Is Globalization the New Poststructuralism? (Or Am I Just Late to the Game?)

Art Remillard

While we’re on a Newsweek kick, I’ll alert readers to “The Rise of the Rest,” an excerpt from Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World (his motto: “See…Ph.D.s can make money!”). He explains that non-western nations have risen to prominence, slowly displacing America from its privileged position. Signs of this transformation are all around us. The world’s largest oil refinery is being built in India; the largest passenger plane is in Europe; the largest investment fund is in Dhabi; and only 2 of the top 10 of the world’s richest people are American. Even the Mall of America, once labeled the world’s largest, no longer ranks in the top 10. (If you have a minute, check out Zakaria's interview with Charlie Rose).

Zakaria refuses declare America’s demise. Instead, he advocates embracing this global reality and exploiting our finest resources, such the nation’s “greatest industry,” higher education. By educating the homegrown population and recruiting the finest minds from across the world, colleges and universities will ensure that America remains influential and prosperous.

I have spent this past academic year working in international education. While I move into the faculty next year, the experience has been enlightening. I now recognize more than ever that exposure to, and immersion in, different cultures is not a luxury for students (and professors). Rather, it is a necessity. Moreover, while I am admittedly late to the game, I am convinced that globalization is the new poststructuralism. That is, just as the decentering ideas of Foucault et al. influenced nearly every discipline, so too is the flattening world. In my own area, I think of Charles Reagan Wilson’s Southern Missions, which “places the religious history of the American South in a global context. The global connections of southern religion reflect a tradition within the American South that historians have failed to examine.” Indeed.


Anonymous said…
This post brings to mind a topic I’ve been thinking increasingly more about—American religious history in a global perspective.

Inspired by the likes of Thomas Bender (_A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History [2006] _) and documents such as the La Pietra report, I’m intrigued by the possibilities this kind of reframing offers--both in terms of scholarship and pedagogy.

There is a developing literature on this subject. Charles Cohen’s article comes to mind, for example: “The Colonization of North America as an Episode in the History of Christianity,” Church History, 72 (September, 2003), 553-68. I know there is more.

Anybody have any other books or articles or syllabi to suggest or share?
Art Remillard said…
I'm planning to use David Chidester's _Christianity: A Global History_ in my spring course on the subject. I appreciate the emphasis on "local detail," but will probably need to offer some "big picture" lectures to help students make sense of it. As far as single volume histories of Christianity go, though, this is right up there.
Anonymous said…
Hi - You all may be interested in Luke Clossey's Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions, just out from Cambridge University Press
-Elizabeth N.

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