighting the potential and limits of social mobility for African youth.