Monday, March 7, 2011

Introspective Silence Befalls Bali, but Only for a Day

Over the weekend Indonesians in Bali (my field site) witnessed the Hindu holiday "Nyepi". According to a recent NYT article, entitled Introspective Silence Befalls Bali, but Only for a Day, the Balinese have been reinforcing their local customs recently in response to the increase in tourism that globalization has brought.

Globalization is a high profile subject in cultural anthropology these days, one that you will learn more about in future class lectures. But what exactly is meant by globalization? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say:

"Covering a wide range of distinct political, economic, and cultural trends, the term “globalization” has quickly become one of the most fashionable buzzwords of contemporary political and academic debate. In popular discourse, globalization often functions as little more than a synonym for one or more of the following phenomena: the pursuit of classical liberal (or “free market”) policies in the world economy (“economic liberalization”), the growing dominance of western (or even American) forms of political, economic, and cultural life (“westernization” or “Americanization”), the proliferation of new information technologies (the “Internet Revolution”), as well as the notion that humanity stands at the threshold of realizing one single unified community in which major sources of social conflict have vanished (“global integration”). Fortunately, recent social theory has formulated a more precise concept of globalization than those typically offered by pundits. Although sharp differences continue to separate participants in the ongoing debate, most contemporary social theorists endorse the view that globalization refers to fundamental changes in the spatial and temporal contours of social existence...[emphasis added]."

Reading this short article, you can get a taste of the potential effects of globalization in a foreign context. Keep this in mind for future discussions.

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