If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so slow about writing up my Transnationalism notes, it’s because I’m trying to figure out what purpose it suits for my dissertation. Of course transnationalism, nationalism, and colonialism are all connected, but I want to explain how one should not think of the three as opposing each other, but developing out of and supplementing each other. For example, colonialism is an extension of nationalism. Nation building and spreading influence lead to colonialism, but spreading interests too far also lead to the weakening of the concept of the nation. In the case of Great Britain in particular, so many countries with people of diverse ethnicities were colonized. British soldiers and officials living abroad had cultural influences that they incorporated into their own British being. Then, after the post-WWII agreement that former British colonists had the right to British citizenship, a host of new ideas of “what does a British citizen look and act like?” challenged the homogeneous WASP identity. In a way, because of this, England is a nation and a transnation at once. On the other hand, those who came to Great Britain still saw themselves as citizens of their home nation and as transnationals in Britain.
This contributes to post-colonial talk.
On that note, though, can we start to talk of these literatures as post-national? The more transnational the citizens of a country feel, the less hold nation will have. At the same time, the desire to belong to something, and the practical need to have organized states, keeps the concept of nation alive.
Parallel to that thought, one can consider cultures and how, even those who buy into a transnational or postnational idea still find themselves tied to a culture in their upbringing. Even conscious movement towards counter culture is a kind of culture.
But there are still critics who believe in the dissolution of culture. Wolfgang Welsch, for example, looked at cultures and argued that people no longer live within the bounds of what is acceptable within their culture. Rather, they accept cultural standards, even if they are created by considering multiple different standards across cultural boundaries.
“‘Transculturalität’ will beides anzeigen: dass wir uns jenseits der klassischen Kulturauffassung befinden; und dass die neuen Kultur-bzw. Lebensformen durch diese alten Formationen wie selbstverständlich hindurchgehen” (in Information Philosophie 2 (1992).
I definitely understand that culture is no longer determined by traditional markers, and that each person in today’s world, in a way, creates his/her own culture independently of national, ethnic, religious formations. That’s a little beyond what Welsch writes. However, I also think that what we describe, the disregard for standards, goes against the very things that make up culture and nation. Both are groups that one belongs to by meeting certain requirements. Without meeting these, or by refusing to meet them (Mascha in Birken), there is little to call it a culture or nation by. This is more post nation than trans.
Now, on that interesting note, can we begin to talk about our world as one in which post-media is a reality? Because of the huge influence of media on our lives, can one talk of a life without it? And since there is not life without it (argument I’m proposing, I don’t think it’s true), maybe we should try to imagine a world after these new technological changes have made us all media.
I don’t know, that last idea is a bit out on a limb. But worth exploring (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it).
I wrote all this despite not wanting to an hour ago.
Siehst du? Geht doch.
Now to reward myself with a movie I’ve been looking forward to for some time: Winter Soldier (I’m not all intellect).
(I wrote this post on Saturday, but didn’t get to post until today).
Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense.
Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality