Entering the Global

What is global? What is “the global”? Is it Castells’s Information Society? Is it a collection of Sassen’s global cities? Or Appadurai’s series of disjunctures? Is it the transnational flow of goods, people, and services? Is it quickly circulating media messages? Is it different than the local? Where do they meet? Do they ever?

If you are looking for the answers to these questions, and others I’ve certainly left out, then you are in the wrong place.

Since the 1980’s the modern experience of the global, and globalization, has been explored by scholars, pundits, journalists, and people living their everyday lives. The interest in the phenomenon spurred the creation of Global Studies programs at universities as well as think tanks devoted to the subject as we all strive to understand what it means for us.

For too long debates – popular, political, and academic – have raged about just what the global is. No one has settled onto a satisfying, all-encompassing conceptualization. And they’re unlikely to.

That is the point from which we, at Framing the Global, pick things up.

We accept that there are multitudinous framings of the global, that there are diverse ways to explore it at both the macro and micro levels (and all the places in-between), and that all of this communicates truths about our world.

So what, exactly, are we framing?

Image via rageforest (Flickr)

Image via rageforest (Flickr)

We are framing how we enter our definitions of “the global.” We are framing what we call  our “entry points” – portals into the global that help us step outside traditional binaries (without doing away with them altogether) and follow the traces of phenomena wherever they may lead; as Project Co-Director Dr. Hilary Kahn writes the entry points “direct our gazes and guide us into the global. They allow us to dissect reality differently.”

We are attempting to frame the global in a way that does not solidify one understanding but, instead, exposes the diversity in approaches while, at the same time, beginning to build a common vocabulary. Something we can share across disciplines and approaches.

In the coming months we’ll host our Framing the Global conference, which will feature presentations from scholars with diverse backgrounds as well as talks by Gillian Hart, Arjun Appadurai, and Yasmina Zaidman.

Currently in the works is also a book – the first in a series that will begin to flesh out, a bit more concretely, just what it is we’re framing.

Writing for that book, as well as the others to come, are our Framing the Global fellows. These are fifteen scholars, from across the academic spectrum, who are exploring aspects of the global in everything from governance to food policy to water to the arts.

It’s a lot to pack into the project’s five years, but the hope is that we begin to develop innovative approaches that will generate new knowledge, explain global phenomena, and provide means of tracing and exploring the transnational linkages that are too often left out of Global Studies. And that will also showcase ways of conducting global research that span a variety of academic, cultural, lived, and political contexts.

You can follow us on Twitter: @FramingGlobal.