From Fellow Sean Metzger: Because I am interested both in contemporary manifestations of and historical antecedents to globalization, I chose an entry point that precedes any notion of globalization yet might help define it — that entry point is “seascape.”

A seascape is the watery equivalent of landscape. It is a kind of epistemology, one in which knowledge accrues by visualizing or tracking oceanic flows but one that also connotes an aesthetic project.


Key Terms

Aesthetic: Relating to art and beauty (aesthetics usually refers to the branch of philosophy dealing with such matters).

Atlantic: Referring to the Atlantic Ocean but also the flows of ideas, goods, money, and people that circulate through the region (for example, the Atlantic Slave Trade brings a certain coherence to this otherwise large and diverse region because the term directs our attention to the seaways and ports used to ship human cargo from and to various locations).

Capitalism: For Marx, capitalism meant a mode of production based on private ownership; in more general usage, this term sometimes designates an economic system (or a structure of social organization in which economics plays the key role).

Chinese: Often understood as a term specifying a relation to China as a nation-state or ethnic group, this essay complicates this word to investigate how this term might actually have quite different and event contradictory meanings.

Epistemology: The study of knowledge, particularly its nature and limits. How do we know what we know?

Heuristic: A strategy or means of problem solving or method of learning.

Seascape: The watery equivalent of landscape (as in, a landscape painting).

Supplemental Readings

Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Arrighi, G. (2007). Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Verso.

Dirlik, A. (1998). Introduction: Pacific Contradictions. What is in a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Jameson, F. (1998). “Notes on Globalization as a Philosophical Issue.” F. Jameson and M. Miyoshi. The Cultures of Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press

Lowe, L. (2015). The Intimacies of Four Continents. Durham: Duke University Press

Can be taught with these Framing the Global chapters

Forms” and “Location” provide contrasts to facilitate thinking about how specific structures support the circulation and value of aesthetic objects.

Affect” and “Displacement” offer points of intersection in terms of thinking about how and why migrants move and what their relationships to different places might be.

Frames” offers a different way of considering how a particular oceanic framework generates meaning and the kinds of material connections such a framework emphasizes.

The particular” provides a different methodology to think about how different structures of economic organization enable us to perceive processes of globalization.

Media Resources

Race, Place, Space

Richard Fung’s My Mother’s Place (1990)

Jeanette Kong’s Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China (2014)

New York Times Sinosphere