Insights from Thesis Readings Vol. 2
What I read or watched this time…
- “Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization” by Arjun Appadurai
Modernity Globalism and the Imagination
This chapter gives insights into how architecture and space participate in the production and evolution of culture, and ultimately help with how architecture might advance unification. Appadurai speculates the role of media and the imagination in the production of culture in the era of globalization. This is taking into account that the internet did not exist in the 1990’s.
I have sought to thematize certain cultural facts and use them to open up the relationship between modernization as fact and as theory. (pg.2)
In the past, forceful leaders implanted their visions into social life, thus creating powerful movements for social change. Individuals began injecting their own imagination in the practice of their everyday lives.
Modernity is vernacular globalization, where it is less as a concession to large-scale national and international policies. This led to oppositional movements such as the Shining Path in Peru, or Habitat for Humanity.
While some of these protests were repressive and violent, such as insurgency, some were peaceful and democratic. Electronic mass mediation and transnational mobilization have broken the monopoly of autonomous nation-states over the project of modernization. Individual attachments, interests, and aspirations were more important than those of the nation-state.
Culture as a Noun vs. an Adjective
Appadurai compares and contrasts culture as a noun versus cultural as an adjective. With culture as a noun, it conceals more than it reveals, and keeps people apart. When you think of cultural, it can mean a realm of differences, contrasts, and comparisons, which can serve to be more helpful. Cultural means the mobilization of global identities. Cultural homogeneity is not the answer for these different cultures. Cultural as an adjective is about the contextual, the heuristic, and the comparatives.
Is ethnicity considered culture? Well, it yes and no, in that culture is not just about material, linguistic, and territorial characteristics. By definition, ethnicity is the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.
As times goes by, culture goes from substance, into a dimension of difference, into a group identity based on difference. Culturalism is identity politics on the nation-state scale, where conscious mobilization of cultural difference in the service of a larger national or transnational politics. Cultural movements are a general form of work on the imagination and draw frequently on the fact or possibility of migration or secession.
Productive Uses of the Imagination and Global Flows
The world is full of large-scale transactions, where there have been instances where cultural transactions were restricted, such as the Meiji Restoration in Japan, and for the most part, a long distance journey of commodities. The main forces of sustained cultural interaction has been warfare, which would normally lead to large-scale political systems, and religions of conversion, which sometimes leads to warfare, such as the expansion of Islam.
Durable cross-societal bonds include money, commerce, conquest, and migration, which are all facilitated by technological transfers and innovation. Constructed Primordialism leads into this phenomena of Global village where everyone is more connected despite the constraints of distance due to electronic advances in technology as a form of communication and exchange, which resulted from a technology explosion of progress. This electronic propinquity lead to a lack of a sense of place, which in turn lead to ironic schizophrenia.
”The past is now not a land to return to in a simple politics of memory. It has become a synchronic warehouse of cultural scenarios, a kind of temporal central casting, to which recourse can be taken as appropriate, depending on the movie to be made, the scene to be enacted, the hostages to be rescued.”
Our present is their future, and their future is our past. One’s own past can be made to appear as simply a normalized modality of one’s present. This contrast can be linked to North Korea, and how the modern technologies that are accessible to us may seem like the present, but they may seem like the future for North Koreans in comparison.
Times have changed in that the United States is considered only one of many nodes of a complex transnational construction of imaginary landscapes. The world we live in today is characterized by new roles, bringing together the old idea of images, the idea of a imagined community, and the French idea of imaginary as a constructed landscape of collective aspirations. Imagination is seen as social practice, a form of work, negotiations between individuals, and globally defined fields of possibility
Homogenization vs. Heterogenization
There is tension between the two, in that for homogenization, it can be exploited by nation-states, therefore concepts such as Americanization and Commoditization are closely linked.
5 Dimensions of Global Cultural Flows
There are five dimensions of global cultural flows that are used to categorize the different flows:
- Ethnoscapes - landscape of people
- Mediascapes - electronic capabilities on distribution
- Technoscapes - technology that is high speed across impervious boundaries
- Financescapes - human movement, technological flow, and financial transfers
- Ideoscapes - political, ideologies of state, a chain of ideas
Examples of ideoscapes include freedom, welfare, rights, and sovereignty. For example, in South Korea, discipline is the key to democratic industrial growth.
These 5 scapes don’t contain certain categories that are important for global cultural flow analysis, such as science and environment.
Deterritorialization is the central forces of the modern world, where the laboring class are designated in lower class sectors. There is a paradox of ethnic politics in today’s world, where primordia is globalized and there is intimacy in a political state, and locality is used as a staging ground for identity. Ethnicity is a global force that is used to slip through cracks and borders. The overall takeaway is that the relationship of these various cultural flows will be radically context-dependent.
The Production of Locality
How does locality relate to neighborhoods, where locality is an aspect of social life, while neighborhoods are substantive social forms. Locality is a fragile social achievement, where local subjects go through their own rituals, such as naming, circumcision, or segregation as an inscription of locality into our bodies.
As a structure of feeling, locality is essentially ephemeral, unless hard and regular work is undertaken to produce and maintain its materiality.
”The relationship between the production local subjects and the neighborhoods in which such subjects can be produced, named and empowered to act socially is a historical and dialectical relationship.”
Without local subjects, the construction would have no interests attached to it.