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Unformatted text preview: 532 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY, FALL 2002 REFERENCES Baudrillard, Jean. 2000. The Vital Illusion. New York: Columbia University Press. Sampson, Fiona. 2000. “Home is Where One Starts From.” Heat 14.. Artar' mion, Australia: Southwood Press, 59—68. Globalization and Culture. By JOHN TOMLINSON. Cambridge, Oxford: Polity Press, 1999. Pp. vi + 238. $21.00 (paper). Globalization and Identity: Dialectics of F low and Closure. Edited by BRIGIT MEYER AND PETER GESCHIERE. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999. Pp. 338. $28.95 (cloth). World historians do not seem to have much interest in the debate on globalization. This might be due to their “natural” aversion to post, modernism, latest fashions, and hypes. While anthropologists, sociol’ ogists, and economists are fascinated by the development of new tech, nological development in the transport and media sector—which causes the globalization process—world historians somewhat silently question whether the process of globalization is new at all. They are aware of the fact that the impact of the steamer, radio, telegraph, and telephone in the late nineteenth century may have been as revolution; ary as is the internet today. However, globalization is about growing interaction in world history, which is our main object of study, after all. And therefore it would be too easy to write the debate on globalization as a literary exercise. Both books under review are not written by world historians. Despite this, these books are highly relevant for our pur’ poses. The book by John Tomlinson brings culture—~a muchrneglected aspect of globalization—to the center of the debate. Though its main focus is on “contemporary culture” in relation with the globalization process, it introduces a complex of postmodern concepts which may be useful tools in world and comparative history. In this review I would like to focus on “deterritorialization,” which Tomlinson introduces as the cultural condition of globalization (chap, ter 4) and “mediated communication” (chapter 5). One of the key assumptions in the globalization debate is that globalization fundamenr tally transforms the relationship between the place we inhabit and our cultural practices, experiences, and identities. Places as such are no longer the clear supports of identity. Deterritorialization means, e.g., that Chinese culture is no longer a monopoly of the region China. Chi— Book Reviews 533 nese culture is seen—though in all kinds of variations—in Virtually every Chinatown on the globe. However, deterritorialization not only refers to the travel and transformation of culture but also to those who stay in their place of origin and “receive” or are being confronted by these “traveling cultures.” And this may result in developments like the fact that Chinese and Indian “take—aways” now outnumber fish and chips in Britain (p. 122). Tomlinson is very aware of the objections against the concept of deterritorialization. He nicely shows that within the globalization debate there is a strong myth of premodern localism. The old dichot— omy traditional vs. modem is reinvented in this debate. In this dichota omy the traditional world is seen as static, unchanging and the modern world as fluid, mobile, and interacting. He, however, rightly argues with the culturalist Arjun Appadurai that “natives, people confined to and by places to which they belong, groups unsullied by contact with a larger world, have probably never existed” (p. 129). Furthermore, deterritorialization (as globalization) is to be seen as an “uneven process.” Not only because it includes “winners and losers,” or it reproduces old forms of domination and subordination, but in the sense that it is a complex and varied process. Many parts of the Third \World are in effect excluded from the broad experience of globaliza— tion. We can travel and see them. They cannot travel and see us. They may watch our soaps; we don’t see their films. We “see,” by and large, only Third World disasters, hunger, and corruption. They mainly see our success stories, the political leadership, the multinationals, the American way. And maybe because of this, subordinate groups in the West as well as large parts of the South may, precisely because of their positioning within the uneven process of globalization, actually have a more acute experience of deterritorialization than those in the First \World. Finally, deterritorialization includes the concept of hybridity. According to Tomlinson, this is not simply a neutral mixing and inter, mingling of cultures from different territorial locations. After all, if all cultures have always been hybrid, we may at best speak of an acceler— ated form of hybridization. Moreover, this mixing and mingling is not a natural and pure process as it is so often suggested by culturalists like Homi Bhaba. However, recognizing hegemonic structures does not necessarily lead to a rejection of the idea of hybridity out of hand. We may see hegemonic forces within a hybridity, which is nonetheless experienced as having its own independent cultural power. Hence, hybridity raises the question of the terms of mixture, the conditions of mixing and melange. 534 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY, FALL 2002 The major contribution of Tomlinson is that he indeed brings culr ture within the debate of globalization. Furthermore, he writes clearly and concretely about difficult subjects like “deterritorialization,” “hybridity,” and “bridging time and space.” However, he, fails to show us how we should study these objects. It’s not enough to raise the ques’ tions of terms of the mixture of culture; we like to answer it in clear examples. What happened to South Asian traders in East Africa, being a part of the global (say British colonial) culture, the local Africa culr ture, and their Asianness? How and why did this change during the last century or so? In other words, this is another study on globalization, which is not based on new, fresh empirical evidence. Furthermore, Tom— linson seems to focus—as in most literature on globalization—on the recent history of three or four decades. In chapter 5, he overempha’ sizes the role of the media in bridging time and space. By doing this, he argues that in most cases globalization is felt not in travel, but in stay, ing at home, i.e., through media (p. 150). Why, then, does he put so much energy in arguing that “face—to; face” mediation does not differ fundamentally from mediation through electronic channels. I cannot agree with this: Of course it differs! The problems of many multicultural societies are not that we see “other cul/ tures” on our screens but that they literally have become our neighbors. In his final chapter, Tomlinson asks what it means to be a world citizen nowadays? I would like to add: What does it mean to be a world his— torian nowadays? In my opinion, we should include the theoretical insights of the globalization debate of Tomlinson and others in our more empirical and historical research. It is too easy to write of this as “nothing new”; it’s a challenge to write about historical change, inter; action between various cultural groups, and development of new (hybrid or not) cultures. This challenge has been taken up by the edi— tors of the second book under review. Once in awhile we do come across nice empirical case studies on the history of globalization and culture. These studies raise questions like, whose globalization? When? Is globalization in the nineteenth century the same as in the twentieth century? One impressive recent contribu— tion is the volume edited by Brigit Meyer and Peter Geschiere, Glob; alization and Identity: Dialectics of Flow and Closure. This book is the outcome of a Dutch research program called “Globalization and the construction of communal identities.” This program brings together more than twenty researchers from the Netherlands and various parts of the South, who study globalization in Africa, the Caribbean, and South, and Southeast Asia. Book Reviews 5 3 5 Two general and dynamic assumptions constitute the background of this volume. First, on one hand we see that the interaction between “the global” and “the local” is seen as two faces of the same process of globalization (as is already stated by Stuart Hall 1991). On the other hand, paradoxically, the culturally homogenizing tendencies of global, ization imply continued or even reinforced cultural heterogeneity. Sec, ond, at the same time, we see that people’s awareness of being involved in this open~ended process seems to trigger a search for fixed orienta’ tion points as well as determined efforts to affirm old and construct new boundaries. The tension between globalization and identity, between “flow” and “closure,” is the central focus of the book (p. 2). Following the brilliantly written introduction by the editors, the book is organized along three general themes: Nationalism and Trans— nationalism; Commodities and Fantasies; and Theoretical Reflections. Most contributions within these themes try to unravel the politics of the making and unmaking of boundaries, localities, and “culmres,” in particular empirical case studies. In this sense, they go further than Tomlinson’s theoretical overview. In these studies, concepts of deter— riorialization, hybridity, and the conditions of mixture of cultures are illustrated in terms of human experience, in terms of real histories, in terms of world history. In the first part, Nationalism and Transnationalism, Seteney Shami examines the emergence of a self/conscious Circassian diaspora in dif— ferent countries in the Middle East in the light of the reopening of their “homeland” in the former Soviet Union. She nicely describes that when the “homelan ” was inaccessible it formed a point of refer~ ence, a part of Circassian identity. It stood for the timeless qualities of their ethnicity and cultural background. After opening of the borders it is not an abstract reference anymore; Circassians are no longer dis; placed minorities, but a selfrconscious transnational diaspora. How— ever, at the same time Shami argues that the actual reunion with the homeland is one of unease. They find it difficult to understand “their” language. Both sides misunderstand marriage customs, food, and hos, pitality. In other words, there was no sense of “coming home” because both worlds, Circassians in diaspora as well as in the Caucasus, had changed. While Shami’s starting point is the fall of an empire, Prasenj it Duara focuses on the construction of an empire: China. He describes various relations between different conceptions of political community and the implications for the notion of territorial sovereignty in East Asia. Here Duara relates to the concept of “deterritorialization.” In his article this 536 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY, FALL 2002 concept refers to the way “states” tend to value extraterritorial loyal» ties (of race and culture) over territorial ones. In his View, it is likely to place the territorial nation in a painful predicament: “The devaluation of the geobody entailed by the new racial or cultural nation will mean that its ideal of ‘common citizenship’ becomes less and less meaningful to the different peoples of its inner frontiers” (p. 68). The second section of the volume under review doesn’t focus on people and their relations with “homelands,” but on the travel of “coma modities and fantasies.” Here the contributors go beyond the traditional assumption that globalization and the desires for “western goods and ideas” go hand in hand. It is often suggested that the main problem faced in the field of consumption is the unequal distribution of money to buy Western commodities. However, Brigit Meyer shows that the acceptance of these goods is not self—evident. She shows how religion and local (in her case Ganaian) power relations interfere in the “free marketplace.” In many cases commodities bought in the market had to be purified by spiritual leaders. The influence of local religious sects like the Pentecostalist is explained by the fact that it takes as a point of departure both the desire to have access to the world and existing fears about the nature of the global market. The final section includes three theoretical contributions in which the contrast between “global flux” versus “cultural closure” is high; lighted. John Kelly’s “think piece” questions Ben Anderson’s reliance on the concept of the “imagined community.” Where Anderson states that this “imagined community” should be seen as a “global flux,” Kelly shows that it might be “cultural closure” as well. By contrast, the anthropologist and philosopher Binsbergen argues that the notion of the African village is a “virtual” one. It is often reproduced in urban; ites and therefore unbound; however, as a “nostalgic reference” it has become a primal (bounded) source of identity. Finally, Appadurai nicely explores the precise ways in which the ethnic body can be a “theatre for the engagement of uncertainty” under the conditions of globalization (305). The volume by Geschiere and Meyer builds upon a fruitful combi— nation of anthropological, historical, empirical, and theoretical know1~ edge. Its analysis deepens our understanding of the globalization pro— cess and goes far beyond irritating stereotypes of McDonaldization (Ritzer); McWorld vs. Jihad (Barber), and more sociological notions of globalization by Manuel Castells, Ulrich Beck, and Saskia Sassen. The book is an outcome of a series of conferences organized by the Dutch program on globalization by Castells, Beck, and Sassen, in collabora’ Book Reviews 53 7 tion with the University of Chicago (Arjun Appadurai, Prasenjit Duara), the University of Stockholm (Ulf Hannerz), and a number of organizations in the South, including the University of Calcutta and CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Sciences in Africa) in Dakar. The contributions of scholars from the South, like Mamadou Diouf (Dakar) and Prasenjit Duara, clearly represent the necessity to include a more “Southern” perspective in the debate on globalization. GIJSBERT OONK Erasmus University Copyright© 2002 EBSCO Publishing ...
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