Understanding Transcultural Compatibility

Globalization theory has contributed to many forms of new expression, cultures, and values that have become widespread through present-day digital technologies. While researching the actions of visual activist culture, globalized expression provides support for similar issues being questioned or supported around the world. The combination of compatible cultures has been cultivated, refused, and combined, and their outcomes have been expressed through various forms of creativity in the local context, only to be diffused using digital technologies.

Children-from-different-cultures-laugh-together-in-this-street-art-poster-by-STMTS-that-celebrates-unity-and-acceptanceIn Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange, Jan Nederveen-Pieterse describes the cultural hybridity of Globalization dealing with economics, identity, and modernization. These concepts are historicized and understood through three paradigms: convergence, difference, and hybridity. Convergence of cultures have a hierarchical process where the hegemon accepts the ‘other’ but still assumes power. The difference paradigm enforces boundaries between cultures and creates an “us-them” narrative that can implement conflict. Cultural hybridity is related to transcultural compatibility, where different cultures merge to form new identities, policies, and economies.  

The process of cultural hybridity still maintains hierarchical or differential instances where in some cultures the basic form of membership might lead to the rejection of previous affiliations. The three cultural paradigms are part of a dialectic where difference and convergence result in hybridity, while all three also exist simultaneously. These paradigms are based in globalization theory where the ruling hegemony maintains power through ‘globalization’ methods that include modernity, economy, and political gain (pg. 175).  For example, the nation-state structure implies an underlying hierarchy for immigrants who contribute to a multicultural region but are still dominated by the hegemon (The West). This structure is based on a combination of local, urban, regional, and international participation that incorporates multicultural relations. For stability concerns of the nation-state, “a key question is not merely whether immigration is culturally desirable … but whether and how it contributes to economic development” (Nederveen-Pieterse, 39). Nederveen-Pieterse comments on how “light” immigration of minority cultures are beneficial to “build social and institutional tissue” that enables intercultural relations, region building, and economic gains for future nation-state performance (Nederveen-Pieterse, 43).

mcdonaldsCultural globalization forms hybrid cultural practices and leads to hybrid cultural identities. The two cultures contribute to glocalization, or the global localization of cultural practices. This includes a global framework using localized attributes or practices to fit the needs of the local population. For example, a McDonald’s restaurant in Russia with implemented Russian management and hospitality best practices, create a different McDonald’s experience and restaurant overall because of the local population.  Although different cultures are compatible and can merge while agreeing upon similar issues and values, overlying power influence could be involved and lead to difference or conflict.

If cultural hybridity is described as transcultural compatibility, then the influence from both, or multiple, cultures should be expressed within the hybrid. Nederveen-Pieterse describes this “mélange” as reflecting “transcultural class affinities,” assuming the participating cultures maintain similar patterns of progress throughout the culture’s history (Nederveen-Pieterse, 87). The discussion of Cultural hybridity introduces two distinct concepts of culture territorial, and translocal. (1) Cultural territorialists are based on an identification with geographic or tangible sense or culture, a type of rooted cosmopolitan who advocates for their social group, while (2) Cultural translocalists could be seen as a mixture of broad social relations that are internalized by the person. Both cultures are based on a learning process, the first in a geographic or centered territory, and the latter, which is more localized and spans a wider social network outreach. Although this third paradigm is accepted, both cultural convergence and cultural difference still exist. In cultural hybridity, there is a possibility where one culture can associate more with the dominant population which questions whether there is hybridity or convergence at hand. The cultural hybrid also maintains the ability to set boundaries between others not associated with them, thus resetting differences in new and various cultures.  

The main concept, transcultural compatibility, is helpful while reviewing localism in activist networks, where someone fighting for a local or domestic cause reaches out for the help of others or learns from others experiencing the same thing. This cause could become more important as more cultures around the globe recognize and agree with it. These theories present a multifaceted look at the way we construct cultural meaning across geographic boundaries. Within my own research on visual activism, I found that these trends span oceans. The ‘global melange’,as Nederveen-Pieterse might say, is the next iteration of the unconnectedness of our society.