S1714 Identity, Heritage and Globalization (Global Challenges core)

Elwood Kate

Course description

What is the nature of identity in an era of globalization? What is the role of heritage, and who defines what is to be preserved and how that is to be interpreted or acted upon? These are the big questions that we will explore in this course, by looking at a myriad of specific examples, encompassing a range of cultures and genres. Genres to be investigated include archaeology, dance, fashion, food, language, music, pop culture, and sport. Students will be also encouraged to contribute their own insights, based on personal experience.

We will begin by considering historic sites, including Angkor in Cambodia, sites in South Africa, Northern Chile, and Bali, and historic country houses in England. One main focus will be on narratives associated with these sites, for example, the “rediscovery” of Angkor by Henri Mouhot, the “trope of the redemptive” (Weiss, 2007) in South Africa, the idealization of Bali as a paradise, “exclusionary heritage” in Britain (Waterton, 2013) that may alienate British citizens who do not correspond to the commemorated narrative, and the incongruity between heritage tourism and loss of Indigenous identity (Salazar and Bushell, 2013). We will also look at how Turkey has faced the opposing pulls of preservation and modernization. Finally, we will discuss Estzer Bánffy’s 2013 article “The Nonexisting Roma Archaeology and the Nonexisting Roma Archaeologists”.

Building on issues raised in this first section, we will move on to consider cultural aspects that have been deemed types of heritage, and potentially problematic matters related to them. We will consider how sport heritage may engender particular views of identity and cultural images. We will also discuss food tourism and “Cornishness”, focusing on the tension between the “fossilization” of food traditions and the fight against the reduction of cultural diversity in the era of multinational supermarket chains (Everett and Aitchison, 2008). Commodification of culture will be another nub of the course, as we examine Irish pubs that promote an “alcohol-centered identity” (McGovern, 2003) as well as Irish dance, and “self-exoticization” in Chinese fashion design (Clark, 2009). In this section of the course we will also look at the “Cool Japan” campaign, flamenco tourism, and cultural appropriation of Balkan Gypsy music.

The final part of the course will deal with identity in diaspora communities. In particular we will examine the role of music, with reference to the Burger Highlife and Gospel Highlife music of Ghanaian immigrants in Germany, and Samba in Canada. Heritage language development will be a further topic of investigation in this section, as well as ethnic and pan-ethnic identity.


Learning outcomes

It is expected that by the end of the course students will have a greater awareness of a range of issues related to identity, heritage, and globalization, and an enhanced capability of considering the finer points of these issues.