Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Louisiana Governor's Race As a Cultural Moment

We really can't say that Jim Peacock foretold Bobby Jindal's gubernatorial victory in his book GROUNDED GLOBALISM. Still, Peacock's observations about how local cultures and the global economy reverberate against each other in mutually sustaining and energizing ways seem downright prescient when applied to the Jindal story. If you want to better understand the changes that opened up the possibility that a child of immigrants from India could become governor of a Deep South state, get a copy of GROUNDED GLOBALISM.

In the days ahead, we will pass along the best of what may be said and written about Jindal's win as an instructive cultural moment. Much of what is out there right now understandably has a political focus. However, read this commentary, in a blog sponsored by Talking Points Memo, as just one example of how the cultural story is trying to break through.

Reading the Indian media's coverage of Jindal's victory is fascinating—and a good way to step outside one's familiar frame of reference. An editorial in the
Times of India, titled "Rise of the Immigrant," sees Jindal as an examplar of the "global individual, one who can deliver and accept challenges in different circumstances anywhere in the world regardless of ethnic origin." More directly related to GROUNDED GLOBALISM is this opinion piece at CNN-IBN. It seems almost written to order in how it engages Jim Peacock's points about one's sense of self being rooted in place—and not simply in some physical locale but in the web of human relationships that give it significance. Titled "Diaspora Dilemma: Non-Indian but India's pride," the CNN-IBN piece asks if Indians are perhaps making too much of the accomplishments of Indian-Americans. One of the people interviewed in the article, an Indian employee of an American firm, has this reply: "It’s a matter of pride for us that Indian-Americans are doing well. It’s all about people-to-people relations, even in terms of business growth."

Left: Bobby Jindal's official 109th Congress photo
Right: Book jacket of Grounded Globalism by James L. Peacock

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