Elegy of the Peripheral

By Ruiqi Wei

21st century is the century of globalization.

Globalization is always praised as one of the key elements that facilitate the third world countries to develop and to reduce poverty since it can be easily observed that both cultural and economic activities that happen across the borders of nation-states as the result of globalization do benefit ‘the third world’ in terms of introducing new technologies, creating more job opportunities, and redefining social norms in a ‘modern’ way.

The world is always portrayed as a place which consists of the center and the peripheral. The incredible accumulation of wealth of the global elites allows them to have their business developed anywhere as they want, making as much as profits as they can, and removing all the possible barriers that stop global inequality from burgeoning.

Is the economic deprival of the peripheral everything that the center has been wanting?

But wait. Globalization is not as simple as it seems. It is not just merely an economic issue And there are certainly more to be found out in the intentions of the pushers of globalization.

The retreats of local cultures

“手如柔荑,肤如凝脂,领如蝤蛴,齿如瓠犀。 螓首蛾眉,巧笑倩兮,美目盼兮”

As recorded in one of the earliest editorials of Chinese serial poetry titled as ‘the shi king’ which was first published roughly thousands of years ago, any Chinese girl that has normal healthy skin that smiles a lot can be defined as Chinese beauty.

However, thanks to western cultural invasion, aesthetics in china are gradually being redefined, in a pathetic way.

In contemporary China, what makes girls pretty is not merely healthy skin. Dramatic double eyelids paired with big eyes that are obviously not a feature of East Asian took domination. For the fulfillment of the so-called beauty standard rooted in western cultural invasions, many girls in pursuit of these beauty features that are not written in the genes of most East Asian have to withstand the pain while knifing cutting through their eyelid, taking the risks of having the whole face ruined by clinical mistake. And after these plastic surgeries, everyone looks streamlined, having their uniqueness relentlessly deprived.

The glossy eye that can tell a thousand stories is not a thing that is treasured as it was anymore.

And there are always some more countries where girls are suffering similar cases, leading to the diminishes of local beauty standards.

Western cultural invasions mean the treats of local cultures.

And the saddest thing is, these retreats of local cultures often happen so unnoticed that local people whose roots are being encroached generally cannot fight back. And these retreats are even seen as inevitable and well-justified under the notion that due to the fact that the west is conspicuously more economically privileged than the peripheral, all the barbarians that are tagged as ‘signs of underdevelopment’ deserve their ultimate diminishes. Our cultures are thus colonized in an unnoticed way.

How sad.


Well, in the perfect disguise of the rhetorics of universal development, globalization is accelerating in speed beyond imagination. The trend of westernization being a byproduct of globalization is not likely to be curbed as it can be easily observed that whether in Beijing or new york, signs of ‘McDonald’ can be easily found anywhere, indicating how inevitable McDonaldization is. To whatever extent does a city develope, the ultimate fate that awaits is still being a place with the presences of McDonald’s literally everywhere, with a conspicuous decline of local food culture that ensues shortly.

Westernization helps people in the peripheral get over their backwardness.

But how should backwardness be defined?

Why is it always the center that decides what is backward and what is developed?

Is it fair?

Under the hypocritical veneer of westernization, the people in the peripheral should to some extent realize that their norms are being redefined.

Let it be said that, under the slogan that the center makes the peripheral world gentrified, what they are really doing is redefining the life of the peripheral.

And what can we do about it?

Decolonization of Knowledge

“Theory is always for someone and for some purpose“.- Robert W. Cox

In order for us to decolonize knowledge, we have to understand that everything exists for a purpose.

We have too identify the roots in system, and then unfold the mystery of the narratives.

Then we can make the peripheral the boss of themselves, making the world more equal, life of everyone equally fulfilling.