We’ve all heard this slogan before: “a world without borders”. Today’s post is going to examine that slogan in greater detail because it talks about the main objective of the concept we’re examining – globalisation.
A Bit of Background…
Before I launch head-first into a sea of information, let’s start with a rudimentary definition of what ‘globalisation’ really is.
Albrow, Martin and King in Globalization, Knowledge and Society (1990) define the term ‘globalisation’ as the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture.
Sounds super fancy and academic, I know. So let’s break it down, shall we?
Globalisation is basically an attempt to unify the world into a single global community. In order to do so, aspects of culture are shared or exchanged between countries. This is why it was important for us to look at identity and culture first – identity is an expression of cultural understanding, and cultures interact with one another in the process of globalisation.
Globalisation: A New Concept?
So now we have an idea of how it is, let’s have a little history lesson. A lot of people think the process of globalisation is something new, something that has only now come in to play.
The reality is that globalisation has actually been along for quite a while, even if we didn’t always have this nifty word for it. Think about the goals of the Transatlantic Slave Trade for example.
The European powers wanted to expand their influence, find new trading routes – connecting more people, however forcefully. If we look at it this way, historically speaking the Europeans may very well set the bar.
The Globalisation of Today
In the present day, advances in transportation and information and communication technologies are largely responsible for what we call globalisation. Gone are the days where a journey across the Atlantic took months. Now we’ve got airlines and cruise companies that can take us just about anywhere in the world in a fraction of the time.
And if that isn’t impressive enough, computers and smartphones – all these new gadgets and gizmos – make us privy to information from anywhere at any time. All this information is so easily accessible. This is the age of ‘Google it’. Globalisation has allowed opportunities for migration and movement of goods and services, as well as movement of information.
The world is literally at our fingertips.
What does that mean for the Caribbean?
Globalisation is important to be cognisant of when it comes to the Caribbean context because it affects how the members of the Caribbean view the world.
Imagine the Caribbean as a baby or a toddler. I know it sounds weird, but just go with it for a second. At such a young age, human beings are extremely impressionable. Now think of globalisation as a driving influence for everything that child is exposed to.
Thanks to our efforts to eradicate cultural barriers and represent world cultures, the child-like Caribbean is exposed to information on a whole myriad of different places. A lot of what the Caribbean sees comes from American – and perhaps, to a lesser extent, European – mass media.
Consequently, what the Caribbean ends up seeing is a view of other cultures from the perspectives of non-Caribbean entities. That may not necessarily always be a bad thing, but it’s not always a good thing either.
I’m almost certain that if you ask an older person from Barbados what has changed about Barbadian culture in the last 20 years they could come up with any number of things. The exposure to information like that can often result in moves to behaviours that are “not Caribbean”.
The truth is, globalisation looks good in theory. But as a Caribbean island girl, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. How much exposure do we have to things that are inherently ‘Caribbean’? How do we separate that which is Caribbean from that which is anything else? Can we? What does it mean to be Caribbean?
In my classroom we have a handful of foreign students and we talked about their views of my country, Barbados. And the saying came back to me: ‘meanings are in people, not in words‘. So what happens when we digest meanings that aren’t inherently ours?
You tell me, what has globalisation done for you?
Cyndi, the Transformationalist