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date: 01 October 2020

(p. ix) Preface

(p. ix) Preface

The emergence of a new field of studies is both an exciting and daunting venture, and the Oxford Handbook of Global Studies has been crafted to respond to both of these aspects—to show the significance of the field and to explore some of the issues that are related to its development. Since the end of the Cold War, globalization has been reshaping the modern world. New technologies facilitate the movement of people, goods, services, money, ideas, and culture across political borders more easily and quickly than ever before. Despite the growing mountain of digitalized information readily accessible in real-time to billions around the world, globalization has unsettled people’s familiar frames of reference. New sources of insecurity and disruption are reflected in a public discourse that increasingly revolves around global issues such as transnational migration, global terrorism, pandemics, global financial crises, the planetary climate crisis, and the widening North-South inequality gap. Increasingly anti-globalism has become a global phenomenon, manifested by protest movements against immigration and international trade. And these are but the most prominent entries in a long list of global challenges that reach deeply into every aspect of daily life.

Responding to these global issues effectively requires the generation and implementation of new ideas that go beyond the traditional academic framework of the twentieth century. In particular, a better understanding is needed regarding how the local has become entangled with the global in the myriad ways that have profoundly shaped how daily lives are conducted in the twenty-first century. This imperative to grasp these complex global dynamics stands at the very center of a new transdisciplinary effort—global studies—to reorder human knowledge and create innovative learning environments. Indeed, demand for individual courses and for curricula designed for undergraduate and graduate degrees in global studies has dramatically risen in academic centers around the world. Increasingly, the terms “global” or “globalization” are included in course titles, textbooks, academic job postings, and extracurricular activities. Moreover, an array of new scholarship has risen to make sense of it in its various transnational manifestations—including economic, social, cultural, ideological, technological, environmental, and in new communications. These topics have been studied through traditional and novel approaches, and the Handbook will explore the various aspects of this emerging field.

This means there is a lot to cover in a single volume, beginning with the question of what global studies actually is. Several essays focus on this question, how the field developed, and what are its historical antecedents. Other essays explore analytic and conceptual approaches to teaching and research in global studies, and the largest section deals with the subject matter of global studies, challenges from migration and new media to the global city and the emergence of a transnational capitalist class. The final sections look at aspects of the new global society—the ideas and institutions that have appeared to provide the elements of a worldwide civil order in the global era.

(p. x) This Handbook focuses on global studies more than on the phenomenon of globalization itself, though the various aspects of globalization are central to understanding how the field is currently being shaped. Indeed, global studies both embraces and exudes a certain mentalité that might be called the “global imaginary.” Giving its objective and subjective aspects equal consideration, global studies suggests that enhanced interconnectivity does not merely happen in the world “out there” but also operates through our consciousness “in here.” To recognize the significance of global consciousness, however, does not support premature proclamations of the death of the nation-state. Conventional national and local frameworks have retained significant power. Although the nation-state is not disappearing, it is true that it has been forced by globalization to seek sometimes rather uneasy accommodations with a slowly evolving architecture of global governance—an embryonic form of global society that can no longer be derided as a utopian pipedream.

For these reasons, the topics listed in the section on global concerns should not be taken to be an exhaustive list of what global studies is about, but rather an attempt to highlight some of the issues that are central to the research and teaching programs of the global studies field. Many of these topics are embraced by other disciplines, from economics to history and cultural studies, and appropriately so. The term “global studies” demarcates not only programs and departments that bear that name, but to the many efforts to globalize existing disciplines in courses and programs that focus on global sociology, for example, or global history. This Handbook will provide a resource for these disciplines as well as for the many new programs that are specifically called “global studies.”

Throughout the essays in this Handbook are attempts to think globally about global studies. By that are meant efforts to look at global phenomena with varied lenses—to “decolonialize global studies,” as one author put it—and not privilege any particular geographic, ideological, political, or gendered point of view. This diversity will be found throughout the volume, though critical perspectives on global studies are highlighted in essays that focus on the view of globalization from the global South, for example, and from a feminist perspective.

Then there is the matter of diversity of approaches to the study of topics in the field. Though most authors in this volume—among the most distinguished scholars in the field—agree with the main contours of what global studies is, as outlined in the opening essays in the volume, there are still subtle differences in interpretation. Is global studies only the study of globalization, for example? This depends, in part, on what one means by globalization, but it also reflects some differences in how one conceives of the field.

This diversity becomes enlarged when one considers the many methodological and theoretical approaches to analyzing global phenomena. The section on global thinking, for example, offers examples of some that are particularly relevant to developing innovative research strategies. The concluding section on global citizenship also seeks to illuminate the reasons and dynamics behind the growing interest in transnational education initiatives, and embraces the pedagogical mission of fostering global citizenship as defined in the United Nations Secretary General’s 2012 “Global Education First Initiative” and many other cosmopolitan visions anchored in universal values of justice, diversity, and solidarity. This section also explores the rise of embedded cosmopolitan visions that link the global to the local and in return, the local to the global.

But the sharp reader will notice that not all of our authors agree on everything. And this may be a good thing—a new field is nourished by the diversity of methodological (p. xi) approaches. Thus, no attempt has been made to homogenize the essays in this volume and pretend as if there were a few analytic approaches that dominate the field. Fortunately, global studies is far too young to be ossified in any rigid analytic formulations. Rather, we can think of it as a “space of tension” framed by multiple disagreements and agreements in which the very problematic of the global is being continuously produced and contested.

Hence, what this Handbook offers is the chronicle of fresh new ways of thinking about global phenomena and dynamics that are emerging to shape our changing world. Its contributors have sought to pay tribute to the growing significance of the field as an unorthodox academic “space of tension” linking the arts, sciences, and humanities. Animated by an ethical imperative to globalize knowledge, such transdisciplinary efforts have the potential to reconfigure our discipline-oriented academic infrastructure. In this sense, the chapters of this volume constitute not only a Handbook about a new field of studies, but also an engaged guide to an even more interconnected global future. (p. xii)