BCM111: week 2 – A New Ethnoscape

‘The warp of these stabilities is everywhere shot through with the wood of human motion, as more persons and groups deal with the realities of having to move or the fantasies of wanting to move.’  (Appadurai, Arjun 1996, pp. 297)

What is the impact of economic immigration on an ever evolving homogeneous society and what are the risks of losing a cultural identity in the homeland? 

This is a question I posed through reading:  Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization (1996). The quotation above resonates with me personally as my family moved to the UAE for work 5 years ago, and I have been exposed to the expatriate lifestyle in the country so different to Australia.

If deterritorialization is the consequence of immigration worker trade internationally it could have vulnerable effects on countries that are exporting workers or receiving these international immigrants. Are we making a particular culture vulnerable to a loss of identity, in its homeland?
Do those people who are removed from their country sustain the cultural similarities or is that jeopardised and they must re assimilate into a new culture?

My family live in Dubai and I was lucky enough to live over there last year. It is one of the most metropolitan cities in the world where expatriates outnumber the local Emirate people. Dubai Statistics Centre presents this ratio:

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 10.12.21 pm

More information regarding the population and statistics can be found here:  https://www.dsc.gov.ae/Report/Copy%20of%20DSC_SYB_2016_01%20_%2002.pdf

These drastically different numbers spark concerns surrounding the local Emirate culture and the convergence of multiple cultures and religions, a ‘Global Village’ is formed. The countries culture is still very intact, although it appeals to a large tourism industry, offering western activities As O’ Shaughnessy states in Globalisation, ‘We see a montage of faces and voices from all over the world, united harmoniously…’ (O’ Shaughnessy, 2012 pp. 463) We can see that Dubai takes ownership of this multicultural utopian society.

In Dubai’s case, there is still a very traditional religious and cultural atmosphere as its political governing is driven by Islam. Expatriates must alter previous cultural characteristics if they conflict with Islamic laws. For example, this could be the consumption of alcohol in public places, which in Australian and British culture is a fairly common social practice. This need to alter cultural practices directly links back to a potential loss of cultural identity for these expatriates.

Countries like Dubai also must change dramatically to cater to the cultural needs of expatriates, so in advertisements like this Emirates one, we almost don’t notice any changes from a western culture.


Appadurai, Arjun 1996, Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minn

Emirates, 2016 Captain Ashley Klinger | Emirates Pilots, online video, July 22nd. viewed: 19th July 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T-ujzU6vSc

O’ Shaughnessy, Michael 2012 ‘Globalisation’, in Media and society, 5th ed, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic pp. 458-471.



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