Ajun Appadurai: “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”
This is a very theoretic, quite jargon-heavy, piece looking at the effects of globalization on culture. The most important take home point is that Appadurai lays out 5 different streams of global cultural flows: ethnoscapes, financescapes, technoscapes, mediascapes, and ideoscapes. He argues that these different flows intersect, conflict, and overlap with each other in highly complex ways that create an overall instability and disjuncture in patterns of globalization. This leads to infinitely complex interactions between relationships of difference and sameness that don’t obey simplistic national divisions.
Ethnoscapes: the constant flow of people as tourists, immigrants, refugees, guest workers, etc. “human motion”
Technoscapes: the movement of technology—both mechanical and information across national boundaries
Financescapes: this is obviously the flow of global capital, but Addapurai emphasizes the unpredictability and speed of capital flows. He paints a picture of “megamonies” that 3eesimple pass through “national turnstiles”
Mediascapes: “the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information” and “the images of the word created by these media.” Private and public interests throughout the world increasingly hold control over the media. (you could definitely quibble with Appadurai here).
Ideoscapes: mediascapes and ideoscapes are linked, but for the later, Addapurai emphasizes ideas about politics and states. He argues that even as the core vocabulary of the Enlightenment has achieved a global spread, that vocabulary has taken on highly context-dependent meanings.
Some of his more specific arguments include:
Appadurai critiques the idea of “Americanization” as overly simplistic. He argues, “The United States is no longer the puppeteer of a world system of images but is only one node of a complex transnational construction of imaginary landscapes.” His argument here relates nicely to the “Japanese Version.” Appadurai would say (or at least I think he would say) that one couldn’t think of the importation of American culture into Japan merely as imitation.
Rather, the Japanese use the raw material of American film, music, etc. to create something different that then may very well be exported to Korea or even back again to the United States.
Appadurai points to tensions between homogeneity and heterogeneity. On the one hand, youths all over the world wear Levis but the number of sub-cultures among which individuals can choose has only proliferated because of trends of globalization.
Addapurai point to the inadequacies of metropole-periphery models. Flows are not uni-directional. They are chaotic and unpredictable.
Addapurai invokes the idea of “imagined worlds” (drawing on Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities” if you are familiar with that work) to argue that we live in a universe of multiple imagined worlds that are constituted by “historically situated imaginations of persons and groups spread across the globe.”
Deterritorialization: for examples, the Indian community now is spread throughout South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. New markets (film, food, clothing) have emerged to meet the desires of deterritorialized populations for contact with the homeland. Those things that “ignite intimacy” such as language, skin-color, and kinship relationships have become spread over vast spaces.
Nations (i.e. national communities) and states interact but are not equivalent to each other. Nations seek to capture the state apparatus and the state seeks to monopolize and manipulate the nation. This leads to a lot of tension, especially when national communities are deterritorialized (see above).