Submitted by Ashley M. Hogan on Wednesday, 9/15/2010, at 9:42 AM

Appadurai proposes five factors that contribute to the global exchange of ideas and information. He labels these five dimensions “-scapes,” which are fluid and constantly shifting, just as cultures are. Within each of these -scapes however, exists multiple realities, as an idea or image changes its context depending on the spectator. With the meaning of ideas changing depending on the person ingesting them, we must then grapple with the existence of an “imagined world,” in which our reality is no more real than somebody else’s.

The first three scapes, ethnoscape, technoscape, and finanscape, are all closely intertwined and shift in relation to each other, never alone. Ethnoscape refers to the migration of people across cultures and borders, presenting the world and its many communities as fluid and mobile instead of static. Technoscapes bring about new types on cultural interactions and exchanges through the power of technology, which can now happen at unprecedented speeds. Technology, of course, is very close tied with the economy, which is constantly in flux and, despite our best efforts to manipulate, is wildly unpredictable (finanscapes).

An example that shows the intertwinement of these three –scapes are international marriage agencies (or, mail order brides). With more than 5,000 women a year coming to the U.S. solely through mail order bride agencies, this effects the ethnoscape in a fairly predictable way, as there is a transfer of culture and customs across borders, exposing both parties to a new “reality.” Mail order marriages began in the 20th century, but were greatly excelled by the creation of the internet, as it allowed an incredibly fast transfer of information and communication. These marriages also affect the finanscapes of both the U.S. and the nation in which the bride is coming from. Essentially, the woman is now a commodity, an export of that country. Also, these agencies are not free and getting a profile on a website usually costs money, so there is an actual exchange of money. To show the reaction-catalyst relationship between these three –scapes, one can view the export/import idea as then effecting ethnoscape, as that type of economic relationship can shape how one views the relationship in terms of cultural dominance and inferiority.

The other two –scapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes, deal with the national and international creation and dissemination of information and images. Mediascapes can be understood as the many media outlets (television, radio, newspaper, etc) that shape the “imagined world” we inhabit, where narratives and images are often the only way one forms an opinion about a place or culture. Ideoscapes centers on the ideologies of a government and those that oppose it and is highly dependent on the context of the spectator. An example of these two can be seen in the following two images:

 

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The first is a photo of Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Depending on the viewer of this photograph, the ideoscape that accompanies it varies wildly. To a black South African, it could carry the meaning of progress and equality. To a white South African, it could be viewed as threatening to the ideoscape they have always known (apartheid). To my little brother this is just two guys shaking hands. The next image is a movie poster for Invictus, a retelling of the 1995 Rugby World Cup and an example of reterritorialization and subsequent deterritorialization of the affair. This film, for some, is the only way in which they ever would have heard of the historical event, and, of course, is being manipulated by somebody’s view of the event. The narrative Invictus sets up is part of the “imagined world” medisascapes create.

To tie these –scapes in with the content from class, I see Playing for Change as the most interesting creator and consumer of global information exchange. PFC is constructing an imagined world using these –scapes with the most evident being ethnoscapes, since they are facilitating the exchange of culture across borders. This directly ties in with mediscapes and technoscapes, as this cultural information is disseminated primarily through images, videos and the internet. Underlying this all however, and a bit less obvious, is the finanscapes and ideoscapes PFC creates; PFC is a for-profit entity and is connected to several other large businesses. Through this finanscape, PFC is able to advertise and sell their ideoscape of a false utopian of global collaboration, using the Enlightments rhetoric that Appadurai speaks of (peace, change, democracy, etc). These five –scapes interact on far more complex and subtle levels in PFC, but this begins to scratch the surface.

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