International Conference on Globalization, Cultural Diversity

September 10, 2002

Roanoke, Va., Sept. 10, 2002 -- Art critics, heritage-site curators, media professionals, and scholars will present a variety of views on global cultures during a two-day international conference to be held at the Hotel Roanoke Sept. 20-21. The theme will be "Cultural Diversity for Sale? Global Economies of Art and Entertainment." All sessions are free and open to the public.

The conference speakers will address a number of issues related to the status of cultural difference in today's world media markets. "While globalization might seem to promote cultural difference by bringing people into closer contact, it also threatens local cultures by exporting a mass-market culture often associated with U.S. dominance," according to Janell Watson, conference coordinator and a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Tech. "Must a local culture sell itself on the global market in order to survive?"

Four public-forum sessions address topics of general interest to the community at large: filmmaking, Virginia and Appalachian culture, artistic creation, and public radio and television. On Friday evening, Sept. 20, award-winning African filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo (writer and director of Aristotle's Plot and Quartier Mozart) will discuss the difficulties of making movies on multiple continents, showing video clips from his recent work in his native Cameroon.

Saturday afternoon, a panel of experts involved in Virginia and Appalachian culture will discuss the impact of globalization on the region. They will address local heritage sites, storytelling traditions, novels, music, and stereotypes of mountain life. This session will be followed by a presentation about the work of internationally known artists who have worked at Mountain Lake and on the idea of a community spirit in the creation of art.

The final public forum will take place Saturday evening and will feature Rick Mattioni, news director at WVTF public radio, and Frederick Thomas, consultant to the U.S. State Department and executive vice president and general manager of MHz Networks in Washington, DC, which produces public-television programming.

A series of special focus sessions Friday and Saturday will address globalization issues of a more scholarly nature. For example, film studies scholars will explore various aspects of the international movie market, social scientists will study the impact of media technologies on various cultural groups, and feminist scholars will examine gender issues around the world. Countries and regions to be discussed in detail include Japan, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Latin America, and ancient Greece. These sessions are also open to the general public.

Conference sponsors include the Virginia Tech College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Symposium Award and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy.

A full schedule and registration information for the two-day conference can be found at www.fll.vt.edu/watson/symposium, or can be obtained by phoning conference organizer Janell Watson at 540-231-9009. Advance registration is encouraged and is free of charge.

Virginia Tech

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