Friday, 14 April 2017

_The stakes in culture_

The global is shallow, the local is deep - Ulf Hannerz (Anthropologist), Transitional Connections

In stark opposition to the flexible and accommodating global cities stands the image of the culturally invaded village. The tales of omnipresent McDonald's or Cafe Coffee Day in once "remote" areas are often related sometimes humorously but often wistfully, with a double disappointment with the culture lost and a gateway vacation spoiled.  

In these examples (and many less dramatic but still poignant ones) cultural globalization appears far from the joyous existence of infinite diversity and rather as the desperate last thrashings of endangered local cultures before a conquering giant. 

Many places on this planet are seemingly interchangeable agents of homogenization, whether airport terminals, Pizza Huts or (like the recent addition to the list-) Starbucks. But looking closely, looking literally on the ground, we can find pockets of great specificity and singularity; capable of under certain circumstances anchoring certain communities. 

Thus both San Francisco and Mumbai, or even Raipur and Ooty offer ways to think about the unevenness of the global cities and towns. In both cases there is a spectrum from highly homogenized and interchangeable spaces of consumption and capital to pockets of meaning, memory, moral narratives and authenticity of specific locations. These types of places coexist and interact in any given city, albeit in historically and graphically different ways. Place, then, becomes a vehicle for making a variety of moral and practical claims linked to universal discourse of human rights or a discourse of humanity and equality. Place continues to matter in the midst of globalization, and we must pay attention to it in order to understand globalization with actual policies and communities. Scholars of the city and globalization must leave open the possibility of place-bound actions and activities rather than presuming their demise at the hands of global capital.  

_ mind the gap_  There's a gap between where we are and where we want to be. Many gaps, in fact, but imagine just one of them. ...