Annotation: Frederick Buell’s “Nationalist Postnationalism” (1998)

Peer-Review: 0

This annotation was written in reference to my paper “Re-imagining Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker through the National Politics of Global Capitalism.” See my abstract here.

Buell, Frederick. “Nationalist Postnatinalism: Globalist Discourse in Contemporary American Culture.” American Quarterly 50.3 (1998): 548-591. Print.

In this article Buell offers a general definition of globalization as “the ways in which nonlocal factors interact with local ones in producing sociocultural identities and forms” (549). He discusses how globalization was initially viewed as a threat to the internal culture of the United States as well as the country’s dominance externally with respect to other world nations. Buell claims that these anxieties have subsided and recent changes regarding culture, information technology and nature point to an emerging postnationalist American identity. He suggests that nations are not becoming obsolete but are rather re-conceptualizing their identities in a more global spectrum. Buell ultimately encourages a critical and speculative discourse around the phenomenon of globalization, which should not be viewed as “inherently transformative” or as producing no changes at all (580). I believe that Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker reflects globalization along these two conflicted veins. While the spies in the novel are not allied with a particular nation, they are still used to guard national identities and control immigration. Buell also cites Robert Reich’s The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for Twenty-First Century Capitalism, who suggests that the “knowledge worker” can be viewed as the new quintessentially American figure. I would like to consider this notion particularly with respect to the spies in Native Speaker.

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