Special Session Summary Consumption, Globalization and the Other: Cultural Production and Authenticity in a Post-Traditional World

Fabian F. Csaba, Bilkent University
Guliz Ger, Bilkent University
[ to cite ]:
Fabian F. Csaba and Guliz Ger (2000) ,"Special Session Summary Consumption, Globalization and the Other: Cultural Production and Authenticity in a Post-Traditional World", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 131.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, 2000      Page 131

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

CONSUMPTION, GLOBALIZATION AND THE OTHER: CULTURAL PRODUCTION AND AUTHENTICITY IN A POST-TRADITIONAL WORLD

Fabian F. Csaba, Bilkent University

Guliz Ger, Bilkent University

So far studies of the globalization of consumer culture have focused almost exclusively on the commercial consequences of the worldwide dissemination of modern, Western consumer products. Very little attention has been paid to a reverse flow of the cultural products of the OtherCtraditional crafts and objects of art from less developed countriesCto consumers in the West. The objective of the session was to enrich our understanding of the cultural complexity of globalization through the study of the production and consumption of non-Western cultural artefacts.

The first presentation by Kunal Basu examined the effects of cultural globalization on judgments of authenticity and corresponding strategies for "faking" art. Confronting the mystique of connoisseurship, Basu interrogated the aesthetic and historical responses to cultural objects on which concepts and judgements of authenticity are based. Three types of authenticity and associated "fakes" were proposed and discussed. According to the 'universality principle’, cultural products from around the world can be judged by the same criteria. The 'creative adaptation’ of art to fit with universal aesthetic standards produces 'adopted fakes’. In 'genre building’, non-Western cultural objects are judged as a separate category with distinctive genres. Objects imitating the markers of a defined genre are called 'stereotype fakes’. The 'ideology of creation and possession’, judges objects by cultural origins or history of ownership and display and produces the conditions for "context faking". The presentation cocluded with discussion of 'effective faking’ and 'creative identity’.

In their video-aided presentation, Russ Belk and Ron Groves explored the creation, marketing, and purchase of stone sculptures in Zimbabwe. Unlike what has been labelled traditional, "tribal," or "primitive" African art, Zimbabwean stone sculptures have no history of ritual uses, ethnographic discourse, or other bases for concern with authenticity. They are created to be art. The research showed however, that artists, intermediaries and buyers make distinctions between art and craft, fine art and "airport art," sculptures and curios. There is often an effort made by artists and art dealers to mythologize and aestheticize the artwork. Like those who sell and exhibit Zimbabwean art, Western buyers reframe the meanings of the sculptures to conform to their desires, prejudices, and personal agendas, using the pieces to reify their experiences in Zimbabwe and to represent their image of the country or continent. Belk and Groves concluded that the reframing processes provide the potential for a new post-colonial perspective on African art.

In the final presentation, Gnliz Ger and Fabian Csaba addressed the realities and dilemmas of traditional cultural production in the age of globalization in the light of their research on Turkish hand-woven carpets. Emphasizing the interconnections between the realms of consumption and production of carpets, they first examined the criteria of authenticity that structure Western demand, then looked at the changing conditions of carpet weaving and dealing in Turkey. The presentation analyzed the decline of the craft and contrasting contemporary revival strategies, which seek to restore the tradition and mystique of oriental carpets through forms of 'branded authenticity’ that certify cultural and aesthetic authenticity.

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