Analysis Tool Bar +
Building South-North Dialogue on Globalization Research
The organizers of this encounter have invited us to reflect upon the favourable conditions that may lead to the establishment of a dialogue involving South and North about research matters on globalization. I can only rejoice at this invitation and initiative with the thought that, thanks to Prof. W. Coleman, I have been, as well as other members of my team, benefiting from a South-North collaboration, and in this line of thinking take pride in the fact that we have had our input in such a process, within the framework of the project entitled "Globalization and Autonomy." Who are the protagonists of this encounter? Researchers indifferently labeled "Southerners" or "from the South," invited to reflect upon issues, together with their Northern counterparts, related to collaboration in a specific context — that of the question of globalization.
The organizers have put to us a series of questions meant to serve as the substance for each of our presentations. But these questions equally touch on the subject of the South, a grouping perhaps that does not even know that it exists. If I am not who I am, and don't know what the South means, why should I bother to answer? Thus, my starting point will focus first of all on this very notion of identity. I therefore kindly invite you to revisit with me, in an undisciplined way, an aspect I believe is essential to any prospective approach to this issue.
I will not discuss the notion of dialogue which, I believe, can only happen among individuals who recognize each other in a mutual fashion as subjects and grant the Other the same dignity and the same rights. I strongly believe that this inequality is by no means defective or an insurmountable hurdle preventing individuals from engaging in a hearty dialogue. What interests me most today is the very nature of this subject called the South to which I belong. I would like to talk here mainly about the South that has existed prior to the "South," and not that which has already been clearly defined, paradoxically, by schools of thought belonging to the North, but rather the South as an amalgamation of culture and economy which is incessantly seeking to forge its own identity more in terms of cultural exchange than in the area of economic power.
To be able to engage in a dialogue — in other words, argue my thesis statements, flesh out my arguments, and invite the Other to do the same, do I not need to be capable of relating to myself? Wouldn't it be necessary that my way of perceiving the world, my way of thinking about my environment and establishing links with Others should be the basis of a dynamic integration that will ensure the constancy in my own identity?
I will then try to reconstruct such a versatile identity like that of the South by visiting in your company, this gallery of idols that have always stimulated the imagination of Arabic researchers, the so many identities that we have tried on to see how they fit throughout epochs, situations, and interlocutors.
The Arab Identity
Being confined by the narrow perspective of the nation, having gone through political and economic reforms ranging from socialism, Third Worldism, via nationalism and Arabism, a number of intellectuals will still consider, in spite of everything, the Arab base as the only hope to regain a despoiled identity. This belief, still so vivid despite the setbacks of the Arab world, blocks out, however, the numerous attempts at Arabic unity that have since 1942 peppered the troubled history of the Arab countries. These attempts were the outcome of initiatives by some leaders who set themselves up as nation builders but deep down were only seeking to impose their will and influence on other Arab countries (Nasser Khadafi), or the power of one family or a minority (Saddam and Assad). These intellectuals pretend to ignore the inability and uselessness of the three organizations that bring together the Arab States in order to move toward the concretization of the unity process or put the unity concept on the path of achievement, so much so that Khadafi, the most enthusiastic in his efforts to promote this unity, ultimately lost faith to engage in yet another glimmer of hope, baptized this time the United States of Africa.
Thus, this fictitious country, despite history and geography, outside any concrete society, beyond any historical specificity, but always bringing projects and myths which can be summed up in the label of an Arab nation, continues to inspire researchers in this region and inserts itself between them and reality. For that widely claimed fiction of Arabism, sometimes referring to language, other times to mythical dreams and desires, corresponds to an entity which despite its 400 million inhabitants, has no major influence at the international level, no means to put any pressure or have any significant weight. It is divided between rich and under-populated countries, and poor, over-populated, highly indebted countries; it is torn apart by internal rivalries, border grievances, and the demands of minority groups, and ultimately vulnerable to regional expansionism. The main question for a country is not essentially to be part of a regional union of any sort, but how to reinforce its interests. The case of the European Union (EU) is there to prove it. The Europeans have managed to achieve successful economic integration, a single market, and a currency union as a result of fifty years of continuing efforts. They have consolidated the economies of member states and have made it easier for their people to move from one European country to another — all of this without the French citizen giving priority to the interests of Germany or Sweden at the expense of the interests of his own country. Similarly, the Spanish citizen feels no real concern about the internal affairs of people from Belgium, because the European States have developed the concept of independence and autonomy to the extent of forging common foreign policies and security strategies (PESC-Politique Etrangère et de Sécurité Commune) but without being a substitute to those adopted by the twenty-seven European states. By contrast, in the Arab countries, the idea of a state is still at a primitive, indeed even a rudimentary phase, both in the minds of the elite and also in the minds of some leaders. The sense of belonging inherent to citizenship is closed and narrow, confined to the idea of a nation and thus stands in contradiction with the concept of supranationality implicit in Arabism. Yet, the Palestinian, the Syrian, or the Algerian, for example, feels as an individual, quite concerned about what is going on in Iraq and all these people believe that they have the same rights as the Iraqi people to decide how Iraq should be in the future, going as far in their belief as accusing the Iraqi of high treason or collaboration if by any chance they qualify the resistance against the "occupation" as terrorist acts. In doing so, such people show their total rejection of their own frontiers/those of their own countries, and refuse by the same token to recognize the sovereignty of their own territories. In the same line of thinking, the Egyptians blamed their own government for not participating in the war against the Israelis in Southern Lebanon, ignoring the fact that Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel thirty years ago! 1
Quite unhappy with the local, the real country, and losing faith in the regional defined in terms of Arabism, one section of the Arab world sought the creation of a sub-region as a basis for economic and political integration — something by the name of the Arab Maghreb. The problem here is that the most common and obvious features characterizing these three countries (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) which claim "arabity" are shared residuals of colonization by European states bordering the Mediterranean coasts: Spain since the fifthteen century, Italy with its expansion over Libya in 1912, and especially France, which, since 1830, established its domination over the largest parts of the territories and the population of the Maghreb. Oddly enough, these countries conduct two-thirds of their foreign trade with the European Union and not with countries of the South or the Arab Orient, and they also sustain strong ties with the former colonial power. These European countries have populations of immigrants which, although temporary at first, have been transformed into a permanent diaspora since 1970 with over five million Maghrebi, all in all, still keen and willing to keep their links with their siblings on the south side of the Mediterranean coast.
The general political statements and the high sounding speeches of their leaders on the subject of "arab-ness" of the Maghreb not only draw very insignificant responses from their own people, but also show no resemblance whatsoever to the complexity and heterogeneity of their own societies and communities as well as how they are being transformed in contemporary times. At the cultural level, three cultures emerge as the most dominant through the use of three different languages: Tamazight, the Berber language mainly spoken in Morocco and Algeria, Arabic which is without any link to the dialect form in use on a daily basis and a vehicle of mythological history and ideology shaping the Maghreb, and French which is the language spoken by the political elite endorsing the secular French way of thinking — a language that still has significant weight for scientific and technological reasons and is gaining more momentum with the advance of globalization. These three countries, which despite the coercive progress of "Arabization" which was aimed at displacing French from its colonial position as the dominant language of education and literacy, officially belong to a community of countries using the French language, called La Francophonie (the International Organization of French Speaking Countries, created in 1970). Finally, the learning of English, at times top of the agenda and at other times thrown in the waste bin, depends on the North African countries' relationship with France. English's promotion or demotion may be seen as a kind of moral blackmail against the former colonizer. Its uses just as its learning remain limited and for specific purposes. When delaying a clear-cut choice of a reference language, particularly in areas related to science and technology, and when omitting to organize a genuine bilingualism, these countries are doomed to suffer from a system that is weak and hardly coherent. Pupils and students have tremendous problems with reading and writing correctly in Arabic or any of the other foreign languages in the linguistic marketplace. Such a situation may be labeled ironically as that of the "bilingual illiterates." However, when bilingualism is successful with some individuals, generally with the children of the elite, it becomes a tremendous social segregation factor instead of an asset leading to progress and cohesion. This linguistic situation is a double source of handicap to the public when it comes to using the Internet; this is largely due to the scarcity of sites in Arabic and also poor infrastructure and other technological facilities that are available to the public.
At the political level, the countries of the Maghreb have achieved very little integration as a result of continuing disagreements on key issues such as the Western Sahara or the suspicion that Algerian Islamic fundamentalism raises. So they continue to fantasize over Europe and more particularly France. A large proportion of the population of these countries assess living conditions in relation to the European lifestyle and namely the French lifestyle which, with all its ups and downs, has remained the closest to their hearts. All we need is to remember Chirac's visit to Algiers to realize the difference between local reality and the over-valuation of the emotional importance of an Arab or Maghreb identity in the eyes of the common people and the intellectual elite. Among the two hundred thousand people who came to welcome the French President during his visit to Algiers, many were chanting the slogan "visa," "visa," all wishing to leave a country, a landmine of unemployment, for another still considered an Eldorado. What kind of Arab unity, real or mythologized, could compete against this spontaneous surge expressed vividly by a population whose war of independence has for a long time earned it the status of Third World leader?
Yet, despite all these efforts, the Maghreb alone or dissolved into the Mediterranean entity, is unable to impose itself as a viable interlocutor in the face of a European Union which sees that its integration would be of no added value. As far as Europe is concerned, the Maghreb can only be a PTM (pays tiers méditerranéen) a Third Mediterranean Country and all association agreements do not allow (foresee) a common future which might go beyond a hypothetical free trade zone around the year 2010. Hence, the various attempts, so far on the part of Morocco to sign Maghrebi-American association treaties on free trade. This predilection of the US regarding bilateralism, is an attempt to dissociate third countries from one another, to prevent any kind of organization having a transnational nature, and to make the Maghreb a subsystem of the American Middle East. This intrinsic nature which we cannot qualify as Maghrebi, but rather Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian, cannot merge into the Arab entity. Instead, we now witness that it is on its way toward a total merger this time within the framework of a mythical whole, a part which is hard to pin down to anything, more precisely the shadow concept of the umma of Islam.
The Islamic Identity
We see thus the real limits of both the "Arab Nation" and the "Greater Maghreb" where the political elites have always failed to secure adherence from the population of North Africa due perhaps to a certain lack of maturity. These populations needed, others argued, a greater space and a wider territory and an ideology: Islam.
Although the Muslim identity has always been part and parcel of the Arab personality, it had, however, lived for a long period of time under the shade of a secular nationalism, reinforced by the urgent need for development. The failure of the economies in those countries, the deterioration of living conditions, the coercive return of Arabic dressed up in the virtues of authenticity but unable to fit into a modernist frame of approach so vital nowadays, the mental damages arising from decades of religious obscurantism — all have given birth to a sublimated and overvalued Islam leading to the development of a political and religious imagination that transcends the boundaries of the Arab or Maghrebi space. Starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Islam had become a "shelter ideology" of the "ill-defined people," invading the whole political and cultural space. As the 1990s drew to an end, aggravating factors such as the failure of the successive reforms launched by non-oil producing Arab states, the 9/11 attacks which led to the radicalization of the West as bearer and defender of Christian values in the face of an Islam seen as invader and extremely dangerous, the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the globalization of means of mass communication and the spread of Islamic satellite TV channels — all these factors and many more have contributed to the imposition of an idea which can be summed up as follows: the Islamization of society is the only way for salvation and the sole vehicle for the constitution of an intellectual corps to defend and nurture the myth of an Arab-Islamic specificity of personality and the model of society associated with it.
It is in this way that there has been the irruption of the umma as a conceptual placeholder just as we had in the past, in the Third World rhetoric, the notion of the "people" or the "masses," and which had as a vocation to transcend the frontiers of the countries and races, an attitude and a belief which promoted Islamism as a new way to achieve unity in an Arab world which is split and deeply wounded. Even better, religion will be the supposed catalyst to dilute the distinctive features of 400 million Arabs in a Muslim world with one and a half billion believers where the weight of Asian populations is most dominant.
From this fact, the problematic of some Muslims, whereby Islam is perceived as first and foremost the religion of the Arabs, or that an Arab cannot be but a Muslim, is no longer true because of sweeping globalization. We now accept that Islam is no longer the monopoly of the Arabs since people from Pakistan can enroll in jihad in Iraq without knowing a word of Arabic and that a French citizen converted to Islam can fight the Americans in Afghanistan. Thus, what the Arab ideology has failed to achieve, Islam will do, it is claimed, through a return to the glorious sources of Islam and the prestigious eras of the Caliphs in the guise of which the Arab-Islamic personality lived and dominated the world. The religious aspect has thus seized geography. Such an identification based on Islam will trigger in the West the development of Muslim policies at the expense of Arab policies, hence the project of the Greater Middle East, an American legacy of the British notion of Middle East. It shows that globalization has not eliminated the geopolitical preoccupations aimed at fracturing the world into regions according to their religious colouring or cultural aspects. We are still in a situation where powerful external actors define and redefine the boundaries of the Near/Middle East according to their own interests.
The Mediterranean Identity
As if things were not already sufficiently complicated, and while all integration projects are part of a wishful thinking, the West has now engaged in dividing up the world once again and burdens us with still another new identity. Generally speaking the Mediterranean is used to characterize the populations of the South Bank in which no one is capable of recognizing one's self.2 Since the signing of the Barcelona treaty, the Mediterranean has always been the playground for divisions and creations of sub-parts and parts depending on events and international stakes: EuroMéditerranean, MENA region, MEDA Project, Latin Arc, North Bank, South Bank, 5+5, by a Europe so concerned about its security and the protection of its own borders in the face of uncontrolled migration flows and terrorism. The persistent conflicts between Palestine and Israel, between Morocco and Algeria, conflicts within Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus, the Balkans — all of these and many more, show that we need more than a treaty to develop successfully the feeling of a Mediterranean identity. Having hardly any existence for most Arab populations, who can barely relate to it, this obvious historical identity which is also geographical has been gradually lost in the last few decades with the building of a European Union in the North of the Mediterranean. As to the linkage projects with the EU, they are greeted with suspicion by a significant number of intellectuals in the Arab World, who see in it the intention to break up Arab unity. Besides, the reference to the Mediterranean is absent from the UMA project of 17 February 1987 in which only the Arab World and its unity have been evoked — the unity of the Maghreb is perceived as a step toward this unity.
This little voyage across the Arab-Muslim personality was in my view necessary for any prospective assessment of South-North dialogue with regard to research on globalization.
For the North, globalization is initially and before all economic. It strives to meet an aim that humanity has never ceased trying to catch up with: a world in which we will all have sufficient to live and in which no economic need remains. By which means? By economic growth carried out by the adoption of the market economy and freedom of movement of goods and capital? The less one creates obstacles to international trade, the faster is growth, because international economic integration will improve the economic results. The objectives are tangible, the means are simple and clear, and can even be measured without much difficulty. In this Northerner rationale, all that does not lead to economic growth must be dismissed.
The governments of Southern States could not remain insensitive to such promises, especially when they emanate from their money-lenders, but they have exhausted over the decades as they have sought a suitable formula for making up for lost time, a formula which itself has seemed more and more hollow. Moreover, globalization promises not only new opportunities, greater well-being, a better standard of living, and higher incomes, but to benefit all in the same way. In other words, it is supposed to eliminate the inequalities between rich countries and poor countries.
Not very permeable with metaphors such as "the global village" and usually located on the detractors' side, Arab intellectuals affirm in their writings that the analysis of globalization cannot be accomplished under only its economic aspect, although they admit that the economy is at its origin. This way of framing the benefits of globalization omits other elements which also influence the standard of living of a person such as freedom, democracy, respect of the individual, good governance, and safeguarding of the natural environment which cannot be taken into account in the GDP of a nation. In their indictment, they denounce globalization as an ideology intended to maintain and legitimate new inequalities. Without being delayed too much on this topic, they estimate that the liberalization of trade and capital when it is not accompanied by political measures — in other words when it is not corrected by a strong state which mitigates the failures of the market — is generating crises and will carry out a division balanced neither within the nation nor between nations. But the nation-state is disappearing and, in a globalized world, the decisions which are imposed on it are dictated on an international level. However, there too, no institution exists to counterbalance the perverse effects of the system. Even the institutions, whose role it is to promote the achievement of the process of liberalization, have internal structures in which the distribution of the capacity is not leveling. This lack of institutions which would fulfill the functions of a strong state, contributes so that growth benefits especially and always the most industrialized countries.
All the suggested aspects, all the data mentioned, flow into the Arab discourse, very often to bring about an opinion of rupture rather than seeking alternatives. Without however denying at times that globalization is the outcome of human progress, and also represents an evolution in all areas of life, they do however condemn it just like the dominant image of the industrialized West, focusing on its destructive effects on local cultures and identities, not to mention the vulnerable economies of the South. This is one more reason, they add, to take refuge in the regional, whether it be real or imaginary. I will now tackle the questionnaire. And for this one must leave the realm of imaginary for the concrete and factual country up until now completely denied. One must also bear in mind that we have to deal with a community whose identity is problematic, and thus I am speaking on behalf a community that has neither political unity nor linguistic unity nor even cultural unity, whose relationships within are practically null.
Barriers to Research
In an ideal country, what would be necessary so that research advances and is efficient? The answer might include:
- a well-educated population able to read what is published, and which is sensitive and receptive to the problems of society
- contents of education well-adapted to the needs of the economy
- a climate conducive to new ideas
- total freedom to circulate abroad for the researcher
- an economic and institutional framework favourable to entrepreneurship and to technological innovation, provided that civic rights, freedom of information, good governance, an opening on the external world, and absence of censure be accepted
- a sufficient use of information and communication technology, without control and with tariffs affordable for the majority of the population
One cannot say that these minimal conditions, which are unexceptional today for a citizen of the North, are fulfilled in the countries of the South. There remain institutional pitfalls which hinder the mission of the researcher, pitfalls that globalization has neither eliminated nor reduced. Among these obstacles is the state, always omnipresent and omnipotent. The result in the social sciences, considered always as subversive, translates into drastic reductions of public subsidies allocated to research in these disciplines and a degradation of the living conditions of the researcher. Researchers are forced to adjust themselves and to redeploy their research programs according to the requests of financial institutions and in favour of an education system supporting scientific studies and short training courses.
The question of research in the Arab world is not limited to the sets of themes chosen, but to the way of thinking about the world and in which language one does this thinking. No reflection is possible without control of the linguistic tool. However, the Arab world has made itself conspicuous by an asserted but not used language. This language, proclaimed as a common language, is a literary Arabic, standardized, autonomous, and historical but it does not function like a mother tongue that is vital or living. The Moroccan, or the Egyptian, uses his or her mother tongue neither at school, nor at work, nor for correspondence (not even to express his or her intimate feelings). This traditional or classical literary Arabic, is thus for her or him a foreign language. Concurrently in play are two languages, French and English, imposed by the protectorate, but not vital for the populations. Thus as regards to the language of science and modern technology and research, French dominates in the Maghreb, and constitutes even a second family language, while English dominates in the countries of the Middle East and those of the Gulf. Thus, the Arab researcher when he thinks, he does it doubly: initially he thinks the language, then he thinks in the language. This diglossy3 does not fail to have a notable influence on research itself. These linguistic dissonances hold an important place in the constitution of the scientific communities. Globalization has accelerated in the Maghreb the "defrancization" of university education, to the advantage of English and with the support of Arabic-speaking political elites, thus favouring the English-speaking Arab countries who rallied a long time ago to the logics of Anglo-Saxon inspiration more readily than did the Maghrebi countries.
This linguistic division of the area did not fail to have an effect on the methodological orientation of research. Maghreb countries all belong to the French tradition with a relative unity of methods and problematic, and with common references in particular in the disciplines of law, history, philosophy, and sociology. On top of identical teaching methods, researchers in these disciplines are largely dependent on what is done in France and still profit from the programs of scientific assistance. Here, however, the enlargement of Europe did not benefit the Maghrebi, for many aspects of the French national research policy are now decided at the European level in order to gather and coordinate financial and technical means for research assistance in the countries of the South. The reshaping of the programs in the countries of the Middle East, according to the requirements of the World Bank, largely weakened academic and disciplinary hierarchies in favour of the activities of expertise. As for the Arab countries of the Gulf, their system is strongly inspired and even managed by the Anglo-Saxon model, but insofar as the programs are closed to the social sciences, their situation is of little concerns for us.
In the Maghreb, at very least, researchers in the social sciences are initially academics, teaching exclusively their discipline while carrying out, when time and the means allow them, scientific research. This activity, initially additional, becomes determining when their promotion depends on it.
There is a gallery of figures of research in the Arab world. One is the academic. Politically committed, reconciling the values of the scientist with those of politics, follower of Marxism in its political and scientific forms, and critical vis-à-vis Western social sciences called neo-colonialist or imperialist. This figure disappeared with the Third Worldism era. Just as the academic militant, generally a political opponent in dissension with the policy of the government, this academic sometimes paid for her or his orientation with a life of forced exile or imprisonment. This engagement did not prevent some of them from having brilliant careers as researchers defending initially their ideas on subjects then in vogue like "imperialism," "underdevelopment," "dependence," "cultural alienation," "poverty," and many other topics, and at the same time gain global recognition by their valuable publications (Samir Amin, Anouar Abdel Malek, Mahmoud Hussein, Abdellatif Laabi, Hichem Djaiet).
At the end of the 1980s, and in a different context, the Arab authoritarian governments adapted themselves to the new world order by changing their mode of domination and repression. Without slackening their vigilance, especially with respect to social sciences called "dangerous," the political powers in place used concrete economic devices which made the constraint invisible and the servitude voluntary.4 In the field of research, one can say that the process of globalization touched the South before the North but negatively. It is indeed in certain countries of the South that the education and university system has suffered most from the policies of structural adjustment involving the asphyxiation of national research programs, in particular in the social sciences.
With the degradation of the conditions of existence, the closing of the borders of Europe, the arrival of a generation little equipped for research, the vocation in this field is lost and with it the academic requirements which dictated the work of the researcher hitherto: scholarship, opening up of culture, a mastery of the language or the languages of scholarship, objectivity and rigour in the pursuit of the truth. On the political side, the social sciences, considered more and more as subversive disciplines, lost their attraction for the majority of the students swayed instead by the remunerative disciplines. In the university, research activity is forsaken more and more in favour of the profit of teaching.
Today a new figure, more in phase with globalization, is added to this gallery — that of the consultant. Certain conditions supported this figure's appearance on the scene of social science research: degradation of the university condition; economic and political opening of the Arab countries following economic reforms; non-governmental organizations constituting a new market for research in the social sciences; research contracts suggested by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union, especially in the countries which signed free trade agreements with the EU; and finally orders of the United Nations Development Programme to draw up its report on development in the Arab world. Topics like "globalization," "governance," "human rights," "gender," "privatization," "sustainable development," and "the knowledge economy " have replaced those becoming obsolete like "development," "social classes," or "ideology." The economist, better equipped for this type of research, found a promising auxiliary market and good wages moving him away from research and the supervision of the graduate students. As for the "noble" disciplines like philosophy, sociology and history, these scholars are not called upon to comment, except when there is an event of global scope like the attacks of 11 September, for example, and even in this field one prefers in the West to dust off old studies on Islam or to order works with impromptu Western experts who, paradoxically, become references for Arab-Muslim researchers!
Setting aside the issue of identity, the absence of freedom, censorship, lack of financial means, and tagging along with the Western model, other obstacles include the poverty of archives and documentary sources: books, publishing, information, libraries, and access to electronic resources. To surmount such obstacles by a transnational collaboration is obvious. The question is to know which results will be addressed. In the current state of the Arab world, one is taken out of being squeezed between a non-democratic state, therefore little open to criticism, and readers not sensitive to Western and secular criticism. The result will be a reduction of the field of diffusion of these research tasks inside Arab countries, the isolated scholar forced to publish in the West, to address Western readers — and why not flatter them — thus alienates himself from the Arab public which is the most concerned. All that shows for these researchers is that they do not belong to any place in particular, that they lack a coherent framework of thought, that this very multiplicity even prevents them from continuing their dialogue as Tunisian or Egyptian with other foreign researchers, in particular Western ones. Either the Arab researcher is in a state of autism, or he moves and becomes a Western thinker. Discouraged by the physical space in which he lives, the West becomes his only refuge and he can afford then to be Marxist, liberal, nationalist, sharing anything with nobody. It is the case of all of us.
To summarize then, when we speak about research, and a fortiori of Southern/Northern dialogue, we refer to a social activity whose author is not detached from the society to which he belongs, with his history, his values, his standards, his sanctions, and his compensations. All that should not be overlooked in his appreciation of reality, in the judgments he puts forth, in the research topics he undertakes, and in his commitment to such or such cause. The political and institutional framework in which this researcher is inserted is not only far from corresponding to the situation of his counterparts in the North but also has a tendency to evolve in a divergent direction.
What occurs today through the topic of globalization, in particular on the level of the social sciences, is a new process. One should not forget that a great deal of research on globalization is conducted within the framework of some international financial institutions turned into true research centres with their methods, their programs, and their networks of researchers from Northern as much as Southern countries solicited for their expertise exclusively and which must be unbiased by ideological considerations. We thus have an example of the constitution, under the aegis of an international institution, of a scientific community gathered around questions of globalization. Except that these "globalized" models are less the result "of a universal confrontation" between the members of the scientific community recognized as such, than the "working consensus" of an orthodoxy based on rapport de force (relations of force) where the argument of rationality remains weak compared to the financial, organizational, and political power of these international institutions. Those programs involving the future of a whole country are not the outcome of a choice agreed upon between researchers of the North and the South but imposed by a global power on governments worried about losing power. In short, we have collaboration here, but by no means dialogue.
Pressing Research Questions Related to Globalization
Turning now to the remainder of the questions, I do not think that we have in the South conceptualized enough that globalization is not based on the same economy that our parents had, that the world is going through profound changes and we still have no plan. The responsibility is to be charged equally to the governments, which control information and favour the positive repercussions of globalization and lack of debate among scholars on this question. Because globalization is especially perceived and possibly lived in the Arab world mainly on the identity level, the topics which questions about globalization raise relate mainly to culture and are approached here in a defensive way.
On which joint project might researchers from the North and South organize their collaboration? Can we share equally the same anxiety in the North and in the South? For my part, I do not think that there can be any convergence or agreement on a set of themes because the interests of the North and those of the South are so divergent. For my part, the challenges facing the people of the North in the post-twentieth-century globalized economy will be more and more in opposition with the development of the South. It can even constitute a source of deep anxiety. It is already the case with employment becoming increasingly contingent and subject to a fierce competition between the North and the South. With delocalization, these competitions are particularly strong with respect to oil, steel, and food products. I have the impression that all the studies in the North on globalization are directed toward how to contain the development of the South within limits which ensure at the same time the safeguarding of the environment and the well-being of the North.
Relevance of Appadurai's Analysis
The production of knowledge, its diffusion, and its application in the productive processes and consumption of the services it induces, pose the basic problems to society concerning its attitude toward the knowledge and its capacities to recognize it in a non-ambiguous way. Knowledge becomes a science only if its experiments are validated and called into question in a permanent way. In the same way, it is necessary that the practices of communication lead to their transmission and diffusion rather than to their retention, which is in the South an indisputable attribute of the state. There too a certain democratic design is essential to support the development of the critical spirit, fundamental to the production of knowledge, and to agree to adhere to the ethics of the proof in order to achieve scientific progress. We have here decisive conditions for the development of a society of knowledge. What is at stake here is not so much the culture of a society, or its fundamental values, or its economic capacities, poverty or richness, but its attitude with respect to science.
The countries which have succeeded best in the knowledge economy are those which were able to offer to their population the intellectual capacities and models which make it possible to interpret, to select, and use information. The Western model is impossible to circumvent here and I do not agree so much with the opinion of Appadurai as for the "hegemony" of the West in this field. Because in regards to research, the South does not always rhyme with rigour, nor the approaches of the North with neo-colonialism, or ethnocentrism, or racism. The advent of the modern social sciences, introduced by those we call unfairly the "Orientalists," in regard to the Arab world, also brought an external and detached glance, not subjected to the truths, the hierarchies, and conformities of the religious tradition, but a research of precision, rigour, and coherence. The cultural referent becomes here what reason can admit or not, asserting approaches respectful of the modern scientific standard. To denounce the scientific method, as Western, is to support these insufficiencies.
In addition, one of the principal obstacles is incontestably in my view that of the epistemological status of globalization as a discipline. Globalization is a nondescript discipline and its study concerns theoretically all the disciplines and requires consequently the recognition of interdisciplinarity as a fundamental methodological principle, something which is far from being allowed in the scientific community of the South where globalization remains a topic belonging to the area of the expert in development economics. Also collaboration on globalization cannot advance without a reconfiguration of Arab scientific space where researchers are not only strongly attached to their discipline but where certain disciplines, however essential to the study of a phenomenon like globalization, such as political science, anthropology, or the sociology of religions, are straightforwardly missing in the teaching in Tunisian universities, because they do not correspond to the definition of a useful science which meets the needs of the society. This situation, partly the consequence of the total absence of autonomy of the universities in our countries, accentuates the dependence with respect to the research of countries of the North, making scientific activities in the social sciences of our "alien" researchers more intense than those of researchers inside the country.
Moulakis, Athanasios. 2005. The Mediterranean region: Reality, delusion, or Euro-Mediterranean Project? Mediterranean Quarterly 16 (2): 11-38.
1. Fendi, al-badâwa al-fikriyya, al-Shark al-Awsat, 28 May 2007.
2. The vogue for Mediterranean regionalism is, however, quite recent. It is part of the more general tendency toward regionalism that emerged in response to events of worldwide significance. The opening of the EU toward the East with the concomitant shift of initiative to Germany fueled a desire of the southern/Latin countries to create a counterweight by emphasizing the link to the southern periphery of the EU (Moulakis 2005).
3. The state in which two linguistic systems coexist in a given territory, and one occupies, generally for historical reasons, a lower stature. The diglossic situation is thus generally a conflict situation.
4. In Le Discours de la Servitude Volontaire, Étienne de la Boétie (1530-1563) argues that more than the fear of the sanction, it is initially the practice of servitude which explains why the domination of the master or tyrant lasts.