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transculturalism and globalisation in children’s literature

June 21, 2012

“As Francesco Loriggio has argued in ‘Disciplinary Memory as Cultural History’, ‘the founding tenet of the global age [. . . ] is that of connectivity: the world is now one huge “network society”’ (55). But globalisation has diverse meanings and connotations for different disciplines, and hence assumptions about connectivity have diverse implications. Emma Wortley reminds us that there is ongoing debate about whether the processes associated with globalisation have positive or negative effects, and whether it is possible to challenge or change these processes. There are still clear examples where cultural flow is predominantly in one direction, as evidenced in Mónica Domínguez Pérez’s study of textual flows within the Iberian cultural polysystem: children’s books have been regularly translated from Castilian Spanish into Galician, Basque and Catalan, but not from the minority languages into Spanish.” (vi) “Two primary conceptions of globalisation are identified by Francesco Lorrigio. On the one hand, the constant flow of ‘people, goods, capital, images, ideologies’ and the increased volume and speed of this flow are ‘a qualitative innovation which can by itself bequeath to the late twentieth century and to the early twenty-first century an original identity’ (55). On the other hand, these flows unfold in ‘an uneven, heterogeneous space’ and, given that they have so far been largely in one direction (the Westernisation or even Americanisation of the world), they probably cannot achieve full globalisation but instead prompt a resurgence of the local. When the global and the local engage in such dialogue or conflict they become hybridised and the outcome is the glocal. The concept of glocalisation suggests that it is possible for the interactions of globalisation and local spheres of experience to generate hybridised phenomena which become visible within everyday life. Glocalisation has been recognised in several disciplines for around twenty years, and has recently entered discussion of children’s culture (see, for example, Yoshida Kaori, ‘Issues in Children’s Media as Glob/calized Cultural Industry’).” (vii)

The interconnections between postcolonial theory and globalisation theory, extensively explored in areas of literary and cultural theory (see, for example, Simon Gikandi’s ‘Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality’), have implications for children’s literature studies that are quite unexplored. While globalisation studies appears to be a larger category, it does not yet equal postcolonial studies in its ability to connect cultural forms and geopolitics, or in the complexity of its analysis of the relationships of hegemonic cultural attitudes with nation, race and ethnicity. Insofar as the processes and representations of internationalisation, transculturalism and globalisation are a growing concern in children’s literature, there are further key cultural pressures which are likely to increase attention to these processes in the near future. First, the rapidly increasing concern with the threat of climate change will strengthen the already active attention in children’s literature to environmental and ecological issues, which are likely to emerge as the most global issue to be dealt with in children’s literature. The familiar slogan, ‘Think global, act local’, will be very pertinent, for if children are to perform any actual and tangible action that improves their natural environment it will be performed at a local level. Second, it seems likely that ‘globalisation’ has already replaced ‘postmodernity’ as the most common concept through which to account for contemporary social forms and products, particularly as a way of erasing the notorious Eurocentrism of the postmodern.” (vii)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine) John Stephens (2009) Editorial International Research in Children’s Literature (Special Issue: Internationalism, Transculturalism and Globalisation: Manifestations in Children’s Literature), Dec 2009, Vol. 2, No. 2 : pp. v-viii

Works cited by Stephens, which also sound interesting include:

Gikandi, Simon. ‘Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality’. South Atlantic Quarterly 100.3 (2001): 627–58.

Kang Hyok, This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood. Trans. Shaun Whiteside. London: Abacus, 2005.

Lewis, Jeff. ‘From Culturalism to Transculturalism’. Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 1 (Spring 2002). 14 July 2009 <∼ijcs/issueone/lewis.htm&gt;

Loriggio, Francesco. ‘Disciplinary Memory as Cultural History: Comparative Literature, Globalization, and the Categories of Criticism’. Comparative Literature Studies 41.1 (2004): 49–79.

Yoshida, Kaori. ‘Issues in Children’s Media as Glob/calized Cultural Industry’. The Graduate Student Research Conference: ‘Asia Pacific: Local Knowledge versus Western Theory’. Hosted by the Institute of Asian Research and the Centre for Japanese Research at The University of British Columbia. 5–7 February, 2004. 14 July 2009 <;


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