I wish I wrote

this book by Michael Peter Smith, Transnational Urbanism: Locating Globalization. (I can’t seem to locate any online info on the author ­čÖü – poo!)
He unabashedly argues for the social construction of “globalization” and critiques the heck out of Michael Harvey and a few representatives of what he calls the “global cities discourse” (Michael Friedman and Saskia Sassen). Smith “advance[s] a social constructionist analysis which exposes the entire discourse of globalization as ‘a tightly-scripted narrative of differential power’ (Gibson-Graham, 1996/1997: 1) that actually creates the powerlessness that it projects by contributing to the hegemony of prevailing globalization metaphors of capitalism’s global reach, local penetration, and placeless logic” (italics mine, 2001: 58).


Gibson-Graham have also written on class (think Class Cultures!) and Julie Graham is apparently faculty right here at UMass. Hmmmm! (And the link preceding it in this blog is pretty damn interesting in light of my own relational changes.)
Smith (to return to point), is ambitious and optimistic. I’ll have to listen carefully to critiques of his epistemology because it resonates so fully with mine I’m likely to miss the gaps and weaknesses. He describes his approach: “an agency-oriented theoretical perspective that concretely connects macro-economic and geopolitical transformations to the micro-networks of social action that people create, move in, and act upon in their daily lives” (6). My emphasis has been more micro but always with an eye to the macro and to the dialectic relationship between the two, as mutually-constituting and capable of influence from multiple directions (bottom up, top down, laterally, in combination, etc).
Smith looks directly at the interactive and productive juncture between “the level of individual consciousness and the level of structured fields or discursive venues” (17), and argues cogently for the power of change “from below” – stating, “transnational social space is a contested terrain rather than an exclusive preserve of multinational capital” (13). Rock on!
I’m looking forward to Chapter 6 & 7 next week: one teaser is a quote from Alberto Melucci: “human action is now capable of culturally creating its own space” (Smith, 2001: 17). (Melucci looks wicked interesting, search him again for Leda’s panel – some sites re “body.”)
For now, I can hardly wait for class discussion! ­čśë

2 thoughts on “I wish I wrote”

  1. Thanks for the link, Steph! Julie Graham is in the Geosciences department (she’s an economic geographer), and her “Re-Thinking Economy” seminar is excellent. (I teach in the Writing Program, and am working on my PhD in the English Department’s Rhetoric & Composition program.) If you’re interested in another more macro-level analysis, William Greider’s “The Soul of Capitalism” is excellent. I came to Greider in Julie’s seminar via his “One World, Ready Or Not” — which, actually, I really didn’t like, because of the sort of transcendent and agentless agency he ascribed to both Technology and The Economy, or, in other words, ignoring those “micro-networks of social action”. Gibson-Graham talks a lot about the ways contemporary mainstream discussions of The Economy do precisely the same thing, in constructing it as somehow beyond human intervention, something that’s slipped its discursive bonds and landed squarely in the Real but still stands far outside of any ability to change it. Their “The End of Capitalism (As We Know It)” is well worth a read, as well, and I see an interesting tension between it and Hardt & Negri’s “Empire” (haven’t read the new one yet, though).
    Your Democracy, Rhetoric & Performance course sounds neat — wish I was still taking courses. I think you might have some of my rhet/comp peers in there with you.

  2. I’m glad you liked my book. MPS
    For more information try my website.
    hcd.ucdavis.edu/faculty/smith/

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