TL10: “Encountering Globalization” by Lauren Kantrovitz, in Florence Italy. 

The movie, “The travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy” really opened my eyes to how poverty stricken and dependent some countries are towards “rich countries” like the US. There is no wonder people think money is a power holder and place so much importance towards it, because that is what or government and the world we live in has taught us. The US deciphers many policy issues as opposed to poorer countries who don’t have as stable of a government. Zambia depends on places like America who heartedly in order to survive. The clothing trade, is literally keeping some families and individuals alive in places like Zambia and Ghana, who refer to the clothes they receive as “dead white man’s clothes”. They have a choice of getting involved in a dangerous trade or a tough life involving stealing and getting arrested in order to support their families financially. It was said that 40% of children are malnourished in Africa and to me, it is heartbreaking to think that some people are worried that a new Chinese restaurant may pop up and hurt the culture that now stands when we have cultures that ‘need’ change and globalization in order to survive, yet aren’t getting that. I always pictured many parts of Africa to be poor and pictured African children running around outside with plain t-shirts that were not much of anything, just very plain and simple. However what is almost more saddening to me, was the surprise that they wear the same brands as us. Of course, it is wonderful that the clothes we donate could be helping ‘anyone’ in the world, but it is so sad to think that people there need our help so much that our clothes will go that long of a way.

Governments portray a sense of worry that if they allow people to experience another culture that they may choose that way of living over the one they have now. It is looked at as a competition, but then again, what isn’t these days? There is always something that has to be fought for, otherwise it’s as though we have no worth. Thus, even if a culture is much more alike than people lead on, it is the extremes of that culture that standout and make it different. However, although architecture and language are large factors in culture, you can get just as good, if not better pizza from Italy or foi gras from France, in America! The world is so set against adopting American culture and “westernizing” themselves, however I feel that Americans have shown to be the most integrative out of all the cultures I have seen thus far. In almost any American city, yes you can find a hamburger, because when in America, right! However you can also find almost any other cuisine around the world or a museum representing another culture. Yet, in so many countries, all you can find is their cuisine and history about ‘their’ country. Every country should be proud to be who they are but we can’t stand here and say that Americans are selfish when we are the most globalized country there is. Just like Robins said in “Encountering Globalization”, globalization does not displace everything that preceded it. What are we afraid of? Becoming more cultured and to realize that we may enjoy new activities or ways of life that was not previously introduced to us? We are cutting ourselves short and preventing further knowledge and insights from our lives that could make us happier and better people. There are many people who would despise integrating other cultures into their own as that would mean losing some of the raw authentic culture. I do understand and would not want all the small authentic towns of Italy for example to become globalized in a way that there are just as many Indian or Chinese restaurants as there are Italian, because that’s the beauty of authenticity and traveling. But we need to find that middle ground, which to me is simply acceptance and openness to new ‘people’. We don’t necessarily need to be open to our city or town changing its ways but we need to be open to new people adopting our ways or allowing people to live the lifestyle that they know in our culture, because that won’t hurt us to watch.

As a student studying abroad, I am enabling globalization to occur as I am apart of another culture and integrating myself into a new one. From Italians seeing how people from other cultures, like myself, act each day, transformation is slowly occurring as Italians will begin to adopt small parts of how we act in ways that may not be apparent to us right now. The same goes for myself once I travel back to America. I have learned so much about myself and different cultures and likely have no idea that I have adopted new habits or things that I now like than I previously had. Humans are habitual when we like something we will do it over and over again which is exactly how new societal norms are adopted.

If one looks at how people lived in the 1800s, it is an entirely different way of living, so much so, that when I look at paintings from different eras, what I find so striking and intriguing is trying to picture a world depicted in the pictures and how the ground we walk on each day was once so different. However just as Salman Rushdie said, “The transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs” (243). Clearly, transformation, and much of it, has occurred throughout time, but that is why each decade is symbolized by different lifestyles, because it happens over periods of time and isn’t so sudden that it feels as drastic as it may look like from the outside. Just like our bodies, the world is changing around us each day, and we have to stop fighting change and open our eyes to a world that has so much in store for us than the one we live in now, because globalization gives us possibilities, and possibilities are endless.

The photo that I chose to incorporate in this post is a picture of s modern French restaurant in Paris, France. If one looks at the menu, it is incorporating classic French cuisine but made into a modern take of that cuisine. Although the food has been changed and may not incorporate that exact same flavors or techniques to make the food, it is still French and absolutely delicious! Change and globalization is not always a bad things. If one still wants a traditional French plate, there are countless restaurants at one’s foot to be able to do that. But there is no reason we should not open our minds, or our palates, up to new ideas, flavors, and possibilities.

Robins, K., 2002. Encountering Globalization. In: C. Held & A. McGrew, eds. The Global Transformation Reader. Cambridge: Polity. Ch. 20.
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.


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