IU’s Framing the Global project and book provide new contexts for studying globalization

9780253012968_lrgFor decades, scholars have studied world cultures and historical traditions that have defined nations. But with globalization, national boundaries no longer frame the story.

Those words, originally written as part of an Indiana University announcement in 2010, today ring true more than ever before.

Framing the Global, an interdisciplinary initiative funded by a $775,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has since supported 15 research fellowships and an international conference last year.

This summer, there is a book, “Framing the Global: Entry Points for Research (IU Press),” which its authors hope will offer a “conceptual toolkit for global research in the 21st century.”

“We have always lived in a complex world, but few deny that today we live in a noticeably more interrelated world than we did even a decade ago,” observes Hilary E. Kahn, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change, based in the IU School of Global and International Studies.

“Multitudes of global linkages meet to form collections of meaning and materiality that affect our lives: in the things we make and use, the ways we think and feel, how and why we do what we do,” Kahn continues in the book’s introduction. “They appear in our sociopolitical structures, economic systems, forms of governance and foreign policies.

“We are conscious of many of these connections, oblivious to others.”

Global studies emerged in the 1980s as scholars, policymakers and the public began to take note of the increasingly transnational flow of people, ideas and goods.

As Kahn explains, the Framing the Global project and its resulting 14-chapter book offer an approach that allows scholars from various academic disciplines and perspectives to investigate how our lives are defined by and give meaning to global processes.

Framing the Global research fellows and team

Framing the Global research fellows and team

Janet Rabinowitch, director emerita of IU Press; Rebecca Tolen, sponsoring editor; and Deborah Piston-Hatlen, program director, joined Kahn on the project. Robert Sloan succeeded Rabinowitch and today is editor-in-chief of IU Press.

An advisory committee consisting of faculty from the Maurer School of Law, the Kelley School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Media School and SGIS also is guiding the project.

“The global — whether an institution, process, a discursive practice, or an imaginary — simultaneously transcends the exclusive framing of the nation-state and partly inhabits national territories and institutions,” Saskia Sassen writes in the book’s forward. “Seen this way, globalization is more than its common representation as growing interdependence and the formation of self-evidently global institutions.

“It also comprises processes situated deep inside the national, which means that one instantiation of globalization actually is the outcome of a partial denationalization of the national as historically constructed,” added Sassen, the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University.

Her words explain in part why our society appears so fragmented, particularly to those who define society based on geographic borders.

We see it within the current debate over how to react to the recent crisis on the U.S.-Mexican border and the conflicts in the Middle East. If you are reading this article on an iPad, remember the tablet likely was produced in China.

“Nothing is done in isolation anymore,” Kahn told me in an earlier interview. “I don’t think anybody is denying the fact that there are still entities that have some integrity within local or geographic spaces, within territories or nations.

“But yet at the same time, I don’t think anybody would disagree that all of those are given meaning and are defined in some ways by broader global connections,” she said.

Kahn is correct. Knowledge in the 21st century no longer emerges from one space; it comes from collaboration, dialogue and engagement between people from various disciplines and from beyond borders. She believes it also is about bridging different perspectives, including within academia.

If you’re looking for more context and conversations about global studies, you might want to visit the project’s web site — framing.indiana.edu — which provides more information about the scholars and their books which are yet to come as part of the Global Research Series.

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