Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Intersecting Gender and Race in Globalization: Beyond the Evolution from Cultural Imperialism to Cultural Hybridity

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Intersecting Gender and Race in Globalization: Beyond the Evolution from Cultural Imperialism to Cultural Hybridity

Article excerpt

Abstract

Contemporary trans-cultural flow negates the dominant-subordinate binary scheme suggested by early cultural imperialism. Indeed, it is a complicated, ambiguous, and multilateral process. This essay explores how the theories of global trans-cultural influence have evolved in the realm of communication research since the 1960s. It first examines how the discourse of globalization has historically moved from cultural imperialism to cultural hybridity. It then attempts to intersect such evolution with issues of gender and race.

This essay is theoretically grounded in the intersection of cultural hybridity and postcolonial feminism. Further, it owes its empirical approach to feminist ethnographers who try to encompass the diversity of women all over the world. Such scholarly frameworks can be intertwined in terms of their overarching concern, i.e., cultural hybridity, feminism, and ethnography strive to empower the powerless, such as women and the Third World, while criticizing the unequal distribution of power.

I seek to grasp a "backward" global flow, i.e., subversive engagement of indigenous people with global media empowered by cultural hybridity and postcolonial feminism. More specifically, as an Asian feminist who is studying in the United States, I desire to de-Westernize the discourse on subaltern women and let them speak.

Prologue: Standing on the Edge of Globalization

"Pop culture no longer moves simply in a single direction, from the West to the rest of the world. Instead, it's a global swirl, no more constrained by borders than the weather," (Walsh, 2006)

The excerpt above comes from the 2006 issue of The TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World, eulogizing Rain, a Korean singer, as a pan-Asian popular cultural idol. Likewise, contemporary trans-cultural flow negates the dominant-subordinate binary scheme suggested by early cultural imperialism. Indeed, it is a complicated, ambiguous, and multilateral process. Nonetheless, some argue that global culture always transmits from the center to the periphery. Refuting such a unilateral approach, this essay explores how the theories of global trans-cultural influence have evolved in the realm of communication research since the 1960s. It first examines how the discourse of globalization has historically moved from cultural imperialism to cultural hybridity. It then attempts to intersect such evolution with issues of gender and race.

Dealing with the trans-cultural nature of the contemporary world, many scholars have involved in the discourse of globalization (see for example, Hall, 1997; Iwabuchi, 2002; Kraidy, 2005; Shim, 2005; Tomlinson, 1991&1999; Waters, 1995). Waters (1995) defines globalization as "a social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding" (p. 3). In like manner, Tomlinson (1999) presents the concept of "deterritorialization" as the cultural condition of globalization. I argue that globalization is an ideological trope mirroring hierarchal structure on the globe and revealing political, economic, and cultural power relations between nations. My disbelief in unilateral trans-cultural flow does not mean that I overlook the global hierarchy. On the global scene, there are more powerful countries, mostly former colonizers in the West, vis-à-vis less powerful countries, mainly previous colonies in the East. Even today, the former continuously wield postcolonial power over the latter.

For this reason, Kelsky (2001) emphasizes the significance of "the postcolonial optic":

The postcolonial optic ... is one that permits us to attend to the continuing adjustments and permutations of colonial power relations in the contemporary era; it requires us to analyze the ways that the power differentials embedded in older colonial projects still exert their effects even when the formal colonial relationships is gone (p. …

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