Globalization and Culture

President Obama depicted as The Joker, sold illegally outside the Metropolitan Museum. New York, USA, February 2011.

How can we understand the intensification and expansion of cultural flows through globalizing cities and their regions?

This program investigates cultural aspects of globalization in its local and global forms in cities across the world.

Research focus 

The program examines the tensions and complexities of transnational cultural flows in terms of homogenization, fragmentation, hybridity and commodification. Analysis is focused on urban arenas for cultural contestation and ideological dissent. The program envisages creative solutions to global challenges by encouraging long-term thinking and designing alternative global futures. This approach enables research in such areas as ethical global visions, global governance, and imaginaries of hope. It brings together theoretical enquiry with empirically grounded and socially engaged research. Program members use diverse methodologies in order to understand how globalization impacts upon cultural expression and how culture manifests in urban settings.

Description of program 

Culture is understood broadly as shared webs of meaning through which we experience and interpret the world around us. Culture manifests in symbolic acts, everyday routines, identities and desires. It shapes our social relations, built environments, and relations with the non-human world. The program investigates culture through a range of social phenomena, institutions and symbolic expressions.

Research themes 

The overarching focus of the program is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the ever expanding and intensifying cultural flows, both in, and between our cities and regions.

1. Transforming identities and subjectivities

This theme concerns the transformation of identities in Asian-Pacific cities through processes of globalization. Cities are nodes in vast global networks of people, governance, ideas and industry as well as distinctly local places that generate diverse responses to globalization. As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, city-life shapes our sense of self in new ways. As we move between cities, we experience new modes of trans-local belonging. Accordingly, we ask how various global processes such as migration, economic development, or technological change manifest in cities and impact upon our subjectivities. This theme addresses the means through which identities are shaped and contested, from modes of governmentality to forms of artistic expression. The ideologically induced transformation of citizens into neoliberal subjects constitutes one potential area of inquiry. Of equal interest are the social movements and cultural currents that resist subordination to hegemonic norms and enact alternative subjectivities.

2. Culture and ideology
Key questions in this research theme include: what is the relationship between globalization, culture and ideology? How do social imaginaries, narratives, metaphors, symbols and myths contribute to ideological change? How do language and space intersect in the cultural milieus of Asian-Pacific cities? Hierarchies based on sharp distinctions between local, national, regional and global scales no longer hold in the global age.Established boundaries are defended, erased, or redrawn. Consequently, we investigate the transformation of our conventional cultural-spatial frameworks into multi-directional constellations and multi-nodal networks. The shifting grounds of discourse emerging in advance of clearly articulated ideological platforms are also key sites of inquiry. This theme recognizes cities as principal hubs for the construction, dissemination and contestation of cultural and ideological discourse.

3. Material cultures
This theme approaches material culture as an expression of the critical disputes and tensions characterising globalization and global cities. We investigate the conditions for the creation of new cultural spaces and the role of technology in cultural production. How do text and image, art and performance, media and communication combine to construct new cultural forms? Potential areas of investigation include critical analyses of artworks, urban screens, advertising, global-branding, media representations and alternative forms of communication.


For more information on Globalization and Culture, please contact the Program Leader, Chris Hudson.