Against Deglobalisation: The Enduring Cultural Formation of Global Literature and Global Cinema
Date: June 7th 2019 at University College London
Location: Medawar Building G01 Lankester LT
Organizers: Dr Keith B. Wagner (UCL) and Dr Hans Demeyer (UCL)
Keynote speakers: Bruce Robbins (Columbia) and Kathleen Newman (Iowa)
What does the ‘de’ in deglobalisation mean in an era of rising authoritarianism? In what way does deglobalisation espouse a decoupling from intercultural processes and supranational communications facilitated by a once dormant and now active ethno-nationalism? If we are to believe the ethno-nationalist rhetoric espoused by many Heads of State—with their policies to close borders and fan xenophobia; finance and back jingoistic narratives of military might and hagiography in cinema; tout far-right cultural essentialism by fringe authors; reduce the nation to mediatized brand slogan from Asia to North America, what remains of the global? In the face of this reversal to globalization, we believe that positive cultural manifestations of globalization matter: media’s continued and expanding englobement of the world, though in some neoliberal designs is indeed worrisome, this global process simultaneously brings societies, traditions, and people closer together and in unseen ways.
Against Deglobalisation, a one-day symposium organized by Keith B. Wagner (UCL) and Hans Demeyer (UCL) asks participants to counter the notion that there is a diminishing interdependence and integration between nation-states in a creative context. We take global literature as unfolding ‘fictions of the global’ and global cinema as framing ‘networked global encounters’ to help us delineate an international optimism on page and screen. These global imaginaries are anything but low-brow reductionism or visions that are generic in scope; with many creative endeavours countering the stigma of work ‘produced primarily for foreign consumption’ (Damrosch 2003) or that global literature and global cinema are most misleadingly, ‘the dull new’ in Tim Parks’ (2010) Eurocentric invective aimed at transnational narratives. Rather, we believe many global texts transcend this supposed dullness if we look at Hanan Al-Shaykh’s exquisite jet lagged narratives of encounter in Only in London, Haruki Murakami’s dystopian 1Q84, and Roberto Bolano’s globetrotting The Savage Detectives. In cinema, the complexities of intersocietal appeals abound in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘hyperlink cinema’ in Babel, Bong Joon-ho’s defunct world-system on rails in Snowpiercer, and Marwan Hamed’s controversial Arab cosmopolitan masterpiece, The Yacoubian Building. These six examples, out of dozens of possible global literature and cinema examined in this symposium, show how text and image are but two means to ‘organize diversity’ (Hannerz 1996) and how these enduring cultural formations are in constant dialogue and in a continued state of becoming symbiotic with the national.