Globalization is often described as the spread of western culture to other parts of the world. How accurate id the depiction of 'cultural flow'? In Counterworks , ten anthropologists examine the ways in which global processes have affected particular localities where they have carried out research. They challenge the validity of anthropological concepts of culture in the light of the persuasive connections which exist between local and global factors everywhere. Rather than assuming that the world is culturally diverse, the cahpters in this book propose that culture is itself a representation of the similarities and difference recognized between forms of social life. The authors address issues of globalizatoin in terms of diverse histories and traditions of knowledg, which may include the construction of difference as cultural. The argument proceeds by four stages. Papers by Salmond and Hobart (dealing with Maori and Balinese examples) argue the need to reinstate the agency of knowledge and active 'local' subjects who are otherwise concieved as passive recipients of cultural globalization.
Palmie and Harris develop this argument (from the perspective of Cuba and Bolivia) by analysing the ways in which Latin American societies have been depicted as culturally creolized or syncretized. As Herzfeld and Parkin (Greece and Kenya) show, diversity is managed through the presuppositions people bring to bear on their situations - either essentializing the categories by which knowledge is organized or, conversley, reconizing the fluidity of these categories. Three comparative papers, by Howell, Vitebsky and Appadurai, end the volume with wide-ranging accounts of the dynamics of the diffusion of knowledge and the 'production of locality' in the contemporary world. In its attention to specific local situations, Counterworks argues that the apparent oppositioin between strong westernizing, globall forces and weak concept of culture, which supposes cultures to be bounded, integrated and possessed of essential properties, needs rethinking in a contemporary world where a marked sense of culture has become a wide-spread property of people's socail knowledge.