Reflection on the lesson and Michael Ryan’s chapter on Transnationality, Globalisation and Postcoloniality in Cultural Studies – A Practical Introduction.
How culture is both national and transnational
“Culture is often national in character. The culture of Japan is distinct in many respects from that of nearby China. The cultural traditions are different; the current political culture is different. If one moves a little further away, to Indonesia, say, or to India, the differences multiply – according to religion, food, tastes, languages, literary and musical traditions, and so on. But one would also find similarities between these very different national locations. The same shows might be on television, imports often from one country to the next, or the same Western-style clothing might be on sale in stores. On the radio, one might hear the same international pop music. In many places, culture is both national and transnational, a matter of local production or tradition and a matter of “flow” between nations” (p.170).
Definitions and examples:
• Cultural nationalist endorse the belief that states are politically sovereign entities with clearly defined borders, a unified political and economic system that affects all similarly, and a set of legal and cultural practices shared by its citizens.
• Large culture (essentialism) can be defined by ‘Landeskunde’ for example by demographic facts, closely linked to stereotypes when not talking about pure facts, whereas small cultures (non-essentialism) are cultures inside the large culture e.g. Indian tribes within the US.
• National is ‘Landeskunde’ view of a nation, whereas regional is when looking at particular parts of a nation e.g. Chinatown in San Francisco and the Financial District in Manhattan.
• Globalisation means a world of ‘constant motion’. But, the movement of capital, migrants, goods, or information is not inherently free-flowing, libratory, or progressive, as neoliberal (pro-free market) ideology would have it. It operates within particular power structures and frameworks. The flow of good is subject to international tariff and agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
• Power structure: Google and Yahoo infamously entered the Chinese market under the condition that they ban access to all human rights-related sites or redirect the Internet traffic to pages favouring the views of the government. One of the most important arguments in cultural studies is that most of the global frameworks that regulate the flow of capital, goods, technology, and information (the World Trade Organisation, NAFTA, the World Bank, and so on).
◦ Colonialism refers to the domination of a nation, peoples, or society by another nation through political, military, and economic interventions; territorial expansion/occupation; and various strategies of cultural oppression and coercion (via language, cultural practices, control of media, knowledge, etc.).” (p.172).
• Power; Often a country but can also refer to a group of allied countries working together under the same leader. It refers to their respective influence on the world stage in international relations.
• Development: Time moving forward with new things happening. Often positive, but not always.
• Economic exploitation refers to the usage of the colonized country’s resources such as money, land, people, and machines.
◦ Cultural oppression is when a colonized nation can’t practice their culture because of their oppressors.
• Postcolonialism = enduring effects of colonial domination e.g. contributions to national culture (p.173) i.e., the post in postcolonial implies the enduring effects of colonial domination, rather than the end of colonialism. The postcolonial approach in cultural studies acknowledges the power of such cultural exclusion and its lingering effects on cultures worldwide. To colonize is to deprive of land and resources, but also to control the representation of that experience.
• “Blindness” in films; The media creates a reality that is often one-sided, as the leader/oppressor control the representation of the experience of being colonized for everyone involved. The “blindness” is the absence of the oppressed point of view in media. (p.173).
• The role of media and nationalistic cultural policies; “… regulating the media and limiting foreign content and foreign private company access to the indigenous cultural market. But with globalization has come an increased penetration of such national enclaves by new media such as satellite television that bring with it content that is distinctly “ modern ” and that is quite different from the local national culture or cultural experience.” (p. 174).
• A common world experience, juxtaposed to local cultural differences, has emerged
> “ The “ look ” of cities in China is increasingly the same as that of cities in the West, as entire old cities are razed to make way for buildings considered to be more modern.” (p. 174)
• The case of India in a transnational context: India is a good example of the diverse issues that arise in studying culture in a transnational context, as it is a postcolonial country (for centuries under British rule), which is reflected in the facts, that about 5% of the population speaks English and the national sport is cricket. Thus India was created (by the Brits) as a nation of many diverse ethnic, linguistic, cultural and regional parts. (p. 175).