Words by Chloe M Thornton.
This academic year, the Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research is hosting its first Humanities in Public programme, offering a variety of events and lectures that cover everything from the ‘Global Society’ to ’21st Century Feminism’ and ‘Body Images’. Dr Paul Kennedy, convenor of the Global Society lectures, introduced Professor Barrie Axford to MMU on Monday to give a lecture on the role of digital revolution in globalisation. During the first of three lectures discussing globalisation and concepts of a ‘global society’, the author of the well-esteemed The Global System: Economics, Politics, Culture posited an intriguing dialogue on the positive and negative aspects of digital connectedness and the “digital and cultural zeitgeist” surrounding social media.
Beginning with a clip of various images, Axford spoke of “isolation from human warmth” depicted by a picture of a young woman enveloped in a bubble while others streamed by unnoticed. Although she may be communicating via her mobile, her interaction with her immediate society is minimal. It is this paradox that highlights the problems with the concept of society on a global scale.
We live in an age, Axford continued, of “global interdependence” but one where the “inconsequential can very easily turn viral,” his example of the inconsequential being the widespread airing of Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’. Digital connections transcend physical borders that normally demarcate national societies and territories, presenting another problem in defining what a global society means. Throughout his lecture, Axford interrogated such current problems leaving the audience with many intellectual challenges to reflect and debate over.
The Humanities in Public Programme will be hosting a range of exciting activities and lectures over this coming academic year with the next Global Society lecture being held on Monday 25th November. During this lecture, Emeritus Professor Robin Cohen of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University, will discuss ‘Creolization’ and the blending of emergent cultures in contemporary society. Professor Cohen will also discuss ‘Creolization’ in terms of how it can help peaceful living in a diverse society of “cultural and religious difference” in what will surely be another intelligent and enjoyable event.
Chloe graduated from MMU with a degree in English and is now studying an MA in Contemporary Literature and Film there. You can read her blog at http://www.27chloemarie.blogspot.co.uk/ and follow her on Twitter @chloemthornton.