May 9, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 17

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    Struggles for identity in era of globalization

    Globalization is the drawing together of the world's cultures through immigration, travel, communication and commerce. How has it affected individual countries? Has the world become increasingly homogenized, or has globalization produced new and unexpected kinds of difference?

    The Chicago Humanities Institute will explore global tensions in two upcoming conferences, "Regional Worlds: Reconceptualizing South Asia" and "Dislocating States: Representing Struggles in Transnational Times," presented as part of CHI's ongoing work on globalization.

    "There is the tendency to assume that the world's cultures have become homogeneous, that culture is absorbed into a global norm," said Arjun Appadurai, the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Professor in South Asian Languages & Civilizations and Director of the Chicago Humanities Institute. "There's something to that. But though people are influenced by many sources, they transform those influences into things that suit themselves. The pace of cultural inventiveness outstrips the pace of sameness."

    Cultures aren't becoming all the same, Appadurai said, but they are changing -- quickly. "If nation-states remain, they are going to look very different. The challenge is to build national identity in the face of a changing global identity. You can see that tension now in Europe."

    The two upcoming conferences will explore different aspects of CHI's globalization projects. "Regional Worlds: Reconceptualizing South Asia," the second in a series of four colloquia exploring the links between area studies and cultural studies, will be held on Thursday, May 9, and Friday, May 10.

    "Dislocating States: Representing Struggles in Transnational Times," part of two linked, multiyear projects, will take place on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18.

    Both conferences are free and open to the public and will be held in the Chicago Humanities Institute, Regenstein S-118. For more information, call 702-8274.