This paper was published as Oxford Development Studies, 2002, 30 (2), pp. 165-176. It is available from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/13600810220138276. Doi: 10.1080/13600810220138276Metadata only entryThis is a theoretical exploration of an approach to cultural aspects of external dimensions of self-determination movements (SDMs) and their relationship to economic aspects. An underlying theme is the possible relationships between "identity" and global flows of objects, information and images. This general theme connects exiles and diasporas, new global media, material culture and the politics of identity. In the context of global cultural influences on SDMs, we draw attention to the significance of the relationships between people and objects, images and ideas, in the sense of the pathways via which these are spread and exchanged, and in the sense of the symbolic values and meanings attributed to them. Not only ideas but also material objects, images and experience, and the global and local processes via which they are acquired, imbued with value and exchanged, play a major part in reinforcing and/or altering people's sense of who they are, of the world beyond them, their place in it, and the ideology and practice of a SDM. Global processes by which objects, images and experience move do not necessarily imply a unidirectional flow of objects and images of global mass consumption towards and into the SDM and its people. Local objects and images can also go out, potentially influencing not only diasporic and the outside world's views of and policies towards the SDM, but also its view of the outside world and, in turn, its course of action. In sum, the flow of objects and images--as things with meaning and as commodities--is, like diaspora and new media, an important mechanism by which the global and local interact. The paper outlines one route for analysis and indicates possible themes for further research, drawing on empirical data from the author's study of SDMs in Burma
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