chapter  5
37 Pages

Global Cities and Citizens

In 1967, at the beginning of the postmodern era, Marshall McLuhan hailed the “brand-new world of allatonceness. ‘Time’ has ceased, ‘space’ has vanished. We now live in a global village . . . a simultaneous happening” (Medium). Some forty years later, the global interconnectedness McLuhan perceived has only intensifi ed as the transnational circulation of people, capital, goods, images, and ideas reaches historically unprecedented levels. Never before have so many people been on the move; never before has there been such global economic integration.1 The effects of this global circulation and integration are complex. In some respects, they foster similarities among cultures and, in particular, a Westernization of a signifi cant part of the postmodern global landscape due to the power of Western capital and its comparatively greater ability to disseminate Western culture. While the global circulation of Western commodities and culture thus fosters some degree of homogeneity, it often amplifi es differences as well and forces them into close spatial and temporal proximity. One might say that in this “brand-new world,” time has not so much ceased as telescoped: medieval mindsets collide with the modern, the modern with the postmodern, and the world seems to have more history than it can possibly assimilate or reconcile. A very different form of cultural spacetime emerges as a result.