Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The future is here, it is global, it is multiple.

Yesterday's post on women and poverty comes with many caveats, nuances. I try to touch on a couple of those caveats today.

Ten years ago, when I took Cultures of Asia, Dr. Reddy emphasized that we needed to re-think our image of "Asia." She discussed how there are MANY different cultures of Asia, and we couldn't hope to cover them all in a single semester, even in graduate-level coursework.

One of the first days, we saw a slideshow or video of parts of Asia, the cities as well as the countryside. The images emphasized modernity, the ways that Asian cities are similar to places like New York or San Francisco.

Here's a photo from our trip to South Korea, with Starbucks in the background.

Cities, ships, technology - they're global, not confined to a single place. This is another view of Busan:

Futures Studies discusses how multiple futures can happen simultaneously, sometimes in different locations, but sometimes juxtaposed against each other. For Asia, we read about Mumbai, and the extreme inequality that juxtaposed modern wealth with modern poverty.

Perhaps most stereotyped of all continents is not Asia, but Africa.

There's a video that has made the rounds on Tumblr, to highlight what people *think* about Africa, the tropes we see in campaigns for donations, vs. what's really there. Most of the language in this video is beeped out. I notice, though, that this video seems to stick to a rural part of Africa.

The video was created by SAIH Norway as a spoof, and their program notes on YouTube are worth reading.

Returning the gaze back to my own country, Global and Transnational Feminisms make significant points about how the United States and the Developed World are not always better, richer, or more enlightened than locations in former Third-World Countries.

One of the criticisms that anti-feminists in the United States like to throw out, is that things are supposedly much worse overseas, in other countries.

Well, sometimes. Sometimes not. These multiple futures, that include a juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, a juxtaposition of freedom with religious or other constraints, also happen right here in the United States.

Some weeks ago, a friend shared this blogpost on Facebook, that gives some idea of how multiple futures can happen here in the United States. In this case, apparently, through choices:

The linked analysis assumes that the Naugler parents chose to move to that Tennessee property.

This is possible. It's important, thought, to remember that from the feminist and sociological perspectives, there may have been other outside factors, not described in news accounts, that drove the family's decision to move. It might not have been a purely religious decision. I don't know enough to say.