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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Global Societies Journal (GSJ) at UCSB is a peer-reviewed and open-access journal that explores and analyzes globalization and global-scale issues from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. GSJ encourages innovative approaches that bridge social sciences and humanities, and seeks to open up new conversations that speak to contemporary global issues. The journal addresses a diversity of social, cultural, political, economic, environmental, and legal issues with a holistic perspective that aspires to further our understanding of the contemporary societies. Global Societies Journal has published a wide range of articles on a variety of topics since 2013.

Conceptual Papers

Evaluating Cosmopolitanism

As the international community has become increasingly connected, cosmopolitanism has often been proposed as a means to reduce inequalities and maintain peace. Cosmopolitan scholars, like Martha Nussbaum, hypothesize that this citizenship can be achieved through standardized, international education standards. While it is undeniable that the projects which cosmopolitans seek to solve are vital, this paper seeks to examine the plausibility and effectiveness of cosmopolitan theory, contending that modern cosmopolitan justifications only serve to further Western interests. It is imperative to examine the applicability of cosmopolitanism, because flawed theory produces flawed policy. Cosmopolitan scholars fail to recognize that one universalized standard of education creates a monolithic culture, without a capacity for innovation or ability to cultivate strong cultural identities. Furthermore, while cosmopolitans call for the disintegration of physical borders, past trends suggest that this free movement incites an agglomeration of wealth and capital. Historically, global citizenship hasn’t been able to solve human rights issues or economic inequalities because humans’ political identities cannot extend to the capacity which cosmopolitan thinkers assume they can; Western leaders have instead used ‘human rights’ and ‘economic equality’ as a justification to further their own nations’ agendas. In sum, cosmopolitanism is a flawed ideology and nations should focus on international cooperation, instead of global governance and individuals’ economic and political agency, instead of cultural conformity.

Iconoclasm: ISIS and Cultural Destruction

This paper examines utopian ideologies and their effects in motivating iconoclasm. Using the cases of Islamic State, the Nazi’s destruction of Warsaw, and the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, this paper analyzes the utopian elements of each group’s ideology that motivates iconoclasm. I argue that Islamic State engages in iconoclasm in order to promote a unified and ideal community rooted in their utopian religious ideology. They achieve this goal by destroying cultural artifacts and museums that clash with their vision. While most of the debate around Islamic State has focused on non-religious aspects like oil-backed finance, this paper attempts to reorient the debate around the religious character of Islamic State’s actions. Given the salience of Islamic State and other similar groups in recent attacks globally, this paper attempts to analyze their operational motivations through the destruction of cultural artifacts.

The Armenian Diaspora: Migration and its Influence on Identity and Politics

The diasporan occupies a liminal space as a person that comes from one place, yet lives in another. This split identity can often pose challenges for diaspora communities, not only in questions of assimilation but also in coming to an understanding of what “identity” means at all. Understanding the diasporan’s lack of belonging and its influence on the way in which different diaspora communities function in their host nations is crucial in the present day, at a time in which identities are more fluid than ever. In this study, I explore the concept of diaspora through the particular lens of Armenian diaspora communities in the United States. This article will not only focus on the causes and effects of Armenian migration historically, but will also explore the characteristics and goals of the Armenian diaspora in the United States today – particularly in terms of its current understanding of identity, its uniting factors, and political influence. In studying the Armenian diaspora, I hope to emphasize the powerful impact of mobilizing diaspora communities through their uniting causes and characteristics, in not only creating a diasporan sense of identity but also in better understanding how diasporas influence globalization

Review Essays

Uncertain Outcomes: Evaluating the Effects of the Trafficking in Persons Reports in South Africa and Thailand

Demonstrated by the establishment of anti-human trafficking institutions such as the Palermo Protocol and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (and the associated Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports), the commodification of forced labor swiftly rose to the forefront of political and humanitarian consciousness beginning in the 1990s. The dominating institution remains the unilaterally enforced TIP reports, issued annually by the United States. This paper examines the TIP reports, seeking to explain their effects on human trafficking outcomes for institution-implementing nations. Focusing on two critical cases—Thailand and South Africa— this research demonstrates the ways in which the same anti-trafficking models can lead to very different consequences—both beneficial and costly— for implementing countries. Ultimately, through an examination of cultural values, political alliances, and economic well-being for implementing nations, it is shown that the effects of the TIP reports on human trafficking outcomes-- as measured by the new 3P human trafficking index-- are dependent on complex and differing variables that are difficult to empirically measure. Further research is needed to draw finite conclusions as to what settings within a domestic country allow the TIP reports to have beneficial human trafficking outcomes

Original Research

Addressing Water Scarcity in the Nile Delta: Virtual Water, Fresh Water, and Desalination

Water scarcity has direct implications for food security in arid regions. Egypt faces an escalating situation of water scarcity, as its renewable fresh water resources are fixed and the population is growing rapidly. The per capita supply of fresh water is already dangerously low and predicted to plummet even further by the year 2025. This paper critically analyzes three different approaches to the water scarcity problem in Egypt: importing virtual water, using Nile water more efficiently, and creating new sources of fresh water with desalination. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are reviewed. This exposes a number of fundamental trade-offs that must be resolved. Discussion and recommendations are made as to which solution is most viable.