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September 21

Filed under: Uncategorized — natashag22 at 12:31 pm on Thursday, September 23, 2010

The reading, “How Sushi Went Global” discusses tuna farming as a globally organized business. Individuals, communities, and countries are linked through environmental regulation, international regulation, and the spread of culinary culture. Sushi has become popular across borders, and unites people through shared taste. The various countries have different ways of farming for tuna. In some places techniques of a small-scale fisher are used. While in others a more industrial approach is used with factory fleet. In conclusion Bestor doesn’t see globalization as homogenizing cultural difference, but instead as growing the franchise.

            I can see how the tuna business links people together, but this doesn’t mean the appreciation or understanding of another’s culture is taking place. The majority of the tuna farming is large-scale industrial like. The only thing that these farmers see in the nets is dollars, not culture. Just as when the colonists moved west they shot and killed buffalo on such a large scale that they were becoming extinct. Unlike the indigenous people who only killed buffalo that were needed and did so through ceremony. To understand another’s culture time, care, and attention must be taken to understand not only the food, but the process along with ritual. The franchise of sushi may be growing, but I wouldn’t say the spread of the culture is. As Japanese culture is served to people on the platter of globalization there is much room for stereotypes and ethnocentric interpretation.    

            In the article, “McDonald’s in Hong Kong” globalization is studied through the introduction of McDonald’s in Hong Kong. Watson claims that Hong Kong has not been stripped of their cultural traditions, nor become “Americanized” through this process. The acceptance of McDonalds in Hong Kong instead signifies a redefinition of the Chinese cultural identity. McDonalds is an American corporation, and the cultural differences presented in this article are very distinct. Though, I see McDonalds as being very stern in imposing their values, and way of doing things. The Chinese culture is to snack instead of consuming entire meals. McDonalds believes in “service with a smile”, and in the Chinese culture a smile is a symbol of dishonesty. The American culture is to eat quickly and then leave while the Chinese culture is to socialize and take your time while eating.

            In order for the affordable prices at McDonalds to be possible it is necessary that, “consumers be educated or disciplined”. Watson also stated that “McDonalds helped create a more civilized social order”. It is hard for me to give much credit to an article or person who is evidently very Eurocentric in their study. These are exactly the same words used when the Europeans first came to the Americas and conquered the land of the Indigenous people while enslaving blacks from Africa. How can an entity be in another’s land while simultaneously view the people as “the other”, and then position them as inferior? This seems to me to be best suited for the demands of a capitalist order.

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1 Comment


   Prof. Hala

October 13, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

Excellent memo, Natasha, a perfect mix of carefully conveying key arguments from the readings and presenting your own analysis and critique. Your point about how “cultural globalization” or the quick and easy import/export of culture — all the faster due to the profit motive — can promote stereotyping and ethnocentrism rather than multiculturalism based on respect for difference is an important one. This, of course, relates to the question of “authenticity,” an aspiration that perhaps should not be so easily dismissed as “backward-looking” and the like.

Good catch on that “civilized” social order comment. The use of terms like that (without quotations, un-sarcastically) is a good sign that an author has entered normative territory and is making judgments based on a particular set of values — assuming a particular set of values has universal validity, ethnocentrism, in your terms. Indeed, the piece was quite celebratory about “global cultural diversity,” and less interested in exploring the role of power relations and political economy (let alone colonialism) in shaping “global culture.”

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