Culture and Globalization

CULT 320: Culture and Globalization
Fall 2012, George Mason University, Craig Willse

What does it mean to say we live in a “global world” today? Can we be both local and global, at the same time (maybe even in the same place)? In this course we will tackle these and other questions by exploring globalization as a set of connected social, economic, and political processes. While these processes can be linked in many ways, here we will link them through “culture” – shared (or not) ways of being, feeling, knowing, and communicating. While culture might sound innocent, or even fun, this course will approach the links between culture and globalization in terms of the rise and spread of capitalist modes of production as well as colonial and post- (or neo-) colonial systems of race-making and racialized subordination.

The course will open with a brief introductory case study to get us started, looking at the role of media technologies in contemporary social uprising and revolution. We will then move through three core units: first, we will think about time and delve into the historical origins of today’s globalized worlds; second, we will think about globalization in terms of the creation and destruction of space and place; and third, we will highlight the different flows (of money, people, and things) that characterize and constitute contemporary globalization. In the final weeks we will return to case studies to concretize what we’ve done in our three units, this time linking social movements (as explored in our intro weeks) to the rise (and demise?) of a global prison system.

A note on our banner image

The photograph at the top of our site is from a series by Edward Burtynsky on manufacturing in China. If you want to see more of his work, check out Jennifer Baichwal’s beautiful film Manufactured Landscapes (trailer below!).