Growing up in America makes you almost desensitized to how globalized it really is, other cultures just become a part of our daily lives. Yet going into another country with a culture that is not my own, and expecting to only encounter that culture, makes me realize how globalized not only America is, but Ireland as well. Initially I was expecting Ireland to be more rural and not as up with the times or developed. Yet I was completely wrong. One of my first thoughts when arriving in Dublin, Ireland was how surprised I was that it reminded me of home. It was so developed and modern; not to mention the fact that one of the first few chains I saw were McDonalds and Starbucks and that now Google and Facebook headquarters were there. Galway was even more of a shock for me, because you could distinctly see the Irish culture in the city, yet mixed in all throughout were numerous other cultures. The best way I could describe it is through Kevin Robin’s definition of Hybridization found in his text Encountering Globalization, which is “Globalization from the perspective, is conceived in terms of a process of creative and conjoining” (pg 240). All throughout the town and my university I am constantly surrounded by languages and cultures from all around the world. When walking through the city center around 75% of the small businesses are owned by people from other countries. There are more ethnic food places than there are traditional Irish restaurants. And when you finally find a good Irish restaurant, they are always playing American music. I think the craziest encounter of globalization in Ireland, that I have had, is through their media. Their media is filled with American news, and most of their shows come from England or America, with select Irish speaking channels.
While reading Kevin Robin’s Encountering Globalization one issue he addresses really resonated with me. He addresses the question of whether globalization destroys indigenous cultures. And to be honest, for a bit I was a little worried that it did. At first, I was kind of disappointed, because I came to this country in hopes to be engulfed by the Irish culture, only to be engulfed by the rest of the world instead, specifically my home country. But over timed I realized that the Irish culture isn’t gone, it merely adapts where it needs to in order to thrive. Robins states that, “Globalization is, then, transforming our apprehension of the world in sharply contrasting ways. It is provoking new senses of disorientation and of orientation, giving rite to new experiences of both placeless and placed identity” (pg. 242). This made me realized that Ireland and its culture isn’t deteriorating, it is merely strengthening and widening. Globalization strips away the boundaries of a culture.
Below is a picture of one of my favorite places in Galway, the market. Every Saturday and Sunday there is a street market filled with small vendors and food trucks. I never realized why I loved it so much until today. In such a small road there are so many different stories and cultures within it. Each table has some sort of handmade item that is based off of their home country tradition, and each food truck is different than the rest. My friends and I always joke around that we don’t need a plane to tour the world when we can just go hear and eat our way through each country.
Robins, K., 2002. Encountering Globalization. In: C. Held & A. McGrew, eds. The Global Transformations Reader. Cambridge: Polity. Ch. 20.