Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies

Inverting Globalisation

09Oct2014 10Oct2014


Whereas David Harvey has famously interpreted globalisation as a process of time/space compression, multiple trends proliferating globally suggest that its functional effects include the rooted, the local and the slow. The Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies has developed four research programmes around the themes of mobility, sustainability, aesthetics and connectivity.

This conference probes the flip side of these themes, engaging with those aspects of globalisation that too often remain in the shadows or are seen as antithetical to it. We want to analyse the tensions and interactions between mobility and immobility, between sustainability and precarity, between glossy and dirty aesthetics, and between connection and disconnection—not to arrive at yet another set of binaries, but to show how these inverse processes are also intrinsic to globalisation. Taking them into account will make possible a fuller understanding of the uneven, often unexpected and not always obvious ways in which globalisation impacts the contemporary world.

Keynote Speakers: 

  • Fatma Müge Göcek (Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, US)
  • Oliver Marchart (Professor of Sociology, Düsseldorf Art Academy, Germany)
  • Ellen Rutten (Professor of Slavonic Literature and Culture, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Ulises Mejias (Associate Professor of Communication Studies, State University of New York College at Oswego, US)  


The conference will comprise four sessions: 

Session I: Immobility and the Rearticulation of Identities

Besides globalisation’s well-covered tendency towards a general condition of mobility, pervasive instances of immobility can be found. Factory workers whose cheap labour is indispensable for global trade, but who remain confined to their immediate surroundings constitute one tangible example. In addition, there are more intangible instances of immobility, such as the worldwide (re-)assertion of national and religious identities claimed to be timeless and sacrosanct. Are these rearticulated and reasserted identities merely instances of false consciousness? Is there a relation between ever more fluid processes of cultural production and exchange, and the attempts to block this mobility in the name of invented or imagined culture or tradition? Or are newly aggressive forms of identity politics part and parcel of contemporary globalised governmentality?   

Session II: Unsustainability, Precarity, Ecology 

The inverse of the sustainable is the unsustainable, evoking a sense of the unbearable or intolerable, a moment of crisis. Unsustainability can be attributed to global economic growth, energy needs, food provision, or to particular political structures or ways of life. It can be used in service of many goals, from the revolutionary to the conservative. This session asks how unsustainability can be understood (epistemologically, politically, affectively) and explores its relation to precarity, another term that inverts the emphasis on survival implicit in sustainability, and to ecology, which no longer applies exclusively to environmental matters but is increasingly linked to the (geo)political. 

Session III: Dirty Aesthetics 

Processes of globalisation inspire a dialogue but also tensions between different conceptualisations of the aesthetic. One such tension emerges in the quest for the authentic and/or local through the rough and the dirty. Folk singers aspire to authenticity by refusing technologies of amplification, fashion designers use untreated materials, and urban fringes are turned into creative districts. These proliferating 'dirty aesthetics' validate local modes of production that are frequently coupled to artisanal craftsmanship. Can an aesthetics of roughness and imperfection claim to be resistant to the glossy surfaces of globalisation? Or will the margins be consumed as yet another resource for the integrating genius of a capitalist world market?  

Session IV: Dis- and Misconnection 

This session critically examines the claim of unlimited many-to-many communication through social media platforms by exploring the role of dis- and misconnection. It focuses on three sets of actors that facilitate and broker, but also obstruct and complicate, online connectivity. First, users of the Web divide into linguistic spheres and particular networks. Second, corporations zealously protect online platforms by walling off users and their data, blackboxing their technological architectures, and algorithmically steering and organising user interaction. Finally, states become increasingly sophisticated in controlling and 'nationalising' online communication through surveillance and filtering, as well as through propaganda and cyber-attacks.  

Conference Programme: 

Download the conference programme booklet here

Organising Committee:

  • dr. R. (Robin) Celikates

    dhr. dr. R. (Robin) Celikates
    T: 0205254550

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  • dr. J.F. (Johan) Hartle

    dhr. dr. J.F. Hartle
    T: 0205254556

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  • prof. dr. ir. B.J. (Jeroen) de Kloet

    dhr. prof. dr. ir. B.J. (Jeroen) de Kloet
    T: 0205252856

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  • dr. M.M. (Michiel) Leezenberg

    dhr. dr. M.M. (Michiel) Leezenberg
    T: 0205254869

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  • dr. E. (Esther) Peeren

    mw. dr. E. (Esther) Peeren
    T: 0205253880

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  • dr. T. (Thomas) Poell

    dhr. dr. T. (Thomas) Poell
    T: 0205252915

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  • Universiteitstheater

    Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18 | 1012 CP Amsterdam
    +31 (0)20 525 2997

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Published by  Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies