documentary, 27m11s, 2020.
︎ click here for a transcription.
digital photography, dimensions variable, 2019.
This series is a surrealist photo-essay on the topic of Memento Mori and personal vices. Inspired by Magritte’s The Lovers II, this piece speaks to the evils of the psyche that lead one down the path of self-degradation and unfulfillment. Memento Mori is a Latin term meaning ‘remember death’ or 'remember you must die.’ It is also the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality.
I believe that the Tipping Point is more than a retrospective of the culture and technology juxtaposed against the unknowable future. The Tipping Point is a mental state transition and reflection. At its core, this series showcases the reflection of one's vices and the inevitable passage to their demise. Once the Tipping point is reached, a decision is made regarding one’s future: to change or to stay the same.
Culture and Globalization
There are three main theories of Cultural Globalization. They include Cultural Convergences, and Cultural Differentialism Cultural Hybridization. Each theory takes the perception of culture in the global context in varying directions. This becomes an interesting conversation when you analyze the differences and discuss how they interpret how culture flows globally.
Cultural Convergence argues that cultures are subject to many of the same global flows and as a result tend to grow more alike. The main focus is on the strong flows of culture and the weak barriers. (Ritzer 2015). A concept within this theory that helps prove the validity of the theory would be the concept of Cultural Imperialism. This concept more or less speaks to the way that one culture imposes itself onto other cultures — whether it is intentional or unconscious. As a result of Cultural Imperialism, a tendency is the destruction of some part of another culture. (Ritzer 2015). A simple but clear example of Cultural imperialism would be the insertion of a language not native to the land, also known as Linguistic imperialism. Traditionally, it is put into place as a result of military powers and the dominance of military power but in the contemporary world it is more likely to be seen through economic powerhouses. (Skutnabb-Kangas 1998)
For example, English has found its way into almost every country in the world and has become one of the most common languages to speak internationally. As a language it has become a dominant force and one of the main speaking languages around the world, especially in global powerhouses such as the US, the EU and in some parts of China has come to embrace the language. (Skutnabb-Kangas 1998) The dominance of the english language can be attributed to many factors but, in the contemporary world, I think it would be fair to use the US’s weight as a cultural powerhouse and economic force, has led to other countries following the US’s footsteps — This would in turn would lead down the road of Americanization. (Ritzer 2015)
With this in mind it has unfortunately led to the destruction of some languages, but with the outcome being a more uniform and connective global societal system. Between 1950 and 2010, 230 languages went extinct (Strochlic 2018). Now it would not be fair to completely blame Globalization as the sole reason for this but it would also be ignorant to not point out that part of that the flows of Globalization and its effect on the spread of culture would have a profound effect on the way culture thrives and continues to live.
Cultural Differentialism describes the tendency of culture to remain different from one another. This theory focuses on the barriers that exist between cultures regardless of the flows of Globalization. Cultures may be affected by the processes of Globalization but at their core remain different (Ritzer 2015). Globalization at its core speaks to the increased interactions on a global scale.
The interactions regarding political and economic remain to be profoundly impactful on each other, and the beautiful part of it is that it is often quantifiable. In terms of political health it can be seen through the relationships we can see unfold on the geopolitical landscape. If a lot of nations are angry and unwilling to work with a country, that speaks volumes to their geopolitical relationships. Culture is profoundly different and it’s incredibly difficult to quantify. Analysis almost always leads down a road of subjective, qualitative analysis — often in the form of Cultural Anthropological studies. It leads to academics to lead a conversation that is often focused on the differences in cultures.
It is always easier to see differences between cultures rather than sit down and analyze the similarities in what the cultural aspects mean and represent. It is related to the concept of Cultural relativism. Cultural relativism speaks to the inability for people to cast judgement on another culture because of the fact that they do not belong to that culture, It would be impossible to try and understand the systems, trials and nuances of a specific culture without being immersed into it. Cultural Relativism is meant to help withhold judgement between cultures without placing the other as lesser or primitive or barbaric (Rosado 1998). This idea of “the Other” is discussed at length by Edward Said’s Orientalism, that points of the way that the colonial powers have framed the middle east, believing they were lesser. (Varisco 2017)This perception is the reason cultural relativism exists, in order to deter the judgements on other cultures.
The third and final cultural theory regarding Globalization is Cultural Hybridization. This theory speaks to the mixing of cultures as a result of Globalization and how it leads to unique hybrid cultures that are not reducible to either a local or a global culture. The theory focuses on the interactions between internal and external flows and how they add to the number of complexities regarding the topic. Focus is on integration flows and the resulting new distinct hybrid forms of culture that come as a result. (Ritzer 2015)
One of the most interesting interactions between global culture and the internal and external flows is Glocalization. In the field of culture, glocalisation can be seen when elements of global culture (such as movies, global brands, or consumption patterns) are reinterpreted by local cultures. It can also happen when elements of a local culture are combined with a global phenomenon. (Ejderha 2007)
I think that the most accurate theory to describe the relationship of culture and Globalization is Cultural convergence. This is because I feel that it takes both the value of the flows that bring cultures together and the barriers between cultures into consideration when trying to describe the nature of the global cultures. I do not think that all cultures are so different from each other that they will refuse to be changed substantially by Globalization. Therefore I Disagree with the Cultural differentialism. I may not wholeheartedly disagree with Cultural hybridization, in fact I believe that it as a theory holds weight and value, but what I Feel like it is missing is taking into consideration the barriers that lie between all the various cultures of the world.
Looking forward, diversity in culture on a global scale is leading down the path of constant evolution in the form of cultural convergence. Cultural convergence makes the most sense in my opinion. Since there are active exam[lpes of cultural imperialism in history, and we are seeing in the contemporary world, I think that I value this theory the highest. I think that the other reason I value this perspective is that it is found in abundance of different forms when we look to the contemporary global cultural landscape. More countries are growing like the USA and following its footsteps in accordance with its values, its ethos and its economic decision making process with regards to global relations.
Globalization is not a single phenomena that affects certain parts of the world. Globalization is complicated, intricate and sometimes outright confusing. There seems to be no universal consensus, no right answer regarding the nature of the way global flows in economy, culture or politics work. With that in mind, the lack of one single ideology to take over the opinions of academics leads us into a problematic set of circumstances. Circumstances that result in nation-state having to deal with the flows of Globalization in different ways. Sometimes it means resisting the flows of Globalization outright through regulations, policies and creating opposing ideologies regarding decision making.
There are three ways of dealing with Globalization that are presented. These methods are Protectionism, alternative trade schemes and Helping the bottom billion. (Ritzer 2008)Each method relates to various different issues at hand and requires a shift in perspective to understand since they all attempt to deal with the flows and varying aspects of Globalization in different ways.
Protectionism refers to government intervention into its relationships with the global economic processes in order to shield its own industries from international competition. (Ritzer 2008). The advantage to Protectionism is that if a country is trying to grow strong in a new industry, it will protect them from foreign competitors. It as well will create domestic jobs which will also in itself help build up the industry (Amadeo 2019).
Protectionism as a theory of practice is meant to encourage domestic productions. Often by regulating and taxing imported goods, this is called enacting tariffs. This immediately raises the price of imported goods so they become less competitive when compared to the local goods and commodities (Amadeo 2019). Protectionism also takes the form of subsidizing local industries to help me compete in global markets . They often “come in the form of tax credits or direct payments to allow producers of local goods and services to lower the price of their goods.” (Amadeo 2019)
Alternative trading schemes are terms for regulatory systems put into place with the intention of providing and facilitating collaboration in the buying and selling of goods between the two nations (Lemke 2013). A current example is Fair Trade, which is trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are guaranteed to the producers. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, developed nations are able to address the injustices of conventional trade and the issues of the global economy taking advantage of developing countries. “Fair Trade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workings in the developing world.“ (Rice 2019)
The intention with the practice of Fair Trade is encouraged global connections in the economy while also bringing the poverty levels around the world for the producers of the goods that the developed countries love to purchase. In my opinion, this is a mutually beneficial relationship and should be taken into consideration by more developed countries in order to help protect the industries that produce the goods that mean so much to others. For example, if the coffee bean farmers all went so deep into poverty that they were unable to operate in some developing countries, then such a simple part of people’s day to day rises in price because it is harder to come by. Simple industries that people take for granted would greatly benefit from more sustainable practices in global economics.
The theory of Helping the Bottom Billion suggests that the people who live in developing countries require assistance. (Ritzer 2008 )The Bottom Billion people typically suffer from one or multiple traps in development that stops them from making progress of getting out. It is the responsibility of the privilege to increase the aid to developing countries even further than we have. International norms and standards could be adapted to help create a universal standard. Part of the theory believes that reducing trade barriers and restrictions, (Clemens 2007)
We are slowly seeing signs of growth in some of the most impoverished countries in the world, but seeing no signs of economic growth in others. There are nations that are economically stagnant, existing without the infrastructure to create industries that would benefit their people. There are also nations that are trapped in local armed conflict and are unable to deal with the concerns of Globalization until those tensions are ceased. Nations that are impoverished are more susceptible to other issues domestically than internationally. issues that come from conflict, or natural resource dependence or even poor governance. (Clemens 2007)
A concern regarding the effects of Globalization is the potential for creating even deeper inequalities. I think it is important to note that they currently exist within and between countries. In many developing countries it is easy to see the connection between the distribution of wealth and Globalization. One of the major points of contention that I would beg includes the abuse of developing countries by major MNCs that lead to the even deeper spread of wealth within developing countries. This makes the problem significantly clearer and the solutions to the problems harder to come by.
The more that MNCs get involved in the economies of other developing countries, it makes the nations more connected and issues become more complex to solve. For example, regarding the ethics of the treatment of the producers of the goods that are exported. Because the moment you try to make free trade a policy in one of those developing countries, it is easy for MNCs to pull out of those countries in terms of using them for their resources and go elsewhere. This leads to, potentially, a drastic economic collapse of internal domestic industries. It may also ruin the global relations that have been built up because of the idea of Fair Trade. So it is understandable for countries to be hesitant to consider Fair Trade as a solution to the problem. There is also the fear of being undercut by other nations for the same product if you do decide to apply fair trade policies.
In my opinion, I believe that we need to take into consideration what all these concerns mean for the individual. Often, in my experience, people will find these issues as less of a serious problem that requires attention and more of a nuisance, meaning they will not take them seriously. There are plenty of real concerns that can change the landscape of global relations. I think that it is imperative for people to take these concerns into consideration seriously. One of the most effective ways that people can start to truly understand the potential negative impacts on their lives is through a thorough understanding of how much the geopolitical and economic landscape will change. I think leaders and politicians need to be educated in order to make quality decisions regarding the regulations put in place to protect domestic interests.
Globalization is a study that extends the awareness of the world in which people live in by opening them to diverse heritage of thinking, actions.and reactions of the world. A deep understanding of Globalization is a valuable resource to have, in my opinion. Being able to understand the implications that an integration of global politics, economics, and societies have on each other is very valuable knowledge. The world we live in is extremely connected. I believe the study of Globalization will become an important part of our future education system.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “Why Protectionism Feels So Good but Is So Wrong.” The Balance, The Balance, 10 July 2019, www.thebalance.com/what-is-trade-protectionism-3305896.
Clemens, Michael. “Smart Samaritans: Is There A Third Way in the Development Debate?” CENTER FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT, ESSAYS, 2007.
Ejderyan, Olivier, and Norman Backhaus. “Glocalisation, the Link between the Global and the Local.” GLOPP, 2007, www.glopp.ch/A4/en/multimedia/glocalisation.pdf.
Lemke, Lins “Soft Dollars and Other Trading Activities” , Thomson West, 2013
Rice, Paul. “What Is Fairtrade?” Fairtrade Foundation, 2019, www.fairtrade.org.uk/What-is-Fairtrade.
Ritzer, George, and Paul Dean. Globalization: a Basic Text. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.
Rosado, Caleb. “Cultural Relativism.” Www.andrew.cmu.edu, 1998, www.andrew.cmu.edu/course/80-241/guided_inquiries/articles/cultural_rel.html.
Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove, and Robert Phillipson. "Linguicide and linguicism." Kontaktlinguistik. Contact Linguistics. Linguistique de contact. Ein Internationales Handbuch zeitgenössiger Forschung. An International Handbook of Contemporary Research. Manuel international des recherches contemporaines 1 (1996): 667-675.
Strochlic, Nina. “The Race to Save the World's Disappearing Languages.” Saving the World's Dying and Disappearing Languages, 16 Apr. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/04/saving-dying-disappearing-languages-wikitongues-culture/.
Varisco, Daniel Martin. “Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid.” Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid, University of Washington Press, 2017, pp. 4–5.