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Globalization – Sandra Annett


“Globalization.” It is a word that comes up on the news, in magazines, in scholarly articles and civic protests. Often it is tossed into texts without any explanation, as if it were something we already understand. “Globalization is changing the face of Canada,” says the media. “We have to respond to the new realities of globalization.” Every day brings a new story about the “global economy,” the “global media,” or the “global political climate.” But what is this thing that is shaping our lives in so many ways?

In fact, globalization is not just one thing that is known, felt, and lived the same way the world over. Ask researchers who work in different disciplines or different countries what globalization is, and you are sure to get a range of impressive and sometimes impassioned responses. The Centre for Globalization and Cultural Studies, directed by Canada Research Chair Diana Brydon, is a place where international, interdisciplinary researchers gather to collaborate on projects that explore the many social, cultural, and political aspects of globalization. As Dr. Brydon’s research
assistant and advisee, I have had a chance to see how the centre works and to conduct my own research on globalization and cultural studies.

I began working with Dr. Brydon in 2007, a year after the centre was started with funds from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund. Since then, I’ve met scholars and students from all over the world, including the Caribbean, Brazil, and several African countries. Researchers have come to work on everything from multilingual literacies to the cross-cultural circulation of video games. I have also been able to contribute a little to the discussion on globalization through my own personal interest in global media cultures.

My just-completed doctoral dissertation, “Animating Transcultural Communities,” investigates how people form connections across cultural differences by building fan communities around globally-circulating animated works. Using examples of popular American, Canadian, Japanese, and Korean cartoons, I show how animation fans create “transcultural communities,”
in which diverse members connect through a shared interest, while negotiating the frictions that arise from their differing backgrounds. During the course of my interdisciplinary research, I conducted fieldwork at fan events in Japan, Canada, and the United States, and closely analyzed classic and contemporary films, TV series, and web cartoons for their representations of global animation audiences. In this way, I was able to explore the cultural work that goes on in communities of mediated play.

Through my research and my association with the Centre for Globalization and Cultural Studies, I have realized that globalization is not something that takes place “out there,” on a vast, abstract scale. It is a varied, uneven process that reaches from the most local, everyday ways of living to the largest multinational corporations. And in a way, it is also something that
happens here, in the collaborative, international effort to understand a complex concept and put it to productive use, in research and life, in work and play.

Sandra Annett has just completed her PhD in the Department of English, film, and theatre in the Faculty of Arts. She looks forward to taking up an assistant professor position in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of English and film studies.

This text was originally published in the summer issue of Research Life

photo credit Mike Latschinslaw

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