Since relatively late on in the third quarter of 2001, narratives portending a ‘clash of civilisations’ or otherwise irreconcilable differences between the major world power blocs have ascended to leitmotiv status; the senseless and arguably counterproductive violence that has characterised the first decade-and-a-half of the twenty-first century would appear to reinforce these perspectives.
Simultaneously, however, the all-too-real backdrop of wars and terrorism have been accompanied by the emergence of a globalisation of stunning mutual interdependence. While a physically integrated global economy or even society are not new concepts or indeed practices, the extent of Globalisation 2.0’s impact on everyday life is simply too large to be ignored. It is happening on the level of brands – think Emirates, Beko or Huawei – but more intriguingly, it is also occurring at a cultural level.
We are presently at a stage in history when we can talk about the nightclubs of Istanbul and Amman and the shisha lounges of London and Berlin without skipping a beat. A demographically-representative team sheet for a top-flight European football club is a smorgasbord of the exotic: stars such as Kagawa, Halilović and Can stud the sporting firmament alongside local talent. Chinese New Year is celebrated globally and Western newspapers print the fast-breaking times during Ramadan.
Perhaps most intriguingly, students increasingly study alongside and collaborate with their peers from all over the world. The idea of spending at least one course year halfway across the world is so commonplace that it scarcely invites comment; the proliferation of branch campuses will only accelerate this trend. A new, technology-defined generation is emerging which can be at home almost anywhere.
Wars and terrorism are probably not going away anytime soon. But neither is international cross-fertilisation, which occurs at a much greater velocity and directly involves vast swathes of the global population. It may be naïve to posit that the latter can easily defeat the former, but it can certainly challenge and subvert it to a point where it no longer makes much sense.