Grewal, "Traveling Barbie: Indian Transnationality and New Consumer Subjects"

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Please post your DQs on Grewal's essay "Traveling Barbie: Indian Transnationality and New Consumer Subjects" below, using the following to guide your reading:
1. How has economic liberalization produced new consumer subjects in India?
2. What does Grewal mean by "transnational localism" and what is its role in the production of subjects? (802)
3. What do you think about the discussion of the "subject of transnational consumption" (803-804)? What is the relationship of this construction of the consumer to the marketing of things like Barbie?
4. What do you think of Grewal's discussion of Mattel's simultaneous production of difference and universality in its marketing? Why is it important to consider the persistence of global inequalities in this context (808)? In other words, how is diversity incorporated into Mattel's toys? Why does this fall short, for Grewal? (809)
5. Grewal states: "Mattel continues to seek lower costs and to increase its visibility globally. While it espouses a discourse of universality of children's play along side American values of heteronormative, gendered racism as marketing strategy, its practices in India suggest that it relies on localized gendered formations to succeed. In their transnational localism, American values remain but become modified" (806). What does she mean in this passage?
6. How does Mattel view the world? How does it view the appeal of its products? And how does it view the desires of its target consumers? Why is the relevant to understanding the subjects of transnational consumer culture? (809)
7. How and for what reasons was Mattel's marketing a struggle in India? How has it been a struggle to turn "many classes of children into active consumers of global brands" for transnationals? What, in your opinion, is at stake in this process?
8. How is transnational consumer culture participating in shifts in gendered and classed subjectivities?
9. Why is it crucial to think about transnational capital when making sense of these cultural shifts?
10. What does Grewal mean by the "Indian cosmopolitan subject"?

3 Comments

We hear a lot about the dislike of Western culture in Islamic societies. Does anyone think that there may be a similar cultural backlash in India with the introduction of Western culture (especially an increased emphasis on fashion and makeup)?

In understanding transnational localism, relative to NRI populations and their influence on nationalist manifestations within markets and the media, should we consider what is at stake with regard to access, functionality, and tradition?

In Mattel's efforts to become globally successful there were slight modifications to products...what other companies would be similar to Mattel in certain products that sell worldwide? i.e. Apple, Nintendo, etc.

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