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Course: CLIT 2025

Visual Culture
The Circulation of Visual Culture

Kathy and Cherry

14th April, 2008
The Central Changes in 20th Century

• Globalization
– The flatness of world
– Global village
– Global imperialism
• Convergence
– Technological advancement
and collapse of boundary
• E.g. Multimedia integration
• E.g. Media conglomerates
• Synergy
– Corporation conglomerates: vertically integrating
programming, production, and distribution and horizontally
integrating across a geographic scope that no one entity
could have reached alone
Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat”

• Forces that flattened the world

– Political flatteners
• The breach of Berlin Wall in 9th Nov, 1989
– Technological flatteners
• Netscape, the internet browser went public
in 9th Aug, 1995
• Open source movement
• Work flow software
• In-forming
• The Steroids, Digital, Mobile, Personal,
and Virtual, wirelessness
– Economical flatteners
• Outsourcing
• Offshoring
• Insourcing
• Global Supply-Chaining
Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat”

• Triple Convergences
1. All the flatteners converged with one another,
each flattener enhanced the other flatteners.
2. Instead of collaborating vertically, businesses
needed to begin collaborating horizontally.
Horizontal collaboration add value creation or
innovation to the companies.
3. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, communist
countries like India, China,Russia, and the nations
of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Central
Asia began to open up their economies to the
world. They added new brain power and enhanced
horizontal collaboration across the globe.
MuLuhan’s Vision of Global Village

• MuLuhan’s ideal image of a media-based global

– Collapse of geographic distance and national
– The decline of the central power of the sovereign
nation-state, individual becomes more important
– Internet democratized society
– Communities formed based on shared interests
across geographic, national, and cultural boundaries
The Transnational Media
• Television, the internet, and the World
Wide Web erase national boundaries and
creating cross-cultural exchange
– Cable News Network, e.g. CNN
– Film production chain and circulation, like in
International Film Festivals
– TV programmes
– youtube
The World is Really Flat?
• Censorship of information
– blocking SMS message on cell phones that contained any reference
to Tianamen Square or even the numbers 6 and 4 during the
anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre
• Many people live in the twilight zone between the two, flat
world and unflat world
– too disempowered
– too sick
– too frustrated
• Domination of western cultural product
– Hollywood films in Asia market
• Trade politic
• External forces V.S. internal forces
– US radio Voice of America was broadcasted into communist Cuba
during Cold War era
– Fidel Castro use media as propaganda tool
• Resistent forces
– E.g. Independent documentary
filmmaker in China
– E.g. Anti-globalization
movement, e.g. the Korean
farmer demonstrate against
– Special culture events for
minority or alternative
political position, e.g. gay and
lesbian film festival
– Fair trade policy
resist inside the system
of globalization
Cultural Imperialism
• “How an ideology, a politics or a way of
life is exported into other territories
through the export of cultural
• Cultural invasion with images and
– E.g. The Voice of America, Radio Marti, TV
Marti to Cuba promote global acceptance
of US political values
Cultural Imperialism
• Media intervention an act of cultural
• Spread of democratic ideas OR
demonstration of cultural power?!
• Cultural product move across national
boundaries from big power to the rest
of the world
Cultural Imperialism
• The global flow of Popular Culture
- not a mere relationship of cultural
exchange BUT more complex
• Armand Mattelart
& Ariel Dorfman’s
“How to read Donald Duck”
Cultural Imperialism
• “How to read Donald Duck”
- a submission to the cultural power
- cartoon = imperialistic domination
- Disney
promotion and seek for new markets
Sub-products like movies, cable
channels, newspapers, magazines,
books, music, videos, toys, theme
- the U.S.A. in dominating position
Cultural Imperialism
• “Corporations have a vested interest in
destroying indigenous cultures and
societies and forcing Third World
countries to adapt, as much as possible,
to consumption patterns dictated by the
corporate patterns of production and
investment.” Marty Jezer’s The Dark Ages: Life
in the United States 1945-1960 (Boston: South End
Press, 1982) P.66
Cultural Imperialism
• help spread messages across boundaries
• global flow of information 
• Specific cultural identities under brand
– Coke in 1980s Vs McDonald in 21st century
in China
Alternative circulations
• Hybrid and diasporic images
• Diasporic communities generate
– Integration of people and culture
– complicated the relationship between First
World and Third World
• Arjun Appadurai’s new framwork for
analyzing global flows
– “-scapes”
1. Ethonoscapes
2. Mediascape
3. Technoscapes
4. Financescape
5. Ideoscapes
** Alternative to traditional model of how
culture flows globally
• talking about globalization, do You think
there is a tendency that we are inclined
to regard the west as the core of
globalization and the east is considered
to be globalize
• For the case of circulation of films, how
is the scenario like??