This article discusses the ongoing pertinence to the present of Fredric Jameson's work on postmodernism in the context of recent elaborations of “the contemporary” and “contemporaneity” in art history, theory and criticism. It is argued that, while postmodernism is fraught with contradiction and in any case irretrievable by now as a periodization of the present, it nonetheless remains crucially instructive for a fuller understanding and politicization of contemporaneity. In particular, both the nature of the relationship between culture and capital, as well as the theoretical imperative to totalize remain central to Jameson's problematic in ways that the discourse on the contemporary threatens to undo, in its resistance to historicism, and in its tendency to insist, not merely upon the heterogeneity, but upon the incommensurability of global cultures and space-times.

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