In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Cosmopolitics, Paroxysm, Global Talk: Emerging Issues and Approaches
  • Christian Moraru (bio)
Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, eds. The Cultures of Globalization. Durham and London: Duke UP, 1998. xvii + 393; Pheng Cheah, Bruce Robbins, eds. Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1998. vi + 380; Bruce Robbins. Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress. New York and London: New York UP, 1999. x + 290; Zygmunt Bauman. Globalization: The Human Consequences. New York: Columbia UP, 1998. vi + 138; and, Jean Baudrillard. Paroxysm: Interviews with Philippe Petit. Trans. Chris Turner. London. New York: Verso, 1998. vii + 120.

The books I will be presenting here briefly reflect the rapidly growing scholarship on “globalism,” the “new cosmopolitanism,” and related phenomena of the “transnational” age. Two general observations I want to make up-front. First, this emerging sort of inquiry is cross-disciplinary and fundamentally comparative. As Fredric Jameson notes in the Preface to The Cultures of Globalization, his topic is “unclassifiable,” falling as it does “outside the established academic disciplines” (xi). This is the reason the discourse addressing such a topic will conceivably raise questions of expertise, focus, and so forth. In fact, this discourse is already going through an “identity crisis” of sorts, much like cultural studies, from which it has actually stemmed. Second, but in close relation to its ancestry, “global studies” is a field that is struggling to produce instruments, methodologies, and a vocabulary of its own. As the [End Page 197] discussed titles show, it has not managed to reach this important objective yet. It has heavily borrowed, instead, from the available repertoires of the debates on modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, information tech-nologies, and late twentieth-century economics and demographics. More often than not, such appropriations have been crude, and this is why the “global talk” strikes some as jargon-laden. The volumes reviewed below demonstrate, though, that the problems this sort of talk confronts are worth looking into despite the inaccuracy of the tools and idioms we may be using to tackle them. “It’s at the moment when we begin to intellectualize a phenomenon that in reality it disappears,” Baudrillard tells Philippe Petit in Paroxysm (20). If that is true, then globalization is, one could argue, already a thing of the past. But since we are trying hard to understand what it is, and we still have to find the ways to formulate this comprehension, more likely, the phenomenon is under way.

In any event, Jameson contends in the preface mentioned above and in his own contribution to the volume, “Notes on Globalization as a Philosophical Issue” (54–77), that this whole problematic of the subject matter, field of inquiry, and critical vocabularies can be sorted out. The solution, I would stress, is worth considering. There are four possible major reactions to the topic, the critic submits. First, there is no globalization since the nation state is still around. Second, globalization is happening, but it represents just another chapter in the history of modernization. Third, globalization is in full swing, fueled by new phenomena such as the “world market”; the latter introduces, though, a difference of degree, not of kind, in the evolution of capitalism. And fourth, and the most interesting scenario, one posits “some new, or third, multinational stage of capitalism, of which globalization is an intrinsic feature and which we now largely tend, whether we like it or not, to associate with that thing called postmodernity” (54). Jameson is also insisting that the “now familiar postmodern debate” should be separated from “the matter of globalization, all the while understanding only too well that the two issues are deeply intertwined and that positions on the postmodern are bound to make their way back in eventually” (55). In other words, the critic is drawing from postmodern criticism—and, of course, from his own work on the subject—to conceptualize globalism. This makes sense to me, and most contributors to the volume edited by Masao Miyoshi and Jameson seem to agree. The book includes four sections: “Globalization and Philosophy,” with comparative critiques of Eurocentrism by Enrique Dussel and Walter D. Mignolo, and Jameson’s own piece mentioned above; “Alternative Localities,” where the most notable articles regard “transnationalization...

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0627
Print ISSN
1069-0697
Pages
pp. 197-202
Launched on MUSE
1999-11-01
Open Access
No
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