Transnationality, Globalisation, Postcoloniality

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.

• DevelopmentTime 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).

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On Intercultural Learning (Karin Risager)

This reflection is based on Intercultural Learning: Raising Cultural Awareness by Karen Risager (Roskilde University).

“Do we emphasize knowledge, whether in the form of facts or deeper insight? Do we favor attitudes and emotions in the cultural encounter? Do we focus on intercultural understanding via the reading of texts? Do we want to offer opportunities for personal intercultural experience and personal cultural encounters? Do we draw on the internet and new social media for intercultural learning? Are we interested in education for citizenship? Are we thinking of national, European, global citizenship, or a cosmopolitan identity? Intercultural learning can have many different objectives and can take many roads indeed.” (Risager 2012:152)

This text is an article that introduces the international field of culture pedagogy in foreign language teaching and learning. Risager presents the multidisciplinary nature of the field and an overview of its diverse development since 2000, thus includes a number of contemporary trends:

  • The increasing importance of postmodernism and its emphasis on the individual learner and his/her learning processes and intercultural competence
  • The development of cultural approaches to literature pedagogy working with the interplay of cultural perspectives
  • Ethnographic approaches to intercultural learning that enable learners to create their own insights into local cultural complexities (I took no notes on this as I didn’t find it interesting)
  • Ideas of critical citizenship that emphasise the importance of reflection, wondering, criticism and hope as a part of language and culture learning
  • The idea of culture in language (languaculture)
  • Transnational perspectives on language and culture learning, which foreground the transnational flows of languages across cultural contexts, and hence suggest a more global approach to language and culture learning and the raising of multicultural awareness

Historical Perspective: Modernism to Postmodernism
Not until the 1960s did the content of language teaching go beyond literary education as such, but onwards the cultural dimension was introduced gradually to a broader sense inasmuch as the culture teaching or culture pedagogy was crystallised into a more or less independent discipline. Language pedagogy and culture pedagogy did not, however, have much to do with each other until the 1990s labeled as “intercultural learning”. Obviously as of today’s common knowledge and global awareness, the culture pedagogy is drawing on humanities and/or social sciences (category 1), whilst some also draw on the developments of linguistics (category 2).

The first category (also the oldest) has a holistic view of language learning, not just a man or language learner, but as someone who also develops other facets of the personality in connection with language learning – especially a greater knowledge and understanding of the world. This category of culture pedagogy is particularly interested in teaching about cultural and societal conditions in the countries where the target language is spoken as the first language. Content and themes (text and methods) within this type of culture pedagogy has a broad horizon and covers e.g. everyday life, technology, politics, economics, music and art, subcultures and educational conditions.The second category (drawing upon developments within linguistics) tends to focus more instrumentally on the practical knowledge that the language users have to possess in order to communicate effectively with the aid of the target language. This category manifested itself in the 1970s in connection to the work done by the Council of Europe to develop communicative skills and mobility within the European Common Market.

In the 1990s the interest in intercultural learning and cultural pedagogy took off as many began to see intercultural learning as an integral part of language teaching. Key influencers at the time, that are still relevant: Kramsch (1993) and Byram (1997).

The ICC-Model
Byram presents a model of comprising five components/dimensions in intercultural communication:

Skills
interpret and relate (savoir comprendre)

Knowledge

of self and other;
of interaction: individual and societal (savoirs)

Education

political education
critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager)

Attitudes
relativising self-valuing other (savoir être)

Skills
discover and/or interact (savoir apprendre/faire)

The history of culture pedagogy can be interpreted as a fight between modernism and postmodernism. The modernist identity was predominant until some time in the 1980s and has to do with an emphasis on the content dimension. From the 19080s onwards the postmodernist tendency was added and gradually came to dominate culture pedagogy as we know it today, but without completely ousting the older view e.g. we still use textbooks and official syllabuses which tend to emphasise knowledge og society. The postmodernist tendency emphasises the learning processes and the raising of cultural awareness through teaching. It also focuses on diversity in the individual students’ qualifications and life experiences, attitudes, emotions, and

their ability to understand and deal with “the other” i.e. their ability to mediate between various languages and various cultural contexts. Interestingly: The interest in poetics and narrativity were also a part of this development: playing with language, with different perspectives and voices, with imagined worlds (Kramsch:1993)

Critical Citizenship
This is a ‘movement’ of culture educationalists that are especially interested in developing a more politically-oriented dimension of intercultural learning; critical citizenship in an intercultural world to provide students with resources for reflection, wondering, criticism and hope to awaken their commitment to transformative action and border crossing. Human rights education and education for democratic citizenship are some of the most common themes. Key influencers on this subject besides Byram (1997/2008) are Guilherme (2002), Starkey (1996) and already in the 1960s Doyé (1966).

Culture in Language (Languaculture)
Kramsch empathises (1993) that language and especially language in discourse is a culture in itself. So when one teaches language in discourse, one, in fact, teaches culture. Meaning that Kramsch does not distinguish between language and culture nor between language teaching an culture teaching. Other people that share this view concerning introducing of culture-in-language in language teachings are: Risager (2006/2007) and Crozet & Liddicoat (2000).

Risager analyses the concept of langaculture in three interconnected dimensions:

  • The semantic-pragmatic dimension has to do with connotations of words and utterances in use — linked to linguistic anthropology and cross-cultural semantics and intercultural pragmatics.
  • The poetic dimension has to do with the aesthetic uses of language in play, ritual, and art — linked to the study of literature.
  • The identity dimension has to with the social and cultural significance of the choice of language or variety of language — linked to sociolinguistics (especially social meaning and relations between language and identity).However, all of these dimensions will — naturally — be affected by the fact that we draw upon our knowledge (languaculture) of our first language (mother tongue), when one learns a foreign language.

 

Transnational Perspectives
Introduced by Risager, this perspective empathises the fact, that language is not only spoken in the target language countries. Almost all languages except the very small and isolated, are spoken all over the world as a result of people on the move. When taking the transnational flow of languages into account, culture pedagogy does not need to limit itself to an exclusive focus on national culture and society of a target country — rather it can be more flexible and open to the needs and interests of both teachers and learners.

Fun fact: Danish is taught in more than 25 countries and at more than 100 universities and institutes.

 

Analysis of Gyldendal Fagportral

This reflection encompasses the analysis of a teaching material / sequence platform conducted during a lesson.

Teaching Sequence: Southern Africa (for lower secondary school)

Link to the sequence: http://engelsk.gyldendal.dk/en/Indgange/Topics/Friend_or_Foe/Southern_Africa/Goal.aspx

The views on culture presented in the analysis will be marked by colours according to this order:

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Goals
After working with this topic, you should have a knowledge of the recent history of Southern Africa, especially of the countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and an understanding of how the interactions between native populations and European colonizers have shaped the modern societies that have now emerged in these countries.

Assessment Criteria:

  1. You should be able to understand both the gist of and specific information in texts on the subject of Southern African history and modern society in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

  2. You should be able to express your knowledge, ideas and opinions concerning aspects of Southern Africa’s history, development and current situation, and take part in discussions on the theme.
  3. You should be able to understand and make active use of a relevant vocabulary within the theme of Southern Africa’s history and development.
  4. You should have a knowledge of the way that historical events can influence the development of a country and the relationship between its citizens. You should also be able to relate this knowledge to your own life and experiences in Denmark.

 

2) Views of culture

Video from lesson 1:

 

  • European imperialism in Africa: Has a transnational and perhaps non-essentialist narrative perspective on the story of European imperialism in Africa, even though colonial history consisted of multiple, different European countries, conquering multiple different African countries.

 

 

Comprehension questions

There’s a national view since the questions are about a specific area.

E.g.:

1. How long did the colonial period in Southern Africa last?
2. Which countries in Southern Africa were British colonies?
3. Why did the British quarrel with the Dutch colony in Southern Africa?
5. What was the result of the Boer wars?

 

3) Identity and process of othering

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From lesson 2: Apartheid in process: An example of the “othering” that took place in the European narrative of black people.

Ellen Richardson: (description with representations without intersectionality – the subtextuality seems to be that she doesn’t agree with the acts)

Under Apartheid, people in South Africa were classified as belonging to a particular racial group: White, Black, Asian (or Indian) or Coloured. According to the Group Areas Act of 1950, the various racial groups had to be physically separated from each other. This meant that the country was divided into areas that were especially reserved for particular racial groups. Identity documents for Black and Coloured (othering and large-culture essentialism) people stopped them from moving into “White” areas. Sometimes members of the same family were classified in different racial groups and were forced to live apart.

It was difficult for non-White people to work in “White” areas. They had to have special permits and could not usually bring their families with them.

 

4) Representations (intersectionality/subtextuality)

 

Picture from ‘Apartheid – the background’

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This picture shows a representation of the South African people, both black and white fighting against the Apartheid.     

5) Intercultural narratives and discourses – language use in texts and media.

Heart of darkness (Book), Joseph Conrad (also identity and othering), ex. It tells a story from a time when native peoples of the African continent was considered savages.

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there’.

Common Objectives for English after 7th grade
The teaching sequence is working towards the following Common Objectives within the “culture and society” field marked in bold:

Kultur og samfund Eleven kan indgå i enkle kulturmøder ved brug af forskellige medier Interkulturel kontakt Engelsk som adgang til verden Tekst og medier
1. Eleven kan give eksempler på forskelle og ligheder mellem kultur- og samfundsforhold i eget land og i engelsksprogede områder Eleven har viden om enkle kultur- og samfundsforhold i engelsksprogede områder Eleven kan deltage i udveksling af enkel information og produkter med elever i udlandet Eleven har viden om metoder til udveksling af information Eleven kan genkende typer af fagtekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om sproglige træk ved fagtekster
2. Eleven kan fortælle om kulturelle forskelle og ligheder i enkle kulturmøder Eleven har viden om udvalgte kultur- og samfundsgrupper Eleven kan med forberedelse og støtte bruge engelsk til internationale henvendelser Eleven har viden om engelsk som lingua franca Eleven kan sammenligne typer af fiktive tekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om enkle genretræk ved fiktionstekster
3. Eleven kan indgå i enkle forberedte kulturmøder Eleven har viden om sproglige regler, normer og værdier hos udvalgte grupper Eleven kan tage initiativ til kommunikation med personer i udlandet Eleven har viden om forskellige medier som adgang til international kontakt Eleven kan anvende varierede teksttyper i forskellige medier på engelsk Eleven har viden om sammenhæng mellem genre, indhold og formål