antb20 week 1 articles
Speeding it up
David Harvey conceptualizes globalization principally as a manifestation of the changing
experience of time and space. He captures this change in the notion of “time-space
compression”, which refers to the manner in which the speeding up of economic and social
processes has exponentially shrunk the globe, so that distance and time no longer appear to be
major constraints on the organization of human activity.
In other words, the pressures of technological and economic change have continually collapses
time and space: in such as way that time has overcome or annihilated the barriers of space.
Stretching it out
While Harvey focuses on the general speed-up of economic and social processes, Giddens is
more preoccupied with the stretching of social life across time and space. He captures this in the
notion of “time-space distanciation”, which refers to conditions under which time and space are
organized so as to connect presence and absence.
The basic argument is that social life consists of two fundamental kinds of social interaction. The
first entails face to face contact. Here people engage directly with each other as they about their
everyday lives in what are often closely bounded local spaces.
The second form consists of more remote encounters, those made possible by transport and
communications systems, those that people engage in across space and time.
The first type of interaction tends to predominate in premodern societies. These are societies in
which the “spatial dimensions of social life are, for most of the population, and in most respects,
dominated by “presence”.
With the advent of modernity, the second sort of social intercourse becomes increasingly
Modernity tears the spatial orbit of social life away from the confines of locality, forstering
relations between absent others, distant from face to face interaction.
Giddens thus defines globalization as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link
distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles
away and vice versa.
The cultural dynamics of globalization
The de/territorialization of culture
Culture is defined as the order of life in which human beings construct meaning through
practices of symbolic representation.
On one level, anthropologists have come to conceptualize culture as deteritorialized. The term is
used to refer to this general weakening of the ties between culture and place, to the dislodging
of cultural subjects and objects from particular or fixed locations in space and time.
Important to note that, cultural flows do not just float meaninglessly across the globe, but are
always reinscribed in specific cultural environments. Such as McDonalds in Russia and the Indian
movies in Nigeria. They become localized. This is called reterritorialized. The term refers to this
process of renscribing culture in new time-space contexts, in specific cultural environments.
The point of all this is that globalized culture is never simply deterritorialized, it is always
Cultural imperialism and the homogenization of the world
One of the central themes of cultural imperialism is that the deterritorialization of culture is not
a benign(generous) matter.
Cultural imperialism states that the processes of globalization involve the domination of certain
cultures over others.
The significance of this cultural dominance is that it is leading to the cultural homogenization
of the world.
In other words, leading to the increasing elimination of cultural difference in the world and to
the production of a world of sameness.
To sum up then, the discourse of cultural imperialism, understands the experience of
de/territorialization as the global dissemination of certain cultural practices, goods, styles etc,
the result being the increasing cultural homogenization of the world.
Three general points springs from this discussion of cultural imperialism. The first is that the
process of globalization is much too complex to be thought of merely as a westernizing affair.
The second point is that the process of globalization cannot be thought of merely as a
homogenizing affair. It is also about the differentiation of the world. The third and last
problem with cultural imperialism is that it neglects those circuits of culture that circumvent
Globalization is a matter of selectively dense interconnections and extensive disconnection and
Turning to disconnection and abjection, there is no doubt that certain areas of the world are on
the whole “excluded” from the global economy. That the global map is increasingly full of “black
holes”. Especially evident in Africa.
Appadurai (reading week 1)
The world we live in today is characterized by a new role for the imagination in social life. The
image, the imagined and the imaginary- these are all terms that direct us to something critical
and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice.
Homegenization and Heterogenization
The central problem of today’s global interactions is the tension between cultural
homogenization and cultural heterogenization.
The author proposes give dimensions of global cultural flows that can be termed 1) ethnoscapes
2) mediascapes, 3) technoscapes, 4) financescapes, and 5) ideoscapes.
These landscapes are the building blocks of what are called imagined worlds, that is, the
multiple worlds that are constituted by the historically situated imaginations of persons and
groups spread around the globe.
By ethnoscape: I mean the landscapes of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we
live: tourists, immigrants, refugees, exiles, guest workers, and other moving groups that affect
the politics of nations to a certain degree.
By technoscape: I mean the global configuration of technology and the fact that technology,
both high and low, both mechanical and informational, now moves at high speeds across various
kinds of previously impervious boundaries.
Financescapes is the disposition of the global capital which is now a more mysterious, rapid, and
a difficult landscape to follow due to changes in currency markets, national stock exchanges,
and commodity speculations and the speed at which they move at. Finances cape focuses of the
flow of currencies, securities, and of capital.
Next up are mediascapes and ideoscapes, which are closely related landscapes of images.
Mediascapes refer both to the distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and
disseminate information (newspapers, tv stations etc), and to the images of the world created
by these media.
Ideoscapes are also concatenations of images, but they are often political and frequently have
to do with the ideologies of states and the counter ideologies of movements explicitly oriented
to capturing state power or a piece of it. These ideoscapes are composed of elements of the
Enlightenment worldview, which consists of concepts like freedom, welfare, rights, sovereignty,
Anthropologists use the term deterritorialized to refer to a weakening of ties between culture
and place. For example, when a new area of the world gains access to the internet, the
community also gains access to every other community that has access to the internet. At that
moment the deterritorializing process begins as the local culture is enveloped by the global
Reterritorialization is when people within a place start to produce an aspect of popular culture
themselves, doing so in the context of their local culture and making it their own. It is the
restructuring of a place or territory that has experienced deterritorialization
The homogenization school is influenced by theories such as media/cultural imperialism,
americanization/ westernization, influence, core-periphery, one-way street, dependency, and
On the flip side, the heterogenization school has been influenced by anthropology, field work,
cultural studies, reception studies, active audience, and second generation globalization
theorists. Some of the key theorists include Appadurai.