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Globalization, Culture, and Identity (GL4880A)

This course examines contemporary global cultural flows. Emphasis is placed on cultural forms and the production/circulation of identity through/within globalization. The goal is to raise questions about power, cultural interaction and change, and the nature of globalization through landscapes of popular/vernacular culture. The course will address debates concerning questions of globalization and identity, such as: What is culture? How and why does ‘culture’ circulate through material exchange? How and why do processes of globalization mediate the material exchange of culture, and how was this different than the era of ‘national culture’? Where is the ‘location of culture’?

The module will approach globalization, culture, and identity through three successive units.

First, we will develop an understanding of culture and its link to 'the national', as well as the necessary role of media in generating national culture. We will develop our understanding primarily through reading Raymond Williams and Benedict Anderson.

Second, we will turn to developing an understanding of globalization specifically through/in cultural terms. While we cannot artificially separate the cultural from the realms of economics and politics, we will foreground culture and establish common ground before moving into the third unit. The second unit will be driven by the required course text by Jan Nederven Pieterse, Globalization and Culture: Global Melange, as well as texts by Arjun Appadurai and Zygmunt Bauman.

Finally, we will explore neoliberalism as a phenomenon of cultural globalization, focusing less on its strictly economic or political aspects and more on its implications for culture, selfhood, gender, and social class. This final unit is driven by a desire to understand the relationship between self and other under conditions of a global drive towards hyperindividualism and hypercompetitiveness. This unit is driven by readings by numerous authors, including Wendy Brown, Jeremy Gilbert, Angela McRobbie, Nikos Papastergiadis, and Jim McGuigan.