CULT 320: Globalization and Culture
Spring 2015 | George Mason University | Instructor: Craig Willse

What does it mean to say we live in a global world? Can we be both local and global, at the same time? Maybe even in the same place? How is modern global society a break from the past, and what historical continuities can we trace? In this course we will tackle these and other questions by exploring globalization as a set of connected social, economic, and political processes. While these processes can be linked in many ways, here we will link them through “culture” – shared (or not) ways of being, feeling, knowing, and communicating. While culture might sound innocent, this course will approach the links between culture and globalization in terms of the rise and spread of capitalist modes of production as well as colonial and neo-colonial systems of race-making and racialized subordination. In addition, we will look to culture as a site to challenge forms of power and domination, a location from which alternate global meanings and ways of living are made.

The course is organized into five units. We will start with an introductory unit on the links between globalization, capitalism, and colonialism. This unit will also introduce us to the historical origins of today’s globalized world. We will then move into focused studies of four topics: labor and consumption, war, environment, and prisons. These topics illustrate how flows of money and people across space and place are produced by, and productive of, globalization. In each unit, we will also examine social movement challenges to globalized forms of inequality and injustice.