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About this book

This volume challenges dominant imaginations of globalization by highlighting alternative visions of the globe, world, earth, or planet that abound in cultural, social, and political practice. In the contemporary context of intensive globalization, ruthless geopolitics, and unabated environmental exploitation, these “other globes” offer paths for thinking anew the relations between people, polities, and the planet. Derived from disparate historical and cultural contexts, which include the Holy Roman Empire; late medieval Brabant; the (post)colonial Philippines; early twentieth-century Britain; contemporary Puerto Rico; occupied Palestine; postcolonial Africa and Chile; and present-day California, the past and peripheral globes analyzed in this volume reveal the variety of ways in which the global has been—and might be—imagined. As such, the fourteen contributions underline that there is no neutral, natural, or universal way of inhabiting the global.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction. Other Globes: Past and Peripheral Imaginations of Globalization

Contemporary media, politics, and culture are saturated by figures of the global and globalization. This Introduction emphasizes how many of these figures rest on a particular conception of the global. The editors term this “modern globalism,” within which the earth is grasped as a geometrical totality spanned by economic flows. Despite its prevalence today, modern globalism represents only one among many possible ways in which the global can be imagined; alternative global imaginations abound in the cultural past and at the peripheries of contemporary culture. These “other globes,” explored in the thirteen contributions that follow the Introduction, offer paths for thinking new relations between people, polities, and the planet. Laying the ground for the case studies, the Introduction unpacks alternative names for the global, exploring the cultural significance of earth, world, and planet; undertakes a genealogy of modern globalism, whose historical ascent marginalized other worldviews; and surveys critiques of modern globalism in Marxist, postcolonial, feminist, and ecocritical theory.
Simon Ferdinand, Irene Villaescusa-Illán, Esther Peeren

Chapter 2. Protest from the Margins: Emerging Global Networks in the Early Sixteenth Century and Their German Detractors

This chapter argues for an inclusion of earlier historical periods in the contemporary discussion of globalization and provides a theoretical framework for doing so. The key features of early modern globalization were the Portuguese discovery of the sea route to Asia, the ensuing rapid growth of global trade networks, the first information revolution, and the growing cosmographic understanding of the earth as endless space. While Germany stood at its periphery, its impact nonetheless was registered and discussed in a range of texts as the old urban elites felt threatened and marginalized by the rise of a new class of globally networked merchants. Writers like Sebastian Brant, Ulrich von Hutten, Martin Luther, and Hieronymus Bock engaged in a nationalist backlash against the felt impact of the globalizing dynamic and constructed false memories of a pure, heroic, and idyllic German culture of the past.
Peter Hess

Chapter 3. Being in the Globe: Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights at the Fringes of Modern Globalism

Modern cultures are permeated by representations of the earth as a measurable and malleable globe. To interrupt this dominant imagination of the global, this chapter reaches back to an early modern vision of the world depicted in Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch’s so-called Garden of Earthly Delights. It analyses Garden’s exterior panels, which present the world as a horizontal landscape contained within a spherical globe, in conjunction with Tim Ingold’s account of how the global is perceived today. For Ingold, subjects are split between situated experiences of a flat surrounding horizon and prevailing visions of earth as a distanced globe. In combining horizontal and global perspectives, Garden encapsulates this account. However, whereas Ingold affirms situated existence against estranged global overviews, Bosch’s art blocks recourse to place-based dwelling. In his Christian worldview, all earthly existence—whether grasped through individual places or as the whole globe—is spiritually estranged from God.
Simon Ferdinand

Chapter 4. The Nature of the Historical: Forming Worlds, Resisting the Temptation

Through a reflection on the writing, and therefore the fiction, of the art historical text in a post-colonial site like Southeast Asia, the chapter speaks to the anxiety about reconsidering the formation of the global or the making of emergent worlds. It tries to peel the layers off this “nature” in terms of the conceptions of both body and metaphor; the reclamation of the sea to resettle the homeless; and the restaging of the cartographic discourse to trace a longer arc of the genealogy of worlds, from the Passion of Christ to the vision of a twenty-first-century Maritime Silk Road. The moments of this process are gleaned in iconography, a failed development project, colonial maps, a film on Genghis Khan, and the kinetic art of a migrant artist. The chapter explores the levels of the word “nature” as, on the one hand, a kind of character or quality, and, on the other, a relatively stable range of traits that in art history may be called style or iconography. On the other hand, “nature” may also mean the ecology of forces that create a material, broadly speaking, its environment. Therefore, the nature of the historical, specifically the art historical, refers to the logic of its formation and to its formative condition. This is the proposition of the term “nature” as it relates to the art historical. Surely, both art and history, specifically post-colonial history, may refuse this nature. But then there is also the temptation to do art history in these parts at the same time that there is an effort to resist the temptation.
Patrick D. Flores

Chapter 5. H. G. Wells and Planetary Prose

H. G. Wells’s novel, The First Men in the Moon (1901), presents a cogent and sustained challenge to the supremacy of empire, and does so from the standpoint of astronomy and the increasing knowledge of the heavens by the end of the nineteenth century. This planetary moment in early modernist writing signals a critical tradition of planetary consciousness that links astronomical research to critiques of capitalism. This chapter asks how Wells’s proto-modernist aesthetic (often occluded by his popular and romantic strains) co-emerges with a critique of imperialism sharpened by the new time and space scales of the globe(s) that emerge at the turn of the last century, to form a planetary prose.
Cóilín Parsons

Chapter 6. Visions of Global Modernity in Hispano-Filipino Literature

This chapter analyzes two works of Philippine literature written in Spanish in the first part of the twentieth century, focusing on how they invoke global modernity. Paz Mendoza’s travelogue Notas de viaje (1929) [Travel Notes] and Jesús Balmori’s novel Los pajaros de fuego. Una novela Filipina de la Guerra (1945) [Birds of Fire, A Filipino Novel about War] offer contrasting visions of the Philippines’ present and future, but they both relate this vision to the models of modern nationhood on offer in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing selectively on aspects of countries and cultures from around the globe, Mendoza and Balmori reveal how a variety of competing imaginations of Filipino nationhood sought to make the future independent Philippines part of the community of modern nations. The notion of global modernity helps to analyze Mendoza’s and Balmori’s engagement with a centralized global modernity from a location that, in relation to both, was emphatically peripheralized.
Irene Villaescusa-Illán

Chapter 7. Global Africa

Africa has more often been the object rather than the subject of globalization, a region on which the globe has impressed itself with disastrous results. But Africa is a rarely considered but significant example of the global circulation of modernity. The dramatic beginning of the cultural movement of modernity and consequently of the globalization of Africa occurred in the black diaspora: people scattered across the world in that immense aporia of the Enlightenment—slavery. Violently captured and transported, dispersed throughout the New World, placed in plantations with speakers of different languages, deprived not only of a common tongue, but a common history and birthplace, they eventually succeeded in articulating their own postcolonial modernity. Africa had been the source of all kinds of diasporas for millions of years until the industrial level slavery of the Atlantic Middle Passage. The global dimension of Africa can be seen in African writing, in its transnational reach through music, in pan-Africanism, and in the emergence of modernism itself. A revealing sign of the image of Africa in the European consciousness is its invisibility. But the Africa conceived in the imaginations of its writers, artists, and creative thinkers is a global Africa that has already changed and continues to change the world.
Bill Ashcroft

Chapter 8. World-Imagining from Below

In this chapter I tease out the relationships among the globe in globalization discourse, the world in world literature, and the planet/earth at stake in environmental discourse, emphasizing how claims to planetary citizenship sound radically different depending on the position from which they are articulated. The emergent universalism of much planet-talk offers one more occasion to forget about colonial exploitation and continuing modes of immiseration and inequality. Still, I am struck by the ethical appeal of a recurrent trope of world-imagining from below, wherein marginalized subjects situate their own precarious local condition within a broader, transnational context. World-imagining from below, I argue, offers glimpses of a subaltern planetary subjectivity—grittier than the Apollonian view from high above the earth.
Jennifer Wenzel

Chapter 9. Novelization in Decolonization, or, Postcolonialism Reconsidered

This chapter considers the role of fiction in continuing the work of decolonization. It problematizes this relationship in several ways by, for instance, invoking the theory of Mikhail Bakhtin on the concept of novelization, examining Edward Said’s critique of orientalism, and rethinking the tensions between postcolonialism and globalization as currently construed. The fate of the nation, nationhood, and nationalism is a significant subtext of the analysis and is particularly informative regarding the literary examples provided: Giannina Braschi’s (United States of Banana. Amazon Crossing, Las Vegas, 2011) and Susan Abulhawa’s (Mornings in Jenin. Bloomsbury, New York, 2006). These novels do not exemplify a solution to the dilemmas of the state that decolonization faces, but they do accentuate the role of imagination in such struggle and the ways it may be inscribed.
Peter Hitchcock

Chapter 10. Ethnoplanetarity: Contemporaneity and Scale in Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia de la luz and El botón de nácar

Focusing on the close articulation of cosmic spatiotemporalities with traumatic national histories in Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s films Nostalgia for the Light (2010) and The Pearl Button (2015), the chapter explores the theoretical, political, and aesthetic parameters of a post-global cultural production that ventures to detach itself from the homogenizing systemic logic of the globe as one. Operating on multiple scales at once and predicated on an expansive conception of “contemporaneity,” the films can be seen—in their twin attendance to a cosmological dimension and to the political histories of colonial and dictatorial violence in Chile—to instantiate a novel cultural paradigm of “ethnoplanetarity” that critically interrogates, and ultimately seeks to “overwrite” (Gayatri Spivak), the narrow parameters of a discourse of the globe.
Alexis Radisoglou

Chapter 11. Weirding Earth: Reimagining the Global Through Speculative Cartographies in Literature, Art, and Music

This chapter questions the image of Earth as full and complete, symbolized by the iconic Earthrise photograph. This approach is argued to foreclose the possibility of producing accounts of Earth that could enhance our understanding of its deeper, ecological dimension in the face of climate change and globalization. Taking my cue from Bruno Latour’s geopolitics and Peter Sloterdijk’s spheres project, a speculative mode of global synthesis is presented in the form of Reza Negarestani’s geophilosophical realism. It constitutes an example of what is tentatively termed here “speculative cartography”—a multimodal way of producing “weirder” visions of Earth, which offers new conceptual coordinates and can be practiced not only in philosophy and cultural studies, but also—as the chapter demonstrates—in literature, art, and music.
Grzegorz Czemiel

Chapter 12. Planetary Lovers: On Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’s Water Makes Us Wet

This chapter examines Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’s “sexecology,” a multi-year art and activist project that presents the earth as lover, source, and receiver of polymorphous pleasures. Through the close reading of writings, performances, and the documentary Water Makes Us WetAn Ecosexual Adventure (2017), the essay shows how Sprinkle and Stephens contribute to queering the ecological imagination. In addition to complicating the gendered trope of Mother Earth, they draw attention to social ecologies of dirt and sanitation that are connected to hierarchies of race and sex. However, while Sprinkle and Stephens complicate Mother Earth, they rely on the notion of partnership between humans and the planet. The chapter concludes with an exploration of a different notion of care that takes alterity, rather than reciprocity, as its point of departure.
Miriam Tola

Chapter 13. A World in Miniatures: Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands

Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands (Atlas der abgelegenen Inseln, 2009) constructs an alternative knowledge of the world in a globalization age. The chapter analyzes the text’s propositional world-knowledge as it appears on a discursive level as well as its non-propositional world-knowledge as produced through the text’s aesthetic form. The chapter argues that Schalansky’s short prose texts develop an alterity-oriented world-knowledge. It shows how Atlas’s literary–visual form foregrounds selectiveness, inexhaustibility, and heterogeneity, and demonstrates the text’s relative independence from the need to organize places and events through a narrative progression in time and space. These thematic and formal properties enable the text to construct a world-knowledge that presents readers with an alternative to extant globalization narratives insofar as it resists their drive toward a comprehension of the planet in terms of completeness, homogenization, abstraction, and totalization.
Christoph Schaub

Chapter 14. The End-of-the-World as World System

From The Hunger Games to World War Z, dystopian narratives with apocalyptic themes have dominated mainstream popular culture in the United States and worldwide in recent years. Reflecting on Fredric Jameson’s famous remark about how it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism, this chapter suggests that the predominance of apocalyptic themes paradoxically discloses an effort to imagine the world system in its unrepresentable totality. Examining a number of recent films, it identifies three particular traits—clear temporal limits, an identifiable political order, and the desirable simplification of social complexes—that make possible a sort of political unconscious of dystopian cinema, which in turn becomes a way of understanding the seemingly chaotic world system itself.
Robert T. Tally Jr.


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