I have no idea if this is an appropriate forum for this... / by George Bajalia

However, it’s what I’m thinking about, and so I’m going to post it! It’s actually an excerpt of a letter I wrote recently to a former professor, but I’d like to consider it an open letter to the community who cares. That is, an open letter with the most stringent Creative Commons copyright attached to it- no ripping off these groundbreaking ideas, please. 

My project here is founded in studying contemporary theatre artists in Morocco in order to query how they are representing Moroccan culture, that is, how they are “performing” Morocco, in relation to the ways in which Morocco has been represented in the Western gaze. My hypothesis is that globalization is hardly a new phenomenon in this part of the Mediterranean, and especially in Tangier, and that by studying the ways in which centuries of global circulation has informed identity formation and social hierarchies, we may begin to suppose how globalization will impact future identity/social/national? developments in the rest of the globalizing world. At least, that was the initial project. . 

As of late, I’ve started to return to socio-historical studies of the Mediterranean at large in hopes of reacquainting myself with how previous eras of intense circulation have played out in this region. I returned to Braudel, and followed his trail to the contemporary studies that Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell have put together (The Corrupting Sea, and its sequel). In this, I’ve realized that I may have a different goal all together. If, as I believe, one of the best starting points for talking about globalization today may be Braudel’s longue durée, then perhaps we can begin thinking of the globalization of the late 20th century and our current times as a hyper speed version of the long term. That is, we can parallel the long-term social history of the Mediterranean with contemporary socio-political events. However, what seems to be lacking (at least to me), is a vocabulary for talking about the now. Which brings me back to Horden and Purcell’s The Corrupting Sea, and my current question. In the first two chapters of The Corrupting Sea, they outline how their framework, heavily based on Braudel’s own, for talking about the Mediterranean. The two most important terms, in their essay, are “geography” and “ecology.” They generally apply the terms in a more traditional sense; that is, they seek to investigate the geographic situation and subsequent developments of trade and mobility the Mediterranean, as well its ecosystems and the biodiversity (human included) that emerged within them. My question and, in turn perhaps my quest, is this: can we apply these same terms to globalization in order to construct a framework for talking about the cultural and social repercussions of high-speed connectivity and circulation?

That is to say, can we refer to transnational institutions (NATO, The UN, The Arab League, perhaps even Wikileaks), corporations, and capital markets (cultural, linguistic, and fiscal capital) as the geographic landscape of the globalized world, Web-based connectivity of Mare Nostrum? Accordingly, are the social groups/hiercharies we see emerging–the global managerial class, the “unemployed youth” of the so-called Arab Spring, the Islamists and Selafi movements, the anti-multiculturalist parties of Europe, the Occupy movement, and the urban slums that surround them all–the ecology of the Brave New World?

So, any thoughts? Like I said, I doubt this is the right forum for these sorts of things, but I felt the need to put it out there. Who knows, maybe Tumblr is the need breeding ground for open-source academia.