Globalisation & Cosmopolitanism

On the Facebook, of all places, I reconnected with a fellow SMC MFA’er and college professor who is teaching a fall semester course on “Globalization and Cosmopolitanism,” two passions of mine. Our discussions got me thinking about how I could revamp some of my composition courses. Below is a list of possible source materials that come to mind as I consider re-designing my syllabi (all sources deal with transnational politics, immigration, citizenship, etc):

FILMS

1. The Constant Gardner

2. Bread and Roses

3. Dirty Pretty Things

4. The World


5. Kinamand

6. Maria Full of Grace

7. Angel-A

8. Recommended by colleague, Where the Green Ants Dream

ESSAYS & ARTICLES
1. Roger Cohen’s NY Times’ columns deal with globalization and global citizenship, and I’ve had some classroom success with his astute article “The Global Rose as a Social Tool” published March 13, 2008:

Most of the roses I saw were destined for the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain in Britain, with a price tag of the equivalent of $10 already affixed. I asked Helen Buyaki, aged 27, one of 1,800 employees at the farm, what she earns: “4,500 shillings a month.” That’s 70 bucks.

Look at the global economy one way and Buyaki earns the equivalent of seven bunches of roses for a month’s labor. That smacks of exploitation. Look at it another and she has a job she’d never have had until globalization came along.

2. Arundhati Roy’s speech “Come September”, September 18, 2002

Nobody puts it more elegantly than The New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman. In an article called, “Craziness Pays”, he said, “The U.S. has to make it clear to Iraq and U.S. allies that…American will use force without negotiation, hesitation or U.N. approval.” His advice was well taken. In the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the almost daily humiliation the U.S. government heaps on the U.N. In his book on globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman says, and I quote, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas…and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.” Perhaps this was written in a moment of vulnerability, but it’s certainly the most succinct, accurate description of the project of corporate globalization that I have read.

BOOKS
1. Unmasking Los Angeles: Third World Cities, non-fiction collection of essays, edited by Saint Mary’s professor, Deepak Sawhney

2. Graceland, novel by Chris Abani

3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Saijie (also adapted into a film but the books are always better)

4. The Secret Agent, novel by Joseph Conrad

5. Travel as a Political Act, non-fiction travel book by Rick Steves

6. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, philosophy by Kwame Anthony Appiah

From The Salon: “Agora” Film Review

Rachel Weisz stars as Greek astronomer Hypatia in "Agora."

Originally released last year with limited U.S. screenings, audiences best take advantage of this next go-round because Agora is worth every second. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, his vision of Alexandria is a sumptuous yet often gory feast. Starting at 391 AD, the film circles around three focal points, the perpetual religious warfare of the time, the disintegration of the Roman Empire, and the assumed life’s work and teachings of philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, played by Rachel Weisz, who is stunning in her Hellenic garb, draped in pure Grecian white or clothed in rich purples and vibrant fuschias. The only comparable marvel to rival her is the city of Alexandria and its great Library, envisioned with grandeur and filled with a light and beauty that matches Weisz.

Hypatia, a historical figure, was Greek, which might excuse Ms. Weisz’s conspicuously pale skin as she plays fair maiden amidst her significantly darker Egyptian and Mediterranean counterparts. Daughter of Theon, a prefect of Alexandria, Hypatia is brilliant in math, philosophy, and astronomy though none of her original writings survive. Other philosophers and scientists pay tribute, in their texts, to her contributions, which include the charting of the celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer. She lived in the Roman outpost of Alexandria, and Carl Sagan, a modern day champion of her, once argued, without sufficient substantiation, that Hypatia might have been the Ancient Library of Alexandria‘s last librarian. Agora‘s filmmakers took this speculation and ran with it, creating an opulent setting for one very luminescent individual.

Read entire post at Ruelle Electrique.