Landscapes of Global Capital
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Philip Morris05-01
Shell01-00
T. Rowe Price02-00

The testimonial uses a narrative structure to follow the trail of global capital into the most remote locals. Usually, the narrative follows one of two paths: transformation or rescue. In the former, investment capital and/or technology transform primitivism into modernity. Here, an infusion of capital allows for new development that improves the quality of life for the native. Often the physical health of the native signifies the success of this transformation. In the latter, some disaster has befallen an underdeveloped part of the world and a corporation participates in the rescue by providing food, medical supplies, and infrastructure repair. Using a documentary realist format (the docudrama) to connote truthfulness of the narrative (Nichols, 1981), testimonials are presented from three points of view: the generalized voice of capital (the voice-over), the specific representative of capital (CEO, employee, or celebrity spokesperson), or the beneficiary the transformed/rescued native. This format does not disguise corporate power but rather constructs it as paternalistic (now sometimes as maternalistic) and beneficent, reminiscent of older forms of rationalized colonialism. Culture here is mere background and is overshadowed by economic underdevelopment. Here capital seeks out the most remote places, not to develop markets, nor to exploit natural resources or cheap labor, but for the purpose of demonstrating that it cares for all humanity no matter how distant a people are from the core.


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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey