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Contextualizing Discourses on Globalization: A view from the “East”

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“Globalization” is by now an all-too-familiar word that has been made durable in the media, in academia, in government organizations and in business circles. Yet the familiarity of “globalization” is contested and obscured by an increasing proliferation of competing discourses on globalization, evidenced by a now considerable academic debate regarding the phenomenon of globalization (e. g., Robertson, 1992; Woods, 1998; Schirato and Webb, 2003), the ramifications it has on “culture” (King, 1991; Featherstone, 1996; Jameson and Miyoshi, 1998; Crane et al., 2002), the “nation-state” (e. g., Evans, 1997; Weiss, 1997; Brown, 2000), “education” (Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hilliard, 2004; Apple et al., 2005) inter alia. There is indeed no lack of literature on globalization.

In view of the broad scope of literature on globalization, this chapter provides a synoptic reading of some of the globalization literatures, organized as “discourses”. I use “discourse/s” with some oversimplification to delineate patterns of knowledge and practices of globalization that have emerged. While I acknowledge that there are further configurations of discourses on globalization, for the purpose of this book, I have, however, confined my analysis to three overlapping discourses, and they are regional, ideological and economic discourses. Specific references and examples of local uptake of globalization will be drawn from Singapore and the wider Asia Pacific region, as Beck (2002) has reminded us that we cannot even think about globalization or discuss it effectively without the reference to specific locations and places. Hence the subtitle of this chapter, “a view from the East” is deliberate, not to set up the binary trap of the “East”/“West” divide but to signal to the often forgotten fact that Singapore, as well as the wider Asia Pacific region is “part of the ‘global’ sphere that the West has dispersed itself into” (Wee, 2004, p. 122).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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