Notes on Appadurai’s “Disjuncture and Difference”
cultural homogenization or cultural heterogenization?
under the rubric of homogenization, a tendency to think in terms either of Americanization or “commoditization”
such a view, global culture as a one-way flow impinging on the local, neglects the fact that imported culture “indigenize[s] one way or another”
it also overlooks regional tensions: for example, “for the people of Irian Jaya, Indonesianization may be more worrisome than Americanization”
nevertheless, “for polities of smaller scale, there is always a fear of cultural absorption by polities of larger scale, esp. those that are near by”
the political dimensions of these anxieties: homogenization can also be exploited by nation-states in relation to their own minorities. Globalization as Americanization can thus be used as a threat, leverage to control domestic dissent.
previous models of global culture, Appadurai argues “are inadequately quirky”. in other words, any effective theory of globalization must in some sense be eccentric, which indicates the ragged, partial, uneven character of globalalization.
“an elementary framework for exploring… disjunctures”
“five dimensions of global cultural flow”:
ethnoscapes: “landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live”– i.e. people who are moving, tourists, guest workers, etc. an emphasis on human mobility and of the ways they respond to the pressures of capital, state power, tech.
mediascapes: “distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information” and the images produced. the importance of the mediascape lies in the production of a “large and complex repertoire of images, narratives, and ‘ethnoscapes’ to viewers” around the world. a fusion of “news” and documentary fact with leisure-entertainment commodities. the source of imagined worlds– “chimerical, aesthetic, even fantastic objects.” Mediascapes as “image-centered, narrative-based accounts of strips of reality,” as “a series of elements (such as characters, plots and textual forms) out of which scripts can be formed of imagined lives, their own as well as those of others living in other places. fuel for the impulse to move.
technoscapes: “the global configuration… of technology”– the flow of all sorts of technology across national boundaries contingent on a highly mutable financial situation
finanscapes: “mysterious, rapid”– the movement of capital around the world.
ideoscapes: “also concatenations of images” though they are usually “directly political and frequently have to do with the ideologies of states and the counter-ideologies of movements explicitly oriented to capturing state power”. “composed of elements of the Enlightenment world-view”: concepts and ideas such as freedom, welfare, rights, sovereignty, representation, democracy. appadurai seems to be indicating the kind of dissemination of political keywords and cultural genres. see 300.
these are “deeply perspectival constructs” specific in terms of history/language/politics to various sorts of actors: nation-states, MNCs, diasporic communities, sub-national groupings and social movements, villages, neighborhoods, families. 297
importance of the landscape metaphor: building blocks of ‘imagined worlds’– an imaginative mapping of the world, a world constructed from subjective views?
but also the ‘scape’ formulation “allows us to point to the fluid, irregular shapes of these landscapes, shapes which characterize international capital as deeply as they do international clothing styles” 297
again, Appadurai emphasizes the protean nature of global processes, the lack of precision or even predicatability
in other words the question anybody thinking about global culture needs to ask is how do we map globalization? what is topography of water?
“the global relationship between ethnoscapes, technoscapes and finanscapes is deeply disjunctive and profoundly unpredictable” because each is subject to its own limits and logic even as all interact on one another.
mediascpaes and ideoscapes are “built upon” ethno-, techno- and finanscapes. media- and ideo- are closely linked.
“current global flows… occur in and through the growing disjunctures between ethnoscapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes” 301
note “flow” as well– a liquid metaphor… all that is solid melts into air. cf Communist Manifesto as an early globalization text
the flow of people, tech, ideas, capital, etc. along “non-isomorphic paths”
amplification of speed, scale and volume in contrast with past stages of globalization.
a political effect of this increase.
deterritorialization as a central force– people leave home, populations thrust into new locales. this provokes new cultural production (and expenditure/accumulation of capital) in the form of cultural products which speak directly to diasporic groups.
the nation-state, a term which contains a tension between its constituent parts.
nation: a group
state: an institution.
nations in search of state power, states in search of nationhood. “museumization” as a method of the latter quest. mediascapes used.
“disorganized capital”– global capital demands open borders which can threaten state control.
martial arts as a transnational cultural phenomenon transmitted through the mediascapes, generating masculinity politics of a certain kind, and then contributes to the growing violence in international politics
Arms Trade: international, AK 47 in films, state and private security, police and military
Primordial – seem to become more important, in the rallying cry of bringing people from different locales together under one umbrella
Product fetishism: (not commodity fetishism) – the appearance of local production conceals that the locals have very little to do with the production, production is no longer in the hands of a nation, but is driven by transnational chains
It conceals the fractured off site forces of a seemingly local production
Fetishism of consumer:
Consumer is no longer an independent agent, but has become a sign for the consumed product, no longer an actor, merely a chooser
Globalization: instruments of homogenization (armaments, advertising, political and cultural econmies) only to be repatriated as heterogeneous dialogues of national sovereignty, free enterpreise,, etc, where the state becomes less and less important