Millions of words have been written, hundreds of conferences convened, and dozens of books published about globalization. Yet the subject remains clouded, if not obscured, by the rhetoric surrounding it...
(Charles Wolf, Critical Review 14:1:1)
Arguably one of the most important processes of today's world, our question in the context of Geography of Human Culture(s) is: well, so what? What does 'globalization' do to or portend for Human Cultures? And it's a big question, with complicated answers.

We need to ask about the evolution of the term itself, to get some sense of how it entered the language, how various people have construed it, unpacked its portmanteau nature, and used it in rhetorics of various sorts; we need to assess its progress as a process, economic, socio-cultural, political; we need to think about its benefits (and especially the old ?cui bono?) and its costs.

But how shall we select the frames through which to view Globalization? As an abstract concept it has all the earmarks of a tarbaby, in which even the well-intentioned become desperately entangled in no time. Another danger is the "four legs good two legs bad" phenomenon, where sloganeering drowns out (as it is meant to...) any possibility of discourse. (And if you haven't read Animal Farm lately, you should...)

In Oct 2001 I received from Ken Ruscio a bit from Chronicle of Higher Education:

Globalization so dominates modern economic life that "both left and right justifiably see it as the early 21st century's locus of political alignment," writes Jeffrey Friedman, an instructor in political science at Barnard College, in his introduction to a special issue on the subject. "The young and restless left" disdains free traders; the right disdains "the 'hypocrisy' of antiglobal protesters -- who smash the windows of Starbucks while clad in clothing by the Gap"; and the "economistic supporters of globalization" are so convinced that globalization is inevitable "that they see resistance as futile."
Globalisation, the tsunami of ever-more interdependent financial and trade flows, as well as of ideas and people, has been of great benefit in raising living standards around the globe. However, it has increasingly been joined by, and come into conflict with, the worldwide trend towards greater transparency, democratisation and speedy dissemination of ideas, accelerated by the splendid freedom and liberating anarchy of the Internet... (Mike Moore A World Without Walls 2003:16)
The majority of people around the world are experiencing oppressive and destructive forces which manifest themselves in starvation, income polarization, joblessness, stress, violence..." (Köhler and Chaves Globalization : critical perspectives 2003:xi)
and a world controlled by transnationals, and by governments that are their tools, the tendency is to favor an increasing core-periphery exploitation, core-periphery distance, planetary concentration of wealth at the core side, and misery at the periphery side... the core is doing it in the name of market, efficiency, growth, freedom, humanitarianism and democracy. Call it market-techno-fascism, or 'neoliberal-democracy'...(Chaves 2003:341)
The ideological celebration of so-called globalization is in reality the swan song of our historical system. We have entered into the crisis of this system. The loss of hope and the accompanying fear are both part of the cause and the major symptom of this crisis. (Immanuel Wallerstein Utopistics: or, historical choices of the twenty-first century 1998:32)
In our normal work lives, we're all linked--often invisibly-- with a vast network of people, from across the office or factory to the other side of the world. Standard globalization narratives, mainstream or critical, often efface this fact, seeing capital, rather than the billions who produce the goods and services that the world lives on, as the dominant creative force. That cooperative labor deserves to be acknowledged in itself, as the creative force that it is, but also as a source of great potential power. [Hardt and Negri's] Empire uses a lyric from Ani DiFranco as one of its epigraphs: "Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right." They could have also used a line from Patti Smith: "We created it. Let's take it over." (from Beyond Globophobia [Doug Henwood, in The Nation November 13, 2003])
Some empirical data:

Annie search SU globalization ...and NB 900 hits for a KW search (138 of them published in 2003 --see a subset, and 9 chosen for class)

I did a quick tally of KW in Annie by year, 1987-2004

Fall 2001 Globalization books exercise (see a longer list)

Another piece of the agenda for the next couple of weeks: I think it's worthwhile to ask how the events of and after 9/11 have affected the trajectory of globalization, and for that matter, how they have altered aspects of Geography of Human Cultures, distantly and locally.

As news-of-the-moment, My job went to India and all I got was this lousy t-shirt might be an on-ramp (see links)

(indeed, searches for globalisation and globalization seem to reflect different universes... What's that all about?) ...and searches for outsourcing and offshoring are similarly interesting. The latest issue of Wired has an article on the phenomenon: The New Face of the Silicon Age: How India became the capital of the computing revolution (By Daniel H. Pink)

Toward a Progressive View on Outsourcing from The Nation March 4, 2004

Global outsourcing of service jobs is one of the most disturbing manifestations of the US government's corporate-friendly approach to globalization and requires a fundamental reorientation of policy that will aid workers at home and abroad.

...the average wage gap between the United States and India, the top outsourcing destination in the developing world, is more than 12:1 for telephone operators and about 9:1 for medical transcribers, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study. The next biggest developing-country draw for service work is China (which has rock-bottom wages but lacks India's English-speaking advantage), followed by Mexico, where the wage ratio with the United States is about 8:1.

Overall, global pay gaps result in cost savings for outsourcers of at least 45-55 percent (after accounting for higher infrastructure and other costs), according to the management consulting firm McKinsey and Company. If this is true, figures in the Berkeley study suggest, companies could save around $300 billion a year if they outsourced all of the estimated 14 million US service jobs considered vulnerable to being shipped overseas.

Wikipedia on Globalization

Globalization Resources ("Statistics and Other Information") collected by Dick Grefe for Soc 102

International Networks Archive ("we are creating an archive of globalization that spans 2000 years, culminating in the production of an Atlas of Globalization that will introduce a new system of mapping based on global transactions instead of geography [sic!]"

Thematic Presentations --each might choose one and critique/expand

outward link to ("We currently have 921 stats, and this number is increasing all the time. We want to be the web's one-stop resource for country statistics on anything and everything...")

As an example of what they do, consider some examples from Music: Indonesian music and Malaysian music --and access more in this domain across nations ...genres introduces the wiki-like nature of what's here, and makes me wonder if it might not be possible to interlink with Wikipedia... e.g., dangdut and Music of Indonesia more generally... and List of cultural and regional genres of music
(This reminds me that we need to consider the powerful tendency to center thoughts on nations as if they were the important entities/units)

Music is certainly a potent arena for Globalization studies, and I'm getting more and more tempted to use at least one class to explore this further. I happened on Ingrid Monson's The African Diaspora: a musical perspective (ML3760.1 .A37 2003), which has a chapter by Jerome Harris: "Jazz of the Global Stage"; and the various phenomena grouped loosely around raï are another rich example...

some other starting places, and Some measurements of Globalization (6 November 2003 --for Kelley, as I recall)

Thinking Small: Globalization and the Choice of Technology by Kumar Venkat (

In the Belly of the Beast : Sex Trade, Prostitution and Globalization - Jyoti Sangera GAATW Canada (DISCUSSION PAPER FOR SOUTH ASIA REGIONAL CONSULTATION ON PROSTITUTION Feb., 17-18, 1997, Bangkok, Thailand)

Other subjects that await as lenses for Globalization: coffee, and sugar --consider also Pepe Fanjul...


Shocking figures reveal sad plight of birds (Tony Carnie) --see State of the World's Birds, 2004

Discovery and distribution of Aedes albopictus in Harris County, Texas (Sprenger and Wuithiranyagool 1986:217-219)