US foreign policy critiqued in TOPIA

In the latest issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, based at York University, Edward Comor examines the recent policies promoted by the White House and the US Defense Department.

Specifically, Comor examines how the Bush administration’s foreign policy, which he calls unilateralist and militaristic, is more disconcerting than the preferences of “hawkish” administrations of the past. His article, Empire and Time, highlights how Washington’s reactionary notion of common sense and its emerging policy of neo-imperialism have been profoundly influenced by a general neglect of time.

Drawing on the ideas of Harold A. Innis as well as recent work on the “neo-imperial turn” by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, Comor shows that current US policy developments, presented in ever-shortening time frames, are not merely an issue of political propaganda but connected to the short-term perspective of US advertising-supported media and the culture of consumption.

As a result, according to Comor, ahistorical and unreflexive ways of thinking have become entrenched in the minds of key US decision-makers and many of its citizens. Comor details how, as Innis foresaw, this hinders the capacity of countries on the periphery of the US, such as Canada, to counter conceptual systems oriented towards timely results. Following Innis, he also argues that Washington’s current mindset plots the path of a suicidal state. In the race for markets and profits, state policies are forged with little foresight and complete neglect of long-term consequences. Comor argues that a more important historical trend exists behind the ascendancy of a reactionary U.S. foreign policy: the mediated, spiraling neglect of time.

Comor’s article appears in the current issue of TOPIA along with Ian Angus’ The Paradox of Identity in English Canada, Alison Calder’s and Dana Mederos’ Ethics, Activism, and the Rise of Interdisciplinary Animal Studies: An Interview with Cary Wolfe, Julie Raks’ Do Witness: Don’t: a Womans Word and Trauma as Pedagogy along with a number of review essays, reviews and more.

Since 1997 TOPIA’s purpose has been to provide a venue for the latest research in cultural studies for scholars who share a concern with cultures, nationalities, technologies, media, environments, gender, race and the politics of space and time. The current issue is available at the York University Bookstore and from the publisher. The spring 2004 issue on technology and culture will be available in May.

For more information on this bi-annual publication, contact journal editor Jody Berland at or visit the TOPIA Web site.

More about Edward Comor

Comor is a professor in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He is also the editor of The Global Political Economy of Communication (Macmillan, 1994 and 1996) and is the author of Communication, Commerce and Power (Macmillan, 1998). In addition, he has published articles on US trade policy, commoditization of information developments and the work of Harold A. Innis in various journals including Global Governance and Journal of Economic Issues. His work can also be found in various academic publications including Canadian Journal of CommunicationInformation, Communication & Society, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Canadian StudiesPrometheus and TOPIA.