Yesterday I realized I was singing to myself, “Cho Cho Cho…Cho Cho!”—a call-and-response chant native to the people of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. I have never been to DR Congo nor do I know anyone who has been there, let alone is from the country. Yet here I am—an anonymous young woman—sitting at my desk in Los Angeles, California singing (in my best attempt) the words of my African brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.
A song titled “Cho Cho Cho” was created last month by the mobile Beat Making Lab and distributed online via its web series, re-contextualizing the chant through music. I, among thousands of other viewers around the globe, watched the video and experienced a taste of Goma culture visually and phonetically in a way I likely wouldn’t otherwise.
We often think of globalization in terms of the interdependent economy; we understand it as the acceleration of the transfer of goods, services, and information between nation-states. But so too does globalization refer to the acceleration of the transfer of people, ideas, and culture between nation-states—a process amplified by new technology and the Internet. The later understanding of globalization allows smaller countries with lesser economic clout like DR Congo in comparison to larger countries with greater economic clout like China to be a part of the ever-increasing interdependence of nation states around the globe. Otherwise, these smaller countries are often left out.
Some are critical of the globalization of culture, arguing that it is making the world more homogenous particularly through the spread of Western values. As The Glaring Facts identifies:
Glocalization is a global corporate strategy of tailoring commodities to local markets. This corporate strategy stresses the importance of a product or service specifically adapting to the locality or culture it is marketed in. This fusion of globalization with localization causes a fundamental shift in the way in which commodities from foreign countries inflict their dominant popular cultural norms on a more predominantly traditional atmosphere. Through the unannounced integration of capital in an otherwise traditional atmosphere, the danger, as perceived by the public, lies in the effect it has on local identities and culture.
Conversely, spreading local culture is also possible through the employment of a grassroots approach using new technology and the Internet, as seen through efforts such as the Beat Making Lab. Programs like the Beat Making Lab allow the “global village”—the integration of culture through digital technology—include both dominant popular culture and traditional local culture. This sort of village catalyzes the constant flux of culture around the world. Funny enough, it’s what made South Korean pop single “Gangnam Style” a popular culture phenomenon from the States to Germany to China.
Of course, cultural globalization manifests not only in music, but also in sports, cuisine, and even attractions.