translocation_new media/art: "Modernity at Large"
Interview with Arjun Appadurai by Anette Baldauf and Christian Hoeller
B/H: Your work which is mainly focused on the "cultural dimensions of globalization" attempts to mark or characterize a certain rupture within social theory: Global cultural flows are viewed as composed of complex, overlapping and disjunctive orders that do not allow of any homogenized perspective. While for instance the Marxist tradition has tried to consider such flows as ultimately determined by capital flows, your work puts a decisive emphasis on the role of mass migration and - even more importantly - of electronic media. What motivates this special emphasis?
AA: The principal reason for this emphasis is my sense that the processes of globalization have radically altered the relations between subjectivity, location, political identification and the social imagination. As I say in my book "Modernity at Large", moving images meet mobile audiences. Hence, theories that rely on some sort of spatial or territorial stability which links economy, society and subjectivity inevitably miss the circulation of persons and of (mass-mediated) images and messages. These circuits are themselves not parallel or isomorphic so traditional geographical conceptions, even those which underly the best Marxist analyses of global capital, miss the disjunctive flows seen in migration and mass mediation. I am convinced that global capital flows are a vital part of the machinary behind these disjunctures but I do not think we have an adequately quirky picture of the dynamics of contemporary capital, especially of global financial capital.