Welcome to the class blog for Global Development Studies 2020: Culture, Commerce, Travel.
This course is an introduction to the study of culture, commerce, and travel within a global frame. We’ll start by looking at the long history of globalization, and we’ll examine the relationship between traveling cultures and traveling commodities. In the process, we’ll follow a burnt-out detective to Sweden; a group of anthropologists to Madagascar; a historian to pre-modern China; filmmakers to Senegal and France; poets to Pakistan and the Pacific. Novels, stories, films, and poems will share space with case studies, fieldwork, and theories of economic development. As scholars of globalization, we’ll adopt a critical and transnational point of view, crossing disciplines as frequently as borders, genres as often as time periods. And in doing so, we’ll be forced to consider the different kinds of evidence used in the arguments we read, the relationship between theories and practices of global development, and the various styles of writing on display.
Our central questions for the course will be:
- What is globalization? Who benefits from it? What tools do we use to measure the effects of commerce on poverty, inequality, and the environment?
- How can we distinguish the “global” from the individual, the local, and the national? How do these units of scale affect our analysis of culture, commerce, and travel?
- What roles do culture, commerce, and travel—as well as the methods we use to analyze these phenomena—play in the relationship between the West and the colonization of much of the rest of the world? How has economic globalization ameliorated forms of suffering, and how has it represented a continuation of violent forms of colonization?
- How do we understand and compare concepts of justice, equality, wealth, time, and freedom from a global perspective?
- How do novels, films, etc. help us to imagine, and even to bring about, alternative communities, kinds of knowledge, and models of governance? What is the relationship between the kind of “world” that objects of culture create and the world that we inhabit and study?
Since our class time is limited, we’ll use this blog to continue class discussions, to raise new questions, and to respond to each other.