Review of Transnational America – Contours of Modern US Culture

Transnational America: Contours of Modern US Culture is an editorial book including 13 essays by different individuals plus a completely illustrated one named photo essay in the work, edited by Russell Duncan and Clara Juncker. Museum Tusculanum Press has published it in 276 pages paperback with ISBN 8772899581 on 2004 in Copenhagen.

Contributors in this one volume editorial are experts in various disciplines mostly English Literature and American Studies.

The work categorized in 5 major categories: 1- Visions and Revisions 2- Secrets and Lies 3- Photo Essay 4- New People 5- New Places, which each one subcategorizes to a few essays.

This book has a pro-American structure, and tries to introduce America as a transpattern and even an Archetype which all other nations and states must follow from its nation-state pattern. Many countries are consciously or unconsciously go after it, and its taste and scent can be sensed in rest of the world. That’s why it’s called Transnational America.

In fact editors believe in an alliteration of Trans in everything related to America as it’s depicted in editors’ introduction:

“A transatlantic voyage can discover a new continent or start new lives, and a transcontinental exploration can give rise to Manifest Destiny. Pioneers can transverse frontiers to build a nation. To transmigrate is to travel through one country on the way to a more permanent resting place. Slaves are transported; immigrants make transitions; people are transformed. Transactions are necessary to property acquisition. Translators mediate among languages. Hopes are transmitted; communities are transplanted; nations are transfigured. Media producers transcribe programs for broadcast. Employees are transferred to regional for international offices.”

It can be said -In deed- the book tries to normalize the trans-Naturalization concept.

“The editors commissioned articles that explain the contours of the ‘glocal’ (global and local) and ‘intermestic’ (international and domestic) tendencies involved in transnational America.” The language of the work is not too complicated but to some extent sophisticated, editors intend to deliver their minds by coining new words using blending method which can be a sign and metaphor of interdisciplinary approach of the book per se.

“They address the complex issues of globalization, American mythology, Christian proselytizing, modern slavery, conspiracy theory, apocalyptic terrorism, Vietnam stories, international feminism, changing gender roles, resurgent regionalism, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Latinos, and the changing definitions of place-be they in Hungary, Nigeria, Estonia, the American South or Canadian cities. As the word enters America, so America enters the world, unfettered by territorial boundaries, and experiencing ambivalent reactions of acceptance and resistance.”

It’s really hard to label it as unique, but undoubtedly it’s a great work for those who are new comers in Americaology and Globalizationology. Popular culture is smelled in the whole; examples, similes and metaphors to different Hollywood motion pictures give a subtle abstract interactive mood to work.

Nonetheless it has a unique part, and it’s the photo essay. 14 Dazzling photos which may represents 14 essays of the work. A well expert eye obviously can find a lot and even more in each; ‘Naturalization’, ‘Mc Donaldization’, American Surreallization, Presidential ExceptionalizationAmerican jigsawization, Phallicist Feminization, Negro-Islam Americanization, Economical Novelization, Mexico-America Hybridization, Amerinadaization, un-American assimilation; are probable conceptualized nominations which I dare to put on them, and of course all are coined by me save in quotation marks. I really recommend everyone who is interested in book and is in lack of time for whole reading even though skipping the rest live a quarter with this photo essay which has a encyclopedic essence.

As it is asserted in the book for American Understanding various notions and concepts must be taken into account; ‘nationalism’, ‘racism’, ‘manhood’, ‘Christianity’, ‘globalization’, ‘immigration’, ‘classic-democratic roots’, ‘militarism’, ‘technology’, ‘advertising banners’, ‘youth’, ‘future’, ‘progress’ and ‘frontier’ are issues which are reviewed in this work, so paves the way for American Understanding. But some other points are neglected in this work if so they are being concerned as modern US culture elements too; Hip Hop music, same sex marriage, new concept of Stew as successor of Melting Pot, Voluntarism, Democratization of the World and pre-emption. Nevertheless it enlightens new horizons in watching America as an insider even out of it.

Multiculturalism in America

Multiculturalism is nothing but multiple cultures living in the same society in an organized manner. People from different countries, ethnicity, traditions and backgrounds live and work together. This amazing feature is an important part of American society.

Many people from different countries started immigrating to the US in the 19th century. However, multiculturalism began in the US in the 1950s when the Civil Rights Movement started. This movement played a crucial part in highlighting issues such as inequality, discrimination and oppression. People started putting pressure not just on the government, but also on social institutions to treat them as equal. Figures such as George Washington Carver, William James and Charles H. Wesley were responsible for encouraging multiculturalism in the US. They all believed in living in a plural society that treated everyone at par and as equals.

The US has always proudly allowed people freedom to practice their own religion and express their thoughts. Regardless of culture, people are allowed equal opportunities. Today, the US has a vast number of Hispanics and Asians living there, and to have an egalitarian society, the people have to be willing to accept multiculturalism as part of their society.

The fastest growing group in the US is that of the Asian-Americans and Hispanics. The federal government has strict laws to promote an equal society and as a result of so many different cultures living in one place, America has truly become a melting pot of cultures. Minorities, Native Americans, African-Americans and immigrants from all corners of the world live harmoniously together forging a deeper bond.

As aspect of American society has had a deeper effect. There is a demand across the board that people from all walks of life should be able to enjoy equal rights. Hence, different communities and intellects came together to demand for rights for oppressed groups like lesbians, gays, the downtrodden and seniors.

In the education sector, no discrimination is allowed and child from all ethnicities and cultures are allowed to enter any education institution. Even in business and industry sectors, people are given rights for equal participation regardless of their backgrounds.

While there are some drawbacks to multiculturalism, it is the pros that one should always concentrate on. A society should not be discouraged to absorb people from different backgrounds.