Where’s the geography in the ‘end of globalisation’ trope pushed by the commentariat?

[T]here are abundant signs that localism and nationalism have become stronger precisely because of quest for security that place always offers in the midst of all the shifting that [globalisation] implies – The Condition of Postmodernity (adapted), David Harvey, p. 306.

Globalisation as ‘…a hegemonic ideology supporting the necessity and inevitability of the free movement of capital and goods, helped to create the institutional conditions which then contributed to making the free movement of capital and goods a reality’ – Paul Hirst “The global economy – myths and realities.” (1999), p. 424.

Actually existing globalisation is not the globalisation of neoliberal visions, the Utopia of friction-free global markets or Internet-driven virtual worlds, but the contingent and unsteady symbiosis of imperfectly transnational networks, institutions and firms, and the ‘ramshackle diversity’ of international bureaucracies, states, police, mafias and other sources of power struggling for shifting territorial authority in the post-cold war world. – Gerard Ó Tuathail “Political geography III: dealing with deterritorialization.” (1998) p. 87.

An all-to-brief and idle thought: Whatever happened to critique of ‘globalisation’? There was a time not long ago when commentators would’ve been on the side of those they seek to blame for voting for Brexit and Trump… the apparent ‘losers’ in the last thirty-odd years of ‘globalisation’ (or, perhaps, more specifically what Peter Dicken called a new international division of labour in his “Global Production Networks” framework in Global Shift).

When critical discussion of globalisation was a thing in geography people like David Harvey and Doreen Massey had something to say about this… indeed, this used to be a staple of a geography sylabus. I can’t help wondering what Massey would say about the last six months… Nevertheless, I haven’t seen any kind of comment by Harvey (if there has been, please point to what I’ve missed in the comments below).

Critical reflections on the rise of economic globalisation, the rise of TNCs, global commodity chains, off-shoring and so on brought about a critical discourse of globalisation that seems to be missing from the current commentary. Instead, we seem to see a conflation of a generalised (to the point of being unclear) idea of ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘globalisation’ and, depending on your standpoint, the recent popular vote for Brexit in the UK and the narrow victory of Trump are meant to signify a backlash to this. Perhaps because of the toxic racist and misogynistic undertones of the ‘Leave’ and Trump campaigns, some commentators seem to be implying that actually the status quo of economic globalisation and ‘neoliberalism’ should’ve been retained (i.e. vote of ‘remain’ & Clinton, resulting in TTIP etc ). Maybe (I hope) I’m misreading the arguments (I’m not getting much sleep due to baby/child sleeplessness!), maybe this is a plea for global solidarity, but maybe, also, the rush to get into print is leading to forms of scapegoating too…

Either way, it seems to me that it might be prudent for more of us to revisit ‘globalisation’ in our research and teaching (I have no doubt that there is some great work going on that I don’t know about here).

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