In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Globalization

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Neoliberal Economics
  • Social Movements

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Anthropology Globalization
Gregory S. Gullette
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 January 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0010


In effect, globalization is the development and proliferation of complex, interdependent international connections created through the movement of capital, natural resources, information, culture, and people across national borders. This includes the social and cultural resistances and receptions to these varied movements. The marked increase in anthropological and allied disciplines research that either specifically examines and unpacks the idea of globalization, or uses the structural and theoretical components to examine particular case studies, has largely transformed globalization into a ubiquitous framework or concept. As a result, globalization is naturalized for many—something that inevitably exists and does so in particular forms. Much of the work that anthropologists conduct within globalization studies informs, and is informed by, research in fields such as economics, sociology, and human geography, to name a few. Extensive intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary networks are characteristic of anthropological research in globalization. As this bibliographic source demonstrates, the actual areas of study and the processes that constitute globalization (e.g., migration, tourism, neoliberalism, identity formation, urban planning and development) are not clearly demarcated from other research areas, nor are they taken up unproblematically by anthropologists. Debate often centers on how to define the field of study and determine what (transnational) processes form the foundation of globalization. Additionally, anthropologists debate globalization’s heuristic relevance in research and the value of particular theoretical frameworks when determining its contours and effects on social, political, economic, and environmental systems.

Foundational Texts

Constructing a bibliographic source of foundational texts is open to interpretation. Many of the texts included throughout this larger article are rightfully considered classic or timely accounts of the effects of globalization. However, for readers seeking a broad introduction to the anthropology of globalization, Appadurai 1996, Canclini 1995, Kearney 1995, and Lewellen 2002 present anthropological accounts of globalization as it was first emerging within, and shaping, the discipline, as well as presenting analysis on how globalization reworks cultural identities. Inda and Rosaldo 2008 continues to update some of the most theoretically engaging and progressive writings in the field through this edited volume. Additionally, Barber 1996, Hardt and Negri 2001, and Stiglitz 2002 all illustrate the varied complications that emerge within complex sociopolitical, environmental, and economic frameworks that intimately link international business with nation-states. Hardt and Negri 2001 in particular presents a detailed analysis on possible new global orderings created through such diffused sociopolitical networks. Lastly, whereas many scholars in other disciplines might approach globalization from the top down, Crawford 2008 skillfully illustrates the power of anthropological research within globalization through village-level ethnographic analysis.

  • Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

    By utilizing the imagination as a force in shaping the contours of globalization, Appadurai illustrates the surprising ways people are remaking modernity and creating alternatives to the nation-state.

  • Barber, Benjamin R. 1996. Jihad vs. McWorld: How globalism and tribalism are reshaping the world. New York: Random House.

    An often-debated view of globalization, in which neoliberal capitalism and factionalism are pitted against each other, with dangerous consequences.

  • Canclini, Nestor Garcia. 1995. Hybrid cultures: Strategies for entering and leaving modernity. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

    Using works of Habermas, Foucault, and Gramsci, Canclini examines the ways Latin American cultural identities are threatened in global orderings.

  • Crawford, David. 2008. Moroccan households in the world economy: Labor and inequality in a Berber village. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press.

    An impressive combination of village-level analysis on the ways in which households handle social, economic, and environmental fluctuations within expanding global capitalist markets.

  • Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2001. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    A profound look at the end or diminishment of imperialism through government, military, and nation-state control to a new global ordering produced through diffused sociopolitical networks.

  • Inda, Jonathan Xavier, and Renato Rosaldo. 2008. The anthropology of globalization: A reader. 2d ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

    A new update on a classic text that includes some of the most insightful and dramatic ethnographic writings on globalization.

  • Kearney, Michael. 1995. The local and the global: The anthropology of globalization and transnationalism. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:547–565.

    DOI: 10.1146/

    A classic writing that examines the changing speed and extensiveness of globalization through migration and the movement of commodities, capital, ideas, symbols, and information in transnational spaces.

  • Lewellen, Ted C. 2002. The anthropology of globalization: Cultural anthropology enters the 21st century. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

    A work primarily oriented toward advanced undergraduate students, Lewellen broadly defines globalization and highlights the way past events shape our current understandings of globalization and perhaps its future direction.

  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2002. Globalization and its discontents. New York: W. W. Norton.

    An extensive account on the failures of development and modernization. Stiglitz analyzes, in accessible writing, how the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization must reorient their practices if equitable global growth is to be achieved.

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