The People's Puzzle: crosswords and knowledge politics. GARP13

Swift, Olivia. 2007. The People's Puzzle: crosswords and knowledge politics. GARP13. Working Paper. Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers., London, UK. [Report]

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Abstract or Description

Everyday, millions of people lose themselves in the world of crosswords. This paper considers their motives for doing so and the effect crosswords have on their lives. It stems from my idea that the bars of the crossword grid represent Adorno's prison-like Culture Industry. By tracing the cultural politics pervading the relationships between those involved in the production and consumption of crosswords, I show crosswords to provide opportunities for freedom, escape, inspiration, innovation, mediation, subversion and critique, all existing alongside the potential for alienation, colonial domination and even a possible role in contemporary forms of Empire. Rather than presenting crosswords as a challenge to Adorno's Culture Industry model, I argue that all this potential is entirely compatible with it, so long as the Culture Industry is understood as complex rather than as simply a grim, all-encompassing, impenetrable and alienating social construction.

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Report (Working Paper)

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Olivia Swift is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, conducting a village study of trade unionism among Filipino global seafarers. She has a professional background in journalism and the arts and is frustratingly bad at crosswords.


crosswords; culture industry

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology > GARP - Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers



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Date Deposited:

16 May 2008 15:29

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2015 23:47


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