Globalization and its Impact on Public Policy

Anthropologists have been studying the impact of globalization over the last decade. The term globalization includes: (1) the globalization of capitalism, particularly through financial markets and the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the changes in consumer behavior associated with globalization; (2) the global reach of new forms of communication such as the Internet, satellite television circuits, and fiber optic connections; (3) global political transformations such as decolonization, the internationalization of human rights, and the increased role of the UN in mediating armed conflict; and (4) expanded forms of labor migration across national boundaries.

In beginning to build a network of anthropological researchers working on globalization, the AAA will first focus on two topics: (1) violence, conflict and war; and (2) the impact of globalization on the creation of transnational communities.

Anthropologists provide expertise and context for discussing critical, international issues. In focusing on violence, conflict and war, the goals would be threefold: (1) identify scholars in different regions of the world: Europe, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asian, Latin America, and Africa who have expertise in this area; (2) review the work of these scholars to identify those who could articulate analyses when various "hot spots" gain media attention; and (3) begin to look for overarching processes that might provide insights within and across regions. This would include discussing governmental policy as it relates to violence, conflict and war, the role of international organizations in mediating conflict, and the roles of global financial institutions, transnational communities and international networks of communication in either supporting or mediating conflicts.

With regard to the creation of transnational communities the goals would be similar: (1) identify anthropologists who are already studying transnational communities whose roots are in different parts of the world; (2) put together a list of the important publications of anthropologists who work in this area; (3) develop a list of critical issues for transnational communities; and (4) think through how to present case studies outlining the impact of structural adjustment policies and the increased ease of communication and transportation on the creation and maintenance of transnational communities.

One aspect of developing this area as one in which anthropological research can have greater public policy impact would be to work closely with the AAA Committee for Human Rights to monitor and foreground Human Rights cases in these two areas.