January 28, 2008
Thomas L. Friedman's ``The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century" maps the socio-cultural and geo-political aspects of the Information Technology global economy and suggests how American culture can be transformed to make the US globally competitive. This paper seeks a different perspective rather than viewing culture as an important aspect of IT globalization, it reconceptualizes culture as a site of tremendous social, political, and economic struggle in which the legitimation of the very logic of globalization is at stake. ``The World Is Flat" deploys a New World mythology to develop an account of the contemporary world, but this mythology, I argue, embeds its ideas of IT globalization in a larger hegemonic narrative of European modernity that firmly positions Euro-America as the most privileged site from which to conceptualize the current phenomenon. I examine how this use of New World mythology harnesses the discourse of American exceptionalism to Americanize IT globalization, and obscures the role of new transnational classes and cultures linking India and the US. By paying attention to world geography, I argue that the growth of Bangalore, India, as a global IT hub should not be narrowly understood as creating a new platform for innovation and progress but as a transnational interlinking of world cities in a new IT-driven global economy with significant consequences for democratic governance.