Monday, September 28, 2009

construction of real and imaginary space

In “Disjunction and difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Arjun Appadurai gives shape to the “five dimensions of global flow” in his examinations of what he terms ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, and ideoscapes. I find the use of the suffix “-scape”, and the consequential imagined physicalization of the systems, interesting in the context of examining actual, physical occurances. For example, he calls the “ethnoscape” the “landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live” (7). There is an inherent contradiction, a tension between the real and the imaginary, that Appadurai addresses in pulling together the physical, “shifting world” full of globe-trotting “tourists, immigrants, refuges, exiles…and other moving groups” into a single, unified “scape”. Is this the exact point that Appadurai is trying to make when he calls his “landscapes… the building blocks of what (extending Benedict Anderson) [he] would like to call imagined worlds?” (7)

Global flows, Appadurai states, “occur in and through the growing disjunctures between ethnoscapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, mediascapes, and ideoscapes” (11). This statement conjures up for me a very physical image of tectonic plates moving and creating chasms within which cultures flow.

My interest in this articles lies in the question or how Appardurai unpacks this established relationship between his own conception of virtual “scapes” and the real-world patterns to which they refer. If the scapes are panaoramic view of the imagined world, then what does that say about the organization of said world? In other words, how is space reorganized in the imagined world and how does that reorganization map flows in the real world (or vice-versa)? How do these worlds related to Bruce Robbins’ rule that “everyone belongs somewhere”? Can his question of what it means to belong be answered with respect to Appadurai’s “scapes” or only to the “real” world to which they refer? Or does the notion of ‘belonging’ have to be rooted somehow in both? Is five questions in a row too many?

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