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Edited by Silvia Grandi, Christian Sellar and Juvaria Jafri
A Focus on the Semi-Periphery of the Global Financial System
Edited by Silvia Grandi, Christian Sellar and Juvaria Jafri
While globalization processes have operated for centuries, the present era of globalization has given rise to extremes of income inequality and wealth, capital and information transfer, and resource consumption and consumerism with attendant environmental consequences. Behind contemporary globalization lurks the question: for whom? The distribution of the costs and benefits of globalization has been highly uneven, both amongst nation-states and within them. Moreover, globalization processes have been controlled and advanced in large measure by states and corporations of the global North and their proxy institutions of global governance – the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. The problematic nature of contemporary globalization has given rise to a variety of responses, including defenses of the status quo, left-wing anti-globalization movements, and right-wing anti-globalization movements laced with xenophobic populism. In contrast to responses that either embrace or reject globalization in its present form, alter-globalization movements (sometimes called ‘global justice movements’) do not seek to end globalization through a return to an imaginary golden era of national autarky. Rather, they seek global engagement and exchange on a basis that protects and advances values of social, economic, and environmental justice. Interestingly, the very idea of just forms of globalization requires the rethinking of norms of justice, which can no longer be tied to the Westphalian nation-state. Moreover, strategies for creating a more just world may take a variety of geographical forms, focusing on different geographical scales. Alternative projects of globalization recognize the relationship between the global (which is always ‘somewhere’) and the local, creatively experimenting with new forms of organization along the local-global continuum.
Climate change is an increasingly urgent matter of global politics, a consequence of the huge success of the fossil-fueled global economy. The longstanding discussion of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock’s ideas of earth as a self-regulating life system, and the dangers that rising greenhouse gas concentrations present to this system, foreshadow contemporary earth system science discussions. The formulation of earth as now in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has added forcefully to Lovelock’s contentions, and made it clear that globalization now needs to be understood as a driving force operating at such a scale that it is transforming the planet in ways that are very dangerous for the future of humanity. Current attempts to tackle climate change are only the beginning of what needs to be done to shape the Anthropocene in ways that will be benign to humanity’s future.
Paul C. Adams
Digital media contribute to globalization through several interlinking processes. First, global infrastructures permit communications to move faster, farther, and more often between distant parts of the world. The proliferation and diffusion of devices such as mobile (cell) phones and computers are integral to this process, as are the complementary signal relay systems provided by satellites and optical fibres. Second, these media and the digital signals they carry facilitate globalization insofar as they support visual and auditory forms of engagement between widely separated locations. People increasingly experience ‘the world’ via media, but this world differs in significant ways from place to place. In effect, people encounter a range of contrasting globalized visions, depending on whether they live in a place that is urban or rural, more or less developed, in the Global North or the Global South. Third, a phenomenon called mediatization folds global forces and processes into everyday life, reworking daily practices in ways that respond to global influences. A familiar activity such as driving now involves long-distance data streams coordinated by an on-board device and its embedded algorithms, all of which mediatize the act of driving and rework the cognitive skills of the driver. The chapter concludes by applying the three dimensions of globalization to the case of Rwanda. This example demonstrates that even where a small percentage of the population actually uses digital communications the diffusion of digital media may have noticeable effects on labour conditions, commodity handling, social power relations, profit distribution and economic vulnerability.
English is widely acknowledged as the language of globalization and the growing hegemony of English has been seen as a main cultural outcome of globalization. This process is shaped by contradictory forces towards linguistic harmonization but also towards diversification, and is geographically uneven. The chapter introduces the hegemony of English driven by globalization before discussing the debates about the impact of globalization on English (Globish vs. World Englishes?) and the future of English. It then turns more specifically to language use on the Internet to show how the technology, originally a vector of Anglicization, has also become a powerful instrument for the expression of linguistic diversity. The prevalence of English and other languages on the Internet is discussed, as well as its possible impact on offline language geographies. The conclusion offers some directions for research agendas regarding the impact of globalization on languages and more specifically the strategies of states and local communities to cope with English, migrants languages and the erosion of the territorial monopoly of national languages.
Robert C. Kloosterman and Pieter Terhorst
In this chapter we assess the specific contribution of economic geographers to the debates on the economic dimension of globalization. We present key characteristics of geographical thinking on globalization and emphasize how this is deeply anchored in a particular understanding of social reality which stresses both a rich ontology (of places and actors) and the role of a wide variety of social structures (from capitalism to ethnic solidarity) in determining drivers and outcomes of concrete economic processes. This ontological viewpoint is very much intertwined with a pluralistic epistemological position allowing drawing theoretical notions from a wide set of (sub)disciplines and an openness towards methodologies (which encompass quantitative as well as qualitative methods). These scientific-philosophical underpinnings distinguish economic-geography approaches to globalization from those in mainstream economics. We will illustrate this by looking at how economic geographers have dealt with the relationship between globalization and, respectively, the institutional set-up of the nation state and the role of regions and their cross-border linkages. We show that a rich understanding of both places and actors is essential to get to grips with concrete processes of globalization.
Elena dell’Agnese and Giacomo Pettenati
Food-related practices are among the more pervasive of human life, from either the individual, social, cultural, political and economic points of view. Their relation to globalization is complex. On one hand, they are still largely place-based, according to the variety of local names, they have and the diversity of the ways of identifying, producing, transforming and consuming food, including between not so distant places. The diffusion of references to the regional or national origin as the main attribute of the food people eat or restaurants serve also testifies of the close relationship between food and places. On the other hand, though, food and globalization seem nowadays to be ‘inseparable’ and what is more, long-term flows of food products and of culinary ideas have been crossing the oceans for centuries and the desire for tropical food products, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, was one of the triggers of colonization and for the subsequent transformation of colonized lands in plantations and food reservoirs for the colonizing powers. So, the quest for certain kinds of food may offer early examples of globalization but, at the same time, deserves to be analyzed as a trigger for colonial expansion, slave trade, and globalization itself. The chapter aims at presenting the more significant dimensions of the globalization of foodscapes, starting from its historical roots. The chapter specifically focuses on the economic aspects of food globalization, addressing the international circulation of food products as commodities, the transnational expansion of food-based corporations, and the emergence of a global food governance. Finally, social and political aspects of food globalization are taken into account, considering the practices of opposition to the negative externalities of the globalization of the food system and the relationships between food and global and local cultural identities.
Globalizing processes of the last half a century have thoroughly reshaped social life around much of the globe. Transformations of citizenship, understood usually as membership in a political community, have been amongst some of the most tangible and contested components of this reshaping. This chapter traces the most important ways in which citizenship, the way it is governed, practiced and imagined in the everyday life, has changed. At the same time, it highlights the most important shifts in how social scientists’ understanding of citizenship has changed in the process. In a chronological fashion, the chapter opens with the early concerns about the challenges that transnational migration has been posing to citizenship, understood throughout the last century as a national institution. Following upon the critiques of the initial assessments of such challenges as amounting to the denationalization of citizenship, I discuss the relationship between contemporary cities and citizenship. Here the chapter stresses geographic and explicitly spatial approaches that have unveiled citizenship as a multi- and inter-scalar political as well as social relation between a subject and the state. The last segment discusses the implications of the integrationist turn in state–migrant population relations of the last two decades for contemporary citizenship formations, including how integrationism is tightly enmeshed with the neoliberalization of citizenship that has been profoundly changing parameters of membership and belonging for populations across the global north, migrant and non-migrant alike.
David Bassens and Michiel Van Meeteren
This chapter provides an overview of the main drivers of financial globalization, a process characterized by the growing range and depth of financial relations enshrined in a global financial system that supersedes the international state system. What is it about finance that allows its globalization to take place so rapidly and so deeply? We argue that a main answer lies in the inherent capacity of finance to overcome space and time constraints. Finance appears to produce space, yet, co-constitutively, geographic-institutional variegation feeds back into how finance operates in the world. Resultantly, variegated geographies of finance co-evolve to an important extent with pre-existing geographies of knowledge, law, and power. The chapter offers an overview of how financial geographers have studied financial globalization, and the variegation it produces, through the lens of international financial centres, firms, flows, and products. We illustrate these perspectives through the case of post-war European financial integration by narrating how European states have sought ways to benefit from financial globalization. This application of the analytical apparatus to European financial space reveals how financial globalization has been fundamental in deepening uneven development on the continent. The chapter concludes with an urgent plea to give space a central place in future studies of finance.