Globalization & Transnationality
with Dr. Maximilian C. Forte


Meetings Days and Times for 2017
Winter Semester, 2016–2017
03 credits
January 13 – April 7, 2017
Meeting days and times:
Fridays: 2:45pm–5:30pm
Campus: SGW, H-433

“Some of the most significant cultural phenomena of our time have to do with responses to and interpretations of the global system as a whole. More specifically, globalization involves pressure on societies, civilizations and representatives of traditions, including both “hidden” and “invented” traditions, to sift the global-cultural scene for ideas and symbols considered to be relevant to their own identities.” ~ Roland Robertson

“The global is the true state of affairs and the only adequate framework for the analysis of any part of the world, at least since the rise of the first commercial civilizations.” ~ Jonathan Friedman

“The paradox of the current world conjuncture is the increased production of cultural and political boundaries at the very time when the world has become totally bound together in a single economic system with instantaneous communication between different sectors of the globe.” ~ Linda Basch, et al.

From the Undergraduate Calendar:
ANTH 385—Globalization and Transnationality
Globalization has been used generally to denote the increasingly rapid and far-flung circulation of people, money, commodities, and images around the world. This course introduces students to a sample of issues covered by anthropologists and sociologists in respect to this process, while at the same time also exploring transnational social networks that cross state borders but are not necessarily global in scope.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a range of theories and concepts of globalization and transnationalism, the debates around neoliberal globalization, and the ways that anthropologists and other social scientists have sought to study global phenomena.

Some Questions

When did we become globalized? What are the “facts” of globalization? What are the structures and who are the agents of globalization? Is globalization a new and better stage of human history? Or is globalization a new form of colonization? Does talking about globalization require abandoning older and ongoing analyses of world capitalism, cultural imperialism, and transnationalism? How does globalism differ from universalism and/or cosmopolitanism? How do creolization and transculturation relate to globalization? Do local places and nations matter no longer? Is the state rendered irrelevant by globalization? What are the consequences of the different types of globalization (economic, political, cultural)? What are the forms and logics of de-globalization movements?

Defining, Conceptualizing, Theorizing

Talking of globalization does not seem to solve a “problem” in the social sciences, as much as it creates a new one. It is now a well-established problem, appearing as a research program and the source of countless publications and a wide range of competing theories. Even so, in many ways the crest of the globalization wave lasted from the end of the 1980s to the early 2000s, soon to be diminished by a critical awareness of neoliberalism and renewed attention to imperialism. At present, there are also significant movements pressing for de-globalization.

This course spans these areas of inquiry, adopting a critical framework that questions the fanfare that first heralded the purported arrival of globalization, to a critique of the processes which are encompassed by the idea, to an appraisal of research in anthropology and sociology on globalization. Anthropology in particular was decisively impacted and reshaped by a heightened awareness of global processes, with greater attention paid to the relationships between the local and the global.

Our Core Concerns

We therefore examine the principal facets of globalization, across some of the varying understandings of the idea, as well as competing definitions and conceptualizations of globalization. More importantly, we will study some of the different theorizations of globalization that attempt to produce the appropriate facts of the phenomena captured by the term.

Among the core areas of interest in this course, apart from a presentation of competing theories and ideologies of globalization/globalism/globality, we can include the following:

  • Neoliberalism: global finance, shifts in the international division of labour, and structural adjustment;
  • The Transnational Capitalist Class;
  • Global trade;
  • Multilateral financial institutions;
  • Cultural conflicts around globalization;
  • Transnational social movements, “global civil society,” non-state actors, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
  • The media and the production of a putative “global cultural consciousness”;
  • Time-space compression;
  • Travel, migration, diasporas;
  • Global-local creolization; and,
  • Anthropological research methodologies.

Required Readings

The required reading materials for this course consist of, 1) one book (which can be purchased at the Concordia bookstore, and is also available in the Reserve Room of Webster Library), and, 2) a selection of articles available via links on this website.

The book we will be reading, in addition to articles listed under the Schedule (see the menu above), is:

David Harvey
A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Oxford University Press, 2007