Cultural Globalization Is Not Americanization

Philippe Legrain, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, May 06, 2003
Commentary by Stephen Downes

We don't hear a lot about world free trade and education. It could be because, as some suggest, "The whole idea of Transnational Ed has a not-so-vaguely colonialist dimension to it. In the context of the WTO and GATS, there will be net exporters and net importers of Higher Education services. It is not difficult to guess which nations will line up on which side of that divide." On the other hand, we have people like the author of this article who argues that world free trade will not have as a result the globalization of American culture. I'm afraid I don't agree. For one thing, culture is broader than the arts and crafts depicted in the article. For another, even though culture may be produced globally, it is still evaluated and commercialized through western (not exclusively American) eyes and values. And finally, what results might not be the original culture but rather something which, like McDonalds McAfrica burger or Disney's Alladin, is a hollow sham of the original tradition. A culture survives through its education, and when its education is imported, something dies.
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