2010-2011 Faculty Research Seminar

Global Knowledge, Knowledge of the Global

Seminar Directors: Van Dusenbery, Visiting Professor of Anthropology
Sigi Leonhard, Professor of German and Director of Cross-Cultural Studies

What is globalization? And how is it affecting our work? Popular images of globalization have become familiar (e.g., McDonald’s restaurants in Asia, Bollywood movies in Africa, Chinese-originated diseases in America, human rights activists in Iran) but our understanding of the globalization process and its effects lags behind. 

Grounded in the idea of movement and connection across “cultures,” “nations,” and “regions,” we would want to ask of the above: how does McDonald’s change Asian cultures and how do Asian cultures change McDonald’s? How does exposure to Bollywood movies shape ideas about gender among African villagers and how does having African villagers as a potential audience shape Bollywood movies? How does a pandemic like SARS play out differently in China than it does in America? How do activists in Iran make human rights discourses meaningful to a Persian Shiite Muslim audience?

Not only do transnational “flows” generate new imaginings on the ground, they also call for novel ways of scholarly imagining, not ones based on long-standing oppositions between the West and the Rest, us and them, modern and traditional, domestic and international. Instead we seek ways of seeing the “globally-interconnected” as involving dynamic, two-way interaction that problematizes simple cross-cultural comparisons and other forms of analytic juxtaposition.

These broadly sketched problems raise specific theoretical questions:

  • To what extent are different places connected to one another?
    [And what criteria would we want to use to define “connected-ness”?]
  • Through what processes are people in different places connected?
    [And what metaphors and neologisms best describe these processes?]
  • How do people imagine their connection to other people and places?
    [And how does that consciousness of interconnection get represented?]
  • How do global imaginaries generate ideological projects and agendas?
    [And how do these ideologies contest one another in different contexts?]

Faculty Fellows

Van Dusenbery, Sociology and Anthropology , Co-Director
“The Sikh Diaspora and the Multicultural State” [Canadian Sikh, Singaporean Sikh, and Australian Sikh experiences with variants of late 20th century “multiculturalism”]

Sigi Leonhard, German, Co-Director
“Transnational Literature” [the impact of displacement on agency, intended audience, and writing codes in cross-cultural fiction]

Arnab Chakladar, English
“Globalization and Hindi Fiction: Reading Uday Prakash”

Ross Elfline, Art and Art History
“Rem Koolhaas and Architecture’s Global Scale”

Devrashree Gupta, Political Science
“Migration, Identity, and Belonging in the New Northern Ireland”

Jay Levi, Sociology and Anthropology
“Globalization and Indigenity: The Dialectics of Difference and Interconnection” [how purportedly “isolated” indigenous peoples such as the Tarahumara and Rarémuri Indians of Mexico are involved in the process of globalization]

Shana Sippy, Religion
“Diasporic Desires: Making Hindus and the Cultivation of Longing”

Gudrun Willett, Writing Program and Science Education Resource Center
“Reasons for Hope and Caution: Formation of a Russian-Speaking Community in Amsterdam”