Editorial Statement

Editor: Sumita Chakravarty

Globalization. The catchword and reality of our times; a cacophony of voices and interests; the work of the imagination. However we think of globalization and however it affects our lives, we are, as the cliché goes, all in it together. The Spring and Fall 2009 issues of Immediacy are devoted to teasing out some of the implications of what this involves. They highlight the proliferating ‘languages’ and sites of media production and consumption that herald, embody, depict, or seek to shape globalization.

Despite the ubiquity of migration and mobility, media have long been our sources of knowledge of other lived realities, the proverbial window(s) on the world. So what is new or emergent in the unfolding scenarios of today? Two themes seem to invite attention: the ways in which the ‘local’ is produced or asserted in the global era; and the ways in which media/artistic/cultural practices have become central to forms of far-flung activism. We address the latter in the Fall 2009 issue.

The current issue is organized by the following questions: What is local in the age of globalization? How have media creators, audiences, organizations and businesses negotiated the murky terrain that conjoins place and space, history and simultaneity, the real and the virtual? The projects presented here illustrate global/local intersections in order to explore trends in the management of difference on the part of individuals, communities, and corporations.

For several years now, critics of globalization have been concerned about its impact on cultures, identities, and economies as the world is increasingly brought closer together through trade and communication networks. In the 1990s, debates raged over the imminent homogenization of cultures as borders were rendered irrelevant by the ‘free flow’ of information and capital. Issues of de-territorialization (the loss of home or territory for migrant populations) occupied center stage, and western nations feared their own ‘disuniting’ as they faced new pressures of accommodation. Yet today, at least some of those fears seem to have abated as resurgent localisms are highlighted, preserved, even catered to by the likes of McDonalds, Microsoft, and MTV. If any generalizations can be made, it is that the local incorporates the global as often as the other way around.

What sense can one make of local concerns and global imaginings? Can local and global be told apart any longer? What do emergent media narratives tell us about our complicated and intertwined ways of being in the 21st century? The projects seek to address some of these questions.