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Seeing the self in the world: Attending to banal globalism in urban visual cultures

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Urban visual cultures are permeated by images of the global earth. From environmentalist posters presenting fragile whole earths, to logos that brand international corporations, these visual figures have dissolved into the scarcely scrutinized backdrop of everyday practice. This short article underlines the significance of this ‘banal globalism’ as the condition in which global discourses shape identities and frame experience in ways that elude conscious disputation. It indicates two complexities surrounding banal globalism. First I stress how the inconspicuousness and seeming triviality of banal global images exceed critical approaches based on the concentrated reading of visual objects. Then I indicate how such focused analysis can uncover rich and strange global visions that might otherwise be overlooked as part of the quotidian urban backdrop.
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Keywords: banal globalism; cosmopolitanism; everyday life; globalization; visual culture; visual methods

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Amsterdam

Publication date: June 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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