Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” By Marc Capparelli. Perugia, Italia

As students who study abroad in cultures different from our own, we contribute to globalization even if we don’t know it. Just by being present in the community and sharing our ideas with local citizens, as well as taking their ideas when we go back home, we increase the level of globalization occurring in the world.

Globalization can be thought of as the movement and spreading of information, communications technology, people, and many other things within different cultures. While this may sound like a nice thing, I find it negative in the sense that it can make cultures more homogenous, allowing certain parts of a culture or its traditions to be lost. In his text “Encountering Globalization,” Kevin Robbins discusses the concept of globalization and some of its advantages and disadvantages. In this text, Robbin’s writes, “We should not think of globalization in terms of homogenization, then, in line with what is commonly believed and feared….What globalization in fact brings into existence is a new basis for thinking about the relation between cultural convergences and cultural differences.” While I understand ‘globalization’ is not the homogenization and blending of cultures, I believe that homogenization is a direct effect of this “new basis” for discussing how cultures integrate. The reason I feel this way is because I have traveled to many parts of Italy, specifically Venice and Florence, and I have found that these locations have become ‘lost’ to tourism and large corporations. In these places, there are crowds upon crowds of tourists all taking pictures and waiting on lines for things they probably do not even understand. There are also places like Foot Locker, Gucci, Zara, H&M, and McDonald’s in every direction. Because of this homogenization, these great historic places have become nothing more than Disneylands for tourists. This can really undermine the Italian culture and make it very similar to that of an American culture. For these reasons, I disagree with what Robbins stated about globalization.

As I live here in Italy, I find that no matter where I go, American music is being played in bars, cafes, or even in the gym. I also am surprised when I find out that Italians know many American artists and songs or have watched many American movies. Most of the Italians I have spoken with tell me about all of the American music they like such as Michael Buble or John Mayer. I find it so interesting that they know this music when I really have never listened to any major Italian artist before. Along with music, food is another thing that is involved in globalization. While being in Italy and getting to know Italians, I have shared American dishes as well as learned about many italian dishes. One thing that still remains true to Italian culture is that they firmly believe as fact that their food is the best in the world. Because of globalization, I have come across tourist traps areas that sell hot dogs, hamburgers, or kebabs. Yet, statistically speaking, Italy has the fewest number of ethnic food places because of how much they believe in their food.

Nonetheless, there is a lot of globalization in Italy. When thinking of this concept, I also think about our definition of a global community and how we defined it similarly to people working together to achieve human rights. Speaking solely about Italy, globalization may or not be helping this process to happen. One can say the tourism is destroying
the true essence of the places in Italy. But, one can also say the tourism brings the cultures together as well as does the music. However, when speaking of other places like Zambia, globalization is destroying the process of people achieving human rights. Like Luka from the video, some people are forced into a certain life because of poverty, not allowing them to lead the life they wanted to lead and so instead, they settled for less.

The picture I chose for this week is a picture of me observing my surroundings in Venice and looking up at a very tall bell tower. The reason I chose this picture is because it is of me wandering Italy and feeling small. After this week’s blog, I feel much smaller and that the world is much bigger. I feel as if pensive venicemy actions have more power in them than I previously thought. When I travel around Italy more in the upcoming weeks, I am going to think more about this idea of globalization and how my actions of wandering about are more consequential than meaningless.

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