Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1959 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Anthropology

¶ … globalization and how it impacts identity in Africa. The writer looks at group as well as individual identify issues as they relate to the globalization process.


Globalization is a worldwide blending of cultures and other elements that create society. As the world continues to globalization barriers come down and the subsequent examination of need results. In many areas of the world the globalization process produces fair trade discussions, technological advances and other things that create a more modern society, however for some of the underdeveloped nations it means much more simple desires. Identities are developed by personal beliefs, outside environment and the world as it shapes those who live in it. Identities are impacted by globalization as people begin to see themselves as compared to the rest of the world. In South Africa for example global activism is a unified effort by the San (Bushmen) to improve the rights and lives of the indigenous that live there. The identity of groups and individuals in Africa has recently begun to change because of the experiences that globalization provides.

Globalization has pressured the San to promote their culture and society as primitive and isolated (Sylvain, 2000).


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Historically the San have been exposed with increasing frequency to the modern affects of globalization. Regardless of how isolated it may have been in the past, the process of globalizing is reaching the farthest corners of the world. The San have recently become exposed to the impact of liberalizing trade markets, as well as a booming tourism industry and all it involves. There is no way for the San to remain isolated and primitive among the current explosion of growth that the area is experiencing.

Term Paper on Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa Assignment

The current integration of the San into the new global order introduces important opportunities for empowerment and "development" but is also fraught with contradictions and challenges inherent to local identity politics and global indigenous activism. One of the most puzzling features of postcolonial life for the San is that, at the very moment they are beginning to travel the world, speak at international conferences, and keep in regular e-mail communication with interested parties overseas (Sylvain, 2000), primordialized and essentialized representations of primitive "Bushmen" are being vigorously reasserted in mainstream media and NGO rhetoric. These representations are often difficult to distinguish from colonial stereotypes (Sylvain, 2000)."

The term Ethnotourism refers to a location where identify politics crosses market demand. The development of this union has created concerns about the commodification of the culture and the way it perpetrates the Western culture on every area of the world (Sylvain, 2000).

A naturalized and territorialized conception of culture is advanced most conspicuously at the confluence of ethnotourism and international indigenous identity politics: Here the ubiquity of localizing and essentializing identity-based movements is not a paradoxical result of globalization at all but a very understandable outcome of the globalization of a particularly potent idea (Sylvain, 2000)."

When it comes to the identity of people in Africa, primarily South Africa one must look at a group identify as well as individual identity factors to draw an accurate picture.

According to recent examinations of the globalization process the act of globalizing actually serves to disenfranchise and dispossess the indigenous people (Sylvain, 2000).

The roots of the indigenous people can be traced to the end of World War II when worldwide movement towards standardized human rights issues moved to the forefront of society.

Ronald Niezen identifies four features of the postwar world that facilitated indigenous rights activism (Sylvain, 2000):

First, the Holocaust in Europe sensitized the world to issues of racial discrimination and the need to protect minorities.

Second, the process of decolonization established new international norms that could be used to promote self-determination for indigenous peoples.

Third, assimilationist policies produced an educated elite equipped to organize and lobby for rights.

Finally, a rapidly expanding global NGO community (Sylvain, 2000)"

Studies concluded that a movement for the rights of the indigenous people would provide a sense of nationalism and therefore provide a foundation for a group identity within the indigenous society.

The process of globalization however has recently begun to drive the San to act in ways in public that are against the recent changes they have adopted. The globalization pressures have created a demand for them to act in primitive fashions and as the pressure mounts for them to do so, for the purpose of tourism and revenue they begin individually to buy into it as a group identity (Sylvain, 2000). In other words the process of globalization has created a new world for the San as it brings to the members of that population the ability to support themselves through the use of tourism interest, however, the same globalization process pressures the group to act primitive and isolated as that is the very element that tourism finds attractive about the group.

While this pressure is forcing individuals of the community to react in ways that were left behind long ago so that the tourism revenue can be had the actual changes taking place within the group are creating a new group identity which is the primitive mindset that has been promoted for the sake of tourists.

Today, the San's activism as indigenous people is most positively received in public forums when they present themselves, in stereotypical terms, as Bushmen whose identity is organically linked to the land. For example, the South African Khomani San won 65,000 hectares of land in and around the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in March 1999, and, as Steven Robbins notes, "Media representations of the San land claim comprised a series of stereotypical images of timeless and primordialist San tribes' reclaiming their ancestral land" (2001:833-834). Robbins also points out, however, that "the colonial stereotype of the pure and pristine bushman hunter gatherer has also been "embraced 'from below (Sylvain, 2000)." "


For one to understand the impact that globalization has on the developing of group and individual identity it is essential to have an understanding on the globalization process. "Globalization is the set of processes that connect societies, while fragmenting and transcending the social structures it confronts (Cameron, 2000)."

For many years the process of globalizing simply meant other countries becoming more Americanized as American culture infiltrated the nation's boundaries around the globe. Today however the globalization process is much deeper and more complicated than simply attributing change to becoming Americanized and is in fact a complicated set of processes in which the individual cultures become blurred and confusing.

The basic elements needed for the process for globalization include:

the uncertainties in the pace and trajectory of contemporary processes of globalization are very large.

A globalization is a layered process: some of the threads of globalization may thicken more quickly than others and others may thin out.

A the state remains an indispensable institution, under virtually all foreseeable contingencies, but it does face new and powerful challenges to its core mandates.

Finally we sketch four stylized models of the state (Cameron, 2000)."


Once one understands the process of globalization and the way it promotes the blending of cultures and the sharing of tourism and other industries one can begin to understand how group and individual identities in Africa are influenced by the process of globalization.

In drawing a visual one can compare it to a phenomena commonly referred to as peer pressure in the world. It has long since been known that if one chooses to associate with a certain type of people it does not take long for that individual to begin to accept the mindset of the group. It does not take long for that person to begin excusing behaviors that may be questionable. In fact, there is a syndrome called the Stockholm Syndrome in which victims of kidnap and violence eventually begin to identify with their captors and become sympathetic to their cause.

The same method can be applied to what is currently happening with the group and individual identities of people in Africa.

As the world began to globalize the San in Africa became exposed to many things that had never been in their society before. Internet abilities, email and other elements became a desired way of life. Of course once this happened the San who at one time in history were content with living in the Bush decided they wanted to become more civilized and have the comforts that the rest of society enjoyed. The San soon discovered that through globalization the world became very interested in their way of life. People from other parts of the world and cultures were fascinated with their customs and traditions and wanted to expose and explores them for financial gain.

This was initially a method by which the San would be able to use their lifestyle to attract tourists and subsequently be able to pay for the life they had become accustomed to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa.  (2006, December 14).  Retrieved January 19, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa."  14 December 2006.  Web.  19 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Globalization and Its Effect on Identity in Africa."  December 14, 2006.  Accessed January 19, 2021.