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A while ago I posted a piece on cultural differences illustrated by a range of adverts produced by HSBC around 10 – 15 years ago as part of a campaign to position themselves as a “global bank” that understands local cultural differences.

If you want to explore some of these ideas in more detail – or maybe just want to hammer home the point – this short video looks at a range of cultural differences across the world:

More recently, the bank produced a new range of adverts that play on a couple of related cultural themes:

Firstly, ideas about nationality and identity through a short video on the concept of “home”:

Secondly, a short film that neatly illustrates some aspects of cultural globalisation through the simple device of looking at a long list of the globalised features of UK life – from Columbian coffee through American films to Taiwanese tablets…

All of these films can be used as a relatively simple, interesting, way to introduce students to some of the major ideas they will encounter when thinking about globalisation and the changes it produces in contemporary societies. But if you want to take things a little further, a couple of things need noting:

Firstly, “globalisation” isn’t necessarily something new (and it’s not simply synonymous with postmodernity). While the increased pace at which societies change under globalising pressures is arguably both new and highly significant, we need to keep in mind that it’s a process that has actually been around – particularly in the case of Britain – for many centuries.

Secondly, with the above in mind, it’s possible to track many of the global influences on English culture have occurred throughout our history and which have decisively shaped our political, economic and cultural development as a nation.

An interesting way to do this is through something like Eddie Izzard’s “Mongrel Nation”: three 45-minute TV programmes that originally aired in 2003 and which are now available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. In the films Izzard looks at various aspects of what we currently consider to be quintessential components of “British Culture” and “British Identity” – from our language through our food to our religion – and deconstructs them to show how they are the product of diverse cultural currents.

Or, as the production company blurb puts it:

There is no such thing as pure Englishness”.

Because of the length of each programme (45 minutes if you weren’t paying attention) you’ll probably need to find a way of encouraging your students to watch one (or indeed all) of the programmes outside the classroom and then think about how you might want to incorporate the information they contain into your teaching of things like cultural globalisation, national identity and the like.

Alternatively, you could just cut the programmes into snippets of film that you can use to introduce / explain various identity-related ideas.

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