Posted by Tony from ? (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 at 1:47PM :
Although America does not officially refer to itself as an empire, it often behaves as one. This
country exerts its extraordinary pull on other nations not only through military and economic
might, but through its culture. Although our ballooning trade deficit in goods has ceased to
make news, our lifestyle has become our most significant export. Hollywood special effects
drama, free-market economics, media proliferation, and packaged youth rebellion have
all—either separately or in a single, congealed mass—touched the lives of all but a few of our
The world has reacted in a wide variety of ways to this cultural empire. France has created
quotas for French-language films in its theaters, hoping to halt a complete Hollywood takeover.
Protesters in countries across the globe have taken to carrying banners in English, hoping for a
slice of American television airtime. Children in formerly Communist Europe start English
lessons in kindergarten. Yet terrorists bomb our national symbols, and American tourists are
pelted with stones in Central Asia simply because of where they come from.
International response to American culture has been complex; and America too has shown a
wide range of reactions to those beyond our borders, from panicked isolationism to a sudden
political interest in countries (Pakistan, the Philippines, etc.) that have long failed to pique our
interest. But while the U.S. debates its relationship to the rest of the world, people from all
quarters of the globe continue to flock to it in search of the political freedom and economic
opportunity that the longest-lasting and most successful democracy in history can offer.
Political stances are form only part of our relationship to the world; but the experience of
cultural interaction is essentially a lived one. Pax Americana explores the myriad ways in
which the cultural life of America intersects with the cultural life beyond its borders, examining
the relentless push-pull that affects all points of contact with the American empire.
Forthcoming Winter 2003-04
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