Examining The Political Economies Of Globalisation Cultural Studies Essay

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This module introduces students to the study of globalisation and neoliberalisation. It will be of interest to those who wish to learn how conceptions of free market capitalism emerged and began to transform national economies firstly in Pinochet's Chile, Thatcher's Britain and Reagan's US, before being rolled out more widely through the so-called 'Washington Consensus' and the political changes associated with the 1989 revolutions in East Central Europe. The course then examines challenges to the free market orthodoxy from national and international civil society, from antiglobalising localisers, and from the counter-globalisation movement that emerged after Seattle 1999. Having acquired a basic knowledge of inequalities in the global economy, students will learn how the adverse consequences of globalisation can be challenged, and what are the possibilities of democratic governance in the age of globalisation. By taking this module students will prepare themselves for a more advanced study of international political economy and development.

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Before the neoliberals reignited confidence in capitalism, it was widely seen as doomed: the only question was when and how it would be superseded. True capitalism in the 19th century opened up and developed the global economy beyond anyone's dreams, but by the 1960s it was seen to have been responsible for two world wars and one great depression. Soviet leader Khrushchev famously told the Americans 'We will bury you' as state planning in Russia, China and India took their economies from peasant production to rockets in 50 years. But in 1989 when millions in east and central Europe threw off their soviet 'liberators' in favour of capitalism, and students in Tiananmen Square called for democracy in the new market China, liberal democracy and capitalism were seen as the highest stage in human development, and 'history had ended'.

Globalisation is reshaping the spaces of contemporary politics. This lecture will outline the importance of a geographical approach to thinking about globalisation. It will explore the implications of the threat to traditional conceptions of nation state sovereignty and the rise of transnational institutions. In particular it will explore the rise of neoliberal ideologies. Although neoliberalism is often viewed as a set of 'economic' conventions and beliefs it is also a distinctively political project, associated primarily, but not exclusively, with key 'new right' political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. This lecture will explore the practices through which this political project has sought to make 'neo-liberal' values a kind of common sense. It will also consider where the current economic crisis leaves neoliberalism. The lecture will also begin to address the ways in which globalisation is providing opportunities for those who contest the neo-liberal values and conventions that structure contemporary globalisation. It will explore different attempts to theorise these transformations such as David Held's work on cosmopolitan democracy and Hardt and Negri's account of Empire.

The age of European colonialism supposedly came to an end in the years after World War 2, yet we continue to hear talk of imperialism and unequal relations in the world. At the same time, neoliberalism has become the dominant discourse for economic development, and despite the effects of the economic recession, shows no signs of going away, so much has it become ingrained into our everyday lives. Neoliberalism is seen by some as continuing the rule of dominating elites, and in particular is seen as a tool for maintaining the role of the United States as the world superpower. How has neoliberalism become hegemonic in its acceptance, and how have people sought to define it as something undesirable and imperialistic? This lecture will examine why and how by addressing concerns about whether nations like the US and organisations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation, and the G8 can be considered 'new' financial imperialists, seeking to drive their own economic agendas at the expense of the poor of the world.

The late 1990s and early 21st century have seen the emergence of what has been called the 'anti' or 'counter globalisation movement'. Images of protests at events like the WTO conference in Seattle and G8 Summits in Genoa and Gleneagles, Scotland, have been widespread and many claim this 'movement of movements' offers new ways of being global compared to neoliberal approaches. This lecture engages with the geographies of these resistances to neo-liberal globalisation. It explores the kinds of political identities and solidarities emerging through resistance to neo-liberal globalisation. Three key themes will be developed. Firstly, how place-based political cultures such as nationalisms have effects on the solidarities emerging through the counter-globalisation movement. Secondly, how do these solidarities negotiate unequal geographies of power between the North and South. Thirdly, how these solidarities are productive. These movements do not just bring together different movements who have already constituted identities. Rather they can transform and unsettle these identities, producing new forms of political activity and identities.

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This lecture explores the role neoliberal globalisation has upon a developing country. India is seen as one of the success stories of 1990's neoliberalism. After decades of protectionist policies, India has been 'opened up' to foreign investment, primarily through Multi-National Corporations such as Coca-Cola, and has seen unprecedented growth within its own MNCs such as the Tata Group. This opening has caused huge GDP growth, but has also seen India society riven with conflicts on religious, environmental, gender and class/caste issues. These have raised questions about nationalism and India's place in the world market, and its perceived position as a rising superpower. India helps us to understand the different roles of the State, MNCs and social movements within a liberalising, less developed country.

Over three days in December 2001, a mass demonstration converged on the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, banging pots and pans, revving motorcycles, letting of fireworks. The immediate cause of their anger was the freezing of their bank accounts and an attempt by the state to use their savings to pay the IMF. For others the protest was against a 10 year recession as neoliberalization saw Argentina move from one of the most regulated and secure labour markets to one of the most 'flexible'. For some, responsibility for the crisis lay with the 'yankees' and the IMF while others blamed homegrown thieves - the political and financial classes who had systematically looted Argentina's wealth through corrupt, insider privatisations and who were moving their money of the country in armoured vans. This lecture examines what happens when neoliberalisation backfires and protest forces elites to think again about how far globalisation can be pushed on a reluctant people.