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robertogreco : provincialism   3

Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
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9 weeks ago by robertogreco
From Trump to Merkel: how the world is divided between fear and openness | Ulrich Speck | Opinion | The Guardian
"Two major concepts define the political struggle in the west today. One can be termed “globalism”, which is currently most prominently represented by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The other is “territorialism”, a view that the very likely Republican candidate for the US elections in November, Donald Trump, represents.

At the core of the debate is the meaning of borders: should they be porous or tightly controlled? Are they mainly an obstacle to the free and productive flow of ideas, people, goods and information and should therefore be largely dismantled? Or are massive borders welcome and indispensable as a protection against all kinds of real or perceived threats such as competition and terrorism?

For globalists such as Merkel, interconnectedness is a good thing because it is what drives progress towards more prosperity and freedom everywhere. For territorialists such as Trump, interconnectedness is mainly a threat. What is good and healthy is attributed to the natives and what is dangerous comes from outside: unfair Chinese competition, dangerous Mexican immigrants and Middle Eastern terrorists.

Globalists want to manage the cross-border streams and minimise the disruptive character of borders to maximise the gains from connected markets and societies. Of course those streams have to be managed and this is why governance cannot any more be limited to the national territory. Governments need to co-operate and set up regional and global institutions; they need to set rules and make sure that these rules are upheld. Globalists argue among themselves about how to police the wider spaces but not about the principle.

Territorialists, by contrast, don’t believe in international and transnational institutions – they believe in national strength and power. Donald Trump wants to invest in the US military so that it’s “so big and strong and so great” that “nobody’s going to mess with us”. The world outside the borders is anarchical and dangerous and the way to deal with threats is to fight them by using force. “Bomb the shit out of Isis,” Trump said. Allies are not an asset, they are a burden because they are free riders, cheating on America’s taxpayers: “We can no longer defend all of these countries,” he said, citing Japan, South Korea and Germany.

The man who may be the next US president also proposed closing off parts of the internet so terrorists could not use to recruit. The territorialist’s answer to the abuse of freedom and openness is to use force abroad and to disrupt the flow of people or information. Trump wants to build “the greatest wall that you’ve ever seen” on the US-Mexican border, to keep illegal immigrants out.

Territorialists believe they can prosper economically even while interrupting, diminishing and shutting cross-border flows. Jobs must be brought back, free trade agreement renegotiated because they are unfair to Americans. US companies such as Ford must be punished for investing abroad. Apple should build its “damned computers” in the US and not in China. Countries such as China, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and India are “ripping us off” and need to be punished.

Trump is, rhetorically, the most aggressive politician of this sort, but he’s far from alone. US commentators have blamed the Republican party for capitulating to populists for years, allowing Trump to harvest what others have planted. And Europe has its own share of territorialists, who share many of Trump’s views. Marine Le Pen in France, leader of the Front National, stands a good chance of winning the first round of next year’s French presidential elections. Then there’s Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, who rose to international prominence by making the case for “illiberal democracy” and for his determination to respond to the refugee crisis solely by building massive fences. Territorialism is a form of populism: simple, inconsistent answers to complex challenges, based on the politics of fear. Territorialists divide the world into friends and foes; they attribute everything positive to the natives and everything negative to those beyond the borders.

But the biggest problem with territorialism is not polarisation, it is that the concept is deeply flawed. Territorialists suggest that people can have their cake and eat it: disrupt globalisation and stay rich, minimise investment in international affairs and alliances and remain safe and free. They take the huge gains in prosperity, security and freedom of the last decades for granted. They fail to understand that those gains depend on massive investments of nation states in international order, and that globalisation is based on open societies and increasingly easy cross-border flows of goods, people and information. In other words, if territorialism wins, globalisation is under threat.

Merkel thinks we are indeed at a crossroads; the refugee crisis is part of a larger challenge that she describes as “our rendezvous with globalisation”. For her, the key challenge is how to keep globalisation afloat in spite of increasing geopolitical conflicts and tensions. Merkel is one of the few western leaders who has lived in a country that was unfree, poor and isolated from the west by a wall and fences secured by mines. She was 35 years old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. She knows what it means to be shut off from global flows, locked in a country by an insurmountable border. For Merkel, globalisation equals progress. Open spaces and increased interaction across borders are a good thing, as they unleash opportunity and secure freedom and prosperity at home. Globalisation is challenging, but on balance the gains are much bigger than the risks. Also, in a world of large economic regions such as the US and China, the space in which German politics operates cannot be limited to the German territory any more.

Open borders in Europe are “deeply in our interest”, she argues; no other country gains from those achievements “more than us” and needs them more “because of our geographical location”. But responsibilty goes beyond the shared European space: “In an open world we also have to take on more responsibility for what happens outside our European borders.” Open borders in Europe are under threat. The refugee crisis, driven by the war in Syria, is testing the Schengen system that was set up in 1995. It is unclear whether the system is going to survive this stress test and what a revival of borders means for the EU.

Governments are torn between the desire to protect the joint space created by European integration and the pressure from territorialist forces whose narrative often dominates the debate. If they want to retain the achievements of globalisation, centrist forces need to start pushing back. They need to start making a much stronger case for open borders and open societies."
globalism  territorialism  donaldtrump  angelamerkel  2016  politics  borders  interconnectedness  interdependency  ulrichspeck  globalization  provincialism  policy  us  europe  polarization  interconnected  interconnectivity 
march 2016 by robertogreco
My Tribe Is an Unsophisticated People | CultureBy – Grant McCracken
"This is a photograph of Sara Little Turnbull (1917–2015). Sara was an designer and anthropologist. In 1988 she founded, and for 18 years she ran, the Process of Change Laboratory for Innovation and Design at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

I like this photo for a couple of reasons. Sara was caught at her desk, mid-task, mid-thought. She senses the camera and gives it a knowing look. What’s maybe most striking is her clothing. Ever so fashionable. Ever so anti-anthropological.

My tribe dresses badly. Jeans. It takes a lot of denim to clothe the field. We don’t ever dress up. The idea appears to be to dress as far down as possible without provoking the suspicion of vagrancy. When formal clothing is called for the anthropologist sometimes resorts to the clothing of the culture they study. Put it this way, no one ever looks like Sara.

A lot of this is “badge of pride” stuff. Anthropologists dress badly to make a point. They want you to know that they reject the conventions of a mainstream society, that they care nothing for the bourgeois respectability, upward mobility, and/or conspicuous consumption that animate the dress codes of the rest of the world. It’s not a punk violation of code. It’s just a way of saying “Look, we’re out.”

This strategy is not without it’s costs. As Marshall Sahlins, God’s gift to anthropology, used to say in his University of Chicago seminars, “every theory is a bargain with reality.” (By which we believed he meant, every theory buys some knowledge at the cost of other knowledge.) And so it is with every suit of clothing. It give you access to some parts of the world, but it denies you access to others.

This social immobility is not a bad thing if you are a nuclear scientist or a botanist. But it does matter if you are prepared to make claims to knowledge when it comes to your own culture, and anthropologists are never shy on this topic.

Anthropologists believe they know about a great deal about their own culture. But in point of fact, there are many worlds they do not know and cannot access, worlds of which they have scant personal knowledge and in which they have few personal contacts. Generally speaking, they don’t know anyone in the worlds of venture capital, advertising, graphic design, publishing, fashion, forecasting, strategy, philanthropy, art museums, professional sports, industrial design, user experience, startup capitalism, banking, branding, public relations, small business, big business, or politics. It’s a lot, the things anthropologist don’t know about their own culture.

Anjali Ramachandran recently heard Salman Rushdie speak in London and recalls he said something like,

“One thing I tell students is to try and get into as many different kinds of rooms to hear as many different kinds of conversations as possible. Because otherwise how will you find things to put in your books?”

Just so. Rushdie’s “many rooms” strategy is not embraced in anthropology. By and large, anthropologists encourage their students to stick to a small number of rooms where, by and large, they conduct the same conversation.

This is ironic not least because one of the field’s most recent and convincing contributions to the world beyond it’s own is actually a contemplation of the danger of living in a silo. Gillian Tett (PhD in social anthropology, University of Cambridge) recently published a book called The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers. This is a book about the compartmentalization of all organizations, but it might have been a study of the field of anthropology.

The further irony is that in its post-modern moment, anthropology claims to be especially, even exquisitely, self reflexive, but the sad thing is that it does ever seem to be reflexive on matters like this. Clifford Geertz used to say that much of anthropology is self confession. Too bad that’s no longer true.

Irony gives way to something less amusing when we see that this provincialism is not just self-imposed but enforced as a tribal obligation. Those who dare dress “up” or “well” or “fashionably” or, as we might say, “in a manner that maximizes cultural mobility” is scorned. As graduate students, we actually dared sneer at the elegant suits sported by Michael Silverstein. How dare he refuse this opportunity to tell the world how world-renouncing he was! There is something odd and a little grotesque about willing a provincialism of this kind and then continuing to insist on your right to make claims to knowledge.

Sara Little Turnbull knew better. She understood how many mansions are contained in the house of contemporary culture. She embraced the idea that anthropology was a process of participant observation and that we can’t understand our culture from the outside alone. Sara also understood that the few “ideas” that anthropology uses to account for this endlessly various data is a little like the people of Lilliput hoping to keep Gulliver in place on the beach with a couple of guy wires. Eventually the beast comes to. Sara could study contemporary culture because she didn’t underestimate it or constrain her rights of access."
anthropology  clothing  clothes  howwedress  grantmccracken  2015  saralittleturnball  anthropologists  ethnography  designresearch  centerfordesignresearch  salmanrushdie  processofchangelaboratory  anjaliramachandran  culture  gilliantett  marshallsahlins  provincialism  fashion  whatwewear  immersion 
november 2015 by robertogreco

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